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Is A Low Carb Diet A Good Idea?


People with Diabetes milletus are constantly testing, using a blood sugar meter to track changes in their blood glucose levels because they have lost the ability to control it naturally. I like to say that a blood sugar meter also works as another kind of BS meter. You can’t BS about your diet when you are reading the effects of it on the BS meter! What this means is that if you test a type of food or diet regimen, you could wait for the results – a big belly or loss of same – or you could easily check your blood sugar with a meter and know without a doubt how you are affected by it.


How is this useful to people without diabetes?

The mountainous volumes of information gathered on the effects of various foods on our blood sugar has given rise to things like the glycemic index. The “GI Diet” and any other diet that reduces your consumption of carbohydrate will lower your dependance on insulin, raise your sensitivity to insulin, along with other hormones like leptin and adiponectin which regulate the hungry or full signals.


Here is a summary: (Ultra-simplified)

We know that sugar in all forms, including starches and the so called “complex carbs” spike our blood glucose, thereby spiking our insulin. We know that insulin is a fat storage hormone. We know that at no time in history have we ever had such a multitude and availability of food and refined sugars and starches. Put these facts together and try to understand that what we think of as a “low carb” diet is, in evolutionary terms, still a very high carb diet. Now take into account that over consumption of carbs in any form breaks down the beta cells of the pancreas and desensitizes the insulin receptors throughout the body creating a higher need for insulin production. The vicious cycle begins and you set yourself up for a rough time. We evolved to do this, it is not an accident. Picture yourself in a frozen wilderness, subsisting on small animals you can drag back to the cave. You need a tremendous amount of stored energy; like the hump of a camel or a bear fattening up for hibernation, to get you through the winter. In the fall when you are hunting and you run across a huge berry patch, every cell in your body tells you to eat all you can before you move on. Bring that forward to today and you walk to 7-11 and snag the legendary “Big Gulp” with your great hairy hands gripping its neck like a saber-tooth on a wild boar! Red liquid running down your chin like the blood of your fallen prey!! You tear the wrapper off your snickers bar with you teeth and pieces of its nougat skeleton crumble under your bite! Thing is, you can do this three times per day and the average store is within a block of the average couch!  


The 7 Steps To Learn How To Fight

We have so many tools at our disposal in the gym to work out each technique or combination. Every tool that we employ lends different dynamics to the training.  At some gyms I have witnessed people doing countless hours just hitting the bag, some gyms jump the student right into sparing and others just working the shit out of the pads. At Carlson Gracie MMA in Maple Ridge, we use a progression from Coach Toby Combat Systems, which I developed from my studying under Sifu Hon Lee and attending many martial arts schools, Muay Thai gyms and Boxing clubs. I apply drilling methods using different strategies adapted from years of music training and my study of how the brain works and how we learn using cognitive learning principals from DeBono and Erikson. As a coach it is my job to communicate with the student and transpose the knowledge between their body and brain; easier said than done! A structured process is absolutely necessary. (learn to box here)
Whether you are learning to fight or teaching a class, try taking a technique and put it through this formula.

The 7 Steps To Learn How To Fight:

1. Basic instruction: This is usually not so basic, as there are so many elements to a particular technique. The instructor can spend time correcting all of these pieces of the puzzle before bad habits set in and make sure that the student is strict with their execution. Show the student exactly how to do the technique properly and make sure they understand.
2. Mirror: The student, looking in the mirror, will try to mimic the posture, hand and foot positioning and movement patterns of the instructor as well as the more advanced students. A side benefit to punching and kicking the air is that it teaches you how to balance and control your trajectory in the event that you miss your target. As you get to know the proper way to do each technique, you can begin to self-correct. I often call the mirror “the other coach in the room”.
3. Bag: The stationary opponent is great to work out your reach from one position and striking an object that provides resistance will teach you to compensate for the stopping of your movement when you do connect in a fight. The more advanced training on the bag will work your angles left and right. Remember, bag work is not about how hard you hit it. Pounding the crap out of a heavy bag will only accomplish joint problems, besides, there aint no judges there to give you points and it’s very hard to knockout a punching bag.
4. Pad-work: Now we have the dynamic of unpredictable movement and forward and back that we never had on the bag. The pad man can call out combinations and throw punches and kicks to work on some defensive skills and reflexes. This method will teach you timing and distance much better than a punching bag! Also, hitting focus mitts and Thai pads are very different. I like using the Thai pads to train powerful punches because there is a weight to them that is similar to hitting a chin and if you practice carrying your power through the target it will give you that leverage you need for that knockout punch.
5. Specific, one-on-one drills: This is not sparing but we are getting close. An example would be; one student punching and the other countering with a kick. Another would be, slipping and countering with a jab. Now we are drilling a single technique but we are under pressure to defend and while remaining composed. This method will teach you timing and distance better than any other form of training in my opinion, partly because you feel safe enough to execute your technique in good form while the pressure is minimal, therefore you have less chance of developing bad habits!
6. Single technique sparing: The students begin, usually by jab sparing to establish timing and distance, then add one technique at a time to teach them how to pull off that punch, kick, take-down or combination while in danger of getting hit. It is important mentally to be able to pull off the technique in real-time; otherwise you will never feel confident enough to use it in competition. Use this strategy for learning a ground technique while the opponent sits up and throws punches at your head, try to set up that submission. It is a much better time to do this while in the gym than wait until you are in the cage on the receiving end of “ground and pound”!
7. All in: For Boxing or MMA this will look different but the idea is to put all your skills to the test. The trick with this stage is to have several levels of intensity which are agreed on by the students. One way to do this is to use percentages i.e.: 50% intensity would mean that you are not hitting very hard, mostly working your technique and timing. Closer to a fight you might want to build it up to 80% or more to prepare you mentally for the battle. If you or your students spar full out all the time they will develop bad habits, particularly getting “punch shy”. They will lack the confidence to “do their thing” and, instead, work off instinct; which we know is the wrong way to fight against a trained competitor.

As a coach I watch closely all of the students and fighters to make sure that they are keeping composed. If/when I see their stance and proper technique start to fall apart, I stop them and bring them back to basics then slowly work everything else back in piece by piece.

Boxing, Kickboxing, MMA, defence – “The Bob”

The next type of head movement that we will look at is the bob. We have a couple different ways of avoiding straight punches but the hooks, overhand and big power right cross can be avoided by circling your head under the punch. The three elements to doing a proper bob are:
1. First, move the head away from the punch.
2. Drop with the knees and circle under the punch.
3. Come back up tucked and plant the foot for the counter punch or kick.

Boxing, Kickboxing headmovement – “The First FIve”

The first five:
Among the first things we get our students to learn is the first five head movements; this along with the jab and basic footwork allows the novice to start putting together some actual sparing. Slipping left and right are essential as you will be using this motion when you are changing angles to keep the head moving.

Boxing and Kickboxing for MMA – Slipping punches

Of all the different types of head movement slipping is the fastest and works very well to avoid straight, fast punches. It also aids in adding momentum to your lateral movements Slipping left and right will not help if your opponent is throwing looping punches like hooks or over hands and also they are no good for countering with power because you don’t build up any torque.  They are, however, fundamental to the jab game and keeping the head moving as you change angles.
The elements to the slip are:
1. “Slip with the hip” shoot your hip out to the left to move you head right and vice-versa.
2. When countering allow your opponent to come to you by a slight pause, then slip and counter. 3. Stay forward of your hips with your head.


In this old video Kurt shows a basic footwork drill with head movement and jab added. This is the first and most important drill in stand-up fighting and it is the basis of your shadow boxing practice. The foot work translates well to wrestling and MMA. Start out using the stick drill then move on to shadow box then add some random combinations.

The way we train our fighters at Carlson Gracie MMA is to have footwork, head movement and jab working constantly to keep the opponent busy while we strategize and look for openings and weaknesses from the corner. I call this “auto-pilot”
If a fighter does not have these 3 things absolutely mastered, they are not ready for the ring.

The three components of  “auto-pilot” are :

1. Footwork
2. Head movement
3. Jab

How to boxing, kickboxing right uppercut or #6 punch

The right uppercut is a power punch but it is very short so it is used primarily as a way to make space while your opponent has you against the ropes. You can use it to lift the head to set up for the #3 or left hook. [Remember that there are tonnes of different combinations and I am only giving you some very fundamental basics to get you started.] Using the left shoulder to push him off then turning and lifting the 6 can give you the opportunity to slip out to the right and shove him to the ropes as an example.
The main points for throwing a good right upper-cut are:
1. Push and turn off the back foot.
2. Translate that turn through the entire body until the left shoulder is pointed behind you, rotating the right shoulder on the axis of your spine, keeping your head to the right of your opponent.
3. Connect with the chin, try to lift his head from inside his guard.
4. Bring the hand back to the face.

How to boxing for MMA left upper-cut (#5 punch)

How to boxing for MMA left upper-cut (#5 punch).

How to boxing for MMA left upper-cut (#5 punch)

The next inside punches we will look at are the upper-cut punches. The number 5 or the left upper-cut is used sometimes as a set up for the 4 punch. It is rare that a fighter has the power to knock their opponent out with the upper-cut. Mike Tyson would be an exception but we don’t all have his genetics. Picture the opponent’s chin protected by both his hands covered with boxing gloves; not easy to punch through that to hit the button but lift the head with the 5 and it’s ripe for the 4.
The main points for throwing a good left upper-cut are:
1. Lift and turn off the front foot.
2. Translate that turn through the entire body until the right shoulder is pointed behind you, rotating the left shoulder on the axis of your spine, keeping your head to the left of your opponent.
3. Connect with the chin, try to lift his head from inside the guard.
4. Bring the hand back to the face.

New techniques in MMA

I apologize in advance for all the video in this post but I feel that it’s the only way to convey my thoughts.
The sport of MMA is evolving at a dizzying pace with the strong foundation of wrestling, boxing, Judo and Muay Thai, now comes the addition of techniques from other martial arts. If you look at a fighter like Lyoto Machita coming from a Karate background and his unorthodox style you can imagine the possibilities.

In the beginning we saw Karate, Sumo or the Samoan bone breaking art “Lua” Gung Fu, most of these were quickly wiped out by the more competitive disciplines. What I mean by that is; the martial arts that converted into a sport like Wrestling, Kickboxing and Judo reap the benefits of years or centuries/millenniums of trial and error through thousands of actual combat situations. Martial arts like Karate or Gung Fu were designed, as I have said before, often for multiple opponents, based largely on theory and might not be best suited for one-on-one sport fighting. Machita’s win streaks will belie that assumption but you can not deny that he has more skills than Karate! He does rock the traditional Japanese stance but those don’t look like Karate punches and he aint using no Kata on the ground!

A nice example of this is this famous Capoera knockout by Marcus “Lelo” Aurelio of Axe Capoeira in Vancouver when he knocks out Keegan “The Marshall” Marshall at North American Challenge #24 in North Vancouver, BC on April 4th 2009. Marshall is a pretty straight forward kickboxer and in the video you see him watch the first kick fly by which made him flinch and drop his hands then the second kick lands on his chin flush like the cheeks on a red-head skating Lake Ontario!

Edson Barbosa spins around quite a bit for his kicks and backfists, so does Cung Le. Jose Aldo and Jon Jones love the flying knees and land them better than most folks can land a punch.

What ever you do, make sure you get a solid foundation with the basics. There was an article written by Coach Mike Boyle called “There Is a Reason There Is a Box” on strengthcoach.com where he talks about the need for any coach or athlete to start with a good, solid, basic foundation before moving on to specialized movements. Now, granted, he was talking about weightlifting but the same applies to any type of training; before you explore “outside the box” training, you gotta master “the Box”.
Most MMA athletes will have a schedule of rolling Jits, working take-downs and clinch with a wrestling coach and hitting focus mitts and Thai pads along with sparing standup. After the fundamentals are sound, the fighter has to learn the art of putting them all together. We know now how a fighter who is extensively trained in boxing can be thrown off his game by a wrestler shooting in and this is because the human brain can only consciously pay attention to a couple things at once. An MMA competitor has so many things to focus on at one time and it is difficult to train for this. Imagine your opponent brawling it out with you against the cage, then suddenly dropping level to catch a single and finally lifting off to a flying knee to your face. With so many ways to make a mistake and be beaten and yet, be able to pull off a spinning heal kick and actually land it is an amazing feat of mental focus!
Be first!
Coach Tobywan