Thursday, 29 September 2011

Daniel Agard: Heart of A Samurai

By Coach Cj Swaby

Ahead of the 2011 International London Open IBJJF Championships at Crystal Palace, I got to grips with what the competition has in store for Daniel Agard, about his training philosophy, his plans going into 2012, and his exciting experience training on the Fighter Development Program (FDP).

CS: Daniel, for those who don't know about you, tell them about your BJJ competition success, and where you train?

DA: My main BJJ competition success started when I was 15-17 years old, winning juvenile and adult tournaments. At 17 I won the Juvenile Europeans title, and the Abu Dhabi Pro trials. After this, I focused on training for The World Abu Dhabi Pro and that's how I've made my name on the international circuit; and I came 2nd in the Europeans at Purple belt. I do all my BJJ training under Felipe Alves De Souza at BJJ School (in Battersea Youth Centre) and with CJS Fitness, at Balance Performance Physiorapy for my strength and conditioning.

CS: How did you get involved in BJJ?

DA: From 14 to 15 I was searching for academies to start a career in MMA, and then I found a website to the Roger Gracie academy in Ladbroke Grove. I fell in love with BJJ and I've been focussing on it since.

CS: How has your style changed over the years?

DA: I started implementing a fighters style named Marcelo Garcia, when I was a younger blue belt. I then developed a more flexible style which I learnt firstly from Michael Russel and then I began to study more of that style from Cobrinha. I was taught my fighting style when I'm on top be my instructor Felipe, and I've always seen some similarities in my style and his. A long with that, I've taken a few tricks from other fighters such as JT Torres and Raphael Mendes. I'm always changing my style to what suits my style.

CS: Who has been the biggest influence on your BJJ training?

DA: There have been many influences and this is really hard to answer, but I think it would have to be Lloyd Irvin who is an American Black Belt. The way that he has created a system for his team, and to actually see his team implement the same system into their fights is beyond me. I saw one of his students, perform the same move on some in a tournament in 2009, and it amazed me how someone could do this. I learnt more about Lloyd's way of training and he talked a lot about drilling and its importance. I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't focus on drilling so much.

CS: So you have been on FDP for almost a year, how have you benefited from it?

DA: Being in the FDP team has been a career changing experience. I've learnt how to train smarter and how to eat correctly according to my training. I really had no idea about any of this before I met Cj, but the main benefit is that my body allows me to train harder and I can also train more during the week, because of what I've learnt from Cj.

CS: What has it been like training with Cj?

DA: Its been great because Cj has really learned how I cope with training stress; if I'm pushing myself in training or not. He really helps me to believe in myself when I want to give up, and that helps me work harder.

CS: In what way is your competition preparation different than before you were on FDP?

DA: I train Strength and Conditioning! I've gained an insane amount of strength since I've started, and for BJJ, that's important. I'm holding positions longer its allowing me to take more control during sparring. My style of fighting is very explosive, but because I didn't train strength and conditioning, I couldn't do what I've wanted to do in competitions. I really felt the difference when I fought in January (at the Abu Dhabi Pro Trials) because I was more aggressive and I did what I wanted to do.

CS: What was the biggest surprise you had training with Cj?

DA: Dead lifting 120Kg, without a doubt. After I lifted the weights, I asked Cj if it was a good effort, he laughed and said yes. So that has to be it for me, but I have higher targets to reach very soon.

CS: With FDP you train with fighters from different combat sports - how has that influenced you?

DA: Its influenced me a great deal when I see my training partners succeed in their fights, and in training. That's my reminder telling me that I can do the same thing and that I will. Its really inspiring to be apart of the FDP.

CS: What are your competition plans for 2011 - 2012?

DA: My plans for next year is to go into 2013 with 5 World titles. Weight and absolute in the gi and no gi in The Abu Dhabi Pro World Cup; and one title at the World Championships.

CS: The BJJ International London Open is at Crystal Palace for the first time next weekend; are you excited about the competition?

DA: I'm so excited for this tournament because its the first time the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu JItsu Federation) will be in England, and I will have the opportunity to show case my game.

CS: Who will you be having your eye on in the competition?

DA: Myself! I'm just going to step onto the mat, being confident to do what I've trained for so long to do. I won't worry about anybody else's style or tactics.

CS: What is it that you love about BJJ and competing?

DA: BJJ is so diverse, so dynamic when it comes to techniques and positions. So diverse where you can pick out techniques from DVD's! You're always learning in this sport. I have many internal and external factors about competition, but I just love to have fun and to enjoy myself. Training hard for so long and let everyone see what you can do. Its a really good feeling.

CS: Do you see yourself competing in any other combat sport during your career?

DA: As a BJJ fighter, MMA will always be in the back of my mind so I guess we will have to find out soon.

CS: Dan, its been a pleasure training you. You have achieved a lot already and I'm sure great things lie in store for you. Thanks for doing the interview.

DA: Thank you

You will be albe to see Daniel Agard in action and all the crew form the BJJ School, this weekend 1st - 2nd October at The London International Open IBJJF Championships.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Wild Physique Unleashed : My Journey Into Strength Pt 8

By Coach Cj Swaby

"Despite the difficulties and frustrations of the moment,I still have a dream."

- Dr Martin Luther King

My Journey Into Strength Pt 8: Road To Recovery

So I had strained the flexor muscles in my forearm, plus fractured the small bones in my wirsts in both hands. I had limited range of movement, and that which I did have often caused searing pain. I could not put weight through my hands. Getting out of the bath had evolved into an interesting game, as I could not use my hands to leverage myself out. I even had difficulty holding simple things, such as a frying pan.

Still I attempted to train. As I was unable to extend my wrists, I could not get under the bar to squat. I substitued back squats for Zercher squats. I could not hold a barbell, or dumbell, but I could manage knuckle press ups. I duly modified the tempo and leverage for great effect. For pulling movements I strapped some weight to my waist and knocked out some Gironda pull ups. Sprints became my staple diet.

Even though I was still able to train, I could not manage the intensity that I was used too, or the same exercises. My strength fell off, I lost 4kg in a short space of time. It was clear that I wasn't going to compete at the Strength & Power Meet, or the Powerlifting Competition later this year. Each gym session was becoming frustrating, and depressed me more. Physiotherapy treatment was yeilding some results, but not at the speed which I had hoped for. While my general demeanour was a happy one, now and again my mind would drift into a dark place. That was until a friend of mine taught me an invaluable lesson. Perspective.

In mid summer Katarina Helcmanovska was involved in a car accident. She was exiting a round about on her bike, when a taxi driver thoughtlessly ploughed into her, instantly breaking both her legs and collar bone. Katarina was laid up in hospital for about 10 days for an operation and then discharged. When I spoke to her about the accident, she was remarkably up beat and said "Well, you know it was the best possible outcome really" Bemused I replied, "How so?" Kat didn't waste any time in answering, "At least I didn't get any head or spinal injuries, it could have been a lot worse." It stopped me dead in my tracks. "Wow" I thought. She's got the right mindset.

Katarina went further in humbling me, when about a week later she arrived at our Full Throttle Fitness Class. She had travelled from East London to South London, covering two bus rides and a tube journey all by herself. What was even more remarkable was the fact that she had only one functioning arm, and one functioning leg to propell herself in the wheelchair. Resolute, I decided to abandon any thoughts of self pity, and re-establish an effective rehab and training program.

I incorporated indian club training to complement the joint manipulations, establishing range of movement, tissue and joint strength, plus specialised grip training. I gradually began introducing bench press with dumbells, and light back squat, plus deadlifts. I was making progress. While my deadlift is still 15kg off my max, my squat 25kg off and my bench 30kg off my top end lifts, my enthusiasm for training is growing again and my outlook is brighter. By Christmas I aim to have my base levels back, with a view to being Powerifting, "competition ready" come February / March 2012.

HOW Can This Help You?

Step 1
Treat any injury as soon as possible.

Step 2
Establish a treatment plan with a suitable professional to get you back on track.

Step 3
Stick with the training plan - give it time to work.

Step 4
Guard Your Mind - Be realistic, but remember it could be worse, be grateful.Healing takes time.

Step 5
Modify your training, and accept that it will be a "maintenance" phase.

I hope that you have found this useful, especially if you are stuggling with injury. I would like to thank Katarina Helcmanovska for her awesomeness and inspiration, which is often understated, but always present.

In the final Journey Into Strength, I will be looking at exercise programming for strength athletes who are DRUG FREE and like to lift RAW.

Yours In Strength

Coach Cj Swaby

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Full Throttle Fitness WOW # 2

By Coach Cj Swaby

The new format to Full Throttle Fitness meant that today's session kicked off with a strength based odd lift. Fresh on the mend from his injury, Coach Cj Swaby decided to jump in on this session, turning up the heat. Here's what went down.

Full Throttle Fitness WOW # 2

Warm up: Joint Mobility & Dynamic Body weight Movement

Section One: Odd Lifts

Double Kettlebell "Two Hands Any How" 3 Reps x 3 Sets

3 minute rest between Sets

Rest 5 minutes then...

Section 2: Strength Power Endurance

A1) Double Kettlebell Snatches 10 reps x 10 sets / 90 seconds rest between sets

A2) Sprints: 20 sec work : 10 recovery x 8 rounds

A3) Warrior Sit ups 20 secs work : 10 secs recovery

Cool Down & Stretch

This piece has everyone in attendance questioning their sanity - and rightly so! great fun was had by all


New classes have been added to the timetable. We now have classes in Fulham, and in Clapham. Check out the timetable HERE.

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Death Of Spartacus : Blood And Sand

By Coach Cj Swaby

Yesterday the sad news surged across the internet and into mainstream media, Andy Whitfield had died. Andy had contracted non Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2010 while filming the hit, Spartacus: Blood and Sand. He appeared in all of the original series, and the network agreed to wait until his health returned to continue the story (filming the prequel in the meantime) but this was not to be. You can find out more about Andy Whitfiled HERE.

I only recently got into the series Spartacus, after Coach Sabina Skala bought me the entire series DVD box set. I was at first reluctant to watch it, as I was a fan of the original Kubriks 1960's film staring Kirk Douglass. To me, Kirk Douglass owned that role, and I thought no other could do the role justice. I was mistaken. Whitfiled brought new life to the role of Spartacus and was different than Douglass' version. In short, Andy Whitfield made you believe HE was Spartacus, a man that was at once noble, yet flawed. Fair, yet vengeful, strong yet compassionate, essentially a diverse human being capable of a broad spectrum of emotions and qualities.

S what's this got to do with CJS Fitness? We're all about physical training and mental preparation. No we are not Gladiators of the arena like in Spartacus, but everyone has their own challenges in life, and for some cancer is one of the ultimate tests they will face - and this strikes a chord with us.

In the coming weeks we will be posting about WHAT is Cancer? WHAT Type of treatment is available? WHICH resources are available to support cancer patients? WHAT can cancer survivors do to regain their health & strength? WHAT carers of Cancer patients can do to help themselves? Our aim is to help slay the Dragon, or at least cut the Dragon down into manageable pieces, so that you can look it square in the eye, knowing you've giving your all to the battle. R.I. P Andy Whitefield, our thoughts go out to you and your family.

Yours in Strength

Coach Cj Swaby

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Wild Physique Unleashed: My Journey Into Strength Pt 7

By Coach Cj Swaby

Step 7: Mastering Injury

There is a thin line between mental toughness and stupidity, and at Body Power 2011 I clear crossed the line with wreckless abandonment, destroying any chance I had of competing in The Strength Power Meet 2011, or the British Power Lifting Open. Here's what happened.

At the Body Power Expo, central to our space was a rig supplied by Beaver Fit. Similar to the Beaver Fit Commander FTR (pictured below).

A few of us had come up with the idea to do explosive pull ups form the bottom bar to the top of the wing in one move. After a few attempts, I managed to nail the trajectory, and executed it effortlessly drawing attention from onlookers, who watched a few of us mastering the move in awe.

As the day continued, I demonstrated the War Machine, delivered Kettlebell Workshops with my good friend Matt Whitmore of Fitter London, plus a body weight demo with Legendary Coach Martin Rooney to the thousands in attendance. The show had come to a close and a few of use were shutting down the stall, and were playing about on the rig. Someone asked to see me to the explosive pull up to the top bar as it was quite some angle (the top bar was about 11 - 12ft high and at a 45 degree angle to the lower bar of about 7ft). I set my self into position and exploded up, I felt the tips of my finger grab hold, then all of a sudden I was falling backwards, legs in the air watching the bar slip away into the distance. I was falling, in that split second I realised I had to break fall and tuck my chin in as I was about to hit solid ground.

I slapped the floor on impact to disperse the force. I lay there flat on my back, looking up at the bar bemused. What just happened?! I had been doing this all day.

Mistake Number 1

I did not realise how fatigued I was. I had been training at a sub maximal intensity all day, but did not recognise the impact on my performance.

Mistake Number 2

Partly in disbelief, and mostly being the stubborn guy that I am, I promptly got back up and attempted the explosive pull up again.

This time I came hurtling towards the ground, and executed a breakfall again. On- lookers winced and turned away. My friends encouraged me to quit.

Mistake Number 3

I didn't listen. I didn't listen to my body, or those who had a better vantage position to see the situation differently.

I attempted the explosive pull up again, to the same result. I smashed into the unforgiving hard ground of the expo. Something didn't quite feel right. Legs splayed in the air, laying flat on my back I finally listened to the voice inside my head which told me "You better quit this one Cj before it gets real ugly."

Mistake Number 4

I didn't check myself properly for injuries. I continued packing up the stand at the expo, I even went out for dinner with The Fitter London Crew, Iron Mac, and Jonathan Lewis. Later the following day the extent of my injuries soon became apparent when I could not extend my wrists pain free, hold weighted objects or put pressure through my hands. I was later to discover I had fractured the small bones in both hands.

WHAT Can You Learn From This?

There were a few critical mistakes that I made, as I previously outlined, attempting to execute demanding feats when fatigued, not listening to my body or those around with a better vantage point so that I could see the bigger picture, and not checking my injuries properly after an accident. These are things that if brought to the fore front of our awareness, injury can be easily avoided. Mental and physical fatigue is the domain where injury and "accidents" happen.

A key thing that I failed to realise at the time is the impact that accident would have on my training and ultimately my goal. Remain focused and don't be swayed or distracted from your aim. Something as trivial as the explosive pull up to the top bar (which in the grand scheme of things wasn't that important) ended any chance I had of competing, and became significant for the wrong reasons.

The accident happened in May, and its now September, I've only recently began to train in earnest as was limited in what I could do. In the next entry I will look at HOW I worked around my injuries, WHAT I did to refocus after feeling sorry for myself (briefly)and the importance of getting specialist help when appropriate.

Yours in Strength

Coach Cj Swaby

p.s If you haven't had a chance yet, my homeboy Matt Whitmore over at Fitter London has been documenting his Journey into Strength and unleashing his Wild Physique. Its an inspiring and thought provoking read. Check it out here.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Full Throttle Fitness New Timetable

Coach Cj Swaby

So we've added some new classes to the timetable to give you even more opportunities to come down and get a fantastic workout and have fun. The ultimate Kettlebell Class in London also combines bodyweight exercises and odd objects, sprinkled with a twist of uncertainty as Coach Sabina Skala, and Coach Cj Swaby skillfully craft Full Throttle Fitness.

With Kettlebell Classes in Fulham, and Kettlebell Classes in Clapham you now even have choice of two prime locations. Ok, Ok, so when are they? Simply check below

Full Throttle Fitness Timetable

Tuesday 7:30pm - 9pm Balance Physiotherapy, 113 Gauden Road, Clapham, SW4 6LE

Thursday 8:45pm - 9:30pm, Energie Gym, The Pier Buildings, Carnwarth road, Fulham, SW6 3EF

Saturday 12:15pm - 1:15pm Balance Physiotherapy, 113 Gauden Road, Clapham SW4 6LE

Price: 10.00 GBP pay as you go or

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Full Throttle Saturday WOW #1 (after holiday break)

By Coach Sabina Skala

First FULL THROTTLE session after our holiday break had to be "special" :).
This is a very similar session I did with one of our athletes during last week of his pre-MMA fight preparation.

So here is what we did:

2 rounds of 45sec work 15 sec to change the station

Heavy bag slam
Partner turtle lift
Swings outside the knees
Frog Hops

Rest 1 min inbetween rounds

2 rounds of of 45sec work 15 sec to change the station
Bearcrawl (with KB's - dont use your legs, drag them as you move forward)
Partner work - Roll and jump over
Partner lift (TGU)
Farmers carry
Renegade Rows

Rest as above

1 round of of 45sec work 15 sec to change the station

Partner deadlift
Fireman carry
V- sit up
Plank (with your partner on your back)

Rest 4 mins

8 rounds of 20 sec work/10 sec rest
Alternate between

Deck squat to shoot
Frog hop

Job Done!

If you are not sure how Partner turtle lift looks like, here is a good example (this is one of the conditioning session I did with our Fighter Development Program athlete Scott Jansen)