We all want to maximize the value of our time. In my years of training and travel around the world, only one time have I had to put training on hold because of injury. With limited time and a busy schedule, it is crucial to effectively manage pain and bodily damage, so we don't deter progress in our chosen pursuits. From my experience, with the proper knowledge of herbal formulas detailed below and a disciplined regimen, you can effectively minimize impact injuries that would otherwise keep you sidelined the next day.
After spending many years training in Kung Fu, MMA at Straight Blast Gym, and other art forms, and traveling annually to the Philippines, San Francisco, Colorado and Florida, I’ve discovered a system of training that provides me with the type of growth and skill that, for myself, is unparalleled. The speed with which my and my peers’ skills have developed in that time almost defies explanation for those who have not taken part in this experience. As illustrated in the attached progression video, the Tabimina System of Balintawak is where I’ve found my calling. Keep reading to gain an idea of some basic ideas in Tabimina System and how I’ve used dit da to help maintain my training regimen.
What follows now is a discussion on the quickest ways you can heal yourself when trying to pack a large amount of training into a very short time. In accelerated athletic training and skill building such as in the Tabimina system, it is most critical to take preemptive action to ward off injury, and to address any injuries immediately and effectively when they occur.
Preventative Medicine: Building the Resilient Body
In cases of no real injury, I would spend 10-15 minutes every evening massaging a good Iron Palm Jow into my hands and wrists. This helped with the building process, fighting off damage that was too minor to be aware of, and keeping my hands feeling fresh and healthy for the next day.
My choice of iron palm liniment for everyday injury prevention, protection, and conditioning is any of the several Ku Yu Cheong based liniments. I experimented with the large Feeman Ong iron palm jow, Ancestors, and Chan Ning Tong, but I always came back to the standard Ku Yu. For these specific applications, I often upped doses of Bai Zhi, Qiang Huo, Hong Hua, and Tao Ren by about 6 grams each.
It’s also a good idea during times of intense training to keep up on a really healthy diet, eat plenty of calories, drink plenty of water, and use some kind of tonic supplement like Spring Wine, Gecko Tonic, or even a Flexibility pack. (If you start dealing with injuries from intense, ongoing training, hold back a bit on the tonics and substitute out for a dit da wan such as Great Mender).
During my time in Manila, I would train for many hours a day, for 10-20 days in a row. I soon realized it was difficult to get my body to do what I wanted it to do when movements must happen so rapidly and precisely. Even coming from years of training in other stick and empty hand arts, I found my hands, arms, and body moving sloppily. Years of iron palm conditioning quickly became insignificant: My knuckles, wrists, and back of my palms would swell and bruise from contact and my shoulders would bruise from strikes that made their way through my defense. It took time to tune my nervous system into the heightened demand. As I improved, my placement improved and I worried less about having my hands hit by a stick from a slightly misplaced block.
From the outset, I knew that if I were to keep up this training regimen, it would be absolutely critical that I find some dit da regimen to keep my hands healthy and primed for training. PlumDragon was growing and I was designing and testing new formulas out in the field. It became critical to get the dit da correct until I could move my body in such a way that my hands never got hit. These formulas and guidelines suggested above are the result of a lot of personal experimentation and R&D with acupuncturists experienced in dit da formulations.
Treatment for Rapid Healing
For fresh injuries, immediately afterwards, I often used Ho family dit da jow every 3 hours throughout the day and again immediately before bed. The goal here was to address a new injury intensely and repeatedly - even if very minor – with the intent of having it fully healed the following day.
In Cases of Serious or Chronic Injury
Taking it easy is hard. We know we should take a day off. “But time is limited! Live life, go train, we can deal with injuries later!” And then matters get worse...
Chronic injuries in the knuckles can create puffy swelling areas, which inhibit your range of motion, can be very painful if struck, can take a long time to heal, and, if not dealt with properly, can cause long-term complications. In cases of injury that did eventually become more serious, I used Bruise Juice directly after training, and every hour or so thereafter. Bruise Juice is chiefly a bruise liniment. It is designed specifically for eradication of serious blood stagnation and contains a great deal of powerful anti-inflammatory herbs and blood invigorators.
I found the most recent, updated formula of Bruise Juice that’s now for sale was so effective at removing stagnation and swelling, that the inflammation and stagnant blood would be completely flushed out the following morning. There was still bone, joint, and ligament damage to be healed, but with inflammation and blood removed, hotter healing Jows, like Ho Family, could work as a follow up.
Rather than apply jow prior to bed, I would wash the area well and use a Wu Yang plaster. These plasters are milder in action and allow the injury to receive aid through the night. I’ve become very fond of using plasters during the night hours and have experienced fantastic results.
In 2010, while staying at a resort outside of Manila for the 1st annual Gathering of the Wolves, I would have been sidelined from training the next day had it not been for the aid of a Wu Yang plaster applied immediately after the injury and again at bed. Something like Great Mender or PlumDragon dit da wan also becomes a very useful aid here. It may not provide incredible results like vigorous use of jow, but it will give that little extra push necessary to get you where you need to be.
Major Injury: Stop Training, Start Treating
When you’ve sustained an injury serious enough to abstain from training, your best bet is around-the-clock maintenance: Bruise Juice or Ho Family (based on the nature of the injury) hourly during the day. This doesn’t mean you slather on a bit of jow and go about your business! To optimize treatment and speed healing, you need to spend real time on this. Spend 10 to 15 minutes massaging jow into the site of injury. Be gentle but use some pressure. Massage it in. If it is near a joint, exercise the range of motion as you work the liniment into the skin, applying another dropper every couple of minutes. Using a Wu Yang or Hua Tuo plaster right before bed is a crucial step here. Keep that healing going through the night. Add in a strong dit da wan taken 3 times per day. Additionally, diet and hydration becomes even more crucial when your body is trying to heal. Keep your diet on track, get in a gallon of water a day, and perhaps even add some BCAAs in once a day. Wash, rinse, and repeat and you might just be ready to train after a day off!
November, 2015 marks 7 full years I have dedicated to training in this art: the Tabimina System of Balintawak. In this time, I have only a few hundred hours of actual training, but due to the methodology, my movement and reaction reflect something much greater. Under the Tabimina method of Anciongs Balintawak – training of the central nervous system – separates our art form. We discard the practice of drills, patterns, exercises, and techniques; instead, we produce an intense stimulus just beyond the capability of the student. When I train my students, within hour-one, I want them to become aware of what the Japanese call, "zero mind." It is here that a student can respond subconsciously, without thought, as a pure reaction. At this point, my job as an instructor is to disrupt that state; to make the student think, to diminish their reaction time, to further challenge their skills.
I was fortunate enough to be guided here by our Grand Master, Sir Bob, who devoted his life to receiving the art directly from Anciong Bacon over 40 years ago. Sir Bob and his three sons, Flint, Chad, and Dag now hold something amazing; something special that taps into a very rare and profound type of learning; something that must be felt to be understood, which defies description. And the only true explanation comes from experiencing it like I did.
Increasing Speed and Focus in any Athletic Endeavor or Martial Arts System
We believe in order for any martial artist or athlete to increase their capability, skill level, and reaction time and precision in a stressful and pressurized situation, he or she must adhere at all times to the following 4 principles:
Random: All exchanges must be random in nature, like a sparring session. Pre-choreographed patterns and drills only build muscle memory; they do not allow the brain to learn how to react reflexively to unknown attacks. When training is random in nature, the brain can learn how to react in a profoundly better manner.
On Target: All strikes, counters, and other motions must be on target, in a real-time and under pressure setting. This might seem obvious, but I often find people do not truly strike on target when the pressure is high.
Real-time: If the student can react more rapidly than the attack comes in, then the speed of the attack must be increased so the student always feels an exchange is taking place at real-time.
Under Stress: Training should take place in an environment where the student feels the stress from their opposition; ideally, this stress is just beyond the student’s comfort level. As the student improves, on an hourly basis, the stress should be incrementally raised.
Keeping these principles in mind makes training progression very rapid, with profound development of skill. Increases in intensity force the nervous system to fire and the body to adapt and move more efficiently and appropriately. Ultimately, however, it is not the skill progression alone that keeps me hooked on this method of training; it is the consistent challenge and the incredible entertainment value. I have had more fun with this type of training than I’ve had with any activity, anywhere in the world. Training does not have to be boring and monotonous. On the contrary, it should be fun, engaging and, above all, when practiced with the proper treatments available, strengthening and rewarding.
For more information on the Tabimina System of Balintawak, check out the website.
If you would like to schedule a private session with Josh in Balintawak, Iron Palm, or Chinese herbal education, click HERE.