Sunday morning Qigong

Although Sunday is my official sleep in day, the late Summer sun has me awake and firing on all cylinders by 7am. I decided to head on down to the river that flows near my house and to do my Qigong on the riverbank.

There was barely a soul in sight as I rode down along the bike path, looking for a good location. I eventually found a quiet spot where I could practice in relative peace, only noticeable to the joggers running down the far side of the river.
This time of year its green, green and the air filled with dragonflies and various insects busy with their business. The river flows straight down off the mountain side, with lots of idyllic little spots for picnics or nature walks.
I do my stretches and then immerse myself in the local sounds; running water, a little breeze and the orchestration of birds and insects. Since I normally train indoors ( thanks to the near vicinity of a mosquito full forest next to my house), this was a pleasant change and I found myself much more engrossed in the practice than usual. If there is such a thing as being ” at one with the universe”, then Qigong and meditative practices are definitely the pathway to that goal.
Any tension both mental and physical just slipped away as the environment embraced me. It felt great to be able to stretch out my time frame and let the practice meander, rather than the regimented, set time sessions I do before an average work day.
Finishing off with some yoga breathing, I felt pretty charged.
Any of you looking for a way to deal with stress, recharge or just a way to connect with yourself, you wont go wrong having a look at Qigong.
An amazing path of self discovery.

The amazing Denis Vasilev

Denis Vasilev, two time world champion in the Kettlebell long cycle, showing how its done.
Great inspiration.


What strikes me the most about this is his conditioning. He is sucking air like a freight train, and yet keeps up the intensity all the way through, and is able to sprint for the last minute. Power and conditioning….awesome.

Ed Coughlin- Living Qi.

6373_1165867915855_1502629688_420292_1228642_nEd Coughlin is one of the key elements of the International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation’s core teaching philosophy, and who is busy this year spreading the awareness and uses of Qigong  for practitioners of the Kettlebell Sport . I had the great pleasure of studying with him earlier this month in Malaysia at the IKFF CKT Level 1 & 2 Teacher’s training, and asked him at that time if I could interview him for Gaijin Kettlebell . Here is the start of what I hope to be a regular spot here at Gaijin Kettlebell on Qigong.

GKJ-Thank you Ed for taking the time to speak with us today. Could you start with telling us a little bit about your long and diverse background. You have been a long time friend and associate with Steve Cotter, to the extent that he often refers to you as his brother.
What led you to Qigong initially? And what is it?

I began studying martial arts 30 years ago beginning with Uechi Ryu karate, I achieved 4th dan and received my teaching certificate after training in that style for 18 years. In the late 80’s I began studying Tai chi and qi gong with various teachers. About 15 years ago I was introduced to my current teacher Master Kao by a friend and fellow student. After being introduced to Master Kao I gave up everything else I was doing at the time to devote myself to his teachings.  Master Kao is a Master of Chinese Internal Martial arts including Xing Yi Quan, Bagua Zhang, Tai Ji Quan and the rare Taoist System called Xiao jiu tian or “Little Nine Heaven” which includes martial arts , qi gong and Chinese sword. He is also an excellent traditional healer. In 2001 I was made a 35th generation disciple in the Little Nine Heaven system, one of only four of master Kao’s students to be made disciples. My friend and Kung Fu brother Steve Cotter is also a close student of Master Kao. In 1996 I graduated the Florida Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine and now work as a doctor of oriental medicine, I also teach martial arts and qigong to a small group of students at my home. For the last decade I have been practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism as a student of H.H. Penor rinpoche.

I had  been introduced to qi gong at various times , first in the mid 80’s with tai chi and a few years later with a number of teachers. Later in Chinese medicine school , qigong was taught as an element of the curriculum. But my real serious training has been with Master Kao. Qigong is an important element of both Chinese internal martial arts and Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Briefly qigong means to exercise the qi .  Qi can be defined as the vital energy of the body and qigong is a method of exercise to preserve , strengthen and circulate this vital energy in the body to promote health and vitality.

GKJ- Tai Chi Chuan is quite well known in the west, but Qigong has appeared relatively recently in the common consciousness. What does Qigong have to offer the average person and why is it important?

Tai 6373_1165820194662_1502629688_420108_1360238_n chi chuan Or tai ji quan is a system of Chinese internal martial arts related to qigong in that they both relay on a cultivation and understanding of qi. Whereas traditionally tai chi was taught as a fighting art and only recently is done primarily for health. Qigong is a health promotion and rehabilitative regime.

For the average practioner qigong offers a simple method to promote health and energy and as a way to repair the body from stress and overuse. While traditional methods of exercise focus on the building physical strength , speed and endurance, the focus of qigong is on the subtle energetic network of the body and the internal organs. Ordinary exercise can be damaging to the body which is in fact why it works by causing the body to adapt to stress, qigong can repair the  body by reducing tension, regulating breathing ,improving circulation and strengthen the internal organs and endocrine system.

The combination of physical exercise such as kettlebells, bodyweight conditioning or martial arts with a consistent practice of simple qigong is an ideal method to promote health , relieve stress and increase longevity. Continuous vigorous exercise without a rehabilitative component to it is a recipe for injuries and a short athletic career with a lot of chronic pain. I believe adding a simple qigong routine to your exercise or just on its own can greatly improve performance , reduce or correct injury and promote overall health.

GKJ.- I have read and heard that it is very important in Qigong to have proper instruction from a teacher. Why is that so? Are there any Qigong practices that a person can try if they are interested in exploring Qigong?

There are many systems or methods of qigong training , primarily what I’m talking about here is qigong for health and longevity  . but there are also qigong methods for martial arts to strengthen and harden the body, medical qigong to cure disease and religious or philosophical qigong done as a spiritual practice. Some systems of qigong are very complicated and involve holding the breath for extended periods , directing the energy(qi) with the mind or the breath or the use of weights or other equipment. The more complicated the method the greater the possibility of side effects .

Therefore complicated qigong systems require instruction and monitoring by a competent teacher to avoid pitfalls, however there are very simple and effective qigong systems that can be practiced on your own once the basic principles are understood. A good example is the level one qi gong that can be found on the IKFF YouTube channel. (Link to the clip here) This is a good introductory qi gong exercise that can be done by anyone and has no side effects, yet is very effective for promoting circulation and reducing stress among other benefits.

GKJ.- In my own short time experience, I have experienced Qi as a form of energy that resides in the body and the atmosphere around us. Doing Qigong practice brings an awareness of this energy that exists around us every day. What is Qi? It is often left as a mystery. Also, this energy awareness comes and goes- is this natural?

6373_1166442210212_1502629688_421951_1194653_n “QI” basically means energy and exists all around us and in us . there are many types of qi. In the human body Qi can be thought of as the body’s vital energy . our body has an energetic system related to but apart from our nervous and circulatory systems.

It is this energetic network that is manipulated in the practice of acupuncture and some types of Asian body work. In traditional oriental medical theory , the energy aspect of this network is called “qi”. Qi  is the body’s motivating force, it is the “stuff” that animates our body. Every living organism has Qi. With conscious training this vital energy can be strengthened and controlled to promote health and longevity, this is the practice of qigong or “working the qi”. Similar ideas of this energy exist in other cultures like the “prana” of yoga. Bio electricity is also a comparable term.

GKJ.- It is also said that Qigong is very effective at relieving stress, and also making the body stronger. How does it do this? Here in Japan, the average office worker deals with low energy levels constantly, due to a fairly intense working environment, non natural light environment and long working hours. Most people feel incredibly lethargic, especially during the hot and rainy seasons. Can Qigong help them?

Through a combination of breathing , movement and posture qi gong practice can increase oxygen uptake , relax the nervous system , increase the circulation of blood and lymph through the activity of propulsion. through breathing combined with right and left movement brain hemisphere and wave frequencies can be normalized. The endocrine structures of the brain can be stimulated by intention , meditation and visualization which are all elements of qigong practice. Increased immune function can be stimulated by breathing ,relaxation and meditation . all of these things have been observed in clinical settings related to the consistent practice of qigong along with other wonderful effects. For people who are high stressed, with long work secludes , sedentary work conditions and who have low energy or only short periods of time for activity or exercise , qigong is the ideal method of training to promote their health and longevity and  eliminate stress and tension .

GKJ.- It seems that from now on, Qigong will feature more prominently in IKFF seminars and activities. What are your own personal aspirations with the spreading of knowledge of Qigong? Can we look forward to having you touring around teaching about Qi?

Steve Cotter and the IKFF are at the cutting edge of fitness and as I noted above the combination of kettlebell training, body weight conditioning and qigong are an ideal health promoting exercise and fitness combination. I look forward to traveling to and teaching qigong at the various level 2 certifications. In the future we hope to be putting out a book and DVD on qi gong and to doing qigong workshops around the globe.

GKJ.-Thank you for your time and I hope to have you hear regularly answering questions about Qigong. It was certainly an honor for me meeting you in Malaysia earlier this month.

Thanks for this opportunity to talk about qigong and I look forward to working with you in the future. More info about can be found at and


Tabata yourself today!

Taken from ezenearticles
written by expert John Harker

The Tabata protocol is a high-intensity training regimen that produces remarkable results. A Tabata workout (also called a Tabata sequence) is an interval training cycle of 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated without pause 8 times for a total of four minutes. In a group context, you can keep score by counting how many lifts/jumps/whatever you do in each of the 20 second rounds. The round with the smallest number is your score.

Credit for this simple and powerful training method belongs to its namesake, Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan. Their groundbreaking 1996 study, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, provided documented evidence concerning the dramatic physiological benefits of high-intensity intermittent training. After just 6 weeks of testing, Dr. Tabata noted a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity in his subjects, along with a 14% increase in their ability to consume oxygen (V02Max). These results were witnessed in already physically fit athletes. The conclusion was that just four minutes of Tabata interval training could do more to boost aerobic and anaerobic capacity than an hour of endurance exercise.

Although Dr. Tabata used a mechanically braked exercise cycle machine, you can apply this protocol to almost any exercise. For example, a basic Tabata workout can be performed with sit-ups. The more muscles used the better, so use full knees-bent sit-ups. Sit-up non-stop for 20-second intervals, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat for a total of 8 cycles.

How effective can just 4 minutes of exercise be? … Very. You will be amazed at how intense the four minutes of exercise will feel. The intervals tax both your aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. To be clear, this isn’t “eight sets of eight,” although the goal of doing eight reps in each of the 20-second clusters is about right. Instead it’s “as many reps as I can get in” during the twenty seconds, followed by ten seconds rest.

It helps to be able to see a wall clock with a second hand during your four minutes of fun. Stop at twenty seconds, rest ten seconds, and go again. Watching the clock helps with your focus and also in keeping count of the eight cycles…

Here is a longer Tabata workout example. This workout consists of 4 separate Tabata Intervals, each 4 minutes. The total workout will last 16 minutes. Always begin with a moderate warm-up and cool down session. And if you are not already in good shape, check with a doctor before trying.

* Jump Rope

* Pushups

* Squats

* Chin-ups or Pull-ups

Note the 10-second rest periods in the Tabata workout are important, both physically and mentally. Not only do they allow partial recovery, they also provide psychological relief. Switching back and forth from work to rest makes the workout go quickly. Plus, it allows you to train at a higher level of intensity, which what intervals are all about.

Another good exercise for Tabatas is the “squat thruster.” The squat thruster is one of the great lifts being made popular by organizations such as CrossFit. Take two dumbbells and hold them at shoulder height. Squat down, pushing your rear-end back, keeping the dumbbells on the shoulders. As you rise up, press the bells to the overhead lockout position. You can either press as you rise or use the momentum to help “kick” the bells overhead. Keep your weight in your heals and go light! A 25 pound dumbbell in each hand is a very difficult thruster workout!

Pretty much any form of cardiovascular exercise that uses a large number of muscles can be tailored to fit Tabata interval workouts, so feel free to be creative. In addition to the exercises mentioned above, use them with sprints, burpees, a jump rope, the heavy bag, treadmill or rowing machine. Lessen the likelihood of injury by choosing a rate of intensity suited to your level of conditioning – be conservative. Incorporate variety into your Tabata workouts. A few sessions per week will offer plenty of intensity.

John Harker is a cardio kickboxing teacher in Santa Cruz, California. He teaches at Westside Aerobics and Martial Arts. More information can be found on their website at His personal site is

Article Source:

Sportspeople in Japan #1- Jan Kaszuba


Training a client at Bungeling Bay Gym in Ebisu, Tokyo.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a professional fighter living and competing here in Japan, who also teaches boxing and kickboxing for living. Anyone meeting Jan (pronounced “Yon”) for the first time is greeted with a warm smile and a firm handshake, and the conversation rather naturally drifts to what its like to be a foreigner living and fighting in the land of the rising sun.

After spending an afternoon with him learning some fundamental techniques for my journey into boxing/kickboxing, I was impressed with both his professional demeanor and passion for what he does as a fighter. I decided to interview him for the blog, and share his journey with you.

1. Jan, please tell us a bit about yourself.

About me

-from a working class town in Canada called Windsor which borders Detroit

-I studied advertising in college

-28 years old

-Used to fight 85kg but now I fight 70kg

-Lived in Japan for 2.5yrs. Lived in Okayama for .5 and Tokyo for 2yrs

-Started training when I was 14. 1st day of H.S. actually -Started training because I was influenced by the movie Kick boxer

– Former Shidokan MW world champ

2. Why did you come to Japan?

I came to Japan to pursue my dream of fighting in K1. I had no real connections in Canada that could get me a chance at fighting in K1 at the time so I decided to come here.

3. Tell us about some of the people you have trained with- those who really stood out as people that have influenced you a great deal.

I have trained with the professional fighters of Iron Ax at Seido Kaikan since I have lived in Tokyo. Tatsuji is the most successful of the team. Recently I have changed teams. I joined the pro team of Bungeling Bay which trains out of AE Factory. The team is led by Nitta Akeomi and Nicolas Pettas. One of the biggest influences in my training career has been Tomasz Kucharzewski (6 time Shidokan HW world champion and K1 HW competitor) but unfortunately he died while I was here in Japan. Another big influence was my old trainer in Canada. He was a Canadian Olympic boxing coach. His name is William (Bill) Grant.

4. What was the hardest fight you have ever been in?


Jan earning his daily bread

I’m not sure which fight has been my hardest. Ive had a lot of wars. The hardest fight Ive had recently would have to be the one I had with Nitta Akeomi (owner of Bungeling Bay) We beat the crap out of each other. The last round was an absolute caveman fight. My hands hurt for about a year after that fight. They’re ok now 😉

5. You are 28 years old, where do you plan to go from here?

I have no idea what the future holds for me. I’m kinda just going with the flow right now. Id like to stay in Japan to continue my fighting career and working as a personal trainer but if I move home I may be able to get a job as a park ranger through a friend in the RCMP. I also have the opportunity to work as a trainer in my home town, Chicago, or Dubai. Dubai would be nice.

6. As a foreigner living in Japan, what is hard/easy for you?

Living as a foreigner in Japan has been quite difficult because of obvious reasons such a language barriers and cultural differences but the most difficult thing has been my experience with Nova( the now defunct English teaching school that suddenly went under a couple of years ago). Everyone knows about that.

Its become a lot easier for me since Ive started working at Bungeling Bay Gym because now I’m surrounded by so many kind people and I’ve made a lot of new friends. My Japanese is really starting to improve too. I didn’t have much social contact with Japanese people before working here as all I did before was train with them, but now I work with them too and I’m forced to speak Japanese. I love it.

7. Regarding your personal training, what is your usual routine?

My training routine is currently in transition because my trainer recently moved back to Thailand. I’m training with a new team that really trains like a team and does everything together. I also train at Bungeling Bay with various partners on Tuesday and Thursday.



I normally train Monday through Saturday when I’m preparing for a fight. Right now I am taking any opportunity I can to do different things and change up my routine. I’ve been doing the exact same thing pretty much everyday for the last two years with my trainer and I think its burnt me out a bit. My old routine consisted of shadow boxing, stretching, pad work, bag work and muscle conditioning drill. I usually finish of the day with a run. I hope to start a kettle bell routine in the near future.

8. Why do you like to train people? Whats do you think makes you good as a coach?

I like training people because I actually enjoy teaching people. If I could go back I would probably study to become a high school gym teacher. Teaching kickboxing just seems natural and it definitely doesn’t feel like work. Correcting peoples technique also makes me better as a fighter because it reinforces the techniques and strategies that are in my mind. A good coach not only gives proper instruction but they ask questions too. They must understand what their athlete is thinking and feeling.

9. So Jan, what is the future with you and K1/Pride? What do you hope to achieve in the next few years?

Well, I’m still trying to get my foot in the K1 door. Ive fought 3 K1 fighters (Lim Chi Bim, Hayato and Nitta Akeomi) but I still havent been given the chance to fight in the big show. Now that I’ve joined Bungeling Bay and AE Factory I think my chances of getting in have greatly increased because Nitta and Pettas are both former K1 stars and have the right connections. Training with this new team is also going to improve my game. In the past year a few people have encouraged me to gain weight and fight in the HW division. I gain weight really easily now. I walk around at about 81kg and I don’t even do any weight training.head-kick

If I started to do some serious eating and weight training I’m really confident that I can get over 90kg. The over 90kg division generally makes more money and are not as skilled until you get into the really high calibre fighters that are in K1. It may be easier to get into K1 if I go that route. 70kg is the most competitive division in Japan because it is a more usual weight for Japanese fighters and every fighter dreams of competing in K1 Max, therefore it can prove quite difficult and even seem almost impossible for a foreign fighter living in Japan to fight their way into the tourney.

10. Please tell us about the gym Bungeling Bay in Ebisu where you work, and your teaching philosophy.

Here’s the url, and the site map can be found here

I like to teach all kinds of students no matter what their ability may be, beginner to advanced, disabled to the physically gifted. I had the opportunity to train with a blind student that frequents the gym. It was my first time working with this disability and I was pretty nervous but we both ended up having a lot of fun. I taught him the basic techniques of kickboxing and in turn he helped me with my Japanese. This client now comes regularly to Bungeling Bay in Ebisu.

Another happy customer

Another happy customer

Ultimately, what I’m looking for in a student is dedication and the willingness to work hard in order to achieve the results that they want. I can only teach and motivate, in the end its all up to the individual to put in the effort to succeed. Also, I like to create a relationship with my student so that we have a common understanding and I know what they really need. An athlete will always work harder for someone they trust.

Jan, thanks for your time and good luck with your own personal development and career!