Hiking Boots for Martial Artists: Rationale and Reviews


Here is an other entry in the informal outdoor equipment series featured on this site.  This time, we’re focused on boots.  I wrote about training outdoors in minimalist footwear a long while ago–you know, before it was cool.  It is important for martial artists–and most other athletes–to train barefoot as much as possible, as strengthening the feet improves striking, balance, and agility among other attributes.

That being said, after many years of training barefoot–or as close as is practical using minimalist shoes–I’ve changed my stance, so to speak, regarding footwear.  This is especially true of outdoor training.  As we age, it takes longer to recover from workouts: muscles stay sore, joints may ache, and our performance suffers.  My greatest weak point as an athlete approaching middle age, however, has been my skin.  Cuts and scrapes take much longer to heal.  My hands stay dry and crack even after the winter passes.  And, worst of all, I repeatedly tear up my feet with barefoot-style training.  I had a cut on the bottom of my big toe that took more than a year-and-a-half to fully heal.  Through constant abuse through training, hiking, yard work, travel, and by wearing minimalist shoes all day while teaching high school, my once-merely-callused feet look like I’ve been walking on hot coals.

This is the potential dark side to minimalist footwear no one mentions.

Further research and experimentation have helped.  Collagen supplementation helps to repair skin damage and to maintain healthy joints.  Darn Tough socks are probably the greatest clothing invention since the saber tooth tiger tunic: they’re comfortable, protective, and have a lifetime guarantee.  Combining these have really helped my tired dogs.  But, I think I waited too long to implement these changes to diet and equipment, and, in addition sustaining a separate foot injury, I decided to finally invest in some boots for outdoor training and other activities.

Over the years, I trashed a few pairs of Timberlands and killed a pair of Cabela’s boots and had nothing to switch to.  Here are a few boots I’ve tried this year that are worth talking about.  If you suffer from or are developing foot problems, wearing a good pairs of boots–even if only some of the time–can make a big difference.

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Rucksacks for Martial Artists: Rationale and Reviews


I’ve done a lot of posts lately about outdoor gear.  As I mentioned, preparedness is an offshoot of situational awareness, which, of course, is an essential aspect of martial arts.  Being prepared for personal, professional, and family needs that may arise from day to day makes dealing with them easier.  Work had me on the road for may years, and I managed to pack for most situations on a limited budget.  Now that I travel less, I still see the merits of having the right gear at the right time in a pack that doesn’t fall apart.

I’ve outgrown and/or destroyed many packs over the years.  If someone invented a Kevlar-lined Mary Poppins’ purse, a lot of companies would go out of business.  I know I’d want one!  For now, it’s good to have the bags you need for different training, work, and family scenarios.  Here are some of the best I’ve tried so far, and how I use each every day.

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Meriden Martial Arts Club Kyu Test 5.1.16

Here are a few quick pics from our recent kyu test at the Meriden Martial Arts Club.  Thanks to all who tested and helped out.  Congrats!

IMG_1240 IMG_1208 IMG_1188

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New Review: Century Tegu Headgear

Here’s another review I wrote for MMA Gear Addict.  While I love Century products, this one is a miss.  You can read the review here, and here’s a quick video that sums it up.  I hope you find it helpful. – Bill

Century Tegu Headgear Review on MMA Gear Addict

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New Affiliate: Kataaro

Kataaro is a custom martial arts belt and equipment company that I’m consistently impressed with.  Their products are excellent as is their customer service and delivery. Better still–all their products are made in the USA!

Here is a quick review of a few belts I ordered from them and how they’ve held up over the years.  Take a look; I hope it helps.

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GORUCK GR2 Review: The One-Bag Solution

The Holy Grail for EDCers everywhere is the fabled “One-Bag Solution”.  I think I’ve found it with the GORUCK GR2.  I’ve had this bag for about a year now, and it’s served me well during hiking trips, ruck marches, yard work, weight training and calisthenics, vacations and travel, and, of course, every day carry.  Check out these pics and videos to see what I mean!

Here are some shots of the GR2 in action.  Videos explain the methods to my madness are after the jump.

GORUCK GR2 Rucking Loadout

GORUCK GR2 Rucking Loadout



GORUCK GR2 Travel Loadout 2

GORUCK GR2 Travel Loadout

GORUCK GR2 Small Compartment Configured for EDC

GORUCK GR2 Small Compartment Configured for EDC

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New Review: Venum MMA Sparring Gloves

I just signed on as a gear reviewer for a new website, MMA Gear Addict.  This one’s on a sweet set of Venum gloves that you can get on closeout if you shop around.  Check them out! – Bill

Venum MMA Sparring Gloves Review

Venum, MMA, sparring, gloves, hybrid

These are some great hybrid gloves.!

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GORUCK GR1 Fitness Loadout Review

There are a lot of reviews for this pack online, but not many explain all its different uses.  Here’s one loadout for the GORUCK GR1 used for fitness and rucking.  Look for more equipment discussion on the way, including different loadouts for the GORUCK GR2, GORUCK Bullet Ruck, Mystery Ranch 3-Day Assault Pack, the Rush Series from 5.11, and possibly a Kifaru or two!

Why does a martial artist need to worry about bags?  What you carry with you and how you carry it are important depending on your goals.  You may be rucking for fitness, hiking for fun, training kata or calisthenics with weight, going on vacation, or just lugging groceries.  No matter what you’re doing, you need to be prepared for it–a basic tenet of martial arts training.  I hope that by discussing equipment we can all be better prepared for what we face each day!

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Sandbag DIY Dead-Squat Combo Lift using GORUCK and Mystery Ranch Packs

Here’s another post in the “Silent Ninja Workouts” series.  This is a lift inspired by the Dead-Squat bar. It is meant to combine a deadlift with a squat. In this video, the deadlift is done with a 150lbs. GORUCK sandbag and a GR1 loaded with 100lbs. of plates. A Mystery Ranch Marshall pack is used for the squat, and it contains 155lbs. of sand and plates. Total weight for the lift is 405lbs., done for a 5×5 workout. It’s also a great exercise to practice maximum strength without waking up your family by throwing iron around or by wasting hours at the gym waiting for equipment.

Here are pictures of the load out.  The video follows after the jump.  I hope this starts a trend of busy folks lifting heavy things and putting them down again in creative ways!

GORUCK, Dead-Squat, Sandbag, workout, GR1, Mystery Ranch, Marshall, backpack, training, workout, deadlift, squat GORUCK, Dead-Squat, Sandbag, workout, GR1, Mystery Ranch, Marshall, backpack, training, workout, deadlift, squat

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GORUCK Sandbag Deadlift

I wrote a post about DIY sandbag deadlifts a long time ago.  Here’s a new one using some new, better performing gear.  This is a 5×5 deadlift demonstration.  There are approximately 330 pounds of sand and plates loaded into a GORUCK sandbag, a GR1, and a 15L Bullet Ruck.  The lift ain’t pretty, but it gets the job done with minimal equipment–also perfect for at-home training in the early morning or late at night.  You don’t want to wake your family by throwing a bar around!

Let’s call this the first in a series of posts about how to improve strength quietly and efficiently.  Maybe we’ll call it “Silent Ninja Workouts” or something.  Regardless, a major part of being a martial artist is resourcefulness, so there you go.

You can watch the video after the jump.  Here are some pics to show the setup.

GORUCK, deadlift, bullet ruck, gr1, sandbag GORUCK, deadlift, bullet ruck, gr1, sandbag

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