Tag Archives: karate

First thoughts on Les Mills Body Combat release 58 after Edinburgh Quarterly Workshop.

As I write this review my legs are aching and burning with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). That is Les Mills Body Combat release 58 for you. It annihilates the legs and blitzes the shoulders.

The Les Mills UK training team often say that they really enjoy the quarterly workshops in Scotland. They describe us as mad nutters, loud , passionate and dedicated. And so Shey who was the master trainer for this event, rode the usual wave of excitement and delivered yet another amazing workshop. The atmosphere was electric even before the class started. The tension in the air was amazing.

Everything became a blur of loud music sweat, a few tears, loud Kiais and exhilaration.

les mills body combat release 58

Here’s what I remember about Les Mills Body Combat release 58.

  • In track 2 there is a roundhouse kick challenge which works your legs and challenges your balance. The timing of the music in this track is tricky and will be very difficult to learn and to pick up the beat.
  • The first power track is a song called Shooting Star (Al Storm HS Remix) which has been in Body Combat before. However a completely different mix of the same song delivers fast and exhausting moves. In fact this feels more like a track 8 finale than one so early in the class.
  • We have more Capoeira in track 4. Another interesting piece of music with added sound effects for those of us who cheese.
  • The second power track, Cold as Ice, supplies another lengthy shoulder blasting experience with many different combinations.
  • A passable cover of the Def Leppard song, Action, provides us with a karate based track six with lots of back kicks and blocks.
  • And Muay Thai track is great fun and Shey injected much humour into her presentation with its millions of knee strikes.
  • And unusually we have a long cool down track with a lovely Kata are again based upon karate blocks.

Roll on January everyone. It’s going to hurt.

Now it’s your turn: Do you agree with my first thoughts about Les Mills Body Combat release 58? What did you think of the quarterly workshop? Please leave a comment or post a link to your own review.

Firestarter – Review of Body Combat release 55

I didn’t go on the Quarterly Workshop training for Body Combat release 55. It’s harder to learn a release and to “connect” with it if you haven’t experienced the Masterclass first. At first I found some of the music a little strange but after much practicing in my living room I began to appreciate it more. And once I launched to my participants I realised that 55 was going to be very popular.

So let’s look at the tracks.

Review of Body Combat release 55

Upper Body Warm Up (Back in Time): This is a great start. There’s no Kata, no stretch, just straight into the first combination of upper cuts as the music builds up to a really catchy hummable melody. I find myself whistling this tune during the day, it has become engrained on my mind. Plenty of shuffling gets us warm very quickly. A very satisfying start.

Lower Body Warm Up (Call Me Maybe): More uplifting dance music as we shift our focus to our legs. I like the knee and then treble knee combination which we repeat three times punctuated my a great focus on front, side and roundhouse kicks. It’s also good to see the set up move for both the side and the roundhouse kick which serves as a good reminder for the class on the difference between these moves.

Combat 1 (Bad Girls): When I first heard the music for this track I thought it sounded like the inner workings of an insane machine. It’s Dubstep and actually suits the rhythm of the capoeira moves perfectly. Before I taught this for the first time I worried about the speed of the ginga lunges. I thought that if I lost the beat I would mess up the choreography. When I taught it however, I found the simple 1, 2, 3, 4 counts and moves simple. That worry out-of-the-way and I was able to focus on getting the class deeper into the ginga and master the evasive side kick. Some of the class are even adding the jump to the ESK. This might be the first track 2 in Body Combat history not to feature the roundhouse kick.

Power 1 (Don’t Feel Like Love): A full on combination of jabs, upper cuts and hooks built a layer at a time to a great piece of music. On the DVD they suggest we go off the beat of the music for part of the combination and I like the authenticity this brings to the fighting feel.

Combat 2 (Firestarter): This is a passable cover of a Prodigy song and the track has a completely different feel than we are used to. No jump kicks but plenty of shoot lunges and roundhouse knees. Although the mixed martial arts style stands out you do have to go very hard to feel challenged by this one. This track feels a little light weight.

Power 2 (We Speak No Americano): I hated the music when I first heard it. But everyone recognises it from “The Inbetweeners” movie and it is actually great fun to teach. And I love the wide leg run at the end – the so-called “Santa Monica staircase”. It has the class breathless and gasping by the end.

Combat 3 (Where Have You Been): I certainly like the big combination in this track. A double knife strike, a double block and then back kick, front kick, back kick, front kick. No matter how hard I try I don’t seem to be able to teach the class not to add another back kick in to the sequence. Everyone just seems to add it in. So know I just let them get on with it. Musically I find this track a little dull. It’s a dirge. And for that reason this might be the first track I will mix out.

Muay Thai (Let It Rock): Off the scale relentless and challenging this track makes you breathe out of every opening. There are millions of knee strikes here and you can really build up the intensity up to the point when we add in the jumping knees. I love the look of disbelief on people’s faces when you demo the jumping knee. And just what are the words during the high-pitched vocal ever time we return to the street brawl downward punch? It sounds like,  “Ice Lolly! Ice Lolly!”

Power 3 (For a Lifetime): A very catchy sing along song to finish off the cardio section of the class. There are lots of words to latch on to motivate the class, “I believe in you and everything you do”. However it doesn’t feel as relentless as some of the previous track 8s. It’s good that it finishes on a combo and not endless jabs though.

Conditioning (You’re Gonna Love This): Short and surprisingly tough I like the variety of moves in this track. Shoulder taps give us core conditioning and the power clamber keeps the heart rate up.

Cool down (Battle Scars): A fine end to Body Combat release 55. It’s always good to see a downward facing dog in the cool down.

So Body Combat release 55 is another solid class which certainly creates a cardio high. Track 2 smashes your legs early on and the Muay Thai is absolutely mental. Only the music from track 6 let’s the release down in my opinion.

Your turn: Are you a Body Combat instructor? What do you think of my review of Body Combat release 55? Do you agree? Please share your thoughts. If you are a participant let me know what you think as well. Click below where it says “Leave a reply” and share!

Blade’s back – Review of Body Combat Release 53

I am writing this post with aching legs and burning shoulders. And it is all Body Combat Release 53’s fault. This is a relentless work out. It hardly lets up for a moment. Several times when first teaching this, I forgot to breathe. So the next time I warned the class to take care. Afterwards someone tweeted me to say that they too had failed to follow my breathing advice.

So let’s talk about the tracks.

Review of Body Combat Release 53
Poster for BC53


Upper Body Warm Up (Written in the Stars): As usual an uplifting opener with a strong beat and catchy tune. As well as the usual jabs, upper cuts and hooks we also get to preview descending and ascending elbows from later in the class.

Lower Body Warm Up (Are You Ready For This?): Spot the instructors and participants who have done Body Combat for years. This song first appeared in release 10 way back in 2001. I find this a very busy lower body warm up with very quick transitions and a lot going on. The timing in the capoeira ginga shuffle is hard to nail. Overall though very effective as we get warm very quickly.

Combat 1 (Rock N Roll All Night): This is a disappointing track. It’s very short and is a rather insipid live version of the song. However we see the jump front kick in Combat 1 for the first time (it’s usually in track 4) and that raises the heart rate slightly before you blink and find that the track is over.

Power 1 (Shine On): Now the work out cranks up to lethal levels and pretty much stays there from now on. I found my shoulders were particularly sore after release 53 and it’s because all the three power tracks have a hook in the combinations thus working the same muscle groups over and over. The moves in Shine On are simple and the high amount of reps lead to fatigue and a fast heart rate. Use the short skipping break in the middle to get back control of your breathing.

Review of Body Combat Release 53
Dan and Rach doing side kicks in Track 4

Combat 2 (Sweet Dreams): When I first heard this music I thought it was very dark and gothic. I’ve since found out that it is a cover of the Marilyn Manson and not the Eurythmics version so that explains it. Karate takes centre stage here with very powerful blocks and palm strikes. We build up the side kick sequence slowly and then ramp up the power. And I love the Kata which reminds me of the one from my all time favourite combat track, Scooter’s Jigga Jigga way back in release 25.

Power 2 (True Believer): Wow. Another relentless power track with a catchy sing along tune, pounding beat and great words let me create motivating cues. “You’re my inspiration” indeed. Another combo with a hook continues to burn the shoulders. I love the 7 upper cut combo with the huge seventh punch. And finishing with thirty odd upper cuts off the same arm elevates the heart rate to the top of the scale. We learn how endless punches like this can actually work the core as well as the arms. They are like sit ups stood up.

Combat 3 (Swagger Jagger): Cher Lloyd in Body Combat? You’re kidding right? I’ve seen much written on this song on Facebook and on discussion boards. It is an abomination. But the capoeira moves, very low lunges, esquivas, and the knee strikes and kicks torture your legs to the point where the music is irrelevant. If the pain doesn’t take your mind off the music just sing along to the melody in the chorus but substitute the words from the song it has ripped off, “Oh my darlin’. Oh my darlin’. Oh my darlin’ Clementine”.

Muay Thai (Blade): For a few releases now the Muay Thai tracks have featured rock songs. Personal I prefer my MTs to be thumping dance, techno trance tracks and this one is as thumpy dancey techno and trancey as it can get. Blade’s been in Combat several times over the years and it fits the programme so well. This is one of the moments I forgot to breathe. It’s a cardio blaster which will take you to the limit. On reflection the moves are very simple but the sheer intensity will leave you breathless. When I saw that the running order for this release was only 53 minutes I wondered why they didn’t double up this short MT track. I now know why. There is no way we could do it twice.

Power 3 (Summer Rain): Dan Cohen says that if you look up the word “epic” in a dictionary you will find the definition is “Body Combat 53 track 8”. At almost 8 minutes of flat-out punching it certainly feels epic. One of my issues with track 8s recently is that most of them finish with a long section of endless jabs. Finally we have variety mixing jabs and upper cuts into a frenzied melee. Even with my bandana on I found sweat pouring down into my eyes. It finished a little blurry.

Review of Body Combat Release 53

Conditioning (Bangarang): Another dubstep song by Skrillex. More exercises based on hovers to blitz the core. In the notes booklet they describe the moves as “oblique shredders”. Start in plank (on knees or toes) and draw a knee to the side and in then kick out on an angle. Repeat for an eternity. This track worx!

Cool down (Is there anybody out there?): A pleasant cool down song. It is always good to see swan poses and down facing dogs in the last section – great leg and hip stretches. And a lovely finish with a return to the Kata from track 4.

Body Combat Release 53 is the best all round release for a while. It is such a good work out that I can forgive Swagger Jagger’s intrusion. If it wasn’t for the under-whelming track 2 this would have scored a well deserved 10 out of  10.

Over to you: I hope you enjoyed this review of Body Combat release 53. Are you a Body Combat instructor? Please let me know what you think of this class. Participants what do you think? Share your thoughts. Go on! Leave a comment.

Review of Body Combat release 52

My main memory of Body Combat release 52 from the Quarterly Workshop was that it was fast and it hurt my shoulders. Now I have been teaching it for a few weeks it is still fast and hurts my shoulders. It makes me breathless and it makes me sweat. But is it too repetitive? Some participants seem to think so but they still keep coming back so perhaps they like sore shoulders more than they dislike repetition.

review of body combat release 52

Upper body warm up (Rain Over Me): It’s a sing-a-long catchy tune, we hit the ground running with a warm up track that makes you feel like you’ve done the majority of the class in the first five minutes. There’s no gradual build you are into it straight away.

But what are the “Shoot Lunges” doing here? They do not appear in a later track so it seems a little daft to invest the time to cue, coach and preview for them to vanish without trace after the warm up. Maybe a double hook and jacks round after the double upper cuts and jacks round would have been less jarring. Great apart from this anomaly.

Lower Body Warm Up (Sexy and I know it): Nice to see a variation in the order of kicks in this one and a number of performance opportunities make this a fun kick track. Sneaky putting those back kicks in after the roundhouse. Don’t wiggle? Why not?

Combat 1 (Crazy Train): I know rock isn’t to everybody’s taste but this one works perfectly for me. I love the karate double block and punch beginning set to the build up of drums, then heavy guitar, then the full ensemble. No pulses between the repetitions makes it quite intense. I got confused by the travelling block forward and back at the quarterly workshop but mastered it pretty afterwards. Needs careful cueing though. One of my favourite T2s for a while. Going off the rails (in a controlled way) to me is what Body Combat is all about.

Power 1 (When I Close my Eyes): Nice simple and fast with another upbeat sing-a-long track. Love the second combo. Head tummy head (or would that be “head knackers head”?)

review of body combat release 52
Photo from the filming of this release from http://nzglen.wordpress.com/

Combat 2 (Bring Me to Life): Lovely kata to begin this cover of one of my favourite ever Body Balance standing strength tracks . You can get really down deep into this and the arm lines are powerful. Dan screams that there are 234 kicks in this track so I’m assuming that he also included the knee strikes. Even though I’m a Virgo I haven’t tried counting them up. This one gets the heart racing and is a good showcase for the jump front kick. Watch out for the few tricky pauses between moves though. Timing is difficult.

Power 2 (Passenger): Easy combos to learn. Cheesy music and the slow build up to the jab cross hook combo that repeats many times until your hook shoulder starts to burn. Pity the track is not slightly longer to give us 8 of the advancing quadruple jabs instead of 4. That might have broken it up a little.

Combat 3 (Ring the Alarm): Rachael calls this the mother of all track 6s. I think there have been harder ones, but it is a good flow from start to finish and the body never stops moving. The ginga step pattern can confuse the newcomer until it suddenly clicks. This does for the glutes what Passenger does for the shoulders – aren’t those lunging knees intense?

Muay Thai (Seek and Destroy): Okay so when people say that this release is very repetitive what they really mean is that this track is very repetitive. Maybe after the capoeira sequence we need something that doesn’t tax the brain. If you go hard with the descending elbows, fast with those running man knees, then this should have you gasping for air.

The first time I tried to coach the freestyle section though, I got blank looks and people just stopped (this happened on the Quarterly Workshop as well). Since then I’ve been doing speedballs or getting the class to face an opponent to make it more real.

Yes it is repetitious and therefore needs coaching well. It works from a fitness point of view but this will be the first track to get mixed out.

review of body combat release 52

Power 3 (Falling): Another long track but this time with plenty of variety. I like the way we revisit the travelling jab sequence from the warm up. By now the shoulders really are suffering. The hook in T5, the descending elbow in T7 and finally another hook in this one culminate in real shoulder fatigue. A great climax.

Conditioning (First of the Year): Like many recent conditioning tracks the exercises betray Dan’s involvement in CXWorx. It might feel like you are doing press ups but this is all core work. The walking hovers are savage. The pikes at the end are agony evidenced by the groans as people collapse at the end.

The music is definitely different. I describe it as the inner workings of a scary electronic machine. The genre is “dubstep” so I believe. Strangely it works. Best conditioning track for a while.

Cool down (The fighter): Nice song (there go 25 (or however many there are in your class) fighters. Good use of T4s kata at the end. Obviously this song was included as a tribute to the sad loss of Hernan Lopez, a New Zealand master trainer. Although this is a fact lost on most participants I think it has been an emotional song for many instructors around the world. Even without that it is a great end to a great release.

Over to you: I hope you enjoyed this review of Body Combat release 52. Are you a Body Combat instructor? Please let me know what you think of this class.Participants what do you think? Please leave a comment and let me know.