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Black Belt Test

There is never a dull moment when training with Master Sports Trainer Max McManus. For the past 19 weeks, we have all had the privilege of training with Max where we would be put through special workouts designed specifically for martial arts. We don’t just lift weights to lift weights. Everything we do has a specific purpose, which translates directly to our movements. I don’t want to spoil all of Max’s secrets, but one of the drills that he has us do is a single-leg dumbbell press on a yoga ball. This drill is designed to improve our balance, strength, power, and stamina. We are improving our balance because we have to stay on an uneven surface using only our posting leg (similar to the majority of our martial arts movements). We are improving our strength because we are pushing heavyweight. We are improving our power because he makes this drill a plyo-movement meaning that we push the dumbbell up from 0% to 100%; we cannot use any momentum. Everything is from a full stop to an explosive pop upwards. We must have the power to bring it up, but more importantly the precision to stay balancing on the ball. Lastly, we are working on our stamina because we have to be able to hold and push the heavy weights for a certain amount of reps without stopping. There are so many other brilliant drills that Max has us do. This is only one of them. Imagine a whole workout filled with so many other fun and challenging drills. It is the best time ever.

One thing I love about Max’s training is that there is always something new. There is always something that catches my attention. Just when I feel like I get good at a drill, he finds a way to advance it. Every time I walk into his gym I see someone doing a unique drill. His workouts are like nobody else’s. I’m athletic and most things come easy to me, but I can never say that when Max is training me. Sometimes he tells you to do something and you just think to yourself how am I going to do this, but since I don’t want to disappoint Max, all I can do is say yes sir, and try my absolute best. Surprisingly you will complete the drill more often than not.

When training with Max you have to have a certain mindset. You have to be able to stay focused, especially when your body and mind are fatigued. You must have the grit to stay in it and the drive to keep on improving. It’s easy to mess up one of his drills when you lose focus even for a second. One thing Max and I worked on before my jiu-jitsu tournament was learning the difference between being proactive and reactive. One day when I was having trouble doing push-ups on the bongo board, I kept on predicting how the bongo board was going to move before I started my actual set. I would do one push-up and then fall off repeatedly. I felt as if I knew how the board was going to move, which made me fall because it is never going to move the same way more than once. This is when Max highlighted the fact that I need to react to how the board moves in real-time and adjust accordingly so that I don’t fall off. This translates directly to our combatives because in a live sense we have to react to what is going on; we have to move like water and go with the flow. This mental challenge of always needing to stay locked in, and the constant need to re-adjust develop us into better and more athletic martial artists. Another thing that makes Max’s training so special is his dynamic gravity drills. This is when our center of balance is always changing. This makes it so that we can never get used to the movement. You have to stay focused and make all of these micro-adjustments so that you don’t fall off. It’s like doing 12 sets of 1 rep rather than 1 set of 12 reps. You have to always be ready to react to the movement and adjust your body accordingly without giving up. There is so much thought that goes into his intricate workouts. All of these athletic movements reward us with a higher rate of improvement compared to someone doing a normal drill.

Training with Max is the best. His training gives me confidence because I always feel like I have the edge. I know that I have the best training me. Max is like Yoda; if we ever have a question, then he has an answer. In the past 3 years of training with Max, I have improved so much. I will always remember being terrified of going to Max without Ben and Amanda for the first time, I will always remember our jumping competitions, and I will always remember our little inside jokes. All the talks about the magic water in the back or the secret formula or starting up new businesses are the best. I am so fortunate to have Mr. Max as my strength and conditioning coach and as my friend. I would not be the skilled martial artist I am today without him.

Kai Hiratani Black Belt Test