Saturday, February 3, 2018

What you should be listening to

I'm a big fan of podcasts - I listen to several a day, often playing while I'm either working or working out. I mostly listen to podcasts related to martial arts or to training, and I wanted to share some of my favorites.

Traditional Martial Arts
My all time favorite podcast for traditional martial arts is The Applied Karate Show, but Des hasn't posted a new episode in years, so I've had to branch out!

Whistlekick Martial Arts Radio is a really nice podcast, hosted by the owner of a sparring equipment company of the same name (I will one day buy stuff from him and review it, but haven't yet). The show is quite good, but it's greatest strengths are consistency and volume. Jeremy puts out two episodes a week, meaning there's a lot to listen to, but not every guest is stellar. I do find that later episodes are consistently higher in quality, as you might expect. Episodes formats are a short audio blog from Jeremy on some topic (they're fine) alternated with interviews with various martial artists, some of which are really well done. It focuses more on stories than on technique or training specifics.

Martial Thoughts is put out more sporadically but still regularly. Early episodes were more round table discussions, but the host settled into an interview/news format that works really well. This show has a greater variety of guests - not just practicing/competing martial arts instructors, but also people who research traditional European swordfighting, a guy who hand crafts wooden swords, and other interesting people around the martial arts world.

Both of these shows are hosted by men I identify with strongly - they both seem like people I'd be friends with. Both shows made really good additions to my listening.

Sport Martial Arts
Two podcasts focus on analysis of striking in MMA - Fights Gone By and Heavy Hands. Fights Gone By is Jack Slack's show, with every episode consisting of Jack, by himself, breaking down fights, making predictions about upcoming events, and generally being amazing. Jack Slack was the pioneer of striking analysis for MMA. If you like to fight in any way (any kind of free sparring, not just MMA), Jack's work is invaluable.

Heavy Hands might be even better than Fights Gone By. That show has two hosts, Connor and Patrick, who break down fights, but even more valuably cover generalizations and trends. For example, they spend a lot of time talking about types of fighters and their tendencies (outfighters, pressure fighters, etc.) in a way that has really helped me both in my training and in how I apreciate and understand fights I watch.

The dropoff in MMA podcasting after these two is sharp. Lots of other shows cover news, personalities, and so forth, but these two are head and shoulders above the rest for technical analysis.

General Training
I've been listening to the FitCast for around a decade, and the show has only gotten better with age. However, the focus of most shows is on the business side of fitness, coaching, and so forth - not as much on things like physiology, exercise selection, sets and reps, and that stuff. I highly recommend this show if you're a trainer or a coach or running a business, not so much if you're just looking to get in shape yourself.

For high end training info I've been really enjoying Just Fly, which is aimed mostly at track and field athletes but has really good information that can be adapted for anyone trying to be more athletic.

I should probably look into some more of this type of show to get more training information. I will, once I've caught up on the martial arts stuff (I'm about a year behind!)

General Nutrition and Health
I've gotten less and less value from general health and nutrition podcasts over the last couple of years. There was a time when a lot of what I heard was really interesting, but the message has gotten more and more repetitive (which isn't really a bad thing). I'm not going to pretend I live a perfectly healthy life, but I have a pretty good understanding of what's involved in it, and taking in more podcasts telling me to sleep more, eat whole foods, de-stress, and hang out with friends isn't going to help me do it.

I get a nice mixed bag of more cutting edge nutrition and training information from Sigma Nutrition Radio. If you're going to listen to just one health/nutrition show, make that it.

I still listen to Rob Wolf and Chris Kresser, but it's more out of habit than out of the hope that I'll learn anything new.

How to Listen
I'm an Android guy, and the app I use is Podcast Republic. It's pretty much perfect - makes it easy to get my shows, makes it easy to organize them, and is fairly intuitive to use. It has really nice sound manipulation features (for shows that are too soft or have bad sound quality), and my favorite feature, which is speed manipulation. I listen now to most shows at 1.3 - 1.5 speed. It's not hard to understand most people if you speed up their speech - I think it takes a lot more mental effort to compose a sentence than to comprehend it - so there's a lot of wasted time if you listen to a podcast at real time speed. Try upping the speed.

Also, DONATE. These shows are all free, but most have ways you can funnel them money, like a Patreon page. Obviously, if you're strapped for cash yourself, don't give Jack Slack money and skip meals. But if you can afford it, try sending them some money, both as a thank you and to motivate the creators to keep putting out quality content (and yes, I do this, I contribute small monthly amounts to almost every show on this list).

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