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Dragon_Lady

Martial Arts for obese...recommended?

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So I did do some searching prior to coming and posting about this but either my Google-fu is horrid or this question hasn't been asked before. I'm assuming the former and apologize if this has been asked to death. So, I'm trying to figure this out. Next year I have plans on taking up a martial art. I doubt seriously that I will be 100 lbs less than the 270lbs that I am now (maybe I'll be 250lbs? That's a big maybe). So I'm trying to figure out if I should wait until I'm under 200lbs or do it as soon as I can. So would you recommend someone who is +100lbs overweight to start a martial arts class or wait?

 

What I'm looking to get out of MA: 

  • discipline
  • strength
  • self defense
  • weight loss
  • confidence

 

What I have around me:

  • Jiu Jitsu
  • Wing Chun (this is the one I'm most interested in but it's kinda expensive and about 40 minutes away with traffic...but if I could afford it I'd do it in a heartbeat)
  • Karate
  • Bushido
  • Tae Kwon Do
  • Hapkido
  • Kung Fu
  • Judo
  • Kickboxing
  • MMA

 

My stats

  • 35
  • Female
  • 270lbs (down from 295 weeee)
  • 5'4
  • working on strength training
  • shoulders that are sensitive
  • scared to death but wants to do it anyway

 

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Really cool that you want to do it despite being scared, sounds like you have the mental training part down already :)

 

I'd say the one you like and will keep doing. I know that's a supremely generic and unhelpful answer, so let me get a bit more specific. :P

 

From my experience, stay away from very kick- or "weird stance" heavy arts, will be hell on your knees. (So I'd not recommend Hapkido or TKD, Kung Fu depends on the style).

Wrestly stuff like Judo or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu might work, or something that emphasises bag work and upper body striking. Do you want to do martial arts mainly to help your other fitness goals or do you want to accomplish your other fitness goals to be able to do martial arts?

 

I'd recommend trying a few different ones, since it also depends a lot on the atmosphere in the club and how the training is conducted, including how much the instructor lets you adapt for your body type. Don't sign any long term contracts, if you find something you like try it for a while and see how your body reacts. If it doesn't cause problems, great go for it! If you feel that it's not healthy for you right now, wait, but this way you'll have some idea if you like the training at all. (This is the same advice btw. that I give people who call me up about classes but are concerned about injuries).

 

In any case be very careful, especially with your knees it's, not worth getting injured! If it works though having something like martial arts can be a great motivation :)

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Welcome to the wonderful world of martial arts!  I will 2nd the idea that you should go with the one you feel most comfortable with.  Any good teacher will start you off slow, and help you learn based on your own body and ability.  We have people of all wights in my school (I think I was about 230 when I started).

 

That said, I will agree with DanTien, things that are very stance\kick heavy may be tough on your knees, but of course depends on the style.  However you go, I think you will be surprised at how quickly your body will adapt, and in less than a month you will probably be able to do things you didn't think you could on your first day.

I'm personally biased towards kungfu (depending on the style).  Since you have said you are interested in Wing Chun, I think it is a great starting point.  You literally don't move your feet in the first form, but the stance itself will do a lot to strengthen your legs and knees without undue strain.  We typically teach Sil lum tau (the 1st form) between other forms to help people build strength.

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I'm going to be the devil's advocate and say careful of the MMA - ground fighting/grappling can be unfriendly to sensitive shoulders.  If they are injury prone, I might stay away from other grappling arts or schools that require falls and break falls until they are stronger, or have a frank discussion with the teacher, if possible. 

 

Anywho - Kung-fu, depending on the style/school.  TKD actually, depending on the school - they are kick heavy, but not always low stances.  I remember students, male and female, that were in the process of losing weight in the classes I was in back in the day. People that took time to work on basics and mechanics didn't really have knee problems, but you do need to take that time.

 

I'm not sure what you mean by bushido - to me, that's a concept, not a school, kind of like kungfu could mean any of a number of very, very different styles.  I'm also not too familiar with Hapkido.

 

For all of that - you might work on basic strength and conditioning until you get to place you can start with Wing Chun - the art you really want to do is the one you're likely to stick with. 

 

Otherwise, I'd say whatever school you end up calling, ask to observe a class, and see how it goes - are the instructors pushing people within their limits?  Do you see people of different abilities or different stages of fitness working on techniques with intent?  Everyone treating each other with respect?  Those are things I'd look for. 

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Good luck with starting MA training!  I'm seconding ChrisWithaStick - sensitive shoulders are a good reason to avoid grappling and locks.

I used to kickbox with a massive friend, and there is a real bonus to kicking arts when you're heavy - his kicks were incredible, not the highest kicks in the world, or the prettiest, but wow they were amazingly strong.  Turns out that when you're used to carrying around a lot of weight (and he weighed over 200kg at the time) your legs have a fair amount of power.

 

I have very fond memories of being bounced across the room by his kicks while I was holding a pad for him.

 

Go for it!

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Congrats on taking this big step! Training in martial arts can be a life-changing experience with lasting benefits.

In general, the style can often be less important than the school and the instructor. It's important to find a teacher who is openminded and will accommodate any physical issues you have. Some have a "the art comes first, the student second" that I find rather irresponsible.

 

Some thoughts on the styles you mention…

 

* Wing Chun is a fun art, though some people find the basic stance a bit hard on the knees.

 

* Karate: It depends a great deal on the style. In general, Karate is less kick-centric than Tae Kwon Do.

* Tae Kwon Do: VERY kick-heavy, which may prove to be problematic for you. 

 

(For what it's worth, I have encountered more questionable, McDojo-style Karate and TKD schools than practically any other art. Be forewarned!)

* Hapkido: Many Hapkido dojangs are really just TKD schools with a bit of Judo thrown in. That being said, Hapkido is a good, diverse art.

 

* Bushido: I'm not sure what you mean either.

 

* Kung Fu: Again, there are a gazillion styles, so it's hard to say.

 

* Judo is a wonderful art but extremely hard on the body. Unless you find an especially awesome dojo and sensei, I would be wary.

 

* Kickboxing: It really depends on the nature of the school. If they emphasize good form and integrate bag and focus mitt work, I would consider this as an option. Good for conditioning and self-defense.

 

* MMA: Again, it really depends on the school. MMA is great, but just make sure it isn't an overly competition-oriented, bro-ish school.

 

* Jiujitsu: Japanese Jiujitsu or Brazilian? If you find a school with a nice vibe and good teachers, BJJ would be my recommendation. Your shoulder and knee issues shouldn't be a problem as long as you inform the instructor and your training partner. I am of the strong opinion that BJJ is the best martial art for women to train in due to its effectiveness in sexual assault situations. Many schools even offer women-only classes. As with MMA, beware of overly aggressive fight club schools.

 

Finally, are there by any chance in Filipino martial arts—Kali, Arnis, Escrima—schools in you area? If so, I would consider this option as well. Low-impact, applicable to self-defense, and many find going through the stick patterns good for their shoulders.

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I have no input on the other styles, but I have trained BJJ on and off for 3 years now (so about 1.5 years of actual training):

On 7/28/2016 at 5:44 PM, Le Samourai said:

* Jiujitsu: Japanese Jiujitsu or Brazilian? If you find a school with a nice vibe and good teachers, BJJ would be my recommendation. Your shoulder and knee issues shouldn't be a problem as long as you inform the instructor and your training partner. I am of the strong opinion that BJJ is the best martial art for women to train in due to its effectiveness in sexual assault situations. Many schools even offer women-only classes. As with MMA, beware of overly aggressive fight club schools.

I agree with this in so many ways, except the shoulder and knee comment...but I would like to add that practicing BJJ when you are bigger and inflexible and be rough at times...I am 6'2" and 380+ and know from personal experience.  Find a good school that you feel comfortable at and it will be like family, they will work with you and train you to use advantages you have to counter act all the areas you might be lacking in (though those areas will fade with training).

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Thanks you guys, I really appreciate the feeback. I probably won't be "ready" until January, so I'm making it my goal to find a class and join it then. I'm doing strength training right now so maybe I'll be a little stronger when I go in. 

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From a fitness standpoint, many people would benefit from BJJ because of the amount of time you spend on the ground. You will be spending time crawling, rolling, and tumbling which is not commonly done otherwise, unless you follow some kind of movement practice like Original Strength or GMB.

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Tell you the truth, if you haven't done any martial arts before, it might be best if you just went and took a bunch of the free classes that most places offer.  That way you'll have an idea of which style seems to fit better, and you can factor in commute time as well.  I found the absolute best place for me, but the issue was it was over 20 min away and I'm REALLY good at excuses :) 

 

Are you looking for more fitness or more applicability?  I've been doing various forms for over 20 years and can tell you that every style will help you break out in a sweat and help metabolism, but not all are going to be for you.  As people have mentioned, certain styles may be limited based on your shoulders, whether or not you like falling and getting back up a lot, do you want to spar, are you looking for something that ALWAYS has a partner, or stuff you can do on your own?  The last part is important because I found jujitsu and aikido a bit much in the beginning because I was always having to work with a partner.  I would rather practice forms, kicks, blocks, and punches than work with someone else :)  Introverted to the nth degree.  BUT!!!  I did find working past my discomfort opened up a whole different avenue of practice that I hadn't known until then.

 

Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is don't think too much, just go to a bunch of different schools and try them out.  There's a lot of differences between styles, but also in how they teach, who does the teaching, what is involved from you on a commitment perspective, etc.  A school I had written off because the guy doing the demo (the owner) was a bit pompous, turned out to be perfect for me because he never actually did much teaching, especially of the lower ranks.  Those students were amazing and some of my closest friends 10 years later.  Another school was perfect, but the expectation was that I'd be there a minimum of 4 days a week and all of the gear was really expensive.

 

The only other thing I'll mention is don't commit to anything long term.  Most schools don't do this anymore, but there are still some that make you pay for 6 months or a year at a time to get a 'discount'.  In the beginning, it's better to do monthly or at most 3 months.

 

Hope this helps.

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I need to update this.

 

I tried a kickboxing class. Matter of fact, I tried 4 times. My body was not ready. 

 

The entire time, I was wheezing, my chest felt like it was on fire, and I was so dizzy by the end of it I literally felt like I was having a heart attack. I sat in the car, wheezing, just trying to get enough air in and enough of my head together to see to go home. I decided that if this is what it took to be in a martial arts class, it was not for me currently.  I know, no pain no gain, and you can call me a wimp if you want, Goddess knows I've called myself worse for not going back.

 

So now, I do Tai Chi along side a Youtube vid in the mornings. I know it's nothing all that great, and it probably isn't going to help me lose any of this, but, I'm doing it anyway. I do sweat but at least at the end I don't collapse on the floor.

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1 hour ago, StrengthOrigin said:

 

You said you're interested in wing chun which seems to me a soft martial art, like takewondo. wing chun and takwondo can be of benefit since they're soft martial arts compared to muay thai or kickboxing which are more physically intense and combat oriented in nature. Takewondo and wing chun is also more artistic in their own way, while muay thai or kickboxing are more brutal. Don't underestimate softness as that is the other side of the coin which is rigidity. Both are important for self defence, physical health, integrity and physical abilities. so in summary you may find it easier to first try the softer martial arts and their respective clubs/studios/dojos.

 

What in gods name....

 

TKD is not a soft art.  Soft arts and hard arts are not based on how strenuous they engage someone, but really on striking versus joint locks, with a tinge of philosophy.  Aikido, Tai Chi, in some manners Hapkido, those are joint manipulation/soft arts.  Wing Chun, TKD, Karate, those are all striking/hard arts.  And in all arts, how you train dictates how strenuous it is.

 

50 minutes ago, Dragon_Lady said:

I need to update this.

 

I tried a kickboxing class. Matter of fact, I tried 4 times. My body was not ready. 

 

The entire time, I was wheezing, my chest felt like it was on fire, and I was so dizzy by the end of it I literally felt like I was having a heart attack. I sat in the car, wheezing, just trying to get enough air in and enough of my head together to see to go home. I decided that if this is what it took to be in a martial arts class, it was not for me currently.  I know, no pain no gain, and you can call me a wimp if you want, Goddess knows I've called myself worse for not going back.

 

So now, I do Tai Chi along side a Youtube vid in the mornings. I know it's nothing all that great, and it probably isn't going to help me lose any of this, but, I'm doing it anyway. I do sweat but at least at the end I don't collapse on the floor.

 

Good for you for trying.  Sometimes we over reach, and recognizing that is okay.  You can always build up to things.  Though I will say, I don't view kickboxing classes the typical martial arts workout.  A lot of places make them crazy cardio workouts, which are all fine and good, but they focus on the workout, not the art. (I don't know if that makes sense to you.  It's... like paddling a canoe on a lake, and focusing only on the burning muscles, not the movement through the water and the view.  Totally valid, but in my opinion missing the whole picture.)

 

Another thing to keep in mind, it's possible that you'll never like kickboxing, because it doesn't resonate with you.  I'm not a fan of TKD, I find it kinda boring.  But aikido is my love.  And in a similar vein, I hate running, even though I tried to enjoy it.  At least with martial arts, there are so many that you can keep trying until you find something you love.  Just a thing to keep in mind.

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BJJ/Judo use a lot of shoulder throws and shoulder locks. Maybe not the best if you've got sensitive shoulders - but wrestling might be a good grappling style maybe?

I'd recommend if you're not in fairly decent shape to begin with, you start slow and build up - maybe look into places that offer specialized beginner classes (many clubs offer one-two classes per week). 

 

On 2/6/2017 at 9:27 AM, Dragon_Lady said:

The entire time, I was wheezing, my chest felt like it was on fire, and I was so dizzy by the end of it I literally felt like I was having a heart attack. I sat in the car, wheezing, just trying to get enough air in and enough of my head together to see to go home. I decided that if this is what it took to be in a martial arts class, it was not for me currently.  I know, no pain no gain, and you can call me a wimp if you want, Goddess knows I've called myself worse for not going back.


With regard to wheezing - FYI, that's not normal. For anyone. Doesn't matter how out of shape you are, you should not be wheezing. A few quick questions.

  • Do you cough or have trouble breathing...
    • ...doing simple chores? 
    • ... when doing heavier work, like stairs, lifting, walking up hills, or hard exercise?
    • ... in sports like jogging, swimming, tennis, or aerobics, and does this make you avoid the exercise?
    • ... sometimes at night, enough that it wakes you up or makes it hard to fall asleep? 
    • ... in cold weather?
    • ... around smoke, scented products, or fumes?
  • Do you sometimes find you can't get a good, deep breath? 
  • Do you sometimes wheeze in your chest (not in your throat)? 
  • Does your chest sometimes feel tight, constricted, or painful? 
  • Do you sometimes have coughing attacks?
  • Do you find your breathing is bothered by dust, pollen, or pets?
  • Do your eyes sometimes get puffy, itchy or burn?
  • Do you ever have problems with a runny, itchy, or stuffy nose?
  • Do you always seem to catch bronchitis with a cold?
  • Have you ever gone to the ER for breathing problems?
  • Have you ever been hospitalized for breathing problems?

... if you answer "yes" to any of the above, I'd really suggest you speak to your doctor about getting evaluated for asthma and/or exercise-induced bronchospasm.  Both are more likely if you are overweight/obese, both can come on at any time in your life, and both make it very difficult to build any kind of decent cardio because frankly if you can't breathe you can't work out. I've got asthma, and trust me on this one: you can't willpower past not being able to breathe. If you want something printable to go to your doctor with, I recommend this screening from the American College of Asthma, Allergies, and Immunology: http://acaai.org/resources/tools/symptoms-test

 

If you are already a diagnosed asthmatic, your trouble breathing in exercise - wheezing especially - suggests that you might not have good control. I'd talk to the doc about maybe pre-medication before exercise (I have to do it before exercise in allergy season - cuz it doesn't matter how often you work out. If you can't breathe, you can't breathe, and you'll be gassed in no time). 

To give you an idea: I'm an asthmatic who runs for fun (because I'm that kind contrarian who picks the single hardest exercise for asthmatics to do as my second choice activity). On a good day, I can easily run a 5K without stopping I can - and have on several occasions - grapple for 15min straight. I can make it through the advanced body weight circuit (my legs and arms are on fire and I am asking myself why  I like to torture myself by the end, but I can do it). I'm In fairly decent shape, is my point. So that should give some perspective when I say: On a bad day, I can't walk up a single flight of stairs. If you can't breathe, you can't do anything with your body. Full stop. And there's no amount of training or willpower that will overcome that. You can't tough out an airway obstruction. May as well ask yourself to tough out choking and call yourself a wimp for not going back for more.

Long story short: There's good news and bad news. The bad news is that what you're describing from your experience here sounds much less like a "you're a wimp" thing and much more like a "there's something serious and medical going on here" thing to me (chest on fire + wheeze is a pretty classic description of what asthma/EIB feel like - and chest on fire is my first sign that I need to grab my puffer). Just saying - wheezing and chest pain with exercise is not normal, regardless of fitness level or body weight. You really should get it checked out. The good news is that if you do have EIB or asthma, they're both very treatable, and you will be amazed at how much more cardio you have when you can breathe properly.

 

Disclaimer: I've had asthma for all my 29 years, so I'm pretty well-versed in it, but I'm not a doctor. Just, be aware that this asthmatic sees my exercise-induced asthma attacks in your description of what happens to you when you do hard exercise. 

 

EDIT: Sorry for the damn essay - just that I tried to tough out/ignore my asthma and blame it on my poor conditioning for a few years and without going into all the gory details, let's just say that the aftermath from that denial phase was bad enough for me, I now go around spreading asthma education wherever I go and encouraging everyone else who might have it to get checked so they know one way or the other and so they don't have to go through what I went through. Asthma is dangerous, and I found it out the hard way. Don't make my mistake. 

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On 3/18/2017 at 10:39 AM, chemgeek said:

BJJ/Judo use a lot of shoulder throws and shoulder locks. Maybe not the best if you've got sensitive shoulders - but wrestling might be a good grappling style maybe?

I'd recommend if you're not in fairly decent shape to begin with, you start slow and build up - maybe look into places that offer specialized beginner classes (many clubs offer one-two classes per week). 

 


With regard to wheezing - FYI, that's not normal. For anyone. Doesn't matter how out of shape you are, you should not be wheezing. A few quick questions.

  • Do you cough or have trouble breathing...
    • ...doing simple chores? 
    • ... when doing heavier work, like stairs, lifting, walking up hills, or hard exercise?
    • ... in sports like jogging, swimming, tennis, or aerobics, and does this make you avoid the exercise?
    • ... sometimes at night, enough that it wakes you up or makes it hard to fall asleep? 
    • ... in cold weather?
    • ... around smoke, scented products, or fumes?
  • Do you sometimes find you can't get a good, deep breath? 
  • Do you sometimes wheeze in your chest (not in your throat)? 
  • Does your chest sometimes feel tight, constricted, or painful? 
  • Do you sometimes have coughing attacks?
  • Do you find your breathing is bothered by dust, pollen, or pets?
  • Do your eyes sometimes get puffy, itchy or burn?
  • Do you ever have problems with a runny, itchy, or stuffy nose?
  • Do you always seem to catch bronchitis with a cold?
  • Have you ever gone to the ER for breathing problems?
  • Have you ever been hospitalized for breathing problems?

..

 

Yes to a lot of those.When I was younger, say like in middle school, and we had to do the mile, it's not that my body gave out. I couldn't breathe. Especially on like hot or very cold days. There was no such thing as getting air into my lungs. I would tell this to my gym teachers only to be told I was being fat and lazy. My body didn't want to quit, my lungs did. I can walk but if I power walk too much I get wheezy, same for any cardio. Always been like that. This last time at the kickboxing place, yea I was tired in the legs and arms but they could keep going. I was diagnosed very early with bronchitis, but I was told there wasn't much you could do about it so I just left it as is. I am going to a doctor on Friday, I may have a chat with her about this. 

 

I'm actually learning a lot more about BJJ, and where I moved to there is a school here. For about $30 you get an introductory class where they show you what you need to know, and give you an overall view of it. I think I might give it a go.

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I'm a little late to the party but I would advise taking advantage of introductory classes.  Where I live a lot of the introductory classes are free.  If you're out of breath, that's probably going to happen.  It happened with me and I was exhausted to the point that when I decided to sign up, my writing was barely legible because my hand was trembling. If it makes you tired, it's probably a good thing.  I would get gassed just drilling, but slowly I began to develop the gas tank.  

 

As far as MMA gyms go, I have yet to come across one that was overly competitive or too broish.  I think there's a lot of people that view MMA gyms as such based on a lot of the MMA fan base.  So I wouldn't discount those. Again, look for free trial classes.  So, see what you like, don't be afraid of challenges, and have fun.  

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Hey I was wondering I’m currently 325pounds(down 60pounds from my top weight), I’m 6,2 and 17years old. I played football for 5 years, I do weight lifting, and I’m currently going to 9round fitness which uses kickboxing for cardio and I always wanted to do real martial arts but I feared I’m to big to start it. And I was wondering would it be weird for a guy like me to try and join some kinda martial arts as I continue to lose weight???  

 

 

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11 hours ago, Patrick12 said:

Hey I was wondering I’m currently 325pounds(down 60pounds from my top weight), I’m 6,2 and 17years old. I played football for 5 years, I do weight lifting, and I’m currently going to 9round fitness which uses kickboxing for cardio and I always wanted to do real martial arts but I feared I’m to big to start it. And I was wondering would it be weird for a guy like me to try and join some kinda martial arts as I continue to lose weight???  

 

 

 

It's not weird at all. Lots of prospective trainees fall for the trap of "Training To Get Ready For" whatever it is they want to do. They get so lost in their running/strength work/dieting/whatever that they never actually do the thing they wanted to do all along - which was to get on the mats and move.

 

And if it helps, I've personally known people who used martial arts as a vehicle to lose weight. It did prove effective - obviously, your nutrition has to be dialed in as well, but it's a legit strategy. And I think the above advice applies - find what's around you, try a bunch out, see if you get a good vibe from a place, and stick around if you do.

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On ‎1‎/‎16‎/‎2019 at 10:10 AM, Kishi said:

 

It's not weird at all. Lots of prospective trainees fall for the trap of "Training To Get Ready For" whatever it is they want to do. They get so lost in their running/strength work/dieting/whatever that they never actually do the thing they wanted to do all along - which was to get on the mats and move.

 

And if it helps, I've personally known people who used martial arts as a vehicle to lose weight. It did prove effective - obviously, your nutrition has to be dialed in as well, but it's a legit strategy. And I think the above advice applies - find what's around you, try a bunch out, see if you get a good vibe from a place, and stick around if you do.

I found this topic and wanted to join in. I am almost 300lbs and joined Karate last October to help me be more active and help with weight loss. I'm not going to say it's easy because it's not but what is at this size. I agree with the people above who said find a dojo that fits with you and go from there. I did a trial membership with the club I'm with and fell in love. They feel like a family, are very supportive, never made me feel bad about myself and I love going. I find it very motivating to keep going. I make 3 classes a week most weeks.

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