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12.18.2006

Don't show me you can hit hard, let me feel it and never have the chance to see it

I came up with this today as I was holding, lots of folks like to pose as if to demonstrate that they are hitting hard. Don't worry your opponent or coach will know from the impact, you don't have to show them. Today I worked on some clinching concepts:
  1. "Garage Door" or cover lift
    With this use the cover with a partial duck, to pick up the punch and then wing the elbow up, to work into the clinch on the outside of the arms.
  2. Cover check
    As you cover, extend the opposite hand to catch the cover side neck, followed immediately by a knee
  3. Flurry clinch
    To often we separate striking from clinching, I think this is an error, if we want to set up a shot, we would tap or misdirect, why not do the same but with punches, really fast and hard ones, too. Thus throw five "shots" (in the striking not the wrestling sense) but only three punches, e.g. jab-cross-lead hook-rear clinch neck-lead clinch neck
I also did some FUN (frigging unholy nastiness) with some Tabata rounds, I included:
  • Striking Spider-man
  • Medicine Ball Push-ups
  • Cover Push-ups
  • Pistol Squats
  • 3 push-up alternating with climbers
  • Alternating one leg on the ball squats
  • High Knees
  • Happy Feet

Rules

Yesterday we had a balmy winter day and did some training following our run to the Hill with intervals of sprints, shadowboxing, and push-ups. We then worked kicking and knee combinations alternatively on the pads to finish our warm-up. We then did two sets of 2 x 2 minute rounds on the focus mitts of:
  1. Head/Body Reactions
    We used high and side cover to enter in to cross-lead hook-cross, in addition we used the lead and rear body cover enter into lead uppercut-cross-lead hook and rear uppercut-lead hook-cross, respectively.
  2. 3-Parry-3-Side Cover-Reverse 3
    Jab-Cross-Lead Hook-Parry (Cross)-Cross-Lead Hook-Cross-Side Cover (Lead Hook)-Lead Hook-Cross-Lead Hook
On reaction drills it is especially important to not to celebrate, admire your handiwork, or run out of gas at the end of your combination. All fight exchanges have a beginning, a middle, and an end. On a provoked reaction or action reaction, when your done, be sure that your disposition of the situation is enough. When I train someone on pads and they complete their combination, if they look expectantly at me with puppy dog eyes begging for praise they get swatted...hard. The time to relax is when your are well back out of range and can then watch your opponent fall down.
We switched to the thai pads and did two sets of 2 x 2 minute rounds of:
  1. 2-Kick Follow-ups
    We covered two variations here:
    • Jab-Cross-Lead Kick-Cross
      It is very important to shield (i.e. pre-cover) when entering for the punch, the impulse to generate kick power drops the hands away from the head, so when closing for the final punch, be sure to protect yourself from an intercepting punch.
    • Jab-Cross-Lead Kick-Lead Knee
      Use the kick to punish and then re-cock and throw the knee.
  2. 1-Kick Follow-ups
    We covered two variations here, note that these combinations are a good way to train the flow into the Superman fake, since they basically do that but include rather than fake the rear kick.
    • Jab-Rear Kick-Rear Knee
    • Jab-Rear Kick-Cross-Rear Hook-Cross
      It is especially important here to reacquire your original lead so that you can go right back into the your punching combination.

At the end of our practice, I did some fast boxing timing with one of my students. This was probably a bad idea, as he came out whipping really fast, tight combinations at me. I haven't purely boxed in months, so the first thing I thought about was kicking him and then realizing that I shouldn't, as I registered the shouldn't part he pasted me. OK. So as we exchanged again I thought about clinching, nope can't do that either, before getting swatted again. After several exchanges each time getting the worse of it, I invoked senior privilege and bowed out (that and I was hacking up a lung...yeah that's the ticket). Joe, my student, started boxing about a year ago and has been competing and training in this almost exclusively for the past six months. I've been training guys for mixed-martial arts and been sparring more in that line. Given a set of rules, boxing, I was spending a large amount of processing time, remembering what I could and couldn't do, time that I couldn't give up to someone as fast as Joe. And as each time he was getting the better of it, I was scrambling to some up with something.
This is both the boon and ban of rules. Rules can refine skills to incredibly high levels. No one would argue with punching superiority of a boxer, the elbow-knee clinch dominance of the thai fighter, the takedown skills of a wrestler, and the submission skills of a sport jiu-jitsu expert. By playing within in the context of given rules, these combat athletes have refined their tools to be the best for those rules. However, they are also purely functional within those rules. Mixed-martial artist like to point out then that they are the superior fighters as mixed-martial arts incorporates "everything". This is a fallacy on two levels, (1) to refine skills in one area it is better to return to the source, I'd rather learn to box from a boxing coach and then have an MMA coach integrate that into a MMA game and (2) MMA has its own rules that gamemanship can exploit, not everything is legal and depending on the mechanics of the fight can favor certain elements of a fighters style. Here's another example:
Another problem with rules is the unreality they impose on any "live" situation from a match in ring or self-defense fight for your life. In training we often impose rules on sparring, self-defense scenarios, or drills. This is done to protect ourselves and often to emphasize an attribute to technical point. To paraphrase Tony Blauer, All training is fake, just try to train the most realistic fake stuff possible. Thus when someone drills combination X, followed by combination Y and their willing partner moves the right way, the desired result Z, they form a rule in their head. When I do this, this happens, however when dealing with an unwilling opponent and then X + Y suddenly doesn't equal Z. Rules then are a necessary evil, understand where they conflict with reality and why they do so, find ways to train around this unreality, but recognize that the rulebook isn't always what you think it is.

12.14.2006

Channelling the ancients and realizing they aren't always right today

Sombrada
Sombrada
The sombrada middle range flow pattern (using the right hand to wield the stick). The entire pattern is given in a continuous loop from the perspective of both partner A and B. Numbering in red is from the offensive perspective, while numbering in yellow is the mirror image, that is how those lines of attack appear to the defender. Download written version (PDF).
Small workout today in Bugeishako starting with thai pad warm-up:
  1. Kick for kick
  2. Deep knee-head knee (same side)
  3. Curve knee-deep knee (same side)
Next we worked on some boxing combinations:
  1. 3-High Cover 3 (J-C-LH-cover-C-LH-C)
  2. Reverse 3-Side Cover Reverse 3 (J-LH-C-cover-LH-C-LH)
    The reverse 3 combination is good versus someone with the opposite lead, i.e. orthodox vs. unorthodox because it sets up the outside angle off their weaker side.
  3. J-C-Side body cover-Rear uppercut-LH-Side cover-Lead shovel hook-Bob and weave rear hook-rear ripping hook
    Be sure to pivot and reacquire your target after the ripping hook, either to continue attacking or exit with long distance shots.
  4. J-Body C-LU-Overhand-LH
    Remember to change levels and throw the cross straight, almost as if taking a shot (well you are but not in the wrestling sense). Although the shortest distance between two points is a line it is sometimes safer to change levels and then through, mostly because you are harder to hit and can protect yourself better. For the uppercut make sure you travel cleanly up the "channel" between the guard and to the chin.
When striking look for the channels created by a persons guard, as you fire straight down the centerline the outside or circular strikes open up, e.g. hooks, overhands, and kicks. As you throw "bombs" the center line or "channel" widens, so switch back. Low shots open up the high line and vice versa. As the guard composed of the hands and arms drift away from the body more shots open, angling of the arms away from the body opens the floating ribs, chin, and top of the head to curvilinear shots. The hands drifting away from the face creates "chaff" of low density, its distracting but powering through it and looking for straight and curved channels to the head has high yield. Think of an electron, the lower energy electrons are "nearer" (classically not quantum mechanically) than the high energy electrons. You want to use minimum energy on defense and keep the guard close to the body.
We also covered some basic ground work, some slightly different things that I like to do:
Guard checking to stand-up
Frame hard and quick, insert this same side knee and push, place the opposite foot in the hip, free your knee leg to push/kick to the chest or face, post back on the opposite side and lever yourself to the upright position.
Sameside straight arm lock from guard
From the guard, cover the looping G n' P cross. Reach across with the other arm, catch at the elbow and pull. Loop your cover arm around their arm. Slide out to this side, top foot in the hip, knee on the shoulder, bottom foot on the hip knee pinching the trapped arm's shoulder. Scoop just proximal to their elbow, over your bowed body.
Sameside straight arm lock from side mount
Your opponent tries to bench you, transfer to knee on the stomach, and pop their arm outward, catching it between the crook of your neck and shoulder on the side inferior to them. Scoop the arm, proximal to the elbow, joint for the lock.

Remember that fighting is not a complete enough science to harbor universal truths. While there have been a series of excellent approximations of combat laws, they do not always stand the test of time nor the rigors of interpretation and transmission. Teaching and training based on repeatable results is unfortunately not as appealing or as easy as taking things on faith. Questioning the mechanics and the concepts of ones art is a difficult thing to do, especially in the increasing commercialization of martial arts, if the results come back negative that can place one in the red. Also if you continue to question, you can never rest, removing the goal and continuing the journey is the true path to combat enlightenment.

12.13.2006

JKD & BJJ

For JKD we worked on intercepting either by first avoiding the wild swing or striking right off the cocked posture of a haymaker. Using this "inflicted pain" we entered with the straight blast, secured the neck, and delivered our headbutt, knees, and elbows. We then isolated the trapping range and worked on lop sao pok sao. There are a few simple keys to this, for the lop put pressure at the elbow to reopen the high line, then use the pok to trap both hands. Always advance to increase the forward pressure.
For BJJ we reviewed the half-guard position from Saturday and added one from the whizzer position. Use your free hand to grab the wrist or sleeve. Now drive your elbow to the mat and roll your opponent over the trapped (whizzer) arm.
And here are some fun KOs:

12.10.2006

Half-Spear, Forearm Check, Etc.

Often in fight sports, especially MMA that half-spear, forearm check, and the same technique with various names comes into play. Essentially its the reflexive reaction that occurs when someone rushes you and your put your forearm between them and you. This often checks their motion, but you will have to do something with it. Here are some suggestions:
Side thai clinch
Half step away and over/underhook the near arm, control the neck with the checking hand. Do a quarter pivot to break their posture (Combat Chiropractor) and deliver two knees to the head/body. Either throw them to the ground or throw them away off balance and follow with a combination.
Thai clinch
Trace the checking hand over the neck and then secure the neck/head with the other hand. Deliver a knee flurry and look for disposition, i.e. another knee flurry, takedown, or throw to strikes.
Over under or double under position
Pummel the check hand under to the far armpit, simultaneously doing the same with the free hand trying to secure double unders. Look for short knees and punches to takedown.
Brian and I ran to the Hill, sprinted up the Hill ten times (well he sprinted I lumbered), and did an incentive jog back (where you do push-ups every minute, sort of speeds you up). I held 3 x 5 minute rounds for him, concentrating the first round on striking combinations and reaction, the second on the ground engagement holding from the open guard position and using sprawl/fall/follow, and lastly holding a round using the three half-spear/forearm check transitions.

JKD & BJJ Position really is everything

Case in point King Leonidas and 300 of his spartans fought and held against the vastly outnumbering legions of Xerxes. In the context of fight sports positioning makes the unmovable sweepable, the untouchable strikable, and the undefeatable beatable. This especially true in the half-guard position. Originally the half-guard was the result of your opponent attempting to pass your guard. This was a place you ended up in, not one you fought from. However as sport jiu-jitsu has evolved the half-guard has evolved as a offensive position of its own, notably by such jiu-jitsu players such as Roberto "Gordo" Correa and Eddie Bravo (see "Jiu-jitsu Unleashed" (Eddie Bravo)).
In BJJ we worked three sweeps from the half-guard. The primary key to playing the half-guard is to remain oblique to the mat, that is, up on one side (shoulder and hip) never flat on your back. Also the hooking leg (bottom side) should drop the toes to the mat as a better hook.
  1. Half-guard ankle pick
    Using your top-side knee and forearm, frame at the hip and neck. Pummel the frame inside to an underhook as you simultaneously extend the the top leg, dive your head to their far knee. This flattens your opponent, allowing them to fall into the "black hole" caused by the removal of the frame and the repositioning of your body. Reach your bottom side hand through and catch the far foot from underneath, slide your underhook arm down and pass the trapped foot to this hand. Bring your bottom elbow in to your body and then slide it to post, transition out and unhook your leg, then redrive into your opponent rolling them to the mat. Incidently you can pass the guard in a very similar fashion of passing and trapping the foot.
  2. Taking the back
    You attempt the half-guard ankle pick described above, but your opponent sprawls out. Reverse your position and use the underhook to shuck forward and attack the back with a Marcelo Garcia "seat belt" grip. Climb to the back and secure hooks.
  3. Whizzer counter sweep
    In this scenario your opponent blocks the above attempt at taking the back by putting in a whizzer, essentially overhooking your underhook. They want to drive your forward with this pressure, you will defend by posting out, creating a strong frame. Now pinch your upper arm down on the whizzer, punch their knee with your posting hand, and dive your head to their far knee. If they have strong (realistic) forward pressure they will literally roll them selves forward into th spot where you used to be.
This can be easily drilled by switching between the taking the back and the whizzer counter sweep while having the top player switch between defending with whizzer and posting against the sweep.
During the JKD portion of practice we worked on advancing and retreating while using the downward and upward figure 8 patterns. Talk about positioning, a mistake earns you a crack on the hand or noggin'.

12.09.2006

Frostbite and adversity builds champions

Yesterday our university martial arts gym closed for the winter break. That leaves us with our reserve training facility, the Bugeishako (Combat Garage), which is climatologically fine in late spring, summer, and fall. In winter the mat is frozen to a concrete like consistency and your breath steams, the walls serve to slow the winter winds and that's about it. Thus I present here empiric evidence that frostbite and adversity builds champions, the first is Rocky IV
The second is Fedor Emelyanenko

12.07.2006

Ugly like good cuts go to the bone

The face only a mother could love.

This evening we worked on activity level needed to fight. A fighter must be emotionally and physically in action, in training and in combat. Intensity does not mean going apepoop, that's anger not the fierce joy that proper training and fighting bring. We started by intensifying out shadowboxing, extending our strikes, remaining in motion, and visualizing the violent dance between ourselves and an opponent. We further warmed up with continual movement and then thai clinch spin/bear hug lift and turn.
Our thai pad rounds were 4 x 3 minutes and a 6 minute conditioning round:
  1. Activity Round
    In this round the fighter stays at long range closing to throw a combination. They can then at their holders command reopen the range or close throwing a continuous barrage of lead hook-rear uppercut-lead uppercut-rear hook or knees. The goal here is to work on mobility, and an active combat stance whether moving to extend the range or using the continual flurry of the up close fighting.
  2. Long Chain Combinations
    Jab-Kick into Kicking Combination #2 or #4 Reaction (High, Side, Leg Cover, Sprawl, or Fall) followed by 3, Thai (into kicking combinations #2 or #4), Knee, etc.
    Jab-Cross-Kick into Kicking Combination #1 or #3 Reaction (High, Side, Leg Cover, Sprawl, or Fall) followed by 3, Thai (into kicking combinations #2 or #4), Knee, etc.
    Our objective here is that when we train 3-4 strike combinations we often throw a lot fewer punches in the heat of battle, thus by creating longer chains we will perhaps increase the magnitude of fight combinations.
  3. Spider-Man Striking Drill
    Using the sprawl, fall, or follow the fighter engages the ground and starts the Spider-Man Drill (lifting one foot or hand and replacing it with a hand or foot) after each transition they must throw a punch or kick to the thai pads. Obviously this means throwing some awkward punches, however just as the Spider-Man drill teaches ground transition, this teaches ground transition with striking.
  4. MMA Knee Combo
    Jab-Cross-Holder reacts w/ cross-Pull to the cross side hip as you throw a flying knee with this side knee-thai clinch-3 alternating knees-holder pummels in one arm-thai side clinch-3 knees from the far knee-pull to the mat-knee on stomach-3 punches
  5. Conditioning Ladder #2>
    30 sec intervals of push-ups (or cover push-ups) continuous 4 count (lead kick-cross-lead hook-rear kick-lead hook-cross-repeats) in a ladder 1-2-4-8-16-32-1 minute of shuttle-32-16-8-4-2-1-30 second of pitterpat sprawls
We briefly reviewed the angling pendulum. We worked alternating kicks and shots off the corkscrew set-up.
Lastly we worked some self-defense using the SPEAR methodology to engage a primary attack and then allowing that attack to evolve into second and even third attacks. We worked this s l o w l y trying to realistically emulate a real fight and the what happens if at each stage we engage in more or less desirable action.

11.02.2006

GJ "I...have...returned"

After a month of being the nighthawk I finally have gotten back to a normal schedule and have to opportunity to teach my class and train with my team once more. So we started with a really light warm-up to hide my acquired decrepitude. We transitioned from basic core warm-up (squats, jumping jacks, push-ups) to full body dynamic stretching ("Stretching Scientifically: A Guide to Flexibility Training (4th Revision ed)" (Thomas Kurz)) to functional skills warm-up using shadowboxing, pummeling, shrimping, rolls, and falls.

At this point we highlighted the two primary purposes of rolls and falls, i.e. the ball and book phenomenon. Rolls (be the ball) are primarily an exercise in converting the vertical downward vector of your body's momentum after a throw into a horizontal one. This is done to decrease the amount of energy and ballistically release it by rolling out. That is increments of your body connect with the mat and absorb a fraction of the energy before the next increment makes contact. Falls (be the book), on the other hand, attempt to decrease the force per unit area by maximizing the surface area that makes contact with the mat. The human instinct in a fall is to reach, thus trying to stop all of you on an extremely small surface, namely your hand and hence your wrist, elbow, and shoulder. Proper judo/jiu-jitsu falls spread the large muscular areas, e.g. the gluteus maximus, thighs, latissimus dorsi, and trapezeus muscles, across the mat and increase the area absorbing the force of your fall. Drop a book on its edge versus the cover and notice how much more damage is caused when the book hits the small area (the edge) compared with the large area (the cover).

Next we worked into the leg lever a simple throw that use the concept that you can run a lot faster on two legs than your opponent can hop on one. Basically, attack the lead leg and lower your level by bending your knees. Grab one hand at the ankle, pull upward and toward your hip as you push at the hip, laterally.

This was then applied to a caught kick, where you step with the kick and wrap at the ankle, followed by the leg lever above. I also showed two transitions the first if the lever doesn't work. Use the thigh near the leg to "hold" the leg momentarily as you underhook the leg and tilt the person over their base leg. The second took advantage of if your opponent place the leg between your legs. Pinch with your thighs, secure your arms around the leg, make a tight spiral and fling your opponent laterally away from their posted leg. If they are too "resistant" switch directions and go for the double leg.

Next we addressed some striking combinations with both sides switching off using in gloves and shin pads:
Alternating (fundamental) style combination
Typically we think of striking as left-right or right-left, chaining our strikes and using the simplest biomechanics granted to us by having one axis of symmetry. For this we used J-C-LH-C and Tiip-J-C-LKn-push-C-LH.
Permutation style combination
The advanced group worked on the permutation combination, taking the first three strikes of fundamental combination and doing "whatever" at the end. This builds gamemanship and crafts individual combination approaches to sparring.
Same-side switch up combinations
Since the alternating combination is so ingrained, it is often useful to set-up opponents by using a same side switch up especially if the same side combination can be delivered with similar speed and power as a more traditional alternating combination. The examples we used here were J-RK-RKn-pull-LH-C and J-C-LK-LKn-push-C-LH.
Next we covered knee combinations, specifically:
  • Curve knee, same side straight knee
  • Curve knee, opposite side straight knee
  • Straight knee transition to side thai clinch straight knee and throw.
It is important to use good curve knee mechanics our base leg should move allowing the weight of your body to drive the curve knee. The straight knee should be thrown by allowing your body to lengthen. Feel free to continually tug on your opponent's head.

Using these skills we did 2 x 2 minute rounds of tag team knee play, where one person continually switches off with their partners, never being allowed an advantage moment or rest. It is important to use your entire body in this drill, conserving as much energy as possible.

Ah its good to be back.

10.12.2006

ICE ICE Baybee -- Incremental Combination Exercise

Having again spent most of the week working nights, eating "dinner", sleeping, eating "breakfast" and then doing the whole thing again I had the need to do something, anything to keep my technical skills and conditioning from deteriorating further. However, I didn't have a lot of time so the masochistic perfectionist in me said, why bother working out if I couldn't do it for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, but the realist won the battle, I figured a 25-30 minute workout was better than nothing. When your scheduled is cramped you might as well take advantage of what you got.
I'm a big proponent of bag work and shadowboxing, it's excellent solo training and no great fighter is complete without it. However its hard to do well, anyone can swat at a bag a few times or do the fighting equivalent of an air guitar for 20-30 seconds, few people can do the round after round needed to polish their fighting craftmanship.
Hence the latest in solo training technology: ICE or incremental combination exercise (sorry back to the silly acronyms). Basically you build a combination, e.g.:
An offensive striking combination
  1. Jab
  2. Jab-cross
  3. Jab-cross-lead hook
  4. Jab-cross-lead hook-cross
  5. Jab-cross-lead hook-cross-lead uppercut
  6. Jab-cross-lead hook-cross-lead uppercut-overhand

Or breaking down the four count kicking combination and going through them in series, for example #3:
  1. Lead kick
  2. Lead kick-cross
  3. Lead kick-cross-lead hook
  4. Lead kick-cross-lead hook-lead kick

A provoked reaction:
  1. Jab
  2. Jab-high cover
  3. Jab-high cover-cross
  4. Jab-high cover-cross-lead hook
  5. Jab-high cover-cross-lead hook-rear kick (body)
  6. Jab-high cover-cross-lead hook-rear kick (body)-lead kick (head)
or
  1. Jab
  2. Jab-cross
  3. Jab-cross-side cover
  4. Jab-cross-side cover-lead hook
  5. Jab-cross-side cover-lead hook-cross
  6. Jab-cross-side cover-lead hook-cross-lead kick (body)
  7. Jab-cross-side cover-lead hook-cross-lead kick (body)-rear kick (head)
In this way you do non-monotonic repetitions and you have to keep thinking about which set you are on. At the same time you can start to feel how each move functions independently, that is, assess its technical perfection but on the subsequent repetitions see how it flows or assess its applicability.
A separate note: it's getting kind of chilly in my garage so I wore my wrestling shoes. This forces one to kick with the lower shin, hitting with the top of the foot cause the shoe to create painful pressure on the ankle, who knew that wrestling could contribute to proper kicking mechanics.

10.09.2006

Never take your training for granted

Last week I started my one month rotation of "night float", that is, spending 7 PM to 7 AM in the hospital, while the hours are no more intense than my regular schedule they are only normal for someone living on the opposite side of the world. In other words when I want to train I neither have training partners or a facility available, the regularly scheduled practices that I would normally attend are right about the time I'm leaving home for work.
So what's a training masochist like me to do. Obviously I still try to set-up practice slots where I can, and got to workout Friday and Saturday with some of guys from my gym. I couldn't believe how much a week off made me miss training nor how much I had actually been taking my training regimen for granted. It was refreshing and a bit humbling to realize that I had taken a good thing and expected to last no matter what. I'll be grateful for the training opportunities I have this month and be more appreciative of them when I get back.
Saturday we worked on passing the guard by "jumping". One of the most frustrating things to deal with in an opponent is one fluid enough to jump past the full guard to half guard in an attempt to pass. Once in the half-guard the jump can be used to switch sides forcing the bottom player to constantly play catch-up. We jumped from three positions:
Half-guard
From a stymied passing positon, with your front more toward the floor, jump to the opposite side, rotating around your leg, landing face up, secure the grip around the neck and far leg.
Koala guard
Lower your weight, reach the near side arm over your opponent's shoulder and secure the kimono on the far side. Push your knee into your opponent's chest as you spring forward and roll out laterally, posting with your far leg. Secure the your free hand under their far leg. Note your opponent can defend this by blocking with the rear leg of the koala position, using securing a low guard position around the shins and then pushing to a kneeling position on top.
De la Riva
Pop the extended leg laterally off your hip and push the hook through as spring forward and spin on the formerly hooked leg.
At sparring I coached (mostly due to a wicked leg cramp...apparently 30 hours of not sleeping with minimal fluids will do that...who knew). This was the first day for new member sparring. And they rapidly learned that it is a lot harder than it looks, as they were paired off against more experienced club members. Everyone starts off gung ho, but after getting punched in the face and kicked in the stomach they loose much of their ability to string an offense together. However, this should not be seen as a defeat, rather it is a learning opportunity to see how well you fair under stress, how well you take the fear that is instilled by having someone trying to hurt you. The best part is how much more serious the people who spar become in their training, they understand the more repetitions in training the more likely they will do better in sparring.
Following sparring we covered the entering bait, that is, using gradual probing steps to draw your opponent's fire, learning what that reaction is, and using it to set-up offense and counter offense. The biggest mistake people make is standing in the range where the other guy fights best. Switch the range, open to draw the to you, close to force them into action, use these and see how you can make them play the game according to your rules. "Games" likes shoulder and knee tag work on this concept.
Leg evasions were also discussed and drilled. If your opponent is kicking you in your leg we will slow you down and eventually break you down entirely. Evade by stepping your lead leg back to the same line as your rear leg, as they spin through deliver the cross. We drilled this by evading and tagging the far shoulder as it came through on the spin.
We also covered the tiip defense, reiterating that the entering bait above can be used effectively to make your opponent kick and miss. Alternatively and more traditionally use a downward lead hand scoop to divert the kick and drive it hard into the floor, planting them there momentarily. For same lead, tiip follow with a rear kick to the back of their thigh, lead head hook, and rear cross. For same lead, rear tiip lead kick to the inside of the base leg, straight cross.
With my new goal of never taking training for granted, as I watched my training partner Jeff teach the arm bar and triangle, I picked up new nuances on how to both perform and teach the technique and I've done thousands upon thousands of arm bars, taught it to hundreds of people, and won major combinations with both those techniques. Maximize every minute of your day, from getting one more good repetition of a technique to savoring one more second of sleep, take no moment for granted.

9.26.2006

Application at the expense of technical perfection

I've asked the question in practice recently, "does your mighty instructor fight a technically perfect fight." My guys want to say yes, mostly out of loyalty and politeness, but in truth the answer is no. I doubt anyone has ever fought a technically perfect fight, there are too many internal and external variables that take the ultimate combat stud we are in practice on the pads and makes them a little more full of mortal foibles when the chips are down. Perhaps this is an artifact of rarely allowing ourselves to see ourselves train, we don't tape or have spectators for practice like we do for events. Perhaps I'm just overly critical, but if we fall into the trap that victory means excellence then we allow our ego to rather than our needs direct our training. Just because you got away with something once doesn't make it right it makes it lucky. We must practice endlessly for technical perfection, but we must also accept that realities of application, that we will make mistakes when the chips are down but that by repeated, correct practice we will minimize the repercussions of those less than desirable actions while maximizing the effects of the things we do right in the fight.






This is my MMA fight from the Total Fight Challenge, February 25, 2005. I was pretty ripped for this fight due to the same day weigh ins, so that's dehydration (and a profound inability to tan) your seeing. The Monday after I fought, unbeknownst to me, I was diagnosed with a rip roaring case of mononucleosis, explaining why I'd been feeling so tired for the past few weeks before the event. An ultrasound a few weeks after that revealed my spleen to be at the upper limits of normal, that is I'm lucky that between training and fighting I didn't end up in the emergency room with a splenic rupture. I also have a subtle limp, my standard prefight ritual is to thoroughly mess up my knee about 3-4 days before the fight, after weeks of it being solid as a rock. During the fight look for a lack of extension on my punches, allowing my significantly shorter opponent to reach out and tag me solidly in the nose and snap my head back, fortunately I've killed all the weak brain cells. This probably could have been remedied by more sparring w/ smaller gloves. I could easily have thrown a solid head kick and had been doing so for weeks up until my knee worries. We end up on the ground due to his take down attempt, all I did was step over his sacrifice throw (this is clipped from the video due to spectators moving around). I also just ride him on the ground, with poor mount control. In essence I'm suffering from a lack of commitment and being reactive rather than being proactive, but I still scratch out the win by rear naked choke set-up with punches to his right orbital socket.

9.17.2006

GJ The Rise and Fall of the Martial Empire

Historians and social theorists have models that describe civilizations. One model (possibly more) describe all civilizations essentially in formative, growth, peak/expansion, decline, and dissolution stages. I think that similar models can be applied to martial arts. In my training applicability and functionality built on sound judgment have been the core of what a martial art should be, thus, in my opinion an ethically sound purely functional martial art is the peak of combat evolution. That means that a style like boxing, wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu would be formative, while highly applicable they are also highly specific dealing with only a fraction of applications. Styles of MMA range from (pre-)formative to growth stages as they are more functional but all the rough edges have yet to be smoothed out. Styles like traditional jujitsu, tae kwon do, and many forms of karate are in the decay and dissolution stages, they lack real world use except on the most esoteric levels and are marred by adherence to doctrine rather than scientific evidence.
Kick-Cross-Hook-(Jab-Cross-Jab-Cross)-slip-spin uki-waza
As your partner throws the last cross, slip outside and clinch at the waist, step up and sit behind your opponent dragging them over your extended leg.
Jab-Cross-(Cross-Hook-Cross)-parry to side Thai clinch takedown
Obtain underhook control and hand control of the neck, take a pivot step back as you pull their head forward down. Use the underhook to pull them over their head and roll them to the floor.
Side Thai clinch to hip toss, uchi-mata, or harai-goshi
From the side thai clinch put your hips in front of your opponent and hip toss, alternatively reap the near (uchi-mata) or far leg (harai-goshi). You can either control the neck or reach across to the far arm and use that to throw.
Slip irimi nage
Slip place one hand on the hip and drive up upward at a 45o as you drive the other hand across the neck and clavicle in a downward angle.
Corkscrew to single
Use jab-cross while stepping on the cross throw the lead hook, from here shoot to the single, lower your level, drive and pick up the leg, finish the single.
Reverse corkscrew to double
Use jab-lead hook stepping with the hook to the straight cross, shoot the straight double from here against their "parallel stance" against their weakest axis.
Arm dump
Parry the cross, shoot your other arm across their elbow. Clasp your hands and suck it to your chest, then bend forward and twist in the direction of the trapped arm, to drag them to the mat.

9.10.2006

JKD & BJJ/GJ Sleep when your dead

Vacillate. I like this word, I use it all the time, just not correctly apparently.

This was a full weekend, after being on call Friday night I went right to JKD and BJJ. We reviewed the Gun Turret position and added to it:
Single Leg Variation
Use your anterior leg to hook thier leg as you stand-up and pull back. Immediately take the shot.
Dive Bomber Sweep
From a tight "in the gun turret" position your opponent grabs the back of kimono and tires to pull you away. Use your free hand to grip their sleeve and then swing your posterior leg through as you five your head between their legs, trying to swing 360° through to your belly as you sweep them backwards.
Knee Bump
In the case where your opponent has passed your Koala Guard. They are sitting on one of your thighs, controlling your sleeve with their far hand. Regrab their sleeve and bump them forward with our top leg and quickly come on top.
Capoeira Koala Defense
This is actually a defense. Push on their shoulder with your free hand, as they try to so the single leg, swing the leg medially and up laterally over their head, while keeping space with your hands.
In Goshin Jitsu we worked on some striking rounds:
  1. Walking the Body
  2. Permutation Kick Combination
    Using kick combination #1 (lead kick-cross-hook-rear kick) we covered permutations of the kicking combination:
    1. Regular Same: Step out in the direction of the kick, then continue in that direction for the cross, hook and rear kick.
    2. Regular Opposite: Step out in the direction of the kick and then switch directions for the cross and hook, switching to their far side for the last kick.
    3. Switch Step Same: Use a reverse step, i.e. step with your kicking leg and then throw the kick, continue in this direction for the cross, hook and rear kick.
    4. Switch Step Opposite: Again start with the reverse step but switch directions on the cross and hook to get to the far side for the last kick.
    Thus you can not only find the "style" you are most comfortable with but also increase the number of variations on the same theme that you have.
  3. Shadowboxing/Pad Round Switch Off
    In this round we switched between shadowboxing and hitting pads, each time the holder could choose anyone and initiate the round with a reaction. This forces people to switch gears rapidly, experience different "energies", and stay a little more on their toes than they might be used to.
We also covered the arm drag to trapped arm guard flow:

The expanded  arm drag to trapped arm guard flow


It is important on the triangles to use all three dimensions to maximize the pressure on the neck. It is also important to realize that the SPiNE concept also comes into play, your opponent gets weaker and less able to defend the triangle the more you extend their head away from their COM. The closer to horizontal the line between your two COM becomes the stronger your triangle becomes relative to their ability to get out.

Body Weight High-Intensity Training (BWHIT)

High-Intensity Training is the "modern era’s version of one-set-to-failure strength training, producing even greater muscle mass and power in less time" ("High-Intensity Training" (John Philbin), "High-Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way" (Mike Mentzer, John R. Little)). I've used it with excellent results to build usable strength for combat sports, however with my current schedule getting time for hitting the gym is becoming more and more difficult. Many combat sports athletic trainers are now advocating body weight exercises for greater results (e.g. "The Naked Warrior" (Pavel Tsatsouline), "Combat Conditioning: Functional Exercises For Fitness And Combat Sports" (Matt Furey), "Dynamic Strength" (Harry Wong)). I'm proposing to combine these two modalities into a quick home workout capable of being done in 30-45 minutes. The only pieces of equipment I propose to use is a pull-up bar and a stop watch/timer.
Combat sports are described as anaerobic with intervals of intense cardiopulmonary activity broken up by rest periods (e.g. rounds or tournament). Thus according to Philbin we want the time under tension to be 48 to 72 seconds and increasing the intensity by 3-5% at 12 reps or time when under tension exceeds 72 seconds. A 75 to 90 second recovery time is used between each exercise. A total of 2-3 full body workouts per week is the goal.

  1. Sit-ups -- Knees bent 45° and pressed together
  2. Sit-ups -- Knees bent 45° and apart
  3. Sit-ups -- Knees bent 90° (shins parallel with the floor) and pressed together
  4. Sit-ups -- Knees bent 90° (shins parallel with the floor) and apart
  5. Sit-ups -- Legs straight up (perpendicular with the floor) and pressed together
  6. Sit-ups -- Legs straight up (perpendicular with the floor) and apart
  7. Sit-ups -- One leg straight and elevated, one knee bent 45° and elevated (switch every three)
  8. Sit-ups -- Legs straight and elevated, knees pressed together and apart (switch every three)
  9. Sit-ups -- V-sit
  10. Neck Bridge ("Combat Conditioning: Functional Exercises For Fitness And Combat Sports" (Matt Furey))
  11. Neck Bridge
  12. Neck Bridge
  13. Pull-Ups
  14. Pull-Ups
  15. Pull-Ups
  16. Push-Ups
  17. Push-Ups
  18. Push-Ups
  19. Dive Bomber Push-Ups ("Combat Conditioning: Functional Exercises For Fitness And Combat Sports" (Matt Furey))
  20. Dive Bomber Push-Ups
  21. Dive Bomber Push-Ups
  22. Squats
  23. Squats
  24. Squats
  25. Calf Raises
But you will ask, how do you increase intensity by 3-5% once you can do 12 reps in approximately 60 seconds? The answer is to switch bilateral exercises to unilateral exercises, e.g. changing push-ups to staggered push-ups to one-handed push-ups or changing squats to "pistols" ("The Naked Warrior" (Pavel Tsatsouline)). As I progress with this experiment I'll detail some ideas for increasing intensity.

9.06.2006

GJ "Like a bull on acid"

This evening Jack McVicker came over and did an hour workshop introducing the concepts of Jeet Kune Do and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He covered the basics of the Rapid Assault Tactics (RAT) showing how to inflict pain enter into the straight blast and transition into head butts, knees, and elbow (HKE). His description the straight blast is the title of today's blog. He also covered the three link meshwork from the guard of kimura, hip bump, and guillotine choke.
Following Jack's presentation the advanced guys worked a few rounds:
  1. Kick the puncher
    Use tiip and thai kicks to hold off the puncher
  2. Clinch the puncher
    Using the four paths to clinch, clinch off the puncher's offense.
  3. Dirty boxing
    Using focus mitts stay close and work short hooks, upper cuts, and crosses. Use the rip to step out and create space or open the distance and have the hitter flow into longer range punches. Also throw in the clinch.
  4. 3 Knees Turn Lap
    With the thai pads, throw three knees and turn your partner, "walking" them down and back on the mat.
We finished with takedowns from the double under position, always remember to use the concept of the Combat Chiropractor when in the double under position, this will often break them and force them to fall without ever having to do a "real" throw:
  1. Backbreaker
    Simply apply head or shoulder pressure superiorly (pushing) as you scoop out the hips (pulling). You can hook the leg to trip simultaneously.
  2. Knee bump
    Scoop the hips toward you generating kazushi (off-balancing), then bump laterally with knee to trip them to the mat. You do not need to lift them up, just lighten the amount of weight they have loaded on their feet.
  3. Hip toss
    Use the double unders to throw the hip toss, often you will need to "break" the column of the spine, or to step out laterally before switching into the hip toss.

9.05.2006

JKD & BJJ Gun Turret Sweep

We worked from the de la Riva guard today:

De La Riva Tilt
Put one hook from the outside behind the knee, control the same side ankle with your hand. Opposite hand controls the same side sleeve. Tilt while pulling on the sleeve, levering the leg up. Transfer your shoulder to their hip and slide your shin across their legs. Secure the underhook.
Push Back Tilt
Push you opponent away, off-balancing them to their posterior. Feed their kimono under the leg the hand that was gripping their ankle. Tilt as above.
Gun Turret Sweep
As you push away they stand-up, sit up and curl forward, pass their sleeve under their leg (a lá the "pump handle slam") to the hand that was gripping the ankle. Pull them toward you as you block the same thigh as the controlled arm. Tilt 45o anteriorly over the controlled side. Secure top position as above.
Single Leg Takedown
This time as you push way they retreat further, slide both feet to the outside line and use the hand that had sleeve control to lever you to standing. Attack the single leg with strong forward pressure, head at the pectorals, with their leg between yours.

8.31.2006

GJ "Pain is an illusion"

Last night we started out by working from the over-under or 50-50 position, from there we worked on pummeling. Essentially take your over hook and place that hand on your chest then swim through the hole under your partner's armpit. Thus as you replace your overhook with an underhook they do the same on the opposite side.
From this set-up we entered into the thai side clinch, by inserting a forearm to the neck and overhooking the arm, step overhook side foot to the outside of your partner's foot and drop step 90o out with your other foot, pulling them forward and bringing their head down for the knee.
Alternatively we could go directly into the full thai clinch or plum position, by "swimming" up control the head with two strong hooks. In this position too you can turn/throw your opponent by stepping up on side side and drop stepping 90o out with the other foot, effectively pulling them to the "black hole" you created by doing so.
Remember that the primary objective of both these positions is to punish your opponent with knees or elbows, and in a street situation eye gouges, head butts, and biting. It is important to attack aggessively and switch lines as the damage done in one area forces your opponent to react, e.g. as you knee in the midsection they typically expose their head for elbows.
In any situation action almost always outweigh's inaction (running from a conflict like a gazelle is an action). In any fight from the ring to the street two things will happen you will either get injured a little or you will get injured a lot, even fatally. Research into trauma has revealed three time periods within which people die:
  1. Immediately, i.e. your SOL and you won't know your SOL because your dead.
  2. Within about 1 hour (the Golden Hour of Trauma) in which you have a short amount of time to get to the hospital and get resuscitated.
  3. Within a few weeks as the complications from the trauma, e.g. infections, cause mortality.
In any case this means that should you lose the fight and you do not die immediately you have about an hour to seek medical attention, that's pretty good odds in my opinion.
The senior students then spent about 30 minutes on leg reaps. I showed two combinations, the Hoedown ("Reap the leg, doe see doh, see your partner on the floo'") where you go ILOR to ILIR alternatively use OLIR to ILIR or OLOR. We finished with 2 x 5 minutes of Tabata intervals...no one wanted to stay and train after that...I can't understand why...

8.30.2006

JKD & BJJ Rock-Paper-Scissor Combination

Last night we worked a very tight flow useful for scoring points in sport jiu-jitsu:
  1. Scissor sweep
    Use cross collar gi control and same hand sleeve control, the cross collar side shin sits across the belt line while the other leg drops next to their sameside knee. Pull your opponent forward at a 45o angle while scissoring your legs to sweep them to the mounted position.
  2. Loop choke
    If your opponent bases to prevent the sweep, loop the collar forearm under their neck and slide your other arm over the back of their neck and under your elbow. Try to straighten the top arm through the hole between your antecubital fossa (elbow joint)and their neck, mean while lean as to pull the collar tighter that is toward the shoulder of the top arm. If they tap great, but they may simply roll, so take the 2 + 4 points (sweep and mount)
  3. "Judo chop" cross collar choke
    Should your opponent push the top elbow forward over their head they free themselves from the choke. Should this happen, off-angle away from the side that you have collar control, bite down with the leg, and "judo chop" their grabbing the fold of the kimono high on the shoulder. Drop your elbow down to loop under their neck and apply the cross collar choke, pull yourself up to them.
  4. Straight armbar
    Should they frame and create space to defend the choke, go immediately to a straight armbar.

GJ "Courage comes from suffering"

Solo Practice
  1. Shadowboxing
    You can always work movement and technique either with or without a mirror, the key is visualizing an opponent and what both you and they do. Shadowboxing is a relative term, any technique you do can be practiced, e.g. shadowwrestling, shadowgrappling (although both these look even dorkier than shadowboxing) or more isolated sprawls, shooter's walk, and shrimping.

  2. Bagwork
    Find a bag and the appropriate protection, visualize as above.

  3. Attribute Development
    Working on the physical, mental, and emotional aspects that are not specific to being a fighter but are important for making better fighters. Weightlifting especially corework and cardiovascular conditioning fall under physically developable attributes. Reading books and watching videos from instructional or fights can also be productive. Blauer Tactical Systems has a strong history of working on the emotional arsenal.

  4. Training Journal
    Simply reading this isn't enough, try keeping your own training journal highlighting the aspects you need to work on. You'll be surprised how 15-30 minutes of review over a piece of paper or keyboard can clarify and cement things in your mind.
For our second practice of the semester we had almost 80 people in attendance. We started with a light warm-up and stretching. We then worked into elbows first the horizontal ("scratch your back") and then the vertical ("fix your hair"). Each pair had one pad, one sided did 10 elbows and then switched, working both sides. Everyone was encouraged to both practice the "cutting" and "clubbing" elbows, using proper upper and lower body dynamics.
Next we switched to straight knees, forming groups of five with one set of Thai pads. One holder worked with one hitter, delivering one minute of straight knees to the thai pads. Meanwhile everyone else worked skip knees on the wall. It is important for the holder to place one thai pad horizontally across the body, with other pad running parallel to it, creating a seam where the hitter delivers their knees. The holder should remain upright and push into the knees. Fighters should deliver knees parallel with floor, driving with their hips while firmly controlling the head with both hooks -- do not interlace fingers. Holding for knees teaches you how effective a weapon the knees can be, I have yet to find someone who would want to be kneed after holding the pads.
Next we worked into the standing guillotine choke, we used a similar framework from last practice, using the SPEAR to intercept the attack. A deep knee causing them to bend over avails the line of the neck, thus allowing them to sink the choke. Drop the arm next to the head deep before bringing the forearm across, make sure only the neck is trapped between your arms, then grip the blade of your hand and gently arch as you pull your arms superiorly.
Defending the guillotine is fairly easy, don't get caught, that is never let the person get a hold of you and force your head down. However as they secure the choke you can still defend by using the same side hand grab the forearm across the windpipe, and throw the other arm over the shoulder, pulling the person laterally (a defensive Combat Chiropractor) while angling your body 45o in the direction of the non-choked side.
It is important to note that techniques are situational not sequential, that is, they happen as needed not because they were necessarily trained in a specific order. Always take moves as they are given not as you expect them to occur.
I then dismissed the beginners and started with 3 minute pad rounds for the advanced group:
  1. Walking the Body
    Per Miyamoto Musashi "The Book of Five Rings" (Miyamoto Musashi), it is axiomatic that you should be able to throw strikes from any position. In combat sports no-one does this better than boxers. When they deliver a low line punch, they return to their "fighting stance" with a another punch, allowing the natural body mechanics of returning to equilibrium to generate and deliver another shot. Some prime examples we use are:
    • "Walk The Body 1" -- Body Jab-Rear Uppercut-Lead Hook-Cross
    • "Walk The Body 2" -- Jab-Body Cross-Lead Uppercut-Cross
    • "Walk The Body 3" -- Jab-Cross-Lead Body Hook-Rear Uppercut-Lead Hook-Cross
    • "Walk The Body Rip" -- Jab-Rear Body Hook-Lead Uppercut-Cross
    We introduced the italicized ones in practice.
  2. Sprawl, Fall, or Follow
  3. G n' P Practice
    Last practice we worked on punching with a powerful, rapid extension style of MMA superstarFedor Emelyaneko. The man punches harder on the ground than most people do standing up. Aside from doubtless genetic gifts he uses a technical full extension to deliver his power. This extension should provide his opponent's with opportunities to submit him, but by punishing them with a barrage of brutal strikes they cannot access his arms to do so. With this in mind we worked this round with the head down, controlling the biceps of our holder, from here pop-up and way creating a enough room to throw either three long straight punches (maximizing the linear path for the generation of energy) or two extended hooks (maximizing the deliverable torque). The holder either holds a V for the straight punches or a midline pad for the hooks.
  4. Conditioning (Four Count Sprawls)

8.24.2006

GJ Crowding

No I'm not talking about the bumper crop of rookies at practice tonight. The official count was 62 people training this evening, that's ricockulous. However I'd like to discuss crowding within the context of fighting. Force is generated by mass and acceleration so when we strike we use the change in distance, i.e. the extension of the arm, in the fastest time possible along with "putting our weight behind it" to maximize our force. As the biomechanics of our muscles is most powerful in a limited portion of our range of motion, the generation of maximal straight striking force occurs from a flexed (cocked position) to an extended position. To often however in striking from the street to the ring we shorten the distance too much in an effort to inflict more forceful blows. We delude ourselves into thinking that closing the distance will allow us to generate more power even though we are shortening the pathway of maximal contraction that would create the greatest accelerating vector. For example, if you were to bench press from a hyperflexed position you would be able to lift less and mess up your shoulders because of the biomechanically unstable starting position. However a good bench press works within the maximally efficient ROM that targets pectoral contraction, the objective of the exercise. A punch is similar. Try punching a bag with your fist touching it versus at a longer extended range, the second punch should be more forceful.
In practice we ran through an abbreviated standard warm-up before talking about the SPEAR psychology and physics of self-defense. We ran through the basic concept and thought process behind the SPEAR before showing its more universal applicability to common street attacks. We added the option of entering different arsenals, particularly highlighting a Thai style using simple elbows (vertical/"fix your hair" and horizontal/"scratch your shoulder") and knees ("touch your hand with your knee")
We then demoed grappling, Thai boxing, MMA, and two simple self-defense scenarios, especially our infamous gun self-defense ("they take the money, you run").
We worked three rounds with the advanced guys on the pads, but working on striking on the ground for 3 minute rounds:
  1. Ground Kicking
    We worked three kicks, (1) the roundhouse from the guard, working on the hip follow through to throw a strong kick on the ground, (2) the ground "tiip" or up thrust where we use one hand post to drive the heel into the pads, and (3) the stand-up roundhouse post on the same side hand and foot as your throw a head kick, spin through and stand-up.
  2. Extension punching
    Based on the concept of crowding we opened the distance in the guard to rain down three rapid extended punches. We did this both popping up from the arm control position as well as from a standing position.
  3. Flow Drill
    We worked three forearm/hammer fists to the far pad from the side mount, take the mount three punches, get bridge and rolled to the guard for 3 punches, cover the hook and take back, three punches to the thai pad posted on the triceps. Repeat.

8.22.2006

JKD & BJJ Fear is my ally


For the Jeet Kune Do portion of class I showed a few striking combinations on the pads:
  1. Jab-Cross-Lead Hook-Cover/Parry (cross)-Cross-Hook-Cross
    This combination was used as our warm-up and to run through the punches.

  2. Jab-Rear Kick / Jab-Cross-Shuffle Kick / Shuffle Kick-Cross
    This round used basic Thai punch-kick combinations and reframed them in the context of JKD.

  3. Shuffle Kick-Evade-Jab-Cross-Lead Hook-Evade
    Jeet Kune Do emphasizes range and movement in its approach to fighting. This round tried to train those attributes while using the focus mitts. The hitter must initiate (close), evade (open), react (close), and exit (open).

  4. "Fear will teach you" round
    Using the basic punch-kick combinations you know make sure your partner is defending and moving well by slapping at their head or body after a combination. One sharp face shot with a focus mitt will teach people to expand the range and keep their hands up far better than telling them to do the same.
For the BJJ portion of practice we reviewed the hip toss and rear uki-waza throws. The set-ups are essentially the same, your opponent has a same side collar grab and you use a cross hand sleeve control while wrapping your other arm inside to his control his back (grab the kimono not the belt). Form a tight controlling grip, close an exert head pressure against his temporal mandibular joint (the insertion of the jaw). Release the sleeve and grab the far arm. To hip toss step rudely in the way and toss over the hip, to sweep pull forward and use the natural reactive straightening to pull them over your knee in the direction of flexion of the knee, do not sheer them laterally and pull them on top of you.
I then covered the basics and fine-tuning of the side mount position.
Extended/traditional side mount
The superior arm controls the far collar, pinching the head between the forearm and shoulder, turn their face away from you -- making them exponentially weaker, try next time you bench. The inferior arm controls the pants or posts on the hip. Stay on the balls of your feet, driving your pelvis to the mat, your only points of contact are your toes and chest. Keep your head low and tight to their body. Stay as perpendicular to them as possible creating the longest lever versus their shortest.

Kneeling/no-gi side mount
Use a broad kneeling position, inferior knee controlling their hip, superior knee circled inside their near arm, posting their triceps on your hip. Pinch the head using the armpit or collar as grip. Alternatively use the inferior arm as an underhook and form a wrestler's grip with the other. Another position for the inferior hand in is posted at the far side, forming a pincer between the knee and forearm. Still drive your weight into the mat, keeping your hips low. Tuck your head flush with their body and always turn their head.
Defense against the side mount is simple -- don't get there. Thus if you can achieve the top position and are never placed in jeopardy of being side mounted you have "defended" it. If the pass your guard, keep fighting to get back to your guard, that is work your side mount defense early to prevent them from achieving the side-mount. If they do get, take a breather and remember patience is a virtue -- they are in the offensive position, wait a second and see if they attack. If you need to escape here are two options
Shrimp to guard
Tuck your near hand near their hip, the far hand goes under the inferior armpit (an underhook if you will). Grab the kimono and use slight pressure to slide your head free allowing your to look straight up. Use a short explosive "bench press" to create reaction and then shrimp your posterior as far away from them as you can, then slide your bottom knee inside and pull them to the guard as they "fall" into the hole you created with your shrimp as they try to reacquire the side mount. Some troubleshooting: You can use your far hand to push in their triceps, breaking their hip control of you and allowing freer access for your leg. Alternatively you can sink your shin inside their elbow joint (the antecubital fossa) and push away breaking the hip control down in this way.

Shrimp to four points
If one road is blocked we can take the other. In this case after clearing your head as before, your shrimp will turn your body to prone position (belly down), from here establish a four points position by pulling your elbows and knees together. From here the "shot" is available as is rolling to the guard.

8.15.2006

JKD & BJJ Knee on stomach

We worked the side underhook clinch to the uchi-mata ankle pick. Get a strong underhook and put the top of your head directly into their lateral jaw. Step in front and reap their thigh (above the knee) up and laterally, immediately followed by grabbing their far ankle. We did two set-ups, off the jab and the jab-cross. Use the parry of either to warp the arm into the underhook clinch position.

We also worked to the knee on stomach position today:
Acquiring the position
From sidemount grab the cross collar and apply neck pressure. The inferior hand reaches across the body and bases on floor. Now slide knee up across opponent's body, placing full weight on shin across body and balancing off extended other leg.
Cross collar to mount
Use a cross collar choke to force opponent to protect neck with hands, slide to mount position.
Baseball Bat Choke
Insert superior hand on collar on near side of neck and insert rear hand on far side of neck, hands touching. Drop inferior shoulder to solar plexus and walk around opponent's head to cinch the choke.
180o armbar
This is one of my favorite moves -- can't do it worth a damn but still cool. Use knee on stomach to force opponent to push on up knee, drop toes on mat to absorb pressure. Insert inferior arm superior (above) the forearm and pull up. Step superior foot across body, over opponent's head as if to kick them in the back. Grab their belt with your free hand and spin 180o to the cross body armbar position with the new inferior leg bent on the near side of your opponent. Tighten the arm bar as usual.
Arm wrench
This is another "hug" lock. Your opponent exposes their arm in the sidemount position. Underhook it with the inferior arm and step over their head with the superior leg. Slide to a point just distal to their elbow joint and use your arms to hug their straight arm applying counter pressure with the crook over your neck and shoulder.

Oops...I won

Sorry I said I'd be back and post our results, but I started using my "blog time" to edit together a video of our team's fights. Originally I intended to post it, but we have a little over an hour of fight footage so that's not going to work. Anyway my guys, representing Team PAC did excellent. As a whole Team PAC went 8-2 taking home three World Classic Belts. Two of those were mine and my student Joe's. If you want a copy of the DVD drop me a line.

Team PAC victorious at the 2006 IKF WCT
Jeff "Half-Track" Serafin, Mike "Joker" Aref, Mark Diffley, Joe "Samurai" Zhu, Head Coach Ryan Blackorby
Jim "Dangerously" Daleiden, Dennis Ho, Matt "Love Simian" Sztelle

7.27.2006

2006 IKF World Classic Tournament

This weekend, July 27-29, Joe, Matt, and I are competing at the 2006 IKF World Classic Tournament in Cedar Rapids, IA. Be back Sunday with an update.


My House

My Ring

My Belt

7.26.2006

Simulated Victory

Many self-defense, sports, law enforcement, and military experts advocate simulations in their training (e.g. Tony Blauer, "Training at the Speed of Life, Vol. 1: The Definitive Textbook for Police and Military Reality Based Training" (Kenneth R. Murray), and "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience" (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)). Simulation prepares athletes, soldiers, and the lay person by recreating both the biological and psychological stimuli and responses of a real event, i.e. a competition, a battle, a presentation, or an assault. Yes, simulation is practice, but it is practice that maximizes optimal repetition of a specific event, rather than isolating technique, developing fitness, or learning new strategies. In essence we integrate what we do into the mold of the event the simulation is emulating. This past week has been simulating the IKF World Classic Tournament:
  • Geared rounds
    All our pad rounds, timing, and knee play has been done wearing competition head gear, shin pads, and gloves. In this way the fighter gets used to the sensation of the gear, its weight, its propensity for retaining heat, and its relative protective ability.
  • Warm-up practice into the shadowfight
    Fighters have gone through their 20-25 minute warm-up, using the method they like best to raise their core temperature, dynamically stretch their muscles, shadowbox, and prepare themselves cardiovascularly for the go-stop-go interval bursts of fighting with short 9~30 second), explosive rounds on the pads. Afterward they go into 3 x 2 minute rapid shadowboxing rounds with 1 minute intervals trying to recreate the shift from warm-up to fight.
  • Fight specific pad rounds
    As we approach the fight we taper our pad rounds to recreate the event as closely as possible. Thus pad rounds are 3 x 2 minute with a 1 minute interval. They are done in a (small) ring and focus almost exclusively on the offensive and defensive tools of the fighter.
  • 1st 15 seconds
    This is a timing drill, but the feeder is geared up with more head and body protection. In it feeder and the fighter are start the fight. They get called to the center of the ring by the "ref", are given their instructions, return to their corners, and the "fight" begins. The feeder can come out aggressively (i.e. charging across the ring), reluctantly (prompting the fighter to be more aggressive), with a touched glove (showing respect), etc. All of these are to get fighters used to the most probable actions that will occur in the first few seconds of the round as well as to get them used to different "energies" of fighters.
For me this training stirs the creature that roils in my heart, boiling for conflict. The creature that loves to fight, pitting its pure meanness against whatever odds set before it. It growls and hungers to battle, to emerge victorious regardless of the odds, despite the pain, and with blatant disregard for basic human decency. It is the bad intent, the mean streak, and the cruelty let loose in a socially acceptable setting. I can't wait.

7.22.2006

Transition Timing

This is actually an idea adapted from my JKD instructor Jack McVicker, the idea is to isolate specific tools and ranges but then to combine them via the transitions necessary to move from one to the other. For our training we worked three ranges/tool sets:
  1. Jab and tiip (lead and rear)
  2. Boxing (no kicks or knees)
  3. Knee play
We did two minute rounds spending anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds in each range. In the 3 seconds needed transition from one set to another, all rules are off either side can (safely) use any tool to bridge the gap needed to move from knees to boxing to long range kicking.
You can break any fight down and isolate skills like this. For example, if we are getting ready for a grappling tournament we might do rounds of first take down interspersed with rounds of passing the guard and escaping from disadvantage position. For MMA you might put in G & P rounds and clinch work with takedowns.
This a cerebral more than a physical exercise. People become fatigued and get hit in this because transitions are where are the most difficult moments in a fight, the "rules" of engagement are most variable at these moments. At no point are you allowed to become "comfortable" thereby replicating some of the unease experienced in competition and hopefully modeling adaptive behaviors for these situations.

7.20.2006

GJ The Zen of Competition

Our pre-workout was:
  • 100 yards run
  • 50 yards alternating kicks
  • 100 yards run
  • 50 yards pitterpat
  • 100 yards run
  • 50 yards straight knees
  • 100 yards run
  • 50 yards of continuous four counts
  • 100 yards run
  • Crosses n' hooks
  • 100 yards run
  • 3 knees 3 punches
  • 100 yards run
  • 20 push-ups
  • 50 yards run
  • 20 push-ups
  • 50 yards run
  • 20 push-ups
We then started practice with
  • Squats
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Calf extensions
  • Partner leg press x30
  • Frog Jumps (jumper squats with touching the floor)
  • Partner sit-ups x40
  • Handstand w/ partner assist
  • Flat dolphin (on forearms and toes, keep body straight
  • Lizard (one side hand close to foot, one side extended)
  • Push-ups x20
We then worked into 3 minute thai pads rounds
  1. Basic thai warm-up
  2. Finishing with a tiip
    Following each combination (everything more than a single kick, jab, or double) throw a tiip. While I primarily use the lead/front tiip it is often advantageous to use the rear tiip if you just punched with your rear hand and especially if you just threw a rear kick.
  3. Knee Disposition
    We worked "standard" disposition that is what to do after throwing a knee and wishing to reopen the range. We also covered going to knees (trace the hand over the head to plum) using the three knee turn sequence and finishing with a throw to punch or kick range. Alternatively disposition can be achieved by switching to wrestling, either pummeling or taking a shot.
  4. Conditioning
    The 1-2-3 mat shuttles, 30 seconds of pitterpat, four count combination sprawl drill (details)
We worked several 2 minute rounds of timing before splitting the MT fighters off for a little more fun, 30 second rounds of
  • Pitterpat
  • Hold pitterpat
  • Ladder push-ups and hold (1-2-4-8-16-8-4-2-1)
The fighters did well, never breaking the mien of combat zen, the beautific expression of being detached whether the fight is going well or poorly, whether tired or fresh, in injury and in health. In all a 13.5 minute round of continuous barrage to the arms and core...throwing punches for a 2 minute round is going to be cake...

And for a final thought we turn to Bruce Lee: Forget about winning and losing; forget about pride and pain. Let your opponent graze your skin and you smash into his flesh; let him smash into your flesh and you fracture his bones; let him fracture your bones and you take his life. Do not be concerned with escaping safely--lay your life before him.

Tomorrow I have the fun idea of transition timing...stay tuned

7.19.2006

JKD & BJJ Jack's Flow

We worked on a flow (a meshwork if your will) first introduced a few months back:
  1. "Judo Chop" Cross Collar Choke
  2. Straight arm from guard (opponent postures to defend choke)
  3. Flower sweep to mount (opponent stacks to defend arm bar)
  4. Start attacking with cross collar choke from mount (opponent controls arm for bridge) transition to cross body armbar
  5. Opponent defends armbar with chain grip, feed inferior leg between arms and next to neck. Remove superior leg, opponent sits up, fall to guard while locking triangle

7.16.2006

GJ "Disposition"

We reviewed the knee flow and three man knee drill from yesterday. For the three man knee drill we discussed disposition, a term that doctors use to describe where a patient will go from their service, e.g. home, to another service or specialist, or back to their primary care doctor. In fighting we also have to worry about how we will dispose of our opponent. After a combination we must do something to either move to a position of, at best, advantage or, at worst, neutrality. In Thai boxing the biggest infraction of this occurs after knees, many people just sort of drift away from their opponent rather than forcing them into a bad or neutral spot by moving them to punch or kick range. In MMA you are either going to return to a longer striking range or take them down to secure advantageous ground position.
We then worked into 3 minute pad rounds
  1. Movement
    We started with 1-2-3 mat shuttles and 30 seconds of pitterpat. We then started working basic thai warm-up but forcing our fighter to move more, either opening or closing distance or telling them to circle. Movement is key and must be forced with thai rounds, since it will be forced in a fight. A fighter cannot be left to stand and be allowed to hit the pads at their convenience, since this will never happen in a fight. Make them move.
  2. Interrupteds (fighters) / Pick 2 combinations (others)
    Fighters worked interrupted pad rounds (hold with focus mitts), one way to help the holder do this is to call a multiple count (3+) combo and hold it the normal way, gauging how your fighter does this (and lulling them into a false sense of security) and then holding a 2 followed by the multiple count combo which you will interrupt. Do not interrupt each one and use different hands and kicks to hit them.
    Everyone else took one or two combinations and worked on them within the context of basic thai boxing.
  3. Interrupteds (fighters) / Kick to knees (others)
    In kick to knees, we use poor kick form to drop the foot near our opponent as part of our step to close while grasping the neck. Throw three knees and turn your holder. Repeat until they say "throw" or "throw to X" where X can be punches, kick, or whatever. Here we cover the aspects of using a kick to enter, the knee as a weapon, and the disposition of an opponent from the knee range.
  4. Angles
    In our last round we worked our angles, using punch and punch kick combinations. The Corkscrew comes into play here, too. Essentially imagine someone standing behind our opponent and you want them to see you fully uneclipsed.

Blackorby Muay Thai Fight Camp II "I love to go into the third round and win"

We headed over to Peoria yesterday to the new Peoria Athletic Club at the Riverplex (which is WAY to nice a place for me and my sociopathic children to train at -- they have pretty girls that sell smoothies!). We started with a light warm-up skipping rope and shadowboxing. We then started practice with 6 rounds of sparring, 2 with each partner.
Our next we focused on knees, starting with shadowboxing focusing on knees, either extending horizontally or clipping our shoulder. We then worked a knee flow tying up in plum throwing three knees, transitioning to side Thai clinch with three knees, and back to plum. Always keep neck control, flowing from one side to the middle to the other. We then used this in a three man drill, the fighter worked hard knees on the pads with one partner or did knee play with other.
We conditioned with interval sprints (basketball court back and forth) and combinations. First we did alternating four count kick combinations, both sides with pads. After 5-7 of ONE four count we did a set of sprints, and then went to the next. Then one side gloved up and did interval sprints with sets of:
  • Jab-Kick
  • 2-Kick
  • Kick-Cross
  • Three kicks each side
  • Continuous four count kick combination down and back on the court
We then did 9 more rounds of sparring. We then did some final drills:
  • Kick for kick
  • High tiip for high tiip
  • Knee play

7.13.2006

MT

Today Jeff, Matt, Marty and I worked out. We started with two sets of 2 minute rounds of focus mitts spaced by 2 minutes of shadowboxing, we then repeated the same with thai pads. Next we worked several rounds of timing. Marty showed how he closed to boxing range against taller guys. He uses a slight vertical duck dropping his head safely between his shoulders while closing. This can be used as fake to set-up kicks. Heres a primer on how little guys can hit big guys:

GJ Fight Cooking

I started an hour early with Jeff we worked 10 minute rounds of four count kick combinations followed by high tiip-kick combinations. Jeff then held four rounds of interrupted pad rounds in which the holder calls a combination but then occasionally and throws a reaction in the middle of the combination. The fighter defends and goes immediately to their reaction. This is a high level (I say pompously) way of simulating the clusterf#c% that can occur when to fighters meet and trade.
We warmed up the regular practice when some action-reaction combinations:
  1. Jab action reaction
    • A: Jab
    • B: Catch-2
    • A: Catch-high cover-3
    • B: Cover-cover-cover
  2. Jab kick action reaction
    • A: Jab-kick
    • B: Catch-leg cover-thai (C-H-Kick)
    • A: Cover-cover-leg cover (depending on height of kick), advanced can consider catch, cut or evade
  3. Kick cross action reaction
    • A: Kick-cross
    • B: Leg cover-high cover-thai (C-H-Kick)
    • A: Cover-cover-leg cover (depending on height of kick), return kick
    • B: Leg defense of appropriate skill level
The point here is to treat these drills not as gospel but as ingredients from which you create your own fight recipe. All technique is a cookbook you have to make what benefits you and gives you the greatest enjoyment. Never think that this is the only way of doing it. As coaches we serve as guideposts but in the end what you take from a drill and make your own is what makes you improve.
We then transitioned into some attribute enhancing drills:
  1. Low Close Corkscrew
    Your partner advances throwing J-C. Change level and step forward on the 45o angle throwing a front or rear body hook, pivot to face your partner. New folks can just have their partner advance without throwing punches.
  2. Kick Catching
    Your partner will throw a slow kick to your midsection. Catch the kick and pull gently allowing them to rotate on the ball of their foot, then push them off giving them the elastic collision of the kick. Then kick them and they will do the same for you.
For pad rounds we did
  1. Thai warm-up
    I did this but added a tiip after each combination.
  2. Body kick evasion to head kick
    Base on the fight camp we added the body evasion to head kick.
  3. Leg evasion reaction
    We also added the leg evasion and reaction with C-H-C.
  4. Conditioning
    Like last practice: 1-2-3 mat shuttles, 30 sec of pitter pat, four count kick combinations with sprawls, sprint for last 30 seconds.
Fighters had the added joy of doing all their pad work with headgear and shin pads on.

We then did approximately 25 minutes of timing rounds.

We finished with some damnably hellacious 6.5 minute conditioning training from Jeff:
  • 30 sec pitter
  • 5 push-ups and hold for 10 seconds x 3
  • Pitterpat to round out 1:30 (roughly 20-25 seconds)
  • Interval sprints for 1:30
  • 30 sec pitter
  • 30 sec jumper squat sprawls
  • 30 sec pitter
  • 5 push-ups and hold for 10 seconds x 3
  • Interval sprints for 1:30
My opponents need to know four things
  1. This is my house.
  2. This is my ring.
  3. This is my belt.
  4. And you're my b!tch for the next 8 minutes.

7.10.2006

MT "Fortune favors the brave...and favors the prepared brave even more."

Did some more training today in anticipation of the 2006 IKF WCT less than three weeks away. Jeff and I started with the kick-cover-kick-cover-kick-cut and pass to head kick drills covered at the fight camp. Joe, Jeff and I then did several rounds of hard, fast timing. We finished with a Tabata protocol interval conditioning round (20 s/10 s activity/rest):
  • Kicks (one side)
  • Kicks (other side)
  • Kicks (one side)
  • Kicks (other side)
  • Kicks (one side)
  • Kicks (other side)
  • Kicks (one side)
  • Kicks (other side)
  • Pitterpat
  • Crosses n' hooks
  • Pitterpat
  • Crosses n' hooks
  • Pitterpat
  • Crosses n' hooks
  • Pitterpat
  • Crosses n' hooks
All told an 8 minute round, looks easy until you try to go as fast and as hard as you can for each 20 second interval.

7.09.2006

GJ "Little Things"

The fighters started early with some mental and physical conditioning:
  • 3 minute warm-up round on the thai pads
  • 30 second rest
  • 3 minute round starting with 1 mat, 2 mat, 3 mat shuttle and approximately 30 seconds of pitterpat, then a fast pad round, e.g. running through four counts
  • 30 second rest
  • Repeat 3 minute round above
  • 30 second rest
  • Repeat 3 minute round above
With the start of practice we did 6 minutes of shadowboxing. We then reviewed some material from the fight camp yesterday, specifically punch-kick offense and leg evasion defense with both sides wearing gloves and shin pads.
For our pad rounds, 3 minutes, we worked on:
  1. Thai warm-up
    This round used basic punch and kick combos. I like using a progression, e.g. jabs, jab cross, 3, reverse 3, 4, H-C-H, C-H-C, kicks, punch kick combinations, four counts, and then reactions. Fighters followed (almost) every combination with tiip.
  2. Knee combos and disposition
    We used the knee variants of the four counts but making sure disposition was performed. Disposition is how we get rid of our opponent after kneeing the stuffing out of them. We used the lead hand-lead knee push to C-H-C or C-lead head kick as well as the rear hand-rear knee pull to H-C-h or H-rear head kick. In this round fighters finished each combination with a head tiip to the pad
  3. Chain reaction
    In this drill, the holder would enter a reaction pattern and continue to hold reaction until the hitter opened range on the angle and threw a tiip. This is another form of disposition getting out of the close range stay n' play range.
  4. Conditioning
    1 mat, 2 mat, 3 mat shuttle and approximately 30 seconds of pitterpat then kick combos #1-4, tiip variation #1-4 (start with tiip finish with kick), and knee variation #1-4 with a sprawl after each four count. Repeat the kick combos from the beginning if time allows, most folks can get through them all about twice.
We finished with 30 minutes of 2 minute rounds of timing with a 10 second interval in between. All the folks I worked with pushed me with good effort and tried combinations. Good job.
I finished with an incoherent speech on little things. Little things are important. Being able to enjoy a sunny day, scratch an itch, or wipe your own @$$ make it a good day even if your boss got mad at you, your significant other broke-up with you, you messed up at work, or an experiment didn't work. Little things are not a right, they are privilege, cherish them and take advantage of them. Some folks can't even get out bed let alone train or compete, be happy for your chance and put things in perspective.

Blackorby Muay Thai Fight Camp I "I love to fight and win when I'm tired"

Ryan Blackorby came over yesterday and ran an excellent, free, 3-hour muay thai fight camp. We started out with warm/up conditioning using:
  • Shadowboxing
  • High offensive tiip
  • Targeted kicking -- aiming for the knee, hip, rib and neck targets with a partner, angle!
  • 4 counts on the thai pads #1 and #2
  • Tiip-cross-hook-rear kick on the thai pads
  • Rear kick-hook-cross-lead tiip
  • Power kick for power kick on the pads
  • 5 kicks for 5 kicks on the pads
We then worked on our defense using kick evasions:
  • Leg evasion
    Bring your lead foot back so that it is in line with your rear foot. Look to return punches or kicks, e.g. to the back of the leg.
  • Body evasion
    Again bring the lead foot to the rear and hollow your body, allowing the kick to miss. Always return punches and kicks, e.g. opposite leg kick-C/H-H/C.
  • Body evasion with pass
    Use the your far hand to to palm strike their kick to the floor, anchoring. Return same leg head kick, i.e. they throw right kick your return right head kick.
  • Tiip defense
    Always scoop with the lead hand rather than alternating hands (a 100% chance of doing it right versus a 50% chance of doing it wrong). Return the cross straight down the pipe.
  • Leg cover punatuken
    Side A throws rear kick, side B covers and returns rear kick. Side A covers and returns rear kick, side B covers. Reset.
  • Cut kick drill
    Use the leg cover punatuken, but on the third kick side B steps with the kick and throws a cut kick. This drill is to train the cut kick reaction.
We discussed head kicks, which should target the neck rather than the superior head. There are two methods for this:
  • The "Wrap"
    The leg rises and then drops, hitting at a horizontal or even downward angle. The foot wraps around the neck.
  • The "Field Goal"
    This comes up straighter looking to catch right underneath the intersection of the jaw and neck.
We then went quickly through basic offensive combinations:
  • J-Kick
  • 2-Kick
  • Tiip-2
  • Kick-cross (take out switch step for increased speed)
We finished with sets of 3 x 2 minute rounds of sparring. Combinations and guard are my watch words.

We then had Bill Henry from the Sports Enhancement Center explain a pre-fight conditioning program using both long slow distance training and a metabolic strength training program. Very informative and helpful.

Ryan finished talking about mental training, that is, programming the software necessary to fight. A motivated athlete is a winning athlete. The mind and emotions are part of the arsenal of combat sports. Ryan talked about positive self-talk, self affirming statements, and emulating the winning mindset in practice would be reflected in the ring. Lastly, I love to fight and win when I'm tired.