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GJ The LAST Combat Room Practice

The Pillar Guard
The Pillar Guard
I consider the Pillar the best, basic striking guard, minimizing the accessible target area. The arms are rested on the body, keeping them relaxed and strong during the fight as well as protecting the body from hooks and kicks. By keeping the arms close, a kick can be absorbed by the arms using the body to disperse the force (anyone can snap a pencil, no one can snap a pencil glued to a brick -- with thanks to the Love Simian -- don't ask). Head protection is almost automatic due to the body propping the hands up.
The Wide Guard
The Wide Guard
The wide guard generally occurs when people start throwing with more power than their finesse can handle or if they increasingly concerned about head hooks or kicks. Once you've widened your opponent's striking guard start working straight, laser-like shots down the center line.
The Staggered (Action Hero) Guard
The Staggered (Action Hero) Guard
The staggered guard seems to occur when people either try to look "cool" fighting like their in a movie or after they catch a hard body shot and want to spare their ribs any more punishment. Once this happens look for straight and hooks shots on this side, a head kick has high landing potential. As they develop a "twitch" to protect the head with the low hand, fake high and go low, especially if you know you've hurt that side of the body.
The Low Guard
The Low Guard
The low guard is typically a due to a fear of not seeing offense or a result of fatigue. Once the hands start dropping headhunt like its your job, the knockout is waiting to happen as both straight hook shots can land from either side.
The Angled Guard
The Angled Guard
The angled guard is a trained response to head shots which in general appear worse than body shots or some sort of psychosocial response to fighting trying to make the fighter appear larger. While providing adequate head deflection it leaves the liver and spleen wide open providing a larger target window. Use the Muhammed Ali strategy, "Hit the body and the head will fall."
The Low Angled Guard
The Low Angled Guard
The low angled guard is a result of a tired or injured using the angled guard, their hands have fallen. Attack the head, head kicks are high yield and although the body is better defended do not forget to work this line as well.
Today marked the last day that my club, Goshin Jitsu, trained in the U of I IMPE Combat Room. Fittingly, our club held the last official practice within these sacred walls. The Combat Room may just be a piece of under used real estate in the eyes of the University administration. It is a 25' x 75' dark, smelly, dilapidated room with two-thirds of it filled by an old, beaten wrestling mat. What possible good could it be? It is neither elegant, trendy, or pretty and doesn't have anything to do with the latest fitness or recreation craze.
They couldn't be more wrong as they fall into the trap of form over function. The administration sees waste and uselessness in the face of an amazing training facility. I've invited world champions in multiple combat sports from muay thai to sport jiu-jitsu to train and teach here. UFC veterans have given seminars here. Leading experts in self-defense have transmitted life saving information within its hallowed and blood stained walls. And they've all said the same thing, "What a great room. You guys are lucky to have such a great facility." Combat sports professionals like Ryan Blackorby, Shonie Carter, Wellington "Megaton" Dias, Brian Gassaway, Jeremy Harminson, Dean Lessei, Raul Llopis, Jack McVicker, Derrick Noble, Erik Paulson, and staff from Blauer Tactical.
And yet today, 1/29/06, spells the end of the Combat Room. A place where martial artists and fighters have spilled blood, sweat, and tears (as well as occasional vomit) for over twenty years. A place where club instructors have donated their time and expertise for free in the hopes of spreading the interest and love of the arts and skills they practice. It is a place sanctified by painful and bloody sacrifice on the altar of martial perfection as well as a place where the closest bonds can be formed between training partners, making them my brothers and sisters. Some of my best memories and best times have been in this room with no furniture, no art, no multimedia, and poor environmental control (always too hot in the summer and too cold n the winter). It's the only place on campus accessible by all who want to use a heavy bag or a speed bag platform. Highly trained combat athletes can meet and train between classes or work just as easily as the newest neophyte and his friends.
With the loss of this exceptional space I feel as if I'm not only being evicted from what we have, as dedicated martial artists and combat athletes, earned as our own, but I feel as if I'm losing a friend.
This evening I started an hour early with Derrick, Jeff, and Jim. Jeff and I warmed-up with the medicine ball (throwing, throwing and moving, kicking, and kneeing). We warmed up with jab-kick, jab-cross-kick, and kick-cross-deep knee-head knee. Then we did 2 x 3 min of clinch pad work:
  • Work within the clinch by pummeling, lightly kneeing and punching
  • Takedown set-ups
  • Open distance to cross-hook-cross-reclinch (off punch) or sprawl
  • Forward pressure to rip
  • Counter rip reaction to rip
  • Deep knee-head knee
Striking on a kali axisWe then did 2 x 3 min rounds of striking pad work. We finished with 3 x 2.5 minutes of MMA timing, with one fighter in for the whole 7.5 minutes and rotating partners in. Getting clinched against the wall with your partner's shoulder firmly lodged in your solar plexus is tiring. The effect of increased pressure on the heart and diaphragm is not good for my wind. I also lowered my fighting "stance" by making it longer and wider ("Bas Rutten's Big Book of Combat, Vols. 1 & 2 PLUS CDs!" (Bas Rutten, Stephen Quadros)) which did greatly improve my take down defensibility. All this around a fire alarm, standing outside wet with sweat is not comfortable.
As we finished the MMA timing, Samurai and the Love Simian warmed-up the class. We started with 2 min rounds of pad work concentrating on the Pillar Guard:
  1. 3 (3-Cross): Jab-Cross-Lead Hook(-Cross)
  2. Reverse 3 (Reverse 3-Hook): Jab-Lead Hook-Cross-Lead Hook
    The first hook can be hard or used as fake to set up the cross.
  3. 2 Out 2: Jab-Cross-Bob and weave (lead hook)-Jab-Cross
    Advanced variations included 2 Out Body, Jab-Cross-Bob and weave (lead hook) while throwing lead body hook-cross-lead hook, and 2 Out Power, Jab-Cross-Bob and weave (lead hook)-Cross-Lead Hook-Cross
  4. Conditioning round: 30 secs pitterpat, 10 jumper squat sprawls, 30 secs pitterpat, 10 pushups, strong crosses and hooks to end of round
Some general notes:
  • The hook arm is parallel with the floor for bone alignment but the hand can be vertical (coffee cup) or horizontal (wristwatch).
  • Extension must be complete the hips and shoulders are fully actuated into the strike, without losing balance. The hands turn over to effect a twisting extension of the fist and arm (Bruce Lee's 3 inch punch). Punching is done by the body, the arm and fist are just the tool to deliver it.
  • The rear hand is held as if your were on the telephone with your mother. You're desperately waiting for the words "the cheque is in the mail" or "what do you want in your care package" but every now and then she says something really annoying ("I think your grades could be better!" or "When am I getting grandchildren?"). The phone is glued to your ear, waiting for the important information, but when she says something irritating, get that phone away from you as fast and as far as you can while smashing into a focus mitt.
The junior students were dismissed and the senior students reviewed uki-waza (floating throw) ("Kodokan Judo" (Jigoro Kano) pg. 93) variations. We will continue to work on this type of sacrifice throw with hooks, plugging it into the context of sport fighting and self-defense as well as practical finishing positions. These are several technical variations of the same basic concept, using your body weight and hook to throw another person. As with everything else in the arsenal, not all of them will work for you but hopefully one of them will plug into your game. Also remember, whether your partner rolls gracefully out of the throw or falls to the mat, the idea of the throw worked by getting them to the ground.
Off of a street punch basic defense, and secure neck and wrist control. If you are grabbed secure neck and wrist control, they're already attached to you. Control the same side with an over hand grip on the elbow, other hand is in a half hug. Sit into a modified hurdler stretch (one knee bent shin across partner's foot, one leg extended calf across their other foot) away from elbow control side, your butt should be outside their leg. Confusing as it may sound, pull forward and up as your sit down. Extend bent knee as a hook.
Uki-waza same side hook variation
Off of a street punch basic defense, pass and drag the arm to get cross hand control. If you are grabbed, break the grip and arm drag, securing the cross hand arm control. Cross hand grip on wrist, same side hug. Sit on partner's foot, extending one leg between theirs, pull them down and over your hugging side shoulder. Use extended leg and turn it into a hook to lift inside their knee.
Uki-waza cross side hook variation (Paolo's variation)
Cross hand grip on wrist, same side lat control. Sit between partner's legs using the leg on the outside to hook inside partner's far leg, lift and kick.
We finished the practice with cardio, doing 4 x 1 minute rounds of 20 secs of push-ups, 10 secs rest, 20 secs shuttle sprints, and 10 secs rest.


Musical Violence, Combat Calligraphy, and Kinetic Chess

Kinetic ChessSo I watched "Hero" (Yimou Zhang) recently and two of the themes struck me, (1) martial arts and fighting within the framework of a game or artistic creativity, and (2) fighting within the mind's eye so well realized that the physical conflict is already decided. They are both pretty big ideas, so I'll save the second for a subsequent blog.
Many parallels have been drawn between being a fighter and an artisan; fighting has been alternatively described as music, dance, painting, and more. Fighting can be rhythmic, transforming, balletic, or even performed on a canvas (pun intended).
The creator of Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee was one of the first people to formally document discussions of broken rhythm, cadence, tempo, and half beats in "Tao of Jeet Kune Do" (pp. 62-65) (see also "Jeet Kune Do: Bruce Lee's Commentaries on the Martial Way (The Bruce Lee Library, Vol 3)" (Bruce Lee, John R. Little)). Music is a key element in training for Brazilian capoeira ("Capoeira: Roots of the Dance-Fight-Game" (Nestor Capoeira)), Western boxing, and Muay Thai. This concept was modernized (and diluted) by cardio kickboxing and Tae Bo. In a competitive arena, entrance music can be used to calm or energize a fighter as well as giving them a unique auditory signature for the crowd (no one does this better than professional wrestling organizations such as WWE or TNA).
I believe that by nature competitive martial arts are a creative enterprise. Our "old masters" invented/discovered/created concepts and techniques that have remained as solid back bones of functional martial arts. However, younger, "rebellious artists" have challenged the traditional framework of their martial arts. They provide a new perspective and revitalize the system by testing new strategies and tactics in the competitive arena as well as the street. For example, Van Gogh brought a new style of painting that challenged existing artistic beliefs and was largely unappreciated in his time. He died penniless, but his artwork is some of the most valuable in the world today. Bruce Lee's philosophy of "no way as way" in Jeet Kune Do, a "new" style that had no ranks, no kata, and no lineage was widely scoffed at as a hodgepodge of martial arts by traditionalists. The evolution of mixed-martial arts (MMA) started to show that traditional theories and closed mindedness were not as effective as an adaptive, expansive arsenal as described by Lee.
Art evolves, for example, at the turn of the the twentieth century impressionism (what I see) faded and expressionism (what I feel) arose. Similarly fighting evolves, before the UFC, at least in the US, grappling was a largely unknown and disregarded art (with profuse apologies to "Judo" Gene LeBell). Then a skinny Brazilian named Royce Gracie came along and pretty much defeated all comers in the anything goes competition of the UFC. The grappling game became the thing in early MMA, but then high-level wrestler's began to dominate so that freestyle and Greco wrestling came to the forefront. However, as the sport and rules evolved striking stylists returned to popularity both because better fighters (the subtle difference between muay thai and American kickboxing) became interested but also because they knew enough about wrestling and grappling to stymie this game and play their own. A good read on the sport's development is "No Holds Barred: Evolution-The Truth Behind the World's Most Misunderstood Sport!" (Clyde Gentry III).
Rumino Sato wins with a flying armbarHigh-level competition can be beautiful and more stirring than brilliant artwork or dance. This is gained by a long process of solid technical mastery and combat creativity. Creativity within the context of functional martial arts has one caveat, functionality. Looking good is unimportant, doing good is the critical judgement. We drill basics for this reason, they are the technical aspects of the art, like good brushstroke technique or line drawing. By string these basics together into a meshwork we create the designs and patterns of a fight, the pale copies of which are the kata/poomse/forms of traditional martial arts. The development of new strategies, techniques, tactics and game plans is also part of this creativity. However, I cannot count the number of useless and downright foolish "new submissions" I've seen from people with abysmal fundamentals and poorer competitive records. Art demands technique as much as it does creativity. Teachable artistic ability needs utilitarian technical skills. You cannot be taught to be a freakish athlete (a lá the Mark Hunt head kick defense) but you can learn core skills that, with time and practice, well allow you to create your own masterpiece.
Mark Hunt demonstrates a new defense for the head kickAt the same time that fighting is an art it is treated as a scientific discipline with parallels in both games of strategy and chance. Chess and its relatives are often used for relaxation, concentration, and as a source of figurative comparisons to fight sports. But moves are often described as "high percentage", doffing a cap to Mr. Murphy's games of chance. Neither overwhelming strategic superiority or incredible luck will win a fight or a game all the time. A gifted fighter, a skilled chess player, or a cardsharp must hone strategic skills both in practice and in competition. Although the game of chess or poker have far fewer physical skills and attribute requirements the same intellectual and emotional factors in those games are essential for fighting.
In chess there are strategies involving the opening move, trapping pieces, and the endgame that are diligently studied and trained. The player must see several moves in advance and accept or discard numerous alternatives to win. Strong players can finish with more pieces on the board using any combination of their pieces. Weaker players wage a battle of attrition, whittling each other down to a game of pawns or can only checkmate using two rooks. Fighting then is a painful version of speed chess. There is an opening that test one's opponent and one that wins instantly, an early flying knee can be seen as Fool's Mate. By provoking reaction in their opponents, talented fighters can set up damaging blows and submissions, essentially forcing their opponent to sacrifice pieces. Finishing, be it by KO, TKO or submission is an endgame, it can happen at any time, but must be based on the structure of the preceding game. Novice fighters are more likely to engage in the weak chess player's whittle down strategy, relying on athletic constraints to achieve victory at great personal cost (not to say that even phenomenal fighters do not have to fall back on exceptional physical attributes).
Poker is a wealth of psychological tactics for fighting. The "poker face" is a facial expression that provides no information. Fighters have a "poker face" that can lack or be full of expression, but they cannot reveal what they think or plan to do. The Maori warrior custom of yelling wide-eyed with their tongue sticking out was used to strike fear in their foes and probably also for sympathetic nervous system stimulation in the fight/flight/posture/submit model ("On Killing : The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society" (Dave Grossman)). Artificial "poker faces" have been created by the use of masks, e.g. samurai or fighters coming to the ring in masks. "Looking" that is concentrating on the weapons of your opponent rather than their chest reveals your attention has wandered. "Tells", such as additional, inefficient, movement before an action, are fight (and life) enders. Poker has the greatest appreciation of fickle Lady Luck, even an "unbeatable" hand has lost, such is chance. The same happens in competition things don't go your way but still you never reveal that something hurt or was close; no change in breath, no facial grimaces, no anger, no joy, no limping, no cringing, save it all for the locker room.
This discussion has been largely theoretical, what does it mean for applied training. Well first, it might be an admonishment that there is more to life than martial arts and fighting. As humans we need other interests and other forms of stimulation. In addition, appreciation of other activities can be considered a unique form of cross training. For example, surgeons who play video games are more adept than those who don't (although age and workload may be a confounder). Let's consider some of the factors discussed:
  • Can you control the tempo/texture of an engagement, either slowing it or speeding it up as you need?
  • Can you break or change rhythm?
  • Given a situation where a technique ("theme") is not working efficiently can you improvise a solution?
  • Can you create ("compose") functional new material?
  • You must drill small pieces of superior technique and string them together in the fight. Just fighting is as useless as just doing technique. My friend and instructor, Jack McVicker, calls this self-perfection vs. self-preservation.
  • You must understand what you are doing and why you chose this course over the viable alternatives. Blind adherence to doctrine is traditional not functional.
  • How is your opening, your engagement, and your endgame?
  • Can you use all the "chess pieces" in your arsenal or do you rely on a certain side, position, or type of technique?
  • The twisted couple of Lady Luck and Mr. Murphy can and will screw with you, you health, and your ability to win.
  • How good is your combat "poker face"?
  • Do you have any "tells"?
  • You have to bet to win, without risk there can be no victory.


Jokerjitsu Muay Thai Highlight Reel

In August 2005 I competed at the 2005 International Kickboxing Federation (IKF) North American Classic (NAC) Amateur Kickboxing Tournament and won a championship belt in the cruiserweight division in muay thai rules. I finally got a tape in November and transferred to my computer in January, so multimedia rapid I am not. My three fights were:
  1. vs. Chris Sasek (7.1 MB MOV file)
  2. vs. Brian Mahan -- I have not included this clip as I won by a very narrow (29-28, 29-28 and 28-29) split decision and I looked like crap (my blog, my view!). Basically, Brian bounced a lot of punches off my face while I clinched, kneed, and tripped him to the canvas. It was an extremely close fight and should have been the NAC championship match, but due to bizarre if not shady seeding it was not.
  3. vs. Drew Edwards (5.5 MB MOV file)
I hope you enjoy and try not laugh too hard at my mistakes. Watching oneself compete on video can be rather sobering.


GJ "No Man's Land"

Another great big practice, people must think we're another club or something =D First I'll go through our practice, we started with our new standard warm-up. We then split into groups of junior and senior students.
The junior students reviewed the basic "Goshin Jitsu Fighting StanceTM". The essentials of which are these
  • Start with your feet shoulder width apart and then drop your strong side foot back creating a box with your feet on the diagonal corners.
  • Light on the balls of your feet
  • Knees are bent
  • Hands are up in a good guard position, resting the triceps on the body, the arms and forearms covering the body from waist to head. Tuck your chin.
  • In order to step, move the foot closest to the direction your are moving in first. Never cross your feet, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (Sony Pictures) was a great movie but that's all it was.
Next we worked on establishing range with our partner. Starting from a jab "high five" one partner moves and the other tries to keep the range, intermittently checking the range with the "high five" jab. Next we covered the jab, cross, and reviewed the snap elbow:
  • With the jab we are trying to swat a fly, we need the speed to catch the fly, but we need the power to smash it. We use the body, that is, our hips to throw with power, allowing us to relax the arm and increase our speed. Thus our feet and upper body rotate 90o (loading the cross), extending the jab. The shoulder rolls up and the chin drops in behind the shoulder, protecting your jaw. This can be delivered with our index and middle finger knuckles or as a palm heel using the base of the radius and ulna (much bigger bones than our fingers).
  • The cross is loaded by the jab, this is a power punch, although still fast it is a fight ender. Use the return of the body, dropping the rear hip and knee into the punch, increasing the weight we load behind the shot. Again the shoulder rolls up and the chin drops in behind the shoulder, protecting your jaw. Either a fist or a palm heel can be used.
  • The snap elbows are also forward motion, delivered with the same mechanics as the jab and cross, except (1) the striking surface is the elbow (either cutting or bludgeoning) and (2) we must protect our head using the "rooster's comb"/"fixing your hair".
Next we worked basic street defense off a (haymaker) punch, having stopped the punch we can either insert our elbows, jab and cross, or we can overhook the punch arm, "praying mantis kung fu" hook the head setting up a side thai clinch. We take a half circle step away, pulling the head down for knees. Remember, getting attacked is a scary, frightening thing. We need a simple solution that covers the majority of attacks and sets up our reaction. We also need a tool that is initially minimally damaging in case we want to change the encounter. We also covered three levels of aggression using the wrist grab:
  1. Someone grabs your wrist, free yourself and assess, is this an attack or a friend trying to get your attention. Work against the thumb, using one or more directions if necessary. Using a step toward or away to increase leverage.
  2. Wrist grab with pull. Again free yourself, but create distance and be ready to "throw down", this person wants you somewhere, the best reason not to go!
  3. Wrist grab with punch. Forget the wrist grab the strike is the threat now and a serious one at that, return to basic street defense.
And always remember if you cannot remember the technique: Hit one or all of the following: Eyes, Throat, Groin, and Knees.
The senior students started on the Thai pads working leg kick defense (with many profuse thanks to Jeff):
  1. (Lead) Leg Cover Three (CHC) and (Lead) Leg Cover Thai (CH Rear Kick)
  2. (Lead) Leg Evasion Three (CHC) and (Lead) Leg Evasion Kick. The lead leg either comes to be in-line with the rear leg or goes far enough back to cause a lead change, the rear leg does not move. I try to use the step back to explosively return my reaction. I'm struck with the possibility of putting a tiip in here to good effect. Will try and get back on this.
  3. 'Shopped Heisman...doing Muay Thai(Rear) Leg Cover Three (CHC). For an outside kick to rear leg, cover with rear leg, and lean forward with lead hand extended (think Muay Thai Heisman except the opposite hand is extended) and fall into CHC reaction.
  4. Finished with working kicking angles.
We transitioned into throws, working several variations of uki-waza or "floating throw" ("Kodokan Judo" (Jigoro Kano) pg. 93)
Control the same side with an over hand grip on the elbow, other hand is in a half hug. Sit into a modified hurdler stretch (one knee bent shin across partner's foot, one leg extended calf across their other foot) away from elbow control side, your butt should be outside their leg. Confusing as it may sound, pull forward and up as your sit down. Extend bent knee as a hook. I have often used this "throw" from the ground as a sweep. If they come down on top of you, that is their motion is not over your extended leg, lift with the bent knee and twist them to the opposite side.
Uki-waza variation
Cross hand grip on wrist, same side hug. Sit on partner's foot, extending one leg between theirs, pull them down and over your hugging side shoulder. Use extended leg and turn it into a hook to lift inside their knee.
Reverse uki-waza
From a side clinch position, sit down and extend one leg behind both of your partner's feet. Use the body lock and head pressure to pull them backward over your leg, not onto your body. The objective is to trip them, not blow out their knees with your ponderous derrière. This works well off a hip toss attempt, where your partner steps in front of you.
Sit through uki-waza
Again from the side clinch, but this time you are going to sit through to the opposite side. Thus pop under partner's arm pit, extend your foot to partner's far side, and sit, dragging and extending your other leg behind you. Use the momentum and extended leg to trip and throw to floor. This works well off a punch, the bigger the better.
I had everyone work off the street punch attempting these throws. A key caveat, people do not always fall "nicely" but if they fall down you did something right, just maybe not the technique you were trying to do. We finished with seven rounds of sprints.
The striking no-man's land of the GREEN combatant for two fighters of the same size and relative abilityI've been talking about "no man's land" for a bit on here, so I thought I'd give it a more concrete definition. No man's land is the space that is strategically inferior for one fighter, the area within which your reaction time is too slow to pick up your opponent's action. It is not a constant range, but a function of space and time. It is also an unavoidable place that a fighter must sometimes pass through, the point is not to stay there. Within a striking game we can almost describe "no man's land" as a Venn diagram. Obviously the "no man's land" will be approximately the same for two fighters of the same size with variability accorded for differences in physical and technical ability (see SPECTRUM). The green fighter can decrease the "no man's land" effect by angling both offensively and defensively as well as strongly attacking and then leaving the area either by clinching, taking down, or exiting. Think of a street fight, the two fighters stay within each other's "no man's land" exchanging until the luckier and/or more powerful fighter dishes out more damage than they take. In striking, the "no man's land" is largely a function of reaction time, if the green fighter is inactive within a range to short for green's reaction time to pick up red's attack, no amount of training in the world will work defensively.
The striking no-man's land of two fighters of different size or abilityMore often, especially in a self-defense situation, two fighters will not be equal, differences due to size and/or ability come into play. Green's "no man's land" is (largely) unchanged while red has a much greater area where green's offensive capability outweighs red's. However, control of RATTLE variables as well as definitive offense with a solid exit strategy can defeat this advantage. The point is that a fighter must minimize the amount of time exposed within "no man's land", if you are on the losing end of each exchange, a change of plan is required, a "remapping" of your respective borders is necessary. Methods for doing this involve:
  • Solid, bursts of offense with an answer for the end of the offensive flurry.
  • Drawing and baiting, provoking and testing the limits of your opponent's "no man's land".
  • Reaction/counter action allowing your opponent into their "no man's land" and then punishing this indiscretion
The shot's no-man's land of two fighters of different size or abilityI think the "no man's land" concept can be extended to throwing as well as grappling. For example, in taking a shot there is an optimal time and position depending on your opponent. A taller opponent allows a shot from a greater distance, the sprawl is a reaction and larger bodies will, in general, move slower than smaller ones. The downside of course is that should a larger fighter sprawl they have more weight and length to spread into the sprawl, but they should be easier to catch in poorer sprawl position. Conversely it is easier for a smaller fighter to pick-up on a shot attempt, although they are still have to deal with a larger opponent's mass and strength. However, the "no man's land" concept holds, there is a spatiotemporal "area" that is suboptimal for defense of the shot that is dependent on fighter size and ability. Your job is to recognize how it varies with different partners and adapt accordingly.
The reap's no-man's land of two fighters of different size or abilityA counter example can be shown with reaping throws such as osoto-gari (larger outer reap), harai-goshi (hip sweep), or uchi-mata (inner thigh reaping throw) ("Kodokan Judo" (Jigoro Kano) pg. 64, 74, and 75). In such cases the smaller fighter has a much greater "no man's land", they can be reaped from further out than a larger one. Again ability is a mitigating factor in this construct, a more able smaller fighter can defend a larger competitor's reap, but can still be thrown not due to clean technique but due to a stature discrepancy. Throws have a unique variability, granting different threat ranges i.e. "no man's land" depending on the physics of their execution. Thus, we can structure our game to the physically most advantageous throws and work defenses first against those throws we are most vulnerable to.
Grappling no-man's land of two fighters of different size or abilityJust as striking and throwing have "no man's land" grappling also has its components of strategic vulnerability. Larger competitors have larger holes due both to anatomical factors and psychology, i.e. strength over technique (why, because it works...initially). The length of a thigh or the distance between the arm pit and hip are quite immutable, and a smaller person can escape through these holes, especially when poor technique is used. The weight and size of a larger fighter can often defeat the smaller competitor by wearing them down, but the "no man's land" to escape position and set up attack is greater for the larger person, a talented smaller fighter can literally slip through their fingers. Think about how hard it is to arm bar or choke a stocky person with short limbs and (essentially) no neck. It's a similar level of difficulty as it is when you try to sweep someone who is long limbed. The stocky person is more easy to sweep than submit while the the taller person is often easier to submit than sweep, largely due to physiological differences. Thus they have vulnerabilities or "no man's lands" of different aspects of their bodies. They can more easily defend one than the other. The solution is to tighten technique to shrink the window that allows for escape from position, submission, or reversal.


The Spectrum of Fighting

SPECTUMI think of fighting as a combination of many factors, a collection of arsenals forming a spectrum of violence. I'm also developing a habit of creating corny acronyms. So here's another one addressing the facets that I think go into developing fighter excellence. In practice you may develop or drill all, a few, or only one of them. In sparring or a fight all of them will come to bear, deficiencies will reveal themselves as weaknesses while superior aspects will be relied on for victory. In truth, we cannot grow as martial artists without recognizing our own "pluses and minuses" and training in all aspects of the spectrum of fighting. Just as a painter cannot capture a scene with monochromatic palette or a picture record an event with one color, a fighter must be more than one-dimensional to excel. I give you SPECTRUM:
A superior fighter can "shut down" the game of another. They take the strongest tools of their opponent and render them ineffective. This can be as simple as working in a range your opponent is unfamiliar with or scoring points early and then stalling out the action. I may train in another person's method of fighting but I will never fight my opponent's fight.
Your collection of defensive tools from evasion to covering a cross, from rolling out of bad position to stopping a submission, and sprawls as well as other takedown and throw defenses. Without a protective shield a fighter cannot engage in fighting, they will be damaged or hurt at the first exchange.
The partner to protection is engagement, the offensive arsenal that you bring to the game. This is your punches, kicks, takedowns, chokes, submissions, etc. A fighter must have tools to cause a fight, the threaten and do damage to an opponent.
Combat sports are often compared to chess, probably the most cerebral of strategy games. As fighters and self-defense practitioners we must make a conscious and concentrated effort to think about what we are doing. Strategy must be analyzed, discarded or attempted during a time of increased physical and mental duress. Practicing something without understanding it is a useless effort. Self-perfection is as much a part of martial arts as self-preservation.
Technically excel
As workers in violence we must hone our tools. There is no room for inefficiency or lack of fine combat motor skills. Technique in all aspects of fighting must first be chiseled out of the working clay of the synapses in a controlled and non-competitive environment. It can then be molded into the game of fighting. Every male over the age of 18 thinks they know how to throw punch, but very few of them do it with any skill or true power.
Fighting is a series of action and counteractions. The actions are easier than the counteractions, and as such we must train an answer to every threat posed by an opponent. We can never create a bag of tricks suitable to react to every attack, but we can evolve general formulas that address wide aspects of combat reference points. For example, in Thai boxing I always return cross-hook-cross no matter if I picked up the initial attack or if I'm barely conscious. In a bad spot on the ground, shrimping hips away and pointing your belly button at your opponent will often make things a whole lot better.
All the gedanken (thought) experiments or pondering of martial skills are useless without application. Even as we self-perfect we are building our arsenal of self-preservation. Concepts and great technique essential but without application when the excrement hits the air conditioning it's largely useless. Without the raw physical and emotional presence to assert your fighting skills all the training in the world will never be enough.
Fights are by nature chaotic, when the ebb and flow of combat begins to favor your opponent over you, a change in tactics or strategy is called for. The ability to adapt or modulate your game in response to losing or stymieing of your game is a another key to victory. Modulation can be considered the flip side of stymieing.

Other than being excessively verbose I also trained with Kyle and Jeff, started off with rotations on the wall then switched to rounds with one guy on bottom or starting from clinch. Did some Thai boxing work with Joe after this and I give you some new combinations:
  • Jab-Cross-Kick-Overhand-Lead Uppercut-Overhand (2-Kick-Overhand-Uppercut-Overhand)
  • Jab-Overhand-Lead Hook (Overhand 3)
  • Jab-Overhand-Lead Hook-Rear Kick (Overhand 3 Kick)
  • Tiip-Jab-Cross-Lead Hook-Rear Kick (Tiip-3-Kick)
We worked several pad rounds, the ones of note being preceding every combination with a tiip and finishing every round with a tiip.


GJ "Multiplying Like Rabbits"

It was fantastic seeing the number of returning students this semester, we had 30 plus students tonight. Started with our new warm-up (minus the roll-over drills and sprawling, too little room). The senior students started with boxing combinations on pads, 20 sec pitterpat followed by 1 min of:
  • Jab-Cross-Lead Hook-Cross
  • Jab-Lead Hook-Cross-Lead Hook
  • Jab-Overhand-Lead Uppercut-Overhand (switch-up Jab-Overhand-Lead Hook-Cross/Rear Knee/Rear Kick)
  • Jab-Cross-Lead (Body) Hook-Lead (Head) Hook
  • Jab-Cross-Lead Hook-Rear Uppercut-Lead Uppercut-Rear Hook
and then into trading knee combos
Deep knee, same head knee
Deep: Stack gloves on belly, force parallel to floor
Head: One glove held out in front, force perpendicular to floor
Hook knee, same/opposite deep knee (plum position)
Hook: Stack gloves on side, thigh swings shut like a gate, hit with medial surface of knee (distal femoral eminence), force parallel to floor
Deep: Stack gloves on belly, force parallel to floor
Inside leg knee, opposite deep knee (plum position)
Inside: Straight knee to medial side of thigh, displace if you can
Deep: Stack gloves on belly, force parallel to floor
Meanwhile the (new) junior students first learned basic stance and footwork. They then progressed into the snap, upward, and downward elbow. The snap elbow is a hook without using the forearm while the upward elbow is a similar style uppercut. The downward elbow is more unique. But the vertical elbows, travel straight along the centerline splitting your opponent's hands. They also tried throwing skip knees into the pad. To finish they were introduced to basic street punch defense with transition to a side thai clinch followed with a knee to the head.
Our MMA fighters split off with a few able bodies and did rounds, while the rest started with basic street punch defense to a side clinch and then into an ogoshi. More advanced students transitioned into soto makikomi using the wrap and drop to throw their opponent. Partner's arm is "seat belted" diagonally across their chest. We then transitioned to the ground:
Arm bar to triangle
Control cross hand wrist same hand behind triceps, pull across body. Put controlled arm side foot in partner's hip and pivot 45o. Other leg pinches down across lower lats. Pushing leg crosses over head. Apply "3D pressure", (1) knees squeeze (do NOT cross ankles), (2) feet pull to butt, and (3) hips elevate. Partner taps and pulls arm out. Pop thigh back over head, tuck this ankle behind opposite knee. Move arm to the side opposite it. Grab the ankle of the leg behind your knee, use the free leg to pivot you 180o in the direction your partner is "pointing". Relock triangle and do a crunch, pull head if needed.
Two-hand choke in guard to back and rear naked choke (mata leao)
Use legs to create space, sweep one arm underneath both wrists, then over and back. Refasten guard from side, hug partner under far arm pit. Use bottom leg to push on far knee, then insert as near hook. Use hug to pull over and insert other hook on far side. Break down or immediately go for RNC. Slide hand down "negative airway" until elbow is over larynx. Tuck this hand on your opposite biceps, fold your free hand down and behind neck (not on top of head).
Closed guard knee insertion to kick-off to standing
Control wrists from closed guard, slide one knee under partner's arm pit and place diagonally across their body. One shot to head. Push with knee and insert opposite foot in same side hip. Push with foot and extend bent knee as a kick. Stand up properly.
Meanwhile those with greater groundwork experience warmed up with the Joker flow:
Attack with kimura
Figure 4 on wrist, slide butt to hands, control with leg over shoulder blades, pull partner's elbow superiorly, then twist hand to back of partner's head. Partner taps and extends arm.
Reverse armbar
Hug arm proximal to partner's elbow, slide leg over shoulder blades, so that your foot is in partner's hip and knee is on their triceps muscles. Wrist sits in notch of neck, round body. Taps and then pushes arm through
Straight arm bar
Pivot 90o using foot in hip, other leg bites down over posterior lats, foot in hip swings over head. Apply "3D pressure", (1) knees squeeze (do NOT cross ankles), (2) feet pull to butt, and (3) hips elevate. Partner taps and pulls arm out.
Pop thigh back over head, tuck this ankle behind opposite knee. Move arm to the side opposite it. Grab the ankle of the leg behind your knee, use the free leg to pivot you 180o in the direction your partner is "pointing". Relock triangle and do a crunch, pull head if needed. Partner taps and tucks triangled arm back, "hugging" your thigh.
Oma plata
Release triangle and pinch arm between legs, thrust legs up and away from you as you spin 180o toward partner's tucked hand. Sit up and hook legs away from partner, move laterally away to increase pressure. Partner taps and switches.
And I hate sparring MMA stye with shorter people that know what their doing, I'm always late on the takedown defense, although that does lend itself to some spectacular takedown highlights. I wonder if a longer stance (a la wrestling), baiting that leg might be more useful.


Fight Training "Weird Science"

So my hypothesis has been bugging me since yesterday, so I did a little research. To expand: MMA knockouts happen either very early in the first round or in late rounds. Using Sherdog I collected all the fight results from UFC 21 through UFN 3, that is the fights with 5 minute rounds, 3 for regular matches and 5 for championship matches. I then filtered the data and plotted it according to four categories: knockouts (KO), submitting to strikes, technical knockouts (TKO), and TKO due to cuts or injuries. Collecting all the data into one graph:
All striking methods of ending an MMA fight under Ultimate Fighting Championship rules
By inspection we can see a much higher incidence of an MMA fight using UFC rules ending due to strikes in round 1 compared to later rounds and many more of those are clustered in the earlier part of round 1 than in a similar period in the later rounds. However all forms of fight ending occurs in rounds 1 through 3, but in later rounds 4 and 5, only defeats by submission to strikes occur. Here I divide up each category into its own plot:
Knockout ending of an MMA fight under Ultimate Fighting Championship rulesTKO ending of an MMA fight under Ultimate Fighting Championship rules
Submitting to strikes ending of an MMA fight under Ultimate Fighting Championship rulesTKO due to cut or injury ending of an MMA fight under Ultimate Fighting Championship rules
Again by inspection we can see that there are many more pure knockouts in round 1 than in rounds 2 and 3 combined. There is also a greater clustering toward the beginning of the round in the first round compared to the subsequent rounds. Submissions due to strikes can occur at any time more probably in the second round, but are a rare form of victory. Technical knockouts are universal throughout the three rounds with a slightly greater incidence in round 1 than in 2 or 3. Cuts and injury-based TKOs are more prevalent in round 1 and can also occur quite early.
So what's going, well first knockouts can happen at any time but are more likely to occur early in the fight than late. Thus knockouts are probably occurring due to a combination of poor warm-up, protracted "feeling out" process by one fighter, "nerves", and fighter mismatch. The later knockouts are probably an effect of attrition and fatigue causing a fighter to be unable to defend or reverting to poor stand-up guard.
Victory by submission due to strikes are spread but occur over a third of the time in round 2. One conjecture is a battered fighter in round 1 attempts to mount an offense in round 2 and is again out punched. Alternatively these are matches with more ground work or level changes and have an increased fatigue factor.
TKOs are universally prevalent but are tainted data since they are secondary to referees judgment. However, they still occur earlier and more often in round 1. This could be a similar effect as the knockouts above, with the added confounder of a referee's interpretation of events. The relatively more even distribution throughout the rounds of TKOs compared to KOs is probably an effect of attrition and fatigue, as the the fighter tires he will be less coherent and cognizant due to both being exhausted and due to repeated strikes.
TKOs due to cuts or injuries are also more prevalent early rather than late which can also be a function of poor warm-up, protracted "feeling out" process by one fighter, and "nerves". However it is more than likely that inadequate warm-up is a key factor here, a sweaty fighter is more slippery and harder to cut. However as they are more warmed-up they should be well perfused and, if cut, bleed more. Perhaps due to rapid high volume loss the concentration of clotting factors/platelets is increased, minimizing bleeding.
Interestingly no championship (5 round) match has ended by KO or TKO in rounds 4 or 5. It is curious with the abundance of TKOs none occur in rounds 4 or 5. This paucity of KOs and TKOs in later rounds is probably either due to fighter mismatch eliminating fighters in earlier rounds, two elite fighters will not have a quick ending to their fight and will stymie one another all the way to the decision.
My hypothesis was a little off, the data seems to support round 1 knockouts and TKOs due to cuts or injuries are both more prevalent and happen early in the round than in rounds 2 or 3.
And oh yeah I did some training today:
With Jeff, 10 minutes of Thai kicks and tiip on the bag, we then worked into 2 minute rounds of punch combination:
  • Jab-Cross-Lead Hook-Rear Uppercut-Lead Uppercut-Rear Hook
  • Jab-Cross-Lead Hook-Cross
  • Jab-Lead Hook-Cross-Lead Hook
  • Jab-Overhand-Lead Uppercut-Overhand (switch-up Jab-Overhand-Lead Hook-Cross/Rear Knee/Rear Kick)
  • Jab-Cross-Lead (Body) Hook-Lead (Head) Hook
We worked into the pummeling with mitts drill, fed four energies:
  • Open distance to cross-hook-cross (push off) feed punches to force re-clinch
  • Drop hips back to deep knee-head knee (mitts at abdomen)
  • Rip (forward pressure)
  • Counter rip (rip partner)
We worked clinch off boxing and then a 5 minute Tabata combat conditioning round
  1. Kicks
  2. Kicks
  3. Jump squat or sprawl on cue (reaction energy drill)
  4. Pitterpat
  5. Crosses and hooks
  6. Spiderman
  7. Kicks
  8. Kicks
  9. Pursuit retreats with sprawl
  10. Jump squat sprawls
Finished with 5 minutes on the ground.
With Joe I put him on the bag for 10 minutes of kicks (concentrating on targeting), then 6 minutes of 1-5 tiip, finished with 1 minute of continuous jab/1 min distance jab repeat. On the pads we did 3 minute rounds:
  • Jab into jab timing
  • Punch tiip combinations
  • Tiip defense (pick up tiip, jab/jab-cross tiip defense, on own initiative throw jab/jab cross feeder tries to intercept with tiip - defend)
  • Thai minus knees (punch kick combinations) x2
Two interesting points occurred here:
First, a return to "no man's land" -- I like delivering combination and then exiting, however if you are caught during your exit you must react. For example, you enter, deliver combo X, and retreat but I return a cross which you have to be defended with a cover. You've been caught in "no-man's land", reaction is demanded both in the judges' eyes and to punish this indiscretion. In other words if you are being struck evasion has failed. Covering is the next option and a cover is coupled with advancing (cutting striking leverage) followed by reaction.
Next, the concept of stymieing, or shutting down an opponent's game. If something I do works, I'm going to keep doing it until my opponent stops it or loses. But if my opponent stops what I do, I may try throwing it again...a few times, but I'll most likely stop because I'm being scored on, hurt, or losing. Thus a multidimensional fighter must stymie an opponent's game but be adaptable enough to switch strategies when one arsenal is made useless.

JKD & BJJ "Was that round tough? Not really. Oh you want to do one more? NO!"

We worked an interesting progression,
  • first the shuffle kick
  • next high fake (hands snap out and up, use eyes) to shuffle
  • finally the high fake to the shuffle (which is evaded) follow with cross
This was a nice evolution and a natural progression that could be conceivably be seen in a fight. It illustrates three principles nicely (a) self-perfection via isolating a technique, (b) Jeet Kune Do's "progressive indirect attack", that is faking one line and attacking on another, and (c) combat reactivity, even after setting up one line we may not be successful and need to use a defensive reaction to set-up another line. We progressed into trapping (which I missed part of as I repaired focus mitts), but we did a lop sao pok sao into straight arm head push to the horizontal elbow to the neck.
Two passes in BJJ:
  • In de la Riva, control hook side lapel, slide hooked leg across opposite thigh put knee to floor, lapel control arm keeps elbow in hip pockets, free hand detaches other leg and then controls same side arm. Free foot by kicking with free leg.
  • In koala guard, you create frame with "koala'd" side arm grabbing kimono cross collar. Partner controls your far leg, dives to front for sweep. Drop "koala'd" leg's knee to floor, across partner's thigh. Intensify frame, putting your elbow to partner's ear. Imagine trying to pry their head off. Your free hand controls the kimono sleeve nearest floor. Free foot by kicking with free leg.

A number of years ago one of my students decided that he wanted to fight MMA at a local bar. He decided to do this at the next "show", which was a week away. He had been training regularly, but had not been getting ready for a fight in particular. I had never prepared anyone for a fight before and tried to dissuade him to wait a little so we could prepare him. With a weeks preparation he went, got in the ring with a considerably larger opponent and won in under a minute when his opponent was DQ'd for headbutting him and opening an inch long and about as deep gash in my student's face. From that point I vowed that I would do all that I could to help someone from my team prepare for a fight be it as simple as being a punching bag (which I have been a lot) to a coach (which I pretend to be on occasion). They could take advantage of this or not, but I would offer my body and (meager) skills.
Today I worked with two of our fighters. I held punch mitts (at least that's what I call the hybrid boxing glove-focus mitts) and worked on tightening up their boxing and reaction. Also concentrated on avoiding "no-man's land" that is the distance where fighters are close enough to trade but to close to adequately defend, either close or open the space, don't let Mr. Murphy win your fight. We also worked the four pathways to clinch. We worked one "dirty boxing" round, using a simple wrestling pummeling drill to transition into a break (return cross-hook-cross), a rip (and counter rip), and plum/side thai clinch. We finished with a combat sports Tabata protocol round of 20 second intervals with 10 second shadow boxing. The intervals were
  1. Pitterpat
  2. Push-ups
  3. Pitterpat
  4. Spider-man
  5. Pitterpat
  6. Squats
  7. Crosses and Hooks
  8. Mountain Climbers
  9. Crosses and Hooks
  10. Push-ups
As an aside observation, in recent MMA fights that I've seen it seems that knockouts either happen very early in the first round or later rounds. Now this may seem like an extremely obtuse observation but the very early KO seems to occur either due to inadequate warm-up or as part of the feeling out process (that is, the winning fighter finishes the assessment sooner than the losing one). The later round KOs seem to be more an effect of attrition, fatigue, or complacency. That is, these victories come when fighters return to sloppy habits or a poor guard due to being tired, they don't have an answer for something being thrown at them and it breaks them down over time, or thinking they've figured out their opponent they caught by something completely out of left field. Whether this is a biased observation or not, I do not know. However if we plotted results of say past UFCs (after they started using a system of rounds) we could see if this effect is real or not.


Four Paths to Clinch

I was just daydreaming about this today and so I thought I'd jot a note about it. By no means an end all analysis of clinching, just some thoughts on the topic:
Between Hands (Centerline Path)
Use the "Pinocchio Stance" with one arm extended and the other in a high guard (protecting head). Use extended hand to control midline and then sequence the hands to the neck.
Outside Hands (Outside Line Path)
Slip and pivot -- off opponent's attack, slip to outside and the half turn so that your centerline is to their hip.
Over Hands
Double Pat -- off your strikes (e.g. jab-cross) tap/trap hands and insert under hooks
Under Hands
High shot -- off either offense or defense, lower level avoiding hands and clinch.


GJ Muay Thai = MT = Maximal Torque (a.k.a. Kicking Hurts People)

Today we started with the new warm-up. We did 2 minute boxing combinations with RATTLE variations (i.e. changing the angle or level):
  1. Jab-Cross-Lead Hook-Cross
  2. (Jab-)Lead Hook-Cross-Lead Hook
  3. Jab-Cross-Lead (Body) Hook-Lead (Head) Hook
  4. (Jab-)Overhand-Lead Uppercut-Overhand
Next we revisited defense movement on the focus mitts with three 2 minute drills:
  1. Partner holds for jab/cross/jab-cross, you deliver the combination and then have to move out with a "checkmark".
  2. In this round, partner calls "body" when you have to stay in and deliver two hooks, otherwise the movement is similar to the previous round. Same side hooks with the hand opposite the last shot thrown.
  3. Last start in pitterpat, partner will calls "move" at which point you must "checkmark" out.
On the thai pads we worked on punch kick combinations:
  1. Jab-Rear Kick, Jab-Cross-Lead Kick, and Lead Kick-Cross
  2. Double-Rear Kick, Jab-Double Cross-Lead Kick, and Lead Kick-Cross-Lead Hook-Cross
  3. Jab-Rear Kick-Lead Kick, Jab-Cross-Lead Kick-Rear Kick
  4. Tiip-Jab-Rear Kick, Tiip-Jab-Cross-Lead Kick, Tiip-Drunken Pirate to Lead Kick-Cross
Here is where I'll wax poetic about kicking. Like any striking, round kicking is a hip motion, basically maximizing the torque deliverable by the body. Your hips and legs contain the strongest muscles in your body, they generate the force (F = ma, that is the force created by accelerating the mass of your leg to the target). You are delivering blow with the longest lever you have available, your leg. As torque is the product of force and distance, the round kick (should) be your most powerful weapon. However, technically and athletically kicks are more difficult to deliver than a punch, simply from the fact that you are standing on one foot to do it. To kick properly, several things have to happen in sequence:
  1. Step/switch step to get a little closer and increase your off angle.
  2. Begin rising to the ball of your foot (the meaty/bony part just proximal to your toes) and drive your knee up and toward your target.
  3. Your leg will rise in an arc toward your chosen target, open your hips and extend the kicking leg. Posture is erect.
  4. At the point of impact your base foot will revolve fully pointing your heel toward your opponent. You are trying to hit with bottom few inches of the shin (thick bones) above the ankle (smaller bones). The kicking leg's foot needs to turn over and make the shin cut perpendicularly to the target, imagine chopping with an ax.
  5. After landing, the leg springboards from the target, creating an equally intense recoil to the floor and return to your "fighting stance" (I HATE THAT TERM).
As Jim pointed out, holding the pads vertically rather than horizontally helps the kicker turn the foot over.
With a ten minutes remaining in practice we covered kote gaeshi (wrist throw). The kote gaeshi is a simple throw that incorporates two basic concepts of throwing (a) joint manipulation/locking and (b) body leverage. Joint manipulation is accomplished by turning our partner's palm up and out toward the floor, while body leverage is achieved by extending your partner's hand away from them, pulling them forward or backward by a series of 180o turns. We looked at two throws:
Off the push (180o anteriorly to partner)
Pivot to the outside of partner's hand, chest toward hand, secure grip with thumbs on the back of the hand gripping the thenar and hypothenar eminences. Pivot backwards away from your partner as you twist their hand over toward the floor, keep your hands close to your body in the "peanut butter jar" position, pulling them across the floor.
Off the same hand wrist grab (180o posteriorly to partner)
Pivot to the outside of gripping hand (elbow to their biceps), center of back to their shoulder, secure grip with thumbs on the back of the hand gripping the thenar and hypothenar eminences. Pivot around opposite foot away and behind partner as you twist their hand over toward the floor, keep your hands close to your body in the "peanut butter jar" position, pulling them across the floor.
We finished with seven rounds of 20 sec interval sprints...which can apparently cause sport-induced asthma in anyone...


Post-exercise and evening supplement

My current post-exercise supplement shake recipe is:I can throw scoops of powder in a sealable container and bring it with me to the gym, when I'm done I can add water, shake it up, and have it consumed before I hit the parking lot. Alternatively (read in my normal forgetful state) I'll just go home throw it all in a blender adding Udo's Choice Oil Blend, frozen fruit (strawberries), and/or vanilla yogurt.
In addition, every evening before bed I take:
  • 1 tablespoon (2 g) methycellulose (fiber)

    Fiber you ask? No I'm not old, it just normalizes everything (especially with a high protein diet), plus it decreases the incidence of hemorrhoids (suck), anal fissure (suckier), and colon cancer (suckiest).

  • 4 tablets (3000 mg glucosamine HCL and 2400 mg chondroitin sulfate) glucosamin/chondroitin complex (Osteo Bi-Flex Triple Strength)

    Based on my review of the research, glucosamin/chondroitin complex shows a benefit on joints but at doses above the recommended dose. Anecdotally, an active life have beat my joints mercilessly should I miss my dose of glucosamin/chondroitin I will have problems walking without a limp. Additionally, both my parent's big dogs are on it and start limping without it. My mother is an active runner who supplements with glucosamin/chondroitin and had decreased joint pain. My grandmother was more active in her final years after starting glucosamin/chondroitin.

  • 1 multivitamin (Centrum)

    Theoretically, given a perfectly balanced diet, vitamin supplementation (and fiber supplementation for that matter) would be unnecessary. However in today's busy life style with convenient snack foods and express restaurants who eats a balanced diet? If you are physically very active this will simply increase your vitamin and mineral needs. So I top off the tanks a little bit.


GJ Question: Matt what is RATTLE?

Today we did many rounds of progressively heavier timing, we really need to settle down. Anyway I noticed many people waiting for me to do something and I think this is a mistake. We all have a game/strategy/plan and we have to apply it, if it works great, if not we adapt, but in the final analysis we must act. In ancient Japan when two samurai dueled, the warriors knew one of three things was going to happen (a) warrior A would win killing warrior B, (b) warrior B would emerge victorious killing warrior A, or (c) both warriors would kill each other. Action might get you killed, inaction certainly would. In combat sports there is a parallel, at any moment of time:
  • You attack, provoking defense (action)
  • You must defend an attack (reaction)
  • Both hold and wait (non-action)
  • Both attack (action)
I think action provoking reaction is easier than starting with reaction. I initiate and I can create a response versus having to respond or accept an offense. However we must have reaction in any altercation lasting longer than a few seconds, both sides will be aggressive at some point. Non-action is the time when movement may occur but no contact occurs, it is the time when the ebb and flow of the fight can change without a blow exchanged. It is also the initiator of the next segment of action and reaction.
We also discussed movement. At the most basic level combatants are one dimensional, they work on a line, until one prevails. As fighters improve they become two dimensional and work on circling, but lose much of the in-and-out, instead working on one another in the dangerous "no man's land" between the safer ranges being really near or really far from one another. At a higher level fighters increase their versatility either using an oscillating circle (baiting and drawing their opponent) or a spiral pattern (circling while cutting or expanding the range). At all levels movement is offensive and defensive, but the level of efficiency is vastly different.

The three ''levels'' of movement
Answer: Range Angle Target Timing Level Execution

JKD & BJJ Black Belt

Me, Jack, Pedro, and AndyToday I earned my black belt in Jeet Kune Do under my instructor Jack McVicker. Entering "first grade" means both a lot to me and at the same time very little. I'm proud to have reached a level that Jack considers of black belt level in his academy. On the other hand, this is only a mile marker on the infinite journey of martial arts. I am good at doing what I do, but I can still improve manyfold over the level I'm at now. Whether I have one belt or another means very little, I'm still going to train tomorrow whatever the color of my midsection. That being said, I am very honored to be considered worthy and skillful enough to be one of the first black belts in our academy. The journey continues...
In the JKD portion of class we worked opposite leads and set-up the jab. If I'm right lead and my partner is left, I place my lead foot outside to his. When they jab I can cut that angle to deliver my eye or boxing jab.
From here we proceed to working the straight blast-trapping-headbutt knees elbows (HKE). We did this open hand essentially "slap boxing" inflicting pain, entering with the straight blast, adapting to the reference point presented either raising the arms and lop sao pok sao to HKE or the straight arm and then the arm wrench, groin shot, head butt series.
From hubud we worked on tai chi sails. If break this down into the essence of the martial art, dumong (Filipino joint grappling) is the art of pulling where tai chi is the art of pushing.
  1. Out of hubud, feed the backhand to enter into lop sao pok sao. Put the back of one hand on the chest, with the palm of the other on top of this hand. Settle weight, use both legs and arms to push. Follow and immediately return to hubud.
  2. Again out of hubud, pull partner off line, e.g. guide elbow with the same side hand or do an arm drag. Drop in behind partner, so that the anterior surface of your thigh is against the posterior side of his. Arm closest to partner is extended and at a downward angle. Transition from this "horse stance" (I cringe writing these words) to a lunge pushing with hips and shoulder. Follow and immediately return to hubud.

For BJJ today we worked on three takedowns. Basic set-up, with one underhook, put your leg on the centerline of your partner, your posterior to his anterior. Top of head into the side of his head, control far wrist if desired.
  1. Use hip bump and underhook to put weight on far leg, reach across and pick ankle.
  2. Use uchi mata or inside reap of near thigh to unbalance (if he falls great) then slide leg across behind far ankle and pick with your far hand. Slide the reaping leg, over his far thigh and sit through to pass.
  3. If opponent tries whizzer, use underhook to pop arm up, and secure grip on leg. Put top of head on pectoral line, and circle outside to inside, while "hiking the football" or step to outside, use thigh nearest foot to bump leg up, secure underhook on leg and dump.
I did two gi rounds with Jack and he told me to set-up my shot more, e.g. arm dragging, pressuring, or snapping the head. On the shot itself, I need to settle my weight (head replaces @$$) and then drive forward and upward (that is a 45o vector from the floor through my opponent. If opponent sprawls, walk the centerline leg up, posting on knee or foot to re-penetrate. Alternatively, rotate leg toward center and cut the far leg, changing the angle.
Jack also referenced the old 90's vale tudo formula: Takedown/pull guard - pass or sweep to side mount - mount - punch. Stabilize each position and then start striking.

Phased Fight Training

Today we started with the new warm-up (now available in PDF). We started the first phase, striking, doing two minutes of 5 thai kicks each side 10 second break to the focus mitts for 2 x two minutes, concentrating on appropriate reaction. We followed up with footwork drilling of the "checkmark" and "jin":


The checkmark footwork pattern

The jin footwork pattern

The simplest way to avoid an action or reaction is to quarter circle away from it, going to your opponents lead. On offense the aggressive action is straight in, but the defense should be at an angle, from above this looks like a checkmark.

The switch-up to the checkmark stepping is to cross to your opponent's power side but you must ensure adequate clearance of the power hand. Thus if they cut off the checkmark, you switch directions, and pivot to the outside of your opponent's power side. From above this looks like the Kanji for "person", called "jin".
The next phase we worked was the over-under clinch working light strikes with the goal of takedown. On the takedown we rotated. The round was 10 minutes in length. The final phase we worked were 3 minutes from the over-under clinch with light strikes and then continuing with ground work. A good transition is the front headlock with one arm in, throwing knees to force three point contact, dragging down and backward ("spreading" your opponent flat mat), and then spinning to the back.


GJ "One point of variability gives an infinite number of combinations"

Surprisingly large class tonight so we charged into our new semester. First we did the new warm-up just to welcome everyone back in true Goshin Jitsu style. We worked into some of the 2 minute thai drills we have been working on. First the knees,
Deep knee, same head knee
Deep: Stack gloves on belly, force parallel to floor
Head: One glove held out in front, force perpendicular to floor
Curve knee, same/opposite deep knee (plum position)
Curve: Stack gloves on side, thigh swings shut like a gate, hit with medial surface of knee (distal femoral eminence), force parallel to floor
Deep: Stack gloves on belly, force parallel to floor
Inside leg knee, opposite deep knee (plum position)
Inside: Straight knee to medial side of thigh, displace if you can
Deep: Stack gloves on belly, force parallel to floor
Plum clinch knee, same/opposite thai side clinch knee
Plum clinch: Stack gloves on belly, force parallel to floor
Side clinch: Feed one arm, partner overhooks with same side and controls neck with opposite hand, takes a half circle step back, knee to head (catch with glove) or knee to body (cover with glove)
Deep knee, same/opposite calf shot
Deep: Stack gloves on belly, force parallel to floor
Calf shot: Pelvis-to-pelvis, bring foot to outside and slap partner's calf with foot (in application this would be the heel to the calf, but this would get old quick in training)
Then the same with punch combinations
Corkscrew either way using the hook
Jab-Lead Hook-Cross-Lead Hook
Variation: Lead Hook-Cross-Lead Hook
Corkscrew either way using the first hook hook
Jab-Overhand-Lead Uppercut-Overhand
Variation: Overhand-Lead Uppercut-Overhand.
The change of one point within a combination can give you an infinite number of solutionsWe cannot treat these combinations as martial arts gospel (e.g. Goshin Jitsu Thai kata #1 is ...) but rather as frameworks or reference points in fighting. The first way to create variability with the same sequence is by adding different levels (Chutes and Ladders) and angles. The next level is to simply changing the last strike in any tried-and-true combination and make a simple predictable sequence into an expansive arsenal. At a higher level, changing strikes within the combination we add even more layers. This is not to say you should not have solid basic combinations, but if they aren't scoring you need to make a small change. The "formula" of starting with levels and angles, progressing to final shot variability, and finally intra-combination variability is a start.
For example, I like JCHC, so let's examine that. In the broadest sense any of these shots can be body shots, but the crosses and hook are the two strongest, especially when I when I draw my opponent's hands up toward his head with shots there. Next, if I corkscrew I add nearly 45o to the window around my opponent's body that I can land shots. Lastly, the final shot can be switched to an overhand, uppercut, shovel hook, rear hook, or if we want to be creative any elbow. Alternatively I can double up on the lead hand rather than throwing with my rear hand to finish, e.g. body hook (scratch the cross) head hook. If we expand to increase our arsenal, a rear kick or either side tiip or knee would also fit well. Should we expand or combatative lexicon rather than throwing a cross we can clinch or shoot. Essentially we can create and entire fight around a JCHC combination and choosing single points to create infinite options.

The RATTLE variables
The (unoriginal) RATTLE variables are a summary of key pieces of the engagement. As previously mentioned changes in angle and level are easy ways to increase the flexibility of standard combinations. Permutations in target (e.g. solar plexus vs. floating ribs) and timing (e.g. incorporating full vs. half beats or broken rhythm) are also methods of evolving combinations. Note: the hexagon composed of many triangles is stolen from silat and other Filipino martial arts
We then switched to do some grappling and I reviewed some of the material from the Marcelo Garcia seminar. In particular we touched on the sprawl single, leg drag, the Marcelo over-under grip, the Ricco solution, the rear bear hug to rear mount, and two of the three arm drag scenarios. We discussed the reasons for the Marcelo grip, between Jeff and myself we came up with (a) the over-under is tighter this way than with the a thumb-less wrestler's grip and (b) by gripping the overhook hand with the underhook one minimizes the possibility of wrist locking. I reiterated the situational or scenario-based logic of Marcelo's game but neglected to reiterate all the general concepts of his game.
We finished with seven rounds (four running and three push-ups) of the Tabata protocol. Everyone at practice hates me, the plan will be to do it twice a week Sundays and Thursdays (Wednesdays). Fight season has started once more!


Prefight Training and JKD Skills

Worked with Jeff today, we started out testing the new warm-up. We then did some standup work for the clinch and focus mitts. Rather than using a striking reaction we are focusing on clinch reaction. One of the things that I want to work on is using my lead kick as a set-up for angling and clinching or taking a shot. We transitioned to the ground where I tried working combinations from the top. Some test cases
  • Body Hook-Body Hook-Same side Head Hook
  • Body Hook-Body Hook-Opposite side Head Hook
  • Body Hook-Opposite side Upper Cut
  • Body Hook-Same side Hammer Fist
Conceivably, an overhand would work well from guard. Jeff also showed me a clever defense on the figure four guillotine, pulling down on your opponents wrist, creates a lot of pressure and breaks the grip.
Afterwards worked with Andy and Pedro on the stick and knife material for the JKD test this weekend. The things that I think are most important are
  1. Going slowly, the tip of the stick moves a lot faster being 3' further out.
  2. Committing to the attack, the drills only make sense if some is trying to hit you.
  3. Footwork, if boxing needs great footwork, kali needs phenomenal foot work, its one thing to move around punches it is something completely different to dance around a stick going 3 times faster.

Supplementary Conditioning Notes

I have set some serious competitive goals for myself this year and I need to supplement my training. Despite the verbosity of this blog, I don't have a lot of time, so I'm trying to build supplementary workouts that can be completed in less than an hour.
Obviously warming up is a key component of any training. The main concept of warm-ups, in my opinion, are that they should be sport specific, dynamically stretch muscles, prepare for joint loading, and raise core temperature without fatiguing the athlete. I adapt a lot of material from "The Team Renzo Gracie Workout: Training for Warriors" (Martin Rooney) and "Stretching Scientifically: A Guide to Flexibility Training (4th Revision ed)" (Thomas Kurz) in my warm-ups and some stuff I've seen elsewhere (and I even gave the different parts catchy names).

Perfusion Stage (trying to raise body temperature and decrease peripheral vascular resistance)
  • Free squats 20
  • Alternating lunges 20
  • Jumping jacks 20
  • Jumper squats 10
  • Scissor jumps (alternating jump lunges) 10
  • Push-ups 20
  • Dive bomber push-ups 20
  • Mountain Climbers 20
Dynamic Stretching Stage (loading muscles, tendons, and ligaments for stress and strain)
  • Seated ankle rotations (foot circles) 10 e/ direction
  • Seated knees laterally to floor 10 e/ side (Marcelo Garcia seminar)
  • Guard leg circles 10 e/ direction
  • Same direction knee circles 10 e/ direction
  • Opposite direction knee circles 10 e/ direction
  • Anterior/posterior straight leg swing 10 e/ leg
  • Abduction/adduction straight leg swing 10 e/ leg
  • Curve knees 10 e/ leg
  • Reverse curve knees 10 e/ leg
  • Anterior knee to chest 10 e/ leg
  • Lateral knee to shoulder 10 e/ leg
  • Hip circles 10 e/ direction
  • Hip twist 20
  • Anterior/posterior bends 10 e/ direction
  • Side bends 10 e/ direction
  • Upper body rotation 10 e/ direction
  • Arm circles 10 e/ direction
  • Cross body arm swing 10 e/ direction
  • Rickson Gracie arm flail (watch "Rickson Gracie: Choke" (Hayes))
  • Wrist circles 10 e/ direction
  • Posture setters (posterior shoulder circles) 10
  • Head flexion/extension 10
  • Head rotation 10
  • Ear to shoulder 10
Core Loading Stage
High-Intensity Training (HIT)
I really like "High-Intensity Training" (John Philbin) and have based my strength training workouts off of this book in the past. I was first introduced to HIT from a Mike Mentzer video my friend Bart gave me. Based on what I've read, for combat sports our lifting guidelines should be:
  • Time under tension 48 - 72 seconds
  • Increase weight 3-5% @ 12 repetitions or time under tension > 72 seconds
  • 75 - 90 seconds recovery time
  • Philbin recommends 2-3 upper body and lower body workouts per week. I've found that at my level this is too much, I simply burnout. I'm shooting for two of each in an eight day cycle, thus trying to lift Monday, Wednesday, and Friday switching upper and lower, most likely this will decrease to two of each when my professional schedule picks up
Thus for the 13 to 15 set programs described below taking approximately 142 seconds per set the total "lifting" time should theoretically be between 30 and 35 minutes. Including warm-up this should take approximately 45 minutes all told.

Core with Upper Body Emphasis
  • Pull Up (Assisted Pull Up/Dip Station)
  • Pull Up
  • Pull Up
  • Dip
  • Dip
  • Dip
  • Dumbbell Bench (Bench)
  • Dumbbell Bench
  • Dumbbell Bench
  • Triceps Extension (High Pulley)
  • Biceps Curl (Free weights)
  • Wrist Flexion
  • Wrist Extension
Core with Lower Body Emphasis
  • Leg Press (Leg Press Machine)
  • Leg Press
  • Leg Press
  • Calf Extension
  • Squat (Squat Rack)
  • Squat
  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Deadlift
  • Deadlift
  • Bentover Row
  • Back Extension (Abdominal Extension Stand)
  • Abdominal Extension
  • Oblique Extension
Tabata protocol endurance training
In my never ceasing quest to cause pain I came across this conditioning gem: Tabata protocol endurance training. Actually in truth I've never believed in "road work" and wanted a way to rapidly increase cardiovascular endurance without a huge time investment. The Tabata solution is simple and brutal: 20 seconds of intense sprinting with a 10 second rest for up to 7 rounds. Why 7? Because that's where Olympic level athletes cannot do anymore. Due to the up and down nature of combat sports I will experiment with a variation:
  • 20 seconds shuttle sprints
  • 10 second rest
  • 20 seconds rapid, continual push-ups (push-up sprints, if you will)
  • 10 second rest
  • Repeat x 7 if you can
I'd like to try these on a Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday split, especially right after practice. The workout should only take 7 minutes...


My martial arts lineage, a work in progressIt is human nature to wonder where we come from and what are ties are. I've long wanted to record my martial arts roots, not because I want to impress anyone with my "breeding" but because I think that we must all pay our respects to those that started the journey before us. I have never regretted any of the training I have done, even if I'll never perform a TMA kata again. My teachers deserve the respect from the knowledge they impart whatever it might be viewed within the context of my own experiences. I become the sum total of my "ancestors" however deficient that might be. This literally millions of man-hours integrated as part of my life and my training partners' lives. Click on the image to bring up a new window with more easily visualized details.


JKD & BJJ "Chutes and Ladders"

Late, blabbing in the locker room. We worked from the ving tsun tie-up
  1. lop sao -- Pin partner's elbow to side and create forward pressure with arms and stepping
  2. pok sao -- People like to grab rather than parry the previous shot, because it is performed slowly, in reality grabbing punches cannot be done at combat speed
  3. rake the eyes -- transition to solid, two hook neck control
  4. headbutt -- lower level and deliver solid shot with top of head
  5. knee -- counter lever head back and knee forward, low shot groin or iliotibial band
  6. elbow -- short, cutting with tip
For the BJJ worked three sweeps:
X-Guard Lift Ankle Trip
  1. From hooks inside, one side underhook control, sit out on the same side hip.
  2. Dive with other hand and underhook same side thigh.
  3. Use legs and underhooked thigh to lift, your hook on the side controlling partner's leg transitions to opposite hip, knee on posterior side, such that you have entered X guard. Head is next to shin and control hand wraps around to control knee.
  4. Use X to lift leg closer, catch ankle with free hand.
  5. Sweep 45o posteriorly to lifted leg (far from head).
  6. Tuck legs to kneeling.
"Y" Guard Sweep
  1. From half guard, with same side underhook control.
  2. Lift and transition outside leg of half guard to inside hook control. You may have to (a) "help" your flexibility by grabbing your own leg or (b) use inside leg of half guard to create space.
  3. Use free hand to control ankle of the leg hooked with your inside hook.
  4. Use free leg (former inside leg of half guard) to bump his butt and then kick out and sweep through so that you can roll up and over your lower leg (i.e. foot adducts, knee abducts). Simultaneously sit up and sweep to back.
    Variation: For very large opponents, you may need to insert two leg hooks inside partner's thigh to lift and sweep.
Triangle Half Guard Sweep
  1. Again from half guard, with same side underhook control.
  2. However, this time, partner tucks shin close to your butt. Open your half guard and move it proximally up to the thigh, triangle the thigh.
  3. Having created space, underhook traingled leg.
  4. Sweep perpendicularly over partner's bent knee. If posts, redirect pressure 90o or more straight back. Can also sweep to the opposite side over partner's "free" leg
Having recently seen Kazushi Sakuraba perform rear mount by a high on the thigh triangle, as well as the effectiveness of the Twister, this high triangle half guard position bears watching and development.
We did some MMA rounds with the guys getting ready to fight. Dan was coaching on the take down, telling people to move up and down, like climbing a ladder. So I said, "Chutes and Ladders" and that's exactly what it is. If a takedown is not working on one level you either need to slide down or climb up to a different point of joint leverage. For example, shooting a single that is defended despite your best efforts at turning the corner, lends itself to "chuting" down to picking the ankle or "laddering" up to the high crotch. A similar concept was taught in my traditional karate days, all the same strikes could be delivered at three levels: low, middle, or high. Simply striking at one is ineffective, by attacking one place we draw the defense there, creating openings elsewhere. We are doing the same thing with takedowns, we have attacked one place and forced a reaction which allows an opening at a different level.