Search This Blog


Teaching to my detriment

I’ve been involved with martial arts since 1985 and have always had a striking component to my training.  I started with hard styles of Uechi-Ryu and Shorin-Ryu Karate-Do, but found that I wasn’t training the way I was fighting.  I gravitated to the eclectic Goshin Jitsu which used a boxing and kickboxing framework for their striking which seemed more applicable.  I’ve trained for many years in Jeet Kune Do, which is more of a philosophy than a style as it evolves to what works rather than being a dogmatic method.  I subsequently became interested in Muay Thai and have trained that for over a decade.  The unfortunate side effect of training this long is that eventually you become the senior member of the class.  It is not because I am more skilled or more able that I coach, it is because I’ve been too dumb to quit.

Now that I’m doing muay thai private lessons my technique is under a microscope.  I have bad habits, mostly I assumed from injury and lay off.  In muay thai, the way that you throw kicks or knees is by extending on the base leg.  I don’t do that.  I see people doing it, but I don’t do it.  I teach the extension, but I don’t do it.  Sure I can blame deconditioned leg muscles or poor balance but honestly my legs are stronger now than they have been in years.  Training this week, we figured it out:  It’s a bad habit from teaching.

In order to show that I was using the point of the knee to strike and since on average people are smaller than me, I was pulling my knees and crouching so that I didn’t obliterate half my demo partner’s rib cage.  I look sort of like a toddler being toilet trained who is trying not to pee themselves.  The more you coach, the more you teach, the less you train.  So by demoing it to prove one point, I managed to teach myself wrong.  You can do the extension and rapidity of a knee well, and focus on that by “slapping” them with the distal anterior surface of the thigh rather than trying to drive the bony part of distal femur through their thorax.  Try.  You like.

The above point came up when we reviewed material from the Matee seminar a few weeks back.  We review catching the jab, cross, clearing the cross hand and pivot stepping while side clinching to deliver the knee. Alternatively you can slap their rear hand down and let them step into your rear horizontal elbow.

The other (cool) thing we worked on was saving yourself from a caught thai kick.  I threw the rear thai kick rapidly and relaxedly.  As soon as it hit, I rotate the knee outward and recovered.  Next when working with my coach, I threw the kick on Ian, who caught it.  The rotation freed my foot so that I could place it on his torso/hip and push kick away.  You’re not pulling your leg out, you’re freeing it to push your opponent away.

No comments: