Friday 26 August 2011

Week 62

A pause in the path.

For a variety of reasons class has stopped and will hopefully start again in 6 months or so.

I am going to find an MMA class in the meantime, set up a separate blog but will link to from here.

Hopefully the MMA classes will help me to face some of those striking demons I have...

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Week 61

Return of H. Not surprisingly he settled right back into to it, no sign to ring rust. Most pleased to have him throwing strong, direct and intent heavy attacks my way.

3 drill.

The first part of the class was devoted to 3 drill. The basic roll with ne slight difference: the defences to the chop and backfist used punches. This helped to emphasise the forward motion and intent needed for the correct defence along the centreline. Martin also kept us alert of the need to full laps.

Martin then discussed the limitation of lap sau outside of the 3 drill in sparring or real world application. He had us work the 3 drill at a slower pace to emphasise feeling and reacting to the feel over what the eyes are seeing. If the lap is there take it, if not go forward with another technique. Point being don’t just lap as it is part of the drill. Moving on we had to alter the defence to the backfist by using a crushing energy to put their punch inside their own centreline thus making a regular outside gate lap useless, instead the piston punch was practised.

My interpretation of this aspect of the training tonight was the importance of the centreline. Martin talked about what we should strive to get the opponent to do if the guard is wing chun style (get them to separate the hands to open a gap) or a more western boxer style (get them to close the gap so we can control the arms and the fight better).

Backs against the wall.

There might be an occasion where in the ring or in the street where the opponent has their back against a structure meaning that we can’t drive forward. This is best illustrated in the recent fight between Fedor and Hendo.

Apply forward pressure in the clinch and at your own choosing disengage and throw 2 hooks. As Hendo shows, and luckily for Fedor, the 2 hooks of death just miss. We worked the concept through a short drill, firstly open hand and then on the pads. Tie up with the referee hold and insert the right arm to his bicep. As this happens drop the left wrist and lift the elbow. Take a step back and lob the hooks.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Week 60

Dave said...

Z stepped up and took the class and did a great job as normal. I rocked up 30 minutes late as sweaty people were stripping themselves of pads. For me the class opened with working the number 1 and 2 punch. With attention being paid to the basics: footwork, balance, elbow position, finishing position, fist placement, economy of motion.

We then spent a significant amount of time on details in the grappling sets. Ironing out any creases.

Sparring was as last week. Sensible pace etc. Still need to be tighter and more disciplined with the shoulders.

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Week 59

Warm up grappling sets but random delivery in order to get used to not working a prescribed patterned response.

Main focus of the class was looking at body shot attacks from the pak and lap entries.

Pad training: Working the basic set of the 3 combos. Interestingly Dave was throwing the head shot with the pads at the end of each set and this added some bob and weave practise to the pad training. A nice addition.

Sparring: Again my main focus of the blog entry as I feel this is where I make the most gains and losses. Tonight the pace was slower and much less chaotic. Every person I sparred with I felt less competition and ego in me as a driving force. I was able to practise footwork and hunting for elbow control. I even had a chance to work inside gate pak, elbow lap for head and arm triangle set up. I enjoyed it for the first time because i was practising and not fighting. It only took 59 sessions...

Week 58

Warm up sets:

As last week the main focus of the class was looking at the concept of the immoveable elbow and working the counter to the plum clinch.


I want to spend time talking about this aspect of the class as it where I made the most errors and thus have most to meditate on.
Firstly I did not apply the techniques learned in the class. Specifically the immoveable elbow. When the speed goes up then I forget the basics and just seek to clinch. Further problem is that I clinch with poor defence as I enter elbow range. Luckily only a few use elbows in sparring. Time to assume all use them. I must control the elbow on my way in. Or even avoid the clinch work and stay in punching range.

At the end of the sparring I was very tired. Interestingly Martin gave some tips on what not to do in sparring based on what he saw from everyone tonight.
Firstly face the punch. Sparring should be fairly controlled so if a hit to the face is received then is should be too traumatic. We need to be controlled in the fight and to be alert. Sparring is the time in which we can practise this internal focus as the punches are coming in.

Effort: All were too knackered at the end. We need to keep something in reserve so should we need to go to a higher gear, we have it. Sparring should be at a slower pace where we can practise and perfect, not point score and be dominated by ego. Therefore sparring is about developing timing and rhythm.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Week 57

Spent a nice long time working the grappling warm up sets. Constantly being refined by Martin to iron out simple errors. I guess in the chaos of combat these simple errors can become big ones.

The main of the class was looking at the concept of the immoveable elbow and working the counter to the plum clinch.

The immoveable elbow concept was looked at the in-fight range as you give the opponent a long arm guard. Tight compact stance, fingers towards his eyes. Hopefully this will irk him somewhat and his instinct will be to swat to parry your arm in some way. As he hits the arm use the momentum to heel palm to the jaw/ear followed by a sinking (#6) hit to the lower ab/upper groin area.

Counter to the plum clinch. Was right in front of our eyes and Dave was the only one who had worked this out. By keeping the shoulders back and not extended, it prevents the arms being manipulated and used.

For entertainment and educational purposes:

rear triangle:

GSP single and double:

Friday 1 July 2011

Week 56

3 drill.

Warming up with Trist. He was using a clever little shrug to elicit a reaction of his backfist attack.. Also his laps instead of going to my hips he has a slight pull towards himself. But I really enjoyed the fast and firmness of the drill.

Warm up sets: Does as it says on the tin. A short series of 3 sets that could be done either with focus mitts or without. It is probably better to use pads because of the impact training from set 3. The sets are to be performed in a very relaxed manner with not to much pressure as the philosophy for the sets is warm up not a hardcore session.

• Set 1: Headlock (posture up, extend arm to turn head and punch 3 times, lift their arm over your head). Plum clinch (head up and posture, hands in and control chin forcing head over hips, insert arms for plum clinch and knee. Ensure pressure from clinch does not lift with punch). Underhooks (Hips down and back, insert hands to hips to create distance, secure elbows and elbow strike).

• Set 2:Arm drag left and right, guillotine (posture up, turn into him, take further hip and hit to chin with the palm). Chicken wing (turn in to the hold with your back, turn back into him and hit).

• Set 3: Bust it high (1, 2, 3, 2), bust it low (1, 6, 3, 2) and bust it upper (1, 10, 3, 2)

Anti hooligan work:
• Arms out aggressive posture: Drop step and he encroaches the space and hit to the jaw. I was going sideways and not forward enough and thus losing power.

• Stiff straight arm and cocked right hand. Ignore the arm and only give it the slightest of touches and work around the arm with big hits.


Being way too defensive and way to clinch happy. Need to start looking at finding a balance between offensive defence and strong striking offence. I know I need to work on my off-lining footwork but this needs to be in with attacks.

So I intend in sparring to work on the following:

• Off lining footwork
• Don’t turn pose or duck.
• Attack with my body not my hands, begin by looking at elbow control and attack.
• Hybrid stance.
• Throw more quality shots as this gives them less time to settle.

Most importantly is that i need to maintain my discipline and use sparring as a tool for my growth and not a game. I have wasted too much time trying to grapple and clinch. Time to start being smart and not lazy or predicable.

Monday 20 June 2011

Week 55

3 drill

Entries using inside gate pak sau.

Pad circuit:
A 5 station 2minute with 15 seconds rest. Seems like a long time since the last time we did this. The rounds were
• 1, 2, 3, 2
• 1, 2, 1, 14
• 1, 10, 3, 2
• 1, 6, 3, 2
• 1, 2, 7, 3, 2
It was very tough on the last round as I was losing form due to fatigue. My diaphragm was friggin killing me. I also had the pleasure of using Stable’s pads that be new and thus stained the backs of my hands so they now look like they belong to a miner.


It seems so long since we have sparred and in that time I have lost all self discipline. Defence was shocking, attacks were random with no intention. I need to go back and look through my notes and re-establish my focus for sparring and stick to it. Play my own game not match those who are in front of me. I know there are many things I use sparring for, primarily pain and fear management but I must use it by being smart. But my dilemma is what is sparring for? I know it is to work techniques against a non compliant opponent but at times my ego forgets this and becomes fixed on match fighting. Perhaps there is too much thinking about what is and what is not. Back to the drawing board and back to the beginning.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Week 54

3 drill detail.

From the backfist they can apply a short pak and hit. The counter to this is to drop the elbow and circle upwards in the centre which will enable you to do a short lap and hit. They key for me was getting the elbow dropped into the centre, my mistake was using the elbow as the pivot point from their attack. This requires far too much effort.


The best way to set this up is when doing the backfist lap, drag their arm far across their centre, then lap the defence to the backfist down to their hip. This will provide lots of torque and off balancing in their body then the X-trap can be applied much more effectively.


Simply lift and bend the elbows. Not the shoulders. The point for me of this is that at some point they are going to release energy so they can hit as from this position you can still attack with the head if desired.
Counter to the escape is to simply release as they will bring a hand up to defend the impending attack, dive in with a snatch attack and hit.
Other attacks open when applying the X-trap are body shots to the ribs after you slip off and cover. Due to the range, elbows are also an option.

Headlock defence:

Posture up and palm across their face. If contact is felt on the back of the head or neck, it is good practise to not curl into a ball as this will ensure your rapid demise.

A.D.M. (Am drag maintenance) Reps, reps and more reps of the main 4.

The Whizzer:

This is the counter to double underhooks with lots of forward energy. This will not work if they have the hands clasped. It is for when they have got past your sprawl defence. Using the crook of your arm hook it tightly around their underhook and shrug throw them in the direction their energy is going. You will need to turn yourself to help them on their way.

Saturday 4 June 2011

Week 53

We worked the arm drag series from last week to act as a refresher and reinforce. We were extended by giving our partners different energies and they have to apply the correct arm drag. No point fighting energy with energy. If they give it to us then we must use it to our advantage, This led into the striking options utilising arm drags. As you saw from the video posted last week, usually arm drags lead to grappling stage contact and control. This can be standing as well as looking for takedowns and floor work. Only if the surface and situation permits it. We do not want to injure ourselves going to the ground nor tie up with another to enable their mates to practise their footy skills on our heads.

Arm drag 1: (Pak and punch, arm drag) simply can’t remember. My gut says hit through the centre when elbow control is got...

Arm drag 2: (Pak and punch, inside gate lap) Funky side step thingy. Did not like it so refuse to talk about it.

Arm drag 3: (Pak and punch, roll over) Instead of going for the arm drag look to get the Thai neck clinch. Some key tips are to squeeze the elbows together and thus clamping the head. A most uncomfortable position to find yourself in. In terms of the hand grip the best thing I can liken it to is the butterfly shadow silhouette you make with your hands. When clinching ensure the lower wrist is under and in contact with the upper wrist. From head control, knees, knees and more knees.

Arm drag 4: (Pak and punch, wrist then elbow control and shrug) there were several options we studied. 1. Maintain wrist control and hit through the centre with the left palm. 2. Simply lift off wrist control and hit with elbow. 3. Charge in with an elbow using explosive footwork.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Week 52

Very busy session tonight.

Tristan took the first part of class before Martin rocked up and we started off with a 3 drill warm up. Primary theme was relaxing on defences and exploding forward on attacks with footwork. The defender needed to look to off-line and absorb.

Arm drag series. Revision from the 4 core arm drags from last week then looked at putting the RNC on the end of it. The problem is that the likelihood of getting that choke on is most unlikely as they will turn back into to you. This leaves you with 2 choices.

1: The flying choke whereby you come around the other side of the arm drag.

2: Thai plum.

Here is a quick video about how to get the basic grip coupled with a knee attack drill.

From the Thai plum, keep his structure broken down then attack with 2 knees to the groins followed by a big knee to the skull.

The problem of arm drags for us is that we are entering elbow range of our opponent so be aware.

Here is an interesting Catch video about arm drags. It is worth watching as there are some similarities between the wing chun arm drag and those of the Shooters.

So we get caught in the Thai plum, what do we do to escape?

Well one way is this:

The technique we were rolling was similar to above in terms of posture, but we need to make sure we disrupt their balance and keep them unable to settle into the clinch. Strong structural posture and palms to his chin and get his head moving back over his hips and do the regular punching footwork as you drive him back. This will ensure great structure for you and impaired balance for him.

Bail out arm drag: Perform the initial arm drag from the punch entry or the pak and hit entry, clasp the elbow as if going for the arm drag then whip back across their centre and hit to the jaw as you turn him into the good news.

REMEMBER: Our core method and concept is the punch so we should always be looking for opportunities to hit or make opportunities for striking.

A good example of the above is using the cheeky method from the arm drag. Look for the entry to arm drag and as soon as contact is made with the elbow, drive forward hitting the jaw.

Pad training: Solo punches against the pad in sets of 10 each one getting harder and with greater intensity. Load the legs, set the arm. The angle of my forearms were slightly inward and not aligned to the pads. Martin re-aligned the arm angle, it was ever so slight yet significant. Hitting the pad now was denser and simply more efficient and effective.

Heel palm uppercut: This is needed as we need to protect the hand when we can't hit and connect with the bottom 3 knuckles. As above in working sets of 10 with increasing intensity.

Very deep session tonight and rather tremendous.

Monday 16 May 2011

Week 51

The arm drag series, all of a pak and punch entry.

1. Open the arms and arm drag, heavy body shot then head shot.

2. If presenting strong forward energy use an inside gate lap, then arm drag.

3. If multi directional, use the roll over but make sure you give yourself enough space and do not collapse the wrist in the fold near your own chest.

4. The messy one, take wrist control by moving his arm across his centre, arm parallel to his then place your elbow past his. Drop your elbow but keep pressure and control on his arm and lift the elbow to shrug and move him.

5. Cheeky one; as above with initial control but drop down and hit to the groin, use the motion of the strike to come up and elbow the head.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Week 50

Last class at the scout hut. Main proportion of the evening was spent on the pads firstly wing chun mechanics then western boxing. As previously stated the boxing is an add on and to employed at longer range. If the wing chun punch is out of range, box and inside range wing chun. Martin is trying to seamlessly integrate the two systems to evolve a hybrid style of combat efficiency, aggression and practicality.

Slip A: left punch, right punch, slip right, right, left hook, right.

Slip B: left, slip left, right, hook, right

Bust it: lead left, right, left hook, right

Pow pow: lead left, left hook, right

Ensure discipline in the elbows with the boxing, there is a tendency for them to drop. The wrist and elbow are on the same plane parallel to the floor.

In addition, when boxing point the shoulder at the target behind the punch.

Saturday 7 May 2011

Week 49


Longer range weapons. It makes sense to have these as an add on and not be hamstrung by a system. We might need these as an entry to close the gap to employ our wing chun punches. The nice attribute of the jab and cross is the protection it offers the chin

We looked at the mechanics of the jab, cross and hook. Aim to hit with the bottom 3 knuckles as this is our bread and butter with the WC punches.

Jab: Point the shoulder into the punch and along the arm, elbow same height as the wrist, come slightly on to the ball of the lead foot as this will add some rotational torque to the punch.

Cross: Very similar to the jab really in terms of mechanics regarding the shoulder and the elbow. I was being too square so asked Martin to actually move my torso into the correct position for the cross so I could feel it. I am primarily a kinaesthetic learner so need this.

Hook: Avoid dropping the hand down to develop rotational power. Lift the elbow parallel to the wrist, drive the hip, spine and shoulder as an integrated unit. The hands should move very little as it all come from the body. To clarify, don’t throw the hook as you will over extend and only be using the arm. Less is more. This was as an important revelation as changing my golf swing years ago when told by a scratch player, turn don’t lift. The weight of a punch using the body (74kg) over the weight of an arm (6kg) is a no brainer.

Slip A – Jab, cross, slip left, cross, hook cross. When working on the pads the emphasis should be on soft but fully extended punches. Have the self discipline, speed can come later. It is more important to have correct technique. It is vital to make all the punches as small and tight as possible. No need to waste any energy or movement, in addition we must avoid telegraphing of our attacks and intentions.

Why to use the hook punch and the heel palm and the problems with each one.
The hook is used at very close range, elbow distance in fact. It is used when you need to clear their arm, using the heel palm at close distance will get jammed. The heel hook palm is used from slightly further away as the elbow is slightly lower on this technique. If you have the same elbow positioning for the heel palm as the hook then you will find your shoulder limiting your range of movement.

3 drill:
My question tonight was what to do against the strong energy of someone who is not giving laps. The solution Martin gave me was to palm out, push down and lap at the end. For this I am using more chest and less triceps. Bigger muscles for the same job, makes sense. So I need to work this as it is new to me. I am told this can’t be done at speed.

Grip breaks:
Against multi directional – this grip is not too tight but the intention of the gripper is to quickly hit off and regain wrist control. Explode elbow up with your hand as if cupping your ear and turn torso out then hack down on the neck and jaw line. We also learned that you can have double wrist control and use the same technique to attack.

A really great session tonight. I found the new information in terms of boxing fascinating and humbling. I thought I could throw boxing punches and thankfully I now do so need to get on with working on those techniques

Saturday 23 April 2011

Week 48

In the car park:

There were no keys so we went all Ray Mears and trained outside.

The topics covered were punching, footwork and punching, lat sau, grip breaks – low, high and double, first and second form. But interestingly was the terrain and how it made me look at the floor quite a lot as it was not a clean and smooth surface. For me I need to practise punching with footwork on a variety of surfaces. It taught me that I need to develop how I move myself more effectively. I guess I have been cheating in the hall or is it that the hall has been cheating us?

I know think we should train on a variety of floors more often than not. I guess this will be a pain in the sphincter organisationally so might have to explore this on my own.

Week 47

Tristan’s class.

Attacks with pak sau.

Need some serious meditation to search within myself as it was almost 2 weeks ago and much offal has passed through my brain since then. Lesson learned is to write blog posts within 48 hours of the class.

Friday 8 April 2011

Week 46

Pad training:

Focussing only on the numbers 1-2-3-4 and any combo of each. In addition the feeder was crashing the range meaning this also became great off-lining footwork development. The feeder was also stepping back for number 1 and 2 so you have to have strong and explosive forward footwork to close the distance, in balance with power.

The training then evolved into the corkscrew body mechanics when employing the hook attacks. When seen in its entirety the whole body is moving. The descending corkscrew is amassing the energy and momentum for the attack. We worked these of the 1-2, the feeder then simulates the punch attack, you corkscrew and attack with a 3-2. The other technique started with 1-2-1, then corkscrew finishing with 3-2-3.

Eye gouge against double under hooks:

You have seized the gold medal pre-suplex position of double underhooks, as he goes to gouge the eye ball, shrug off and forward and attack with a 2-3-2.
This training and use of body mechanics is very modern and un-wing chun in that it looks more like Western Boxing. But in terms of concepts, the body mechanics are very compact and efficient and for me these are always at the forefront of my own martial development.

Standing grappling:

The gis were donned to enable is to work against 3 primary standing grappling attacks; the pull forward, pull to the side and push back whilst being grabbed at the shoulder. The problem this presents for us as Wing Chunners is we are relying on control and the range (of our punches). When being violently ragged around these internal safety nets disappear. So we must modify and adapt rather than being too small minded to think pure Wing Chun solves all problems. Only those who have never tested their concepts and techniques will say this. We know we need to adapt because being KO’d is what will happen and we need to go to work tomorrow looking handsome and respectful. Firstly, we need to be sensitive to the energy being given to us. Go with the pushes and pulls. Do this by moving the feet. Avoid moving the body then the feet as this will rapidly result in you swaying like a palm tree in a hurricane. Good positive posture and structure and if the range is too far for us, throw a long cross punch. This will close the distance and give him something else to think about.

Instead of being mucked up by this chaos, let it happen, when based, throw the punches. For the hard push away, you need to shrug under the grab to give you decent range. A final point worth noting is that through experience (Martin’s), if you are being held very tight, it is likely that his punches will not have the same energy and power as the grab. There must be some trade off for it to work for him. Doing both should not happen.

3 drill:

Lap, lap and practise the lap. Getting straighter, getting tighter but increasing in tension. Must find a happy medium of speed, technique and relaxation. Perhaps in 15 years. The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step a wise man from ancient China once said. Well for me, a few steps have been taken and glancing over my shoulder I can see where I started. Long, long way to go but the path is hard, challenging but always learning and getting better.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Week 45

Brief but most beneficial.

Popped to training for 45 minutes. The focus of the lesson was on the use on inside gate pak sau to their lead hand. Many of the techniques also included use of lap and punch which was most invaluable practise for me. Whilst full confidence is not restored, it has grown from the depressive lows of last week. This concept of probing their lead hand has also given me some ideas to tag onto my mindset for sparring.

I also learned and understood the differences between pak sau and lap sau...It is to do with where your motion is in reference to yourself. Usually pak goes along or across your center whereas lap are on the outside gate of your own centre. Confused?

Technique sequences included:
1: Inisde gate pak sau, chop forward off the same arm, lap and back fist, repeaters.
2: IGPS - hint at controlling their rear hand and throw the big H-bomb.
3: As number 1, if block, high lap, snake other hand through to back to neck for head control, as they bend over for you, knee to the chops.

Recently I watching an Eddie Bravo video where in competition he consciously worked to pull off and perfect a specific technique. For him it was the Twister. For me is it going to continue to be:
1: Hybrid stance, tight, compact and light.
2: Attack at end of the attack.
3: Off lining footwork.
4: Close the gap when in contact range.
5: Control and no control. I think this is do the opposite of what they want to do.

Week 44

Began with lots of 3 drill, changing partners lots. It is always fun working with a wide range of energies and levels of relaxation and tension. I have found that when I perceive tension I seem to make such more effort and tired much quicker. I found out tonight that I have slim to no confidence in my lap sau with the left hand. Still pulling towards my hip and not pinning towards theirs, or across their centre as I should be. Time for more visualisation practise.

I did feel like I have taken a big backwards step with 3 drill and am very concerned that this is what let me down in the level 2 grading and little progress has been made.

Lat sau felt a lot better in terms of confidence. I cant emphasise enough that for me I need to be totally focussed on every single punch. As soon as talking with my partner starts, the quality nose dives faster than a falcon on its prey.

Well I have not done this since before the grading, about 8 weeks ago now. We only had about a minute with each partner so I felt unsettled in the quick changes. Of course in reality I should be ready to go and have my own internal rhythm set with every new partner. Really enjoyed it though.

Friday 18 March 2011

Week 43

3 drill:
Good quality practise. Opened with ensuring full laps, then onto piston punch. My error was that I always went to the outside of the pak sau. Of course if the centre is clear the come inside the pak sau. As always control their structure and centre with a strong lap. Finally we went onto inside/outside gate lap. Just great to have time to develop the sense of feel.

Shoulder control:
By shoulder control I mean that the aggressor has tight hold of your shoulder clothing to ensure the control he desires.

Got warmed up with this feeling by pulling each other, 1 for 1. When being pulled and ragged, as the foot lands throw the punch. We then investigated how to move the shoulder when it is being held. Shrugs and circles. A common mistake when throwing punches was not being square enough with the hips and thus the shoulders. It is vital that you are as square and balanced as possible when throwing punches.

The lights went out for a few rounds. The point was that Martin said most of this in the fog of combat will be primarily on touch and feel. I was more concerned about being bumped into the walls than being lumped in the chops by Z. We did both variation of hitting empty hand and on the pads.

Wrestlers pummel:
Looked at several ways to disengage with offensive intent.
Lead shoulder butt/shrug. Don't twist, keep weight balanced, don't lean back. As soon as you have dis-engaged and in balance, start throwing hits to the chops.
If they are giving lots and lots of forward energy, let it come and 'bowl' the arm and thus them over and into their void.

I really enjoyed tonight as during the standing grappling I was wearing a gi top as I did not want to ruin my fine threads. I have not donned a gi since I finished BJJ. In the olden days of my training I would have had some kind of mental issue and binned training and gone back to BJJ. On Thursday night I had no desire to walk that path. So I am looking forward again to slipping the gi on and grappling at the WWCA.

Saturday 12 March 2011

Week 42

Lat sau:
More practise on the basic roll with changes and defending the cross punch. A new detail was that Martin mentioned the triangle with the apex at the tip of the chin sloping down to the shoulders. This is because the movements for punches are started here, so eyes on the chin.

Pad training:
Warmed up by hitting with a pattern of 1, 1-2, 1-2-1, 1-2-1-2 then start the pattern again. The learning points were to be in balance at the end of each sequence and to have full extension of each punch.

From the wrestlers pummel, push off and disengage then hit the pads with a 2-3-2.
From a position of being roughly controlled and held by the shoulder we worked on being able to hit whilst off balance. This was tough and awkward and hopefully something we will be doing again next week. I am going to take down my gi jackets so the attacker won’t ruin our fine silk garments,

Simplicity and efficiency:
One important point made by Martin tonight was when hitting with repeaters, keep doing it. Why change to another move or technique if the one you are using is working. Surely this is a wing chun concept that too easily overlooked. Too often do you see videos on YouTube of people doing a load of different consecutive moves because it looks good. The videos of the club’s Facebook page of Emin Boztepe highlight this point. His keep flying in with a punch to the face, no matter what technique his opponent throws. The most simple and efficient technique appears to be the most effective.

Linked to this footwork. Martin stated that we should be very wary of people that teach defences against punches where the first move is to move the feet then the hands. It is too slow, too impractical but it looks good, it looks easy and it looks clean. It also probably very ego massaging. The following quote from Bruce Lee highlights this.

‘The quality of a man’s technique depends on his footwork, for one cannot use his hands or kicks efficiently until his feet have put him in the desired position. If a man is slow on his feet, then he will be slow with his punches and kicks. Mobility and speed of footwork precede speed of kicks and punches’ p.142, Bruce Lee, Tao of JKD.

Watch the following video and you will see sharp and fast feet resulting in laser like hand work.

For me, my balance at the end of punches is worse than at the start, therefore, according to Martin, Bruce and Emin, my hands are less effective because of it. Footwork, footwork, footwork.

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Solo Wing Chun workout

So in order to keep training and exercising fresh I have devised this to be done a few times a week, interlaced with a Spartan workout and a 90 minute power yoga session.

3 drill warm up

1 minute of front kicks each leg

60 seconds of 1-2-3-2 then 1-10-3-2

1 minute of side kicks each leg

60 seconds of 1-2-3-4 then 1-2-low hook- high hook-2

1 minute of knees

60 seconds of 1-6-3-2 then 1-2-1-14

1 minute of Thai kicks

Working entry techniques 1-7 x12 for each

1 minute of footwork

Pyramid set to 9


So give it a whirl.

Monday 7 March 2011

Week 41

3 drill detail.

As we are going to re-grade 2 in a few weeks Martin is working on our corrections. I now think that 3 drill is going to be my Achilles Heel. I seem to very bad in all the defences that are either chops or palm strikes.

But, correction detail.

Stay low and tight in the arms. I observed that when Martin rolls his elbows are very low and almost toughing. On reflection from the class and my own visualisation work that funky chicken would be an appropriate way to label my 3 drill. I am going to be getting an elastic band to discipline the elbow position in 3 drill. This might be why I am missing the defences to the open hand strikes. My range might be crap also.

Block and attack towards the person not the arms. When the change happens, the shoulders turn and this creates a big gap for the hit through the centre.

Strong laps. Goes without saying

On the piston punch, drive them backwards and repeat the piston. 2 days after training my left forearm was a purple mess thanks to the Ninja Slippers and his death chops. Perhaps I need to soften in someway?

Towards the end of the session we looked again at the Wrestlers Pummel. Same detail and drill as week 40. This week included an extra technique of on the change use a rising elbow to the chin followed by a elbow with the other arms. The simile is that of a tennis serve. Toss and hit.

Still very concerned about my 3 drill. Hopefully next session I will get a chance to implement my elastic band theory.

Sunday 27 February 2011

Week 40

Wrestlers pummel

Worked the basic roll ensuring good hips and structure. Both looked to take down each other through hip control. My thing to wotk on is to keep facing forwards with the face, I tend to turn as I bump in.

We also looked at throwing the elbow on the change and the arm drag.

Lat sau
So tonight started the making of corrections.

1. Headbutt the punch: When doing the cross defence I was leaving too much of a gap between face and shoulder so when seeing it come the trick is to nutt the punch. Of course the arm is in the way but this concept ensures a tight and effective defence.

2. Stick: Wait and feel, no need to go on the next count or beat. Feel it and the arm coming through to be high needs to start low. This will give you the centre and prevent getting boppped on the nose.

3. Tough stick: So when there are lots of changes going on, wait, wait, feel and take it when you are on the outside again. As the arm raises turn the shoulders to dominate the centre and take him off his centre.

Grade 1 and 2 notes

Grading Summary

Paul Caswell

Grade 1


Very Good form throughout. Correct fist alignment and maintained locked elbows throughout the whole test. Impressive.

Balance, Footwork and Posture.Good focus. Needs a little more drive from the backleg at times. Good posture but too high in stance. Maintained good guard. Feet coming together on offline.

Pre Fight
Good pre fight posture. Good power on the pads with no drawback before shot is thrown. Accurate on all shots. Watch weight after landing the punch.

3 Drill
Very high standard. Excellent chop forwards to initiate attacks. All Laps were full with a good grip and control with the exception on the Lap before initiating a change as the mindfulness on the Lap was lost. No back fist before changing. Very good form. Used small movements and stayed relaxed throughout.

Lat Sau
Giving gaps by pushing from the wrist rather than locking at the elbow. Remained relaxed and adjusted well on the change when the first attempt didn’t go to my face. Good footwork throughout. Lost centre line on the punch – started punching side to side rather than one fist over the top of the other.

Closing Comments
Fantastic technique, focus and power throughout the grade. Passed by a clear mile. I really enjoyed seeing you apply the concepts and you showed a great understanding of the style.

Grade 2

Swing Defence

Very Good. Moved in quickly and with correct distance judgement. Correct angle maintained. Defended successfully. Maintained balance after shot. Strong structure.

Destroying balance, posture and stance.
Watch weight distribution when pushing on partner. Still too high in stance. Shoulders not square when destroying partners stance. Demonstrated posture breaks, shoulder rotations, stance breaking and arm push/pulls.

Focus pads
Nice and crisp. Displayed good accuracy. Solid technique.

3 Drill
Good speed. Defences broke down at speed. No extension on laps at speed. Footwork needs work. Adjusted well when under pressure and offlined but a little slow to react. Inside/ outside lap reaction a little slow and occasionally incorrect. Poor Lap on piston punch (pulling into the body rather than extending towards me). Posture poor on hit through the centre (leaning sideways). Needs to watch being trapped on hit through the centre. Good pak awareness. Good shoulder alignment on defences. Needs minor adjustment to hit through the centre defence.

Lat Sau
Demonstrated good composure under pressure. Good footwork and posture. Turned the wrong way on the cross defence. No centre line on stick. Turned away on stick. Gaps on punch defence.

Pyramid 7
Good effort. Locked well. A little tired.

Closing Comments
Really good effort throughout. Lots to work on but know you are mindful of what adjustments are needed we will make sure that together we get you there. You have a good innate understanding of the style and I’m confident that through training and visualisation, you will pass with flying colours next time.

Monday 14 February 2011

Post grading day

The day started off early as I got up with the boys and already was feeling the nerves and apprenshenion of the day ahead. In order to take my mind of it all I hunted on YouTube for the previous night's action from the first round of the Strikeforce Heavy weight Grand Prix. Arlovski got KO'd, again. An arms straight job, very messy. Fedor got mugged by Bigfoot.

On the way to the grading I almost crashed my car 3 times due to my tunnel vision. Arrived there nice and early and jumped in the car with Slippers and the Panther. Nerves were rife in the car which made me feel better, at least I was not alone. Joyfully pumping his fist out of his car window, Martin arrived and it was on. Time for the game face.

Well a mix of emotions really so I will go through each grade.

Grade 1:

Started off with punching, lots and lots in lines. Singles, doubles, triples and a pyramid up to 7. My focus was my posture and my elbows. Drive from the elbows and relax was the internal mantra. In the feedback Martin was extremely complimentary about my punching saying elbows keeping straightening even in the bunches of 7.

Footwork: Driving forward with double punches, the legs were alive with active readiness to go on the call. Felt strong and determined. Footwork with a partner moving around the room. This was something I was quite apprehensive about as my visualisation work highlighted too much weight on my front foot and thus making off lining tough. Being cognisent of this made my footwork better than ever before. In the feedback Martin remarked that he wrote in his notes that I was on fire.

Pre fight: Meet and greet and trigger touch. This is where I tried hard to compress and explode with a poker face. As soon as I saw the pad and it moved, bang. All my focus was on that pad. My posture and balance was not perfect at the end of the move.

3 drill: All I wanted to do was lap well and attack strong. Martin started to smirk which vexed me somewhat as I assumed I was missing something and thus waiting for bad news. Thankfully not as in the feedback Martin was most positive about my 3 drill.

Lat sau: Hell on earth, hard, confusing, awkward and this is only for grade 1. Felt like it fell apart, started to make adjustments from my wrist, lost control of the centreline.

I did pass and according to Martin with flying colours which was my goal. Mentally it was very hard, more so than physically. Yes it was tough on the body. Stuff hurt, stuff ached and lactic acid coupled with adrenaline was the order of the day but the mental pressure of the situation was incredibly hard.

Grade 2:

Started very well for me with some pad work. Made me feel alive and in the moment again. It turns out that my footwork let me down as I habitually rise and fall. Thus need more discipline as I have in sparring; the anti-takedown mma/wing chun hybrid stance.

Destroying balance: I was working with Slippers here and thought about the main areas of the body where balance can be affected. Worked the head, shoulders, hips, double lap, tai chi style push on whole body and leg destruction.

3 drill: Shocking. Fell apart at speed. Laps disappeared, limited defence against attacks, crap lap on the piston punch, naff hit through the centre, confusion over inside and outside gate lap. Although I did manage to find the elbow on the over extending pak sau defence.

Lat sau: Hell on earth. Speed overwhelmed me, crap stick with zero control of the centre, generally poor poor quality.

Unsurprisingly I failed but it did give me lots of learning points to develop and refine.

Great to see Slippers and Stable Joe passed, both truly deserved it. It is great to reflect on my own journey through the martial arts that this is the first time I have experienced failure and been positive and encouraged by it. Not running away and making excuses. I want to stick at this and become outstanding. Only the path of hard work and sound application will see me through.

In closing, this was tougher than fighting at Seni in the BJJ tourney. Tougher than my first semi contact match in Lau Gar. Tougher than being hit by Mikhail Ryabko. Mentally this was hard. Very hard. It was not like training at all. Martin applied a pressure unfelt previously. Perhaps it was the pressure to perform knowing how tough Martin is in looking for errors. The positive is that I have been though it once so next time the pressure will still be incredibly hard but at least not new.

Part of me wants to never grade again as I am very sacred about failing as in my mind the standard to pass grade 2 and further grades at the moment seems unsurpassable.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Grading day

Been doing some more visualisation work and realised my footwork is weighted wrong for off-lining so I have been trying to fix it by being much more aware of my rear leg. I can only off line better when there is less weight on the front leg.

Oh how the nerves have started and it is 3 hours away from starting. I am also flapping about what food to eat...

Saturday 12 February 2011

Week 38

Finally the pre grading session after the snow last year prevented the grading from happening. Going into the class tonight I was convinced that I was only going for grade 1, as it turns out I am going for both which fills me with determined excitement and nerves. Been doing some visualisation practise to make up for not being there today (Saturday. My first session has shown me that the lap of my left arm in the 3 drill is bent so I have been working that straight. I am going to put everything into it and if I fail I will be very upset, but being a newly formed realist and not letting self criticism be my undoing, I will then have new and specific training goals.

Off to do some more visualisation. I will post my grading report tomorrow night.

Saturday 5 February 2011

Week 37

A very quiet class tonight, only 7 of us. Before class a painful rumour developed about the the class moving to Greenwich. It is now Saturday night and since 7.30pm on Thursday this has been plaguing my thoughts.
What do I do? Should I struggle to the land of the Meridian? Should I look for somewhere else. The past few days have been a familiar yet uniquely unpleasant time. Familiar in that I have looked for a new club many times in the past but always because it was my choice. Unpleasant because this choice was being forced on me against my will. Thankfully the class if staying put. I can now maintain my focus and learning under Martin's tutelage. This is a huge relief for me as I feel that I am starting to settle into WWC and the class is made up of outstanding people.

In retrospect the class was good in that I learnt to become slightly better at footwork. Sparring was swift in the changes but consistent for me. I managed to work my game. I have noticed that in waiting for an attack so I can attack at the end of theirs, people don't like non action. Curiously this means I expend very little energy. If I can manage to not get frustrated and be patient, I am going to see and react in a much smarter way. It also gives me the opportunity to develop a tight defence.

So now I am looking forward to Thursday. Next Sunday is the grading. Already nervous thinking about it...

Thursday 27 January 2011

Week 36

Pad training.
Holy crap the hall is cold. Therefore we jumped straight into pad training. Began working the same initial punch combo as last week.

It is basic but I find it tough and quite enjoyable. Simply 'stepping' forward to a count. I do not think that 1 step I have ever done is identical to the last which makes this simple practise one that should not be overlooked for more sexy and exotic training methods. After-all, if we can't control our legs how the hell can we expect to survive that fury and chaos of street combat? Martin R gave me a fantastic tip; make sure the standing leg is under your ass at the end of the step. This made me much more mindful of all my legs and what they should be doing. My problem before tonight was my focus was on exploding forward with the lead leg, I almost assumed that the rear leg would catch up and take care of itself. Thankfully not so. No short cuts, no oversights. Crack on and control that rear leg.

More pad training:
Working a few simple combos; 1-2-3-4, solo practise of 5 and 6 ending up with 1-6-3-2.

Wrestling pummel:
Working the drill with Slippers, needed to have a solid and accurate structure to maintain my position. From the roll we looked to clinch the neck or take the hips. As we were working independently and alive it kept our posture more alert and not sloppy. Also looked at the neck clinch defence which is ultimately the palm push to chin move.

As always, great session tonight. Sorry that there was no sparring tonight but the thirst must wait until next week...

Week 35

This is late as a week has passed already. Anyhow...

Started with the 3 drill warm up. We started to look at posture and linked to sparring. For example we would look to attack the neck (Thai plum) or hips (takedown) in the 3 drill and when the neck is taken posture up BUT DO NOT STAND UP. When they go for the hips, ass back, spine straight but angled. This is a great addition to the 3 drill as it focuses the mind on keeping sound posture.

Pad training:
Drilling the basic footwork with triple punches. We then moved on to pre fight and meet and greet techniques.

Sparring technique:
Looking for the partner to give forward energy from the jab. Looking for them to almost give a palm out check. If you get this response on the second beat then step in deep and go for the head. This is a beautiful move if successful. However the problem is if done poorly, slowly or too obviously then you will get KO'd.

Hard and very tough spar with the boss. Generally got battered but managed to keep the footwork and posture sound as well as getting used to getting hit. Turning, ducking and flinching responses are slowly and gladly being reduced.

Friday 14 January 2011

Week 34

3 drill: Warmed up with 3 drill. Still working on the chops being from the elbow and straight as possible. I found them to be most effective when doing multiple changes and for sitting down into them. If I turn my shoulders then I lose power and something resembling decent alignment. Stable was very dominant coming forward, even in his ‘defences’ so I tried to use off lining footwork to counter the pressure. 3 drill for me is tough with Stable as he always comes forward and no quarter is given hence a good time to work the off lining footwork.

Footwork: Up and down the hall but in 50/50 and ultimately with double punches. Training fast twitch response to the count and exploding forward but keeping the hips and shoulders square on.

Off lining footwork: With a partner , guard hand to guard hand. One applies forward pressure and the defender feels the pressure and offlines by moving THE FRONT FOOT FIRST then the rear foot into a position that enables you to explode forward and attack. As we moved through the drill, people started to employ tan or lap sau off the front hand to add control to the opponent.

Sparring: Tried to employ the tips Martin gave me last week. Two things happened, it went well and it fell apart. Firstly I sparred with Nick who last week peppered the crap out of my face. I worked the no takedown footwork and stance and moved backwards a lot as he comes forward relentlessly. Tried to offline, managed on a few occasions but did not really manage to attack. But I felt much more secure using the footwork style. In time the hands will come... Against Paul, my ego got the better of my and we locked horns in a 5 minute standing grapple. Was great fun, he is strong as an ox and does not give up and has a good understanding of his base and space me and him. He left few gaps. I should have escaped his clutches and worked my own agenda out of range but hey, the grapple is most addictive.

Saturday 8 January 2011

Week 33

So 2011 has begun and with a painful bang. 2 days after training my left shoulder and neck are very sore and I am foolishly going to do some body weight conditioning after this post. We did 2 hours of sparring and I engaged too much in grappling but hey it was a fine workout.

During the session Martin stopped us all to talk about things we should avoid. For him and at the moment in our training they are

1. Don't turn away when hit

2. Don't duck.

3. Dont' pose and leave your technique out there.

After class I spoke to Martin about sparring and said that I find it hard as I am usually the shortest and am unsure about to use this as an advantage.

For the next 50 hours of sparring my goal is to primarily work on;

1. Maintaining takedown defence stance

2. Attack at the end of their attack.

Also i have just watched a bagua combat video on YouTube
( and there are some ideas on that which I might also begin to play with. For example, off lining forward footwork on attack to 11 0r 1 because at the moment I am just working 12 and 6. That is no good as my forehead is a little lumpy today. Also look for elbow control instead of wrist. If I can control the wrist then they can still manipulate and move from and with the elbow. Finally, when engaged or controlled to try to fast twitch turn and attack forward.

I am going to try really hard to stick to these tactics for this year along with anti-grapple as it is far too easy to take hits, close the gap and grab a hold.

On Thursday night, standing grappling with Paul and Man mountain Nathan was extremely fun, bordering on addictive. Yes there might be an argument that I am developing and working on infight sensitivity and control of another but my weakness is out of range and initial boxing range. Therefore this should and will be at the forefront of my mind in sparring.