Wednesday 26 February 2014

Left hooks, body head style

As we were looking at attacking with the left hand last night...

Arm drags

Billy Robinson Catch Wrestling legend teaching arm drags

Arm drag from everywhere!!

Arm drags in action in competition. Apologies for the funky tunes...

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Class notes: footwork and hands


Getting warmed up in the stance, light on the balls of the feet and deep leg bend. Moving forward and back on the count but making sure the protective shell is up and engaged.

Still finding this shell a tough position to get used to and comfortable in. I can turn the shoulders so that the chin is tucked but then my lead arm feels rather spasmodic. I guess I need to just put more time in being in the position, check it in window reflections.

The solo footwork then led into looking at using the lead leg to take a mini side step to get the motion going for the pivot away and the perpendicular (or 90 degree) evasion. In my own shadow work and visualization work I feel more fluid with perpendicular (my own label idea, not Martin’s) evasion, the pivot is still an immature motion. In order to help best understand my position and that of my invisible training partner I need to use the lines on the floor (or those in the paving stones in the garden). From here I have a reference point of the angle they are moving in from, I can then make sure my feet and then body move off those attacking power lines. I remember seeing videos of Silat and Filipino martial arts and them having all these geometric patterns on the floor of their gyms as a tool for teaching actual foot placement and evasion lines. I think I now see a purpose for people like me who need both a visual along with the verbal and kinesthetic input. Martin also talked about using the head to get the motion going for the perpendicular evasion. By dropping and turning the head slightly this forces the hips to follow allowing the body to now move in the direction it is facing.

This led into leading the partner by trying to get square on them to land the right hand. In addition we had to enter their space by coming forward at given intervals to which they then applied the 3 varieties of the off lining footwork: pivot away, perpendicular rush, going backwards. Going backwards but with balance and poise and not raising up.

Jab and counter jab drill.

Jab weight distribution analogy was butting forward with the lead shoulder, a slight turn in the hips and the weight more front than back foot. In defending the jab use the head movement along with catch the ball. This will hopefully prevent over reaching in the defence and showing the other person huge gaps in your motions.

Shoulder roll against the right hand

Left hook counter against the right hand

This was off the shoulder roll motion – not looking but feeling at where it lands and keep it flowing over his arm. Knuckles in and connecting with the jaw line.

Left uppercut counter to the right hand.

When they start to defend the hook by having a tight chin to shoulder the uppercut catches them nicely as they are expecting the counter looping left hook.
Both need bigger movements to the left and head movement as this is where they will throw the punch with the right hand. The uppercut felt slightly more technical as there was a slight side step with the lead foot, use a cross tan sau to cover the right hand as your drive the left punch from where is sits after your left jab counter. Bing.

Both of the counters are something I am looking forward to exploring in sparring as well as finding solutions to them also. I do feel as if the motion and aliveness of sparring will make these techniques settle into natural options.

Slipping the right hand in an anticipatory motion to set up the left hook.
This needs lots of work as head and body movement is something I am happily struggling with more than my understanding of it. This is one of the reasons why I am loving the new evolution of the system. Small precise alterations and details from previous learning actually make a massive difference. I am getting better at making mistakes and not expecting to be smooth at the motions first, second or third time.

Standing grappling work:

Drilling counters to hands on shoulders and hips plus the Thai clinch. Counters were arm drags (Make sure the elbow lifts and the path of the arm drag is circular. This makes the motion more efficient), head and arm trap, Thai clinch defence, double wristlock.
Extra arm drag detail: clinch from the side or three quarters never the back, inner wrist bone of top hand against their ribs. I did this with Ayyaz and was not getting it right until we had this extra detail and I could feel the difference in tissue and bone with my wrist. Also his head and arm trap is a cougher so don’t get caught in it.

Resisting the arm drag with a shoulder manipulation.

He is pulling his arm back so think about moving yourself and not moving around him. Punch the hips to get a quick and friggin painful control of his upper arm. This will flatten his feet as the pressure on there is all your brain want to go with. In fact this was bloody horrible for me as in the direction of this type of pressure, my shoulder are tremendously weak and have a poor range of motion. Then reach around and get hold of whatever you can, keep the pressure on the arm and pull it away to keep the weight on his front leg and limit of movement potential, then you can reach for a better handle on him for control.

Friday 21 February 2014

MMA training videos

Here is the link to all the MMA footage I made when training with PROMAI MMA in Feltham, it is a martial arts playlist I have created on my YouTube channel.

There is a mega almost 7 hour compilation of all the videos

There is also lots of other videos ranging from stand up, clinch, grappling drills as well as free form sparring in all the ranges.

This is training not teaching footage.

Teaching of some specifics can be watched here:

Boxing home workouts

In the spirit of open mindedness and developing sound movement as well as having sounder hand, foot and eye co-ordination here are some workout videos from a boxing coach. I have started to integrate these into my own training at home and using them on days when I am not doing body weight training.

Workout 1: 25 minutes

Workout 2: 13 minutes

Workout 2 part 2: 6 minute conditioning blast

Workout 3: 16 minutes

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Slipping the right cross

This video talks about some of the concept Martin taught us last night; getting to the outside of the right cross to enable left hand body shots, coming under with the right hand or even driving in with Wing Chun punches as you have his centre.

Tyson talking about his training concepts

Tyson in action with a masterful clinic on head and body movement and loading this motion into his punches with a devastating effect.

Class notes: boxing basics

Tonight was the first time that I am starting to see something of a master plan in action. Martin is dropping in subtle details each week to build on those of the last week. He is also ensuring we get lots of time to deepen the learning experience in lessons. There is no rush to get through material and as I said new learning builds on previous learning. I am loving the quality over quantity approach. This is what a good teacher does. Not just regurgitates a syllabus or curriculum.

Footwork – bounce bounce.
Keeping the stance deep and flexed. The bounce bounce is much more horizontal than vertical or arching. I think it was about having a poised aliveness in the legs, ready to move and strike. This was a step on from last week as we were moving from a static position, this felt a lot more real. Especially combining this with the new protective shell

180 turns with backfist lead.
Use the rear arm to whip around to ensure full motion in rotation. This then evolved into a drill Footwork shadowing using 180 after partner encroaches into your space and range.

Getting off the rear hand powerline.

This was a most interesting footwork drill with lots f continuous movement. On leads the drill and it is their job to get the follower square on so that they have the chance to throw the right hand. I was working in this drill with Darren who have tight hands and constant motion; he has really good lateral motion so it was incredibly hard to get him square. This meant I had to be very active in my footwork to get the dominant position. When the roles were reversed it really started getting me thinking and observing the powerlines and where I need to be and not need to be.

Footwork against the southpaw:
This was about leg dominance and being outside their lead foot. When the jab comes in from the lefty you defend and attack with the same hand. Against orthodox you use the rear hand for the jab defence.

Again errors from us students was having the correct range. Martin keeps emphasizing the range for our jabs and what it isn’t. This is something we need to develop a better feel for: keeping the distance and the importance of the range and where it is and isn’t. It looks like a very subtle difference and one that most of us are at the moment too close with.

Footwork jab and counter jab
More practice working the range, footwork and jab.

Counter to right cross powerline –throw the shoulder forward.
As the left jab comes forward, do the usual small pak/head move counter, and this will start the motion for his right cross. To get off the powerline of this shot throw the right shoulder forward with some body rotation as this will then set up counter shots for you from a balanced and covered position. A mistake I was making was I was trying to go around the punch then in, I should have simply gone along the outside of the powerline. Have the confidence in the motion but make sure that the hands are protecting the shell and the chin is tucked.

Right hand pressure test, right cross roll defence.
To feel where the power is delivered to and from we did a little drill of pushing with the punch. The partner holds out a palm and we simply punch by pushing his palm. This will teach the correct lines of power as if you get it wrong you will come off balance. This drill taught me the correct feeling I need to have in my body for the right position and alignment for my right cross.

3 drill forward pressure (grip conditioning)
Slow pace but tight and purposeful motions. Controlling the centre and getting them moving with our attacks was the name of the game. We rotated through several partners, each time I had someone bigger and stronger than me so it was a real hard drill. I found though that taking the pace out it made having the centre an easier task despite the physical pressure.

Thai plum defence counter.
Keep the shoulder back!!!

Standing clinch against the wall reversal
Move the feet out and move him back against the wall. Simple body mechanics and motion.

HOMEWORK: keeping the shoulders back in all that we do.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Chin, punching and footwork refinement video analysis

I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about the refinements Martin has brought to the news system, particularly the tucking of the chin. It makes obvious sense the reasons for and I bet there are a million videos of people getting knocked out on YouTube. But I want to investigate it from a different perspective; that of what we are doing different and spotting this small difference in other martial arts. Tightly linked to the tucked chin observations is how other people/systems/styles throw their punches. As you will see, chins are not tucked and for me this presents a new target of opportunity to aim for in training as well as ensuring my own chin is tucked and I am protected behind my punches in my fighting shell.
I know that each of these arts have a different purpose and focus. I will avoid saying who is better or not, but I want to point out what is different about the system we train in.

Wing Chun Boxing – A case study of timing

This is an interesting clip as the man clearly has good hands and movement. That chin is just sitting there. In addition, the person ‘boxing’ and feeding the punches is always punching off target with his right cross!!

Tae Kwon Do world championships

Yes they are fast as crap of a shovel with their feet and are waiting to be KO’d by a foot or shin yet the chin is sitting pretty

Black belt level Karate sparring

Kung Fu ‘Masters’

Grainy but frighteningly amateur skills from supposed masters of martial arts. I know it was a different time but the chin is still woefully exposed and as for the striking…


I even think my own chin was too high in this clip from my MMA training.

MMA part 2:

In this one my footwork needs fixing, too much going back and not near enough off lining.

However I am looking forward to applying the new footwork, chin, protective shell and punching refinements to this new system. I do find this type of self-analysis through video an incredibly powerful learning tool, hopefully this is something we can begin to use in our classes.

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Class notes: shoulder rolls and the Thai clinch


Forward, backwards, off lining. Variation 1 is the step and pivot away from yourself. The second variation is the short side step, quarter turn and drive forward which to the eye look sideways. The point is that Martin is giving us evasive options instead of going backwards. We need to get comfortable at moving and being alive in the feet, never flat footed and plodding. So we did lots of drilling, drilling and drilling. We then looked at testing and finding the range and off lining.

The video below goes over very similar things to what Martin was talking about. What he does make reference to is where the punches are coming from. Martin talk about the 2 power lines and the four directions of evasive movement. This is something we will be delving into in the next few weeks but something worth thinking on when practicing at home.

Jab and counter jab, right cross and shoulder roll.

Trying to feel the right range and body mechanics for each of the punches. For me the range for the jab is

Some footage of the shoulder roll in pro boxing matches. Interestingly, the shell that Martin talks about is applied in this clip too. Tight, fluid and constant motion.

Here is a clip teaching this coach’s particular flavor of the shoulder roll. Again he has a tight and compact shell

Double wrist lock from hand on hip then from taking the back.
Again, more mechanics. Working with Paul and Trist I found that even a tight grip is ok from the attacker. I was being a little rough with Paul by not giving him any gaps. It was only when he used my grip as a lever did he start to have success. If you simply fight for grip dominance this give that holder much more time. As soon as my balance was messed with my grip became less effective.

Restraint from double wrist lock.

If the shoulder rotation is not working, swap hands – the arm you are holding of your own is the one that slides into his elbow crease and on to the back of the shoulder. The hand you were grabbing yourself with goes to the face. Turn the face for a painful and powerful restraint

Thai clinch plus defence

Martin ran through the mechanics of the Thai clinch.

Reach up for the head and do not lift up for it as this will compromise your base and balance. Hands high on the head, the crown, hand over hand, elbows into the top of the chest. If you do not have the hands high on the head it is very difficult to get the head to fold forward. In addition, by having a strong turtle neck can also negate his Thai clinch. I guess as always, constant motion is difficult to control. Being still is lovely in grappling as there is something to hold onto. Movement is a bitch to nullify. In this video pro fighter Yves Edwards discusses his own way to get it and a defence that is a slightly different from the one Martin showed – hands on his chin and extend your arms and drive him backwards.

We then looked at a counter to the straight arm defence which was to slip and look for the head and arm trap/control. The second method was to grab across (for example, your left to grab his left) and high on his elbow. As your lever him down make sure at least the wrist is on the back of his not your hand as this will afford him space to move. By using the forearm on the back of the head this creates much greater pressure and cranking on the neck

And to finish off, a compilation video of KOs from the thai clinch so show what a devastating position it can be and hence the importance of learning not to get caught in there.

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Class notes: peripheral vision

Footwork basics:
Get the distance between feet and stance length correct plus balancing. Good old fashioned drilling of the footwork. From observation my weight is too much over the front leg so I need to shift it back. The usual refinements in front of a mirror and camera need to be employed for this and the rest of the training from the night. I want to be able to do it all well, fluidly and naturally and this won’t come by writing and thinking about it. Last Sunday morning, whist watching UFC 169 I worked on visualization and repping the lessons from last week.

Off lining foot work:
Remember that going back in a straight line is a no no so this helps to create vital time and space. For me, the best way to interanalise this is little step, big step, pivot, side step. We did this for a few rounds in the air then against a moving partner. The key is pulling the far side hip back as this will cause the rest of the body to follow. Again my weight was too much over the front leg. Need to get the feeling of 60% on the back whilst being on the heels, tight defence, chin tucked, flexed knees, lifted yet relaxed shoulders. In addition, move off line and out of danger and don’t be too quick to square up afterwards.

Peripheral vision drill:
Foot, foot, elbow, elbow, chin. First facing your partner then being perpendicular. This led into applying the right cross as when it lands you are not looking at the target as you are protecting your chin from counter shots.

Jab and counter:
Building on the reps from last week and refining the motions. Tonight more subtle details were added – be cognisent of the range, don’t be step into that danger zone, tucked chin, make sure you move the head and hand half distance, not just one.

Pak scoop jab defence followed by a right cross:
Rear pak guides the punch along its powerline down and away just giving you enough space to counter with the right cross.
This was full of little details for me hence the following list. This will enable me to practice the mechanics of it much easier.
Twist and extend, not lean and over extend. The finishing position, if photographed, sees the body balanced, head tucked into the shoulder chin arm, eyes looking down as the chin is tucked.
At first this was very bizarre as I am so used, wrongly, to having eyes on the target. This is where the peripheral vision comes in, also feeling his arm under yours can only mean that his head is more than likely at the end of his arm. It was nice to be called on my errors and refine the mechanics tonight. Now I know what it should feel like I can get on. A shade over 20 years in martial arts and tonight I learned how to throw a correct right cross. Better late than never.

Shoulder roll against the right cross:
Pull the far side shoulder back as you lean into the turn away. This is one of the passive defence techniques and makes more sense than biting down and swinging for the fences no matter what is coming your way. I think it also encourages constant movement and something else Martin talked about was using the body in ways that it is is always looking for ways to attack and set up attacks.

Jab counter with movement and freedom:
On with the 4oz gloves and more aliveness was brought into the drill. It was so rewarding to put the gloves back on after 9 months of no contact. What was interesting working with Darren tonight was seeing the tightness of his defence and movement. Nothing exaggerated or wasted, good balance, precision of movement, never still, presenting very small if any targets, confidence in movement. It is these refinements that I am enjoying learning.

Give and take a shot drill:
This drill teaches defending big shots but borrowing the energy and direction of the attack and loading it into yours and attacking from it. No good is it being hit and giving no response as the end will come quickly. This drill teaches tight and precise mechanics, efficiency in defence and attack,
Left hook attack, head hug defence – left hook counter, then from the right hook. Left body shot – meet it – uppercut, then the same from the right hand. This was most intruiging as well because the defence to a body shot traditionally is to fold slightly from the hip to minimize the target area, the problem is that this leaves you with few attacking options and outs your in a more vulnerable position. Meet it and stay tight, you can then fire the uppercut as your counter.

Double wrist-lock against grab from the rear:
As last week.

High on the chest taking of the back:
Turn the hips out, step back and behind them with nearside leg. From here you can lift, takedown.

Bringing the class to a close Martin talked about there being no concrete definition of what the class is. The journey is individual to us all. Hence the new blog URL. It is still about growth and learning from mistakes but it is also about becoming that complete martial artist. For many years it was about fear: of being attacked, of fear itself, of violence, of not being to deal with a violent encounter, of pain.
To a massive degree, BJJ and MMA taught me a lot about my fears. I still have them as part of what makes me me and my motivations to train. But I also am enjoying the journey a lot more. No longer am I concerned with some imagined destination where I become a ninja with B-movie style superpowers leaving all in my wake. It is now about refining movement, physical chess, learning to use my body and skills efficiently, not collecting forms, techniques and books (which I did for far too many years). I guess it is about being a martial artist and not someone who does martial arts.