Sunday 30 March 2014

Another leg for the collection

Paul Harris at it again from the weekend just gone

Saturday 29 March 2014

Head shots only on the ground

Next we worked on head shots only, no submissions. My ears are still very hot 4 hours later. More importantly this is the first time I have grappled in anger since stopping MMA almost a year ago. The knee felt good, it feels good now so I am really looking forward to when Martin introduces the ground games to our learning.

Clinch to ground fighting

Craig was working the takedown from clinch, from there it was on!!

The magic bones that Martin talked about on Tuesday work as does the neck crank

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Standing neck crank

I have just looked at this bit with no sound so don't rely on my lip reading.

His use of the forearm looks really good in terms of what Martin was talking about as the key bones on the arm in grappling.

The neck crank he does later on in the video, not the set up but the actual crank position looks quite similar to the one we were doing last night. It looks like nothing but until you have felt those bones grinding across your face, well enjoy the thinking about future parts of training we are yet to wince from.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Class notes: standing neck crank plus give and take a shot

Firstly it was great to see more newer faces tonight and old ones. The class felt busier and had a real energetic buzz to it. I will also apologise to the newer members of the class for not blogging about what you guys did. Hopefully the stuff below will become relevant to you very soon and not seem that new as you have already ready about it...

The pummel: addition of detail from previous blog entries, when turning the shoulders for the underhook there is a slight pushing motion with the upper arm and shoulder. This subtle motion adds to moving the partner and affecting his balance. The rear arm is also activated so that the lat muscle is helping to secure his underhook and give it no space to move around.

Half Thai clinch: This was covered a few sessions ago but new details worth mentioning is that as he goes for his underhook you take the back of the head. You still have the underhook on the other side so clasping the shoulder and pivoting with help to to control him. I think we only looked at pivoting one way and that was towards half Thai clinch side.

Full Thai clinch: don't let go of the contact to get it. Steps of the ladder. Swim your underhook out to get full clinch.

Arm drag: Trace the arm back, punch the hips and no matter what his size grab around at the hip bone. Any further and he can look for the DWL.

DWL: Trace the arm back, rev the wrist and reach over his arm, maybe catching a naughty elbow on his nose on the way over...

This is what can happen to the elbow on the ground if you chose not to tap when in a deep DWL:

Standing neck crank and the magic bones. If he goes low with the Thai clinch or head control you can look for this which at first glance is a guillotine. In fact it is a bloody horrendous neck crank.
His head needs to be at your ribs just under the pec muscle and you want the hairline at the forehead to be on you. Slide your forearm along his jaw bone using the key bones of the arm, the 3-4 inches of ulnar and radius bone from the wrist crease, then go palm to palm. This driving of the forearm will cause the head to turn, as if he is looking across the front of your torso. As you push your hips forward pull the radius bone towards you causing both big pain in the jam but tremendous pressure on the neck.

This is a nice technique to use if you have gone for the choke and he has worked his head out. Even though we were not doing it hard, my neck is still not 'right' almost 3 hours later. If this was done in the heat of combat it really would mess up someone's neck for a long time.

3 Drill with a low and deep stance using any attacks that we remembered. I worked with Dave, Ayyaz and Trist. All felt very different in their feel and attacks. Ayyaz kept nailing me with the throat attack through the centre off the back fist. Trist kept getting deep chops in and Dave was most excellent at controlling my elbows. I found it hard to stay low and deep and my tendency was to raise up with the attacks which straightened the legs, plus it is more taxing on the legs to stay low.

Give and take a shot drill with 2 extra attacks and being balanced in all points of the punching phases.
As last week, left head hook, right head hook, left body shot, right body shot. Notes on these, specifically the body shots - keep the hands up when turning into them to prep the uppercut counter. Keep the hands up.
The extra 2 shots and counters were after the right body shot and he has countered with an uppercut, drop the right shoulder and attack with a left uppercut. He blocks (catching the ball left) and throws a right cross. You roll the shot and drop the left shoulder and attack with a right uppercut. He blocks with his right hand (catching) and attacks with a left hook to the head. You duck under and come up on the outside of his left arm.

Footwork - the 3 basic motions with punches and looking to get fluid and balanced in our motions. 1: Step out and pivot away. 2: step out turn the hips and move perpendicular, 3: retreating in a curve with feet that in my mind were making the noise da-da-da-da-da

Jab and counter jab drill. Range, range, range. Do not step into range and have a jab that lands with a bent arm and you in range for him to attack and not needing to step forward. Tonight the next phase of the jab was throwing with forward footwork but then getting back out of range when you bring the arm back to the protective shell. Don't stay there.

The catch them every time right hand. Jab, jab and regular right hand then every so often step out to the left and commit to what looks like a left hook. Circling under extend the right hand to land. Even though I knew what was coming, it vexed me every time. This was one of those one time only tricks so hopefully no one will read and remember this...

The slight edge and the percentage of messy and working. It is better to train well and with precision so that when we actually spar and fight it will be messy. However if we have trained the techniques well then when it gets messy we have a higher percentage of being successful than if we learn poorly. Poor learning will always equal poor execution.

Inside and outside gate pak sau against the jabs. An elusive boxing drill. I did not get a chance to do this other than in the air. The partner throw jabs and you stay alive with footwork. Martin analogised by saying his glove has dog shit on it and you do not want that glove to touch you. So using alive footwork and the inside and outside gate pak sau you can practise being out of the shitty glove range.

Saturday 22 March 2014

Why don't we ever see 'deadly' martial arts in competition?

Because they don't work and have not been tested.

In the above video a tai chi master does a self defense demo. My issue is not with what he is doing but what he 'attacker' is doing. I will be the first to out my hands up as I bought into this propaganda and thought I was learning a properly effective martial art. After learning lots of forms and some drills I realised that nothing was being tested against non-compliant training partners. The attacks of the training partner are quite unrealistic. His double leg attempt is playground level at best.

That is the beauty of methods like BJJ, MMA, Judo, wrestling etc as you find out very quickly what does and does not work. This will be the beauty of Martin's system when sparring becomes more embedded in our training. We will find our own unique and more importantly honest way of answering the problems and questions our partners ask of us. I know my default answer is clinch, takedown and work on the ground. I am looking forward to years of frustration on my feet so that one day I will be competent on my feet and in all ranges of physical chess.

Anyway, here is a compilation of striking in the early UFC events. Bloody brutal and not much technique = most big guys on the street?

A compilation of UFC and K-1 KOs. 8.11 Cro Cop at his jaw jangling best where precision and technique are the order of the day. Along with a healthy dose of athletic prowess. I used to use a mailing list in the 90's and had all the K-1 fights on VHS. Rarely was there a boring fight.

Finally, here is a wonderfully grainy clip of the King of the Streets in action. I still squeak with nostalgia when I see the foot stomp from the clinch in modern MMA.

Phantom KO?

This fight was also on the recent Bellator 112 show. At first the ko looks like it came from a body shot. The fighter's reaction to the body shot as you will see is most peculiar; straight and stiff arms. But watch and enjoy how he really got stunned.

Hands up

If you keep you hands down then bad things can happen. Frustratingly the Brazilian is not even tired. Sam Oropreza has much better hand discipline and made the other pay.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

The more busy you are the more chances you have to connect

At about 3.30 mins in he starts to talk about something Martin touched on last night; throwing more attacks than your partner. In this video we also see the coach light sparring and applying this concept. In addition the people he spars with provide their own feedback from the session.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Class notes: DWL, sparrring and the slightest edge

The pummel. Doing the roll and on occasion looking clasp your hands to get his hips close to yours. You can test his hip distance by simply hugging. Technically one overhook and one underhook. To get the hips away is a two part motions; hips down then back.
Pushing them from the legs into their void. It was during this drill you might find your hips sneaking towards his. Push from the back leg to where his base is weak and not backwards.

Arm drags from the pummel, to get the ¾ position, the DWL (double wrist lock) see the entry from last week. Additions and refinements are when you trace the arm and lead with the underhook there is no need to grab the tricep. It felt like the elbow is against their rib with your bicep up tight to their tricep. Then grab, pass the arm and take the back.

Punch the hips, punch the hips, punch the hips…. (as in the explosive movement and not foolishly and actually punching the hip)

If they resist the DWL, go with their energy and circle it. This feels very tough to explain because as I type I am throwing my head in the direction of the move. Kind of like looking back over your own head. Having this done to you is very disruptive as you think there is an exit only to find yourself in an equal or worse position.

For me, the big thing with the DWL is revving the wrist as part of the initial action. This apparently small motion seems to have a significant impact on the quality of your final technique.

Against an arm drag resister. For the sake of this explanation, my arm drag is taken with my right hand at his left wrist and I am aiming to get around the left hand side of his body for control. If I am trying to arm drag him by taking the inside of his arm he might not let me. In this situation we have linked hands on the same side. Climb to take steps up the ladder. When climbing the ladder there must be no gaps, no chances for him to feel an escape is on the cards. Maintaining press with my right hand, I pass his arm into my left hand and pull him down. The right arm comes under his left upper arm and hugs tight as if you are holding your own left shoulder. Release the wrist (keeping control with the right arm) and wrap his arm with your left by coming over your own arm. This looks like you are hugging his arm with two. Release your right arm and reach around for his far side hip. It does look and flow much smoother than my explanation.

Tristan's arm drags seem to be ok...

3 drill: 5 minutes to look for the arm drag. Then from the outside we looked at a head and arm control. Coming under his arm with what looks like a vertical uppercut, the hand snakes to the back of the head, push the head and lift the elbow causing a lovely head and arm restraint. Make sure the arm you have snaked under is still in control of your other hand.

Gloves on:
Jab and counter jab drill. Points to note were keeping the rear hand up when throwing the counter jab to protect the face. Secondly; head movement, head movement, head movement. Catch that ball.

Give an answer drill. Go to week 2 (64) for the detail in the drill. I labeled it give a shot take a shot in said blog post.

Sparring with Ayyaz: Hands only.
Trying to put the learning into practice: the protective shell, chin to chest, staying protected when attacking, foot work, head movement, range, rolling, discipline in the hands being where they should be.
Whilst I did not land many punches to Ayyaz’s lots I felt like defence was tighter, head movement was happening, trying to relax and let the hands flow. Really good learning experience and look forward to more as our time goes on.

Martin ended the class by talking about the concept of the slightest edge. Essentially make sound choices and good habits. Don’t just turn up and train once a week, but reflect on it, put some practice in at home. Small and almost insignificant habits will have big benefits in time. In my life I am trying to be much more disciplined with my diet. For near on 40 years I thought I could exercise and eat whatever I wanted. But the will be biological payback, nothing is for free. Hopefully I half of my life left, the best half, to have a higher and longer quality of life based on choices I am making now. Things like trying to cut out gluten and switch to brown rice and pasta, changing from your typical ‘man’ protein powder to a plant based one.

An old friend once told me something that stays with me to this day. He always tried really hard to get to training because he said if you miss it, yes you can go again next week but you can’t get that time back. The slightest edge.

Sunday 16 March 2014

Ground fighting tips

From a Jits perpective, looking forward to learning the CACC perpspective

Ground fighting tips:

Half bottom control (half guard):

Eddie Bravo
• the half guard should be mastered because whether you are a beginner or an advanced player you will find yourself on your back. Once there, trapping your opponent’s legs between your legs in a half guard is much easier than trapping their body in full guard (bottom control).
• When your opponent has you trapped in mount (top control) or side mount (side control), the half guard is only one step away. by hooking one of the opponent’s legs between your legs, you can retain control of the fight.
• From this position you can turn a neutral or weak position into an offensive one.
• Never look at half guard as your opponent is half passed your guard, look at it as you are half way to getting a sweep or taking your opponent’s back.
• Mastering the half guard allows you to be more aggressive in the mount (top control) and side mount (side control) because the fear of getting reversed and placed on your back is gone.

Top control (mount)
• If you guard is dangerous you’ll be more confident on top.
• Take time to work top control. It can be extremely frustrating at first because you are always getting rolled but once you have learned how to establish a good base, the subs will fall into place.
• Head and arm control provides the best balance in top control. If you do not have balance you do not have offense or defense.
• When your opponent rolls beneath you learn how to float on top of him to avoid getting pulled on your back.
• When utilizing downward punches from top control will open up numerous submission possibilities.

Saulo Ribeiro:
• Always close your elbows. An open elbow is a pathway for armbars, upper body control and poor posture.
• Always prevent the cross face control. If your opponent controls your head he controls the direction of your entire body.
• Never stay flat. A flat body is an immobile body.
• Use your hips and body pendulum to generate power. Your body is a much stronger weapon than your arms alone.
• Release your ego and always tap. Tapping prevents injury so you can train tomorrow.
• Never forcefully hold down your opponent. Use his movement to transition to submissions.
• Use strength where it is necessary.
• Learn what is needed for each submission whether it be leverage, angle or movement. Each type of submission has special mechanics.

Yin style training

Here are the links to the tai chi vids of the long form I practise

Section 1

Section 2

Section 3

Saturday 15 March 2014

No head shots in fight camp

A really quick and interesting insight into why he does not do head shots in training. Maybe he has a point? I have also read recently that Robbie Lawler has a similar training camp philosophy.

Boxing body shot only sparring

Craig and I put the gloves on this morning and went at it in between gymnastics lessons. Helping him get ready for his Amateur MMA bouts in April. In addition I fancied the contact. Not had heavy hands thrown my way for a year now.

With 12oz gloves

With 7oz gloves At about

At the mid 3 minute point he drops me with a lovely liver shot. We need to get hit so we know how out body will react.

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Yin and Yang

My own path through martial arts and wellness maintenance has taken me down many avenues. Currently I do several things to stay healthy and develop character. The first is and has always been martial arts since 1993 coupled with my interst in sports and fitness. 21 years on I still have a range of things I do that is right for me now.

This is the body weight training regime I follow. Presently I am am working my through his first class program which is his intermediate one, tomorrow I start week 7. I love body weight training as it is honest and great for self motivation as I can't ever rely on anyone else to maintain my health, only me. There are no short cuts and secrets as the women's' mags would have us believe. Only hard work and effort. Oh and it is free and I can use the kids climbing frame for my pull ups!!

Her style of power yoga is tough and bullshit free. 30 minutes of her YouTube videos will challenge most people

There is also the boxing workouts that I have posted on here which are great for cardio and having a focus if shadow fighting is not something you can easily spend time doing. He loves burpees so be prepared for some taxing work.

Perhaps the most yin aspect is I still do the tai chi form I learned many moons ago. Now I do it upon waking in the garden because it gets the body ready for the day and the movement is nice. I used to do lots of standing and sitting meditation but my preference has been moving meditation. I am going to put up some videos soon of me doing the form not because I am some kind of wizard but just to illustrate what it is. The style is called old Yang style and is said to pre date Yang style which is the most widely spread form of tai chi. It differs as it has several faster and jumping/leaping attacks. And I love it because it is my movement. Contrary to belief, no one owns movement, no one owns martial arts, so my form might look shite or different, but who cares?
Finally there is our style practise which generally includes me ponsing around in front of some reflective surface throwing slow punches to check my stance, structure, the chin to the shoulder, the weight, the extension, the rotation. I even try slow visualisation of the techniques and drills. I find this very mentally challenging.

I am really interested in what other people at the club do so be sure to add your comments to this. Indeed add your comments to any of the blog posts. It would be great to get some type of discussion going on any of the topics covered in class or even things outside of class, how people are getting on, what they enjoy, find tough etc. train hard, train safe.

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Class notes: arms drags and clinching

Once again a session jam packed with information, repetition of previous material and of course new steps on the ladder. In addition it is late in the day when I write this and some of the learning might merge in my words when in reality it was in a different drill.

Arm drags out of the pummel to get the back.

Arm drag to double wrist lock. A new detail I picked up tonight was the 90 degree angle of your arm against his. This means going longer on your forearm as if you do go tight to the wrist the your forearms might be more parallel leading to less control, pain and effectiveness.
Secondly for me was being square. Make sure when you have leaned back with the DWL you turn your hips towards him to complete the move. Turn inside him and not around him.

One hand in the half Thai clinch and one underhook. If your elbow gets caught on his shoulder, don't fight for the full Thai clinch. Pull him in tight with the shoulder control. From here you can turn him away by controlling the head to a lovely restraint which can lead to knee strikes to the face. This control also needs you to move the hips which will ultimately move your feet. It is like a mini version of the boxing footwork whereby we move off line by pivoting away.

Arm drags to get head and arm trap.


Head and arm resisting the arm drag. Same as last week in terms of detail.

Thai clinch defence counter - reach and cross the centre to take his arm above the elbow for the head and arm control. Again this was covered last week. The extra detail this week was the escape. Martin demo'd on Big Ron who is a big and powerful unit. The key to escape is to relax and circle away from his energy and stand with a straight spine. His energy can only go in one direction so do not fight it. Even when the tension (physically) is up, don't fight it. Use, it, go around, it, let to show you the direction. how to escape - relax, to stop him getting out you must pull him in and not away. Interestingly, these concepts were some of the core ones in Systema which I studied for several years.

Sensitivity drill - the reverse chain punch, using a receiving pak sau, high on the forearm and guide along the powerline just past the chin. Ultimately going to slips but we were just at the first stages of the drill tonight. 2 attacks from this drill.

1: Follow the punch by snaking your arm along the top of his, sort of clasp the upper arm as you step in and take his back from the 3/4

2: Double lap - leave a hand there, move it forward slightly to take the double lop. Grab at the wrist and the elbow, both are natural handles. Hand at the wrist is palm down, hand at the elbow is palm up. Martin talked about tips on when and how to hold/control the arm at the elbow. if the arm is high thumb is up and as the arm lowers the hand rotates. For example, the rear hand which passes the elbow in the head and arm trap, fingers are pointing up as this is the naturally strong position for the hand to be in. You could not perform this technique with the fingers down. Get the missus to throw some slow punches your way and you will see what I mean.

3. Elbow from the outside over the incoming arm

Gloves on:
Jab and jab counter drill. Be at the end of your punches so you are fully protected. remember about the six inches. Be at a safe range when he jabs to avoid eating it and his combinations that would follow.

Jab, counter is a jab and cross, you roll. 3D movement. Struggling to feel the correct motions. My mind knows what to do but somewhere the message to the body is getting jammed...
Jab, jab and left hook counter, he covers by tightly hugging the head and responds with a hook of his own.

Even though the punches we soft fisted, it reaffirms the need for a protective shell, good head movement and footwork and keeping that chin tucked into those shoulders.
Break up the timing to stop him getting used to a rhythm or pattern of movement. This will not keep your training partner sharp. I also think the good thing about the gloves os that punches are thrown to the face as we need to practise hitting!! It was nice to get in the head again after almost a year of no sparring. There is a certain aliveness and being in the moment when sparring. I have always found it to be the highest form of being in the now. Nothing literally does not matter and in not in your head. It is just you and him. More of that please!

Wednesday 5 March 2014

The pummel

Here are some vids around what we warmed up with last night; the pummel

The use of the feet is different to our way but the heavy weight through the body and legs is evident later on in the clip.

This pummel looks similar to ours and it is in this post as the finishing neck crank is delightful. Also, the takedown looks like something Martin mentioned before class last night - triangles and where the guy is weak. This grappler has a really good understanding and awareness of his opponent's balance and how to disrupt it. Not good for the pavement arena but good for the matted one.

Yet here is the problem of a weak Thai clinch:

The defence and escape looks sweet yet the initial clinch looks very poor. Now that Martin is teaching very technically is is starting to make me look at what and how people are doing with a much more focused eye. I find it reassuring that we are being taught well and it is forcing me to analyse my own movement when I am training at home. I have just finished some strength work (a series of super-sets focusing on pulling exercises)but in my rest periods I was working the 1-2-3-2 from last night. Trying to feel the weight, the chin to the shoulder, the feet, the turning of the hips, the angle and powerlines. I don't think before I have been to analytical. Perhaps it is an age thing...

Anyway, get pummeling with the missus.

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Billy Robinson

Some footage from the Snake Pit

For what it is worth my nan grew up in the same street as the Rileys and she told me how often she would see and hear visitors from USA, Germany and Japan in her little old Wigan street. She thought nothing of it living near some of the most famous wrestling teachers in the world!!

Class notes: Pummeling and torquing the shoulders

Tonight we essentially covered arm drags and the left hook. If only it was that simple. There was an incredible amount of detail and subtleties and I will undoubtedly make some glaring errors in recalling the learning from tonight. But that is one of my goals: to go back through this blog and make corrections. Don’t treat it as a type and forget tool but an on-going an organic document of our martial journey.


Started the session by getting both warmed up and re-familiarised with this drill from wrestling. Some tips were:
Keep the weight forward through the torso. It looked as if a drunk was walking forward, that kind of very heavy ponderous step. In reality you are on the balls of the feet, straight spine, hips away from theirs to avoid your partner clasping his hands. Slightly extend the arm to create space for your other hand to find the underhook.

From the pummel we looked at the following attack variations:

- Thai clinch
Taking control of the head out of the pummel plus the two restraint style manipulations – the one with the hand on the back of the head and the one where you lift the underhook and grab your own forearm. These two definitely need to be filmed. Both of these manipulations came out of taking the head in the clinch and it ending up against one of your shoulders and not in the centre. More time needs to be spent drilling these.

- Arm drags to get to the ¾ hug from the pummel

- Double wristlock, if they are low driving the elbow into their shoulder to continue the push down

Arm drags to get the head and arm trap

Two variations based off of his resistance or defence which is a push to the chin. Shoot the shoulder through. Pull him into your bicep. Key point for the head and arm are holding his head, do not let go when transitioning from his defence to passing the arm. Keep control of him, don’t let him go. Martin talked about being constrictor like. There is no rush if you have control of him, work for the right position and let it settle into place. Don’t try and dive in head first, shoot your load then he escapes. This is something that grappling in MMA taught me. When you have position take your time if you are controlling him. Let him fight you and in fighting against you he will give a gap or over extend giving you the chance for the finish. Grappling in BJJ and MMA also taught me about not panicing. If the move is not working don’t use more force. Transition to another rather than being fixed mindset about a move. For me being a smaller man I had to use position, technique and levers as I could not out strength someone. However I did enjoy outworking someone and being very tenacious. I also enjoyed putting myself in bad spots to work on defence and see how they attack. And I enjoyed learning to relax, move, breath and give him no space. I enjoyed tapping and then going right back at it.
Moving forward I am looking forward to trying my own go to move on the ground, people solving it and coming up with new ways to apply it. But also working around an on-going injury and developing a new and evolved skill set on the ground and integrating it all together. Especially the nastiness of catch. I will only respect you my training partners if you try to be nasty…

Left hook:
Mechanics of the action, weighting, direction of the power and the follow through.

Slow punching the hand with a two and then a three to further embed the mechanics of the punches.

Punching the numbers on the hands

1, 1-2, 1-2-3, 1-2-3-2 tight hands always protecting the head with the non punching hand.

You jab, he jabs back, you lean back but loaded and protected, then throw the right hand followed by the hook.

Time went way too quick tonight. Next session can’t come around quick enough. Lots to go and visualize, practice in a reflection and on camera. Gloves next week, woohoo. Not so long ago putting gloves on scared the shit out of me, now that once fear has become an opportunity for some physical chess, creativity and a chance to put the learning into practise.