Wednesday 30 April 2014

Class notes: Catch wrestling on your feet

Warmed up with the pummel; just rolling and looking for the different attacks out of this such as the DWL, arm drags, full and half Thai clinch.

Class was split again in two tonight; standing grappling and striking sparring (standing).

DWL defence against a big guy:

It is unlikely that sinking down and doing the palm to palm hip capture will work against Big Ron and others of a similar build we looked at the grip break. When they have the DWL the arm is isolated and disconnected from the body and thus much easier to manipulate. To even this out and take it back you need to integrate the whole body. Clasp the palms and get your hip behind your grip, you will need to step into him to get behind your hands. Now the hand and arms are in a more powerful and structurally string position. You are no longer fighting arm against arm. To break it, punch the hips through and turn. I started to lift but got corrected. Keeping the hands sort of central to you as you punch the hips will make it very hard for him to maintain his dominant position.

Defending the standing head and arm:

Briefly looked at this - fist to neck or speak on the telephone. This will jam your elbow into his neck or shoulder giving you space to breath. A cheeky attack from here is as you turn towards him you can hit your own elbow which will hit him in the head. CI like this as clearly it will not KO him but it will give him something to think about. I have found when your stuff is being messed with it is hard to ignore that, instead most people want to deal with that and then return to a dominant position.

Blossoming flower of oblivion:

This choke can be likened to a very deep bicep guilotene. It might just be the worst cranking choke out there. From the clinch grapple his head goes down and here is the chance for the choke. Punch the arm around the neck deeply. So that you are trying to get the bicep under his chin. We investigated having the forearm across the jaw bone and under the chin, both horrendously effective. For me the absolute key and unashamedly worth repeating is the initial motion to punch the arm around the neck to get deep on him. If I punch my right arm around the neck, my left hand braces against his left shoulder. The very fact that you have gone deep with the choking arm might by itself be enough. There is no space in there for the head so any motion has big effects. To get the right hand on to the left wrist you do not need to crab walk the hand to the wrist. Your right closed fist will blossom open and simply park at the wrist. If he has not tapped yet he soon will. The full completion of the movement is either: get the elbows close as your put all your weight on the back of the neck driving him to the ground to close off on the floor. the second, and more violent option is to suplex him...

Punching entry for head crank:

This is the neck crank Martin showed in the old class many years ago and has stuck with me and one I often think about. To set it up throw a left jab then left hook causing him to cover up, keep your left hand on his cover as you throw the right. Blocking with his left you elbow around his forearm to enter head lock range. If the punching was too complicated a set up, Martin did give us the opportunity to work from wrist control and forearm contact. To get the elbow in range for the headlock, use his forearm as the fulcrum and go around it, it looked like the elbow strike from the powerlines drill a few weeks ago. Arm that is closed to him slides under the chin and the hand goes to the top of his head, rear hand meets at the top of the head with a deep grip. The forearm will be grinding into the temple. To finish the crank lever the hands away and close the elbow together. This will cause the neck and jaw line to move along lines they were not designed to. And if any of the three standing neck crank/chokes we have done (grovit, thumb guillotene, blossoming flower of oblivion) does not work because he stands up out of them then they can stand into the neck crank just outlined.


Tonight we started to spar in incremental and developmental steps: `loose fists, learning pace, all about learning

1. Jabs to the body.
2. Jabs to the body whilst holding the right glove between your jaw and your neck. This was to enhance the feel for the shell. The glove should not fall off when you move, attack or defend. Clearly it did but it really focussed you on keeping that shell tight.
3. One attacks and one defends - defender can't move feet and only uses head, body movement and hands and covering to defend the shots coming to the head and body.
4. As above but now the defender can use movement and the left jab. Also his was to the head and body.

Bloody loved it. It was great to work the protective shell in real time. Jamie's first night sparring too so very proud of him. We chatted lots on the way home in the car and he really loved the sparring too. So looking forward to many more session like this.

Grip sparring:

I feel bad in retrospect when I analyse what I was doing. It was supposed to be grip sparring but I turned into clinch range and was using my head as an additional tool for control. So I apologise to Ron, Trist and Ayyaz for grinding my forehead into you. Tonight was not the night for that and if I messed up your learning time by doing something out of the drill or range I apologise. I guess I just got excited to be in clinching range. I did not listen to the full instructions and heard sparring and grip so went for what I wanted to get in terms of control instead of practising all the grips and controls. So lads I am sorry.

Some other points worth mentioning from Martin's teaching tonight was:

Brief insight into the scarf hold catch version from side control - grabbing your own thigh and cranking on the neck.
Catch wrestling is catching - they move and you catch them in their motion, no need to hunt for limbs as they will come your way. Controlling the pace - only you are in control of you o set your pace so that you can do all day. 80/20 rule - goes above your 80% of effort 20% of the time. Fight in different paces but fight smart, to work well you need to preserve you. Being gassed will have a dramatic effect on your ability to breath, think and act well.
Breathing - when it is getting tough exhale all of your air from the lungs through the mouth. Let the Co2 out and get good air back in.
Control the range - with bones as these do not move. For example in the half Thai clinch. Use your structure to dictate and control the range.
Uppercut detail - brief words about dipping the opposite shoulder to load the uppercut, use the whole body and not isolated arms. When Martin demo'ed it looked like small tight motions, as if the spine is rotating and the punches just happen to be part of the core rotation.
Uppercuts from the clinch - his head is on your shoulder then as you uppercut you will leave a space where you were and now where your punch can go.

Finally, being present. If there is a practise out there that puts you in the moment better than martial arts I would like to know. Nothing else matters, just the moment. Martin rightly said that a lot of what we fear is in the future and is essentially all in our minds. We can't control the future as it is not yet happening. The past has been and gone as we can't affect our past only learn from it. We can only act in the now. Sparring is all about the now. It is both an intensely physical and mental challenge.

Martin is away on a work gig next week so it is guest instructor time again.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Becoming a student of the game

Last night Martin talked about becoming students of the game. This weekend is an excellent chance to develop that part of our learning as Jon Jones is back in action. His use of range, timing and striking creativity are amazing. I believe in facing Teixeira he is facing a 'bomber' so it will be interesting to see his game plan.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Class notes: Grappling from the pummel

The class was split in two tonight; grappling from the pummel and looking deeper into the jab/pak drill.

Grappling from the pummel:
The techniques we looked at tonight can be labelled loosely for memories sake, and even now only a few hours later I am struggling to remember all the variations. I think this is because it for me was about flow and not individual moments.

The individual positions were from the Thai clinch:

Headlock take down, Chicken wing, Standing Kimura, Bail out and strike, Two hand to One shoulder control. There was a few more but 2 things stick in my mind, the corrections for the Thai clinch and the concept of flow.

For the Thai clinch we were reminded about weight distribution - have weight in the back leg so the front can start to knee. Heaviness - put your weight through the top of their head, let them carry you. Squeezing forearms - clamp down as being in the Thai clinch is murder.

No technique is worth fighting for. Don't stay and fight for a technique or a position, if it is not there or working, go to something else. Be fluid and keep moving but with control. Don't resist the resister. This was something me and Tristan had time to play with. Starting from the half Thai clinch, we would take it in turns to see what we could get, always going back to the Thai clinch if it was there. Being the one being moved around is quite alarming as you have not time to get set, you are always thinking about defending, about moving away from the pressure, the pain or escaping too. What was most refreshing about this part of the class was Martin's honesty. He said that what he was teaching was messy, few people teach messy as people like crisp, neat and tidy. But rarely to thing look neat and tidy in the chaos of combat. Messy in the visual sense not in the practical sense.

Here is a video that is a stylised version of what we were doing and i can see many of the positions we trained in this drill.

The final part of the grappling tonight was countering the double wrist lock. Change levels and secure a hip capture palm to palm grip


Footwork drilling on the lines to analyse forward and backward steps, weighting, feet and stance lengthen and shorten, skimming feet.

Jab and pak drill, never forget the basics and keep being mindful of them - how to throw every single punch, regardless if you are the feeder or the responder, training time is training time, force good habits on yourself.

A jabs, B jabs and right cross, A parry left, left jab right cross (DISTANCE AND TIMING)

As above but simultaneously pak down the right hand power line and attack with your right hand.

As above but use the left hook over the right hand. Do not look to watch it land, feel it in the elbow. Big 3-d rolling with the punch motion. This left hook os the nail in the coffin for much wing chun as the chin is simply not protected. Martin also talked about having the tightness of your shell to protect the brain from having the bell rung, chin to shoulder, chin to shoulder.

Sparring starts next week so we can begin to explore our movements, timing and all that. We can also loose our ego by finding our weaknesses

Final note - Z made an appearance whilst on a visit back to the UK from the Dirhams so always great to see familiar faces. A shout out to South African Dave, teacher Dave, Slippers, Black Panther, H and even Damo. Where for art thou?

Sunday 20 April 2014

7 life lessons

1. Don't just make peace with your past. Make purpose from your past. Don't just accept what has happened. Seize the opportunities that it has given you. Don't just let it go. Let it grow. Every day in your past has been specifically culminating toward your ability to make the current decisions, even if you don't yet know it or understand it.

2. What others think of you is none of your business. How others perceive you reflects their internal state, not your own. The size of your reputation is an illusion. Only the integrity of your character is real. Stay true to your values. When others attempt to influence you with their opinion, weigh all choices against your moral compass.

3. Time will heal almost all wounds. Give time, some time. Pain will subside. Scars make us who we are. They are the story of our lives written on our body. Be proud of your wrinkles and scars. They share who you are, and prove that you've challenged yourself to improve and grow. You can also help time with tender loving care; yes, you deserve to heal, no matter what choices caused the wounds.

4. No one person or thing is responsible for your happiness. Nothing can give it to you. Don't waste your time trying to find happiness outside in the world. Everything you desire outside will only lead to disappointment or dissatisfaction, once you possess or achieve it. There is no one and no way to become happy. Happiness is the way. Bring happiness to every problem, and you'll discover the potential; to every obstacle, and you'll discover the opportunity.

5. Don't compare your life path or process with others. If we all threw all of our problems in a big box, we'd immediately snatch our own back very quickly, once we discovered what path others must follow and the process life requires for them. Don't even compare your current self with a past version. This is the first time that you've been the current you. Compare your current choices against your values: which will decisions will bring you closer to your values? That's the only valuable comparison.

6. Don't think so much. Once you start acting, the solution will appear. Over analysis leads to paralysis. You don't know all the answers anyway. Often in life, the answer is that there is no answer and yet you must act anyway; giving us the chance to be courageous. Courageous action despite the unknown leads to confidence we are competently capable. Confidence that we can handle any challenge allows us to experience the mysterious support helping us if we are determined and persistent enough to act... which leads to faith that everything is happening for a specific purpose: a loving conspiracy to your growth and development.

7. Smile. As strange as it sounds when you're in a crisis, if you remember the points before this one, smile. Not all the world's problems are your own. What you can do, you must do, for awareness of an issue implies a responsibility to take action upon it. But the best energy you can bring to any choice is a relaxed smile. Often you won't feel happy about the current situation, and feel that you can't smile. You don't only smile because your happy, as it is a two way mecha

Wing Chun movies

Wing Chun from New York

A different perspective to us but interesting none the less

Why need need a sound jab

Last night in the UFC, Cerone v Barboza highlighted why we need to have a strong sound jab. It should not be underrated in terms of it's potential power

Friday 18 April 2014


Re-found the work of Geoff Thompson and watched / listened to his talk on certainty. Sounded really good and resonated with me and what I want to achieve in my own training.

Thursday 17 April 2014

Round kick clinic

Below are my notes from the Steve Morris DVD round kick clinic. These are the points that I have picked up and feel pertinent to my training as of this time. Of course as I delve more into this research these may alter.

Angles are critical as to how you deliver the power into the target so that they can't absorb the shot.

Angles are important to the delivery of power. Hit him into the ground and not just backwards. Deliver the shots into the muscle at an angle as if chopping a tree with an axe as opposed to striking a ball with a racquet.

Diagonal shot have more muscle alignment and usage rather than vertical shots which use less.

Body weight has to support the angle of the shot. Weight is posted over and through the supporting leg to allow the kicking leg to accelerate faster over a shorter distance meaning they have less chance of defending the attack.

The head is giving the direction of the attack. For example is throwing a high kick the head needs to go back over the hips to open them up. Body punches will have the head loading over the hips.

Engage the whole body in a dynamic way.

In terms of stance, when fighting orthodox v orthodox you need to be able to penetrate their stance for the takedown. I know that I am very tentative when stepping into their stance. I need to be more positive with this. Against a southpaw you need to get to the outside of their lead leg.

Don’t adjust the width of the stance to deliver the round kick. Your lead leg foot should be in line with their stance, squarer with the opponent.

Need to be multidimensional with your body. When throwing the round kick after a 1-2 you need to be moving back slightly not giving the hips forward motion as this will aid the opponent taking you down. To practise this concept using the punch bag as free standing with same side hand on the top and kick from this range. Use the tabata protocol with this technique to build endurance plus technique plus concept.

The reflexive jerk or pull back of the free part of the body will add extra power to attacks. The analogy of touching a hot stove causes a short but explosive reaction from the body. The arm does not flail in a large motion. This can be applied to punching and kicking. The pull in the round kick is in the waist of the kicking leg. Steve used the pattern on movement like the claw of a hammer in that the withdraw does nasty damage too.

The hands are used to aid the rotation of the spine in attacking, use the hands to balance takes the power of the attacks.

The voice needs to carry the intention of the action. Shorter for punches and longer for kicks as the amount of body use.


Russian conditioning

When I trained in a Russian martial art they were very big on breathing and developing breathing through exercises and a lot of the exercises we did were done very slowly, including long holds.

Here was the skeleton the conditioning I did when doing the Russian style:

Russian 4 core exercises (push up, squat, sit up, leg raise)

Push up variations and lengths/intensities/amounts – shoulder, triangle, wide, tricep, hi-lo, bear, dog wide, dog shoulder., POW stick insertion
Leg raises – writing the numbers , slow counts.
Sit ups – slow counts., insert a stick POW style
Squats – slow and fast, POW stick insertion
Core exercises - 25 pushups, 20, situps, 20 leg raises and 25 squats while rotating the breathing patterns mainly keeping it simple either exhaling on the way down and inhaling on the way up or vice versa, i these 2 breathing patterns to be both simple and powerful.
Things to try
- Try a 10 minute push up hold and see how far you get.
- Try holding any of the core exercise positions at the ending/ starting or halfway positions
- Try holding the squat position up against a wall
- Try holding a one armed push up or one legged squat
- Pyramids - You can use this protocol for the core exercises - starting from 1, you do 1 pushup then you change the breathing pattern and do 2 all the way up to 8, 10 or 12 and then you come back down. All the while you stay in pushup position do not drop to your knees.

example - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1

- Core exercise flow - This teaches you to have adaptability and relaxation throughout all ranges and levels (low, mid, high).
Firstly you do 5 pushups, then you have to get into the situp position somehow, with a roll or a turn, twist or movement. You then do 5 situps and now you have to do a movement that puts you in the leg raise position, now do 5 legs raises, and then finally make your way into a squat position and do 5 squats. Repeat as desired. In this exercise really try and use your imagination and creativity to find new and interesting movements.

- 4 hold - Hold each one of the core exercises for 5 mins.

- Slow progression - do a slow pushup lasting one minute then do a 1 minute situp, leg raise and squat, then do a 30 second pushup, situp, leg raise and squat and then finally go onto a 15 second P-U, S-U, L-R and SQUAT
Walking and running

Walking and breathing - starting off with my arms held in the air, with 2 steps inhaling and then 2 steps exhaling, then skipped along to 5 , 7, 9, 12, 15, 17, 19 , up to 20 steps then i held my arms in front of me and then went back down to 18, 16, 14 etc.

Rolling progression for softness - here is a rolling progression with sticks and other variations:

- rolling over and on a stick on the floor from kneeling
- same with eyes closed
- from standing
- added more stick 8 + and rolled from kneeling
- with eyes closed
- faster
- from standing
- from standing eyes closed
Rolling is a fundamental skill. Its uses are infinite and it is a highly practical, usable skill. There are many dimensions to a good roll,
which include:

- Proper balance of tension and relaxation
- Awareness throughout the entire movement
- Correct breathing and form

KO whilst moving backwards

So last night on the new series of TUF (Penn v Edgar) there is a heavyweight fight a one of the dudes gets KO's whilst moving forward. The other, as you will see has excellent timing, footwork (distance control) and body rotation.

This was something that Martin first talked about when the class started; delivering a KO hook punch whilst moving backwards, unless my memory deceives me...


Wednesday 16 April 2014

Kron Gracie training

Not only does he have a Dad who is arguably one of the greatest grapplers ever, he is pretty slick himself. The main part of the video that I like is when he and a friend are on their skateboards whilst training!! That starts at the 1:50 mark


Tuesday 15 April 2014

Class notes: (guest instructor Andy Cross)

As Martin was away he arranged for his training partner to come and take the class. The class has more of a street feel to it and Andy's approach is a little more gritty than Martin's. He talked candidly about his own real life experiences and was thus teaching from practical experience. We did learn a sequence of techniques that followed an incremental progression but the main theme of the night was angles, leverage and structure. This was something that Andy was most insistent about us taking away from the lesson and looking to apply in future learning.

As I reflect back on the class there was also the idea of being in the best position at all times to ensure you are safe in the environment you are working in. Being aware of the threat and any other potential threats from the environment, from his friends. Be aware of the distance and range and aim to control that.

We started with our jab and counter jab drill and then using the pivot footwork to create the angle for the right cross and thus being off his power lines.

Next we looked at attacking his lead foot by stepping on it when he attacks with the jab. Thankfully I can moan on here about my sore toes from the session tonight as we did a lot of this initial attack. Thankfully because I am not Ayyaz who was politely tortured all night long as the crash test dummy for Andy.

From this the foot step we added a range of attacks depending on their range. As I have said before, in essence it did not matter what techniques we learned tonight, it was about what angles and leverage did we use.

- foot step - grab the jab and left hand to the back of the head, step up and in balance and stomp kick to his knee, sweep with the heel, control his fall and land with knees. Nice straight spine so the knees land heavy and you are in a safe structure position.

- Miss the foot and go deep and using the left to go high to protect you from his right, adding the knee to get him folding his structure.

- 'Come on then' posture: Crash in to control his left with your right, your left smashes into his collar bone taking the single Thai grip, sweep the foot then continue with knee stomps and takedowns. To get the sweep correct they must be on the back foot first then you lengthen and shorten your stride. By doing this you are dragging his base long to put you in a better position as his structure is now very weak.

- Headlock defence: strong positive spine posture, reach around and grab his shoulder and use this as a lever. Pull him around and not back on the shoulder. Your shoulder will also act as a brace point to pressure his shoulder. Turn towards him hip to hip (perpendicular) and affect his structure with a scissor action (forehead and base of his spine). From here we looked at several options to get the job done - elbows to the chest, neck crank and nasty fook sau guillotine. The new detail on the guillotine was using the thumb bone - folding to base knuckle - sitting flat on the hand and lifting into the centre if his throat. This was very painful and very fast yet it feels like nothing when you are doing it. The difference between a tight one and one you believe you can escape from is the elbow. The thumb arm is the same shape as a fook sau. Your elbow is against your torso and this small distance automatically gives you range to prevent him from taking the hips. When Trist had the thumb up it was horrible but when he had it all in the fook sau shape it was horrendous and I was tapping instantly.

In closing it was great of Andy to give his time to us tonight and show us his perspective on the martial arts. There was a real buzz in the class and a good turn out too. A huge thanks to Ayyaz for being a most excellent demo dude cos we were glad it was not us.

Saturday 5 April 2014

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Class notes: DWL, arm drags and jabs

3 drill and range. Initially we quickly looked at the chin position and where it should be. Depending on the range is important and range was the general theme for all aspects of training tonight.
Using the feet to keep the range. Ayyaz is very good at getting the hit through the centre and Martin showed how using the feet will keep you out of range of this strike. Of course you need the presence of mind to feel the energy from the attack as well.
Pressure from the back fist and deciding where the pressure is; throw the hands down and use the hook with the holding hand. We then considered how to use inside or outside gate lap against the pressure being given.
Using the backfist as a way to get deep to look for some head and arm control. this was the first time that I had seen the 3 drill in context and application. So often you will find yourself fighting for hand positions in the clinch and grappling so now it is time to look for those opportunities to apply this learning.

Hand on hip - DWL
Hand on same side shoulder - arm drag
Hand on opposite shoulder - head and arm
Thai clinch defence - head pull and shoulder butt to break their grip. 3 attacks from this grip break - head and arm choke, DWL, arm hug to DWL

Ground fighting - the head and arm using the forearm bones attacking the defensive turtle.

Range for the jab: Step in to deep and you will get Dugan'd

Jab and counter jab drill
Just out of range and in range jabs to get you used to feeling the difference in a few centimetres.
Out of range punches against the counter puncher. Martin gave a quick demo showing how that punches that land just out of range still need to moved against as you can't predict if the next one or combo is going to land. This keeps you moving and not mentally or physically getting a chance to settle into your own rhythm.

Jab x 3 they respond with jab and cross, this gives a chance to practise getting behind the wall with your roll. On your third jab use a pak sau to draw the punch (their right cross) in along the power line, then chop and follow up immediately with the right cross

Jab x3 then right hand but moving away from the right hand so that when he has to throw it he is punching across himself. I always used to think that fighters were doing this to get away from the power punch. Now I know that this is setting them up for your attacks. When he throws the right across himself you can simultaneous slip left parry and uppercut. You are then in range to blast with you punches.

3 drill visualisation
Shoulders back in the sockets in all you do
5 mins footwork a day