Sunday, 30 September 2007

Defence and counter attack timing

Imagine your opponent is standing, facing you in a right lead stance (southpaw) and he is about to go for a roundhouse kick with the back leg. Firstly he would probably make some kind of movement with his arms (either slightly raise his left arm, or just drop his front arm). Next, maybe a slight pivot with the front foot, or moving it slightly forward, then his knees would bend as he lifts his back leg of the ground, whilst still moving his arms in a direction natural to him to generate momentum. Finally his kicking surface, (shin, instep) would be swung into his choice of target (probably thigh, midsection or face). Now all of this would happen in about 1 second and most beginners would start there defence or counter attack when they see the leg swinging in towards them. The best timing to start your defence or counter is WHEN YOU SEE THE INITIAL MOVEMENT. In this case it would be as soon as you see his hands move, or if not then, then no later when his front foot moves. This is the work of the advanced fighter, and if you decide to counter (maybe a stop hit jab to the face which is quick) you most likely should always hit with it, as the last thing on most opponents minds when attacking is to be aware of there defence. To create this kind of quick reacting takes a lot of practice through sparring and a lot of understanding of your opponents initial movements before attacking, but it can be your most greatest ability when fighting!


Friday, 28 September 2007

Bob and Weaving while Freestyle Fighting

If there is anyone out there who doesn't know what the bob and weave is, just look up old Mike Tyson fights on Youtube and you will soon find out. A master of the bob, weave and slip, Tyson would make his opponents look like amateur's when they got frustrated trying to hit him. But when I watch MMA fights i rarely see this important boxing defence. Theres a simple reason for this. In a boxing fight, only hand blows from the midsection up are permitted. Theres no low blows, kicks, knees or grappling. For instance if knees were allowed, every time a fighter tried to bob and weave, im sure the next thing his opponent would do, would be to slightly lift his knee to strike the face area, which would probably cause a lot of damage. This MAY be why you rarely see the bob and weave in Mauy Thai fights. Please dont get me wrong. It is worth mastering as there is never anything that can not be pulled off in a fight (as long as it is in the rules), BUT be cautious. In a MMA fight if your opponent sees you bobbing and weaving a lot, he may take advantage and start his knee strikes!!!


Thursday, 27 September 2007

Martial artists handstand press ups

The handstand press up is one of the best strength builders a martial artist can use. When performed for a period of time, greater power can be noticed when punching, clinching and ground fighting, and will also help in creating stronger choke holds. When doing these it is always best to do them against a wall, even if your a world class gymnast because YOUR SHOULDERS WILL BURN! Facing a wall place your hands about a foot and a half away and push with your feet so you end up in a handstand position, with your feet braced against the wall (This is the hardest part of the exercise as beginners find it mentally challenging sometimes to do this). Lower your body towards the floor and when your head touches, press your self back up to the starting position. Always do four sets of as many reps as you can to achieve the maximum results. As you progress you should be able to do more and more. Advanced variations are to press on your knuckles, or even fingers, to push your hands slightly of the floor with each rep or to arch your back so that you lower your chest to the floor instead of your head.(The advanced variations are tough and should only be practised by people who have experience doing these).


Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Neoprene heat belt

For people wanting to lose weight or fighters who need to cut weight for an upcoming fight, there is only one way to do it. Burn more calories during the day than your body takes in. Through exercise, diet or a mixture of both, THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO DO IT!!! A good tool that's helps though is the neoprene heat belt. Being relatively cheap they are excellent in sweating out excess water around the stomach area. Also if looks are what you're after they will help reveal the six pack of muscle faster than if you didn't have it. It can be worn at anytime during the day, as all it does is build heat around the stomach forcing sweating. When exercising you should feel warmth and a break of sweat within a couple of minutes of use. Like i said, there cheap costing no more than £10 and can be found at most fitness websites. Try them!


Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Self defence breakfalling

This is just a quick comment on break falling. Last week when training nage komi (full throw repetitions) my partner was on the receiving end of a harai goshi. As he broke the fall by slapping his LEFT hand on the mat, he gave no thought at all to his head. As a result his head hit the floor pretty hard and although it was a matted surface, he still was slightly dizzy from the fall. Two little pointers regarding head guarding,

  1. Always keep your chin tucked in, mouth shut and tongue pressed against your top jaw.
  2. Use your non break falling hand to cover the side of your head so if you does lose control of your head it will be your hand that you hit rather than the floor.


Friday, 21 September 2007

Street fighting and MMA style fighting

Over the last few years we have seen UFC, Pride and others bring out the most advanced fighters the world has ever seen. They are able to punch, kick, grapple, ground fight and submit. Also the level of fitness they attain for each fight makes them some of most well conditioned athletes alive. Does this mean that they are also great street fighters? Firstly let me point out that when i say MMA fighter for this topic i am referring to MMA sport fighters who train under rules and regulations. And this is just what i mean. RULES AND REGULATIONS. In a street fight there is no ref, so no one will stop you gouging eyes and pulling inside of cheeks (fish hooking) if there are weapons around (sticks, bottles, walls to be thrown into) you wont get disqualified by using them to your advantage, and most importantly IN TODAY'S DAY AND AGE YOU DON'T FIGHT JUST ONE PERSON. This is the most important point. If your rolling around on the floor looking for a submission or clinched up trying to deliver knees and elbows his/her friend will probably creep behind you and do all sorts of damage. You have to be able to finish one guy off quickly so you can either worry about the next or run like hell! Now don't get me wrong, i love watching and training MMA and a lot of techniques they use are very practical and useful, but you must realise that street fighting is a completely different thing. Theres loads of good books that give more information on this and the best techniques to use and avoid in a street fight so i wont bore you with them. All I'm saying is sometimes when training, think what would be the best strategy if your were out on the streets with no RULES!!!


Thursday, 20 September 2007

Judo and Karate Ashi barai timing

The foot sweep (called ashi barai in Karate and Judo) can be extremely effective. It can be used to distract your opponent while attacking in combination and sometimes can be used to take down opponents. There is one other way that it can be used to not only 99.99% of the time take down your opponent but also make him/her think twice about moving in to you, and if they cant move in to you, they cant hurt you. Your opponent will move in by moving his feet towards you, sliding, stepping or any other way. As they move in, there front foot will momentarily be off the ground and for that moment there balance is unstable. If you can sweep that front foot just before it lands back on the floor, whilst also being cautious of any oncoming attack, there is a high chance they will fall, and if they don't fall they will certainly lose there balance for you to carry on attacking. Psychologically it will also make them think twice about closing the gap. It requires a lot of practice and drilling but is very effective, and can be used by any martial artist.


Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Shin toughening

Shin toughening is a must for all Mauy Thai fighters and should be included by every fighter in my opinion. A strong kick to the shin especially with shoes can end a fight. There are many methods in conditioning shins, some people roll glass bottles and metal pipes over them while others tap them with rolling pins. Personally i dip a cloth in water, ring it dry, roll it up into a ball then hit my shins about 500 times each leg. I do this about three times a week and along with shin kicks on the heavy bag, i feel my shins getting stronger and stronger. Does anyone have any tips they care to share?


Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Evasion and reaction training

If you look at old Muhammad Ali fights one thing you will notice is that his reaction and evasion to punches is probably the best ever witnessed in the ring. Being lightning fast I'm sure his opponents would get frustrated not been able to hit him. Reaction and evasion technique is something that every fighter MUST have. I have developed a way of training this which requires nothing more than a sheet of paper. Its called the paper drop drill. Starting from a normal standing position, hold the sheet of paper as high as you can then let it drop, then quickly assume your natural fighting stance as the paper drops down above your head. Being so light in weight the paper will sway from side to side through the air, and the objective is to use movement, side stepping, bobbing, weaving and slipping, to not let the paper touch any part of your body. When the paper drops to about chest level, flick it up again and let it drop. Also, when flicked back up, you may push it away from you, so move closer to it and keep alert not allowing it to touch you. You must always stay within a foot of the paper. When it drops on the floor (and it will) pick it up and start again. After a few weeks of this your footwork will improve, your stamina will increase and your reactions and evasions will fly through the roof. Its very frustrating at the start because the paper will constantly swing into you, but keep working it. A video of this shall be posted soon!


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Sunday, 16 September 2007

Roundhouse kick striking areas

The roundhouse kick is used in many martial arts and is probably one of the most used kick there is. Its quick and can be very powerful. Another reason why it is used a lot is because there are different surfaces on the leg that can be used for striking. Thai boxers tend to use the shin for striking, as it can do the most damage. A shin kick to the thigh is like having a baseball bat wrapped around you. In other martial arts the top part of the instep is used. Its not as powerful as the shin but there is less chance of your opponent grabbing your leg as with the shin, and can be used in a jab like fashion. Personally i like using the shin when kicking to the legs and upper area, but i think when kicking to the midsection, the ball of foot is the most effective. Its a very awkward kick to defend as its small point of contact can thrust through peoples guard delivering a different kind of pain. To understand what i mean try tapping your ribs with your fist, then with just one knuckle. Do you feel the difference? Any views?


Friday, 14 September 2007

Forearm strength grippers

Having strong forearms are crucial for martial artists as they aid in blocking, punching power and grip strength. One of the best devices which can be used to build forearms are hand held grippers which are cheap to buy, easy to use and portable. Taking them anywhere you want constantly grip the device, hold for 3 seconds or so, then release. This can be done all day if wanted. Also short bursts for a minute or so, where you grip and release as many times you can. The burn and pump you get is painful but worth it, as your grip when grappling will improve, your punching wrist will become solid and blocks will smash against your opponents arms and legs like baseball bats! so start gripping!!!!


Home workout Part 1

Part 1 gives a workout dedicated to cardiovascular, strength and flexibility increase. This circuit has been tried, tested and used for many years by myself. Although it gives greatest benefits to martial artists, it can be performed by anyone to increase all the above. It can be performed anywhere as all that's needed is about 3 meters of room. Perform each exercise for 1 minute and gradually increase to a maximum of 3 minutes over a period of weeks. If 3 minutes is too easy, then the aim should be to increase intensity by performing more repetitions each exercise. Perform the circuit at least three times (3 sets) working up to as many times as you can. Have some water handy and takes gulps after each set. Don't over strain yourself for the first week as it could result in injury.

Below are the exercises,
Jumping jacks - Starting from a natural stance, feet shoulder width apart, with hands by your side, jump and open your feet double shoulder width apart and bringing your hands high above your head in a circular motion, then jump back to the starting stance. (that's 1 rep).

- Lying on the floor, knees bent, fingers touching the side of your head, CURL you chest to your knees then back down (that's 1 rep).

Running on the spot
- Making sure that your knees are brought as high as possible and your arms are moving simultaneously with the legs.

High front kick
- Starting with your right leg forward and left leg behind, swing you back(left) leg straight up in front as high as you can, keeping it straight always then let it swing back to the starting position.

High front Kick
- Same except you start with the left leg in front and swing with the right.

Knee jumps
- Standing straight jump up bringing both knees to the chest. (For added intensity keep your hands locked behind your head).

Press ups
- Starting on your hands and toes, with your back straight, arms not locked out but very nearly. Bringing your chest down to the floor then back up (can be done on your knees if your to tired).

Click Here for Part 2!
Click here for Part 3


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Thursday, 13 September 2007

Defending the takedown (for strikers)

When sparring its not always going be a case of exchanging strikes. Sometimes an opponent may try to take you down to the floor, especially if he feels dominated. A few suggestions to stop this from happening are, UNDERHOOKS - If you and your opponent are holding on to each other, always make sure that your arms are under his/her armpits. These should give you best control over the situation. HIPS LOW - By keeping your hips lower than your opponents it will be impossible to get thrown and by dropping your hips and pulling him/her down hard you will disrupt there balance and could pull off a throw of your own. SPRAWL - When your opponent dives in for your legs in a rugby tackle type attack, kick your legs back, and drop your chest onto his upperback area. You will both end up on the floor but lying on his back, it should be YOU in the dominating position. STOP HITTING - As soon as you see your opponent getting close to you, fire out a technique which tells him BACK OFF. Jabs are good for this as they are fast and there's less of a chance of being caught off guard with it.


Wednesday, 12 September 2007


Skipping is one of the vital training methods a fighter can undertake and a great way to get into shape. If your new to it it will take you a short while to become efficient enough to turn it into an excellent workout, and to begin with i recommend keeping your feet jumping simultaneously and try not to kick your heels back when doing so. Also learn to keep on the balls of your feet. By doing this, if your a martial artist or boxer you'll be working your footwork the best way possible and it WILL start to show soon enough. If your pretty good with the rope but are getting bored of the same routine then try adding certain things. Hopping on one leg, crossing your feet backwards and forwards, lifting your knees alternately touching your chest, moving up and down and side to side in the room(if your have the space) and other adventurous ideas. I like skipping in rounds, starting from 1:30 secs sometimes going up to 5min and try to do as many rounds as i can. After a couple you feel like your shoulders are carrying 200kg's on them. I always finish with painful double skips where i jump up and revolve the rope twice round my body. I think this can be seen on any Rocky film! In my opinion leather ropes with wooden handles connected to ball bearing swivels are the most durable ropes. There cheap and can be found on most fitness and martial art equipment websites.


Close quarter strikes (for grapplers)

Most grapplers tend to think that because nearly all fights end up at grappling range, that they don't need to know anything else regarding self defence. In judo, jiu jitsu and other grappling tournaments strikes are not allowed so they rarely discuss never mind train them. Although they may win countless grappling tournaments the harsh reality is that unless you know a few good strikes your making life much harder if you every get into a confrontation where you have to defend yourself outside of the dojo or competition mat. Below are a few easy effective strikes that can be mastered by anyone.

KNEE KICK - The knee kick is a very powerful and easy technique to perform. Once bent the knee becomes solid. As your knees are low, it makes sense to strike low areas including groin, thighs and opponents knees.

ELBOWS - Like the knee, when the arm is fully bent the elbow becomes solid, almost like a large knuckle and can be very effective by swinging, thrusting and dropping. as the elbows are high the targets should be kept high (face, temple etc).

HEAD - The head is devesting if executed correct but can be also just as dangerous if not. The correct part to strike with is the top part of the forehead about an inch and a half above the eyebrow, and the target is on the nose!

SHOULDER - If close enough the shoulder can be used to stirke the opponents chin in a thrusting motion. Its something that is least suspected, thats why it works great!

Once in grappling range and executed these techniques are excellent for setting up throws and takedowns and even standing joint locks and chokes. Being quiet dangerous though please use caution when practicing them.


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Tuesday, 11 September 2007

On the Ground (for strikers)

Since I'm familiar with striking and grappling its interesting to see strikers when they hit the floor, struggle. A lot of them don't know what there doing as they haven't practiced groundwork and do whatever they can just to stand up and start striking again wasting valuable energy in the process. Ive come up with a few suggestions below. let me know what you think.

  • Don't panic - yes you're on the floor but so is you're opponent.Be relaxed but ready to react
  • Its not just grappling - don't automatically think that because there's a lot of grabbing and pushing that you cant strike. Bear it in mind to strike but start off with control, especially if your partner is new to ground fighting.
  • Keep your hand up and elbows close to your rib cage - this will protect your face and torso, and make it harder for your opponent to try and arm lock.
  • As soon as you see a chance to stand up, DO IT - if you feel that you can fight well on the ground, don't think that it is the best place to be. You should always keep in your mind that standing fighting is always safer and much more practical.


Raw speed

One of the most effective weapons a fighter can have is raw, hard earned speed. There's different types of speed including muscle speed in movement, eye speed in seeing something happen and reaction speed in reacting to seeing something happen.When it comes to eye speed and reaction speed, although there are lots of ways of improving these with certain exercises (and there are many good books today to help with this) the best way to improve this is by lots of sparring but fully concentrating every time when you spar. Gradually over time you WILL improve and as you open the fridge door, you'll instinctively be putting your hand out to catch the butter that was foolishly left balancing on the side! To work muscle speed, again sparring helps but solo drills are better as you can work fully without getting popped everytime you let your hands down for a second. A drill i like is called the red line drill which i picked up in Chuck Norris's competition karate book. You basically perform a technique or combination faster than you thought was your fastest. Its a real eyeopener when you realise you're moving with speed you didn't know was there.


Monday, 10 September 2007

Heavy bag tips (for beginners)

When using the heavy bag, you will always see amateurs walloping the bag carelessly. Each strike is telegraphed as they think there adding more power this way, and they get tired before the professional has even put his mitts on! If your new to the bag or are just looking for a few pointers then try some of these, 1. Warm up PROPERLY including wrists, fingers and knuckles. 2. Always start with repeating basic strikes and kicks softly in repetitions of 10-20 (remember to work right and left side evenly), as this will further warm up the muscles and striking tools. 3. Perform basic combinations (no more than 4 techniques) keeping in mind proper distance as punching and kicking distance are different. Repetitions can be used but for a more challenging workout use time periods gradually increasing them as you become more proficient. 4. Concentrate on just arm techniques or just leg techniques and throw them in a free environment. The main emphasise should not be power at the beginning, but timing and distance (as the bag will be moving around, you will have to constantly moving around also.) This is great for stamina 5. All out power techniques in which everything will be probably very sloppy but you should focus on striking as hard as possible. Its best to use time periods for this( eg 30 secs) and always finish with slow basic repeated strikes in air to acquire the form back that would have been lost. 6. Always have a bottle of water handy and keep sipping on it occasionaly!


Where your eyes should be looking when sparring

Ive heard time and time again of many people that when there sparring, they are constantly looking at there opponents eyes. When they attack, defend, counter and everything else, they always look in there opponents eyes. I decided to try this once as normally i gaze at the chest area, as it seems natural to me. After two minutes of looking at my opponents eyes i noticed that i was getting beaten all over the place. From the hands down i was blind and it wasn't long till i was looking naturally at the chest area again. Any views on this?