Monday, 31 December 2007

Training through Strain

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about training through illness (colds and flues) and how some people prefer light training in order to help “sweat” it out and others prefer to rest until they feel better. (click here to view the article) Now I would like to discuss training through strain. By this I refer to strains picked up while lifting heavy weights. When a strain is detected whilst training, it is usually accompanied by a short sharp pain in the area being injured. Usually though, major pain in the area is not felt until many hours later or possibly until the next day. This is the most deceiving thing about picking up strains. Since the pain is felt later, most people carry on training through the injury, thinking that there body is fine and that they are able to continue, and possibly making the injury worse. The best thing to do if you feel this sharp bolt of pain is STOP! Don’t carry on lifting weights. Personally I prefer to perform light stretches, working all the muscles so as to ease the pain as much as possible, but others may wish to not do anything, leave the gym, and go rest at home for a few days. Also some people take painkillers to help block the pain for the next few days. I don’t, for the simple reason that taking painkillers doesn’t heal the injury, but merely dulls some of the pain, allowing the thought that the injury is healed. As it is not though, you may actually enhance the strain by moving around normally.

Rest is the key. Eat good wholesome foods, and drink plenty of water, to provide your body with nutrients and vitamins to help fight the strain, and you should be fighting fit in no time.

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Friday, 28 December 2007

How I Improve my Stamina

I have, through my years of training, learnt many things about myself. Speaking specifically about myself, I know how to boost my strength, speed, stamina, flexibility and other attributes which make a fighter. For others, what I do may not work but for me it does. When it comes to stamina I have found that it takes a mere two minutes to improve it.

The two minutes which I am referring to however takes place at the end of a solid workout, so if you thought after reading this article preview that it sounded too good to be true, Im afraid you were right. After a solid workout, be it weight training, steady jogging, sparring, kata work, groundwork or whatever else, I have found that two minutes of high intensity cardio (running, swimming etc) has boosted my stamina to greater levels. I must stress that this has worked for ME, for others they may need to find other methods to boost there stamina, but for me, this has helped greatly. The high intensity cardio should be at least 85% of your maximum output.

Try it for yourselves for a couple of weeks, if it doesn’t work then you haven’t lost anything but if it does, you’ve gained something.

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Friday, 21 December 2007

The Ultimate Kick Workout

The following is a workout which has been incorporated in my personal training program for a number of years. It is taxing and works stamina, speed, power and conditions the exact muscles used for kicking techniques. You will need a heavy bag available, plus some lively music to keep you pumped up.

Step 1 A warm up consisting of gentle stretching of all legs muscles, lower back and torso.

Step 2
From a fighting stance, kicks are performed with the front leg without the back leg moving forward.
Side kick 15 reps (right and left) total reps = 30
Low Roundhouse kick
15 reps (right and left) total reps = 30
Rest (1 min)
Front kick 15 reps (right and left) total reps = 30
Hook kick 15 reps (right and left) total reps = 30
Rest (2min)

Step 3
From a fighting stance, kicks are performed with the front leg after scooting forward with the back leg.
Side kick 15 reps (right and left) total reps = 30
Low Roundhouse kick 15 reps (right and left) total reps = 30
Rest (1 min)
Front kick 15 reps (right and left) total reps = 30
Hook kick 15 reps (right and left) total reps = 30
Rest (2min)

Step 4
Bag work
4 minutes of side kicks with the front leg, scooting forward with the back foot. After the first 2 minutes, kicks should be done with full power. Once finished, 15 side kicks with each leg should be performed without the bag, concentrating on regaining form that may have been lost from the hard bag kicks.
Rest (1 min)
Then repeated using the front kick.
Rest (1 min)
4 minutes
of low roundhouse kicks using the back leg, and striking with the shin bone as hard as possible.
Rest (1 min)
Same, but this time middle level roundhouse kicks.
Rest (1 min)
Same, but this time high level roundhouse kicks, using the bottom area of the shin.

Step 5
Standing naturally with your arms by your side, perform high roundhouse kicks to the sides, left then right, concentrating on regaining technique that may have been lost from the bag. This should be done for 3 minutes.

Step 6
Stretch as in the warm up, but this time the stretches can be deeper and for longer periods of time (roughly 40 seconds each stretch)

Finished

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Thursday, 20 December 2007

Best Weight Training Principle for the Chest

To train the chest you all know presses and fly’s are the way to go. Presses, from a martial arts perspective are great, for the simple fact that they work the exact muscles used when punching. There are many training principles that can be used in order to shock the chest muscles into growth. One which I use (and am sure others do also), I have named the Full Blast.

You shall need a bench which can be raised from a flat position, to various incline positions and finally to a full incline position as when doing shoulder presses. Using dumbbells for this exercise pick weights which enable you to do 12 reps. Starting from the flat position, perform 12 reps of pressing. Then quickly raise the bench up a notch so it is at a slighter incline then perform another 12 reps. Again, quickly raise the bench then perform another 12 reps etc.

The idea is to perform quickly but smoothly, and to reach the full incline position in which you should be almost doing a shoulder press. This is a very hard and taxing training principle and should be used at the end of your chest workout. You shall be doing very well to finish this workout when you first start using it, (starting from a flat position all the way to a full incline) but keep doing it as your strength and muscle stamina will increase. When you can do 12 reps for each different angle, then it is time to increase the weight slightly.

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Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Training at other Dojos and Gyms

With the Christmas break coming up, a lot of dojos and gyms from all martial arts close for a couple of weeks in order to enjoy the festive season. With this, the people that train at these places tend to stop training for a couple of weeks also, and rest there bodies. Although it is a good idea to rest during this time so as the body can recuperate, some people like to keep training, plus, it is a good time to cross train. As said before, most schools shut, but some remain open during the festive season and shut just Christmas day. If you find a martial art school that remains open, go there and ask to train for a couple of weeks in order to remain active and to see different ideas and concepts from other teachers. Even if the school teaches a completely different martial art style to yours or maybe use weapons instead of unarmed combat, you shall still pick up new ideas and thoughts and if they are worth it, you can incorporate them into your own system of fighting, to make you a better rounded fighter.

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Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Fighting Techniques in the Bubishi

The Bubishi is said to be the bible of Karate. Over the years many people have produced many copies of it which all include fighting methods, healing methods, finding vital points on the human body plus more. What’s interesting about the fighting techniques detailed in the book is how simple and effective they are. All the techniques described are defensive ones from common street attacks, including, grabs, swings, wild kicks, someone running at you and someone trying to wrestle you. The counter attacks are rarely more than one technique. This is because the writers of the Bubishi have found out that a real street fight will be quick and aggressive and may involve more than one attacker, so you will not have time for more than one counter attack. Because of this the techniques are aimed at vital points on the human body intended to do quick damage easily. Also the use of grappling should be pointed out. The grappling I refer to though is not ground fighting or clinch work but hair pulling, sweeping, catching legs and seizing testicles, Throws which don’t allow for successful break falling, neck cranking. All the “dirty” techniques that most modern day karate schools frown upon. But the main point that must be stressed is that all the techniques are counters. There are no attacking techniques in the Bubishi which shows a clear message that Karate is for defence only, and that these techniques should be used just for them situations. The Bubishi is a masterpiece, a very hard book to contemplate and must be read constantly to gain understanding of it but IT IS a vital read for all martial artists.

The Bubishi can be found and purchased at most webstores.

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Monday, 17 December 2007

Nukite, A Deadly Karate Technique

So many times I have seen the Nukite (strike using the finger tips) performed by world class karateka. What puzzles me though is why it is nearly always aimed at the opponent’s midsections. To me, it is obvious that nukite is a poking type of technique, meant to be struck to areas which are vulnerable, especially to areas that are not meant to be struck with great force to be effective. The eyes, the throat and the groin are the only areas in my opinion that nukite should be aimed to. It is possible to train the fingers to become unbelievably strong. Demonstrations have been carried out showing great martial artists break boards with there finger tips and pierce melons with them. But what is the point of training the fingers to strike the torso hard when a fist could be used instead, and probably much better too. People say that, with the fingers the pain is more, since the striking area of the fingers is smaller than the fist. If that is what is sort after, then why not use the one knuckle fist (ipponken) as it is more solid than the fingers.

To strike the vulnerable areas mentioned above, the fingers do not have to be trained to become hard. A simple jab to these areas can cause a great deal of pain. If struck slightly hard to the throat, breathing difficulties can occur or maybe blindness when struck to the eyes.

Nukite is a very dangerous technique and must be used with great care in training, it should only be used with full contact, in extreme self defence situations.

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Friday, 14 December 2007

Heavy or Light Weight Training

One question that has always sprung up in conversations that involve martial arts and weight training is what should be lifted, heavy or light. Does a martial artist benefit from lifting the heaviest of weights for 6-8 reps or taking it slightly lighter with reps from 12-20. This is one of those questions that have been given a variety of different answers. Some people say heavy, some say light and others say both. Some say that if you lift heavy weights you shall build muscles which are to big, which are not practical for martial arts. The reality is that in order to get big, you must train regularly with heavy weights, eat lots and lots and do this often, limiting cardio training, which is very hard to do. If it was easy to build muscle, everyone would be as big as houses and entering bodybuilding competitions. Although good technique is a must with martial arts, being strong will not make you any worse of a fighter, but shall make you better, allowing for stronger punches, kicks and more explosive throws, takedowns and grappling so training with heavy weights is not as bad as some people say. But training with light weights with higher reps, although shall not give you much strength, shall certainly do wonders for your muscular endurance. In the course of a competition or fight, a fighter needs the cardiovascular stamina to not get tired, and to be able to move around swiftly and effectively, but also his/her muscular stamina must remain high so as his/her muscles don’t cramp or seize up, and training with light weights is the way to achieve this. Bear in mind that although the weights are light, you must still struggle with them after 15 reps or so. There’s no point lifting weights that allow for 20 reps or more, as that is to light.

It’s obvious that both types of training are needed. A martial artist needs strength and stamina. A good blend of light and heavy training shall help a martial artists muscles, tendons and ligaments become conditioned enough to withstand and excel with the training and competition that comes with martial arts.

For an article related to this, please click here

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Thursday, 13 December 2007

Training Through Illness

Everybody who trains will at some time become ill. The illness I am referring to in this article is a cold, or flu, nothing more than that. Headaches, aching limbs and eyes, dizziness and sore throats, these are the symptoms which are common to colds and the flu. The question is, is it best to train through these illnesses? Karate Do Legend Gichin Funakoshi, in his book, Karate Do My Way of Life explains how he regularly trains. He also says that when he becomes ill, he trains for an extra amount of time. The training which he describes though is kata. Because kata is something which can be practised alone, although he trained longer, odds are that he didn’t train with the same speed and intensity than when he wasn’t ill.

I think the type of training depends greatly on weather to train or not through illness. For grapplers, with all the heavy pushing, pulling and hitting the floor through throws and takedowns, it may be wise to stop this type of training when ill, and maybe concentrate on light stretching and not too vigorous bodyweight exercises. Bodyweight exercises may also pay off for weight lifters and bodybuilders. Instead of going up against 300 KG’s on the bench press, do some press-ups or light cardio instead. Strikers should cut out heavy sparring, but light bag work, using shallow stances and low kicks instead of high ones may be acceptable. Keeping active and forcing a light sweat has proved to be effective for me when training through illness. That, along with drinking plenty of water and trying to maintain a well balanced diet has helped me recover to full potential quickly, in order to carry on with my normal training routine.

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Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Standing Locks, Effective or Not

Many times the following has been seen and experienced. Two martial artists are sparring. They spar using strikes, clinch fighting, takedowns and ground fighting. There strikes are impressive, there clinching fighting is smooth as are there takedowns and they move from submission to submission incorporating locks to nearly every joint and a variety of chokes when on the ground. They seem to be experts in there field, except that not one can apply a lock of any type while standing. Why? Well the reason why, is because of the fact that they are both experienced fighters. To be able to apply a lock (standing or on the ground) a few factors need to be addressed. Firstly the person being locked must not be able to move away from it. When standing, it is very hard to control an opponent from moving away. On the floor it is much easier especially if they are on there back or lying on there front. When standing, as soon as your opponent sees that you are going for a lock, he/she will quickly move away. On the ground your opponent may see that you are going for a lock but it may be nearly impossible for him/her to move from it, so there is more of a chance they shall be locked. Secondly, when standing, and after moving away from the intended lock, your opponent creates gaps and breaks the tight hold that is necessary for a lock to be applied. There must be leverage in order to apply a knee bar, arm locks or any other type of lock. Being very tight into your opponent is the only way to create this leverage. So when your opponent moves away from you, the leverage is lost and the lock will not be applied. Thirdly, being easier for your opponent to hit you when standing, than when on the ground, as you try to put on a lock from a standing position, your opponent can easily strike you with any limb available, and since you are trying to lock your opponent with one or both hands, your defence is weak. On the ground, your opponent may be in a position where it is impossible to strike effectively as a lock is being applied which makes it easier for you to apply it.

This is not to say that locks have no place in standing situations, but they are much harder to apply. Against a trained opponent who may expect locks during sparring, then there is a small chance of pulling one off, against someone on the street with no fighting experience, it may be easier. Following up locks after a hard strike are good times to apply them as your opponent may be stunned from the strike, and his/her reflexes and attention might not be available to react to the lock. The bottom line is that practice is needed and experience of the best way to apply locks from standing positions is necessary to be able to pull them off.

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Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Straight Strikes Vs Circular Strikes

The arm techniques are many in martial arts. From the western boxing syllabus there are four basic punches (jab, cross, hook uppercut), and these have many variations. Then from the oriental martial arts there are many strikes that can incorporate the elbow, fist, palm of the hand, knife and ridge hand, fingers, or forearm. From all of these techniques mentioned, from whatever fighting system in the world, they all have something in common. They are executed through a straight, or through a circular motion. To some, straight strikes are seen as the preferred method. Whether snapping or thrusting, they are thrown in a straight line, are easier to perform and can be thrown much faster than circular strikes when in combination. The jab, one of the main techniques used in western boxing is seen as the most vital weapon. Although not very powerful, it can irritate an opponent and is excellent for setting up other strikes. Circular strikes (such as hook punches, roundhouse elbow strikes) are slower than straight ones. Also to execute them you have to move the striking point from left to right or vice versa, or up to down or vice versa, striking along the way. This leaves you open to counter blows more easily, plus it is easier to see and hence defend against. So why use them? Well a reason they are used is because they are very hard to see coming. The hook punch for example travels in an arc which makes it difficult for your opponent to see until it is too late. Also, when clinch fighting, an elbow coming into the opponent from the side is virtually invisible. Circular strikes hold a great element of surprise which may, to some, balance out there disadvantages. If only straight strikes or only circular strikes where thrown by a fighter then they would become very predictable and very plain. The key is to use both types of striking in combination. Your strikes must seem to come from every angle possible and in any direction, and eventually you will catch your opponent.

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Monday, 10 December 2007

Why an Unbelievable Martial Art Technique is Slowly Dying?

The stop hit was something that Bruce Lee endorsed. It is not a technique that is relatively new. I’m sure fighters from thousands of years ago employed this technique on the battlefield, be it with a kick, punch, push etc. It must have been used as it is very effective in defending oncoming blows. So why is it slowly dying out? Firstly it is necessary to explain the stop hit. As your opponent throws a strike or kick, the moment the technique is performed, you stop hit by throwing a technique of your own and making it land at your intending target while your opponent is still halfway through his technique. A perfect example of the stop hit can be seen in Bruce Lee’s Way of the Dragon. As he fights towards the end of the film with Bob Wall, his opponent initiates a kick with his back leg, and Bruce quickly performs a front leg side kick hitting just as his opponents foot leaves the floor. The stop hit is something that is not usually expected but can be very surprising when successful. It is something that takes years of practice to be able to pull off in a fighting situation, and this may be the reason why it is dying out. Today’s students seem to want to learn to fight relatively quickly. Many are not interested in learning these techniques that require years of practice to master. This is a shame as there are so many techniques that can become part of a fighter’s arsenal, but the training is required to be able to pull them off. Hopefully we see the other side of the coin soon, where students obtain the desire to seek these small but effective techniques and strategies, as they would become greater fighters because of them. To practice the stop hit, push a heavy bag forward, and when it swings back, hit the bag with any technique when it is at a distance that you are able to hit without being to far or to close from you. Timing is crucial to make this effective.

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Friday, 7 December 2007

Advice for Judo Street Fighters

There are some that see Judo as merely a sport. With no real emphasise on strikes, it is seen as impractical for the streets. My personal opinion is that every art has something to offer. The stand up grappling that is learnt in Judo is very practical. Throws are quick, strong and can successfully defend oneself if needed. Also the strength that is built through Judo training is second to none. Critics of Judo may have valid points though, that should be considered by every Judoka. Firstly the point that strikes need to be learnt. Just basic strikes and defense of strikes. (A good article for self defence striking techniques for Judoka and other grapplers is http://markschat.blogspot.com/2007/09/close-quarter-strikes-for-grapplers.html). By learning these, Judoka will be more confident when striking and when getting struck. Secondly, the fact that a Gi will not always be worn. Nearly all Judo fighters pull there opponents very strong Gi sleeve or lapel when throwing. Practice throws while holding the arm instead of the sleeve, to help get used to it so as if a throw has to be performed on someone without strong clothing, there will be no problem. Lastly and probably the most important is the landing after the throw. In Judo and nearly all grappling competitions, when a throw or takedown is carried out, the person doing it nearly always follows there opponent to the floor, and this is mainly because they loose there balance or follow through towards the floor to fully bring there opponent down. In a street fight if you are on the floor, chances are the person you are fighting shall have his friends stomping on your body or head. Practice your throws with one thought in mind, TO NOT FALL TO THE FLOOR. This is not always possible but it should always be aim. This way hopefully you will not find yourself in an awkward and dangerous situation.
Related articles...
Judo and Karate Ashi Barai Timing
Close Quarter Strikes (for Grapplers)

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Thursday, 6 December 2007

The Art of Feinting for Fighting

The feint is one of the best tactics that a martial artists can employ. It is used mainly when striking, but can be also used when throwing. The feint is a move used by the top fighters and is one the most difficult techniques to master. The art of feinting involves tricking your opponent into thinking you are going to attack in one way, but then very quickly changing the attack, either to a different target or with a different technique. The reason behind the feint could be to lower or raise your opponents guard in order to create a path for a different strike or to learn the way in which your opponent reacts. For instance weather he moves backwards when struck, or weather he blocks and counters simultaneously, maybe he prefers slipping or bob and weaving. The experienced fighter will learn his opponents preferred reaction with only a couple of feints. If the feint is used to create an opening for a second strike, then the second strike must follow immediately after the feint. There must be no pause. The best way to achieve is to try and make the feint resemble a real technique as much as possible. You must trick your opponent into thinking that the feint is an actual strike intended to hit, so as you can create a reaction from him/her. If your opponent is not convinced that the feint is not something that he/she has to defend against, then there will obviously be no reaction and the follow up strike may not be successful. I have found that one of the best ways to use the feint is when your opponent is in a defensive mode. For example, if you manage to rush your opponent with a barrage of combination strikes, he is then in a defensive manner. From here if you feint convincingly to the body, he/she will most probably lower his/her guard to defend against the body blow which would leave the head open for a hard strike that could finish the fight. Another good time to feint is at the beginning of the fight. It is an excellent way to find out your opponents preferred reaction method. As you are both weary of each other during the first few seconds of the fight, a good feint will show you exactly what kind of fighter he/she is. At the start of nearly every boxing match, you see initial jab feints by both fighters. This is what they are doing. It is called feeling out your opponent. You must practice the feint constantly for years in order to master it, but once mastered it could be the best strategic maneuver you can employ.

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Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Osoto Gari Thowing Technique

The Large Outer Reap, (known as Osoto Gari in the Judo World) can be a very useful technique for throwing people in front of you. Also when done correctly, as the person being thrown is taken backwards, it can be very dangerous as the landing area would be the upper back, neck or even the top of the head. When reaping with the right leg to the opponents right leg, most people perform the technique by stepping past there opponent with there left foot, then bringing there right leg round to reap the back of there opponents right leg while simultaneously pushing the opponent backwards and downwards vigorously. This is a good way to learn the technique but the problem is that when you make the initial step with your left foot past your opponent, he/she will see what is happening and will counter accordingly. To stop this, the start of the technique should include a hard and fast pull in. Holding your opponent, pull him/her in to you hard, while simultaneously making the initial step with your left foot. This will pull your opponent of balance, catch him/her by surprise, and by pulling in, you will not need to step as much forward with your left. By pulling in hard, stepping, reaping with your right leg while pushing back hard, the Osoto Gari will be very fast and hard, allowing for the best possible throw.

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Tuesday, 4 December 2007

The Backfist (Uraken)

The back fist is one of the most fastest hand techniques available. As it uses a snapping motion rather than a thrusting one, (like most other strikes), it can be whipped out in a flash. So why is it not used more frequently by martial artists.

Well it is a technique that relies heavily on the striking point to achieve the best results. You must use the actual back part of the knuckles to strike. Seldom people strike with the padded hammer fist or the back of the hand, which will not do much damage at all, but a strike with the knuckles to targets such as the eyebrow or upper lip can be very painful.

Also when wearing gloves, it is impossible to strike with the boney knuckles, and many fighters tend to disregard the technique because of this. Kyokushinkai fighters although, (who fight without gloves) should use the technique more often. A hard strike in between the ribs can be very painful indeed.

One of the best ways to use the backfist is with a lop sao. Used highly in Wing Chun the lop sao involves grabbing your opponents guarding hand, pulling it down and towards you while simultaneously executing a technique (in this case the front hand backfist). By pulling your opponent vigorously into the backfist strike, it can be made twice as powerful. This is a technique that could be adapted into MMA training and fights as it softens the opponent up while pulling into a range for a take down or further clinch striking.

Occasionally a spinning backfist is seen in kickboxing and MMA fights, but that is all and this is a shame, because it is a very useful strike for softening opponents, like the jab, and for closing the distance for further strikes or grappling. It should be studied more.



Marks

Related Articles...
Body Blows for Strikers
Training Tip, Weak Points
A Rare but Effective Strike, The Superman Punch
Fighting Against the Cage
Strong Kicks and Powerful Flexibility

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Monday, 3 December 2007

Sacrifice Techniques, Good or Bad

Sacrifice Techniques are techniques that place the person performing them, in a position where they can be easily countered when they are carried out. Some people believe that most sacrifice techniques look like they belong in a movie rather than in competition or part of ones repertoire of techniques. Sacrifice techniques are normally associated with arts where grappling and throws are emphasised such as Judo, Wrestling arts, Ju Jutsu, BJJ etc. The Kodokan Judo syllabus has a number of techniques which are actually referred to as Sutemi Waza (sacrifice techniques). They nearly always depend on the thrower falling backwards, sidewards or frontwards towards the floor in the hope of taking the opponent with them. Obviously if the person being thrown counters this or sees the techniques coming, the person performing them could fall to the floor alone, and find him/herself in an awkward position where he/she can be dominated. BJJ practitioners use a strategy when standing, to take the fight to the floor by jumping into there opponents chest, hoping to land in the guard position which they could then pull there opponent down using there body weight. Also a technique that has been used by most grapplers is the flying armbar. Rarely does it work, but is spectacular to see if carried out successfully. These Sutemi Waza are not just limited to the grappling arts though and can be seen in striking arts. For instance whenever a jumping technique is performed. Be it a jumping roundhouse kick, a flying knee or a flying downward elbow strike, they all involve leaping from the floor and if the techniques are not carried successfully, the person throwing them can be easily countered. Another view is that kicks, low medium or high can be seen as sacrificial. When you are standing on one leg, balance is weak and this can be taken advantage of. You must be 100% committed when using sacrifice techniques. Any fear of them not working will result in failure. They must be drilled constantly so as they become second nature. A lot of people have lost a lot of fights using them, but some of the greatest fights known have been won and remembered because of the sacrifice techniques employed, and stars have been born instantaneously.

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