Monday, 18 August 2008

Awesome Grappling


I found the below video highlighting some of Japans finest grapplers including, Shinya Aoki, Masakazu Imanari and others.

It shows some great rolling on the floor, awesome takedowns and unbelievable movement. Enjoy.




Marks

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Friday, 15 August 2008

Book of Five Rings Examination, Part 7

One of the most important things a martial artist must develop is where he/she should be looking during combat. Musashi states,

“the eyes are to be focused in such a way as to maximise the range and breadth of vision”

If you keep your eyes fixed at one of your opponents legs, chances are when a kick is thrown with the leg you are looking at, you shall defend successfully. However, your opponent has another leg, plus two arms. It is impossible to look at all your opponent’s limbs at the same time. So how do you use your eyes to see which attack is coming. Where do you look on your opponents body when you’re sparring or fighting.

In this part of the book Musashi also states,

“In martial arts it is important to be aware of opponent’s swords and yet not look at the opponent’s swords at all”

and,

“It is essential to see both sides without moving the eyeballs”

These are some of the best explanations of peripheral vision in the martial arts. Straight punches/kicks can easily be seen coming as they move straight towards you. Strikes which come from an angle however (roundhouse kick, uppercut punch) don’t. By developing your peripheral vision, (the ability to see around yourself without pointing your eyeballs in that direction) you become more aware and are able to see more clearly what is at a certain distance around you whilst keeping your eyes fixed at a certain point, your opponents chest for example. With good peripheral vision you shall be able to keep your eyes on your opponent’s chest and be aware of attacks coming from all angles and from all of his limbs. The importance of this when dealing with multiple opponents should be more than obvious.

A good method for developing your peripheral vision is to look straight ahead. Have someone hold fingers up whilst standing to the right and left of you. You should be able to see this persons fingers whilst still keeping your eyes looking in front always. The aim is to distinguish how many fingers are being held up. A simple exercise which provides great benefits.

This is the last in this series of explanations regarding Miyamoto Musashi’s writing from the Book of Five Rings. I strongly urge you to purchase a copy of the book and study it well as it can be of great value to all martial artists. I hope you have found this short series to be of use and hopefully it has prompted you to figure out ways in which Musashi’s teachings can help you within your own fighting style.


Marks


Introduction
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

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Thursday, 14 August 2008

What MMA Fighters Should Know

When MMA first hit the world back in the 1990’s not many people knew what to expect. Was there going to be boxers dominating this free style fighting sport, maybe wrestlers were going to be slamming there opponents around or was the movie style spinning kickers going to prove that they where number one. Certainly not many would have thought that slim, not so powerful submission grapplers would beat all comers, whatever shape or size.

The martial arts world was shocked after the first few UFC’s and everybody rushed to learn grappling, and lucky they did. Grappling is one of the overall pieces in ones fighting arsenal, but it is not the only piece. There are still lots who seem to think that free style fights can be won by knowing either just striking or grappling to an expert level.

During a fight, no one knows what is going to happen. One good strike could be all that is needed to end a fight without having to rely on grappling or maybe an expert grappler will be able to quickly bring another fighter down and in an instant apply an arm bar to finish the fight.

If the above examples happen, then one may think that as long they are an expert in the fighting style they shall always be able to dominate. THIS IS WRONG!

To be a good MMA fighter and to carry a successful record with as many wins possible, you need to know striking and grappling. You may be able to rely on your better skills once or twice, but the time will come when you will have to fight in unfamiliar territory. For a grappler this means, a good striker will eventually learn to keep you away and shall force a striking fight, and for a striker, you will at one time have to grapple on the ground.

You don’t have to be an expert at everything, but you do need to become efficient in all fighting areas including, punches, kicks, elbows, knees, clinch work, throws, takedowns, and ground fighting including wrestling and submissions.

The reason I state this is because after visiting many martial arts forums, lots of people still say that "BJJ is all you need" or "Muay Thai is all you need". These statements have been proven over the last decade and a half to be wrong and if you would like to become a good MMA fighter you must realise it.


Marks

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Saturday, 9 August 2008

Submission Fighting Tactics

In submission fighting, the key to gaining the advantage over your opponent is control. You need to be in control always and eventually an opening will present itself in which a submission technique can be applied.

However, when two people grappling are both very skilled and seldom present openings, sometimes you have to rely on a couple of “cheat” techniques to give you this opening.

When I say cheat, I don’t mean to do something which is not within the rules in which you’re fighting, but to do things which your opponent would not expect in order to gain the advantage.

One which I have found useful is from when you’re in the north south position (Kami Shiho Gatame). Using your hip bone, press it tight against your opponent’s temple/eyebrow by relaxing your body and grinding it up and down. This will cause an irritating pain to your opponent who will probably respond by turning his face. This should leave you with an opening for maybe a choke of some sort, or at least by turning his head, he will not be looking so you can move into another submission or a better controlling position.

Also from the scarf hold (Kesa Gatame), you can roll your body weight onto your opponent’s stomach/chest. Although this probably won’t hurt him, it will definitely be irritating for him who will probably respond by trying to shrimp away, or move out in some other sort of fashion. Be prepared for it and go for any submission which may present itself.

By adding your own little extras to these controlling positions, you can force your opponent to react and maybe leave himself open for you to gain victory. For this reason, they should be studied regularly.


Photos taken from http://www.geocities.com/Colosseum/Bench/3526/kodokanTechniques.html

Marks

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Friday, 8 August 2008

Book of Five Rings Examination, Part 6

This week’s piece from Musashi’s great book is entitled The Body Blow and is taken from the Water Scroll.
“The Body Blow is when you close in on an opponent’s side and hit him with your body. Turning your face slightly to the side and thrusting your left (or right) shoulder forward, you hit him in the chest. In making the hit, exert as much strength as possible with your body. In making the hit, the idea is to close in with a bound at the moment of peak tension.

Once you have learned to close in like this, you can knock an opponent back several yards back. It is even possible to hit an opponent so hard that he dies.

This requires thorough training and practice.”

In modern MMA one of the most outstanding additions to the sport was the cage concept. When fighting in a cage as opposed to a ring, there is no possibility of falling or getting pushed through ropes. Also as the cage is sturdier than ropes it is hard to manoeuvre when against it. For this reason, many cage fighters try and push there opponents against the cage weather standing or on the ground.

Using Musashi’s body blow tactic is a great way when standing to push your opponent against the cage in order to put your opponent at the disadvantage.

Obviously, this technique only really works when you are already close in to your opponent. If your more than a foot away from your opponent and you charge in with your shoulder in order to push him backwards, chances are he will see it coming and simply side step in order to dodge the charge, in which could lead to yourself being caught against the cage.

When close to the cage and clinched with your opponent but still left with a small space to manoeuvre, keep holding your opponent with one hand, whilst letting go with the other and simultaneously drop your head to the side and barge him in the chest with your shoulder. This must be done fast so as your opponent can not move out the way. By holding with one hand you shall be able to control your target slightly better. Remember to thrust with your shoulder so turn your body also to the side with your head. Drive through thoroughly with the technique so as to press your opponent tight against the cage.

As Musashi sates, “this requires thorough training and practise”


Marks

Introduction
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 7

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Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Hirokazu Kanazawa on Kata

Kata is something that many people, (including karate ka) question. Can it be used in a real self defence situation? To be honest with you, if you try to execute a certain part of a kata in a self defence situation exactly like the kata is taught, then it probably will not work. But are the exact kata movements meant to be carried out the way they are taught?

In the book Budo Masters by Michael Clarke, Shotokan legend Hirokazu Kanazawa is asked about kata and what he stresses when teaching kata to his students. Some answers he gives are the following,

“I try to get people to bring there kata to life”

“It goes without saying, you can not understand kata properly without understanding the bunkai”

“I try to get Yudansha (black belt students) to find their own bunkai”

“They should not wait to be shown anything. They should find out from themselves”

“This is when they will understand that it is not just the exact movement they should master but the principles, the idea.”

“I have seen demonstrations of kata bunkai where the exact moves from the kata are being used, but I do not consider this to be real bunkai”

I think it is clear that what Kanazawa is trying to stress is that everyone has a different interpretation to kata bunkai and that one specific bunkai will work for one person but maybe not for another.

It is up to the individual to study with a partner the many different variations in which kata techniques can be applied. For example a simple downward defence (gedan barai). Obviously it can be used to stop an attack but maybe it can be used as an arm lock, a throw, a strike and maybe it can be used not just standing but whilst ground fighting etc.

These are the kinds of variations that need to be studied by students to truly bring there kata techniques to life.

I strongly recommend you check out Iain Abernethys website and blog for more information on kata and there use within the martial arts. Sensei Abernethy gives a great insight into bukai, kata principles and there applications


Marks

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Friday, 1 August 2008

Book of Five Rings Examination Part 5

Todays writing comes from the water scroll and is entitled Striking Down an Opponent in a Single Beat.

“Among the rhythms used to strike an opponent, there is what is called a single beat. Finding a position where you can reach the opponent, realizing when the opponent has not yet determined what to do, you strike directly, as fast as possible, without moving your body or fixing your attention.

The stroke with which you strike an opponent before he has thought of whether to pull back, parry, or strike is called the single beat. Once you have learned this rhythm well, you should practise striking the intervening stroke quickly.”

A great tactic by Musashi which can be adapted well for modern day martial artists, this is something that most of us do many times.

It requires not so much power but speed to be accomplished. It is basically when you strike your opponent fast enough without giving him a chance to react to the hit.

The strategy probably works best with the jab. The perfect jab should not be telegraphed, it should be able to be thrown from any position and should be the quickest weapon in your arsenal. You should be able to jab multiple times if needed and should use it to not so much aim to knockout your opponent but to land short sharp irritating blows.

When the opening bell rings, normally one of two types of fights take place. The first is a sloppy exchange of wild blows when each fighter is full of adrenaline and eager to score a knockout. This normally happens with amateurs with less experience of fighting. The second type of fight is one where two fighters meet in the middle of the ring and feel there opponents out with short jabs and combinations trying to find out each others fighting style in order to adapt themselves adequately. This is normally what happens between two experienced fighters and where this strategy can come into play. Musashi writes,“Finding a position where you can reach the opponent, realizing when the opponent has not yet determined what to do”. As your opponent is waiting to figure out an attack, use your jab cautiously with speed to keep him on his toes and to maybe frustrate your opponent. It may give you the opportunity to land a second strike after which could do more damage but if anything it should show you how your opponent reacts to attacks. This should give you the ability to plan a way to take advantage of the fight.


Marks

Introduction
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 6
Part 7

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