Friday, 31 October 2008

10th Planet Jiu Jitsu Flow Drill

The following is a flow drill from the 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu system of Eddie Bravo’s. It is a drill that will help all grapplers in flowing and transitioning from position to position. What I find particularly interesting and hopefully you do as well is that the drill is performed on both sides. I have found that most grapplers tend to only perform drills, throws etc on one side only. Learning to perform on both sides is something that is very important and everyone should be doing it.

By studying this simple but effective drill and practising it with a partner, (who is not fighting, allowing you to practise while at the same time adding a little resistance) not only will it aid in your groundwork but shall also provide a great cardio workout. Enjoy!


Marks

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Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Body Conditioning for Martial Arts

People who are involved in striking arts will at some point get hit. Even if the style you practise is non contact, it is nearly impossible to never actually take a hit. For those who have not experienced a blow to there bodies, not only can it hurt you, but the shock of getting struck can stun you for a moment, leaving your opponent enough time to finish you off.

For these reasons, it is wise that martial artists practise body conditioning. This is a method of toughening up your skin and muscles to take hits and to also make you aware of what a hit feels like, so when it happens it does not faze you in any way.

For many, the idea of body conditioning involves beating themselves vigorously, making themselves bleed and bruise and sometimes even brake bones with the hope that the body will recover stronger.

Personally I don’t think body conditioning should come to this. Although it should involve taking hits and maybe self hitting, it should be with padded strikes, gradually getting harder over time.

Body conditioning should be limited to the torso, thighs, arms and even areas of the face (through sparring with padded gloves). Conditioning vital areas such as the throat, groin etc is too dangerous and not really advised.

As mentioned, it is best to get struck with padded strikes, such as someone wearing gloves, shin guards of even striking with focus/Thai pads. The strikes should be soft and not for too long to begin with and hardness should be gradually increased to the point where you are getting struck near enough with full contact blows. Allowing a partner to strike you with various punches and kicks is a great way to also get used to getting hit with the actual blows used in combat. To strengthen and condition your own striking weapons, its always best to use a heavy bag without pads.

Also it must be remembered, that through weight training you are building up the strength and tolerance to bumps and blows of the muscles and ligaments. This all helps, especially within the grappling arts where you are constantly taking falls and having your ligaments extended and stretched.

Body conditioning is something that can be practised right from the start of your martial arts training even of you are a beginner and for those wanting to compete in MMA or other full contact matches, it should definitely be a must.


Marks

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Monday, 27 October 2008

High Roundhouse Kick Defence/Counters

Whatever striking art you train in, there is one kick which is used the most often. It is a kick which many feel is the most natural to perform and one which is one of the fastest to perform. It is called the roundhouse kick and everyone loves to be able to use it towards high targets. Although probably not the best weapon for the street, for the ring or cage is can be used in devastating fashion. (Just ask many of Mirko Cro Cops past opponents) For this reason I thought it right to offer some classic defence/counter tactics for it which I have been able to use and implement in my own way.

The high roundhouse is performed a little differently by each style, but its basic principals are always the same. The roundhouse kick comes in towards the target from the side, striking with the shin/instep and is either snapped back after making contact or used as a baseball bat and swung through the target.

Below are the defences/counters,

1. Move inside the kick – As the kick comes in towards your head, move in close to your opponent, keeping your guard up. The kick should pass behind your head leaving you able to counter or just push your opponent back.

2. Lean back – Against swinging roundhouses, as the kick comes in, lean back just enough so the kick swings past you. If the swing is vigorous, chances are your opponents back will be presented to you so if you’re fast enough you will be able to counter accordingly.

3. Stop hit the attack – As your opponent starts the kick, perform a quick kick or strike of your own targeting your opponents face, stomach, just above the hips, kicking thigh or supporting leg. The stop hit, if performed correctly should immediately stop the kick in its tracks.

4. Sweep the supporting foot – As soon as you see your opponents foot leave the floor, keeping your guard high, sweep your opponents supporting foot.

Tip – If you sweep the inside of the foot towards the outside, rather than from the outside/in, you should always have your back towards the kicking leg, so if your guard is down and the kick does land it will hit your back rather than your front.

5. Duck under and shoot – Especially useful for MMA. Keeping your guard high, duck under the kick and shoot in on your opponents supporting leg. It should be relatively easy to take him/her to the ground and to gain a decent controlling position.

6. Deflect the kicking leg upwards – Against swinging roundhouses, as the kick comes in, keeping your hands up, parry the kick and deflect it upwards. This may cause your opponent to lose balance and fall to the ground.

These six defence/counters to the high roundhouse kick have proved for myself to be most effective. Im sure there are many more and I invite you to share them with us, but for me, I have been able to use each one of these above and feel confident doing so.

I have found the following book to show great reading material on the high roundhouse kick and defences to it. I strongly urge all martial artists to check out the book. It’s a great purchase and a great book for all interested in strategies, drills and training methods for the striking arts.


Marks

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Thursday, 23 October 2008

High Intensity Martial Arts Training

Last night, a buddy of mine and I met up to do some training. It took place at my fathers shed which is solid, big and has enough room to hang a heavy bag and freely move around it when striking. In England at this time of year, its starting to get cold and dark by early evening and although we had a small heater providing us with some warmth we knew we where going to have to keep moving to keep our muscles warm and limber.

Keep moving is exactly what we did. For a whole workout straight, we performed several 2 minute rounds combining pads, heavy bag work, ground and pound work, ground grappling and stretching to finish. We rested about thirty seconds between rounds.

By the end of it all our hearts where pumping, blood was running, muscles where like elastic and where both ready to fall asleep. We had gone on and on at full intensity and although cardiovascular wise we where drained, each round we where able to give our all because we where using different muscles allowing some to recuperate and be used during the other rounds.

This type of training, where you push your body to the limits, should not be done every single workout as it would probably lead to overtraining, but occasionally it is needed. Maybe once every couple of weeks or once a month even, push yourself to the limit, punching and kicking as fast and hard as you can, grappling with very high intensity and forcing yourself to extend the boundaries to ones which you thought were impossible to obtain.

Chances are your technique will get sloppy as you increase your intensity and that’s ok. The aim of the workout is to increase plateaus. However in order to regain any technique lost during this high intensity training, use your next workout to do so. Workout slow to medium paced, concentrating on your guard, correct body positioning, accuracy on strikes etc.

For those interested, our workout consisted several 2 minutes rounds in which we worked,

Focus/Thai pads – Combinations including punches, kicks, elbows and knees (2 rounds each)
Heavy Bag – Combinations including punches, kicks and knees. No elbows where worked. (2 rounds each)
Heavy Bag – Roundhouse kicks continuously. One person kicking, then the other person continuously. (1 round each)
Ground and Pound – For a video of the ground and pound workout click here. (2 rounds each)
Ground grappling – Escaping from the guard and getting to the mount position. From here, go back into the guard and continue. No submissions allowed and continuous working without resting. Defender tries to keep/regain attacker in his guard only, without trying to reverse him or obtain mount himself. (2 rounds each)
Stretching – For about 5 minutes, working a variety of muscles.

With two people, this workout will last about 50 minutes. One person performing it will take about 25 minutes and obviously the focus pad work and grappling will have to be substituted with something else, like shadow boxing or mini circuit training.


Marks

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Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Clinch Takedown

Hopefully all martial artists know how important the clinch can be in a fight. If you know how to gain control and position in the clinch and have mastered striking from there whilst keeping your opponent tied up, it can be one of the most devastating ways to end a fight.

Clinch striking involves maybe the strongest weapons, the elbow and knee. Although the elbow makes more sense to use when clinched as it is closer to your opponent, many favour to use knee strikes.

Possibly the quickest and most effective ways to escape the clinch which also leaves your opponent on his back (if done right) is the simple twist.

First, when your opponent attempts to hold the back of your head to gain control you must be doing all you can to prevent this. Holding his arms or crooks of his elbows, swimming upwards inside his arms to gain head control yourself, pressing your opponent for a body lock, pushing his chin backwards etc. Do everything you can to prevent him from cupping your head as from this position, most of the time, your doomed. (Ask Rich Franklin!)

Whilst this is happening your opponent may start to throw a couple of knee strikes. As you know, whenever a person is standing on one leg, it is very easy to break there balance and take them down. From the clinch it is even easier because you are already (or should be) holding your opponent. Weather its his head, arms, shoulders or body, you should be holding him somewhere.

When your opponent throws a knee strike, as soon as you detect his foot leave the floor, twist your opponent either clockwise or anticlockwise whilst simultaneously pulling him down. As he is only standing on one leg it will be easy to bring him down.

The catch with this simple clinch defence however is that you must be comfortable in clinching so as to not panic if your opponent controls your head and your timing must be spot on when you twist your opponent as soon as his foot leaves the floor for his knee strike. You have to practise clinch work for a long time to gain this level of comfort.

This is a great counter and if pulled off a couple of times should leave your opponent more cautious when throwing knee strikes. It should be practised well.

The following video shows this clinch defence at around 1:20 seconds in along with other techniques used in Daido Juku Karate.


Marks

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Sunday, 19 October 2008

Ring and Cage Fighting

Sparring is something that most martial artists should do. People who can get away with never exchanging blows with a partner are those who choose to practise martial arts for the sake of keeping up an adequate fitness level. However if your aim is to compete in fighting events or to be able to defend yourself better on the street, you must spar. And one of the areas in which you must constantly deal with during your sparring, is fighting from a close distance with your opponent.

Past articles on this site have dealt with this issue, including close combat striking techniques. Close combat striking is something that is sometimes neglected. The reason being because many do not spar in a close combat environment.

Arts which fall to this problem are mainly those which do not utilise a cage or ring during sparring. By sparing in an open area which has very wide boundaries (halls, big rooms etc) there is nothing stopping you from moving away from your opponent when you feel they are getting too close to you. However in a ring or cage, if your opponent is pressing you, you can only move back so far. When tight on the ropes or up against the cage and your opponent is at close distance to you, you must rely on close quarter combat utilising the techniques necessary.

For this reason sparring in a ring or cage can be a great training tool forcing you to use techniques that maybe you have not used before. Of course you can compensate for a ring or cage by sparring in another small surface area such as a room, hallway, lift etc. However if you and a friend get caught sparring in a lift at your local shopping centre, you could end up on the front page of your local newspaper as a couple of people who have lost there marbles.

This is another reason why I constantly go on about visiting other martial art schools and for the sake of this article, ones which utilise rings and cages (Muay Thai, MMA, Boxing etc). Expand your horizons, train with different people under different environments and learn something new that you can add into your overall fighting style.


Marks

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Wednesday, 15 October 2008

MMA Training - Mixing the Arts

Every one knows that in order to be an MMA fighter you have to be proficient in striking and grappling. A few years ago if you where a striker, all you needed to know was basic grappling and you would have been ok and grapplers needed to know just basic striking. Today, knowing just the basics of one area is not enough. You have to be really good at striking and grappling.

So say someone attends a striking gym (Mauy Thai, Karate etc) and a grappling gym (Judo, Jiu Itsu etc) and they get really good at the two disciplines. There punches are great, kicks are spot on, take downs are crisp and there ground fighting flows like water. Surely they are ready for MMA competition, right? Wrong.

The above scenario is very common. Fighters attend grappling gyms and striking gyms, something which is a must for MMA competition, but the problem is right there. Most keep the two disciplines apart. Although they spar striking and spar grappling, rarely do they spar and incorporate both styles of fighting.

Although it may seem that they are fulfilling the criteria needed to compete successfully in MMA, they are not getting as much experience as needed in combining the two, striking with grappling.

"When was the last time someone started striking you when rolling in Jiu Jitsu or during Judo Ne Waza."

If you look at Kickboxers or Muay Thai fighters sparring for example, then MMA fighters sparring (in striking range) although they may look very similar, the differences are there. The MMA fighters must always be cautious about possible takedown attempts, ready to sprawl when necessary and even standing submission attempts from the clinch. Because Muay Thai fighters and Kickboxers do not, it makes them different. In the same way, Judo or Jiu Jitsu sparring is different to MMA grappling because strikes are not worried about. Leaving your guard down or resting while pinned is ok in the grappling arts but in MMA you have to worry about possible strikes even when grappling.

For these reasons, to be an MMA fighter you must train mixing the two disciplines together. You must mix the grappling and striking together during your workouts so as you gain experience in full MMA. Training grappling and striking separately is not enough and going into an MMA fight after doing this may be the completely wrong move and could land you seriously hurt.


Marks

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The Art of Expressing the Human Body

There are many books for martial arts and fitness enthusiasts alike that give training tips, methods, drills and workout plans which help to not only provide new information, but also give inspiration and motivation in order to get it done! Everyone who works out knows that sometimes the biggest reason why we let our training slide is because of a lack of motivation.

Well who to motivate you better than Bruce Lee. The Art of Expressing the Human Body is a must for all, especially regular viewers of this website as it contains much information which complements many of the articles you read here.

Containing multiple chapters geared towards developing muscle, nutritional advice, how to become more flexible, workouts specific for martial artists and many more, it should definitely be on your bookshelf.

Also, many pictures of Bruce Lee, from working on film to training at home, provide the inspiration which sometimes lacks.

If your training seems to have hit a plateau and you need some new ideas on how to push yourself to achieve higher goals then this could be the book for you. Millions of people own it and regularly implement the contents in there own training, so what are you waiting for.


Marks

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Monday, 13 October 2008

Cheat Meals when Dieting

If you are a martial artist trying to keep within, lose or put on a certain amount of weight or are a bodybuilder in the process of shedding away unwanted fat to reveal a high level of definition, no doubt you would have come across the concept of dieting before.

Im sure all will agree dieting is one of the most challenging tasks to pass psychologically. A great deal of will power is needed to block all them fried burgers and whipped cream desserts for a number of weeks and well done to those who do. However, nearly all dieters take at one point during the week, either a day or a certain meal throughout the day where they completely go all out on anything they want. Ice cream, fried chips, doughnuts, deep fried chicken etc. Whatever they want during there binge they have and as long as its only once a week rarely does it do much damage.

I myself am dieting at the moment and yesterday was my day to “get busy”, eating whatever was in front of me. I had ice cream, lots of nuts, potato chips, and chocolate. Then at around 9:00pm my wife and I decided to head to McDonalds as it had been more than a while since our last visit. After two large fries, about 12 chicken nuggets and a chicken burger, I was satisfied with my cheat day as bodybuilders call it.

Unfortunately the next few hours really took there toll. I was completely bloated, full of junk and really did not want to move. I went to bed about three hours later, still completely full and unable to lie anywhere apart from on my back. Each time I turned onto my side I felt uncomfortable. Lying on my front was out of the question.

It took me about two hours to actually get to sleep and normally I’m out cold within a few minutes. I remember staring at my clock next to me for about half an hour just regretting the days binge.

When I finally did get to sleep, it was not for very long. I woke up at 3:36am (I remember the actual time) with a feeling like I was going to be sick in the back of my throat. It felt awful, like I was going to throw up everything I had consumed for the last 15 hours or so with the chicken nuggets at the top of the pile. Also I was still completely bloated I might add. After going to the bathroom to try and empty some of the day’s contents (with no luck) I went back to bed, completely tired but full to the max so again it took me about two hours to fall asleep. Before I knew it, a couple of hours later, my alarm went off and it was time for me to go to work. Right now, it must be about 15 hours since I had the McDonald’s and I STILL FEEL FULL! Believe it or not I still feel like I don’t want to eat ever again and am dreading the fact that I have to train later on.

I have definitely learnt my lesson here. When dieting, im not going to binge on my cheat day to the point where I can not move and that everything should be taken in moderation.


Marks

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Friday, 10 October 2008

Bas Ruttens Neck Crank

Frequent readers of this website will no doubt know that I am a big Bas Rutten fan. Bas was one of the first real mixed martial artist with skills in striking as well as grappling.

One technique which I found on YouTube which I think has to definitely get mentioned is his neck crank.

The great thing about this submission is that it can simply be applied from the scarf hold as long as you use correct technique.

As you can see from the video if you do not apply it correctly (not holding the insides of your own knees or allowing your opponent to crank you head downwards) it can easily turn into a bad position for you to be in, but Bas demonstrates it very well with explanations on what to do if your opponent tries to counter, along with a clip of him using it in a Pancrase fight of his.

Apart from it being a great MMA submission, it is a great osaekomi technique (hold down) for Judo competition. Since neck cranks are not allowed in Judo competition, obviously your aim is not to try and submit, but to keep your opponent on his back. Combined with kata guruma, it can be very effective in gaining victory on the mat.


Marks

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Thursday, 9 October 2008

Dealing with the Sprawl and Brawl

The Sprawl and Brawl (SaB) tactic is one that is basically designed for the striker. If a striker knows that he would get dominated on the ground by his opponent, then what is it worth for him to try and start ground fighting. By keeping the fight standing through well timed and placed strikes and good sprawl technique, the striker may be able to keep the fight in his comfort zone.

As for the grappler however, what must you then do, how do you deal with the SaB so as to try and keep the fight where you want it to be.

Firstly, in order to get the fight to the floor, it has to be done via a clinch of some kind and then quick work on your behalf before your opponent tries to wriggle out of it. When your opponent starts striking via an attempted takedown or some other reason, KEEP YOU HANDS UP. This is the first rule. Keep you hands up and guard yourself, then when you feel your opponent is close enough throw your arms around him, clinch, holding him tight and go for your takedown. Once you have this clinch position try not to let go until you have your opponent on the floor, be cautious for knee strikes or short sharp elbows.

Tip - If you are always working for a takedown from the clinch, it is rare that your opponent will try these strikes as he will be too busy defending the takedown so keep working and don’t use the opportunity to rest.

Secondly, feint the shoot. Your opponent being a striker by nature will have no doubt practised his sprawls and will be waiting to use them if necessary, so once you go for the shoot, he shall instinctively sprawl and try and stay on his feet. If he does not sprawl, you know that your feint was not convincing enough. By feinting a shoot (in a manner that makes your opponent believe it is a real one), you make your opponent react by sprawling. Once he does this and his body drops, as quickly as possible jump on his back. It’s important again from this position not to rest. Your opponent will either be lying on his torso or dropped on to a knee or two trying to get up, so work quickly to gain a good ground position with your opponent under you.

Lastly, strike yourself. As an MMA fighter, hopefully (if you’re a grappler), you would have still practised your strikes and have become confident enough to use them. Do not go for the shoot straight away. That’s probably what your opponent expects you to do as a grappler so guard well, be cautious and strike when able to. The Gonzaga VS Cro Cop fight is a great example of this. The last thing which Cro Cop expected Gonzaga to do was to throw a high kick, but he did, caught Mirko off guard and won in spectacular fashion.

The key to beating the SaB is to think smart. As a grappler who is trying to take the fight to the floor, by immediately trying to take your opponent down you are doing exactly what is expected off you and it is easily countered. Use timing and thought when caught in this type of fight and hopefully you will come out on top.


Marks

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Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Judo's Kuzushi

The whole point of Judo type throws is so a smaller person can beat a larger person. Strength against strength however, the smaller person may have less chance of toppling the larger, but why, when knowing this would the smaller person try and out muscle the larger?

In order to take the larger person down, the smaller person must unbalance his/her opponent then an easy effortless technique can be applied. This unbalancing is referred in the Judo world as kuzushi.

As you can see from the diagram above, kuzushi can be applied in all directions via pushing or pulling your opponent. Rather than moving your opponent with your hands only, this unbalancing should be applied, whilst holding your opponent and moving your whole body in one of the directions shown above. Trying to use just arm strength will not work as well and will waste far more energy.

Obviously sometimes you do not half to move your opponent yourself. When moving around during sparring or fighting, both yours and your opponents balance will be shifting in all directions and this can be used to throw your opponent, but without this basic knowledge of kuzushi, advanced concepts will never be grasped.

With a partner, practise breaking each others balance using the diagram above to help. After a while add throws when kuzushi has been applied and notice just how easy it easy for yourself. Kuzushi is something that is not nearly practised as much as it should be and with superior knowledge of it, lots of wasted energy can be saved which is something all martial artists should think about.


Marks

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Friday, 3 October 2008

Guarding When Kicking

A post from Nathan at TDA entitled Why Do We Get Hit led me to write this following article. In it, Nathan describes the various reasons of why we get hit including that without a proper guard when kicking sometimes we can take a blow.

I think that this is a very important aspect of kicking that needs to be addressed. When a kick is executed, most of the time nearly all concentration is put into the kick in order for it to land on the desired target and rightly so. A kick must be given full concentration, however, we cannot forget about our guard.

A lot of times when people throw kicks, there arms suddenly drop down, allowing for a successful counter to be made from the opponent which could result in a knockout. Against a beginner you may be able to get away with it, but an advanced fighter will see this flaw in your game and shall eventually start using it against you.

Although the arms are used to create momentum for a more powerful kick the option is always there to leave at least one hand high covering the face area, defending any counter.

This picture on the left shows the consequences of not holding a high guard when kicking. Shotokan master Hirokazu Kanazawa counters most effectively from a kick via a strong reverse punch straight to the chin. The damage this must have done should be obvious.

The picture on the right shows two Muay Thai fighters going at it. The fighter on the right throws a high roundhouse kick. The fighter on the left tries to counter with a punch but because the kicker has his guard high the strike does not penetrate.

The message I hope is clear, ALWAYS HAVE YOUR GUARD HELD HIGH!


Marks

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Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Goshin Jutsu Training

I found the following videos on Youtube demonstrating Goshin Jutsu by Zado Juku, which are pre arranged forms of defence from typical street style attacks. The techniques demonstrated include strikes, throws, locks, chokes ground fighting and escapes.

In order to become proficient using these techniques the best way to practise is to start slow in the beginning, concentrating on correct timing, body positioning, leverage etc and work speed as you get better. Also, your partner at first must be willing enough to let you apply every technique without resisting. As time goes by the level of resistance can be increased.

When a high level of resistance is used by your partner, you will find that you will not be able to apply certain techniques and will have to quickly revert to a different alternative. This will teach you to flow from technique to technique which is vital for street fighting as well as sport.

Video 1


Video 2


Video 3


Marks

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