Wednesday, 29 April 2009

300 Posts! A Look Back in Time

Markstraining.com has reached its 300th post! Although some people are probably thinking that it is no huge feat, we at markstraining.com do.

So what has this website provided readers with.

Well the first ever article, Where your Eyes Should be Looking when Sparring was written as a favour. Someone asked this question and it was in answering it that markstraining.com was born. Other questions which where answered on the site include, Close Quarter Strikes (for Grapplers), Defence and Counter attack Timing and Chainless Heavy Bag Training.

Of course, questions being answered are not the only articles which make up the site. There have been articles related to Home Workouts, tips for techniques like Back Throw Twist (Secret to Ura Nage), The Backfist (Uraken), Tips for the Armbar (Juji Gatame)and Kick Catching for Throws and Takedowns plus articles which discuss issues like Martial Artists Plateau Effect, Training Workouts and Boredom and Is Sparring Useful in the Martial Arts.

As with every website that produces articles, there will always be some that not everyone agrees with. Some people do not think that what the article states is correct or have other opinions. Markstraining.com is no different and has articles where many comments question the ideas and opinions of the articles such as Defending Rape Attacks, Karate Lunge Punch for Self Defence Training, “One Punch One Kill” is it Practical and Aggression in the Martial Arts.

This website is about training and fighting methods for martial artists. Training methods includes not just perfecting ones technique through regular martial art classes/solo training but also improving ones physical capabilities in order to be a better martial artist. For this reason many weight training, nutrition and supplemental training articles are included on the site such as, Cardio Exercises Which is Best?, Martial Arts and the Deadlift, Weight Training Mistakes for Martial Artists and Kettlebell Training for Martial Arts. Strategy is also a big part of becoming a better martial artist and the articles related to the Book of Five Rings which discuss this topic have proven to be a huge success.

Reading article after article however, can sometimes get boring, even if one enjoys the subject being discussed. Because of this at least once a week, a video article related to martial arts or supplemental training is published on the site to give visitors a chance to either see something funny, to pick up advice of some kind, to learn of certain techniques they are not familiar with etc. Video articles which have proven to be a hit on the site include, Wado Ryu Karate with Tatsuo Suzuki, Roy Dean Martial Arts, Medicine Ball Mistake, Nutrition of Bodybuilders and Mike Tyson Training Video.

With time and hard work, markstraining.com has reached its 300th post. Hopefully with further hard work it shall carry on for 300 more plus the rest. Thanks to all who have subscribed to the site, to those who visit us regularly and leave comments and hopefully it has provided you, and will continue to provide you with some knowledge, to help you become better martial artists.

Marks

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Sunday, 26 April 2009

Street Fighting, Fighting from the Ground

The worst place to be when in a self defence situation is on the floor with your opponent/s still standing striking you. Even with many years of training for this situation it is very hard to escape it once caught in it.

Many people do not give this area of self defence proper attention, but it is something that should be in everyone’s minds. Below are a few things to think about concerning this topic.

1. Your opponent/s will most probably be using leg stomps or soccer style kicks to attack you as strikes with the hands or elbows would require them to bend down or join you on the floor, so be aware of this.

2. Make it a priority to try and always make sure that your opponent/s is in front of you by your legs rather than at your side or close to your head. Stomps to the legs hurt if you get caught with them, but stomps to the ribs, chest or head will do much more damage. Use you legs and feet to push and turn your body in conjunction to the movements of your opponent/s to keep them at this position.

3. Keep your body in a “turtle” position with you knees bent and you elbows tucked into your sides ready to defend. Defend your opponent/s strikes with your shins and bent knees as you would when checking low kicks in a standing position. Striking these hard bones may put your opponent off from further striking you whilst providing protection. Striking a bent hard knee as opposed to a straight one will rarely hurt, however, make sure you knees do stay bent unless striking yourself or getting up somehow.

4. Your priority should be to get up as soon as possible, especially if attacked by more than one person, but strikes which may come in handy will be thrusts and roundhouse kicks to your opponents shins, knees or groin if close enough, heel stomps to the top of your opponents feet and if you are fighting just one person and you get an opportunity to tackle your opponents legs in order to also bring him/her to the floor, go for it.

5. As mentioned, the priority is getting up. Good times to do this are after a hard strike to your opponent’s legs or quickly after a failed tackle before your opponent gets a chance to strike. It’s always best though to roll back into a standing position as soon as you descent towards to the floor in the first place.

Fighting from the floor is not something that anyone wants to be doing but is definitely something that all should think about when training for self defence. Spar with one or more opponents whilst lying down with them standing in order to become familiar with it. Obviously use control, but try and make it realistic also. The training will come in handy.


Marks

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Friday, 24 April 2009

Wing Chun Demonstration

Wing Chun has always been an art which I would have liked to have studied but never got around to it.

The following video is a great demonstration of the art by someone who seems to know what he is doing. His ability to trap his opponents arms are especially great to watch and also the way he is able to push his opponent using timing and proper body mechanics, which in a way is similar to Bruce Lee’s one inch punch. Enjoy!



Marks

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Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Hook Punch for Karate ka

The hook punch is one of the major punches in western style boxing and a wild swinging style variation of it is one of the common street thugs preferred choice of weapons. Its always best to twist the hips when using any punch in order to deliver as much power behind the blow as possible and the hook punch works perfect for this body rotation. Because of its many pros and few cons however, why don’t Karate ka use the technique as much as it should be used.

Well, mainly due to the rules of competition karate. Firstly, the hook is a power blow and for no contact or light contact matches its full use can not be employed. Secondly, karate competition is about hitting first and the hook punch will always be slower than straight punches such as the preferred gyaku zuki (reverse/cross punch).

This does not mean though that it should not be practised in karate dojos. It is a valuable weapon to develop and karate ka should be using it in there training and sparring just as much as other techniques. If one competes in competition karate, that is fine and when practising for that purpose, exclude the punch if wished, but as with any martial art, one must not focus on only one aspect of it, but train to become an all round competent fighter, practising as many striking and grappling techniques as possible.

Any way, the hook punch comes in from the side as opposed to straight style punches such as the jab. It travels in an arc around the opponents guarding arms striking targets to the side including, mainly the liver, ribs, side of the jaw and temple. Although it can be snapped back after making contact, ones main aim when using this punch is to strike through the target whilst twisting the hips in the same direction of the punch. It can be very easy to become sloppy with this punch so a good amount of practise is needed, keeping in mind especially, to return to a strong and well defended fighting stance as soon as the punch is delivered.

There are also other ways in which the hook punch can be effective. Hikite is a major part of Karate, but many do not practise it how it should be practised which is to grab and/or pull your opponent. By pulling your opponent in during a stand up grappling situation whilst delivering a short sharp hook punch (an exact bunkai which can be seen in Naifanchi), you can easily take your opponent to the floor by following through forcefully with the punch. (Is it coincidence that the next move of Naifanchi is to step sideways, which could be interpreted as a foot stomp. Some styles such as Shotokan actually stomp there foot to the ground to emphasize this technique.)

The hook punch is a part of karate and it should be practised as much as other punches. Use mirrors to check your form when punching, focus pads to develop accuracy and heavy bags to develop power and balance. Eventually, incorporate it into your sparring. You shall be surprised on how natural the punch will feel.


Marks

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Monday, 20 April 2009

Combination Tips for Martial Artists

Combinations are needed in order to become a successful fighter. Relying on single techniques will not help one dominate during sparring or fighting. There are many martial artists that perform combinations and think that they are performing well, but the truth is that we all could do with being reminded of a few basic tips in performing combinations better.

Some of these tips include,

Should be fast but not rushed – Each technique must be thrown with speed but must also be distinguishable. By rushing through a combination, chances are that bad habits will form and one will become a sloppy fighter and techniques will not find there targets at all.

The combination should flow – Each technique should flow easily from the previous one, without much stress on joints, without taking too much time to perform and without sacrificing too much balance. If this does not happen, chances are there are better combinations which could be used.

Use different techniques – Beginners starting sparring, make one of the first mistakes of using the same combination over and over again. They are excused for this however as they are starting out. For more advanced martial artists to do this though is unacceptable, as they become known for using the same techniques and can easily be dominated.

Targets should be varied – By constantly attacking one area, for example just the head/face, the opponent will easily be able to defend himself. Attacking different targets, from head to feet during a combination will keep your opponent on there toes and chances are one, or more of the techniques in the combination will find its target.

Techniques do not have to hit – Some people think that each technique in a combination must hit its target, but the reality is that it is rare for this to happen and probably better to use some techniques in a combination as feints or set ups for others to follow.

Keep well guarded - It can be sometimes so tempting to perform combination techniques so fast that all sense of guarding oneself becomes neglected. Leaving yourself open to counter attacks is never a good idea.

The above tips should be kept in mind not just for strikers but also for grapplers. Grapplers will know that its best to use combinations when throwing, passing guard, going for submissions and in other instances so keep this tips in mind for them situations also.

To practise combinations as a grappler, make sure that the partner you are training with is willing for you to practise without fighting back. The same applies to strikers also but they can also use a mirror to practise alone and to check there form, that there techniques are aimed properly and that they keep guarded, relaxed and that each technique flows.


Marks

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Friday, 17 April 2009

Wado Ryu Karate with Tatsuo Suzuki

Todays weekly videos show demonstrations from the great Wado Ryu master Tatsuo Suzuki. Some claim, that Sensei Suzuki is one of the last few remaining people to teach pure authentic Wado Ryu karate rather than a sport based system which many claim is Wado Ryu.

The below videos show Tanto Dori (knife defences) and Idori (defences from a kneeling position). What sets Wado Ryu uniquely aside from most other karate styles is its Shindo Yoshin Ryu Ju Jutsu influence which the founder, Hironori Ohtsuka blended with Shotokan Karate which he learnt from Gichin Funakoshi. Sensei Suzuki clearly shows this influence in the videos and that it is a major part of pure Wado Ryu.

Martial artists who practise ground fighting may be surprised how some of the Idori techniques may have cropped up in there own training or sparring such as body movement, leg and hip movement and rotation of the hands over the opponents to break certain grips (especially in Gi grappling). Enjoy!





Marks

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Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Martial Art Demonstrations - Tips

The purpose of demonstrations is to show people what and how your school practises. Apart from the actual martial art techniques themselves, people get a chance to witness how students from a school talk to each other, behave around one another and what the training requirements are for each rank in the school. Demonstrations are great marketing strategies for new schools or schools looking to expand there amount of students and are also great confidence builders for the actual martial artists taking part in the demonstrations.

Below are some considerations which need to be addressed in order to carry out a successful demonstration.


Time limits – Be completely aware of how much time you have to carry out your demonstration. A demo that lasts less than 20 minutes should be enough to not only show many techniques from different students but also short enough so people watching do not get bored.

Venue – If the demo is outdoors, will it be on concrete or on grass? Will mats be needed if throws and ground fighting is displayed on concrete? If indoors, how much space will you be allocated? Will it be big enough for ten, twenty or maybe more students? Find this out all in advance so you can prepare wisely.

Demonstrators – Nearly always, the teacher of the school will perform some demonstrations, however, it is also best for students ranging from beginners to advanced level to perform. This will show onlookers what they will be expected to lean if they attend lessons at the school and will also show how good the teacher is. If his/her students are good at what they do, chances are that the teacher will also be good.

Demonstrations – PRACISE BEFORE HAND! – Each demonstration by each person must be practised repeatedly before hand so they do not get it wrong on the day. The worst thing that can happen is that the person demonstrating forgets what he/she is meant to do and stops to ask the teacher. Make sure this does not happen so prepare well.

Sparring – People nearly always want to see sparring. However, sparring can sometimes get out of hand, especially if on lookers are watching. It can turn into a brawl and people can sometimes get hurt. This could be disastrous for the schools reputation, making it out to be somewhere where people get beaten up and can put onlookers off. If you are going to have sparring in the demo, make sure that the people who are sparring control it, keeping it as a training exercise and not a fight.

Equipment preparation – Pads, weapons, mats, etc. Prepare it all well in advance by placing it in a box ready in the car that will be driven to the demonstration so it does not get forgotten.

These are just a few pointers that are needed to carry out a successful demonstration. Above all else, make sure that each person performing is confident and treats it as just another part of there training, concentrating not on the people watching but on the techniques they are performing.


Marks

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Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Grapplers Fighting in MMA

Grapplers, regardless of style at some point feel that it is right to test there skills in an MMA environment where strikes are allowed. There is always the curiosity going through there heads weather there grappling skills can get them through an encounter where strikes are also thrown. Although strikers also feel the same about grappling, we shall concentrate on what grapplers need to be aware of for this article.

The below gives a quick outline of things to bear in mind for grapplers who are thinking of transitioning into MMA.

From stand up - Stand up fighting in grappling situations normally sees the two fighters with there legs wide, both knees bent, there hands level with the torsos or chests and there body weight low, ready to defend shoots and other takedowns. In a situation where striking is allowed, you must worry about incoming punches and kicks, so having your body more upright with your hands held slightly higher should be considered. Obviously you will be looking to take the fight to the ground but you must “bait” your opponent with good striking skills first in order to get a chance to move in and take them down.

From the clinch – In the clinch during grappling contests, it is nearly always best to achieve underhooks on your opponent holding underneath there arm pits. By gripping this way, you can get your hips under there’s and throw them with ease. In an MMA environment however, you must be extra careful in the clinch. This is so important. Good clinch fighters will be looking to gain control of you head by gripping behind it with both hands and deliver punishing knee strikes and if allowed elbow strikes. You must learn how to not only gain this dominant hold behind your opponents head, but how to also break it if caught in it yourself. (It is a lot harder to do than it looks). As a grappler, some good Judo style throws can be carried out from the clinch position when cupping your opponents head so it best to study this area wisely in your MMA training.

On the ground – When ground fighting under grappling rules, sometimes fighters can leave themselves open, control there opponents legs with there arms and even relax when caught in hold downs. In an MMA environment, it is during these times when hard strikes with fists, elbows and knees are thrown. Grapplers must keep in mind that most knockouts in MMA are during ground and pound. The guard may be a good place to be in during grappling contests but a lot of strikes can be thrown from the guard in MMA so it is best to be on top of your opponent either by mounting or side control. Many grapplers who compete in MMA choose now, to rather ground and pound there opponents, even if chances for submissions are available. This is because, strikes are easier to carry out, they do not use up as much energy (usually and when done correctly), and can do more damage.

Grapplers must understand when transitioning to MMA that strikes are in most cases more important to use then throws and submissions. They are more devastating and can usually end fights much quicker than submissions holds. Having said that, grappling is a major part of MMA, it is needed in order to take your opponent to the floor, to stop your opponent taking you to the floor and to transition, scramble and submit when on the floor so for this reason, it must still be practised regularly and used if the situation is called for it to be used.


Marks

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Friday, 10 April 2009

Roy Dean BJJ Blue Belt DVD

I have just watched the Roy Dean Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Blue Belt Requirement DVD. Firstly I recommend that every martial artist buys it. Even BJJ guys past blue belt as there will be something that can be picked up and added to ones repertoire. Roy Dean shows clearly and describes in a way that everyone should understand, the basic fundamentals which is needed in order to gain a blue belt from his academy and to excel in the art of BJJ.

The beauty about Roy Deans system of grappling is that he implements it in the way it was intended to be. Because his technique is second to none and is a true professional, there is not a great need for him to use too much actual brute strength and this is proven by watching some of his videos. His level of calmness when sparring/rolling and the smooth transactions he uses from technique to technique is truly inspiring to watch and not only that but his students portray a level of excellence which is rare in most schools which shows the effectiveness of his teachings.

The techniques, pointers and tips which he recommends can not only be applied in a BJJ environment but in all grappling styles.

After training several years in Judo myself and having trained with people from other grappling styles I consider myself to be familiar with most grappling situations, however, there are still tips in this double DVD set which are new to me and which I look forward to implementing in my own training.

If you are looking to excel in BJJ, this DVD should definitely be part of your collection. Purchase it, watch it over and over again and try the content out during your own training.

For more information about Roy Dean or his academy please click here. If you would like to purchase a copy of his DVD simply click the BJJ DVD picture to the right.

Marks

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Wednesday, 8 April 2009

A Classic Bruce Lee Quote

Returning to the Original Freedom - “Before I studied the art, a punch was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I studied the art, a punch is no longer a punch, a kick is no longer a kick. Now that I understand the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick is just like a kick.”

The above saying was given by Bruce Lee and is written in his book Jeet Kune Do (a must have for all martial artists). Some people will be familiar with the meaning of it while others will be thinking that it is just a load of philosophical tripe. The truth is, this is a very important saying and applies to all martial artists regardless of style.

Before I studied the art, a punch was just a like a punch, a kick just like a kick –Before someone starts training, a punch or kick or throw or any other fighting technique is merely something carried out. The untrained person will not be aware of the body mechanics one uses to increase power, speed etc. There will be little or no thought of striking whilst keeping oneself guarded or anything else. The technique will just be carried without any thought and instinctively.

After I studied the art, a punch is no longer a punch, a kick is no longer a kick – Once a person starts training they realise that there are certain things one can do in order to make there techniques more effective. Using the whole body to punch, sharply twisting the hips when kicking, creating the best leverage for submissions, trying to attack and counter whilst keeping ones balance etc. After training for a length of time, one realises that there is more than what meets the eye regarding martial art techniques and they do not see them in the same way as before they started training.

Now that I understand the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick is just like a kick – After years of regular training, maybe a few competitions/pro or amateur fights and if one is unfortunate enough to have had to defend oneself on the street, one will come to understand that punch’s, kicks and other techniques are exactly the same as first thought, before training commenced. True, they can be executed faster and more powerful but the outcome of performing these techniques is that they should either provide you with victory in a competitive environment or should help you to defend yourself.

The understanding of martial art techniques after one has trained for a long period of time is exactly the same understanding from before one started training. In short, they must be effective and they must be part of ones natural reactions just like before one started training. Or at least this is what I interpret Bruce Lee’s quote to mean. What do you think?


Marks

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Monday, 6 April 2009

Knees to the Head on the Ground

Ive just finished watching the Shinya Aoki VS Hayato Sakurai fight (shown below if anyone is interested in it). Shinya Aoki was probably the favourite to win since his grappling skills are second to none, but he got easily dominated on the ground, not by grappling but by well placed knee strikes to the face.

Dream, the organisation which held this fight allows knees to the head of a downed opponent. Is this a good thing or like the UFC, should knees to the head when someone is on the floor by abandoned. Below are a few reasons arguing why knees possibly could be a good idea.

1. Knee strikes to the head are allowed when standing so why should they be banned when on the floor. A fighter still has the ability to defend knees when on the floor in the same way when standing. By either covering up, body locking, catching/holding the leg striking or moving away, this should stop the possibility of any knee strikes which could do damage.

2. The referring in most MMA matches is second to none. Fights are usually stopped well before a fighter is seen to be in real danger, especially when on the floor. When a person is down and looks as though he/she is unable to continue defending themselves, the ref will instantly stop the fight.

3. By omitting knee strikes to the head when on the floor it is easy for fighters to become careless and lazy when guarding there head area. Hand strikes are thrown regularly on the ground, but most of the time, they are not defended at all as sometimes they are not powerful to do any damage, especially when wearing gloves. Knees on the other hand are and if one person starts throwing of few of them the person receiving them will soon realise that they hurt and they need to start defending themselves. Not only will this force one to defend themselves better but it will also force some action whilst on the floor instead of fighters using the time to rest which can be boring to watch buy some people.

4. By not allowing knees to the head when an opponent is down, some fighters can use this rule to there advantage. If fighter A knows that fighter B is a good knee striker, every time fighter B attempts one whilst standing, fighter A could just drop to his/her knees in order to prevent any punishment. Not only is this a form of cheating, it is NOT what the martial arts is about and by some, it can be some as cowardly.

Knees certainly are dangerous and can quickly end a fight, and by allowing knees to the head whilst on the ground, some fights could become very violent looking and may even finish too quickly which may leave some people cheated when watching them, especially those who pay to watch the fights. For these reasons, it may be worth keeping knees to the head when on the ground left out of MMA. One thing is for sure though, weather allowed or disallowed it will definitely be a hot topic for discussion for years to come.


Marks

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Friday, 3 April 2009

The D'Arce Choke

The video below shows one of my favourite chokes, the D'Arce Choke. Many times you may find yourself on top of your opponent and one of the first natural instincts from this position is to try and hold his/her arm. By controlling the arm by holding under the arm pit, it is relatively easy to thread your arm around your opponent’s neck. Once this is done the choke should easily be applied using any of the variations shown below. I personally prefer the variation where you hold inside the crook of your own elbow and press down on your opponents back.



When going for the choke from on top of your opponents back, you have to be quick because he/she may be able to arm roll out of the hold which you have under his arm. However if you have secured the neck and have your arms in a choking position, you can still obtain a submission even if your opponent rolls out from underneath. The above video shows the choke whilst turning your opponent on his back. This variation may be one of the best because you can control your opponent well, and there is less chance of him/her escaping, but there are other variations.

The below video shows Shinya Aoki using the D'Arce Choke in combat.



Marks

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Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Sparring Variations

“Sparring is a must”.There are many articles on this site that state that exact phrase and articles in the future will continue to state it. What is also stated in some articles on this site is the fact that sparring has to be varied. Regardless of what style you practise, sparring in the same manner every time will not only prohibit your ability to specifically work on a certain area of sparring but may also get boring.

Varying your sparring from time to time will give you and your sparring partner the chance to work on specific weaknesses which will help in your overall unique fighting style. Below are a few recommendations for sparring variations,

Degree of contact – If you spar light contact, pad yourself up and spar full contact for a few sessions and vice a versa for full contact fighters.

Different quarters - Agree with your sparring partner to spar within a certain distance from each other. For example, during close quarter sparring, a gap of no more than a foot must be kept at all times.

One attacks, one defends – One person attacks and the other can only defend without countering. This is great for “shy” martial artists who may have trouble finding the will to hit there opponent. It does happen.

Concentrating on certain weapons – This can be either hands (boxing) only, legs only, or if its grappling, trying to submit each other with nothing other than arm bars, or leg locks, or chokes etc.

Working on weak defences – Picking one type of defence and sticking with it. Maybe it could be bob and weaving, parrying, ducking, stop hitting etc.

Combination sparring – Every attack must be no less than 3, 4, 5 or more techniques long. For this, it is best for someone watching, to call a number which signifies the amount of techniques in a combination before each one is carried out. This is great for learning to follow through with attacks. Each person takes turns in attacking whilst the other person allows the combination to finish without countering or doing anything to stop the attack.

Limiting the areas – Agreeing to spar only body shots or only head shots etc. Grapplers can maybe agree to stay above the waist, meaning that attacks on/with the legs, either by submission, sweeping or in order to control is prohibited, and that they are only used for moving.

Sparring in awkward positions – Sparring whilst pressed against a wall, cage or even another person, or sparring in small confined areas like corridors, toilets etc, is great for getting used to obstructions around you. Many times fights have broken out in toilets of nightclubs, or corridors in bars where space is limited. For combat sports athletes who fight in rings/cages, this is a must.

These are just a few examples of sparring variations that can be used to work on weaknesses or to sidestep boredom that may occasionally pop up through training. When trying variations in sparring, stick to that specific variation.

Obviously, during a sparring variation, one person may be at a disadvantage to the other and may think he/she is “losing”. It is very easy at this point to let pride take over and start fighting in a way which does not keep within the rules of the variation. Try to stop this from happening.


Marks

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