Saturday, November 19, 2016

decoding the haymaker to further understand eskrima

In Western Boxing people know that, you need to make punches that quickly return and have your hands up. This is evident when you punch a bag that bounces back. Each time it bounces back that simulates an attack from your opponent, and it can be so fast that you need to keep your hands up to guard your head.

All this makes sense, however, we can ask the question, if all this makes sense, then why do we throw big haymaker punches?

From a knife fighting perspective, you can see people cut water bottles and other targets using big wild swings, this is because big swinging motions have the most power. These big swinging moves can totally leave you wide open and may not be the smartest move to do, but at the right time it can cause some major damage.

In Eskrima we have big swinging haymaker style moves, but we also have more compact slashes. These slashes work great with weapons especially bladed weapons, but when translated to empty hands the slashing motions of Eskrima do not have your hands up.

As we mentioned at first, from a Boxing perspective this is not a good idea.
However in Eskrima, our slashes may not have our arms up guarding our head like a Boxer, it is designed to close the distance and bash the enemy with your forearms.

In Eskrima, when our arms are crossed, we use the forearms to safely clinch and fight from there.       

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sensitivity skills in martial arts

Many people see Aikido people practicing and they say it looks like it's fake.
It looks like they are going along with each other, like a dance.

To a certain extent they are correct.
The first thing in Aikido is that you learn that you must comply with your partner so that when they throw or take you down, it doesn't hurt you. If you resist or go against the technique you can get injured badly. So yeah you are "going with" your partner so that you learn how not to get hurt when someone does a move like this to you.

The second thing is that by "going with" your partner, your learning how to feel your opponent's force. Now this may sound mystical but you can look at it from a physics point of view. If they throw or take you down, that requires energy and force, by complying to their technique you are learning how to sense that force and go with it. Kind of like a wave in the ocean, if you go with the wave you can find spots to breathe and naturally come up, but if you go against it, you can drown and wear yourself out. Or even a car crash, if you relax and go with the force, you can minimize the damage and only have superficial injuries, but if you tense up, you can really hurt yourself badly.

Trying to read the force is called sensitivity training. Many martial art styles have figured out that having good sensitivity can make you a much better warrior. So they have implemented ways to develop sensitivity.

Chinese styles like Wing Chun and Tai Chi practice sensitivity from hand partner exercises. Filipino martial arts also have something similar.

Back when I was learning Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, I noticed that when we sparred 99% of the time, we began from our knees. The first martial art that I ever encountered that worked from the knees a whole lot was none other than Aikido. So I tried to incorporate some Aikido into my BJJ practice.

It wasn't so much the techniques that I incorporated but the principals and especially the sensitivity. Once I started to do that, my BJJ skills became much better. I was able to transition from position to position, technique to technique much better. I was able to relax and become more efficient because I was tensing up less and trying to read my opponent's energy instead.

I decided to write about this today because I saw a video on Youtube with a Rickson Gracie black belt talking about connecting and disconnecting in what Rickson calls Invisible Jiu-jitsu. As I was watching the video I immediately thought, oh he is talking about sensitivity.

The difference though is not about connecting and disconnecting from your opponent, because the way I learned things was that if I'm separated from my opponent they can hit me and throw me, but if I connect with them, and become one with them, we become joined like we are one entity, then it becomes hard for them to throw themselves, or hit themselves.

So I don't exactly 100% agree with what the Rickson Gracie black belt said. But I am 100% for sensitivity. I remember in Russian martial arts training the idea of becoming one with your opponent was introduced to me from a Sambo throw. It makes it harder for your opponent to throw you and easier for you to sense when to throw them.

Becoming one with your opponent is the key principal in Aikido. To blend in with their movement, I always thought it sounded very ninja like. To me a good ninja would have Tai Sabaki similar to an Aikido ka.



Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Aikido in MMA

I recently saw a video on Youtube where a guy was talking about why we don't see Aikido techniques in MMA.

I think there are two common reasons as to why this is.

1) Because they don't work.
2) Because Aikido is for self-defense/combat, while MMA is a sport/duel.

I disagree strongly with both reasons.

The people who think that we don't see Aikido techniques in MMA because they don't work, still operate in a way of thinking where they believe that certain techniques work and don't work.

They are wrong in my opinion because any technique has the potential to work, fail, and everything in between. Simply put, there are no guarantees.

Instead of viewing the technique as it works or not, I think people should become more responsible and say I don't know how to make this technique work, rather than blame the technique.

Many people see BJJ as a style that works, so if we get a BJJ technique like a rear naked choke, if you are a beginner and you walk into a BJJ school, I guarantee that the RNC will not work for you, in fact probably non of the BJJ techniques will work for you the first week that your there.

Moving on to opinion number two, where people think that Aikido techniques are not seen in MMA because they are designed for combat and not sport.

I disagree with this statement too, because whether we are talking about combat, a street fight, bar fight, dark alley fight, self-defense, home invasion, sport, fighting on grass or sand, multiple attackers, these are all just scenarios. And the main thing is that the body mechanics, human aggression, stress, timing, physical contact, things like this do not change.

So if I'm going to use an Aikido wrist lock technique it doesn't matter what scenario, as far as what it takes to execute the technique it won't change, because I'm doing it to a human being in a physical confrontation. Now if I do the technique and his buddy comes up to me from behind and kicks me in the junk, it doesn't mean that the technique failed, it means that it was the wrong time for me to do the move, or the strategy was not good. 

So why do we not see Aikido moves in MMA?
Simply put because there are not enough Aikido people interested in competing in MMA.How many Aikido schools are there where they focus on competing in MMA? How many MMA fighters cross train with Aikido people? Now ask the same two questions with Muay Thai, wrestling, Boxing, and BJJ.

How many Judo and Sambo people do MMA at a televised level? Not many, how many Tae Kwon Do and Karate people do MMA at a televised level, probably even less than the Judo and Sambo people. So you can imagine, something like Aikido, Tai Chi, Systema, Wing Chun, and Eskrima, would be close to zero.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Martial Running

Martial Running is a term I made up.
It's basically just running specifically for martial arts.

Essentially I'm talking about two things here.
Number one is to run and become fit so that I become better at doing martial arts.
Number two is to become better at running. This is because I view running as a skill. To me running is a martial arts technique, so just like any other technique I need to practice it to become good enough with it so that I can use it in a real life altercation.

How is it different from normal running?
Because it's for martial arts, I add things from and for martial arts.

Here are some tips.

1. Add footwork
As you are running, mix in your footwork practice from whatever style it is you practice.

2. Practice Breathing
While your running, practice breathing the way you would in whatever style it is you practice.

3. Make your running more technical
Martial arts is the study of body mechanics. So break down the different body mechanics that occur when running and work on those.

4. Incorporate body martial arts body mechanics
As your running, add in explosive movements, or swing your arms  martial arts style.

5. Imagine scenarios
As you run use your imagination to make your running a bit more experienced.



Saturday, November 5, 2016

Wmpyr vs Heavyweight Wrestler

In my college years I had some pretty intense sparring matches with guys that wanted to test themselves against me.

One of these guys was John C.
John was 6 foot 2, 300 pounds. I'm 5 foot 10, and weighed 140 pounds at the time.
John was an Aikido stylist who was a  former freestyle high school wrestler.

During this time I had minimal grappling in my arsenal but I wanted to learn, especially after watching Royce Gracie dominate in the UFC.

John had seen me grapple, he saw me utilize the Guard position which was a staple position in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. John challenged me to a grappling match, we started standing, and when he rushed me for a take down, I went with it and tried to pull him into my guard. He quickly recognized this, and jumped in the air to squash me. Fortunately I took most of his weight on the back of my thighs and I was fine. Once we ended up in my guard, he jumped up again to squash me, this time he landed on my torso and all the air in my lungs was forced out. I tried my best to get him in an armbar, but I didn't know how. I kept telling myself, I need to get the armbar but how do I do it?

The match was a stalemate with John not knowing what to do inside my guard, and me not being able to do anything to him either. Afterwards I was exhausted, a cocky American Kenpo Karate stylist who was watching, complemented me and said it takes a lot of balls to go up against someone that much larger.

Later John asked me about striking, I told him that I had practiced some Muay Thai. He wanted to know what my strategy would be against a big guy like him, and I said I would kick him in the leg repeatedly with my shins, like a lumber jack chopping down a tree. He asked me how to defend against that, and I showed him the leg check.

He then wanted to spar me in stand up striking.  I threw a leg kick and he checked it just like I showed him. So then I thew another one from a different angle so that even if he checks it, it would still land on his thigh. After the hit, he dropped his foot back down, which I doubled up and I kicked him in the same leg again.

Against me he was confident in his Western Boxing skills, so he wanted to come close and pop me in the face, I threw a low side kick and double up with a high side kick to his face just short of his nose. This is a double side kick combo I saw Chuck Norris do in one of his films, and I practice to this day. Anyway the kick was too fast for John, and probably barely saw a blur. He said you could have broken my nose huh? I said I could have landed it for sure, probably draw some blood, he didn't want to do anymore after that. 

John and I never sparred each other again after that. I continued to learn grappling by any means, and I got better and better.
A good while after, John myself and a friend of ours was practicing martial arts together. A big dude who was lifting weights saw us working out and he aggressively approached us. He was in the Air force, Judo stylist and former bouncer. He was very muscular. He must have been 6 foot 4, around 260. He challenged us to a sparring match, the three of us declined. He grabbed our friend who was about 170 pounds and curled him with one arm. And somehow he began wrestling with John. They went to a stalemate and it looked like Godzilla versus King Kong.

Afterwards the guy said he was just getting warmed up and asked John to go again, but John declined. The guy suddenly grabbed me and threw me on the mat.

I was mad, and I was working a guillotine choke on him, and he told me to let it go repeatedly so I did, which he took advantage of to get himself out and continued to attack me. I was beyond furious now, so I somehow took his back and rear naked choked him. After he tapped, he said that nobody has ever done this to him. He was in disbelief.

He told me he was impressed with me and said I should be a bouncer.
He then threw me on the mat yet again! This time I went street. I was turtled, and he was in an over sprawl on top of me with a hold of my neck. I attacked his fingers, courtesy of the catch wrestling style, Grappling Master by Gene LeBell was one of my favorite martial arts books back in the day. He screamed and verbally submitted telling me his fingers were weak from lifting weights. 









Saturday, September 24, 2016

Skill Transfer

Most people know that Eskrima, Kali, and Arnis primarily focus on stick training.

The firearm is a superior weapon compared to a stick. However the stick can be more practical.

Most beginners understand that if you learn how to fight with the stick, then no matter where you are in the world, chances are you will be able to find a weapon similar in size and shape to a stick. This makes total sense, however this is a beginner level way of thinking.

To head in the direction of higher level training, we begin with the double sticks.

Eskrima, Kali, and Arnis training also has a lot of double stick training. This is where some people begin to moan and groan. They do not like double stick training because they say it's not practical. What are the odds of finding two sticks in a combat situation they say.

At a higher level we understand the importance to adapt during combat. In order to truly adapt to any altercation, we need to ability to use anything around us as a weapon. This is called improvised weapons skills.

To develop improvised weapons skills, we begin with the double sticks. The goal is to transfer your double stick skills to whatever weapon that is in your hand.

We build a foundation of skills with the double sticks and then do what I call a SKILL TRANSFER so that you can fight well with whatever that is in your hand.

To do a smooth skill transfer the most important ingredient is to put in a ton of repetition practice so that even when your not holding the sticks you can still feel the sticks in your hand. I call this sensation Ghost Sticks. When you are at the level where you can feel the ghost sticks, then it becomes much easier to skill transfer. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Chin Jab

In the summer of 1994, my first year of college, I found what I believe to be a WWI combatives manual. It was a thin book with hand drawn illustrations demonstrating some very interesting techniques that I have kept with me to this day.

One of the techniques is called the Chin Jab. The idea is to hit your opponent on the underside of their chin like an uppercut, with an open palm strike, and then immediately follow up with a claw to the eyes.

This technique can be combined with a knee to the groin, a take down technique, and the shin scrape which I will talk about later.

I recently had a friend come visit me from a far. He is a long time friend and fellow martial artist, so I showed him the Chin Jab and we discussed/explored the technique.

We tried to figure out the context of the technique, in other words, the manner in which it was meant to be used. We talked about what the battlefield was like in WWI and WWII. We brought up scenarios such as a POW trying to escape situation, sentry removal, and fighting in the trench. We talked about various weapons that the soldiers carried and used in battle at the time, such as the trench knife, pistol, grenade, and bayonet rifle.

The main scenario we focused on was a soldier trying to take away another soldier's bayonet rifle. We mimicked the bayonet rifle using a thick PVC pipe I occasionally use for Eskrima training.

The key points:

A) You are engaged in a standing grappling situation.
 
B) The Chin Jab is not executed like a right cross where your trying to hit them with all your might in order to KO the enemy, but instead, your lifting their chin up to compromise their structure. 

C) Immediately follow up with the claw. The claw must be a continuous clawing motion attacking sensitive areas of the face including eyes, nose, and ears.

We also lightly tested the claw in a ground fight scenario. We took turns taking each other down and tried to dominate or finish the other person on the ground while the other defended using the claw.  The claw seemed very effective to throw the grappler off their game.

The Shin Scrape was another technique from the same manual. The idea is to kick a person in the knee, then scrape down their shin to land in a heel stomp to their foot. I like this triple attack combo, although I am not sure how well one can scrape down the shin if the enemy is wearing boots. I would imagine that the laces and such would get in the way.