Choke on this!

The other night, I had an interesting question put to me by one of my Brown Belts about a concern not being able to get out of a rear choke put on by one of her male friends.  I said, "of  course you couldn't because they already had the choke on, nor could've anybody else if on that tight."  That’s similar to saying, ‘how do you stop a punch when it is only a centimetre away from your face?’  You are not supposed to let it get that far, you react the moment you perceive the threat (or at least see it coming).  The same goes for the choke.

Self defence techniques are at their best when applied early.  You don't let the opponent take away all your escape options.  A technique’s effectiveness should not be judged solely on scenarios where your opponent is aware what's coming to them and they react accordingly, compromising the technique.

Many techniques are taught and practiced but not all are going to make it through the goal posts when it comes to the final crunch in a situation.  But all techniques need to be practiced to ensure the understanding of reaction and body motion.  A martial arts expert is a person who fully understands 'all' techniques and they are in a pretty good position to say what is or isn’t effective.  Sometimes techniques may seem fruitless or even trivial but we are in the business of examining all options. 

Techniques are only as good as the person practicing them.  Not all of them are going to be good for everybody in every situation.  That's why there are options.

Martial Arts – now in 3D!

Nobody can argue a movie in 3D is better than in 2D.  Traditional martial arts are usually based on training without a partner by executing techniques in the air.  Whilst this is a good way of developing discipline and perfecting the moves it is a bit like an artist without a brush, paint and canvas, usually left with the devices of good imagination. 

Kickboxing and Ground Fighting are martial arts in 3D.  Their training heavily relies on partner work instead of imagination.  It would be far too complex to imagine the moves like you would in a Karate kata or Kung Fu form.  Training with a partner takes into account the many variables whilst executing the techniques ie distancing, focus on the target and actual application for neuromuscular feedback to see what happens when you make actual contact or, in the case of BJJ, applying wrestling moves. 

Our traditional training is important which is the basis of building strong foundations, sharpening techniques and developing discipline (perfect when you don’t have a partner), but was is also important, is interaction with another human being.  Imagine performing all those street self defence techniques, in the air, without a partner!  None of it would make much sense. 

My philosophy is before getting into Kickboxing, they better have a good foundation in traditional Karate then they might be ready for the next dimension.

Ahead of Times

When I started the martial arts 35 years ago I didn’t know what I really wanted or what to expect.  There was very little to go on – no youtube, no media, no information but only a  couple of magazines on the news stand to give some information if my chosen martial art was the correct choice.  In those days (especially being young) decisions were usually based on the locality of the school, price and whether the Instructor looked liked he knew what he was doing or you just got it by word of mouth.  Of course, today, people can now make more informed decisions because of advanced technology and global communication.

We’ve come a long way since then but there were stages during my martial arts training that I would’ve been ahead of times but soon everybody caught up and now doing what I was doing back then.  I remember one of my Instructors, in my 13th year of training, who absolutely fascinated me with what he was teaching me but I look back at it now and say ‘that’s old school’.  This is no different to the first computer on the market – how impressive was that!  If you look at it now, I would be too embarrassed to tell anyone of today’s generation that I ever owned one of those. Just to keep up with times I have to constantly refine and update my skills by cross training and working out with persons who are specialists in their fields eg Richard Norton and John Will; they are ahead of their times.

Martial arts schools can get very stale or stagnate in their training.  A good school’s programme has to constantly update and keep up with the times.  Your computer automatically does that with little messages on screen, ‘click for updates’.  It’s not necessarily about replacing techniques, it’s about updating! 

If an Instructor or school does not introduce new techniques, methods or skills, then the student does not have the opportunity to advance.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we can just hit a button to download updates.

On another note, another great weekend with Shihan Richard Norton for some more training.  It does get better and better.  The 43 degree heat may have kept some people away but not Damien who drove down from Canberra so I won't be taking any excuses from absentees please!  A big welcome to our new BJJ students, Alex and Pedro, to their first seminar. 

A special acknowledgement and thanks to Gary Davis, who is a 5th Dan in Japanese Jiu Jitsu, for organising a couple of seminars at the Burwood Police Citizens Youth Club which he manages. 

I will keep you updated.

What a Workout!

There’s nothing better than the feeling after a good martial arts workout. Usually based on the feeling of improvement, if you have learnt anything, you did your best, you felt more confident and energetic etc. 

Last Sunday evening did the job for me – at Steve Perceval’s gym.  A grueling calisthenic workout to start off with and then an hour of wrestling.  It took me 30 minutes to dry before I could get changed.  This sort of training brings out the true spirit of martial arts out of everyone especially when they swap leather or lock horns on the ground.  Spare a thought for Richard Sargeant (a very fit and tough BJJ Brown Belt) who wrestled over 20 people for 30 minutes with no break!  Not to mention he did an 11 km run before he came to class.  He only got tapped out once!  I like his style as a martial artist and a person.

This hard workout makes you sense a feeling of camaraderie which is not found on forums where many of the weak minded, who call themselves martial artists, hide behind alias names.  Obviously, they don’t train enough, or don’t have many friends, to have this free time to do this kind of thing.  Seriously, folks, use your time wisely and focus on your martial arts training.  These iphones, x-boxes etc are not going to get you anywhere.

Looking forward to Shihan Richard Norton this weekend.  This should be another one of those great feelings!

CB Radio of the 21st Century

The net is like CB radio – time waster.  Back in the early ‘70’s I used to enjoy talking on CB radio (Citizen’s Band).  It was very popular in those days, speaking to strangers and making friends over the airways.  Many hours were spent talking about nothing and making up garbage.  I would stay up till 4 in the morning talking to anybody who I can find also staying up late.  My friends and I look back now and we think it was a waste of time ie no value and no productivity.  I think the mobile phone killed it.

I see Facebook and Forums much the same way.  Whilst most people are enjoying them right now,  they will probably look back later and share the same opinion of what I think about CB radios back then ie zero value and zero productivity.  I say don’t waste your time.  There are 24 hours in the day.  Eight hours are for sleeping and the remaining 16 hours can be divided for grooming, work, eating, phone conversations, computer work, coffee, television etc.  Why waste those valuable hours on Facebook and Forums for something with no return.  Don't get me wrong, CB was great for travelling for information and in case of emergency (we didn't have mobile phones back then).  Facebook and Forums can also be good when used correctly but people do get carried away (I was guilty with CB radio).  This is not healthy.

If you are serious about martial arts you would need to give serious thought about time wasters.  Some of the greatest martial artists on earth never had to worry about CB radio, Facebook or Forums because they didn’t exist.  We wouldn’t have the likes of Chuck Norris, Richard Norton and John Will around if they spent their time on CB radio.

Technology is here to make our life easier and more advanced but not to eat away the precious hours you have left in the day.  In the case of martial arts, make the most of your time and use it productively by trying to learn as much as you can and be the best you can be.