Forget the Ice Bucket

Jiu Jitsu is not for everybody but the fact that most martial arts schools are including some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) in their curriculum indicates a growing interest and a need to adapt to the changing environment because self defence is no longer just a stand-up game. 

Newcomers quickly find out BJJ is more of an ocean than a swimming pool when you start comparing BJJ to other martial arts.  There are many instructors who would like to be part of Jiu Jitsu but the enthusiasm quickly loses its momentum because of little voices in their heads:

1.  Who’s got the time?
2.  Who wants to go to the ground anyway?
3.  I’m already a black belt;
4.  Looks like too much hard work;
5.  Three years for the first belt is too long;
6.  How do I wrestle with my arms folded?
7.  This stuff won’t work on me;
8.  I’ll teach MMA, no worries about belts and certificates.

Five years later, the voices again in their heads:

1.  I better make the time;
2.  I want to learn what to do if the fight goes to the ground;
3.  I don’t mind wearing a white belt;
4.  I’m not afraid of hard work;
5.  If I train hard enough I should get my first belt in 3 years;
6.  Wrestling looks like fun;
7.  This stuff can really work for me;
8.  I better learn Jiu Jitsu before I start teaching it.

Forget the Ice Bucket.  Take up Jiu Jitsu if you want a real challenge and don’t forget to donate.

The Right Martial for the Right Reason

There has been a steady inclination of interest and promotion of the so called ‘killer’ martial arts that boast and promote devastating techniques.  Gouging eyes and striking vital parts of the head can be effective but how good will they be when you have to answer for your actions?  If these ‘devastating techniques’ are the only options then people better be prepared to defend themselves in court as well.  The legal system does not always take too kindly of people inflicting unnecessary injury even if it is self defence.

Inflicting serious injury, in a particular situation might end you in more trouble than you can ever imagine.  If all you know is striking, the excuse of ‘this is all I know’, might not always cut it in a court room.  Idiots who openly boast about doing MMA is like a waving a red flag at the legal fraternity who will have a much harder time trying to justify themselves because the public associates MMA with Cage Fighting, not self defence,.  Any idiot can claim to know MMA; they don’t need certificates, belts or anything else so students are going to be taught irresponsibly.

More and more schools will include Jiu Jitsu as part of their training to ensure students have access to passive techniques which may be more suitable in less hostile situations.  We also have a – ‘Duty of Care’ which means a legal obligation which is imposed on an individual requiring adherence to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others.  In Jiu Jitsu choking someone out in self defence may be reasonable but care must be taken that the attacker does not hit their head on the ground which can lead to serious injury or death.

I believe all martial arts have a purpose and I take my hat off to anyone who wishes to indulge in their particular art but, in this day and age, it is becoming increasingly important that self defence involves Jiu Jitsu which may be more appropriate in many situations.  Also, another consideration is that a fight might end up close quarter or even on the ground; there is no referee to break it up.  Including Jiu Jitsu with your standup game is certainly going to increase your chances of survival.  One has to look at some of the hostile situations on Youtube then you will understand that we need to be prepared in more ways than one.

Making Sense of Jiu Jitsu

What do think would be going in the mind of a beginner Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) student when they are told to get on their back or knees?  The question is, when I first ever tried BJJ, why would I want to do that?  It does not make much sense to most people, especially to curious standup fighters, to start on the ground.  The truth is Jiu Jitsu has a combative aspect to the art which does not start on the ground.  The combative aspect is the missing link in Jiu Jitsu, most probably due to the art being popularised as a sport.  Jiu Jitsu without combatives is no different to getting somebody to read a book from half way and then expect them to know the whole story.

Jiu Jitsu Combatives are not the techniques you expect to find in Self Defence competition where techniques at  these tournaments are usually unrealistic, choreographed and quite often ridiculous; I have never seen or heard anybody do handstands or cartwheels during a fight but I guess if that impresses some of the judges then they are on the right track (doesn’t say much for the judges though).

Whilst my school has always concentrated on the combative aspects of Karate and Jiu Jitsu, the Jiu Jitsu Combatives have been around for a very long time which have been developed by Jiu Jitsu experts over many decades.  Not all schools choose to practice or have the knowledge or are even aware of these combatives.

I get nothing but incredible responses when I set aside time teaching the combatives to Jiu Jitsu students, including karate students because these techniques are relevant to them as well. The combatives, to a new student, gives foresight of the journey they are about to embark on.  The story will then start to make sense.

Protect your Daughters!

It’s time to let everybody know the truth about females in the martial arts.  There are very important underlying reasons why our daughters need and must continue to train the martial arts in today’s society.  Society is becoming so complex and demanding which is causing a change in attitude and tolerance amongst people. 

Unlike males, females are more likely to get attacked by someone they know or are associated with.  Males who attack females are usually cowards and will not attack a male if there is a chance of getting hurt.  Domestics, where partners turn to violence, are very common which can result in very serious situations.  

Any martial art can help a female in time of trouble with the correct training. In the type of situation a female might find herself in, kicking and punching may not always be the best solution because she is more likely to deal with bullies (usually male) just like kids come across at school.  Jiu  Jitsu deals with bullies whether at school or at work which is extremely useful for females in a bad relationship etc.  It is about having to deal with people who are physically stronger and people in close range situations where the kicking and punching might become difficult. That is why our Karate training involves a lot of Jiu Jitsu picking up the shortfall.

Jiu Jitsu training gives confidence to females because they learn to be able to face and handle stronger persons whilst still getting their fitness workout.  I have come across many experienced young Jiu Jitsu girls and guys who I believe can easily handle an adult.  Just look at the expression of the girl in the pic.  Although funny, the facial expression is a true representation of some of these Jiu Jitsu girls when they want to get serious.

Remember ‘daddy’ will not always be around to protect their kids (including daughters).  There is not one parent, I know, who is not concerned their kids being able to protect themselves, however, their are parents who will give up when a child wants to QUIT!  All it takes is one incident to hurt that young lady for the rest of her life or even sustain serious psychological or physical injury.  A child cannot see the consequences whereas a parent can.  Many kids may not know it now but they will be thankful in time of need, especially, when all grown up.  What a beautiful gift to a child!

‘Just Saying’

There’s an increasing interest in practical application in martial arts today because people want to see a purpose and value in what they are learning.  This shift in focus is the result of a large influence by Jiu Jitsu, MMA and Reality Based Training.

The question is how do we know what we are learning or teaching is relevant to us?   It makes no sense to practice disarming a person in possession of a sword or an AK47 because of the extreme unlikelihood of anything like that is ever going to happen in our world.  However, to an Afghan soldier this sort of training would be very vital.  So the humble martial arts instructor has to be aware what's relevant and useful and that can difficult if they do not have the experience or access to resources. 

My focus has been practical application since the mid ‘80s when I first started training the Filipino Martial  Arts; that was a big shift from the traditional Karate which I was already doing for well over a decade.  It was relevant to my working environment such as working the doors in Sydney night clubs and solo law enforcement and there were times of having to take immediate action (off duty) on rat bags who broke the law right then and there – rapists, car thieves, drunks, thieves, dangerous drivers, serious assaults.  Talk about being at the wrong place at the wrong time (Bruce Willis, eat your heart out – no script, no special effects).  What do you tell your wife at 5am when you were supposed to be in bed 5 hours earlier.  With only a pair of shorts, runners and some worked up courage, five people arrested.  The media thrived on the story for months.   

Nothing wrong with being a martial artist and not having such life experiences but please don’t flex your muscles and tattoos, flash your belt and market yourself to convince the world you are invincible.  I bet, in one real situation, a lot of these 'wanna be's’ would turn to water and jump on Facebook to call for help. 

I've always told tournament promoters I am the wrong person to judge self defence events.  How do you score someone who defends against 3 attackers with baseball bat, sword and bikie chain and then finishing it all off with a handstand at a World MMA event?   

Techniques taught at schools should be relevant and effective.  This will only happen if the Instructor has an inquisitive mind by making use of the plentiful resources out there; flashy belts and Dans are not going to help anyone.

The ‘Ordinary Guy’

Martial artists are disciplined and structured fighters but, in a situation, emotions can inhibit their performance.  This is because emotions and  fighting don’t mix very well.  We've heard it many times over ‘keeping a cool head’ is the best advice in a situation.  This is demonstrated by well trained police officers, doormen etc who keep their cool and will do a much better job in comparison with the ‘ordinary guy’.  

Police officers, and the like, generally are able to keep their emotions under control because what they do is not personal.  They get involved in a situation because it's their job to do so unllike the ordinary guy who may get involved in a heated situation with emotions flaring up.  The more personal, the more emotional, the more difficult to perform. 

How does one keep a cool head?  Ask the the experts; these are the people you want to talk to or learn from.  Keeping calm is not only better for performance but when the Cops turn up, the first thing they do, is will want to talk to the person who is most composed when trying to figure out what has happened or who is the culprit.  If they don't like you, you are already behind the '8' ball so you need to remain calm.

Relaxing is not so easy for the ordinary guy because they are not acclimatised to confrontations but just be aware the less emotional you are, the less likely you are to say something stupid and do the wrong thing.

PS: Happy Birthday to Soke Richard Norton