Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Power of Defense

I've been to many really good BJJ schools.
One was more tough and rough, while another was more technical in a sport kind of way, while another one was more street and self-defense oriented, and then the last school I went to was the Carlos Machado Academy.

Carlos Machado is the head of the Machado family, which are the cousins to the Gracie family.
The Machado family has taught BJJ to many famous legendary martial artists such as Dan Inosanto, Chuck Norris, and Steven Seagal.

At the Machado Academy, Professor Carlos Machado taught me defense like I had never seen before. We focused on defense like crazy. He said that if your confident in your defense then you won't be afraid to attack, because often times when you attack your vulnerable and can get countered. Defense was the foundation he taught me.

Pretty much all the same concepts I learned from BJJ can be applied to the other styles of martial arts that I've learned. So I have been doing that. To me my training in BJJ has been the link between traditional martial arts and combat sports.

Following the defense concept I learned from Professor Carlos Machado, I feel that it's absolutely paramount to build your foundation starting with defense. 

However many martial arts including Eskrima teaches offense first. I think the reason for this is that Eskrima is a military style. Which means offense-offense-OFFENSE! Defense is difficult to learn and it takes time to develop. Can't expect soldiers to always have time for that kind of study and training.

If you don't understand the value of defense then you have no choice but to be 100% committed to offense and you have to just force your way forward and keep marching and hope that things turn out well for you. 

Defense is what allows you to survive under the worst conditions. From a self-defense point of view that is where it's at. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

ERC Every Room Carry

As I write this, my area is under the mercy of Hurricane Harvey.
The flooding has gotten bad enough that the front road in front of the house is no longer visible, neither is our front lawn, just a river that is creeping up to our front door.

I remember at the time my BJJ training partner was a DPD Police Officer. It was right after Hurricane Katrina, and he told me of all the criminal activities that was going on despite the desperate times. So it's only smart to have a self-defense tool ready. 

EDC stands for Everyday Carry. And to tactical knife lovers it means the knife that you carry to work or just going out for your daily choirs.

If I'm going to do grocery shopping, I EDC a minimal tool that can be used for self-defense. The main word is tool, so that the judge, jury, and police do not think that I'm some nut job looking for trouble.

However during emergency times or if I know I'm going through a bad neighborhood, I will go to a more heavy duty self-defense weapon and also carry more than one if necessary.

Something I came up with when I was living in exceptionally bad neighborhoods in San Antonio was something I called ERC(Every Room Carry). This means that  I carried something for self-defense even in my own "home" which was usually at a section 8 apartment. There were times where I expected to see a burglar standing in my room.

So, don't just EDC, ERC especially during emergency/desperate times, just in case. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Heaven 6

The "Heaven 6" is the most famous Arm Weaving technique. Arm Weaving is the skill to wield two weapons simultaneously without getting your arms in each other's way. 

Examples of Arm Weaving techniques:
1. Heaven 6
2. Heaven and Earth
3. Earth 6
4. Reverse Heaven 6

People misunderstand and think that you need two weapons to do Arm Weaving, but this is not true. Arm Weaving can be applied to empty hand combat. Arm Weaving is really about being able to skillfully use both hands together during combat.

Arm Weaving was taught to me to be used in three different ways:
1. Offensively 
2. Defensively
3. Counter attacking

Offensive Heaven 6 is quite simple, just go up to somebody and just attack, hit them all over their face, neck, and body.

Defensive Heaven 6 uses the same movements as the offensive usage, but instead of striking, slap the opponent's attack out of the way. This is basically a parry on steroids.

For Countering Heaven 6 there are two possibilities, one is to strike at their attack from the side which follows the paramount concept of Filipino martial arts called Defang the Snake. The second one is to deflect their attack and immediately strike at their head or body which is the typical counter strike.

I call the Heaven 6 the Swiss Army Knife of martial arts techniques because I discovered even more ways to use it!

With total respect to the Filipino arts of Kali, Eskrima, and Arnis, I've come up with three more exciting ways to use the Heaven 6. They may not be exactly innovative because someone could have already come up with this, but nobody to my knowledge has organized and presented it, in this easy to learn way.

1. Blocking Heaven 6
2. Catching Heaven 6
3. Armored Heaven 6

To do the Blocking Heaven 6, just keep your arms close in at all times. Keep everything real tight for blocking purposes. The Blocking Heaven 6 should be linked with the Double Forearm Block from Western Boxing. So you should be able to seamlessly go from the Double Forearm Block to the Blocking Heaven 6 and vice versa.  

Remember that anytime you see an opening, you can change the way your doing your Heaven 6 from blocking to striking out or any other usage, because you can't just remain there blocking the entire time, it's just a matter of time before your opponent will figure out how to get through. 

The Blocking Heaven 6 should be your most important Arm Weaving technique, because those who do not know how to block get knocked out.
The Catching Heaven 6 uses your arms to catch the opponent's limbs. This can be very useful when done right, but you have to always remember that the opponent can strike you with the other arm. A catching technique such as the X-Block can be very effective against an opponent trying to stab you in the gut.

The precursor to the Catching techniques are the Sandwich techniques. A Sandwich technique is an attack where you literally sandwich the target by hitting it from both sides. This prevents the opponent from going with the attack to ride off the force. The Sandwich techniques are done from a distance while the Catching techniques are done from a close range.
The Armored Heaven 6 is designed to help you clinch safely. The idea is to use your arms as armor to protect you while bashing into the opponent. Your arms can cover up your vulnerable areas such as your face and neck, the arms can block or even be used as a wedge to deflect attacks. Also enter the clinch with a strike such as a palm strike, chop, or elbow.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Wmpyr vs Karateka

In my college years I had several challenge matches. 

In the gym there was a wrestling mat available to college students. One of the professors taught Aikido on it once a week for free.

I attended this Aikido class and there I met many martial artists from various disciplines. 

One of the guys I met there was a very nice guy named Robert. He was a Shito Ryu Karate black belt. From my understanding, his training was mostly Kata practice and he also competed in forms. One time he apparently won first place for the Bo staff. 

He was probably about 5 '11, 175 pounds. So he was a little bigger than me at the time, I was about 5'10, 140 pounds.  

Since we both had martial arts experiences, both of us were treated almost like unofficial assistant instructors there at the Aikido class. 

One day we decided to test ourselves against each other. 
Since I had a few challenge matches there and he never partook in anything like that, I figured that I had the upper hand. His skills were devoted to the study of Karate, mine were for fighting against various martial artists. I had the mind of a fighter, he was more like a strict scholar. 

I walked around like a gunslinger from the Wild West, anybody, anywhere, anytime. He walked around like a super disciplined head monk at some mystical temple.

He got into his Karate stance and one look at his eyes and I knew he was taking me serious. I was like bring it on, so I got into my Muay Thai stance and figured I should be able to take on just about any strategy or technique from any style, because anyone that knows anything about fighting is that Muay Thai is the best standing up, or so I thought. 

I went with the good old basics of kicking his leg. He defended and I punched for his face, attack low, attack high. He defended that too. I thought okay your fast, but I'm gonna blast you with my front kick, and then finish you with a punch to the chin, if not I got my diagonal elbow to the head as my final blow. This elbow was my secret weapon. 

He got into a deep Karate stance and began to throw low kicks that followed unusual angles for me, but I anticipated that, I had heard from a friend who fought a Karate guy in a tournament that the deep low stance hides the kicks, so I was well aware of this. Robert even threw a spinning kick which amused me, I was use to the Tae Kwon Do style of kicking, which to me was the best style for those kinds of kicks and just pure kicking kind of style. 

He stopped his attacks and we stared at each other setting up for our next move. Our minds calculating like super computers, within those quick exchanges, I guess we both had experienced enough info to come up with a tactic to get the decisive victory. 

I felt like I was in an old Samurai movie, where two swordsmen stood in a windy grassy field slowly circling each other before they rushed in passing each other to a decisive pause, and then one of them would fall dead.

It didn't help that this guy Robert had a ponytail and looked like a Ronin. 
When he came in, he dodged my front push kick, with a side step that used traditional Karate stance and footwork, he was on me incredibly fast as if he had elastic legs that launched him forwards while moving side to side. He barely missed his reverse punch which could have cracked my ribs, and I missed my punch but more importantly I missed my elbow which could have split his head open. At this point it dawned on me, that this guy was as good as I was. If I'm such a realist that I claim to be, then I had to admit it. Even though this guy gets his skills by doing forms, and I do it by sparring. He trains primarily with only Karate people, I train with practitioners from other styles, so that I know other methods. Then the realization hit me, that there are other ways to climb the mountain. 

We did the traditional bow where you say Osu, I shook his hand and we called it a draw. Robert was legit, and it felt good for me to admit it. Here is a guy who devoted his time and energy to one style, not like me who school hopped. Technique wise this guy was like a BMW, where as to I was like a custom built car. I realized that it was an honor for me to go up against this traditional martial artist. 

I asked him to teach me that special footwork he used, and he happily did. It was nothing more than the basics, but the basics done by an expert. The footwork gives you a zigzag motion to dodge attacks, while each step stores energy to launch you forwards like a spring board while punching from a balanced structure.      

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Four Combat Ranges

In Eskrima we basically have 4 ranges for combat.

1. Long Range
2. Medium Range
3. Short Range
4. Ground Fighting

To understand what each range actually looks like, I'm going to simplify and give you an empty hand example.

In empty hand fighting, this is something like Point Fighting. Many people think that Point Fighting is unrealistic because it's a game of tag. Contrary to popular belief point fighting is actually very realistic and useful because it's a game of tag. With a weapon, it would look something like Fencing.

In empty hand fighting, this is something like Kickboxing. Whether it's an exotic Kung Fu hand strike or some Karate toe strike, I believe that you should be able to use your medium range techniques from whatever style it is you train in. As long as you understand that when humans fight in medium range it's going to look something like a Kickboxing match.

In empty hand fighting, this is the clinch. In Muay Thai this is where you grab a person by the head and neck to knee them. This is where the Judo and Gerco-Roman Wrestling shine.

Whether it's Kung Fu trapping hands or some Aikido wrist lock, I believe that you should be able to use your short range techniques from whatever style it is you train in. As long as you understand that when humans fight in short range it's going to look something like what you see in the clinch in a sporting match. 

The biggest problem in short range is that most people do not understand that their short range techniques applied in real life will be applied under grappling energy.

At a martial arts studio you might see an instructor demonstrate ground fighting techniques. This is a demonstration and not to be confused with real life. 

In empty hand fighting, this is something like the ground fighting that you see in MMA(sport of cage fighting). 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Street Fighting Videos

Recently I watched a ton of street fighting videos posted on Youtube. Almost all of these were tough guys duking it out man to man, to see who is tougher.

It's very easy to criticize these people and say that they are unskilled and suck at fighting.
However if you really think about it, you and your opponent are probably going to fight more like these guys than you are the current UFC stars. 

There is a lot that one can learn from these street fighting videos if your willing to learn.

I saw a lot of things some of these people did right that helped them in the fight. I'm going to list them because if they can do it, chances are we might be able to do it too. 

1. Arms up guarding the head.
2. Staying outside the pocket. The pocket is the danger zone. 
3. Staying composed and not rushing in.
4. Not throwing everything into a punch until the right moment. 
5. Grab, pull them in and knee strike.
6. Using the knee to pin their opponent on the ground.
7. Kicking the face of a downed opponent.
8. Controlling the opponent by grabbing some clothes or hair.

I also saw many things that they could improve upon. One of the main things had to do with endurance. Many of these people probably don't exercise on a regular basis, they probably have bad diets and smoke. If that's not bad enough, I didn't see them watch their breathing. Most of them didn't conserve their energy until they were already super tired. 

Endurance is a big thing. There is really no doubt in my mind why conditioning is so important in the military and in sport. 

Most of them threw wild swinging punches. As a result many of them ended up too close, losing their balance and they ended up wrestling. Most of these fights went to the ground. Nobody knew how to properly do a submission. 

So I say learn how to punch with form, and learn how to stick to the form under pressure. Learn how to keep the distance while striking. Learn submissions.

When standing 99% of the time I saw only punches. Maybe an occasional knee once there was some grabbing. On the ground punching by far was the popular choice with a few knees thrown in, and on a very rare case an elbow or kick. 

I recommend that you learn how to use all your weapons(kicks, punches, knees, elbows, headbutts) in stand up and on the ground. 

Last but not least I really didn't see much defense other than turn around and turtle up. It seemed like if you were to try and defend in these fights, you will be run over so I don't blame these people for not having defense. However I think defense is important and I recommend that you develop it enough so that it becomes usable in a street fight.  

Monday, August 7, 2017

Stealing Techniques

Just the other day, I saw a Youtube video of someone saying that Bruce Lee encouraged people to steal the best techniques from any style. 

I think many people misunderstand Jeet Kune Do, and think in a similar manner.
People think that your suppose to steal techniques from any of the best styles out there, combine them together and create your own super style. 

This is not right, if this was true, Bruce Lee would not have said that: "Martial arts is a daily decrease." 

From my understanding, Bruce Lee primarily studied 32 different martial art styles trying to figure out how to defeat them. However his own core fighting method was primarily composed of 4 different styles. He could have cherry picked moves from each of those 32 different styles but instead he focused on just 4. 

1. Wing Chun Kung Fu
2. Boxing
3. Fencing
4. Savate

If you have collected a whole bunch of techniques, and your trying to figure out which techniques are the best, your going to realize this next thought.

It's not about the quantity, but the quality. 
And then we have another famous Bruce Lee quote: "I am not afraid of the person who knows 1000 kicks, but I am afraid of the person who knows one kick but practices it 1000 times."

So then you realize that what makes a move good is not whether you have a good eye to pick a practical move, but instead it's about how much time and effort you put into the move. 

That means any move can be good as long as you put in the time and effort into it. 

So which one do you choose to put in the time and effort into? 
The answer is, the one that you like, the one that makes sense to you. It's just personal preference. 

So what do you do with all the other moves that you have learned? Since you know they are not bad, they are worth keeping. It's just reality that you can't practice everything, or you will end up with no quality and just quantity.

Instead of creating a super style, the natural logical solution is to come up with a system to organize all the moves that you have learned. 

And I believe this is why Bruce Lee said that Jeet Kune Do is not a style, because what he ended up with was a system. 

Does it work?

Everyone wants to know which styles really work in a real life situation.
Everyone wants to know what techniques really work in a real life situation.

My philosophy is that rather than viewing things that way,

I ask myself this very important question.

"What can I do to increase it's chance of working in a real life situation?"

With this view point, I'm the one that's responsible, it's in my hands whether something is effective or practical. It's up to me. I don't blame the style or technique, those things are just the tool.

Say you fail a calculus test in college, so you start yelling that calculus is stupid and it doesn't work. Nobody will take you seriously. They will look at you like it's not calculus that's stupid..

I would imagine that a good plumber is one that doesn't blame a tool for their failure, but one that blames their skill and knowledge. If they accept the responsibility of their failure they can also learn and improve upon their failure. 

No matter what style or technique it is, I think one can find it's effective and practical use through practice and effort. If you want to be able to use your tool in real life, then you need to have a realistic viewpoint and realistic expectations.

And never lose faith that something can indeed work, even if you can't figure it out at the moment.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Combat Sports

Example of combat sports:
Amateur Wrestling (Free style and Greco-Roman)
MMA (what you see in the UFC)
Olympic Tae Kwon Do
Sport Brazilian Jiu-jitsu
Sport Sambo

There are many traditional martial artists that do not like combat sports. 
I like it. I like watching matches to study and learn from them. 
I personally do not like competing because I don't like hurting people, and I hate injuries. 

The more you train and compete in combat sports the higher chance for injury, so my advice to anyone is, while I do think it's important to experience combat sports, once you do, get out of it as fast as you can to avoid injury. Injury is the enemy. 

At home alone I train in combat sports. I enjoy how it gets me in better shape. 
I go running, sometimes I use the jump rope, I hit the bags, I jump on the tire, I do shadowboxing and so on. 

Whether we like it or not, if you take two human beings from anywhere around the world and make them fight, it looks something like what we see in MMA(the sport of cage fighting). 

If you give each person an Escrima stick and make them fight, it looks like MMA with sticks. 
If you give each person a knife and make them fight, it looks like MMA with knives.

I'm not saying that MMA or combat sports is the single whole and only truth. 
I still train in traditional martial arts to this day and will continue to do so until the day I die, but it's important to know that whatever it is that you train in, when you actually apply it in real life in a real violent situation, know that it's going to look something like MMA.

Everybody seems to value the importance of sparring, yet when it comes to sport, suddenly people are against it. Combat sports to me is nothing more than sparring taken to the extreme. So if you think sparring is important I don't understand how you can't see that combat sports is also valid. 

People often times criticize combat sports for their rules. The rules are limitations, but fighters are forced to develop specific skills within those limited rules and they become exceptionally skilled. For example Boxers are limited to only punches, however their punching skills are incredible. You get good by limiting yourself, because your focusing on something specific. 

If a Boxer fights a grappler, chances are the Boxer will get taken down and beaten on the ground fairly quickly, but that doesn't mean that the Boxer's punches are not effective. They are still dangerous and if the grappler isn't able to take the Boxer down, the match could go the other way. 

Then people criticize the Boxer for not being well balanced. A Karate practitioner may say, I will just kick the Boxer, and while that may be true, it doesn't make Boxing obsolete. If you look at the military, not all the weapons are well rounded, many of the weapons are designed to do specific tasks. So you need a good strategy to know when to use what. 

Modern military have vehicles and firearms, but soldiers to this day still carry a knife. Even though most soldiers today do not carry swords, if they were attacked in close range by someone with a sword, you bet the sword is still a formidable weapon. If you get into a road rage incident and begin yelling at some guy, and if he has Boxing training, when he throws a punch at you, that is going to be strong punch period.   

Even though martial arts can be practiced for many different reasons, strictly combat wise, I divide martial arts into three general categories. 

1. Traditional Martial Arts
2. Combat Sports
3. Modern Tactical (includes military styles and urban self-defense)

I highly recommend that you experience all three types so that you get a better more well rounded point of view of combat methods. One isn't better than the other, each one has pros and cons. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Punching Bag

For the longest time I've lived from apartment to apartment so it wasn't really convenient to have a punching bag. 

Now that I live in a home, I have the Everlast punching bag stand in my garage. I also have a small Everlast punching bag that I can hang from it. When I want to do Eskrima stick and knife training, I hang a small tire from the punching bag stand via chain. 

After each session, I take off the bag and stand it upside down so that the stuffing doesn't settle too much on the bottom. 

Right now I have two pairs of gloves, one is a 14 oz Boxing glove and the other is a smaller open finger single foam padded bag glove. The 14 oz one in great because I can hit the bag harder and really use the weight of the glove to help me punch more efficiently. The open finger foam feels better as in more natural and the stuffing doesn't move around because it's a single layer of foam inside. I'm using both and making the best out of both but if I had to keep just one it would be the foam padded bag glove, neither are quality, but the bag glove was a better deal, more bang for the buck. 

If you don't have room for the punching bag stand, you can always just buy the bag and lay that thing down on the floor and work on ground punches. You can also put it in your BJJ Guard and work strikes from there as well. 

I also have the Everlast Reflex bag and between the punching bag stand plus punching bag, I would just go with the Reflex bag. The punching bag is more versatile but it doesn't teach you how to hit, move, and defend unlike the reflex bag.

1. Throw light punches just let the weight of the glove do the work for you.
2. Weak Point Punching, working on specific techniques targeting live, solar plexus, floating ribs, etc.
3. Cardio Punching, non stop punching for cardio.
4. Brawling, working on haymakers, non stop with power and explosiveness.
5. Combos, working on 2 punch, 3 punch, and 4 punch combos.
6. Working on going in to strike the bag and then going out, out of range.
7. Finishing Brawling, repeatedly using the same punch over and over again.
8. Hit the bag and then trace the bag's movement with your hands. 
9. Mix punching with other tools like elbows, knees, and kicks. 
10. Bare handed strikes, including palm strikes, spinning back fist, and hammer fist strikes.