I’ve been grappling for a number of years now, and have developed a variety of different submissions into my repertoire. Like many people, I’ve come to have a few submissions that have emerged as my “go-to” moves that I come back to time and time again. One such move is the triangle choke. A great number of my successful submissions have been from the triangle, especially against larger/stronger opponents. (more…)
I’m happy to announce that this month my new ground defense book/DVD, When the Fight Goes to the Ground: Jiu-jitsu Strategies & Tactics for Self-Defense, will be available online and in retail stores all over the world.
I started working on this book on contract for Tuttle Publishing back in January 2010, and now, 3 years later, after countless hours of work writing, doing photo/video shoots, making edits, etc, it has now been published and will soon be released to the world. I always had a goal of one day becoming a published author, and that day has now arrived! (more…)
In my last post, I talked about my favourite 5 stand-up strikes for self-defense, based on simplicity, ease of learning and application, and versatility, as per the tenets of my style, Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu. Today I’d like to do the same for ground defense, covering the vital targets that give the most bang for buck in terms of self-defense, all of which are covered in my newly published book, When the Fight Goes to the Ground: Jiu-jitsu Strategies and Tactics for Self-Defense. (more…)
A couple of weeks ago, I went to Powell’s Book Store, a huge bookstore in Portland that had the biggest martial arts section I’ve ever seen with a variety of new and used books on every topic. I bought half a dozen books, but my most valued find was an old book, The Complete Jujitsuan, that was originally published in 1915.
I am always on the look-out for old martial arts books like that for a variety of reasons. Firstly, they’re interesting to read from a historical perspective. The writings reflect the unique attitudes toward training and combat of the time and place during which it was written. The demonstrators wear clothes that are customary for the era, which can make for differences in movement strategy. The techniques sometimes comprise of different moves or even weapons that have fallen out of favour. And sometimes you find different techniques or ways of applying familiar techniques that are new to you. (more…)
This past weekend I taught at the Canadian Jiu-jitsu Union summer camp, an event featuring 10 hours of training over 2 days with 8 instructors. I usually like to work with a particular theme and this year I worked with the theme of being a role-player. By role-player, I don’t mean playing games like Dungeons & Dragons though I do think that the martial arts attract many such players. But even if one has never touched such games, if you train in the martial arts, you’ve probably been a “role-player” at some point. (more…)
I like to check out YouTube on a fairly regular basis to find interesting new concepts or techniques in the martial arts. This week, I decided to explore different alternatives for guard passing techniques that can be used in Jiu-jitsu submission grappling. One of the great things about submission grappling as popularized by BJJ is that because so many people are doing it, it evolves very quickly and people develop interesting new ways to improve control, submissions and defense on the ground. In our dojo, we don’t enter tournaments or train for the purposes of competition because our primary focus is self-defense, but we still practice submission grappling techniques. Submission grappling has become so popular as a sport you cannot afford to ignore it in the self-defense world, and it offers a lot of value for improving one’s defensive capabilities on the ground. You’ll see more of my ideas behind this when my book, When the Fight Goes to the Ground: Jiu-jitsu Strategies for Self-Defense which I wrote for Tuttle Publishing, comes out early next year. (more…)
Humans are animals. This is a fact we often forget in our day-to-day lives. We have instincts and behaviours that are very much linked to our bestial ancestors. Legend has it that a number of ancient martial arts masters observed animals to develop their techniques and fighting styles. If it was good enough for the masters, it’s good enough for me. So without further ado, I bring you the lessons to be learned from some of YouTube’s most popular animal fights. (more…)
In Jiu-jitsu, as in many martial arts, the goal is to develop great technique so as to use one’s energy with the greatest level of efficiency for maximum effect. Jiu-jitsu literally translates to mean “the art of pliancy or flexibility.” When students get stuck on a technique though, sometimes they will try to use power to force it to work. This not a good approach if your goal is to become a better martial artist. Water is often used as analogy of how we should train in the martial arts. It finds the path of least resistance and flows around its obstacles. Bruce Lee himself said: “Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it.”
There are a variety of practical reasons for not trying to force your way through martial arts techniques. Here are 6 examples from my own experience: (more…)
If you’re a regular reader, you already know that my focus in the martial arts is primarily self-defense oriented. That being said, I do enjoy training skills that are more oriented towards competition, like ground grappling skills. Because so many people do it, I can’t afford ignore this phenomenon as a self-defense instructor. You have to learn what they do so you can better understand how to defend against it.
A visiting Shorinji Kan Shodan asked me for tips on improving his ability to complete a submission when doing ground grappling. I like these kinds of questions because it gives me the chance to focus on fine tuning the overall approach rather than just demonstrating the basic application. These days, anyone can piece together how to do submissions from the myriad submission grappling videos all over the Web, but this doesn’t teach you the finer points that helps you actually complete these moves against a live, resisting opponent. Ultimately, it all boils down to 3 basics. (more…)
My last two posts addressed Muscle Memory and Its Role in Self-Defense, as well as 4 Factors that Affect Muscle Memory Development. This week, I’ll be discussing how muscle memory and muscle confusion work into martial arts training regimes to build technique and strength.
Warm-ups are not only used to get the body warm to prevent injury. They also help develop body movements, and strengthen the body, to help students improve their performance of the techniques learned in class. To this end, I try to work in movements that relate to the techniques I plan to teach later in the class to develop both strength and technique.
If I’m running a ground defense class, I’ll use shrimping, bridging and rolling and/or turtling as part of our warm-up. These movements not only develop strength, they develop the students’ technique in movements that apply directly to ground defense. By having these drills, students get to work on their muscle memory as they warm up and build strength. (*Be sure to check out all the ground defense drills I teach in my new ground defense book!)
Here is a video of me doing these drills:
These are just examples from my ground warm-up, but these principles can be applied to any other aspect of martial arts training. If you’re working punches, try doing punching with hand weights or resistance bands as part of your strength training. If you’re working on kicks, try doing isometric leg training by going through the movements of your kicks slowly and holding your leg out in the extended position. If you’re working on throws, try throwing a heavy bag or weighted throwing dummy. Breakfall training also strengthens the body and prepares you for being thrown. If you’re going to be sparring or you’ll be taking hits to the body for some other reason, do a medicine ball ab toss to strengthen the muscles you use to absorb hits(see video below).
Muscle Confusion for Further Development
After a while, students get very comfortable doing strength training exercises like the ones shown above. And that’s good because if it’s in their muscle memory, they’re more likely to use it on the street when it counts. That being said, if students are to continue to develop their muscle strength/endurance, they can’t just keep doing the same strength training drills all the time. Muscle memory makes people more efficient at doing the movements, using less efforts for the same results. This is a hindrance for muscular development. That’s why I like to switch things up and do movements that are not natural and are not trained often. This leads to “muscle confusion”. When the muscles aren’t use to a movement, they tend to exert themselves much more so to make the action happen. This in turn helps develop muscle strength and endurance.
Below is a video of another drill I like to throw in to my ground defense warm-up. I uses the same core muscles that are important on the ground, but using movements that are counter-intuitive to the way the body naturally moves. Basically, you swing your arms and legs in opposite directions while lifting your hips, causing you to move across the floor. Even if you don’t manage to move much, it’s still a great ab workout. The embedded version is a little cut off, see the full size version here).
How about you? Do you have any special exercises in your pocket that you like to use to develop your skills (or confuse your muscles)? Please share them in the comments.