The Slight Edge Applied to the Martial Arts

I’ve been reading a book called The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson (see links below for more info). It’s a personal development book based around the concept that our success in anything, in our careers, relationships, fitness, skill acquisition, in life, is based on the little things we do or don’t do every day. The idea is that making big gains usually involves working toward a goal incrementally over a long period of time. The good thing about this is that these increments are small and easy to do on an ongoing basis. The bad thing is that they are also easy NOT to do.

When you make the time to do the small incremental task on a day, you don’t immediately see some massive change. Change is happening, but it’s so small that it’s unnoticeable. On the other side, if you don’t do the task, you don’t immediately see any negative side effect, making it easy NOT to do. You can easily justify in your mind that not doing it one day is not such a big deal. But according to the author, there is no such thing as coasting along with no change. You’re always either moving toward greatness or away from it, however small those movements may be. I recently experienced an example how powerful these small incremental movements can be if you keep them going.

The Slight Edge as Applied to Martial Arts (more…)

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How to Adapt Jiu-jitsu Joint Locks for Film Stunt Fighting

*WARNING: This article is for informational purposes only. If you wish to put these concepts into practice you should do so under the supervision of a trained professional.

Being both a Japanese Jiu-jitsu stylist and stunt performer, I naturally want to use some of the skills from my background in a film context. With films like John Wick highlighting Jiu-jitsu locks and throws, it’s an exciting time for me. But it’s not as simple and taking what you know and just doing it in front of a camera. Below is a little taste of the fights in John Wick.


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How to Develop Speedy Entries into Martial Arts Techniques

How to Train Speed of Entry for Martial Arts TechniquesThere are a lot of great reasons for wanting to train speed of entry of martial arts techniques. Your initial reaction in a self-defense situation is vital to determining the outcome of the altercation. The first contact you make has the potential to completely turn the tables on your attacker, and vice versa, if you’re caught off guard and take a bad hit right off the top, it’s a lot more difficult to recover effectively. Speedy entry into techniques is equally important in the competitive martial arts arena. The faster you move into a technique, whether it’s a strike, throw/takedown or submission, the more likely you catch your opponent off-guard. Speedy entry, of course, is only one factor among many, but it is an important one.

For smaller stature people like me, the speed of entry and application of techniques helps make the best use our natural agility, and advantage we have over many larger/stronger attackers or opponents. Regardless of size, speed of entry helps the defender make better use of the element of surprise. It helps you stay one step ahead of your attacker or opponent, making it harder to mount a defense, whether through the use of strength or technique. There are lots of benefits to improving speed of entry, so below are a few tips for effectively applying and training this concept. (more…)

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Why Sometimes Training Blind is Better in the Martial Arts

Why Sometimes Blind Is Better in the Martial ArtsA few weeks ago, I was training a student to apply arm locks with a slightly different approach than he was used to. Having trained over 8 years in an another style of Jiu-jitsu before moving to Vancouver and training at our dojo, he has already developed a good “lock sense”, so showing him this different approach that is really efficient in terms of energy, but harder to apply, requiring greater fine motor control, was something I knew he would be able to handle.

For certain locks, it was easy enough for him, but there was one particular lock that he had trouble using this approach on. Over and over, he tried the entry and was struggling to get it. Then I had an idea. (more…)

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What Ballroom Dancing & the Martial Arts Have in Common

What Ballroom Dancing & Martial Arts Have In CommonMy friend James is a west coast swing dancer. He does it for fun, exercise, social activity, and simply because he enjoys it, much like the reasons I train in the martial arts. Every month or so, we get together for brunch and get caught up on each other’s lives and inevitably he ends up talking about dancing and I end up talking about martial arts. I used to do east coast swing dancing and other forms of ballroom for a couple of years back when I was in university, so I can also relate directly to his dancing experiences. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that partner dancing and partner-based martial arts training have quite a lot in common, despite their very different appearances on the surface. It’s no surprise to me that Bruce Lee was both a great martial artist and ballroom dancer. What the two things have in common really boils down to one thing: body control. (more…)

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When Establishing Control, Grab Like You Mean It


At the recent seminar that Ed Hiscoe Hanshi taught as part of Lori O’Connell Sensei’s promotion to Godan, Steve Hiscoe Shihan was walking around providing assistance to the large class. A yellow belt was applying a technique often used in security and policing, often referred to as a bent wrist come-along. She was having some difficulty and Hiscoe Shihan told her to “Grab him like you mean it.” (more…)

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How Joint Locks/Manipulations Work in the Martial Arts

Joint manipulation in the martial arts is used to control a subject, take them to the ground, or immobilize the affected limb. Because it’s a fine motor skill, they generally take lots of practise before they can be used effectively. There are different ways to approach learning joint locks depending on the traditions of the martial art you’re learning, all with different benefits and drawbacks, but as a general rule, they combine two principles, pain compliance and structural manipulation. (more…)

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Balance Breaking Games for Martial Arts Training

Balance, stance and structure are all important concepts in the martial arts. When you take your attacker’s balance, shift them out of their stance and compromise their structure, you can more easily throw them, take them to the ground, draw them into locks/submissions, etc. Conversely, by maintaining strong stance and structure, you apply locks, throws, strikes, etc with greater efficiency making them easier to apply with less effort.

One way we like to emphasize these concepts in our classes is by playing balance breaking games in stances like horse stance and forward stance. These help students understand the give and take of balance stance and structure and its relevance to the martial arts. Watch the video below to see how we play these games. (more…)

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6 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Force It in Martial Arts Training

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…)

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Need for Speed: 3 Principles that Shouldn’t Be Sacrificed to Go Faster

As you progress in your chosen martial art into more advanced levels of development, you start to work on higher level skills. At our dojo, higher level students, usually purple and up, start to learn to apply their skills with more speed. Speed is important in the martial arts. The faster you can move, the more likely you are to catch your attacker off guard and get out of the way of incoming attacks. That being said, there are 3 principles that should not be sacrificed in order to become faster. They are as follows: (more…)

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