Category Archives: Epic Martial Arts Academy

On your marks 3

A comment on the last post, made by John of Massachusetts, indicated that the clip of the elite level Shotokan fighters did show fast Shotokan techniques delivered from traditional stances, that’s the gist anyway. I chose the clip precisely because of the high standard of the fighters. While these fighters are able to deliver fast punches and kicks, the stance they adopt, fudo dachi I think,  fails to support fast positional movement. In order to successfully make ground quickly they need to adjust the starting position before they move.  If you observe the video carefully you will notice this adjustment.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkGP0AM14F0&rel=0&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&feature=player_embedded&fs=1]

This adjustment, particularly from the bounce, rapidly shifts the fighter through the equivalent of the get set and go phases of the sprint start. Bouncing up and down in the starting posture does not provide the correct lower leg angle to propel the fighter forward with plyometric action at the ankle curtailed.Does that make sense?

If we return to the sprint start analogy, the get set phase positions the sprinter to explode out of the blocks, the bouncing stance does not position the karateka to explode, an adjustment is required. The sanbon kumite of the original grisly clip provides even less opportunity for explosive movement as the plyometric action is completely absent. To illustrate what I mean follow this link to an article analyzing the blocks start of Usain Bolt, notice how the angle at the ankle of the right foot changes as he begins the movement, it goes back before moving forward. This is the plyometric action or the stretch shortening cycle, which greatly increases power. The starting position in the blocks completely supports this; forward posture and lower leg angle.

The Karate fighters in the clip tend to move from a position that is not set up to support explosive movement, of course the blocks position is impossible to attain but nevertheless the fighting stances they adopt have limited forward posture and usually have a less than ideal lower leg angle. This results in them having to make an adjustment before they can explode out of the blocks, as it were. It’s the equivalent of not being in the blocks properly when the gun goes.

zkd comp On your marks 3Despite this drawback the bouncing is clearly more dynamic than the stiff movement of sanbon kumite although the starting stance is not too different to that used in sanbon. Note the centralised weight, supporting stability rather than mobility.

 On your marks 3

To achieve the equivalent of the starting blocks position the fighting posture needs to support rapid positional movement, with the weight forward and a lower leg angle supportive of a plyometric action similar to that in the Usain Bolt link. Clearly, that would be better than adopting a posture that requires a big adjustment before rapid movement can be achieved.

While the fighters in the clip above start in a sub-optimal position they still move quickly, this is achieved through a lot of feinting and minute positional adjustment to draw the opponent into making a half movement against which they can time their strike. While the rules of the tournament are far removed from street fighting there is still plenty of skill on show. The timing and distancing is very good and this is what Machida has successfully taken to MMA, but thats another post.

Originally posted 2009-11-06 15:00:22. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Function over Form – the round kick

 Function over Form   the round kick

Thai Round Kick

In the previous article I related the (hypothetical) Form Police apparent in the Physical Conditioning world, as reported by Ross Enamait, with those in the martial arts world. These Form Police are firmly removed from the lateral thinking stratum being entrenched and engrossed in literal translation of martial arts related topics, kata for example. While the literal-lateral distinction isn’t strictly dichotomous, it’s probably best thought of as a sliding scale of  fixed to open thinking,  literal thinking places limitations on potential progression. There now follows an example of the distinction.

If we consider the round(house) kick, a martial arts stalwart technique,  we can witness the drawback of literal thinking. If the desired outcome of the kick is to produce sufficient power to cause damage or even a KO, as efficiently as possible, by definition the emphasis has to lean toward function rather than form. We want to produce a powerful effective kick and as such are not too concerned with aesthetics.

Consider the following two clips, broadly separated into opposite extremes of the (hypothetical) form-function (or literal-lateral) continuum, one from TKD the other from Steve Morris

Morris goes into a fair bit of detail of how to perform the kick but the emphasis is clearly not on form but rather on how to get ‘total body movement’. The TKD clip, however does seem to have a greater emphasis on form, look at the lines etc added to help the viewer, note the precise instructions, which go into fine detail. Force equals mass times acceleration, acceleration can be achieved in both version of the kick, but the Morris version allows greater mass to be included in the equation, as the whole body (i.e. the mass) is involved not only in the production of the kick but also after contact (if you watch the entire clip, there are one or two instances where he ‘gently’ kicks someone).

 Function over Form   the round kick

Mawashi Geri

It’s clear to me which is the more effective kick, admittedly I have no personal experience of the TKD kick but lots regarding the very similar karate mawashi geri*, certainly similar regarding teaching protocols, while I have felt the Morris version. The Morris kick is far more effective, as he says you get more for your money.

If you look at the two pictures of round kicks included in this post, it’s obvious that the thai kick is transferring momentum, and so force, into the target, while the mawashi geri is merely being placed. You get what you train and the mawashi geri trained in the manner of the photo is aesthetically pleasing, it looks nice but is less efficient than the thai kick.

I’m not saying that a spinning, jumping reverse TKD tornado kick hasn’t got the capability of producing sufficient power to cause KO, there’s evidence of that on you tube. Rather I question whether it is the most efficient/effective method of producing the power required to achieve a KO from a high kick or cause damage efficiently in a low kick.

In fact, ‘perfect’ form results in minimal loss of balance and so minimal transfer of force, clearly an inefficient method of producing power sufficient for a KO. In contrast, by emphasising total body involvement Morris concentrates on outcome, i.e. power, rather than form, indeed his kicks look rather untidy. If unconvinced I’d suggest experiencing one or two of his kicks at quarter power, it’s a pretty surefire convincer.

An alternative and less painful option is to consider which of the kicks outlined in the clips above is more similar to those used to get KO’s in MMA/K1. Look for more or less body involvement as Mirko Cro Cop, famous for his kicking power, dishes out lots of KO kicks.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7pj8aPH5VY&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0]

*the interested reader can watch a Shotokan video on the round kick

Originally posted 2009-03-17 08:09:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Basic Padwork…..?

 Basic Padwork.....?Over on the Fighting Arts Alliance Forum, Steve Morris has been posting a lot on a thread called Basic Training. For someone coming from a Karate background the basics I’m used to are way more basic than the methods he’s been explaining, to say the least.

 Basic Padwork.....?

Having trained at Primal quite a bit, I’m fortunate enough to have been exposed to quite a lot of what he’s talking about, although this particular thread has been a bit of an epiphany in many ways. He starts off with some clips giving an impression of a typical training environment in Thailand. These set the scene for the fantastic padwork clips that follow, far more sophisticated than those I’ve witnessed in Karate basic training.

One of the problems I have had outside of Primal is getting the idea behind the padwork  over to people; the padwork exchange has to be representative of the fight, with the role of the padman being critical.

So I tend to break drilling right down to minuscule elements of a fight. One drill we do is to get the pad man to move around back, forth and laterally holding a shield while the kicker has to land thigh kicks, sounds easy, try it. Mixing distancing, timing and footwork with the technical skill of a round kick to the thigh ramps up the difficulty no end. Add in the padman coming back at you, and you’re onto something. But my efforts to get this over have never been to my satisfaction.

This also helps ensure that the striker is always switched on or loaded, it’s so very easy to hit the pad and …… stop, which is of no use to anyone. SM wants us to bring the fight to the training, without being switched on this is not possible. So to try to get this over we have been doing some basic, drills emphasising being switched on while performing minuscule elements of a fight, with some success.

In one post, on the basic training thread SM says firstly that

padwork comes in at three levels, basically: technical, where you’re learning the mechanics and how to apply the power in a particular way; conditioning where you’re repeating the skill in an anaerobic, hard-contact manner; and tactical, where you’re actually engaged in a fight with the pad man

and then

In order to fulfill this (achieve real padwork), 1) you have to be technically sound and be a fighter, and 2) the pad man has to be the same

I did know this, it’s not new as such, but it hadn’t occurred to me that padwork can run from technical through conditioning to tactical, and a single round within a session of padwork could contain all of these elements. I feel a bit daft, again, for not realising this, but that happens when you’re learning.

Over the last two nights I have tried to get the concepts of always being switched on and bringing the fight to the pad work across, emphasising the importance of the padman. I think we really made some headway. The lesson plan went along the following lines

  • switched on explanation and drills
  • movement drills
  • put elements of both these into the three levels of  padwork and pad holding

Originally posted 2009-09-11 02:29:10. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Absorbing the impression

 Absorbing the impressionIn last weeks post about creating an impression of the early years Tyson I tried to get over how I attempted to achieve this rather abstract concept. It’s not easy to describe, almost by definition, because describing the process requires you to be left brained about a right brain activity. While, of course, the left and right hemisphere’s of the brain interact through the course of our everyday lives, the left hemisphere is dominant.

This is essential to enable us to complete our regular tasks, although at certain times the dominant side can interfere where it’s not wanted. An obvious example is when we’re under pressure, the left hemisphere can bully its way to the fore when really the right side is better placed to take control.

I’m really thinking of sporting examples, Tim Henman was a  great tennis player but toward the end of big matches you could see him tightening up and not going for the ‘big shots’. It was almost as if he was trying to consciously control what he was doing, when really he needed to let go and just play. The irony is, that letting go and just playing his game is probably what got him into the good position in a match.

In times of stress when snap judgements are required the subconscious is really set up to draw on our experience and to make a rapid decisions. This is part of the survival mechanism if only we were to work with these cognitions, see the Blink post. Of course, if the stress response is too severe we can become too aroused for anything other than fight, flight or freeze.

When not under stress we can relax the conscious left brain and allow the right brain to have more of a say. This is a very natural process and we all do this on a daily basis, when we are drifting off to sleep, or start to daydream. Any creative process involves fanciful right brain activity, but often though default left brain will butt in to rubbish that creativity with its logical criticism.

In terms of absorbing the impression you may want to build of Tyson you really do have to let the right side get fanciful, become child-like. This always reminds me of a TV program I watched as a kid. It was of a schoolboy who dreamed of playing cricket for England. It really struck a chord with me because I used to behave so much like the hero of the program. He’d be walking down the street with radio/tv commentary going on in his head as he struck the winning runs.

I’m not suggesting you actively embed a commentary of you destroying fighters in a Tyson-esque manner, although that might work, rather it’s that kind of daydream mind you need to activate in order to absorb the essence of Tyson. Open up and soak up the impression of him you get from watching clips like those in the previous post, then take that feeling and use it in training. It’s amazing how you can feel like you ARE Tyson.

I image my brain as a sponge, mopping up the essence of Tyson, this may or may not be appropriate for you, it’s a pretty personal experience.

It may sound ridiculous, but suspend belief, don’t listen to Mr Logic Left-brain, and give it a go. It’s not an immediate thing, and it does take some effort to try to extrapolate from watching to doing, but it’s a great tool and can help you improve if you give it a good go.

Originally posted 2009-09-04 07:49:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Drowning in red tape

CRB checks, coaching qualifications, Public Liability insurance, martial arts qualifications, governing body recognition and risk assessment are required in order for me to hire out a training facility to train in. Then everyone training needs insurance cover to protect against ‘no win no fee’ litigation in case of injury.

In principle, ensuring coaching standards are high is a good thing, the trouble is coaching qualifications do not and cannot account for the content of training material delivered to people training with a coach. Qualifications in a given martial art is supposed to provide that assurance but a standard cross Martial Art qualification does not seem to be available. Besides, this would be almost impossible to achieve given differences of opinion regarding technique and approach to training across Martial Arts. Therefore, these qualifications provide minimal assurance of quality.

Public Liability and person-to-person insurance is necessary although it never used to be, not sure they had it in old school China and Okinawa. The cover I have just renewed allows my club/association to have up to 900 people training, which is sufficient for now! The Insurance Company is satisfied with my coaching and Martial Arts qualifications and has provided cover with no trouble at all.

Risk assessment is something that I now do or have done since we were associated with MASA. It’s a good practice, in that if litigation does occur it helps cover my back. Completed once it’s pretty easy to reproduce or extrapolate as required. So while only limited effort is required it’s an artefact of the ‘nanny state’ the British press are so fond of sensationalising.

nanny state Drowning in red tape

CRB check requirements are a consequence of Ian Huntley, the vile school caretaker who abused and murdered two little girls and is a major reason for said ‘nanny state’. It was disgraceful how he slipped through the net and legislation now tries to ensure that no-one else does. Fair enough, overkill perhaps but it should help. I have even been asked to provide a CRB check at a place where I’m only training with (non-vulnerable) adults because there may be other groups around with children present. The fact that their supervisors protect them is neither here nor there apparently.

Then there is the governing body issue, sigh, that old chestnut. After all the shenanigans with Karate England I have no appetite for the politics inevitably associated with a GB. I was secretary for a Karate association for a number of years and before that involved in the AGMs and I can safely say we got very little from the GB, either KE or UKGB before that. Our association only had the Insurance arranged for us, while they took a lot of membership money from us, I suppose they organised CRB checks, but we had to pay for these.

I wonder what I could possibly gain from joining a GB, I organise my own insurance and coaching qualifications, my martial arts qualifications don’t expire as such and I have more than one CRB check per year from working at schools or with vulnerable adults. Why should I have to try to locate a suitable GB and pay a lot of money to them for very little, if anything, in return?

The facility I want to hire is insistent on Sport England approved Governing Body recognition. This opens another can of worms as Sport England affiliation is not appropriate for many Martial Arts. All of these requirements are designed to cover the facility against potential litigation in case of injury but actually guarantee little in terms of quality provision. Sadly, not being sued is the most important consideration.

Originally posted 2010-02-20 07:29:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Red Tape

This country seems to be swimming in the red stuff…..

I am in the process of setting up a project on a voluntary basis, working with vulnerable adults. As such I require an enhanced CRB check, fair enough. The irritating thing is I already have one available for scrutiny, okay it’s 18 months old so maybe I require an updated check. Sadly, the rules state I require one for each agency I volunteer for, that means this year I could end up having four or five. While this may seem like a minor inconvenience it gets worse.

Firstly, the check takes weeks and weeks to complete and in this time you simply have to wait, you are not allowed to start work. For this agency HR require further documentation. So I went to the centre armed with Passport, Driving License and utility bill and completed the CRB form, personal details form, volunteer agreement and another form, the name of which has slipped from memory.

At least it’s out of the way. But no! I received an email from the manager of the day centre asking me to come in and complete the CRB form again as I hadn’t included a copy of the paper part of the Driving License with the original application form! Not even the concession of asking for the missing copy to be sent across, no I have to complete the entire form again! Stunning! It seems as though they are being intentionally obstructive.

I blame the government, nanny state we live in!

 Red Tape

Nanny State

Originally posted 2009-02-09 10:00:52. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Bouncers bouncing……punters sulking

 Bouncers bouncing......punters sulking

bouncer

I had a conversation with an old friend the other day. He’s been a doorman for a long time but recently left to further his business interests. Due to the recession he’s returned to ‘door work’ to supplement his income.

He’s working in a club in a town centre in North Birmingham and has not been enjoying it too much. It’s not an easy job, and he’s been kept busy! It seems to be a meeting place for people from different areas and as such drink-fuelled arguments and trouble can ensue.

He was telling me of an incident during last weekend which resulted in him having to spend two hours in the police station making a statement, which was not to his liking. One particular punter, a big bugger of about 6ft 5 was playing up. His friend had intruded into an area that was closed and when the manageress told him to leave he refused and threw a drink over her. Then the big bugger turned up and said his mate was going nowhere. So my mate had to tell him otherwise.

The big bugger loaded up to swing a big ‘un at my mate, who clocked him, grabbed him by the throat and started pushing him out. A colleague arrived and smashed the big bugger’s head with a radio a few times in the struggle. Unfortunately, the head was split open and gushing. The big bugger also accidentally hit the wall a few times on the way out but was removed successfully.

The police came but the bad guy was gone, the doormen explained what happened and everything seemed to have blown over. My mate and his colleagues were laughing, saying that he must’ve gone home to his mum. Before they could leave, word got to the coppers that the big bugger’s mum was on the phone to them saying she was on her way down there with big bugger to make a complaint. It ended up with my mate and his colleagues making statements which took about two hours to finish, resulting in a late night.

I only refer to this conversation as it seems symptomatic of the ‘blame’ society we live in, where parents vent at teachers that their cherubs would never do such a thing. One “it’s not my fault, mum” and this type of parent is marching down to the school, or police station in this case. The bad bloke in this instance was/is 6ft 5 and 26 years old. Thankfully, the police told him to ‘do one’ but insisted on statements all round.

In this world of ‘no win, no fee’ accidents or injuries, the blame culture is rife. When I was young my dad used to make me ‘face the music’, I hated it at the time but I was left in no uncertain terms that actions had consequences. This seems lacking today.

In my kids classes I try to instill a ‘face the music’ atmosphere. I have ‘star jump corner’, an upgrade from warnings, where miscreants do increasing numbers of star jumps (burpees with a star jump). Worse misbehaviour/disruption/silliness receives a yellow card and a five minute sin bin session. Last week I let the kids in the class vote for yellow card or star jump corner for one lad who was repeatedly messing around. They sent him to the sin bin and he cried, then sulked. He was much better behaved five minutes later and better again tonight. Hopefully, he’s realised that actions have consequences and is beginning to understand that he has to take responsibility for his actions. It’s a pity something similar couldn’t be aimed at the big bugger whose childish sulky behaviour caused my mate a minor inconvenience. It could be a lot worse for someone less able than my mate, should big bugger repeat behaviour similar to that leading to the sulking.

Originally posted 2009-02-13 14:01:42. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Screaming: Beyond the Karate Breaking Demonstration

A strong ‘hi-ya’ Kiai is commonly associated with spectacular Karate breaking demonstrations and is the subject of the following video. Taken from the Sports Science series the video shows an investigation into the scream of the ‘breaking’ world champion. The scientists test whether the scream is necessary in the production of power delivered into the slabs being broken. They cite the use of screams by weightlifters and tennis players to suggest the use of screaming as a tool to develop power.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoZQD4djwW0[/youtube]

The test would seem to provide some proof that screaming is required to maximise power production in Karate breaking demonstration. The trouble with these sort of programs is that they like to generalise from findings with individuals which is obviously flawed. There are many problems with their conclusion that screaming improves your power by 25%, not least the dodgy maths! The bloke in the video managed 500lbs of force more with screaming than without; this equates to a third of the non-screaming amount of 1500lbs, or about 33%.  Then there is no consideration of the type of scream, the tennis players scream is shorter than that of the weight lifter. I could go on.

While flawed, the findings are nevertheless interesting, as are the explanation of how the effect works. Although simplistic, the explanation that a scream can enhance “the complex combination of physics, body chemistry and performance psychology” is intriguing and certainly has a ring of truth about, especially given the subjects results.

karate breaking Screaming: Beyond the Karate Breaking Demonstration

from martialartsbusinessdaily.com

Although not all tennis players or weightlifters scream during their shots/lifts many do and certainly in other sports people scream too. The Karate Kiai is an obvious example as is the grunt/scream of boxers, such as Ricky Hatton. During my training at Primal I picked up the habit of screaming, or rather barking, while hitting or kicking for that matter. Different to a scream as such I find it an excellent way to concentrate the mind and body interaction into a powerful strike.

There is no one size fits all scream as such, rather the intensity of the sound drives the intensity of the technique which is specific to different techniques. The scream or bark for a kick is different to that of a punch which is different depending on the range or duration, short or long. The actual sound itself can be used to get you going, i.e. enhance the force of a strike. And it can REALLY get you going! You can read more on the Vocalisation post from a while back.

Now, I can’t help but make a noise when I strike and when illustrating a detail often use a sound rather than a word, it can help someone get the idea more easily than a description and certainly enhances a demonstration. Suffice to say I’m a fan of screaming, or barking, and if I did karate breaking demonstrations I’d be screaming, that’s for sure!

Originally posted 2010-10-14 15:32:09. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

About time an’ all!

This site has been about ready to go for ages but we’ve been having some trouble with the hosting. Well, maybe I was being a bit ambitious…. I was trying to set up a network of blogs and sites using  the WordPress multi-site feature. It says it’s easy, but it’s anything but. I was told by a friend that it’s all a bit of a bodge and after the painful time we’ve been through with it, I’m in agreement.

about time About time an all!It’s just a tangled web of failure after failure. There’s insufficient WP support, the guide aren’t up to scratch and when you do get the network up and ‘running’ there is such a loss in functionality it’s stupid. I managed to get a network up, with enormous help from the excellent hosting company, who to be fair did bend over backwards to help. But it wouldn’t let me have any media on any of the blogs. So it was useless.

Then half the plug ins failed to work and there were long-winded ‘work rounds’ required to get them functioning. For instance, sitemapping involves a work round, not too difficult to solve but it’s not encouraging. I like the whole idea and with the particular hosting company there were a lot of benefits but the trouble was the damn sites wouldn’t function. So I gave up and it’s all up and running now.

Once WordPress sort it all out and multi-site is less of a patchwork quilt and runs smoothly there’s a chance we’ll give it a go again, but I’m in no rush.

Anyway, the break meant I was able to work on the epic club site and that’s in reasonable order now so I’m taking that as the silver lining….

I’ve got a few things planned for the blog and will be getting some posts up very soon, so keep ‘em peeled and thanks for your patience.

Originally posted 2010-08-25 01:19:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Intensity

flam7 IntensityI recently watched some live Flamenco while away in Sevilla. That region is considered the home of Flamenco and as such there are a lot of live shows. The show we attended was in the Flamenco Museum, which we’d visited the day before. It’s a really interesting place, charting the development of Flamenco from impromtu dances at gitano (gypsy) gatherings.

There are three forms of Flamenco; guitar, singing and dancing. I hadn’t really thought of it before, but I suppose I kinda knew, and then there are different styles of Flamenco. Some are more laid back than others, but I prefer the more intense styles. I can’t remember the names but a common theme is passione, the performance has to have passion.

During the live show there was no shortage of passion. The guitarist started with a solo, and to my uninitiated eyes, his gurning and eye-scrunching looked almost silly, as if he was putting it on. But there was no doubting the skill, fingers of both hands were working hard. Then the singer came on and particularly for such a young bloke, probably early 20′s, the sorrow and pain in his face as he sang was extraordinary. But this was only the warm up, my friend Ceri said they start like this because the peripheral figures can be forgotten.

The female dancer arrived and the intensity was almost tangible. The position she assumed coupled with look on her face and in her eyes. Stunning, intimidating even! I honestly said to myself “hey don’t look at me love”. Then she danced,  and didn’t she dance. Proud and intense, she clapped, clicked and stamped her way through a manic dance.

The show continued and the male dancer joined in, there were a couple of dual dances, but the woman was the best. She did another dance with a long skirt that was thrown about and changed back again for the finale. It was interesting to see that they were improvising. I was unable to understand the lyrics but the voice was like an instrument, the clapping of the singer, the stamping and slaps on the body were all syncopations on the beat. It was as if they were jamming, like musicians do but with a manic intensity, although it was kept in check sufficiently to allow fast precise movement.

It reminded me a bit of Steve Morris, the look when he turns it on. I’ve seen it in others too, there is an intensity underneath, which charge, without ruining, the required movements and actions. If this is missing (the emotional content as Bruce Lee called it) there is just a movement without any real intention. A bit like dancing, I always thought, but not like Flamenco!

Originally posted 2009-07-31 17:37:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter