I saw this clip posted on Facebook (thanks Steve) and was intrigued because here’s the Army using cage fighting as a model to test the Combatives ability of their soldiers, both males and females. It’s interesting because there are many out there who suggest, in fact more than suggest, that cage fighting or MMA is hopeless for reality self-defence, street fighting or whatever you want to call it.
I’m not in that camp because I think there are enormous self-defence related benefits to MMA training. Of course, it is not directly transferable AND, of course, there are certain skills that should be avoided in a real street fight; shooting on an attacker with his mates watching would not be advisable. That’s pretty much accepted across the board.
The video is of the 2011 Combatives Championships for the US Army. The first thing to notice is that the people taking part are in great shape and are taking it all very seriously and they clearly need to go through a hell of a lot to win. The video illustrates the blood, sweat and tears required to compete.
Army Combatives Championship 2011
Of course, MMA training has applicable skills to real fighting and as mentioned others that are less applicable. But also, what it really has, that is completely transferable is the chaos of having someone coming at you wanting to cave your head in. It’s all in this video and in some ways seems more pertinent when it’s soldiers in the cage or on the mat.
Highly trained individuals, testing their skills in the relative safety of the cage. It’s clearly a good test of their skills, which admittedly do include some of the less applicable techniques. However, the army choose to use the cage environment to test these skills. It would seem that the army have faith in the cage environment as a useful testing environment. This would then suggest that the environment has something to offer in terms of preparation for real fighting. And of course it does.
It seems fairly obvious that experience of the chaos of the combatives competition depicted in the video, provides these soldiers with something of value that can be taken to the battlefield. Alternatively, for non-soldiers experience of the chaos of the cage can be transferred to a street fight. To underplay the importance of this experience in preparing someone for reality self defence is a bit daft, in my opinion.
For a while I had a bit of an obsession with the Twister and I do mean the one made famous by Eddie Bravo of 10th Planet Ju jitsu rather than the party game! When we were set the submission challenge at Primal there was a lot of twister stuff going on. I always had trouble with it but it did inspire me to work my way up to the 100 required. It’s a bit tricky to get the hang of but forces the other person to tap out if caught in it. The spine is locked and twisted with the head section of the spine (cervical spine) turning in the opposite direction to the hip section (lumbar spine). It’s a pretty tough place to be.
I’m not sure I have ever fully understood this move and haven’t thought about it for some time, until someone was discussing the UFC Fight Night 24 (thanks Rams). The Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung, managed to finish his contest with Leonard Garcia by Twister. It’s a great fight the highlights of which can be seen online but only on forums, it seems. It’s even mentioned on the Eddie Bravo wiki page! If you go to the second ‘box’ on the mmafv forum page you can watch the full fight. The twister finish itself is up on Youtube and is below.
You have to say he sets it up very neatly moving from a failed attempt at RNC from back control. The other bloke’s ground game is a lot less sophisticated, enabling the Korean Zombie the opportunity to pull it off. Joe Rogan certainly seemed to enjoy it!
Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu
Bravo bases his entire 10th Planet ‘top game’ around this spectacular move. I’ve watched a peculiar video where Bravo narrates you through many BJJ fights where he continually attempts and generally gets the Twister. The clips are great but the entire video has an odd feel about it as Bravo is pretending to have a luxurious ‘crib’ and presents the clips from there….. I think you need to see it to appreciate the oddness. In a similar vein of oddness Bravo presents a breakdown of the Twister as done by the Korean Zombie and shows how to get past various defensive efforts. It’s pretty good.
To keep up to date with all things Eddie you could subscribe to his Youtube channel or get his book Mastering the Twister: Jiu-Jitsu for Mixed Martial Arts Competition. It’s great, although I found it a bit difficult to follow initially. However, in conjunction with these videos it’s getting a lot easier, to follow at least. I’m looking forward to seeing more from the Zombie and more of the Twister in MMA!
I just watched the main event of UFC 124, Koscheck vs St Pierre. Another great effort from GSP, he loves to follow a game plan and he did so again to completely dominate. The commentators said he’d been to the Wildcard boxing gym for some Freddie Roach training and didn’t it show! He dominated by landing a lot of jabs and front leg round kicks to the inside of Koshcecks thigh.
The jab was impressive and really was a lot better than I remember GSP having previously. He stepped in with an angle and landed them with great rotation at hip and shoulder so they were always good stiff damaging strikes. Koshcheck’s eye was a right mess as testament. Once he was controlling the fight and the eye was closing GSP mixed it up a little with some drive hooks and regular ones to really close up the right eye.
For good measure he attacked it with some front hand superman jabs. He was comfortably able to make up the ground on Koshcheck and then duck and move back rapidly to avoid the big looping overhand right counter. To be fair Koshceck was able to ride the damage well enough although he did look a little hesitant, seeming keen to avoid as many jabs as he could. He also managed to cope with the leg kicks well even though his thigh was reddening up right from early on.
I don’t watch any of the Ultimate Fighter stuff and don’t bother with the pre fight promotion interviews so missed out on all the trash talking from Koscheck but he certainly had it thrown back at him in the fight. He’ll have a lot to think about after this fight because he was well beaten. He couldn’t do anything with GSP in the wrestling, although he did manage to stuff almost all of the takedown attempts, which is a lot better than many of the previous challengers.
However, it was the stand up that he was outclassed in, by some distance. His ‘game’ was too limited for GSP who has benefited from his Wildcard Gym experience. Taking the angle to land the jab time after time is new for GSP, if memory serves. He always seemed to be a straight down the middle kind of fighter, with a much lesser jab. The greater body rotation and resulting greater power generation caused a lot of damage in this fight and will be a great weapon in the future.
If he does move up to face Anderson Silva it will be an interesting fight. Explosive GSP vs the exquisite timing of Silva, although the next fight for Silva will be on similar lines as he has to face Vitor Belfort, which promises to be a cracker. Against Silva though GSP may opt to fight him on the ground given the trouble Silva had in his last fight.
With his Freddie Roach training and ‘Wildcard Boxing’ GSP should be a handful for either Silva or Belfort, although quite different fighters either would be a good match up. Roach himself would be pretty interested as there will be no hanging onto the ‘zero’ as in the UFC the match-ups tend to happen.
The fight between Fedor Emelianenko and Dan Henderson was, rightly, hyped to the hilt. Potentially, this was a great fight in the making, both highly experienced, highly skilled and big hitters, great. I fancied Fedor to win this one on points as neither had been knocked out, which is something special in itself seeing as both had over 30 pro fights. A great battle looked on the cards.
I didn’t know the result, Sunday morning, as it took place in the middle of the night so Googled it. I read this analysis first read, which said that Fedor lost in a great slugfest. I can live with that, even though I wanted Fedor to win, and eventually found video of the fight which is embedded below.
I agree with the write up, it was a great fight, but why did the ref stop it? I’ve read elsewhere that Fedor was out but I didn’t see that at all, the replays show that his head was rocked back and he landed heavily BUT, importantly, he was switching position to face Henderson. He was actively defending himself. If that amount of contact is enough to stop a fight it could have been stopped when Fedor downed Henderson moments before. Alternatively, Henderson could have been reprimanded for hitting Fedor in the back of the head just before the fight was stopped.
Early Stoppage or Fix?
At best it was a very premature stoppage at worst it’s a fix. There’s been several iffy stoppages over the years but the context of this one leaves it wide open to fixing. Zuffa now own Strikeforce and given the difficulties Dana White has had in trying to get Fedor to sign for UFC in the past it’s safe to say that White is not keen on Fedor and his management and vice versa. It’s not too much of a stretch of the imagination to suppose that Herb Dean was instructed to be favourable toward Henderson. Of course, there is no proof and Dean has been guilty of stopping fights early in the past but the conspiracy theorist in me doesn’t trust Zuffa to be completely above board.
Early stoppages do not suit the ex-Pride fighters, big Nog has struggled in the UFC due to early stoppages and now Fedor has in Strikeforce too. Of course, fighters need to be protected but equally they need to be given a chance to recover and fight on. In Pride they were given these chances time and again. It means fights are more exciting to watch and the really great fighters have a chance to show their mettle.
Recovering when under pressure and turning a fight around is the sign of a great fighter, Fedor has shown this capability on numerous occasions, such as against Randleman, Bret Rogers and Fujita. It is one of the reasons why he is so well regarded in the MMA world. Big Nog too was an expert at getting beaten up until he managed to pull off a submission, stopping fights early handicap these types of fighters and reduce the spectacle. It’s a disgrace.
Farce and Fixing
At worst the sport is in danger of slipping into farce and fixing. This fight may not have been deliberately fixed but the appointment of a ref known to stop fights early in this contest was at least poor or simply part of the fixing process. I’m not impressed and feel cheated of another two rounds of a great battle between two great fighters. Zuffa need to sort this out otherwise there is a danger that MMA will sink into the farce of wrestling.
I loved the wrestling as a kid, I used to watch it with my Gran, and I can see why it is now called Sport Entertainment because it never was anything other than that. The video below should serve as a warning to Zuffa and the MMA world we want real fights not fixed crap like this.
Now I may be going over the top a bit here but the lacklustre performances we’ve seen at times in the UFC and early stoppages lend credence to this thinking. SO come one Zuffa let us see the match ups we want, which they are very good at arranging, but lets keep the fights going we want to see the great comebacks it’s part of the whole and gives entertaining fighters like Fedor, and Henderson for that matter a chance.
In the short film about the Astoria Boxing Club there was mention of the positive impact boxing can have on people. This is not new, boxing has saved many famous fighters across the years. Champions such as Ali and Tyson are just two.
Over on Ross Training there was a post about an amazing underground boxing club that was set up by an old pro boxer called Nilson Garrido. Not an ordinary club as we would know it as this club is housed under on of Sao Paulo’s highway viaducts. Garrido wanted to bring boxing to the poor and with it a sense of purpose and hope.
The use of low tech equipment is spectacular, tyres to hit and lift, old car and truck parts to use as further resistance training devices. It’s certainly rough and ready and has developed with other sports being on offer too.
On being arrested for drug offences Nativo was pushed into taking up BJJ and eventually moved onto MMA. He has won the first four fights in his feldgling career. Although not outside, training is not in a UFC super-gym. Martial Arts training again provides purpose and hope for some very poor people.
Similar to the viaduct boxing academies in Sao Paulo, but this time in one of the largest urban slums in the world the Muay Thai gym, 96 Penang is situated under one of the city’s expressways. Again training provides more than an activity as the author puts it
the dedicated people who run the gym, offering the kids of Klong Toei a place to find confidence, self-respect, love and a sense of meaning in a world where drugs, violence, prostitution and death are a fact of life
Once more, equipment is anything but nice and shiney but the sweat and toil is tangible in this fantastic report. Martial arts training is a worldwide phenomenon, with people training for a multitude of reasons. In all the examples of training in this post people get a huge amount beyond just training while there is not a sniff of McDojo or a hint of Health & Safety, just real gritty backstreet boxing, MMA and Muay Thai.
In addition to the post about the viaducts boxing gyms, Ross Training has very recently posted about a boxing gym in Uganda again making the point that high tech equipment is far from essential. This is clear in all of the examples here, but what is also clear is the sense of hope and purpose that these low tech environments bring to some of the most impoverished people in the world
I’ve just come across an excellent article which could serve as a great reference for self defence classes but the post reputes that MMA shares principles with self defence. On the whole, it is very good, but it suffers from a bias against MMA rampant in the self defence fraternity and it’s one that bugs me. Put simply self defence classes and MMA share more than people would like to give credit. Many think that MMA training is hopeless for self defence because the rules detract from the reality of the training or the suitability of the training to a real attack. I beg to differ but before I expand on that here’s why I liked the post in the main.
It discusses the three most important principles concerning self defence and is called The Truth About Violence by Sam Harris, an author I’m afraid I’ve not heard of before. These principles are nothing new but his descriptions and examples given are great to get the message across. These principles are
Avoid dangerous places and dangerous people
Do not defend your property
Respond immediately and escape
Avoidance and Awareness are covered nicely, not surprising given the reference reading material provided at the end of the article – Geoff Thompson and Rory Miller amongst others. He distils the main messages from these books nicely. The final principle concerns what to do when an attack is unavoidable and importantly an easy way to acknowledge when this is. He says that once your avoidance strategies are exhausted and the would be attacker is still at it this is when you should respond. As he says
the moment avoidance fails, attack explosively for the purposes of escape—not to mete out justice, or to teach a bully a lesson, or to apprehend a criminal. Your goal is to get away with minimum trauma (to you), while harming your attacker in any way that seems necessary to ensure your escape
This is exceptionally good advice in my book, particularly the caveats concerning justice, bullies and criminals. Blurring the lines here will land you in jail, if you move from self defence to apprehension of a criminal you could end up like Mr Hussain; locked up!
As a teenager and in my early twenties there were a lot of rumbles or the potential for rumbles and for me the hardest part was distinguishing when I should fight. Social niceties say we shouldn’t attack someone without good reason. Spending time and mental resources caught up in the social rights and wrongs when an attack is coming is counter productive and could get you hurt or worse. However, if you have really done everything in your power to avoid conflict you know that and it is time to attack explosively for the purposes of escape! I am in full agreement with this.
Effective Self Defence and MMA Share stuff!
Later, in the notes, Harris expounds that MMA fans know that BJJ is the best for ground-fighting in MMA but is unsuitable for self defence and that most Martial Arts don’t cut it in terms of effective self defence classes. He has a valid point, there are differences but effective self defence and MMA share a lot and certainly have more in common than the differences. Put it this way would an MMA fighter have the skills and attitude to attack explosively for the purposes of escape? I’d say yes. An MMA fighter and other combat sport martial artist who has fought in the ring or even just trained to will have picked up many skills and principles which are adaptable and a quality that effective self defence and MMA share.
Self Defence classes and MMA Share Pre-emptive Striking
It is a misnomer that just self defence classes teach the pre-emptive strike. To strike first is the goal in Combat Sports and’ while a moot point’ the principle of no first attack in karate (karate-do ni sente nashi) doesn’t necessarily mean you have to wait to be hit before fighting. For the pre-emptive strike to land first it is essential to time it right and not make it obvious, as a bxoing saying goes the ones that knock you out are the ones you don’t see coming. Anderson Silva is adept at getting non-telegraphed strikes to land with his timing and distance skills.
Apologies for the stupid video but the KO demonstrates the MMA equivalent of the pre-emptive strike something else that self defence classes and MMA share. Sure it needs a little adaption but the principle is there.
And Explosive Attacking
There are numerous examples in MMA and the UFC of fighters’ explosive attacking. To say that you need to cultivate explosive attacking and then to discount MMA is plain daft, effective self defence classes and MMA share this too. Furthermore, there is plenty of explosive attacking in other combat sports too, like boxing and K1 and Muay Thai boxing to name a few from fighters such as Wanderlei Silva, Fedor, Jose Aldo, Pacman, Smoking Joe, Baukaw et al. But for me the personification explosive attack is Tyson and this video still gets me high…
I know it is Tyson but the explosive flat out attacking is not exclusive to him or to the few fighters mentioned above, there are many more I could add. My beef is that MMA in particular, but boxing and other combat sports too, are all too easily dismissed by self defence experts. The ferocity of Tyson and his ilk is something that will get you through many an encounter outside of your self defence classes. I’ve written previously on how I’ve been shown to get a handle on the explosive attacking of Tyson.
This post has dragged on a little but my point is that self defence classes and combat sports like MMA share more than certain techniques. There is a lot to be taken from these sports which can be used effectively in self defence classes, and explosive attacking is one of these. The Harris post is good but is spoiled by the implicit assumption that self defence and MMA share nothing!
This post is NOT a Jackie Chan UFC crossover! I’ve missed a lot of UFC lately and and so have lost touch with whats being happening. Today I managed to catch some fights from UFC 112. BJ Penn lost his belt to Frankie Edgar and was taken down, for the first time in six years at lightweight! Amazing!
Penn v Sanchez
Watching the fight it became apparent that Penn was trying to counter strike Edgar, similar to the tactic employed, to great effect, against Sanchez. Trouble is that Edgar moves completely differently to Sanchez. Sanchez came in at Penn with a regular timing/beat and Penn was able to easily read this and pick him off at will.
Even before Penn cut Sanchez’s head in half, Sanchez’s face was swollen and beaten, while Penn was pretty much unmarked. Not so against Edgar, if anything Penn, certainly by the end, had more marks than Edgar. Furthermore, as mentioned, Edgar was able to take Penn down, not just once but twice!
The difference between the two fights was that Penn was unable to counter anything like as successfully as usual because Edgar was too awkward. Not only was he moving his head as well as his feet a lot, but his rhythm was not regular, he was moving with broken timing.
Edgar defeats Penn
Between round one and two Edgar’s corner told him to keep changing his head movement so that he didn’t just move forward and back but also laterally. From then on Penn was struggling to get Edgar. Sure he caught him occasionally but not often. Edgar moves well and is quick on his feet, really quick. He manages to throw shots from unusual angles because of his movement and because of his irregular timing it seems to be a bit like tracking a fly. Or trying to catch a fly with chopsticks!
A well deserved victory for Edgar and certainly not what I was expecting to see. I really like the counter attack style Penn uses, particularly when it comes off so well as it did against Sanchez.
Miyagi tries for the fly
Coupled with his movement Sanchez just couldn’t get a shot on target or get out of the way. But against Edgar it failed. Edgar was in constant motion and very difficult to counter on because his timing kept changing and he was able to hit as he was moving in/out and left/right.
Edgar’s broken rhythm, his quick feet, great head movement and ability to throw punches wherever he was meant that Penn ended up like Mr Myagi from the Karate Kid; tracking and trying to catch a fly with chopsticks!
Steve Morris delivered the first Primal session for a few months in a new venue in Kings Heath, Birmingham. The session is the first of regular sessions to be held at Bishop Challenor School Sports Centre. This is the same venue as when we had the first session with Morris.
The Primal sessions are open to everyone wanting to improve their ‘game’, standing or on the ground, regardless of style or Matial Arts background. For the traditionalist Morris will give you the information to not only make sense of the ambiguous in your style but also how to use it in real terms, i.e. fighting. For the MMA or kickboxing fighter Morris will give you scientifically valid and tested information and principles to take all areas of your game forward.
This first session included new drills to improve peripheral awareness, prepping the CNS for power shots and learning ground skills. Training is hard and realistic but safety is emphasised.
Morris is in the process of developing an instructors program based on his method, leading to accreditation, which will allow people learn the fundamentals, access to information and use it and adapt it to produce constructive martial arts lessons.
Primal will be held from 1-4pm on the first and third Sunday of every month, i.e. the 3rd and 17th of May. The fee is £25 each or £40 for two training together, cash on the day. Bring your equipment if you have it.
Bishop Challenor School Sports Centre
I was unable to find a video for the Koscheck vs St. Pierre post but since then I have managed to find one (thanks Tommo). Hopefully this will stay active for the duration. So here it is in almost 40 minutes of full glory, Bruce Buffer is probably worth listening to, he puts in a good performance as well! Continue reading →
My mate sent me this Marius Zaromskis video on Facebook (ta Tommo), it shows the Dream welterweight final between Zaromskis and Jason High. I was watching the clip thinking ‘classic match up between kickboxer and wrestler’ but then BOOM was that sanbon kumite I just saw? I won’t spoil it for you if you’ve not seen it.
What a great KO; round kick set up with two feint punches and followed immediately with a, probably unneeded, short hook. In the slo-mo replay it looks like sanbon kumite; gyaku suki – gyaku suki – mawashi geri (reverse punch, reverse punch, roundhouse kick). Well a kind of two step version of that combination, which is quite probably used in the more adventurous versions of sanbon kumite.
At first glance it could be said that this combination was taken straight from the dojo and used in the ring. Sure the combination is at least reminiscent and the footwork is similar. However, the long stances of the stepping ippon and sanbon kumite drills that I dislike so much are far removed from the long steps Zaromskis uses to make ground on his opponent. Comparing this video with the grisly effort from the ‘Marks, Set, Go‘ post I originally used to illustrate sanbon kumite, it is clear that you could train for as long as you like in the standard sanbon manner and you would struggle to pull off the same knockout.
The karate drill involves starting from a position that requires an adjustment to move from as you are flat-footed, with weight back, this gives the opponent a chance to get away. Zaromskis, however, is set to move, makes up the ground with two punches with the kick sailing over High’s dropped guard. Sure the wrestlers lack of discipline in keeping his guard up helped Zaromskis but he fired this combination off explosively because his fighting posture is set to easily allow forward movement and fire strikes and kicks explosively. The karate drill does not allow this.
In UFC98 Lyoto Machida knocked out Rashad Evans to take the light heavyweight title. The knockout involved punches that were quite different to those of standard karate, but his victory was hailed as a victory for karate, at least by some, and it has to be said it was a great win by Machida. On two occasions in the second round Machida used sanbon kumite style stepping to attack Evans, the first time as a counter, the second to make up ground when he had Evans in trouble.
The first time he used it he got in with some quick strikes but as soon as Evans was able to get his feet back under him he was able to retaliate, this can be seen at 10:05 of the video in the link above (3.28 left of round 2 on the UFC clock). Machida’s karate stance, which keeps his head out of trouble and weight back, does not allow the momentum to be transferred into the target in the same way that Zaromskis’s fighting posture does. Zaromskis explodes out of the blocks while Machida is held back somewhat.
If Machida were to truly explode out of the blocks with punches, it would look more like how Vitor Belfort knocked out Wanderlei Silva a few years ago or with a kick or something like the KO in the Marius Zaromskis video. If sanbon kumite were able to prepare you to explode on someone as in these clips it would have definite value, however, in the standard format it doesn’t come close. Apologies for the awful sound effects, I suggest the mute option!