Superfrau update

I’ve edited the Superfrau post to include a better clip illustrating GSP’s ‘superfrau punch’. And for your view pleasure I’m including it here, thanks Tommo


As I said before, we don’t actually do precisely the same movement, he does a sort of front leg superman punch. We use a shorter action to use close up. Last night we had a go at using the motion to deliver front hand hooks, it worked! So we can use it to deliver pretty much whatever we like, straights, hooks, elbows and even knees, and importantly, all with increased power!

Now the goal is to get the technique ingrained so it can be used in a more ‘live’ situation. So we started shifting the target round, next is to see if we can work it from a clinch. It’s ongoing………….

Originally posted 2009-03-20 16:45:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Movement Patterns

Steve Morris talks about the inherent movement patterns underlying human action, and importantly how these should form the basis for all martial arts movement. In fact not just martial arts movement but movement in all sports. He is referring to the successful actions that occur across a variety of sports and physical activities. An obvious one is running,  one arm pulls as the other pushes or as Steve might say, one part zigs as the other zags.

Another is jumping, a natural hardwired action that we all have access to. I am not referring to the Frosby flop, although that is likely to be an adaptation of some inherent movement pattern. Rather just a standard jump, bend at the ankles drop and power up pushing against the floor. If you want to adapt this to a backward flip in gymnastics, throw the head back to direct your movement and with practise this flip will be accomplished. Now if you take this backflipp action attach a person to yourself, by way of holding them tight to you, add a twist, with the head leading, the body will follow, and as if by magic you have a suplex. Ta da!

Here’s a clip og a gymnast doing a backflip, without jumping, the slo mo clearly show him leading the action with the head.


This next clip shows a woman using a suplex to prevent her handbag being snatched in a lift, not sure if its real. Note she leaves out the twist and dumps the thief on his head!


It all sounds very sensible but it tends to be absent in my experience of martial arts, at least to some degree. This means that often optimal movement is curtailed at best or at worst completely negated. Take for example, the rather peculiar stances that are often contained in karate kata. In Seyunchin kata from Goju there is “bow and arrow” posture in shiko dachi, which I was taught to perform in a slow and deliberate manner when doing the kata and to use is as a rather convoluted takedown off a kick and a punch. While this could work with compliance its a long way off practical.

 Movement Patterns

Hanshi Meitoku Yagi performing Seiunchin

Steve Morris provides another explanation of this and similar karate postures. In his recent blog post he discusses the use of primative reflexes in martial arts, and at Primal yesterday he showed us some. The above picture is anexample of the asymmetric tonic neck reflex, would you believe. Sounds complicated but its not, taken from a reference provided in Steve’s blog entry, when the reflex is still aparent in babies with certain diseases if

the head is twisted in one direction, both the arm and the leg extend on the side toward which the head is pointing and flex on the opposite side

Admitedly, the reflex action in seiunchin kata is only occurring in the arms but it is there, as clear as day. Actually, it isn’t there because the movement is being performed in a manner that inhibits the reflex action, reflex movements by definition are quick. The point is that by using the head in a certain way these reflexs can be accessed, leading to improved striking. It adds up and given the historical representations (see below) of the asymmetric tonic neck reflex there’s at the very least a chance that this, accessing primitive reflexes, was what was meant by these postures in kata.

 Movement Patterns

Rajin, God of Thunder

Originally posted 2009-08-17 10:59:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Training to fight multiple attackers

multiples1 Training to fight multiple attackersTraining to fight multiple opponents is an aspect of martial arts that is covered in many styles with varying degrees of validity. A trade off between safety and ‘reality’ or validity is required to train for multiple attackers. Too little validity/reality and the training has minimal transferable value to a real life situation. If safety is completely compromised for the sake of making the training directly transferable the outcome would result in the loss of training partners to injury.

There clearly is a market for ‘keeping it real’ and judging by the price of the equipment it’s making someone a decent wedge! There will always be arguments over the veracity of using protective equipment such as Tony Blauer’s High Gear. Because although full force, or at least near full force strikes can be absorbed the use of any safety equipment skews the training away from ‘reality’ to some degree. Put simply, there has to be some form of trade off.

In contrast, an overly safe approach to multiple attacker training can have close to zero or even negative transfer to the real world scenario. If multiples training were to simply comprise of three man Ippon Kumite, similar to what you can still see at demonstrations it would have negligible real world use. That’s a bit daft but there you go. In fact, that sort of training could be counterproductive as the practitioner might even decide to fight several attackers instead of running due to overconfidence in his/her ability.

I intend to cover the way in which we train for fighting against multiple attackers. We manage this without specifically running a multiples program as such. This means we cover the skills required to fight multiple attackers through a mixture of drills gleaned from internet articles and clips, taking stuff from training with Steve Morris (who has never specifically covered multiples with me) and others and adapting regular training drills but without bringing in a self defence expert and buying expensive protective equipment. There’s a huge amount of information available on multiples training but to get value requires sorting the wheat from the chaff.


My favourite clip of successful defence against multiple attackers is the one of an altercation in the middle of a busy road in Turkey. It’s been around for a few years now and shows an argument leading to one bloke fighting multiple opponents amongst parked cars and traffic. The bloke on his own has clearly trained, probably boxing, and deals with the three attackers pretty comfortably. He’s a flurry of continual movement, striking and defending on the move. It’s an excellent example of how to defend against several opponents.

So information from this and other sources will do a reasonable job in my mind. A series of posts will follow this that address the issue of training to fight multiple opponents without an actual program to train for multiple attackers as such. Does that make sense? Anyway watch this space.

Originally posted 2010-05-25 23:55:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Primal in Birmingham

primal black Primal in Birmingham

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
Institute Road
Kings Heath
B14 7EG

Google map link

Any questions can be directed to Steve via email

Originally posted 2009-04-26 08:35:22. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Rosie Sexton and the Keyboard warriors

Now I can imagine that

  1. there are loads of armchair coaches
  2. it’s very irritating for Rosie Sexton
  3. she can’t help them with beer and xbox knowledge
  4. they will carry on

Social media is great but the world is full of idiots, deranged keyboard warriors who get their kicks online in their little fantasy world. I saw it years ago in the forums so it is obvious it’d spread to Facebook. Shame, because Rosie Sexton is a very decent person, who takes the time to respond to people.

She’s a quality person and a great fighter. The world could do with more like her and far, far fewer keyboard warriors. Oh well

Developing Ippon Kumite

It would be useful to progress the Ippon Kumite training methodology beyond that of the standard jiyu ippon kumite illustrated in the previous post, to see if the techniques practised work in a situation closer to an actual fight. One thing I used to do when I trained strictly traditional karate was to reduce the time available for the defender. Rather than start from long stance the starting position would be made progressively closer, using sanchin and heiko rather than zenkutsu. It is possible to really shorten the distance and time available to the defender in this way or similar. The outcome is that available responses become much more limited, refining the response options.

ippon1 300x240 Developing Ippon Kumite


The next stage would be to attempt to implement these refined options in a freer scenario. Can you use these techniques in a fight? It is the instructor’s job to create drills to test the trained options. If a movement or technique does not work it gets binned.

Gasshuku Ippon Kumite

I’ve been on gasshuku’s where we would have a long Ippon Kumite session, swapping partners but going through exactly the same methodology with each, six attacks on each side of the body from long stance (head, torso and groin punches and front, side and roundhouse kicks). The idea was to try different responses throughout the session.

To be fair it was pretty good fun but you learnt very little. It would have been better to have a go at some of the techniques the higher ability people were employing and then work them using something like the Ippon progression I described above. That would have been more useful and would have fitted in with the ‘form police‘ ideology; i.e. everything could have been done ‘in stance’. Sadly, even that was small step was too much.

The upshot of the sort of Ippon Kumite training we did was that people would often spar in a disjointed way. Even on gradings this could be the case. I remember a grading where there was a multiples section, 2 on 1. I was really happy because I knew that I wouldn’t be called up for being too aggressive and for my group this part of the grading was very good with both attackers fighting as a team. However, the other group with the same 2 on 1 remit was more like a karate demo where one attack comes after another, poor.

ippon2 300x281 Developing Ippon Kumite


Start with Ippon?

The Ippon Kumite I describe would probably improve the standard model, however it’s a bit like putting lipstick on a pig! Better to drop the whole thing and try something that provides more value. I am in favour of training that is sufficiently fluid so a beginner has a chance to pick stuff up. Altering the timing to make it easier is one method of doing this, which is probably what Ippon Kumite was intended to provide. However, for the training to be of value this easier training methodology simply has to be accompanied with training that applies the learned skills in a drill that is more representative of what is required in the real world; whether that be in the ring, cage or in a bar brawl.

While safety has to be a consideration, it is essential to at least attempt to bring the dojo into the 21st century! This could mean dropping training methods of limited value, such as Sanbon, Ippon Kumite and San Dan Ge, or at the very least moving these training practices on a little.

Originally posted 2010-11-14 18:17:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Gregory McCalium beaten

greg mccalium Gregory McCalium beaten

Gregory McCalium

Sense prevails! With the justice system often favouring the perpetrator, or so it seems, it’s refreshing to see the opposite. McCalium was not the victim in this instance, he broke into the house of neighbours armed with a knife. Pensioner Frank Corti defended himself and his wife by giving McCalium a few licks.

Former soldier Frank Corti subdued his attacker before the police arrived, “The jury might well have concluded you got what you deserved,” prosecutor Angela Morris said to McCalium during sentencing. Indeed, I bet they did. Although 72, Frank Corti was able to use his former boxing skills to sort out the 24 year old burglar who ended up being sentenced to 4 and a half years. Cool, age is just a number then!

Originally posted 2009-07-15 09:10:51. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Form over Function – Saifa Kata

One of the Goju kata’s, Saifa, translated as tear and destroy is partly about creating a whipping motion into your strikes. I first came across the notion that this concept was apparent in saifa when watching Higoanna Sensei’s Goju Kata video made in the 70’s I think. The videos came in a horrendously expensive set, which provided performance and bunkai to all Goju kata. My copy wasn’t expensive and wasn’t original.

In fact, the final movement provides a template for the whipping punch described in a previous post, the hip-shoulder-arm action. Unfortunately this section of the kata is often performed in a manner that negates the whipping action completely, and so disregards the good bit! In this clip a world champion fails to exhibit this action in his kata. Although he’s very precise in his movements, nice form!


Oddly enough this whipping action is omitted in this peculiar version of saifa, and from this more regular one, and is still missing here, this guy gets a little closer to it, but none of these clips come close to doing the whipping action any justice.

Eventually, here’s a clip of the video as I remember it, and lo and behold there’s a whipping action at the end, in the final movement. Not quite as whippy as I’d do it nowadays, but its there if you look carefully. At the time I loved this video, the music was fantastic too but sadly missing from the clip.


The disappointing thing in all of this is the fact that so much is lost; it took some significant reverse engineering on my part to ‘rediscover’ it. I was always puzzled somewhat by the ‘whip like motion’ comment at the start of the clip. To be fair, we did train some whipping actions, from other sections of the kata, but it was never extrapolated to punching.

It is a great shame that by emphasising the value of a ‘pretty kata’ performance over one illustrating something of value so much is lost. Perhaps, a little more untidy in execution than those that put their kata performances on you tube, the whipping action in the final section of the kata is analogous to that used successfully by Mike Zambidis et al . It may be that I have interpreted this section of the kata incorrectly, but then it’s my interpretation and so to me, at the very least, it’s valid. I may be incorrect in some people’s opinion, but that doesn’t really matter.

Originally posted 2009-04-05 08:07:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Freeze, Fight, Flight and Martial Arts Training #2

The first freeze-fight-flight post described the physiological events triggered when threat or danger is perceived by humans. This post continues with the theme that the response is an essential part of evolutionary survival. We can think of the stress response as being responsible for surviving external threat, while the immune system counters internal threat.

 Freeze, Fight, Flight and Martial Arts Training #2

All charges against Omari Roberts dropped

In both cases the objective is to protect the system from threat by rearranging resources as appropriate. While an internal threat may trigger a withdrawal response when not feeling well, the external threat of a predator spied in the distance may evoke a freeze response, as movement is easier to detect in peripheral vision. Whatever, the desired outcome is survival of the system.

In terms of self-defence the stress response plays a key role. If attacked it renders us better prepared to respond as intended by evolution, with enhanced strength, speed or power. Undoubtedly, for Omari Roberts, returning home for lunch only to find burglars in his mums house, the stress response kicked in, he fought for his life and managed to survive. He went with nature.

In society there can be a mismatch between the drive for survival and the Law, which only allows the rather ambiguous reasonable force. If Roberts had worried about the consequences of overstepping reasonable force he may not have survived the attack. As it was one of the bad guys died in the struggle and eventually, Roberts was arrested and charged with murder and assault. The case was withdrawn before the trial commenced.

ground n pound Freeze, Fight, Flight and Martial Arts Training #2

Ground and Pound

In another recent case Munir Hussein and his brother ended up chasing and beating a burglar who had held the family hostage while ransacking their house. Clearly, evolution does not account for reasonable force, just survival. In anyone’s book the severe beating the brothers gave the burglar was NOT self-defence, nor simply survival for that matter. In this instance going with nature led to prison for Hussein as he went too primitive for societies liking, well the Judiciary ‘s liking anyway.

It seems that the whole thing can fall apart when a situation does not work out quite in line with evolution. If a person finds him/herself in a threatening situation it may not be appropriate to fight in the first instance, there are occasions whereby doing so would land the person in court, see above. Flight, although not always possible, would hopefully result in survival. This option might well achieve survival at the expense of the ego which is a small price to pay.  The consequences of an inappropriate freeze response could be much worse. There’s an almost limitless list of situations that could trigger an suboptimal freeze, fight or flight response, not least faulty appraisal of a dangerous or threatening situation or tactics from an experienced, ruthless attacker to name two.

Previous experience of surviving situations that cause the stress response to kick in is to the external survival system what surviving illness is to the internal survival (immune) system. For example, an experienced police officer is more likely to successfully deal with a violent confrontation than a receptionist, while a fireman is likely to deal with a fire disaster better than a librarian. If similar useful life experience has not been gleaned it is essential for a martial artist to build the equivalent into their training. Otherwise years of training could be rendered useless by the incompatibility of evolutions survival system with the foibles of modern society. The consequences of this could be dire.

Originally posted 2010-05-09 01:32:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Mushin #2

mushin2 Mushin #2


In a previous post I postulated that the preferential level of physiological arousal required for MMA or a fight is similar to the concept of mushin in Japanese Martial Arts, rather than a raging state. The following quote is from a short piece on developing mushin through makiwara training

Makiwara training also develops mushin, which literally means “no mind”. If you only concentrate on the pad in front of you, your sense of awareness is limited to the board alone. The moment you make impact the mind, the spirit, and the body must join together and then instantly relax, again allowing the spirit to absorb whatever is going on around you. This total physical/spiritual contraction and then relaxation is essential to develop the ability to defend yourself against multiple opponents. Commit just as fully to the completion of the technique as you commit to the execution. The mind should be the same throughout and only with mushin can this be accomplished.

I don’t know the person who wrote the above quote, and as such I have no idea as to the training advocated by the club/association he represents. I am fairly certain though that this approach to mushin is on the esoteric side and not really set up for defence against multiple opponents at all. It all sounds a bit airy fairy to me.

At Primal Steve Morris would get us into a heightened state of physiological arousal, by performing drills intended to set the CNS (Central Nervous System) to a high level of motor unit recruitment so we could strike with increased power. That sentence doesn’t do the drills justice, it’s very difficult to get the feeling over in the written word. He wrote on his blog about how the sprinter Ben Johnson would do heavy squats prior to running the 100m, in order to prepare the CNS for full explosive power.

(You can read what Steve Morris says about this here, here and here.)

It sounds counterintuitive, as you’d think the squatting would fatigue the muscles. Its an approach that works and enables you to get more than you think you can get. I first described the one drill on the old Shikon forum and will try again in a later post. But it’s not just the drill, it’s a case of using the drill to reach a level of intense power, an impression of which can then be “memorized” and repeated. This impression is then surpassed and a new impression “memorized”. The main outcome of the drill was very powerful strikes, but also along with the impression of power was the impression of the heightened arousal required to enable the expression of the power in the strike. Hopefully, that makes sense, you could even think of it as a mushin like coming together of the mind, spirit and body, because all of that happens. The mind is clear, you’re just observing whats happening, the spirit is high, you’re highly aroused, the CNS is set to fire at a high rate and the body fires off the shot. It’s a release, a big big release.

So while you could fit that description of mushin to what we did, it’s a giant leap, and there’s no actual indication in that description of the amplitude of arousal required, which is high, although not raging. In the previous mushin post I suggested that people may be inclined to develop a kata performance mushin, which seems to be more in line with the description above, and kata mushin is not whats needed for MMA or a fight.

Originally posted 2009-04-17 08:00:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter