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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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!
Rated, by Ring magazine, as best pound for pound fighter in the world, Pacquiao is also the first fighter to become lineal champion at four different weight classes. He recently destroyed Ricky Hatton in the second round by KO after knocking him down twice in the first. He’s quick, to say the least and moves so well, his timing is exquisite and he really can hit hard, here’s the link to the fight on you tube, it may be removed soon. The clip shows the final KO several times, Pacquiao whips in a huge left hook leading with his head, it’s a great shot. It’s interesting that the commentators say that Pacquiao has learned a lot in recent years and really come on. Something that Ricky Hatton could heed if he’s to continue…..!
Steve Morris encourages us to ‘watch the fight’ to help continue to learn, and at the moment Pacquiao is my favourite. The idea is not just to watch and enjoy but to get the impression of the fighter, be inspired and try to take on that impression. You can read Steve’s views on this here and here.
Watching great fighters in this manner is an excellent way to pick useful stuff up. The Pacman has supreme footwork/movement and exquisite timing and this is shown clearly in the following training highlight. His hand speed is incredible throughout the clip, but in the section where he is shadow boxing the way in which the hands lead the feet is stunningly rapid. Getting the hands to set the pace for the feet is something that Morris bangs on about and is an excellent way to get yourself moving more effectively. It’s a bit like a sprinter using his arms.
During the subsequent section of sparring Pacquiao’s timing and movement allow him to completely dominate his sparring partners. While this, of course, would be expected, it’s an excellent illustration of timing, in my opinion. He is forever beating the opponent to the punch, or put another way using the interval of time (as Morris calls it) to either hit or avoid/defend. It’s a great clip, inspiring and kinda gets you going.
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!
In the last post about rape defence I spoke about the need to ensure that the training of defence techniques involved a ‘live’ element. This is absolutely key and can be forgotten in these classes. Often the emphasis is on getting the hang of some kind of wrist lock or something else relatively easy but which misses the point. The point being that it might just no work in the real world!
Womens Self Defence
A good few years ago a now ex-girlfriend started attending some women’s self defence classes held by a Muay Thai instructor. The class invovled a few techniques which were practised but also had a rather interesting ‘live’ section at the end. This involved the instructor getting dressed up in armour and letting them beat him up. Excellent stuff. She said it was great fun and he didn’t get hurt.
From my experience of women only classes there does tend to be a bit of ‘messing around’. That’s not to say that all women are hopeless at martial arts, far from it, I have some excellent ladies in my club and have met many others elsewhere. Rather in the setting of a ladies only martial arts class there can be a fair amount of daftness. I’m ok with this so long as there is some good training going on.
I myself have allowed women at these classes to go flat out at me with boxing gloves on, the trouble being that it can be difficult for people to get over the hurdle of hurting someone. Or more precisely, potentially hurting someone. I like to think that I could manage to cover most of the blows from attendees of these classes but if I had full armour on they would probably have been more comfortable in trying to hit me properly. As an aside the women in my classes tend to quite enjoy hitting me!
In terms of effective rape defence and any general self defence for women, or men for that matter, the ‘live’ part has to be included. Dressing up in armour and letting the beginner kick the sh*t out of you is a reasonable way to overcome the social barrier of hitting someone. Of course, this is only a starting point but at least it is a starting point.
My ex-girlfriend was actually able to use some of the techniques she had learned when being affronted in a lift (elevator) by her boss. He was a particularly slimey toad and she was able to get him off her and provide him with the benefit of kneeing him in the genitals. She said he was quite shocked!
Something that we did at home was for me to try to take her jeans off while she fought me. This was a great little drill and really got her to ‘fight for her life’. While not suitable for your average dojo the essence of the drill could be adopted, perhaps the goal could be to remove the victims belt or something while fighting the attacker off and geting to her feet. Something like that would add a little meat to the bones of a womens self defence class.
While actually learning some self defence techniques is useful ensuring that there is some training time dedicated to developing the ‘fight for your life’ temperament is essential testing skills ‘live’ is key to this. For rape defence tactics and techniques to have a chance of being applied to a real situation ‘live’ should be included and is essential for both female self defence and regular martial arts training.