Basic Padwork…..?

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 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

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 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

Fedor against Henderson ended up like Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks….. Fixed!

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Fedor v Henderson; great fight

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.

Fedor vs Henderson Fedor against Henderson ended up like Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks..... Fixed!

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.

Originally posted 2011-08-01 11:55:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Drowning in red tape

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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

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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

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 Bouncers bouncing......punters sulking


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

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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.

karate breaking Screaming: Beyond the Karate Breaking Demonstration


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!

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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

More than just Martial Arts Training

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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.

Garrido Boxing 300x205 More than just Martial Arts Training

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.

In another Reuters report from, this time from Chapeu Mangueira favela in Leme, a slum bordering Copacabana there is Nativo an ex-gang member who now competes and teaches MMA.

Nativo 300x202 More than just Martial Arts Training

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.

MT group traiing 300x199 More than just Martial Arts Training

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

Originally posted 2011-05-28 20:25:59. Republished by Blog Post Promoter


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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