Rosie Sexton and the Keyboard warriors

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Speed 2 – Timing, part one

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At the beginning of the Speed 1 post, I alluded to the illusion of speed, brought to mind by a post on Marks Training. One  attribute that great fighters have, or used to have, is excellent timing, which makes a fighter extremely fast, or at least appear so. Certainly, if your opponent has superior timing he/she is on you in a flash and you end up on the receiving end.

Roy Jones Jnr was/is a great boxer, and his timing was/is great. Being a bit of a showman he’d mess around a lot but his timing, combined with his natural speed, not only got him out of trouble but tended to put the other bloke in a spot of bother. Here’s a highlight clip which illustrates this nicely.
When watching this sort of clip its easy to get caught up in the fighters speed or his larking around. But if you watch closely, you will notice that he always seems to know when to hit and has time to do so. He even uses the dancing/showmanship to put the other fighter off guard and lure him in. Moreover, he uses the silly movements as a plyometric action to load the shot that follows.

He times his actions off the other fighters movements, or jumps in between his opponents movements and then overwhelms them with his strikes, or strikes and moves out (Steve Morris refers to this as syncopation; inserting a beat between two beats). Jones doesn’t stop either, so that he is always somewhere his opponent can’t hit him, or at least can’t get to hit him enough to cause any real damage.

Jones was/is very good at inserting his movements into the interval of time of his opponents, whatever that movement maybe, he uses the whole repertoire. He syncopates on the other fighters actions with whatever movement or strike he desires.

The clip clearly illustrates exceptional timing on the part of RJJnr, or put another way, it illustrates the insertion his efforts into the interval of time between the strikes of his opponent. The second part of this post will attempt to describe a Morris Method drill designed to develop timing and exploitation of the interval of time.

Originally posted 2009-08-05 15:50:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Koscheck vs St. Pierre the video!

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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

Originally posted 2010-12-16 13:42:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Stephen Lawrence Case: Justice? Self Defence?

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I can clearly remember the outrage around the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, in 1993, and subsequent attempts to bring the perpetrators to justice. Today I heard the testimony of Stephen’s friend Duwayne Brooks on radio five live. It was read out by the court reporter as yet another trial has just begun this week. The wikipedia account of the death of Stephen Lawrence gives a clear synopsis of events surrounding the case to date. It’s a terrible state of affairs that the case has taken so mnay years to get to the stage where evidence from eye witnesses has been heard by the jury, but that is not the point of the post.

Stephen Lawrence 240209b 300x163 The Stephen Lawrence Case: Justice? Self Defence?

Putting aside the outrage of the murder and the killers still not being taken to account there are two issues concerning this case that are pertinent to self defence. Firstly, if ever there is a case for awareness and avoidance being an essential part of self defence this was it, I’m not certain Stephen Lawrence and Duwayne Brooks could have avoided the trouble that night but it remains a possibility if they had a greater knowledge of these aspects of self defence training. Secondly, I found the testimony of Brooks as recounted on the radio extremely upsetting and noticed a number of emotions raging through me, ranging from disgust, despair, sympathy to revenge and hate toward the perpetrators. This is pretty natural but reminded me that the job of the Judiciary is to keep to the letter of the Law and to not be swayed by emotive responses. This is critical but far from perfect. Continue reading

Originally posted 2011-11-17 16:26:48. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Was that Sanbon Kumite in the Marius Zaromskis video?

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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.

Marius Zaromskis vs Jason High

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!

Originally posted 2010-11-30 01:27:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter