Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Takedowns in Self Defence

So recently in class we have been covering some of the essential takedowns in our Krav Maga curriculum. Remember, this will be expanding as we add in Scott's various wrestling takedowns and counters in due course.  I just wanted to have everyone clear about the takedown methodology.  So if we pre-emptively strike and they go south, there is no need for a takedown unless you try and grab them to give them a softer landing and prevent head trauma.  If, in the course of an altercation, we can only use minimal strikes then if we can manipulate a take down so be it.  Perhaps we can't go to town on them because they are a lot smaller than us, the opposite sex, there is CCTV or as part of your job you cannot be seen to be using to heavy a hand.  Another way of thinking is with the takedown you might be using the ground or wall or table or chair as part of a strike.  The bowling ball take down might be used and you put them through a wall for example, or you might hip toss them onto the concrete hoping to cause trauma.  Keep in mind concrete poisoning, and the real reasoning for the takedowns is to prevent any unnecessary trauma to the head of your opponent.  You can never really force a takedown unless you are young and strong. It's much better to just see the opening and take. You will know it when it happens. Until then practice on a willing class mate.  Give good energy and help the guy out.  Don't be a sack of potatoes, but at the same time don't be too rigid.  It's all about balance - the thinkers among us will understand that last bit there. 


Sunday, 4 January 2015


When we think about footwork we tend to think about boxing, Ali and how he moved graciously around the ring.  Remember, a boxer knows the dimensions of a ring, knows it’s a flat canvas surface and how many steps he can take in each direction before being on the ropes or the ring posts.

In the world of self defence our footwork is more being able to move over uneven surfaces, up an incline or down a decline.  Think of putting our foot in a puddle of unknown depth and getting a wet shoe or sliding on gravel or glass.  The best  thing you can do is get out the dojo, get the shoes on and train.  You can hit pads, run situationals or roll on the floor.  Learn to deal with the environment, and if you slip, don’t stop - keep going and make the best of it.  

Train hard, fight easy.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014


So this one is mainly for the martial artists among us.  KM throughout the land is taught as a self defence system first and fighting system second.  So on the one hand you learn to act after the attack has happened, which is good, but I often feel it can train you to become the victim. The fighting system is really where it is at though.  To understand that though you need to look out with KM and straight to Bruce Lee's strategies of attack. I really hate reality videos however, this one is ok and only lasts a few seconds.  Remember we don't know any of the context surrounding this video so be objective.  What I want you to be aware of is the pre-emptive strike and then the interception on the second opponent - and the speed that the cigarette flies out his mouth. Every week in class I am banging on about intercepting this and that and sometimes I feel like nobody is listening.  Look at this video, understand, learn, adapt and use it.  This guys doesn't wait to be attacked, he knows he is and he intercepts the second guy who is trying to kick him.  You could almost say the first attack is an interception more than a pre-emptive strike as the attacker looks to raise his hands. Again, because its a video and we don't know anything about it who is the attacker?  Is it the guy on his own or the other guys.  You are only getting a snap shot so keep that in mind.  

The lesson though - don't wait, be pre-emptive if you feel you need to be or get using those interceptions.  

Saturday, 8 November 2014

What we are about

The gym exists to provide members with what we as coaches determine to be the fastest methods to reach your goals.  If you are looking for self defence then there is nothing better than Krav Maga.  Mix in some NSI and TE classes for completeness and you can be  fairly confident you are going to be able to deal with confrontation in a fairly short period of time.  If you want to get "FIT" then CrossFit is one of the best strength and conditioning programmes on the planet with a worldwide following.  In terms of children's classes I strongly believe that you can't do any better than our Little Ninjas programme. It's a great way to start the journey in the Martial Arts and learn positive skills.  Moving on from that you have the Jnr Kickboxing / Jnr Krav Maga for the teens.  There are even more classes on offer than the ones I have mentioned. In a nut shell we only teach what we think works well, has a proven track record and gives people what they want.  At times training might be tough and there is going to be repetition but see beyond that, train hard stick in and reach those goals.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Round up of last night's class

Last night in Krav Maga we worked on defences against a baseball bat type of swinging attack. I gave you various options however, you must always remember the following points:

They have an extension weapon which needs to be used at a longer range for FULL effect. 

You need to close the gap to make that weapon less dangerous

Intercept the attack, counter strike(s) and control

Remove the weapon if appropriate and scan the area for potential hazards. 

Last night we used a baseball type swing to the head.  Why, because that is what is the most common and natural.  The downward attack rarely happens with a bat, maybe something smaller like a hammer or crow bar.  The idea of smooth and fast is to hardwire the movement. Any fool can burst in and hit someone.  Great well done you can charge and hope forward pressure will save you.  You could learn to play rugby and get the same results. However, we want to fine tune our training and get to a higher level. So some nights Im all about brute force other nights Its like a fast version of Tai Chi.  And remember, if you are only coming once a week well you can be missing out on other aspects. There are around 12 combat classes per week all building the individual and making them prepared for reality.  The more you come the better you get and the more variety you have in your training the more your eyes will be opened. 


Tuesday, 28 October 2014


In the Filipino arts the double stick and single patterns are used extensively. Many of the drills are for developing attributes over combative skills.  People nowadays often over look these drills and cannot see the function.  I was watching some of the boxers training in the gym recently and after some work developing combos on the pads they started working the speed drills on the focus mitts. Now the skills that those drills develop are exactly the same as the stick drills. Speed, timing and co-ordination.  Pad work is a skill and its often hard to find someone to feed the pads in that manner to develop those attributes.  The stick work is the same. Whatever your take on things both the pads and sticks will help you in your combative journey.  Both are noisy and annoy the hell out of other gym users so you can never win.  Start slow and build up and you can amaze all your friends and family and pretty soon like the Karate Kid you will be catching a fly using chopsticks.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Why The Limb Destruction?

I was asked recently "why do you do that?", with "that" being the straight blast limb destruction entry from Tactical Edge.

The comparison is usually to Krav -"but in Krav we hit straight to the face".  What you'll find in most, if not all, reality based systems are the same essential concepts, the main one being "simultaneous blocking and striking" or hit without being hit. But that being said the answer to why we do the straight blast is in the title, it's more "tactical" and it fits conceptually into transitioning seamlessly into weapon work.

The idea of the limb destruction comes from filipino knife work. If I was intercepting an opponent's arm with a blade I'd target the exact same way as I do with the limb destruction but rather than destroying with a punch, I'd look to sever the bicep muscle - with that muscle gone it takes that arm and the threat out of the fight. So our limb destruction works as an empty hand version of that defence.

The limb destruction doesn't just destroy the attacking limb, by getting a full destruction on the attacking arm you create a cross extensive reflex action which means for a second the body's nerves take such a blow that the opposite arm is taken out of action, this is literally for a spilt second but it creates a gap that allows a quick follow up strike:

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossed_extensor_reflex (link included so you know its not just a bunch of special death touch voodoo magic)

Another very important factor is the law.  Although you're well within your rights to defend yourself the law states that you can use "reasonable force", smashing someone in the face when you had the opportunity to just stop the arm could seem a little excessive, so in tactical edge we move up a force ladder. We attack the attacking limb, destroy it as best we can (a really good limb destruction can stop an attack dead in its tracks if it's good enough) if that doesn't work then you can move up the force ladder to the opposite arm or to the head so if you have to explain your actions your able to state that you didn't just smash through his face first chance you got, you tried to be as kind as you could.

Again, conceptually the limb destruction's straight punch can be replaced with a weapon or improvised impact tool and it'll be just as good if not better.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Full text - Body Composition DEXA Scan

This is the full text of the curtailed Facebook post from this morning:  

I recently read an article in Breaking Muscle written by a coach of elite level female athletes. He said that most people massively underestimated their body fat percentage. His athletes, who train multiple times a day, operate at around 15% to 18% levels of body fat. The scales I use had me consistently coming in at around 20% body fat. I knew this had to be wrong as I do not train, eat or look like an elite level athlete so decided to inform myself properly by collecting hard data and numbers with which to work and not just guesstimates. With this in mind I decided to undertake a body composition DEXA scan at the Edinburgh Clinic - the only place locally that offers this service. These were my results:

Total mass: 76.3k 
Lean mass (ie soft tissue plus organs): 54.3k
Skeleton: 3.1k (this was a surprise)
Fat : 18.9k 

This puts me at a 24.9% body fat. I was looking for under 25% so just squeaked in :). Strangely the fat measurement was the least interesting of the results to me. I am fairly tall, with broad shoulders and long arms and yet my skeleton weights only 3 kilos. No more excuses for being ‘big boned’ anyone. Your skeleton makes up a minimal amount of your bodyweight. My bone density was very good. No osteoporosis for me, but it is always good to have a baseline measure for the future. The most interesting thing for me, however, was my lean mass. In my late teens and early twenties I was very sporty and I constantly weighed about 10 stone/140lbs/64 kilos. I currently weigh 12 kilos more than that and had this idea that regaining the bodyweight of my early twenties was, with work, an attainable goal. However now I have these numbers I know this is unrealistic. Currently my lean mass and my skeleton make up almost 57.5 kilos. If my goal were 64kg then that leaves me with only 6.5 kg of body fat - a drastically low and unhealthy level. Even at a weight of 70 kilos my body fat would be sub 18%. A healthy and realistic goal for me, I now know, would be 72 kilos which puts me in the very respectable 20% body fat category. The fact is, I weigh more now than I did in my twenties because I am more muscular. I am stronger and I lift. This has been the true revelation of arming myself with information. 

In light of my results, if anyone else is interested in following in my footsteps, The Edinburgh Clinic has agreed to offer Combat Ready Gym members an exclusive 20% discount. The scan is normally £190 so you will get almost £40 off. When you book use the code DXCFIT. If you can manage it I would highly recommend it, especially if you have a weight loss goal. This will help you understand your body and give you concrete information with which to work.


Saturday, 23 August 2014

Training When Tired - Why?

In Krav Maga, they are the kings of making you work when tired.  It is a simple test, which sometimes I think is done too often and can detract from your training and often doesn't really get the best from the student. If done correctly, however, it can yield great results and get an understanding of how far you can go when things don't go your way. So in class we want you on the back foot, breathing hard, being overwhelmed and seeing how you cope.  Your anaerobic system under stress will hopefully have you breathing hard and a tremor in your hands similar to an adrenaline dump.  The best thing though is the mental toughness aspect.  You get attacked over and over and there are exercises thrown in and you are often being shouted at which can be stressful. This shows how you pick up and retain information when under stress.  In class I am looking for you not only to keep going but when things don't go your way to never give up, to never stop until the job is done whatever we may have agreed on that training session.  It's not everyone's cup of tea but if you want to become proficient at self defence then you need this. If you want to get a cultural experience, wear a uniform and learn to count to ten in a foreign language then perhaps a traditional martial art is more suited.  Safety is paramount in these sessions, and this is something that I think can be overlooked, and if you train like this too often things deteriorate and you can place the student in harms way and my job is too keep everyone safe. When I think about how we used to train back in the day when we were located in the Judo Club I sometimes cringe and wonder how nobody actually ended up dead.  We had some crazy sessions back then with lights off and blank firings pistols being discharged to disorientate as part of drills.  Maybe I have gone soft in my old age but I think there are better ways to get the best from the guys who are training. 

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Practice Makes What?

Repetition is king when it comes to perfecting a skill and it doesn't matter whether its olympic lifting or martial arts - you still need to put the time in.  I understand for most training at the gym it's just a hobby, a pastime, but you have to understand without some level of repetition you're just turning up to a class.  I always want the best from the people who show up and the simple fact is it's not going to be something new and shiny each week.   You have to work hard at the basics and, yes, you will learn new shiny things but the shiny things are nothing without the basics and the repetition.  It used to be the case that having a black belt really meant something.  You were feared and rightly so, because you had worked hard, learned a lot and could apply in real time the skills you had learned.  However, in today's world very few people are truly prepared to hang on in for the journey so they created short cut martial arts and handed out black belts to children and adults who truly were not deserving.  So eventually the black belt became not as prized.  The same with the MBA business qualification.  They saturated the market with that and now nobody cares if you have it.  I understand the need to keep the student motivated, but as a student you must understand you need to put time in and then everything will come good.  So if you want a good round kick throw a hundred kicks a day.  You want to power clean better then get under that broomstick and do 50 a day.  Nothing is stopping you from being great except yourself.