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: (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. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Play With Knives

Now your mum probably told you never play with knives, but really why do we train so much with edged weapons? In Scotland, which has one of the most knife related incidents in the world, we are still unlikely to come across and edged weapon attack. If you look at where most incidents occur it is usually at a party at a friends house where alcohol is a factor.  The knife is normally a kitchen knife, and you know your attacker.  You live in Glasgow and you're in 18-26 age bracket more than likely. If this isn't your typical weekend then chances are you are safer than most.  

So back to the pointy things.  If, in training, someone attacks you with a training knife you will instinctively act much sharper and with more intent.  It's how you body is designed, so go with it.  As a standard practice, you should always assume that any attacker is armed until you know otherwise - that way you are never surprised.  So in your training maybe you want to include more knife attacks as it will keep you on your toes and will enhance your counter attacks and controls as well as basic fighting tactics.  Also the person using the knife will gain a better understanding of the universal lines of attack. As a result of this their striking should become better and they will be able to access faster strikes from different angles as if they were still using a knife.  If you are interested in learning more of the edged weapon curriculum then you need to get along to the Tactical Edge or NSI classes at the gym.  The edged weapon work will supercharge your empty hand skills.  

Saturday, 2 August 2014

The Passive Guard Practice

We all know this stance or defensive posture.  It's your hands up to protect your personal space when you feel someone is encroaching on it.  Now, you can stand there with your hands up making it look like a strong barrier, or you can be more subtle and relax your hands and move them as you talk, all the while still being able to protect yourself or launch a pre-emptive strike.  This is a real skill, and one that needs a lot of practice to pull off.  Start by whenever speaking with someone involving your hands in the conversation.  Use them as a barrier but be subtle and don't let the person you are talking with know that's what is happening.  You can every, so often if you see fit, gently touch the person as you chat. Sounds weird but if you chat and joke with someone maybe you touch their arm for example. This could be you monitoring that limb in a self defence situation or trapping it before launching a pre-emptive strike.  Now remember who you are chatting with.  Easier to start with your friends and then work colleagues.  Once you are good at it you can do it with everyone and they won't even know its happening.  You must me able to talk while doing it and be subtle like I said.  

Saturday, 26 July 2014

The reality of it

So I came across this clip online, its from a game of Aussie football, think of a weird mutated version of football and rugby:

Anyway, in the clip we see two players have a bit of a scuffle during a tackle and then something goes wrong.  One player attacks the other and as you can see in the video its pretty clear what his intent was.
Now I'm not sure why he decided to attack and strangle his opponent but the ensuing attack is a fantastic example of how volatile and raw an attack can be and how quickly a simple tumble can escalate. 

These guys are professionals, they train to be hit and take a bit rough and tumble they also need to have situational awareness as they play a team sport and need to be vigilant of where other team members are and you can see how easy it is for them to be taken unaware, as the clip shows the two hit the deck and theres about a 5 second "stand off" then the player in blue&white stops struggling and theres about a 3 second gap where he does nothing and then BANG player 17 slams that choke on and has it on for about 15 seconds and thats including when the other FIVE players are literally trying to drag him off.
Now depending on the type of choke, your looking at between 7-12 seconds on average for pass out time, even if you round that down to a 20 second altercation theres almost enough time to be choked and knocked out 3 times.

Now our blue&white player has obviously been involved in these types of back n forth and thats why he puts up his little struggle during the "stand off" period then he feels number 17 back off slightly and he thinks "ah thats it over with" and you can see his arms physically drop in a completely defenceless manor, that in turn allows number 17 to slam that choke on. You can see our boy in blue wasn't expecting the choke to come and even when he realise's he reacts to slow to accomplish anything, its a frightening clip and it shows violence in action in a fairly brutal way.

As with any clip like this try to watch it and think "what would I have done? How could I have got out of that? Am I training sufficiently enough to be able to handle a situation that violent? Everything's a learning tool.

The clip shows that it can happen anywhere regardless of location. As our name suggests be "Combat Ready". 


Saturday, 19 July 2014

Locks and controls

We've all used the classic arm up the back technique to subdue a sibling or friend when we were younger.  Most of the time this control relied on force to manoeuvre the limb into a position of discomfort.  It's a classic with the police, where you see them have to really wrestle to get that on tight and there usually requires more than one officer to do this.  The ideal way to learn locks or restraints is via a lock flow.  The lock flow is MEANT to be a logical way to learn and practice a series of locks in an intelligent way.  As the person tries to get free from one lock you simply flow into another.  In the real world nobody is going to offer these locks on a plate so you really need to mix them in with your striking curriculum.  If you strike and gain an attachment then you have a greater chance of applying a successful lock.  If the opponent then gets free, move into the next lock or strike and try and regain control. Like most things in a fight it's just going to happen.  You will find a lock if the time is right. Don't go searching for one as you won't get it.  It's the same as a takedown, just let your training take over, and if it's meant to be, the body will find a lock or takedown amongst the strikes.  For most of us we don't need to lock or control we can simply strike and exit. However, if you are in a security role then you may have to subdue, and striking may not always be an option.  In these cases it's even more important for you to work on locks.  I remember Eyal Yanilov (head of KMG) showing me a lock flow.  I asked why he didn't teach it as part of Krav Maga, and I think he was dismissive of it, as he explained it would take time and in Krav Maga you often only have people for a short time and controls may not be time best spent for them.  If you do have time, and it's part of your job, then make the effort and educate yourself.  

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Out of the zone

When you come into the gym, whether it be for CrossFit, Krav Maga, kickboxing or MMA, there is a chance you are going to be the new kid in class.  You might already be an active individual who is accomplished in your specific field, but when you come to learn something new then maybe everything feels awkward and clumsy for a few sessions.  Embrace that feeling - you are learning and that is what you are there to do.  It's meant to be a challenge and nothing worthwhile in life is easy.  Don't look for excuses, suck it up, work hard, progress and embrace.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014


Always keep in mind when you are training that the strikes you practice are potentially lethal.  When you use your elbow, which is one of your strongest strikes, you can feel the raw power.  Obviously you need speed and timing on your side to connect, but if you make contact in the facial area then that person is more than likely going to have to visit the hospital.  The bones around the cheek and eye socket are quite fragile and your crushing elbow could be devastating.  You need to keep this in mind if you ever need to deliver strikes for real.  Only do what you have to do and if you can talk it down or exit before it goes physical then that should be the game plan.  There are lots of people who have hit someone only once and they have fallen and died from concrete poisoning.  And never confuse sport fighting with self defence.  What you see in the ring isn't fighting.  Generally if you aint getting paid to trade blows then when you hit someone they will move in the direction of the force.  Keep all this in mind when you practice.  Train smart and remember you are all students of movement.