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. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Invest in some basic tools of the trade

Just like any sport or past time, if you want to train in KM properly you are going to need to invest in some kit.  Some basics I would never do without would be gum shield and groin guard.  £20 all in I bet.  Keeps the Hollywood smile and baby makers intact.  Next up a set of gloves. Sports Direct has a huge supply of them for about £15 for a set of 12 oz or 14 oz boxing gloves. More than adequate for what we need them for.  Keeps your wrists safe and the other person's face looking good. The classic cheapskate idiot line I get all the time is "Well I won't be wearing gloves in the street".  In the street your will never be hitting as often as you will be when you work the pads.  Also, I would get a jump rope.  Get one and cut it to size.  You will skip faster, warm up quicker and won't spend valuable minutes going back and forth trying to get a size that suits.  Its not a lot of cash when you compare it to swimming (shorts and goggles), football (boots, shin pads and strip) or climbing (chalk, chalk bag, harness, shoes).  So get saving or get buying and enhance your experience.  

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Common object defence

Last week we talked about using the hammer strike.  Now let's make it more effective, and think about common object defence.  Pick up a pen and think about how much more effective that hammer strike will be.  Remember, you can't carry a weapon in the UK and if you intend to carry anything that you intend to use as a weapon, it will make it a criminal offence. However, there are pens lying about everywhere and you can carry one wherever you go. Think about the pen being a force equalizer and it can make someone smaller safer against a larger meaner opponent.  Get a cardboard box and practice your striking on that.  Realise the damage that can be done, and then keep that in mind and the force ladder in a self defence situation.  

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Hammer Strike

The downward hammer strike is a great effective strike suitable for everyone and it takes very little training and not much in upkeep to be very effective.  Remember, we are striking with the soft fleshy part of the hand.  Make sure it’s a big overhand motion as this will shrink under stress.  It’s a large bludgeoning motion and is great for knocking hands or arms out the way to open up access to the head.  People like it as they can deliver a lot of power with it and it can build confidence quickly.  Imagine someone grabs you - why bother with a wrist release when you can hammer down on their arm if the situation requires this level of force? At the end of the day nobody should touch you, but you must be mindful of the force ladder.