Erik Paulson’s Michael Jackson Kick

I can’t remember exactly where or when Sensei Paulson shared this little beauty with us. I was at least 3 or 4 years ago. Either way, it’s been one of my favorites ever since. It is especially useful against MMA Cavemen who don’t study much in the way of striking.

You know the type. The guys who spend hours in front of a heavy bag, slugging away as hard as they can, and proclaim that their boxing or kickboxing skills are pretty solid. They’ve never seen anything like a “Michael Jackson Kick”. And they’d be damned if they ever spent any time working on a traditional Karate kick like the Front Snap Kick.

This is the answer my friends. The patented Erik Paulson STX (Savate Thai Boxing Cross Training) Kickboxing “Michael Jackson Kick”.


Michael Jackson executes the kick at 2:38. I taught him that move.

The Catch Wrestling Shin Lock

Training with Sakuraba's Coach, the legendary Billy Robinson

Training with Sakuraba’s Coach, the legendary Billy Robinson

After first learning about the coveted but elusive Knee on Shin Lock and Elbow on Shin Lock, I was obsessed. I had to have them. I had no idea where to find them or how to go about getting on the mats with someone who knew the real skinny behind these old school Catch As Catch Can Techniques. But as luck would have it, the answer would literally fall at my feet.

Jake Shannon president and founder of the Scientific Wrestling Group, a society he has tasked with the consolidation and preservation of the many forms of Catch/Carnival/Wigan style Wrestling, recently changed his place of residence from sunny CA to the desert colony known as Utah.

2, 90 Degree Angles on 2 separate planes make for a more efficient SNAP!

2, 90 Degree Angles on 2 separate planes make for a more efficient SNAP!

W.A.R. Catch Wrestling: Lessons in Catch-As-Catch-Can with Billy RobinsonUpon arriving he needed a place to host an upcoming seminar with the legendary Catch As Catch Can Instructor Billy Robinson, a first generation student of the late Billy Riley. Jake called up his friend, our instructor Sensei Erik Paulson. Sensei Paulson suggested that he get in touch with his state representative Coach Kiser and the rest is history.

Having the once in a lifetime opportunity to train under one of few remaining authorities on Catch Wrestling, we picked as much of Billy’s brain as he and Jake could stand. The result was a bunch of footage that, to this day is some of my favorite material.

For anyone interested in learning more Catch As Catch Can moves directly from Coach Billy Robinson, I whole heartedly recommend
W.A.R. Catch Wrestling: Lessons In Catch-As-Catch-Can with Billy Robinson


The Empty Drum Makes The Most Noise

conga_thumb“The empty drum makes the most noise”

– Pak Herman Suwanda –

I want this piece to be an educational one. One with a positive message, an object lesson in humility, integrity and respect. I want the readers of this post to learn from the mistakes of another in hopes that we can avoid similar pitfalls.

The details of this piece will be fairly rich and in depth. Don’t get so mired in the details that you miss the moral of the story.

Intelligent Discussion vs Talking Smack

It’s o.k. to have a unique perspective or opinion. It’s alright to debate the pros and cons of a technique or tactic. But when you do so with a condescending tone of voice, you’re going to straight piss people off.

My first exposure to a guy named Brandon Quick was this video:


BarnettI couldn’t help but be stunned by the way this man was presenting his material. His tone of voice, his confrontational attitude. His comment at 1:23. I don’t think he realizes that this move became popularized by none other than Heavy Weight MMA Champion Josh Barnett in his “Attacking The Guard” DVD.

A Personal Lashing

Later I would suffer a personal lashing at the fingertips of Mr. Quick when I posted a few suggestions to a friend who was trying to adjust his BJJ for MMA in the Cage.

His fight is below (he’s the short haired guy with the white shorts):


You can find the full thread here

My MMA Fight Advice

But essentially my comments were the following: (yeah, I’m about to quote myself)

“A couple other suggestions… If I may.

First try working with a variety of partners. Particularly ones who pay good attention to keeping posture and blitzing you with punches while you’re against the cage.

Second, you may want to be little more patient with your submission attacks. A lot of guys I work with go for a sub from bottom, right away. Their opponents are fresh, they have a lot of strength in them and they just muscle their way out and in doing so, pass the guard. If something is staring you in the face, you’ve got to take it but, other times you can wear them down first… old school Gracie style.

Lastly, and I know this is blasphemy for you jiu-jitsu folks. When my business partner and I first suggested this to our training partners, they almost kicked us out of the gym, but having your guard passed inside the cage isn’t always a bad thing. When you missed the arm bar and your opponent went to side cross, you can make a bee-line to the fence, putting your back up against it as tight as possible, this prevents your opponent from mounting, taking your back or even keeping a tight or secure side cross position (the fence blocks his face, shoulders and arm and thus he can’t get on top of you). From here you can make it to your knees and start standing up. Yes, you’re going to take a couple punches… that’s what happens when you’re on bottom, but if he tries to keep you down, he can’t submit you and he can’t punch you. He’s got to make a choice. Punch you, try to submit you, or keep you down, but you can’t do all three…

…Finally, I think I may have a better answer for you altogether. When I first flew out to LA to train under Ajarn Surachai Sirisute in Muay Thai, I asked him to take a look at me and tell me if I should give it up or if I had a chance at becoming a decent Thaiboxer. After watching me for a moment, he said “sir, you punch pretty good, but you lead with your face sir.” To this I replied, “You mean I drop my hands Ajarn?” “Yes sir.” he said. Looking for some gimick or trick or even a good drill to correct this, I asked him “Ajarn, what is a good way to train keeping my hands up sir?” He looked at me with a blank stare and said “Keep your hand up sir.” and he walked off.

It was one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given. Last weekend, I had a first time fighter go into the cage and the week before he kept turning away when he’d get punched. I chastised him for it and he asked me what he could do to correct the situation. I told him to make up his mind that it wouldn’t happen again. During his fight, he got slobberknockered a couple of times. Once getting dropped to his knees. Not once did he turn his back. And shortly after getting knocked down, he returned the favor.

How do you resist the temptation to “just pull guard’. You make up your mind to do so and make that the end of it.

And now you can imagine me walking away.”

Top MMA Fighters Pass Their Own Guard

Here is a clip I found that somewhat demonstrates what I tried to describe in “passing one’s own guard”:


You can also find examples of it on page 216 of BJ Penn’s “Mixed Martial Arts – The book of knowledge”. However, we learned this move from Dennis Davis of the original Team Quest long before the publication of BJ’s book.

At any rate here is Brandon Quick’s response:

“okay man, I must comment…
Pulling guard is an total last resort AND your jits better be that of Aoki or Damien or at a minimum, far superior to your opponent!! Being that I have never seen you at ADCC or something close, I dont believe you are there

Letting your guard get passed is absolutely stupid! All the respect to the people on this forum but that is completely wrong. The best MMA fighters in any organization are the GUARD PASSERS!! when I am in someones guard my subs are almost 0% and his are very high, sweeps,armbars, chokes, omoplatas. GnP is not as good in the guard, things can be stalled and boring. if I pass the guard now all my subs from side, judo side, twister side and mount are available and the leather I can throw is maximized, the bottom guy has almost no subs. How many fights have you seen stopped from side, mount or beatdown in or against the cage?
As CUO says, its always better on top

As a guy who has trained with top tier fighters from around the world…believe me when I say that letting someone pass your guard is not good, especially against the cage.

Waiting someone out like old school Gracie is completely wrong!!! Oh my goodness where do people come up with this??

You are dry, subs are harder for your opponent to slip out of. Wearing your opponent out? The longer the fight goes the longer you get worn out!! Let alone punched, cut and losing on points!!!!

Lastly, you NEVER WANT TO GET PUNCHED!!!!! Any one can knock you out, daze you or cut you!!! Never give anyone a puncher’s chance!!!

p.s. good knock out but i would also advise working on the striking and wrestling”

And it would seem that I am not the only one with whom Brandon’s taken an attitude. By kicking up dust he’s made a lot of enemies. In fact recently, he was exposed by his own peers, for fabricating his ranking.

"I did not give Brandon his brown belt." - Eddie Bravo -

"I did not give Brandon his brown belt." - Eddie Bravo -

Once word was out, the BJJ Police were on the hunt in full force. And they managed to dig up this interesting tidbit from the Gracie University Forum:

Found on the Gracie University Forums

Found on the Gracie University Forums

And it turns out that I was being lectured in the ways of MMA by a guy who at the time had yet to compete in any form, let alone MMA. Only recently did Brandon compete at NAGA and he lost 2 out of 3 matches. In one match, the same guy telling people that “pulling guard is a total last resort” tried to jump guard 3 times and missed each time, falling to the ground and attempting to work from bottom.


Now again, I’m not trying to run a smear campaign. All I’m trying to say is that when you express yourself in a disrespectful way towards others, the noise you make get’s exponentially louder. And when people hear all the commotion, they’re going to take notice and eventually call you on it.

Constructive Debate And Discourse

It’s totally alright to have a difference of opinion.  In fact constructive debate and discourse is really at the heart of progress in any art form.  But when you express your opinions don’t be a punk about it.  I can see where Brandon’s logic is in keeping the guard.  I came up through the same school of thought.  But in my humble opinion, it was a school of thought developed on an open mat, and was not created to deal with being pressed up against some object that would hinder your ability to move your hips and create angles, an object that would allow your opponent to keep your head within striking distance of his elbows and fists.  But that’s just my opinion.  I can see the other side of the coin and either way, I do my best to be respectful when I express my perspectives.

So when you’re out there battling it out on those forums, the digital mats of the internet, be cool. Don’t claim to be something your not. Don’t disrespect others just because you have a different point of view. And when in doubt, keep the volume down.

If you have any thoughts on this post or any experiences with internet bullies you’d like to share, please comment below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

A Solid Clinch Game For Takedowns and Submissions

Professional MMA Fighter Nick Diaz waxes philosophical and demonstrates a great supplemental series for Chris Well’s Takedown Trifecta (Knee Tap, Spiral, Body Lock). These along with Billy Robinson’s Grovit, Ajarn Greg Nelson’s Foot Sweep Series and Sensei Paulson’s Grovit Lockflow (to be released later) form a very solid set of options from the standard wrestling tie up.

I have included the other clips here for reference. The techniques by themselves are solid but together they form a really solid game with decent options depending on your opponent’s energy.

Reference Videos:

Hop Overhand Right – Aka The Superman Punch

Khuen Khru Brian Yamasaki, CSW Coach and Thai Boxing Instructor out of Bountiful Utah demonstrates the basic use and set up for the Hop Overhand Right. He then shows a second variation of the technique.

Sal Goes Off The Record

What can I say really. It is what it is, some out takes and extra footage from a Taking It To The MMAT shoot. We hope you find it entertaining.

Random Interviews 1

Brandon Kiser, Brian Yamasaki and Ryan Lehner interview random people at the fights.

The Anatomy Of The Liver Shot

Fight Doctor Mark Cacciamani talks about the anatomy of the Liver, where it is located and how to find it. Brian “Dr. Sick” Yamasaki discusses various methods of attacking the Liver in a MMA, Muay Thai, Boxing or Self Defense situation.

The New Gladiator Challenge Welter Weight Champion

Jake Paul, Gladiator Challenge Welter Weight Campion

Going into the weekend, Coach Kiser and I had 4 fights on the docket.  2 on Friday night in Salt Lake City at the Ultimate Combat Experience and 2 on Saturday night in Wendover at the Gladiator Challenge.

Preparations for these fights began over 2 months ago as Fighters Jake Paul, Paul Roberts, Johnny Miller and Aaron Okura began to ramp up their conditioning and put together game plans for their respective opponents.

As training progressed, the opponents began to shuffle and add the usual X factor to the challenge of preparing these guys for fights.  Originally Jake was to fight Brad Johnson, and Aaron Okura was to fight Paris Swain.  Jake’s opponent declined the fight half way through preparations and Lee Doss out of Jeremy Horn’s Elite Performance gym stepped up to take his place.  Paris stepped down the week of the fight and Zack Wojcheck, a very seasoned and hearty opponent took the fight last minute.

Team Bernales and The Mushin Fighter Corps

Team Bernales and The Mushin Fighter Corps

The training camp was solid as both Team Bernales and the Mushin Fighter Corps banded together in usual fashion to show each other and their teammates a huge level of support.  Kensei Sato, Konrad Jones, John Mckean, Jeremy Sullivan and Ultimate Fighter Brandon Melendez, among many others offered themselves as consistent sparring partners and moral support for their fight family.

There are particulars that are important to consider when preping guys for fights, Lee Doss has a striking game as opposed to Johnson’s wrestling based style.  Paris Swain is a left handed fighter as opposed to Wojcheck’s orthodox stance.  But again, throught he power of TEAM, we were able to create drills that mimiced the tendencies and energy of the various opponents.

From Left To Right, Will Bernales, Paul Roberts and Brian Yamasaki

From Left To Right, Will Bernales, Paul Roberts and Brian Yamasaki

Khuen Khru Will and I worked the corner for Paul Roberts who dispatched an undefeated Kevin Hanby :30 seconds into round one.  After delivering a punishing flurry of punches and knees and stringing together a 3 sub combination lock flow, Kevin tapped out to a Triangle. Like a true gentleman, Kevin was graceful in defeat and wished Paul good luck on his UCE title bout vs. Daniel Grass.

Aaron had an altogether different experience against his opponent, Zack Wojcheck.  None of us expected him to be able to keep up with the pace that Aaron put forth.  Especially after taking the fight with such late notice.  Not only did Wojcheck go all three rounds and put together a steely performance, he concussed Aaron with his heavy handed punching.  But after 3 rounds of non st0p action, the judges saw it a split decision in Aaron’s favor.

From Left to Right, Brandon Kiser, Will Bernales and Aaron Okura

From Left to Right, Brandon Kiser, Will Bernales and Aaron Okura

After celebrating late into the evening, Kiser and I retired to our homes and prepared for the trip out to Wendover the next morning.  At the weigh ins on Thursday night, Johnny Miller’s opponent Chris Julkenun showed up 20 lbs. over weight and as a result the fight was canceled. We were all disappointed but, sometimes that’s how it goes in the fight game.

At any rate, Kiser and I loaded up into the Honda Civic with Kade Anderson and Brittany in tow and headed off to Wendover.  Little did we know of the adventure that lay before us.

On the road again, Trainers Yamasaki and Kiser enroute to Wendover

On the road again, Trainers Yamasaki and Kiser enroute to Wendover

Shortly after passing the airport, traffic came to a dead halt.  I-80 West had been shut down due to a freight crash which involved live ammunition that had ignited and begun to go off.

Generally, the trip takes about 2 hours.  It took us about that long to get to a point where we could turn around and try another route.

Next up was I-215 and it looked pretty promising at first.  But shortly after reaching Kennecott, we found that that route had been shut down as well.

Gridlock on the way to Wendover

Gridlock on the way to Wendover

We were told of some secret back road passage around the crash, through Lehi and Grantsville down route SR 73 or something like that so we headed off. Once to Lehi, the traffic there was too intimidating and so we headed back to Kiser’s abode to use the bathroom, and re-think our options.

At that point I-80 was re-opened and we started back down the original route, determined to make it to Wendover, despite the one lane closure and awful delay. 5 hours into the drive I started to get nervous about our fuel situation and was feeling the effects of being pent up in a sub compact so we decided to shut the engine off, stick her in neutral and push the Civic for the occasional 10 to 20 feet move forward. We ended up getting a decent little workout amidst cheers and cat calls from our gridlocked audience.

After seven hours of driving, we finally arrived at the Gladiator Challenge hosted by the Wendover Nugget. Kiser and I literally ran from the car to the warm up area.

Jake Paul warms up with Brandon Melendez

Jake Paul warms up with Brandon Melendez

Konrad and Melendez had Jake taped up and sweating. 5 minutes later, we were ringside watching Jake put the hurt on Jeremy Horn’s Lee Doss. Round 1 began with Jake pressing Doss into the cage and delivering a stylish Spinning Elbow from a Single Leg before taking Lee down and dominating the action. Round 2 had Jake taking Lee down with a Blast Double and eventually taking mount to finish the fight by GNP.

Jake Paul has his hand raised after defeating Lee Doss

Jake Paul has his hand raised after defeating Lee Doss

It was a long trip but the journey and the 2 months of grueling training to prepare these warriors for their bouts made the weekend of victories all the more sweet.

JTS After Party

JTS After Party

Congratulations to all the fighters for their successes and a special thanks to the Bernales Team and Mushin Self Defense Student Bodies for helping our boys prepare for their bouts.