Damage Control MMA: Cutting Room Floor Edition

It’s been a while since I’ve updated the Damage Control Blog, so I’ll dispense with all the worthless excuses. I mean, the Southpaw series with it’s 16 videos wasn’t that time consuming to produce. Tax season has been a cinch this year as we’ve got double the paperwork do to a recent gym move, company restructuring and building purchase. Erik Paulson didn’t roll through town, oh wait a second, he did, and I had a wonderful time training, hanging out and messing around that whole weekend.

Jeff Monson is on the docket for next weekend, but really that was supposed to happen this past weekend. Plans were made, schedules were cleared, but we had to reschedule due to a marathon 5 rounder he went through the Friday night prior to the preposed Seminar date.

Meanwhile I’ve been trying to organize a relief effort called M.M.Aid Fund for people of the world who may find themselves in hard times. Saying this about the situation in Japan is perhaps the understatement of the year, nevertheless, you’d never know how difficult it is to set up a charitable effort until you’ve tried. There’s more red tape in relief efforts than in trying to open up a fast food road kill restaurant at the cafeteria in USDA’s headquarters.

So what did I scrounge up for this Blog Post? Well, it’s a couple of videos we filmed about two years ago that never made it onto our T.V. show, never got published on Youtube, and have been sitting on the cutting room floor until now. I’ve been saving them because I really like the material but we never released them because there was a problem with the audio that could not be resolved. But I liked them so much I kept them around, perhaps for a rainy day like today.

First up is a series of Ankle Pick Takedowns by one of my all time favorite instructors, Coach (Collegiate Wrestler and Pedro Sauer BJJ Black Belt) Chris Wells.

Next is a Swing Kick I filmed with my good friend Khuen Khru Johnny Miller. Johnny has been a training partner and friend of mine for years. I watched him come up through the ranks at my Instructor’s Gym and eventually earn his Apprentice Instructorship under Ajarn Chai. He’s recently relocated to Hawaii and I posted this to reminisce a little about the good old days.

Finally, is a perfectly good clip we filmed at the 2011 CACC Certification with Coach Billy Robinson and Jake Shannon. I didn’t want to put up a post with only damaged goods, so I included this sneak peak at a video that eventually make it onto our Youtube profile. Assistant Coach Sam Kressin, one of the highest ranking students of the Scientific Wrestling (Billy Robinson’s) Program, was kind enough to share these gems and Coach Robinson sneaks in for a cameo.

Stay tuned, we’re still alive and kicking. We’ll be clearing off our plates in the next few weeks and be back to regular blog updates in no time.

Until then, keep your hands up, your chin down, your mouth closed and your eyes and ears open.

Short vs Tall Techniques for Muay Thai and MMA Training

Utilizing or countering a reach/height advantage has been a conundrum for fighters since the beginning of time. Standing at a towering 5’5″, I know how hard it can be to face the up hill battle of being the little guy. Depending on the sport, there can be some redeeming qualities for being the guy who came up short when it came to playing the gene pool lottery.

Here you see the concept of punching up to your opponent and keeping your chin below their level

I’ve heard some say that in boxing, it can be an advantage to be the shorter fighter, as you are able to punch up to your opponent’s face, whereby, there is no way he can tuck his chin low enough to hide it from your fists. Conversely, the only punches he can throw that will clip your chin, if you tuck it properly, would be shovel hooks and uppercuts, thus diminishing the effects of two of boxing’s primary weapons, the jab and the straight right.

There has to be some merit to this as Legendary trainer Eddie Futch has gone on record, describing how he worked a low stance and a lot of low swooping bobbing and weaving motions to accentuate Joe Frazier’s stature and make it difficult for Muhammad Ali to hit him square in the jaw. This strategy seemed to do well in the duo’s epic 3 fight page in pugilistic history.

The Sky Piercing Knee Kicker, Dieselnoi delivers punishment to his shorter opposition.

But there are consequences for these types of tactics when knees and kicks are involved. And thus, other strategies must be employed, either to replace or to supplement the boxing brilliance of trainers such as Futch and those who think along his strategic lines.

The first part of developing a strategy for overcoming a height disparity is to understand the mentality and strategy of the taller person. Below, we get a glimpse into this world as our friend, Khru Cade Anderson, shares his thoughts on the subject.

Observing the thought process of a taller person, you can see how the standard, conventional theory of moving forward, pressing the fight and trying to cut off the ring is accounted for by a taller fighter who is properly trained and prepared. Simply marching towards your opponent in this case will only get you hit as your opponent will simply time your attack and strike during your bridge step as this is the essence of reach advantage tactics (to stay out of the range of the shorter fighter and to attack them as they step forward to bridge the gap).

If your opponent is not sophisticated enough to employ the tactics described here and in Khru Cade’s video, then there really isn’t much of a problem. Bull dog that bean pole and force your way inside. But, if your opponent is able to maintain range and continually stops your bridge step, you’re going to have to reach deeper into the rabbit hole and pull out some other tricks.

As counter intuitive as it may sound, sometimes the best thing to do against a taller fighter with good ranging and good timing, is to step back and wait. To stay far enough away to be safe (out of the range of the taller fighter’s weapons) and to force your opponent to move forward to bridge the gap.

When he steps forward to punch, you can counter with a kick (so long as you step on the 45). If he kicks, you can catch his leg and punish him with a sweep, dump, flurry of punches or pull his leg to bring him into the close range clinch.

In this article we hope you find some helpful tips on how to safely bridge the gap. We have presented some sound, and basic methods of how to wage a range war on those with a reach or height advantage. We have shared our experience in understanding the logic of how a range war will progress/regress. And for our members, we have shown, in detail, some rare tricks that will get you out of a jam, when these solid fundamentals fail to mitigate the extra inches your opponents bring to the fight.

Best of luck, and happy hunting.

How to Join An MMA Gym: A Beginners Guide

5 Tips To Help You Get Started In MMA Training

Joining an MMA gym can be an intimidating experience for beginners.  But it can also be an exhilarating rush to finally start training and learning.  Here are five tips to help you make the most of the experience and not look like a total noob.

Old Jock Strap

Tip 1: Your Gear.

You don’t have to go out and buy all this stuff right away, but the Basic Start Up Kit is a must.

Basic Start Up Kit:

  • Jock Strap And Cup, don’t leave home without it.
  • Mouth Piece

  • Mouth Piece. You don’t need a fancy one, just some rubber between your teeth so that you don’t loose them or get them chipped by an errant shoulder bump or spinning elbow to the forehead when your fellow white belt spazzes out of a position and accidentally clips you.
I took a spinning elbow just yesterday from a white belt.  If you look closely, you can see the imprint of his double weave gi in my forehead.  I wasn't wearing my mouth piece... I should have.  It felt like my teeth were about to crack.

I took a spinning elbow just yesterday from a white belt during Brazilian Jiu-jitsu class (he was trying to escape the back). If you look closely, you can see the imprint of his double weave gi in my forehead. I wasn't wearing my mouth piece... I should have. It felt like my teeth were about to crack.

Intermediate Kit:

    MMA Gloves 

  • 16 oz. Boxing Gloves for training is what I’d recommend.
  • Shin Guards. My favorite are the cloth shin and instep protectors that cost all of $15.00 and you can throw them in the wash when they get stinky. Some people argue that they don’t offer enough protection. I say, if you need that much protection, you and your partners are going way too hard.
  • MMA Gloves. Nowadays they offer both the training variety and fighting gloves. The trainers are a nice way to show your training partners you care.
Advanced Kit:

Rash Guard

  • Rash Guard and Leggings. These are to protect against microbes. They put an extra barrier between you and whatever worm, rash or creepy crawlie that might be wiggling it’s way into your training partner’s skin. They also help protect your knees and elbows from mat burns which create openings in your skin for said creepies to get a foothold and start setting up shop on your body.
  • Knee Pad

  • Kneepads. My favorites are the bubble knee pads for volleyball. They take off that extra wear and tear from working from your knees all the time or from dropping hard, repeatedly on a knee for your shots. I’ve experimented with applying Shoe Gu to the Asics Brand of bubble knee pads that I like best. They increase the life span and aren’t too abraisive to your partners if you take the time to make sure you smooth the surface before the Gu dries.

Some MMA gyms have equipment for sale. The basic equipment can be found at most sports stores.

You can find all kinds MMA equipment online at MMA Warehouse.

Recon

Tip 2: Research Your Potential Instructor(s).

Look them up on the internet. Take the time to learn about their background and what organization, if any they are a part of.

While organizational affiliation doesn’t always mean that you’re dealing with an upright, credible and helpful instructor, the lack of affiliation can sometimes be an indicator that something is amiss.

Often times it is not, but it’s something to take note of and place in the databank for future reference should other indicators arise down the line.

How do you know if an instructor is a good one?

Take a lesson or two and ask questions. There are about as many different ways to do a said technique as there are instructors. The how to isn’t as important, in my opinion, as the why.

If the instructor on test drive is able to explain to you, in a way that makes sense, why you should do what he’s instructing you to do, that’s a pretty good indicator that he/she knows what they are talking about.

If they start looking around, or give you the, “because I told you to”. That’s another one of those, things to put into your databank and tally up with the organizational affiliation thing at the end of the day.

Most importantly, did the potential instructor provide you with a safe and enjoyable learning environment?

If not, then despite what the findings were in the first set of suggestions, I’d be in a mad dash to get out of that gym. It doesn’t matter if the instructor in question is God’s gift to MMA, if you didn’t have a good time, or if you got the feeling that you might not last more than a week before suffering some catastrophic injury in the environment you were in, you should get out of there.

Don’t be a sissy and drop out just because you don’t like doing a push up or two, but if you fear for your life because you’re seeing other newbies getting tossed like cookies at cruise ship case of food poisoning, having their heads snapped back like crash test dummies from the punches being thrown, I’d suggest a different gym.

You’re looking to learn, have fun and increase your level of physical fitness and overall health. No jah rah budkus about training like “Real Fighters” is going to justify the potential for injury that you will find at a place like this.

Skill will come from hours trained, and this means injury management. The fewer the injuries, and the lower the severity of those injuries, the more mat time you’re going to get. The more mat time you get, the better you’re going to get period.

Blessed is he who in the name of good will and charity, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness.

Tip 3: Know you’re potential training partners.

During your test drive of the MMA Gym you are looking into, try to get a read on the current members. There is always going to be some level of snootieness going on. It’s the pecking order and birth right of any gym.

You have to EARN the attention and respect of the seniors there… to a degree. Not being coddled by the upper level students isn’t anything that should be raising alarms but it’s nice to find a place where you at least get friendly vibes from these guys.

And perhaps more importantly, if the seniors are simply using you as a piece of fresh meat to be beat on (and you wouldn’t believe how many people have come into my gym with horror stories about this actually happening at a few different gyms in my area), that should be sending up red flags.

Don’t try to lose 10 pounds before you go on a Diet

Tip 4: Get started now!

Don’t wait. So many people feel the need to get in shape before they get into an MMA gym. That’s total nonsense. The MMA Gym should be the means by which you get into shape. Just be smart about it and do it the right way. Communicate your fitness level and your limitations and don’t be ashamed to say, “I’m reaching my breaking point.” Training, fitness and Martial Skill are an exercise in long term dedication.

If you are so sore after your first day of training that you can’t get off the toilet, you’re probably not going to want to subject yourself to that torment again.

Kudos to you if you are that kind of person. But otherwise, take your time and ease into your training sessions and gradually increase the intensity level of your workouts until you get up to speed. It’s usually only a matter of a few weeks.

It's alright to be a white belt if that's what you are.  It's alright to be a white belt even when you may be something more.

It's alright to be a white belt if that's what you are. It's alright to be a white belt even when you may be something more.

If you knew it all, you’d be teaching the class not the other way around.

Tip 5: Don’t be afraid to be a beginner.

No one likes to be a noob. But the reality of it is, you are. And that’s totally o.k.

Don’t try to impress your partners or instructors by trying to tap or knock out anything that has arms and legs in the gym.

If you want to impress your partners and coaches, impress them by your egolessness, your humility, your respect and your willingness to be tapped, to learn and to listen.

Even if you’re transplanting from a previous gym and have some prior experience, don’t go in and try head hunting. Taking scalps and going after the seniors is only going to hurt you in the long run.

Here you see our student Dane H. using the Anaconda Gator Roll Takedown (Bonus Video 1 found on our member sign-up page) on his senior, professional fighter Johnny Miller and then against me during a training session a week ago. Yeah, that'll teach us.

These guys are your biggest assets. They are going to show you the ropes, give you the inside scoop, take you under their wings so to speak. Even if you can tap them out, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have something to teach you or can’t give you something that you may have never seen before. And how likely do you think it will be for them to go out of their way to help you after you’ve destroyed them on their own home turf.

Relax and learn. Once you’ve proven to your fellow training partners that you’re a friend, not a foe, that you’re there to learn and grow vs. to satisfy your ego, they’re going to help you out big time. But if you force them into a Kill or Be Killed type of situation, they’re going to do what they need to do to survive. And that might mean anything from simply shutting you down during your roll, to with holding some critical piece of information that might really take your game to the next level, because let’s face it, does anybody really want to go out of their way to make their own life more miserable?

MMA can be a great way to get in shape, meet wonderful, driven and goal oriented people with a common passion for the arts. It can be a great basis for self defense, and for learning life skills. There are so many stress relieving and rejuvenating qualities that can be had by training in MMA. If you are interested, don’t wait to start up. Find a good gym, or check out our members online mma training area and get started today!

The Devastating Muay Thai Four Count

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The Thai Boxing Association’s Muay Thai 4 Count is a very versatile and multifaceted combination. It can be used in flow as a fighting combination, or in class as a teaching tool.

The Muay Thai 4 Count develops your ability to flow seamlessly from kicking range to straight arm punching range to bent arm punching range and back out into kicking range.

Like many Boxing and Muay Thai Combinations, it’s simplicity lends itself to near limitless permutations. These are expressed in various targets, timings, degrees of angulation, accounts for various opponent reactions and weight distribution, and so on.

For the simple Left Kick + Straight Right + Left Hook + Right Kick version alone, you can put together 56 different combinations based on targeting alone.

Left Kick to the Head + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Head
Left Kick to the Body + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Head
Left Kick to the Inner Thigh + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Head
Left Kick to the Ankle + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the HeadLeft Kick to the Head + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Head
Left Kick to the Body + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Head
Left Kick to the Inner Thigh + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Head
Left Kick to the Ankle + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the HeadLeft Kick to the Head + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Head
Left Kick to the Body + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Head
Left Kick to the Inner Thigh + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Head
Left Kick to the Ankle + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Head

Left Kick to the Head + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Body
Left Kick to the Body + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Body
Left Kick to the Inner Thigh + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Body
Left Kick to the Ankle + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Body

Left Kick to the Head + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Head
Left Kick to the Body + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Head
Left Kick to the Inner Thigh + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Head
Left Kick to the Ankle + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Head

Left Kick to the Head + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Body
Left Kick to the Body + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Body
Left Kick to the Inner Thigh + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Body
Left Kick to the Ankle + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Body

Left Kick to the Head + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Outer Thigh
Left Kick to the Body + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Outer Thigh
Left Kick to the Inner Thigh + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Outer Thigh
Left Kick to the Ankle + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Outer Thigh

Left Kick to the Head + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Calve/Ankle
Left Kick to the Body + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Calve/Ankle
Left Kick to the Inner Thigh + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Calve/Ankle
Left Kick to the Ankle + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Calve/Ankle

Left Kick to the Head + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Outer Thigh
Left Kick to the Body + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Outer Thigh
Left Kick to the Inner Thigh + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Outer Thigh
Left Kick to the Ankle + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Outer Thigh

Left Kick to the Head + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Outer Thigh
Left Kick to the Body + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Outer Thigh
Left Kick to the Inner Thigh + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Outer Thigh
Left Kick to the Ankle + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Outer Thigh

Left Kick to the Head + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Outer Thigh
Left Kick to the Body + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Outer Thigh
Left Kick to the Inner Thigh + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Outer Thigh
Left Kick to the Ankle + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Outer Thigh

Left Kick to the Head + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Calve/Ankle
Left Kick to the Body + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Calve/Ankle
Left Kick to the Inner Thigh + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Calve/Ankle
Left Kick to the Ankle + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Calve/Ankle

Left Kick to the Head + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Calve/Ankle
Left Kick to the Body + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Calve/Ankle
Left Kick to the Inner Thigh + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Calve/Ankle
Left Kick to the Ankle + Straight Right to the Body + Left Hook to the Head + Right Kick To the Calve/Ankle

Left Kick to the Head + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Calve/Ankle
Left Kick to the Body + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Calve/Ankle
Left Kick to the Inner Thigh + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Calve/Ankle
Left Kick to the Ankle + Straight Right to the Head + Left Hook to the Body + Right Kick To the Calve/Ankle

I may have even missed some but I think you get the point. And if you start to add timings, angulations, etc. the variations possible for the simple Left Kick + Straight Right + Left Hook + Right Kick are exponential.

I have learned much from my study of the Muay Thai 4 Count over the years. Not only has it helped me to learn how to employ an appropriate tool for a given range, it has helped me to learn how to manipulate my opponent’s body, weight distribution and angle by means of my striking.

For instance, the Left Kick to the Inner Thigh can be used to open your opponent’s stance and create a wider path for your Straight Right to land. Your Left Hook can be used to plant your opponent’s weight onto his lead leg, setting up a Right Kick to the outer thigh with diminished capacity for your opponent to raise his knee and spike your shin. The same Left Hook can be used to disguise your movement to the far or near side angle. And sometimes it can even move the opponent into the angle for you.

Wether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran, the Thai Boxing Association’s Muay Thai 4 Count is a rich and multi-layered combination, worthy of in depth study. Those who “Put themselves into it”, will reap the benefits on those various levels and enjoy the impact they will have on their Striking Game.

In our online MMA Academy, our members have access to:

  • Four Basic Instances of the Muay Thai 4 Count:
  • West Coast and East Coast Drifts
  • Moving The Head Offline Considerations
  • Pad Holder Tips.

You can find the techniques here if you have a membership.

Until next time.

Happy Hunting!

4 Principles That Changed My Grappling Game

RicksonValeTudoHeadShot

Lately, I’ve been working hard on understanding how the great fighters think.

In the past, I’d watch them spar or fight and inevitably they’d catch their opponents in some nifty little hold and that’s what would grab my attention.

For the next few weeks, that’s what I’d be working on. That reverse Omo-Plata or that new half guard trick, you know the drill. And of course, brick by brick, move by move, I felt like my game would improve.

Later on, at the behest of my Instructor (Khuen Khru Will Bernales), I took a step back and began to look at things from a little bit wider perspective.

I started trying to look at “games” rather than just a single technique. He was always telling me to work on my side cross escape “game” or my guard passing “game”.

Using this mindset improved my grappling at a much faster pace. I was seeing more pieces of the puzzle at a time and as a result could begin working on entire chunks as opposed to hunting for a single piece at a time.

Instead of studying a technique, I began to study how a technique related to it’s brother and sister moves within a series designed to handle a particular position or situation.

And this lead to the next step. Another step backwards. I started looking at concepts and principles. I started looking at how the great fighters were thinking.

I tried to understang their minds which was a giant leap from looking at their finishing moves which were really only the result of an number of maneuvers which, I realized were all governed by a set of simple rules and bylaws.

The following are by no means a complete set of these rules, but they are the ones I have been able to extrapolate and have begun to digest and understand. They have had the greatest impact on my game in recent times.

He who controls the arms, controls the means by which his opponent will try to control him.

He who controls the arms, controls the means by which his opponent will try to control him.

control their hips
control their head
control their posture
maintain your posture

CONTROL THEIR ARMS

Over time, I had heard these objectives from many qualified and accomplished instructors. All made perfect sense but for whatever reason found a way to escape my abilities… Until one night when I was swept repeatedly by one of my BJJ instructors Mike Diaz, a Pedro Sauer Black Belt and masterful butterfly guard practitioner.

I asked him what I was doing wrong, why I couldn’t stop his sweep, and what technique I could use to defend his attack. He smiled and said, “I could sit here all night and try to teach you a counter to all the different sweeps that I use. Or, I could give you the simple answer.” Eager to understand my situation better, and being lazy and somewhat dim whitted (I knew there was no way I was going to remember all the techniques he could teach me), I opted for the simpler answer, to which he replied.

“You’re doing pretty good with most of the other stuff, but what’s making the difference between you defending and me finishing the sweep is arm control. You let me control your arms and that is why I succeed and you fail.”

I took this lesson to heart and worked diligently for the next few weeks at that seemingly simple suggestion. Don’t let your arms be controlled and control your opponent’s arms as much as possible. And sure enough, the sweeps diminished noticibly. And even more noticibly, my game improved from the standing clinch, in the takedown department, pretty much everywhere you go hands on in MMA. And then it hit me. The arms are the means by which we control the head, the hips, the posture, or the means by which we defend these things.

Control the arms, and the rest begins to fall into place.

When you're out of position, under fire and on defense, use your tools and faculties to fortify those defenses rather than digging yourself deeper into the hole.

When you're out of position, under fire and on defense, use your tools and faculties to fortify those defenses rather than digging yourself deeper into the hole.

Another night after numerous weeks of being dominated on the mats by my BJJ Black Belt Instructors, I expressed my frustration. “Man, I don’t expect to tap any of you guys out, but for crying out loud, I’m always on the run from you guys. I’m always fighting just to keep my head above water and survive.” I said. This time, both Coach Diaz and my primary instructor Khru Will were present and sitting before me. Almost in concert, they explained

“Sometimes all you can do is play defense… And sometimes all you SHOULD do is play defense. Jiu-jitsu is a Self Defense Art.”

I sat and thought about this for a moment. Reading the confused look on my face, they both began to point out that even though I had exhausted myself, escaping this submission and fending off that sweep and then scrambling to get out of beneath this or that position, that in the end I had made it pretty difficult to submit me. They went on to explain that if you could defend yourself against bigger, stronger, more experienced fighters, that was a pretty nice accomplishment. This made me smile. They were right. Over the years of working with Khuen Khru Will I had pushed my defensive capabilities from a few seconds of survival, to minutes and sometimes even tens of minutes. And beyond this they explained that sometimes it’s just a matter of surviving until an opportunity appeared or the guy on top made a mistake.

I then realized that most of the time, when I got submitted, it was because I was frustrated about being on the run for so long and decided to push my luck by attempting a low percentage submission or sweep from out of position. These were the times they were talking about. The times when all I should have done was play defense.

Ever since then I have paid a lot more attention to when it is best to fortify my defenses and when an opportunity arises to make a calculated move and this has helped my game immensely.

Use chained attacks and escapes whenever possible.

Use chained attacks and escapes whenever possible.

Beginners think one move ahead, more advanced practitioners think two and three moves ahead.

Since the beginning of my training, this idea has made sense to me from the offensive perspective. The Triangle sets up the Arm Bar which flows to a sweep, etc. etc. etc. These submission chains are nearly everywhere. But much more difficult for me to grasp was the idea of a progressive, chained escape path.

So many times, I’d be underneath someone, trying to escape, using an appropriate escape technique just to have the guy on top of me transition into a different control position… ON TOP.

Finally it occured to me, that knowing the escape was not enough. Knowing the escape and where the guy on top would most likely transition, and having my second escape ready to go, half way through the first escape was the key to getting out of under their tyranical reigns.

Never stop fighting for top position. Never conceed the guard or bottom.

Never stop fighting for top position. Never conceed the guard or bottom.

Fight to be on top and when you can’t get on top, fight for top some more!

This was an epiphany I had after watching the Black Belts roll with each other over the course of many many months I realized that they would always fight like dogs for top position. Even when out of position on bottom they would fight to get to their knees and reset vs. working for guard. And when they did try to get guard the guy on top was practically passing it before it even fully materialized.

After watching this, scene unfold, time and time again I asked my instructor Khru Will when it was that he determined when to fight for top and when to start working the bottom game techniques. His answer was simple.

“If you have gas in the tank, it should be used to get to the top.”

This has been one of the most difficult concepts to make part of my game, especially since it is so physically demanding. But what I have discovered is that while employing this mentality, I can prolong the amount of time it takes for my seniors to trap me on bottom and finish me off with a submission. And sooner or later, that extra time is going to equal an opportunity. And when it does… I’ll be ready.

These four principals have done more to improve my game recently than anything else.

What principals have uped your game and made your life easier on the mat?

Zombieland Rules For MMA Students To Live By

bug-out-bag

If you know me at all, you know that I’m into survival craft… Survivorman style. And

nowhere are survival skills more important than in a post apocalyptic state, over run with Zombies.

While killing a perfectly good Saturday afternoon reading an article about putting together one’s own survival kit, it hit me.

There is a wealth of Zombie related information that I could share with my MMA brothers and sisters to help improve their MMA Games.

Thus, I decided to relate the Zombieland List of Rules to the many hazards that plague the average MMA practitioner and here we are.

Upon doing further research for this article, I found some peculiar facts concerning the “official” Zombieland Rules to Live By. Many of the rules have not yet been made public and some of those that have, appear in or out of order depending upon whether they were mentioned in the actual theatrical release or in official promotional material.

Take for instance rule numbers listed on the official Zombieland website and those featured on this international trailer. I’ve seen so many different lists and rule numbering systems that I’ve about given up. I would go with the rules listed in the US movie release but I don’t remember them exactly and I’m too damn cheap to go watch the movie again.

These discrepancies make for interesting conversation, and have occupied the better part of my days for the last few weeks. But I won’t bore you any longer with my movie trivia nerdomania.

Below are Damage Control MMA’s Zombie Land Rules for MMA Fighters to Live By… And I’m basing my numbering system, LOOSELY, on the list I found on Wikipedia.

You got a problem with that, you can go write up your own Zombie List of Rules to Live by.

Wikipedia’s version of the list:

01. Cardio

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMLcy5qh0Cs

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmLaDn7Obl4

Zombie Land Rule 1 for MMA is Cardio[14]. Once your Cardio goes, one of the first things to happen is your hands drop by your side. Another tell tale sign of spent Cardio is a mouthpiece that’s hanging half way out of your mouth. When this happens… well, you just saw what usually follows.

02.Beware of Bathrooms

Zombie Land Rule 2 for MMA is Beware of bathrooms[14][15]. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve seen and er smelt things much scarier than Zombies comin out of the public bathroom.

03. Wear seatbelts[14]

04. Double tap

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8Gi0xJlZ98

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PapZO7NXB3Q

Zombie Land Rule 4 for MMA is the Double tap[14]. If you think your partner has had enough and taps out. Making him tap one more time, makes you both 100% sure.

Yeah, you dont want that attached to you.

Yeah, you don't want that "attached" to you.

05. No Attachments (I added this based on my research.  For us MMA, Muay Thai and Submission Grappling Practitioners, this usually means, no ringworm, no scabies, MRSA, Mat Herpes… you get the gist.)

06. Cast iron skillet[9]

07. Travel light

08. Get A Kick Ass Partner (I added this based on the movie poster found here)

You couldn't ask for a better partner than Kiser.

You couldn't ask for a better partner than Kiser.

12. Paper Towels

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YZaeCe4oOc

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohvY7d4RrxY

Zombie Land Rule 12 for MMA is Bounty paper towels[9]. If there is one way to describe a MMA gym, it’s “moist”.

Gomi twists his opponent into a ball of contorted limbs.

Gomi twists his opponent into a ball of contorted limbs.

15. Bowling ball[9]

17. (Don’t) Be a hero[16]

18. Limber up

22. When in doubt, know your way out (see the Damage Control MMA video for rule 2.)

29. The buddy system[9]

31. Check the back seat[17]

32. Enjoy the little things[18]

Mmmmm milkshakes...  Little things indeed.

Mmmmm milkshakes... Little things indeed.

33. Swiss Army knife[9]

Now I know I didn’t complete the list in terms of relating the various rules to the worlds of MMA, Thai Boxing and Submission Wrestling.  But that’s where you come in.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to fit some of these rules into our scheme of things.  But I am sure that our viewers, in all their infinite wisdom will succeed where I have failed.  I welcome your rules, and look forward to reading them in the comments below.

In the mean time.  Prepare yourselves, zombies are coming, they don’t take any prisoners and Big Brother Won’t Save You!

Learn to Fight MMA: Off The Cage

When was the last time you worked cage tactics?  When was the last time you incorporated the cage wall into your takedown to nullify your opponent’s ability to sprawl and protect his hips?  When was the last time you defended having your head crushed in the cheese grater of chained links?

Ignoring the importance of this aspect of MMA competition can be detrimental to your MMA game.  If this is the first time you’ve given these situations any consideration, or if you drill these positions as frequently as you clean your bathrooms, than this article might have some use for you.

Below are two more basic options for when  your opponent takes you down and attempts to drive you into the fence, a tactic that can severely cramp your ability to use your guard to it’s full extent.  These clips are Damage Control MMA exclusives for our friends here at www.DamageControlMMA.com

Basic Turn Off The Cage

Cage Walk Arm Bar

Here is an older clip we released with UFC Veteran Todd Medina. It contains more information pertaining to the use of the cage in an MMA fight.

And one more little bonus for you loyal followers of Damage Control MMA. A scrap from an old shoot we did that never made it to production because of a problem we had with the mic. The audio is unsalvageable but maybe you might find something of use in this one. A different way to look at knees while your opponent is against the cage.

MMA: Coming To Grips

Hand Fighting or Grip Control has taken an increasingly important role in the development of my MMA and Submission Grappling Game. One of my Jiu-jitsu coaches, Mike Diaz impressed upon me the fact that

he who controls the grips, dictates the subsequent, incremental battles for control in general, e.g. Posture, Balance (Kuzushi), and Relative Body Position

(Belly To Belly, T-Position, Back Mount or Back From Standing).

Grip fighting or limb control, usually precedes any major engagement in a grappling contest. Footwork, Level Change and Bridging the Striking Gap are all equally important factors that must also be taken into account as they precede grip fighting in MMA style competitions. But when it comes to contests restricted to grappling, grapplers can elect to concede these ranges and begin from the clinch (elbow and collar tie up, Over – Under, etc.).

Often the grip is the means by which one breaks his opponent’s posture, off balances him and prevents his opponent from doing the same in return.

Last week we discussed training and the injuries that come along with it. Since that time, I’ve managed to add a severely sprained big toe to the line up of injuries.

I just can’t seem to catch a break. In the last three weeks I’ve managed 3 fairly serious injuries.

A sprained ankle, a subluxed rib, and a sprained big toe respectively. It’s times like this that I have to dig deep to find something that I can work on as I allow my injuries time to heal. Grip fighting is an area of study well deserving of some attention.

I learned another novel idea from working with Sean Weaver, another one of Professor Pedro Sauer’s wonderful Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Black Belts. We were working in the gi, and I asked Coach Weaver how to deal with an opponent who gets a grip on your sleeve that you cannot break. He responded by telling me to look at the situation differently.

If you can’t break his grip, grab his sleeve back. Now you have him as much as he has you. I suppose this same strategy would work without the gi as well.

Fighting for grips is essential. This skill applies both in the standing clinch as well as once the fight goes to the ground. For either the top or bottom player, he who controls the other’s arms, generally controls the other elements of the game.

So until next time… Get a grip!

A special thanks to Coach Billy Robinson and Jake Shannon of www.ScientificWrestling.com who have been so kind to share their tricks of the trade with us.

The Frontiers of Submission

In the modern game of submission grappling it seems as though new rules are being written, old rules are being revised or recounted, and sometimes even broken at a break neck pace.

At times this leads to great leaps in the progress of the art and at others, great disasters. And there are still other instances, where these changes in conventional thinking simply further a particular strain of the overall submission fighting game. For instance, there are many techniques and tactics that work well within the confines of submission grappling, but not as well when applied in the area of Mixed Martial Arts. Even within MMA, there are rule structures (soccer kicking/kneeing the head of a downed fighter) and environments (cage vs ring vs open mat) that will foster the development and favoritism of differing methods.

The object of this article isn’t to pass judgment or to push an agenda (stick to the basics vs. explore the frontiers of possibility). I think there is great value in both areas of study. The object of this article is simply to compile some material I’ve found interesting and explain why I feel it has some merit.

I’ve found similar types of articles on other sites, though their subjects are a lot more focused. To this day, I believe that the Darce/Brabo study and the “No Posture Guard Pass” articles on www.aesopian.com are some of the most ground breaking compilations on the internet.

So lets get down to the analysis and explanation.

The first article, the “Brabo Choke Homework” caught my attention because it showed so many different angles and set up possibilities for this one type of choke. It’s funny because I am horrible at it. Despite all the research and information available though articles like this as well as first hand personal accounts from my own, very qualified instructors, I swear, I can’t remember the last time I was even close with one of these arm chokes.

I want to say it’s because I have short arms but the truth is more likely that I am an epically slow learner and not that bright to begin with.

But what I took away from this article was a realization that paired with something I heard Sensei Erik Paulson once say concerning triangling with the legs.

“So long as you have an arm and an leg between…” you’ve got a triangle choke. This article made me realize this to a much broader and higher degree.

Moving on to the second article, The No Posture Pass series. I thought this to be very interesting. For me, I think it would be dangerous to try this pass as a first option. I much prefer to establish and maintain solid posture from within the guard. But that doesn’t mean that I have to turn my nose up to something like this. In fact, there are plenty of times when my opponents or training partners are skilled to a degree that I am unable to regain or establish posture in the first place.

This is where I give ideas like the No Posture Pass series, their due. They have a place in my game as a last resort or plan B. I haven’t necessarily had that much success with this series either. But to be honest, I haven’t worked on it that much either. I put my effort into keeping, regaining and maintaining posture. But I like knowing that there is another route I can take if things don’t go the way I plan.

I like to keep series like this in my back pocket for rainy days. They’re like building a motorcycle in your garage on the weekends.

You work on them, piece by piece, now and again, when you have a moment of free time. You never know. One day, you just may be riding that bad boy right out of a nasty situation.

Recently I’ve found some new food for thought at www.jiujitsushare.com

The Kimura and Straight Arm Bar from within guard from Phil Migliarese and Jiujitsumatrix.com. This is another technique that I just don’t ever see myself “going for” when given a choice. But, as I’ve said before, there have been numerous times where I’ve found myself without a choice. Where a skilled BJJ Black Belt has set me up and put both my arms to one side of his body, or God forbid, I made a mistake and put them there myself.

When my opponent is all over me and simply will not let me get my arm back over to the other side. Why not go for a Kimura? If you are unable to get your arm back into position, your opponent’s probably going to take your back anyway. At least this way you might be able to put him in a reactive mindset and possibly on the defensive.

I like these types of clips because they are unorthodox and can catch your opponent off guard.

The challenge is really in finding how they fit into your personal game.

I like this technique and those like it because they give you a ray of hope, just when things are at their darkest. Sometimes you might even be terrible at pulling them off, which more times than not, is how I roll.

But so long as you have something to pull off, you’ve got a glimmer of hope. You’re not just sitting there waiting for your back to be taken.

The Kimura with your legs from bottom Side Cross:

This is craziness. And I Love it! This one is so far out there that I haven’t even drilled or begun to try to figure it out for myself. But I still really enjoy the clip.

What I like most about it is that it dares to think of the possibilities and challenge the limits. It looks at the essence of a submission hold and then asks, what tools do I have at my disposal to make this work?

And that to me is what is most valuable about this clip. If you can think that way about a Kimura, you can think that way about any submission using any available machinery to get the job done.

And finally, Ryan Hall’s 50/50 Guard and No Hands Leg Lock: http://pageman.multiply.com/video/item/109/ADCC_Verbal_Submission_via_5050_position_Ryan_Hall_Vs._Rafael_Gordinho_Correa

I’ll be honest, when I started hearing about this new thing, the 50/50 Guard, I had to learn more. But once I got a look at it, I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. It just looked like a plain old, leg lock war to me. Nothing out of the ordinary, or exceptional about it. It just looked like a position I’ve seen plenty of times before and worked within myself over the years.

But once I saw Ryan ripping knees apart without so much as hooking a heel, I took a second look.

This was what sparked my imagination. Being so technical with the isolation mechanics of a lock that you could submit or even break someone without even putting on the final touches. It inspired me to look at all my submissions in the same way and to begin the refining process, an over hall, of my submission arsenal if you will.

The first clip or Mr. Hall reminded me of Imanari’s iconic leg Kimura, except that Ryan’s was inverted/reverse but essentially the same mechanics were utilized to effect torque on the knee.

I’d love to see the clips that have inspired you guys or made you think again about your game or a technique in your repertoire. Please post them here and share.

I’ve shown you mine, it’s time to show me yours. It’s alright… I’m a Doctor.

Speak Softly And Carry A Big Kick

I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I’m going to keep on saying it until the day I die. My favorite part of training in the Martial Arts is meeting the wonderful, high class people. Some of whom have become good friends of mine. Khuen Khru/Coach Alvin Chan out of Baltimore Maryland is one of them.

I first met Khru Alvin a number of years ago at the Pacific Northwest Muay Thai Camp. Later I would also see him at the CSW Fighter/Instructor Camp in CA each year. Alvin is a quiet and humble instructor but he really made an impression on me.

At the Thai Camp, we’d always start the mornings off with a 2 or 3 mile run at 6:30 am. Sometimes, by the third day, your legs would be so stiff it would take a good half hour just to stand up straight. Running or even moving for that matter seemed like a stretch of the imagination. At times like that, it was easy to slip into a fog, to just go through the motions and get the run and other exercises out of the way.

Khru Alvin, always made it out in front of me during the runs. He’d turn the corner and make the return trip to camp, but every time, without fail, he would look up from his concentrated gaze to give me a smile and slap fives as we passed during our shared journey of pain.

This always seemed to snap me out of my fatigue induced stupor and remind me that I chose to be wherever I was. I was among friends and we were bound together by a unique experience and the shedding of blood, sweat and tears. And then the world would open up. I would breath deeper, I would begin to smell the fresh mountain air, the semi-sweet tones of pine needles and ferns lacing it with their fragrance. I would remember what a wonderful opportunity I had to train with such incredible people in such an amazing an beautiful place.

Khuen Khru Alvin and I shooting for Damage Conrol MMA

Khuen Khru Alvin and I shooting for Damage Conrol MMA

Later, he would do the same for me on the runs on the sunny streets of California. More running, more fatigue, the same Khru Alvin, ahead of me on the runs, slapping fives, sharing a laugh, a tip, a technique. He would be there for me when I needed him most, right after being chewn up an spat out by the 185 lb. professional fighters, a familiar face in the room, a training partner and friend, a roll of refuge where I could let my guard down and just enjoy the roll.

He is such a great instructor and an inspiration to me. Quietly but tenaciously pursuing the secrets of the Martial Arts, wherever they may hide. I have found them in him. And here are a precious few. The Shin Across Defense to the Prumb, as well as the Elbow and Power Knee set ups from that position. Not a “Kick” per se but “Big” and well… you get the picture.

Thank you for everything Khuen Khru Alvin!