Ankle Kick Snap Down

If you’ve been following our posts for a while you’ve probably been picking up on the theme that if you’re head gets lowered, you’re going to be hating it. On the flip side of the coin, if you can get your opponent to lower his head for you, it’s time to dish out some pain. Simply look at “The #1 Way to Avoid Paralysis and Fatalities in MMA“, and “The Gotch Toe Hold” (I digress towards the end and begin discussing the broken posture) and you’ll begin to see some of the many dangers of having your head lowered, and the advantages of breaking your opponent’s posture for MMA, Submission Grappling, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Self Defense situations.

Here CSW Coach Chris Regodon shares a unique trick for coaxing your opponent to break his own posture. Coach Chris uses the bottom of his foot to effect the sweep/kick. But I imagine you could also use the front of your shin on the inside corner of your opponent’s shin. I think it would hurt them more, but what you would potentially give your opponent an angle. But as Guro Inosanto likes to say, every technique is 100% legitimate, just not 100% of the time. Perhaps there are times and places for each.

Be sure to weigh in with your ideas and experiences in the comments below. Then tune in next week for DamageControlMMA’s very first Gi Specific technique!

Erik Paulson’s Baseball Grip Takedown Series

Anytime I get to film my favorite instructors teaching a technique that I request is a real thrill for me. I get to learn hands on, and then review with the video until I finally remember all the important details. On this occasion, at the 2012 Erik Paulson Seminar in Salt Lake City, Utah I had the privilege of asking for a series of takedowns that Sensei Paulson had shared the previous year.

I had most of the big details down but could only remember one of the many options that Sensei Paulson had shared. Now, with this excellent video, I was able to capture all of them. I hope you enjoy this series as much as I do and can make as much use of these takedowns as I have.

If you enjoy this series, please visit https://www.facebook.com/erik.paulson.3910 and drop a comment letting him know. It helps us to get him on camera with us and it’s really the least we can do to pay our respects to one of the very first true Mixed Martial Athletes in the world.

Arm Drag Trip Takedown with Olympic Gold Medalist and UFC Veteran Mark Schultz

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Short and sweet, just like this post, the Arm Drag Trip is a quick and easy takedown to learn and use. We’ve had some great success combining it with our Universal Set Up series and Progressive Striking to Takedowns.

There are so many different ways to set it up as we learned at the Mark Schultz seminar at the Ultimate Combat Training Center earlier this year. Hopefully, you’ll find as many uses for this great technique as we have.

Enjoy!

MMA and its JKD roots

Years ago a great man wanted to see what was possible if the restrictions of classical system and tradition were replaced by the philosophy of “no way as way, no limitation as the only limitation”

That man was Bruce Lee and the sporting permutation of his vision is what we know today as MMA. At the technical level, Bruce Lee’s art is known for its ability to seamlessly transition from one art or range to another. Something that MMA professionals are only now just beginning to realize and incorporate.

One of our favorite nods to the JKD tradition is the use of the shuffle step kick entry. In the members area of our website we elaborate further on the variations and possibilities we like to use but here you can see how we’ve applied the basic concept to the realm of MMA.

The key for using this entry is to consistently mix your dedicated striking attacks using the shuffle kick entry with your compound takedown attacks. Again something we cover at length for our members.

Until next time, “Take what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is essentially your own”. Leave a comment and let us know what you’ve found useful.

The #1 Way to Avoid Paralysis and Fatalities in MMA

I came across an article yesterday that made my neck hackles stand on end. It was a news piece that described how a training accident had resulted in the paralysis of a MMA practitioner.

It’s always sad to hear about serious injuries in MMA, and fortunately they’re generally rare occurrences.  Despite some media depiction of MMA as a violent and brutal sport, most knowledgeable fans agree that while it is not without risk, it is no more dangerous than other popular sports.

Many defenders of the sport have argued that MMA athletes suffer from far fewer catastrophic injuries than other sports like football or cheerleading which are the #1 and #2 leading causes of catastrophic sport injuries in the USA.

A study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine  states that “The lower knockout rates in MMA compared to boxing may help prevent brain injury in MMA events.”

However, there is one move in MMA that has resulted in several cases of permanent paralysis and one reported death.

The Biggest Danger in MMA

A recent tragedy in which 22 year old MMA fighter Devin Johnson was paralyzed during a training injury at Urijah Faber’s gym has been generating awareness of this extremely dangerous situation.

Having just published an article featuring the Great Coach Billy Robinson, I had Coach on the brain and as I was reading about Devin Johnson’s horrible tragedy, I couldn’t help but hear Coach’s weathered roughed voice shouting “Don’t ever do that in front of me again! That Double Leg stuff is for Amateurs.”

Now what Coach was referring to was not a slight or use of the word Amateur in a disparaging way, but rather as a category of sport. A sport where Neck Cranks, Chokes and Face Locks are prohibited… which is why it became so prevalent. Now in Catch as Catch Can, or the Professional version of the grappling arts, these are all regular parts of the game.

As a result, there is almost a phobic respect for ever placing your head or neck into a compromised situation where it can be encircled by the arms and potentially Choked, Twisted, Cranked or Broken. So much so that even the basic Catch Stance is upright and with a strong emphasis on posture, something we’ve touched on before in the Gotch Toe Hold Article.

Jake Shannon, founder of Scientific Wrestling, has personally suffered the same catastrophic injury as a result of being Guillotined. He suffered a fracture of his C3 and C4 vertebra while training at the Gracie Academy.

I too had a near brush with disaster while attempting a Double Leg, albeit it wasn’t from a Guillotine. I was shooting in on a partner for a Double Leg, and trying to apply good form, I kept my head as close to my opponent’s body as possible. Attempting to make contact with the front of my partner’s ribs before allowing my head to slide to the side, my partner sprawled hard and his full body weight (about 30 lbs. more than my own), came down on the top of my head, slipping a disk or two in my neck.

I have been gun shy of shooting ever since, something I made mention of in the video with Coach Robinson in our previous article.

My own personal style has been shaped by that terrifying accident, and although I continue to study the shooting style takedowns, when it came to playing my A Game, I always favored Thai Clinch, Grecco, and Judo style Trips, Sweeps, Body Locks, Dumps and Throws.

Oh, and how could I forget, allowing my opponents to force a poorly set up shot and catching them in a Grovit/Half Halch/Guillotine/Snap Down/Front Head Lock series. Something we taught our team to bring to bare in their own Submission Wrestling matches.

By no means am I trying to insinuate that if only Devin and the other unfortunate souls that have suffered a life threatening injury would have been perfectly safe had they only trained in Catch Wrestling.

It too, like any contact sport has plenty of potentially deadly techniques and situations arising because of them. Just take a look at our Article “MMA – Love Hurts – Training and Injuries” to see how training in Catch resulted in Kevin Dillar’s own brush with death and paralysis.

MMA is a dangerous sport and the potential for injury lurks behind every corner. As was the case with friend Daniel Grass in “A Fist Full of Reality Right To Your Face“. I think it was Dan Gable who said it best when he responded to questions regarding Mark Schultz’s dislocation of his opponent’s shoulder by saying “It is after all, a man’s sport.”

The point then is simply that there are ways to mitigate certain injuries, and situations which have a higher potential for injury. We can do this in the techniques we choose to use and employ, and the style and manner in which we employ them.

And most importantly of all, we can be constantly, present and mindful of the fact that what we do is dangerous. Pay respects before you step onto the mat or into the ring/cage. It very well may the last time you do so. Pay respects before you leave, in thanks for a fun and safe training session.

Be safe, and take care of each other out there. We are all in this together. Accidents are going to happen, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do everything in our power to keep them to a minimum and to a superficial level. As sensei Paulson says “P.Y.P.P. Preserve Your Partner Program”.

As far as your own safety is concerned remember, survive first, win later. If there is something around your neck, STOP what your doing and take it off first, then worry about the Takedown, Guard Pass, etc.

Our thoughts are with Devin Johnson and we wish our fellow warrior strength and continued progress in his recovery.  If you’d like to offer your support, a website has been setup with updates on Devin’s progress and is accepting donations to help with medical expenses.

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Will you change your game based on Coach Billy Robinson's advice?

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MMA Techniques: The Snatch Single Leg

Guest instructor Mike Stidham shares a basic Snatch Single Leg technique.  Mike explains that he’s amazed at how many high-level fighters out there don’t  use basic stuff.

To get the most out of this technique here are some tips Mike shares:

  • Cage Position – Rather than wasting energy going for takedowns in the middle of the cage where an opponent has a better chance of defending it, Mike tells his guys to wait until their opponent is near the edge of the cage where there is less room to sprawl or maneuver away from the takedown attempt.
  • Snatch vs Shoot – Instead of shooting up his opponent, Mike likes to “pickpocket” his opponent by snatching his lead leg.
  • Suck Leg into Chest  – Grasp leg with a Gable Grip and suck your hands into your chest.  If your hands are against your chest you have control of your opponent so don’t let him stretch your arms away from your torso.

On another note, I wanted to use this post to relate a story to you. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to check out our forums, there are some pretty cool threads on there that you may have missed.

One of which is our thread dedicated to Instructors, Trainers and Gym Owners. You see, during the 2012 Erik Paulson Seminar, Kiser and I had lunch with a friend of ours, Mike Stidham, a local fight promoter (one of Utah’s first and for a time, most prominent). He had been attending the seminar along with a number of his students and we took the opportunity to hang out, have a laugh or two and thank him and his team for supporting our efforts in spreading CSW.

During our conversation, Mike began to discuss strategies for promoting seminars and getting more students from various, outside gyms to attend. He explained a few of the ideas he had tried out in helping us to promote the Erik Paulson Seminar, which he plugged frequently on his Friday evening radio program, the Ultimate Combat Radio Show.

I expressed my feelings on the subject and asked Mike if he thought that the very strong prejudices, politics, school loyalties and team rivalries that are commonplace in our stomping grounds could be overcome. As in my mind, these obstacles were insurmountable. But Mike stood firm in his belief that these things could in fact be overcome and explained that no one will ever convince someone from outside their gym to come and take a seminar from so and so, because he’s so much better and cooler than their instructor or lineage.

Instead, he suggested that the way to dissolve these “enemy lines” was instead to be the first to step forward and enter “enemy territory” and take a seminar at these other schools. To look these school owners and seminar hosts in the eyes, shake their hand, expose his own students to these different ways of thinking and training and take it from there.

I left the lunch, still doubtful of his views on the subject. But then, it hit me. Here he was, the owner of a rival gym.  Both school’s fighters have handed the other school some bitter defeats. And yet, now we were friends. Eating at the same table, after the second year of seeing him and his students in our camp, supporting our instructors.

Now he’s hosting a seminar with UFC Veteran and Olympic Gold Medalist, Mark Schultz and he’s extended an invitation to Kiser, me and the Mushin Crew. Our calendar is marked and we are looking forward to learning some new ideas and making new friends. I guess Mike was right after all and the lesson he taught us reminded me of something I had realized a few years ago.

Friends can do you much more good, than you can ever harm an enemy.

On that note and coincidentally, our friend Jake Shannon has also done some work with Mark Schultz with his Scientific Wrestling project. You can see the fruits of that labor, on the DVD that they produced together

Total Violence with Mark Schultz

So here’s to mending fences, extending an olive branch, and making new friends. “We are all one.”

If you have any experiences on making peace with a rival gym or school, please share with us in the comments below.

NAGA 2012 + Arm Triangle Finishing Details

North American Grappling Association – First Impressions

[box]Do you think it is OK to call a grappling match a “fight”?

Let us know in the poll at the end of this article.[/box]

Passing the plentiful horse stables, and breathing in the fresh country air we approached the venue for the first Utah NAGA Grappling Tournament. My muscles began to tense as I thought to myself, “Oh yes, a communal case of Staph… just what the doctor ordered.”

But those fears were soon quelled as we entered the main, dirt filled arena and were promptly re-directed to the two adjacent buildings, with concrete flooring and several Dollamur mats, guarded fiercely by the tournament officials against shoe wearing infants and ignorant parents, like sentries at a US embassy.

The rules meeting was long and hard to hear. In fact, the subtleties of the various rules (gi and no gi, kids and adult divisions), by the tournament organizer’s own admission would have taken about 2 or 3 hours to go over. As with any tournament, prior research and clarification is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Overall Experience

What I saw was a lot of on the fly, adjustments. In the kids division, competitors were evaluated within their divisions, during their matches and then brackets were re-shuffled, kids were placed up or down in advanced, intermediate, or beginner divisions based on their performances. This was all done in the spirit of giving the kids the best possible experience in the most level playing fields as possible.

For instance, you might have a kid that officially fits the description for an intermediate competitor. She’s been training at a gym for 2+ years. But once on the mat, in competition, she’s just getting dominated. What I saw was tournament organizers, immediately shifting her down into a beginner division and giving her a second chance to do a little better.

This made things somewhat confusing at times, as there were two different buildings for competitors to switch back and forth to, but in my opinion it was well worth the hassle to see these kids get a second and sometimes a third chance to shine.

I believe there was only one injury (a torn rotator cuff via Kimura), and this was due primarily to the injured competitor’s refusal to tap out in time. The NAGA Officials, with their very liberal rule sets (twisting leg locks, spine locks and neck cranks) did a phenomenal job of keeping the matches safe and respectful. I was very impressed with their knowledge of the rules and discretion in stopping matches for the safety of the competitors.

A Coaches Perspective

Brian and Brandon's student Heinrich Mokofisi takes home the gold after his 6th consecutive grappling match victory.


It was a challenging day on the mats as a coach. Particularly as I did what I could to help a young 10 year old student of mine. Again, thanks to the referees and officials, he was given 6 matches that day. And for a registration price of $80.00 for one division and $100.00 for two, you want your guys to get as much experience as possible.

But when, your student looses his first 4 matches and says he “thinks he’s just going to loose again.” Your abilities as a coach are truly tested. What do you do? Give the kid a hug, tell him what a good job he did, and let him call it a day? Or do you launch into your Vince Lombari motivational speech, tell the kid to wipe his tears, shake off the past, and get in there for one more go!

I chose the latter, and gave the kid a hug, told him how proud of him I was, how proud his father, who had his arm around him was, how, the worst was behind us, that there was only one possible direction to go from here and that was forward… and hopefully upward.

And so it went, as he marched into two more matches, losing one by points and the next by a 270 choke from Kesa Gatame. So much for my Vince Lombardi trophy.

Did I make the right choice? Did I push him too far and too hard? Only time will tell, and I will second guess myself until I know for sure, if I helped to make that kid stronger, or if I contributed to the ultimate demise of his self confidence.

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining, Even For A Coach

Thankfully, that was not how the day came to an end, we had 5 more adult competitors and they all did very well in their divisions. Both Kiser and I had opportunities to make, good calls, heads up tough calls, and thankfully, the right calls.

Kiser was able to impart his thorough knowledge of the Arm Triangle to assist our student Chris Huntsaker in achieving a submission victory as he walked him from the lock up to the final shift of the hips that sealed the deal.

You can learn a little bit more about Kiser’s Arm Triangle game from the video below. He shares his whole Arm Triangle Set Up Game in the Members Only Area.

My comeback moment came while I watched a tough match between our student, Jared Fahrner and his opponent. The match was dead even at 0 – 0 until his opponent threw on a triangle attempt with 1 minute left in the match. Both Jared’s arms were in, but one was pushed, precariously out of between his opponent’s legs except for his fist and wrist. This gave his opponent an advantage point and I watched as the time continued to tick away.

With about 30 seconds left, I decided that we had nothing left to loose. We were going to lose the match on 1 point anyway if things continued to progress as they were. It was time for some drastic measures. I told Jared to yank his trapped hand the rest of the way out, effectively giving his opponent the full triangle. What was the difference of losing the match by a point or being tapped out? A loss is a loss in my book. Then I told Jared to punch over with his outside arm and hip down. And with about 15 seconds left he did just that, scrambling to break the triangle and complete a guard pass which would have won him the match on points. He succeeded in breaking the triangle but unfortunately was unable to complete the pass before time ran out and he lost by that 1 point advantage.

But this is the type of thing we live for as coaches. Giving our students, a second chance, a way to win, when they see none. I was thankful to have wrapped up the day with something I knew I did right.

Parting Thoughts – Are Grappling Matches Considered “Fights”?

I have often questioned the legitimacy of people who called grappling matches “fights” or people who only participate in Grappling Style tournaments as “fighters”. To me, something about using the term “fighter” to describe a grappling competitor, just didn’t sit right.

That is, until this tournament. Watching a young boy, face defeat, time and time again, watching him walk out onto the mat alone, to face yet another tough competitor, despite his lingering self doubt and trepidation, showed me what strength of character was possible in such a young soul. If that is not fighting spirit is, than I am incapable of recognizing it when I see it.

The jury is still out for me on whether or not the terms “grappler” and “fighter” are interchangeable, but one thing is for certain. I have left the first Utah NAGA Competition, very willing to consider the possibility.

What are your thoughts on whether or not Grappling Competitors, and Grappling Matches should be considered “Fighters” and “Fights”?

Should grappling matches be called "fights"?

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MMA: It’s All About the Tude Dude

Listen up Yo! Ya’ll need to shut your pie holes and drink from the well of wisdom. This ain’t no garden variety coolaid. This is the real deal. Too strong for your candy @$$es? Well that’s just too bad. The truth hurts like the taste of a 4 oz. MMA glove in your mouth.

MMA is just as much about your attitude as it is about your skillz. So take notes and learn yourself up yo.

MMA Takedowns: Running CSW Style

Certainly any type of takedown can be used in the sport of MMA, but how to set them up and integrate them into a world where Neck Cranks, Chokes, Knees, Strikes and Submissions of all sorts can be employed as counter measures can sometimes be a daunting task. Cross Training Pioneer Erik Paulson has helped to continue the research and development of this field. Some would argue that he’s polished and even helped shape the landscape of MMA takedown protocols used in modern times. And you can put me into that group.

Here are some out takes we shot in 2009 and 2010 regarding some of those takedowns. As you might expect, these became part of the daily takedown regimen taught and studied at our school. And as the old saying goes, “Practice becomes habit, you don’t live up to your expectations, you live down to your drills and your training.” Such was the case in 2011 when a hand full of our students put these takedowns to the task at a local Submissions Only Tournament (no, time limits, no points).

Both the competitors seen in the videos (Jared Fahrner and Heinrich Mokofisi) used the running takedowns to eventually win their divisions.

One interesting idea to note was that one of our overall strategies going into the tournament was to employ the Catch Wrestling Concept of never offering your head to your opponent by means of “Shooting” for a takedown. Instead the competitors elected to use more upright, Grecco, Catch and Judo style takedowns when the opportunities presented themselves.

This not only allowed them to keep their heads and necks away from trouble but also gave them ample opportunities to utilize the Half Haltch, Grovit, Front Head Lock and Guillotine to control their opponents when they shot in and in some cases submit them outright.

Long story short, thank you again Sensei Paulson and Coach Robinson. This stuff works and works well.

And as a parting holiday present, we’ve included a final gift, an awesome impromptu lesson in leg locking for after you’ve taken your opponent to the mat. Courtesy again, of the legendary Sensei Paulson. So listen up and Lock On!

The Frontiers of Submission – Redux!

It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to just surf, dig, dig, and dig some more until I unearthed some burried gems. New artifacts (oxymoron alert!) for the Frontiers of Submission. If you read our earlier post on the subject you know that I enjoy seeing new ideas (perhaps not new to the world, but at least new to my eyes).

There was a dry spell there for a moment. Finding new, interesting and or useful material on the internet had become exceedingly difficult. Then things got busy and I simply didn’t have the time to sift through the muck to find a few viable possibilities. That is until now. As of late, I’ve found a few new ideas that are pretty interesting.

First up is this awesome Butterfly Guard Counter from www.DSTRYRSG.com A Guard Pass and Quick Kill all rolled up into one. What’s not to like? And anything that has anything to do with a Chicken Wing/Kimura/Double Wristlock is good fare for my tastes.

Next up are a couple of really nifty little wrist locks from www.vt1gym.com. I use that little Bicep Control Wrist Lock for quite some time now but that little hip shift detail has made it even more successful and efficient for me.

Below is some old school footage of Russian Wrestling. New? I think the video speaks for itself but I’ve never seen it, so it’s new to me, and I love it. If nothing other than for the pure eye candy of it. But there are plenty of great pointers you can pick up from checking this series out. I mean, it’s part 12 guys. There is a whole series, which could arguably keep us all busy for a friggin lifetime of study.

Barnett, Footlocks, NUFF SAID!

And I’ve saved desert for last. So much goodness to be said about this last clip. If it wasn’t awesome enough to have a Bravo clip sitting right next to a Barnett clip (If you aren’t privy to the keyboard war between the two concerning 10th planet JJ and Catch as Catch Can, you’re going to have to look it up on the MMA Underground yourself because I’m not going to go into here).

And as if that weren’t enough, we’ve got a leg lock set up from and Arm Triangle. Those of you who know how proficient Kiser is at using them and the hundreds of set ups he uses, know how useful this might be for him. Why do I post it here then when it will only make my life more miserable? Because I know he’ll never see it because he never reads my posts. I don’t even know if he’s literate to be honest. And I have to admit I get a kick out of hiding it here in plain sight.

Oh, and if that’s not enough to do it for you, did I mention Eddie’s partner is none other than Joanne of the MMA Girls… MEEEEEEEEEeeeee-OOOOOWWWW!!!