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Billy Robinson: Turn In Stand Up From Defense Position

This is our final farewell to our good friend, mentor and authority on Catch As Catch Can Wrestling, the irreplaceable Coach Billy Robinson.

It ends as it began, without a lot of fan fare. Just a handful of people that are super passionate about learning and growing. Like the very first time I met Coach Billy and asked him about CACC’s unique Shin Locks, this time I ask him about a way to stand up from the High Defense Position.

He has shown us a technique for this in the past but after reviewing his DVD “W.A.R. Catch Wrestling.” I saw a different variation and had the opportunity to ask him about the finer details.

What a privilege and pleasure to learn the subtle details of these mundane and fundamental techniques that seem to gain more and more relevance as I become more seasoned as a Martial Artist. Thank you once more Coach Billy. It’s been an absolute joy to have learned how to learn with you sir.

Hail to the King of Catch: Godspeed Billy Robinson

CoachBillyShinLockI would like to start this post by explaining my editing decisions regarding the video above. You can see that I clearly disregard Coach Billy’s request to turn off the tape. A blatant show of disrespect. But my motivations for doing so were the exact opposite. Since Coach Billy’s passing, every word, every moment that we have on film seemed so precious and important, that I felt he would understand if I left his explanations in the clip so that you could see what a perfectionist he was and how he would always explain why it was that he wanted you to do something in a particular way.Some of you may wonder why it is that I am writing this blog post. After all, there are many others who knew Coach Billy much better than myself and were therefore much closer to him. I would be the first to agree with you. But I felt compelled to put this together because of how Coach Billy made Kiser and I feel.

You see, we were all aware of our distance from the core of the Catch As Catch Can and Scientific Wrestling family. Brandon and I play only a tiny part in the big scheme of things. We were like bastard children to Jake Shannon and Coach Billy who knew we came from Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Thai Boxing and CSW backgrounds. But they took us in and treated us with the same warmth, respect and regard as their very closest and most dedicated students.

I have never forgotten that and I never will. My love for Catch as Catch Can is more so a Love of Coach Billy and the way he treated me. The two are inseparable in my eyes, Catch and Coach. They were one and the same and for Coach Billy, it was no less important for me, a half blooded Catch Wrestler to master a technique he was demonstrating, than it was for one of his full blown Catch Representatives.

While others were turning their noses up at Kiser and I when we’d ask if they’d like to share something with us for Damage Control, Coach would be asking if he could do a video clip. It was such a refreshing and welcomed change.

And that is all I have to say about this great man. Not because I don’t have more to say, but because I feel that I don’t deserve to say it. That whatever else I have to say should be said by those who’ve truly earned the right to say something about the Legend of Catch. The ones who have dedicated their lives to the study of the art in its entirety. His students. Below are a few words and thoughts form the friends we have made through our trials and shared thrashings on the Wrestling Mat.

I thank you all for supporting Jake Shannon and Coach Billy. And thank you Jake Shannon for bring us into this wonderful family.

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BillyAndSamI’ll never forget the first time I ever met Billy Robinson. I could tell right away that he was special and I knew I had found someone amazing. From that moment forward, I did everything I could to train with Billy as much as possible. Today, I feel so fortunate to not only have gotten to know Billy Robinson as a wrestler and coach, but also as a good friend. Billy really impacted my life and helped me in more ways than I could ever explain. He lifted everyone up around him. He was still so young in spirit, always having fun, making jokes, and living life to the fullest. He took his wrestling seriously and he lived for it. Never have I met anyone more passionate about anything than Billy was about wrestling. He demanded perfection and you were expected to perform that way. He would push everyone to do things right. Although Billy Robinson, the last of the Great Catch Wrestling Masters, has left us, his legacy is still here. He has given us all a wealth of knowledge and it is up to all of us now to continue carrying it forward.

Sam Kressin
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RickyAndBillyBilly Robinson,
The world suffers a major loss with the passing of Billy Robinson. To the world he was a Father, Husband, World Champion and world class coach. In my eyes, Billy was a role model, a mentor, the best coach, a superb friend, historian and gentleman. He taught me humility, proper wrestling technique, confidence, creativity, and allowed me to peek inside his vast knowledge and experience of wrestling, physics, body mechanics and anatomy. Billy’s vision was one of perfection for all who studied under him. If a technique was incorrectly executed, he would have you do it again over and over until it was perfect. Billy will surely be missed and will never be forgotten because his voice will forever be in the back of my mind telling me to do it again.
WIP Billy (Wrestle In Peace)

Ricky Lazaro
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BillyAndJohnOver the past 30+ years, I have trained in many styles of martial arts & achieved high rank in several different styles. But one of my most cherished ranks is Assistant Coach under the legendary Billy Robinson.

Billy was an amazing coach, friend & mentor. I loved nothing more than practicing a technique & hearing him yell NO! DO IT AGAIN! Then he would make a slight adjustment in the way I was moving that would make the technique seem effortless & ten times more effective. His attention to detail was second to none & his stern abrasive coaching style showed just how much he cared about the art of Catch Wrestling & making sure his students learned it correctly.

Although he appeared to be tough & maybe sometimes even a bit scary, he had a huge heart of gold.

Some of my favorite times were just hanging out having a beer with him & listening to his stories. He had an amazing journey in this life & I am truly honored to have shared a small part of it.

It’s because of Coach Billy that I have become the catch wrester that I am today!
He has taught me not just how to teach but how to learn as well.
He will be forever in our hearts & always remembered for being the great man he was.

Godspeed Coach.

John Potenza
Snake Pit USA Catch Wrestling Association
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BrandonAndBillyAs painful and terrifying as it was at times, I am so grateful for every minute I got to spend with this man! He didn’t just make me a better grappler, he made me a better person. He taught me how to teach and most importantly he taught me how to learn. I will never forget when he told me I was the god damn laziest bastard he ever met and then he said his classic line NOW DO IT AGAIN!

Brandon Kiser

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BrazenAndBillyGarry and Mickey started training under Coach Billy in 2010 after being introduced to catch wrestling by Sensei Erik Paulson. Gillian began in 2012 at the request of Coach Jake Shannon with the hope of introducing more women to the sport of catch wrestling. Garry has successfully implemented elements of catch wrestling into both the Jeet Kune Do and Submission Grappling curriculums at Brazen Martial Arts. Mickey was primarily interested in improving his stand up game, but after training under Coach Billy he came to love the mix of submission grappling and wrestling — with the focus on being on top as opposed to playing from the guard. Gillian has successfully used techniques learned under Coach Billy to defeat much more experienced opponents in high-level grappling competition. All of us will continue to use Billy’s concepts to help our students blend the different arts in a way that works for them individually. Coach Billy was open-minded to all of the other arts, and extremely helpful in countering techniques encountered in grappling tournaments even when the catch wrestling rule set was not directly in play. He loved competition and adapting his knowledge to different circumstances.

Coach Billy was never just a coach to any of the three of us. Garry and Gillian would tease Mickey endlessly about how excited Mickey would get when Coach Billy walked into the room. We emailed with Coach Billy even when we weren’t at training camp and not always just to talk about wrestling but just to check in and say hello. Coach Billy demanded perfection from everyone he trained, but he never did it for himself or without reason. He demanded perfection FOR us, to help us be better wrestlers, better learners, and better teachers to preserve something that was his whole world. We loved him dearly and miss him greatly.

Garry Davis, Mickey Hall, Gillian Silver
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Sweep Counter to Guard Pass

This year at the Damage Control MMA World Conference we brought in 4 Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Black Belts. Even going outside our foundations in Pedro Sauer Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and taking a look at BJJ through the Rolls Gracie Lineage with an instructor we’ve never worked with before, Gustavo Rodrigues.

Kiser and I have crossed paths with Gustavo many times while cornering fighters, in the back rooms, waiting, wrapping hands, warming up, etc. And what immediately stuck out about Gustavo was that he was the only man who would smile back at us and say hello, rather than mad dogging which is so commonplace in situations like that.

It made a huge impression on me. It was an indicator of his confidence, of his professionalism and his mutual respect which is exactly how Kiser and I felt towards him and everyone else back there. When we got an opportunity to work with him first hand, I was very excited.

Gustavo has a very soft, and technical style. One I can very much relate to as we are similar in size and stature. Which is to say, nothing he teaches is forced or relies on strength. Everything works, but works with subtle set ups and cunning use of leverage and redirection of force.

This technique stuck out in my mind because it looked so similar to one I learned from Ajarn Greg Nelson as a counter to a Triangle Choke Counter/Guard Pass. This is an excellent way to defend a non-technical Guard Pass. One, commonly encountered by ballistic and powerful opponents. It has basic elements that players such as myself can grasp and use, but contains follow ups for more advanced fighters.

Check back often as I will be updating this page with additional videos from Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Black Belt, Gustavo Rodrigues.

Basic Muay Thai Pad Drill: Shield and Kick Return

Harkening back to a series we’ve been visiting and revisiting over the last year or so, we share another Basic Muay Thai Kick Drill. This simple drill is designed to develop defensive reactions and coordination that will allow you to see various kicking attacks and apply the appropriate defense while also conditioning you to immediately retaliate with either the left or right Thai Kick.

As a coach, we encourage you to start out simple. Feed the right kick and have your student return a right kick. Then progress to feeding the right, and having your student return a left kick. Then progress to feeding the left kick and receiving the right. The last basic feed will be to send the left kick and have your student return a left kick.

After your student is comfortable using all the possible returns, vary your feed and be ready to receive whatever return your student executes.

Finally, the idea is to seamlessly weave this particular drill into a varied and active Thai Pad Round. Feed Jabs, Hooks and Crosses to develop your student’s punch defenses. Hold for punches, kicks, knees, elbows and combinations thereof while keeping your student alert with your kicks. This will create, realistic, dynamic and very effective training rounds and your student body will love them.

Taekwondo In MMA

Some time ago, we shared a few set ups for the Turn Back Kick when we did a shoot with Sensei Erik Paulson. But long before that Coach Kiser was using them in the Taekwondo Junior Olympics and as a result developed his own favorite set ups which eventually made their way into a few of his MMA fights.

The Back Kick has a few different uses as it can be used to counter an opponent to circles to your left flank and attempts to create an angle (this variation can be seen in the clip with Sensei Paulson). And as you can see it can also be used as a follow up to a missed or evaded Thai Round Kick.

But in both of these situations, the Turn Back Kick has a secondary effect. It acts as a deterrent, keeping your opponent from rushing in to take advantage of a flanking situation. Even when your opponent backs away or evades your Turn Back Kick, they give up the ability to bridge the gap and thus trade safety for an opportunity to counter. This gives you time to repost and reset.

Share your favorite set ups and uses for the Turn Back kick. Leave a comment and let us know what other TKD techniques you like to incorporate into your MMA game.

MMA Footwork For Beginners

This week’s blog post is a Damage Control MMA exclusive. That’s right faithful Damage Controllers, no youtube updates this week. Just a sneak peek into what we’ve been working on in the Members Area of our little project as of late. Basic Punch Defenses.

Who knew such a simple, and easy to learn technique could be such an effective and powerful tool. Stepping and Sliding Back, Stepping and Sliding Forward. That’s it! That’s all there is to it. The hard part is actually using it. People will move back but won’t spring into their former position. Or they’ll panic and simply cover up, neglecting to utilize their footwork all together.

One of the most valuable aspects of using footwork as the foundation for all of your defensive skills is that it is very general purpose. The same Step and Slide Back can be used to evade the Jab, the Cross, the Hook, Overhand, Uppercut, Straight Right, Jab Cross Combination, Spinning Backfist, the list goes on. One size pretty much fits all when it comes to using footwork as your first line of defense as can be seen in the last portion of the video.

We hope you enjoyed this week’s blog post and we hope you’ll join us for more DamageControlMMA.com in the future.

MMA Concepts: The Arm Triangle Ambush

One potential pitfall to an eclectic approach to Mixed Martial Arts is to ignore the culture, rule structure and native homes of the techniques we import into our systems.

For years we’ve attempted not only to bring you unique techniques but also perspectives that are respectful of the arts from which these techniques have come.

We’ve tried to share our insights into how understanding the parent arts can give you more clarity on the uses and dangers of using techniques such as Amateur Wrestling’s Shot or Leg Tackle style takedowns. The popularity and prevalence of such techniques could only have evolved in a world where Chokes, Neck Cranks and Neck Locks are prohibited.

And to be sure, Amateur Wrestling is not the only parent art that evolved techniques with inherent, potential dangers when applied in a Mixed Martial Arts setting.

Take for instance, Catch Wrestling’s Gotch Toe Hold. In it’s native home, the Gotch Toe Hold makes total sense, because the man on the bottom is fighting to stay on his knees, or even to stand up. Rolling over onto his back and effectively pinning himself (which would be a match ender in Catch) would be unthinkable. But import this technique into a new environment where a Brazilian, Jiu-jitsu influence is prevalent, and where pinning is removed as a legitimate way to win a contest, and at least 50 percent of the time the Gotch Toe Hold is going to be a non factor. The guy on bottom simply rolls to a guard and the technique is rendered nearly useless.

Does this mean that the Gotch Toe Hold won’t work in MMA? Absolutely not. It means that it won’t work when your opponent doesn’t give you the energy requisite for it. It only works when your opponent is trying to stay off of his back.

And how about our striking influences. Boxing has it’s own set of considerations. The basic stance with it’s bladed approach (protecting the liver by brining it rearward) exposes the lead leg for a Sweep Single or a Leg Kick. And the long combinations, offer ample opportunity for an opponent to change levels for a Shot. And again, this isn’t to say that these types of techniques or combinations are ineffective in the world of MMA but rather that you have to have an opponent in front of you that gives you the proper energy for these types of techniques.

For illustrative purposes I’ve included an excellent focus mitt demonstration below.

I think these gentlemen have done a fantastic job. But imagine trying this full combination (starting at the 4:18 mark) on an opponent with a Amateur Wrestling base.

So what does any of this have to do with the video at the beginning of this post?

Well, it has to do with understanding a technique or a method, as it is applied in it’s parent art with the cultural norms and rule structures relevant to it. Here Kiser is demonstrating a very interesting concept. The idea of a ride, or of patience, which comes from the original Gracie System of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, with no time limits and no weight classes.

I used to get caught under Coach Kiser and simply could not escape, no matter how hard I tried. Eventually I would exhaust myself and then find him tightening his coils on a submission. To tired to fight it off, I would eventually succumb and tap. But when the roles were reversed it would seem that I were trying to catch water with a sieve. The instant I would get a dominant position, I would lose it.

I asked Coach Kiser what his secret was, and without hesitation he related it me as follows:

“Well sir, when I catch you in a position, I concentrate 100% of my effort towards keeping you in position. At no time am I attempting to submit you. Eventually I feel you soften and relax. I hear you take a deep breath, and then I start my submission attack. But it feels like when you get a position, the second you get there, you are on the attack and that gives me openings to escape from. I think it’s just a matter of patience.”

I incorporated Coach Kiser’s advice and immediately I found myself maintaining position a lot longer and increasing my submission percentages.

So is this the end all and be all of improving your submission game? No, not necessarily. It all has to do with situations and rule structures. In MMA fight, you’ve got anywhere between 3 and 5 minutes to secure a takedown and then finish with a submission. In a Self Defense Scenario you might have to finish off your assailant as quickly as possible in order to avoid his group of friends running at you, or in order to get to the next room where your child is screaming for help. In these situations, you don’t have the luxury of being patient and allowing your opponent to tire himself out.

Nevertheless, understanding different strategies and approaches to fighting and finishing fights can greatly increase your overall game and allow you to do things, and think in ways that others who neglect this type of research are simply unequipped to do. Stay open minded, look beyond technique, learn to research and appreciate the mother arts and stay tuned for more Damage Control MMA!

Basic Muay Thai Pad Drills: Inside Left Kick Counters

Since one of our very first Striking Instructionals “Jab Counters” we’ve had a lot of positive feedback and requests for more striking oriented videos in that format. Well here we are with another attempt at a video we hope you will enjoy.

The Left Kick Counter is a nice addition to the repertoire of any trainer or pad holder that wants to make his or her rounds more realistic. Incorporating these drills takes your partner from simply thumping pads, to reacting, and thinking. Sometimes they will engage the pads, other times simply defend attacks and other times they will defend and counter. This is the case with the Inside Left Kick Counter Drills.

Don’t forget to pay respects before and after your rounds. And don’t forget to leave a comment and let us know if you liked this series of Pad Drills.

Lock Flow Set Up For Arm Triangle

As a continuation of the Arm Triangle Series available in our members section, Coach Kiser shares another great set up for his favorite submission.

This time we Coach demonstrates how the Arm Triangle can be used to put a different twist on the end of a very familiar submission combination. The Hip Pop/Sit Up Sweep to Kimura to Guillotine series is a staple of standard Guard playing tactics. But in this series, we share how to use the sweep and Kimura to misdirect your opponent and finish with a secondary sweep or directly with an Arm Triangle.

This is just one of many set ups available in our members area. If you missed it the first time around, you may want to review the various finishes that are available once you employ the set up of your choice and find your self in a position to finalize. We’ve included our overview on this subject in the video below.

Brazilian Two on One Sweep From Guard

This technique is one that I generally don’t like to share publicly. I usually keep it to the students with whom I work with in person, and for the members only area of DamageControlMMA.com but I wanted to share it today to give you guys a glimpse into the type of things we will be working on and sharing at the 2012 Damage Control MMA Clinic. This grip is a control position and back up plan for when your opponent attempts to escape the overhook while in your guard.

It falls into a category of techniques we refer to in our members area as a “Staging Site“. A place from which multiple attacks can be launched. This sweep is but one of a series that we will be covering at the seminar. We will also be evaluating and giving advice on how to improve your striking, footwork, takedowns and submissions. What is so exciting about this clinic is that many of the basics are already available to members of our website so you can reference and review them, work on them at the clinic, then after you return home revisit them at any time to refresh your memory and refine your technique to the very finest detail. Additional techniques will be filmed and posted in the members area as well.

The clinic takes place September 22nd and 23rd of 2012 and is open to all skill levels and styles. We welcome the opportunity to meet you all and look forward to working with you, learning together and having a great time. Don’t forget, if you’re a member there is a nice discount on the cost of the seminar which is available from the link here.

We hope you enjoyed this clip and found it useful to your game. If so, please leave a comment letting us know. Stay tuned we have some great things in store. Up next is Khuen Khru Chis Regodon and his Seepa Snap Down!