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Couture vs Toney – Why It Matters

In the early days of the UFC, every fight was filled with meaning and importance.

I watched in anticipation and eagerly awaited the outcomes of Karate men vs. Wrestlers to see which art held more combative truth.

Later, I bit my nails and chewed my lips as the embodiment of Evil, Tank Abbot threatened to take the throne and lay waste to the the “Myth” of Martial Arts and prove to the world, the supremacy of Street Thugs.

My palms would sweat as I wondered if champions of the Martial Path such as a young Vitor Belfort would rise to protect its Honor despite a visible weight disadvantage, as the fate of the Universe hung in the balance.

And then… Fights became mere contests between two mortal men. Talented as they may be at times and as entertaining as some fights were, the meaning was gone.

That is until recently where fights such as Lesnar vs Carwin would once again, bring me up off of my bar stool and into a screaming frenzy like a teenage schoolgirl at a Beatles concert.

UFC 118 promises yet another fight, fraught with meaning and importance.

You see, Randy Couture vs. James Toney is more than just another MMA fight. It’s a fight in which James Toney has set out to prove that Boxing is superior to MMA.

Or to put it in his words “…I represent Boxing… I’m going to destroy your so called legend.”

Am I excited for this fight?

You’re damn right I’m excited!!! There’s something so audacious about Toney, a complete greenhorn in the sport, accepting a match with one of it’s legends. And although I don’t believe for a second that the fight has any relevance for the Boxing vs. MMA debate (if there even is one), there are those for whom this fight might actually sway their opinion of the two sports. An opinion, ultimately of me, my chosen profession and my circle of friends and colleagues for whom MMA has become a way of life.

I am titillated by the idea of Couture stomping on a fighter who would show so little respect (whether intentionally or out of pure ignorance) for an art that we’ve made our home.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love and respect the art of Boxing and would feel the same way about an MMA fighter entering the world of the Sweet Science and accepting a fight with one of it’s premiere representatives on his maiden voyage. My hope is that our champion will teach his opponent just a little more respect for this new kid on the block (MMA).

Couture with Coach Billy Robinson.

But enough of my ramblings. Let’s get to the nuts and bolts of this conflict.

Does James Toney stand a ghost of a chance against one of MMA’s greatest Heros?

I would argue that he definitely standsa a punchers chance, and that is exactly why this match up is so compelling.

In fact, a long time ago, my cousin and I came up with the “Golden bb Theory”. The proverbial little stone that could fell even the mightiest of MMA Giants. And anyone who can ball up a fist and throw, always has a chance of finding that golden bb.

But James Toney is no ordinary man, and the bombs he drops, in no way shape or form resemble a bb. A Titanium 12 gauge slug is more like it. There is a very real possibility, however remote, that Toney will find his mark with those man stoppers of his and turn the MMA world upside down.

You don’t believe me. Does Serra vs. GSP or Douglas vs. Tyson ring a bell?

There are so many external factors that make this fight intriguing.

Toney is just now beginning to delve into the main 5 areas of MMA, while the pioneers and leaders of the sport are already branching out beyond the foundational elements of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu/Submission Grappling, Folk/Freestyle Wrestling, Muay Thai, Grecco Roman Wrestling and Boxing.

Few have begun to unravel the riddle of Lyoto Machida who, in the terms of the MMA Cavemen, whom I despise, has a style that is “Karate”. Anderson Silva has recently been seen experimenting with Aikido.

All the while, Randy Couture, has sought out the help of Coach Billy Robinson to learn Catch As Catch Can wrestling techniques for his MMA game.

(You can learn more about Catch Wrestling or register for the next CACC Certification Course at www.certifiedcatchwrestler.com)

Has Toney ever experienced being pressed up against a chain link fence?
Has Couture ever experienced the sting of a Champion Boxer’s hands?
Will Toney, who seems strongest at finishing in bent arm punching range (uppercuts, hooks and overhands) be able to stop the body lock?
Will Couture be able to corner and takedown a man who’s art is known for it’s excellent footwork?

I don’t know but I am certainly excited to see and who knows, with any luck, Couture will finish Toney with a Shin Lock and Toney will proclaim his respect for the art of MMA.

CSW, CACC, BJJ, MMA Training, Oh my!

To say it’s been a busy couple of months would be an understatement.

Coach Kiser and I have been racing from one place to the next to train with some of the World’s Greatest Instructors so that we can bring you the absolute best in MMA technique, tactics and training.

Below is a brief overview of our adventures over the last few months.

Kiser and Yamasaki batte on the mat yet again.

Two friends battling it out and pushing each other yet again, at the 2010 Utah Erik Paulson Seminar.

Kiser: Erik Paulson 2010 CSW Seminar (Salt Lake City, Utah) – A huge success. The biggest seminar we’ve ever hosted. The highlight of the seminar for me was that Yamasaki and I got to see our student Shane promote to coach level 1 in CSW. Shane has been training with us for about 6 years. During that time he has attended all of the Erik Paulson seminars and traveled to 3 CSW camps. He is the first student of the Kiser Yamasaki Duo to get a coaching certification straight from Erik Paulson.

The seminar was a total blast.

Erik Paulson knows how to make training fun and productive at the same time.

I picked up some new tricks, got in a lot of rolling and shot a new segment for Damage Control MMA.

Yamasaki: I have to agree with Kiser 100% on this one. We’ve worked so hard to build a CSW coach with the skills, and personal qualities that Shane displays. Many others have come and gone, during the time that Shane has been with us, but he has stayed the course and worked equally as hard to be a qualified and respectable representative of CSW and of the Mushin Self Defense gym.

I have to admit however, that another one of the highlights was to be able to work with my best friend, Coach Kiser and enjoy the Seminar as a couple of students, just like everybody else.

Kiser: Billy Robinson Catch As Catch Can Seminar (Salt Lake City, Utah) –

This was one of the most significant “game changers” that I have ever experienced.


So much time and attention was spent on the basics of Catch Wrestling which didn’t feel basic to me because the art is so different from BJJ.
Kiser and Yamasaki working referee position at the CACC Book Photo Shoot.

Kiser and Yamasaki working referee position at the CACC Certification Course with Jake Shannon and Coach Billy Robinson.

I felt my game getting better by the minute in Billy’s
presence. Not only is he one of the most effective instructors I have worked with, he is also one of the greatest characters.

Yamasaki: Coach Robinson continues to impress me with his wealth of knowledge and inspiration.

Every time I see him it’s like getting an energy recharge in terms of my passion for the Martial Arts. If he can be so enthusiastic and excited about the Martial Arts after as many years of teaching and fighting, there must be many, many more great times in store on my journey!

We worked on those little things, so easily incorporated, so subtle, but have immediate and profound positive effects on your grappling game.

Kiser: Erik Paulson CSW Camp 2010 (Fullerton, California) – This camp continued to re-enforce the same mantra that came from Billy. Basics basics basics.

Kiser with Cub Swanson after a hard roll at the 2010 CSW Camp

Kiser with Cub Swanson after a hard roll at the 2010 CSW Camp

Good positioning, posture, stance, footwork etc. I have been to every single CSW camp since the birth of the organization and this was
my favorite! The pace was perfect and the coaches were top notch.

Yamasaki:

Camp was no joke this year. Plenty of hard training and intensive instruction. Again I will echo Kiser’s synopsis of the stress on the Basics. And I loved it.

Boiled down, easy to digest and implement BASICS! Basics and fundamentals that make your game so strong and so internally sound that it makes it difficult for any opponent to find a point of entry. Wonderful, wonderful experience, technique and advise from some of my favorite Instructors in the game.
Chris shows off his souvenir from CSW Fighter Camp. A proper black eye.

Chris shows off his souvenir from CSW Fighter Camp. A proper black eye.

Especially rewarding to me was finally starting to get a handle on the Boxing Method presented by Coach Marvin Cook. I’ve been studying his approach to Boxing for the last 3 years and found it very difficult to understand as it seemed to be completely opposed to the method I had adopted and come to love from Professor Leonard Trigg. But after being open minded and truly giving it a fair shake I finally felt like I understood what Coach Cook was presenting. Rather than being opposed to Professor Trigg’s Method, it was actually and completely complementary. It was the second half to the same coin.

What I discovered was that when your opponent counters the style the Professor Trigg has taught me, openings for Coach Cook’s style began to open up, and vice versa.

It was such a great feeling to consolidate the genius of these two Pugilistic Masters.

On top of all that, I was able to vanquish the Evil Wolf Within me and send him home, tapped out and demolished.

Round two with my baser self goes to the better side of me. And I am very proud of that accomplishment.

Kiser: Catch photo shoot (Salt Lake City, Utah) –

Our friend Jake Shannon is putting together a Catch Wrestling History and Technique Book

and picked Jake Paul, Brian Yamasaki and myself to be the models for the instructional portion of the book.
Jake Paul and Coach Kiser demonstrating the basic CACC Ready Stance.

Jake Paul and Coach Kiser demonstrating the basic CACC Ready Stance.

I love doing this kind of work so needless to say I had a great time hanging with my friends and doing the photos for Jake.

Yamasaki: What an experience.

Kiser got hypnotized by Jake Shannon, got regressed between lighting adjustments for the photos and discovered some deep and hidden self revelations. No Joke!

Jake Paul learned things he shouldn’t have by hanging out in a CACC gym, that’s all we need is a professional fighter with super human strength walking around with nasty new Catch tricks. I’m going to be steering clear of him on the mats for sure lol.

Kiser: Ricardo “ICA” Medina Half Guard seminar (West Valley, Utah) – My first time training with Ica and it was anything but basic. Half guard and X-guard for an entire day. I partnered up with my friend Mike Stidham and did everything I could to improve these two unique positions.

Kiser with Ica Medina and Mike Stidham

Kiser with Ica Medina and Mike Stidham

The moves were unorthodox for my game. Despite the complexity of the techniques I felt like I was starting to get the hang of it thanks to the detailed instruction that Ica was giving us. I couldn’t wait to get to the gym and try some of this stuff out.

The techniques actually worked better than I expected. I was sweeping guys left and right!

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!

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?

The Breath Of Life!

“What is a saxiphone but a big hunk of metal until an artist gives it the breath of life?…
art has nothing to do with paint. Art is not a technique, but an expression from your heart… There is nothing you can’t do, there is nothing you can’t change if you believe and want it badly enough.”

-Denny Dent-

So often, I have been inspired by great artists. Truely, amazing people who’s message and passion transcend the medium with which they express themselves. Many critics and detractors will say that if you really look at them, they’re not that talented, or that their technique is not as sound as so and so’s. But to me they’re missing the point.

It’s not about the technique, it’s about the passion, the power of the human spirit, resonating and giving the “breath of life” to whatever it is that is being expressed. And in this sense, it doesn’t matter if the medium is Music, Painting, Iron Man Triathlons, Bush Craft, Zoology, Cooking, or Martial Arts.

There are certain artists out there that touch us, and move our sense of what is, and what can be. They inspire us to be and do more that what we thought was possible. This blog post is dedicated to those who have done so for me.

John Denver

To be pure of heart and intention is the essence of freedom.

Team Hoyt

When asked, “Rick, what would you do if you had the use of your arms and legs for one day?” Rick responded “I’ve thought alot about that question, and at first, I thought, maybe I’d like to play football. Then, I thought, maybe I’d like to play basketball or baseball. But then I think really hard, and the answer becomes clear… I’d strap my Dad to the chair and I’d make him let me push him for a day.”

At 52 years of age, Dick Hoyt was doing for himself and his son, what most 20 year olds cannot do for themselves. Triumph of the Human Spirit. The definition of love and devotion.

If you’ve ever seen these two compete, you realize that to say that you “can’t” is simply not true. That to do so is simply a weak man’s easy way out… That it isn’t that you are unable, but rather unwilling. Being a warrior in any sense means stripping that notion from your conscience.

Survivorman

Survivorman doesn’t just survive, he thrives. He looks at an otherwise desperate situation and finds ways to enjoy the moment. I was once told by one of my Jiu-jitsu Instructors (BJJ Black Belt Mike Diaz), “Sometimes all you can do is survive… and sometimes all you SHOULD do is try to survive.” It was then that I realized that most of the time, my real MMA troubles only started to worsen when I’d try to do too much when in a bad spot instead of just concentrating on survival and waiting for an opportunity.

Crocodile Hunter

Have you ever seen someone so full of passion and love for his life and his living. We should all strive to live as Crocodile Hunter did. RIP Steve Irwin.

Iron Chef Morimoto

If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right and with all your heart and soul. To watch Iron Chef Morimoto cook is like watching a sword smith forge a Hatori Hanzo. His cooking is infused with nothing less than his soul. It is done with respect and honor. These attributes should be the goal of any artist, Martial or other.

Genki Sudo

Need I say more. To see Genki, and how he developed as a philosopher and fighter is simply amazing. As he improved as a fighter, his mindset and “Weltanschauung” or world view became increasingly altruistic and egoless. You can see it in his smile and how he wasn’t fighting per se. He wasn’t there to destroy his opponents, but rather to express his art. And what a beautiful art it was, pure poetry in motion.

I’d love to see and lean more about your inspirations? Who is it, that gives the “Breaths of Life” to your art, your life?

Wrestling’s Jab: The Basic Double Leg Takedown

I don’t really know why I’ve saved this one for so long before making it available to the public. I do that sometimes with techniques that have sentimental value to me. And this one does. I guess the technique itself isn’t all that unique. But whenever I watch it, and I watch it quite a bit, it reminds me of when I learned it from Coach Wells and to me

what was unique was how he taught the technique, which, for the sake of time, was basically, in a way that even a self proclaimed idiot like me could understand it.

On top of that, it wasn’t just the technique, it was the concept that he taught to me. That

the Double Leg is the Jab of Wrestling. A probing, long range technique used to measure the opponent’s responses and create openings for second and third beat techniques.

Sure it works as a stand alone technique, but when used in conjunction with a bigger, broader takedown scheme, it becomes something altogether different, better, more potent.

And thus began my quest to develop such a game. And under Coach Wells, it has been exceedingly easy. At least for me to understand… execution is an entirely different story, but as the old addage goes, only a poor craftsman blames his tools, and in the case of Coach Well’s takedown game, I know it’s not the tools that fail.

The quest continues to this day, as do my other pursuits. And

during a conversation with Coach Wells while we watched a couple of mutual friends fight at a recent MMA event, he imparted yet another idea that has hence forth brought about a second revelation in how I look at the takedown game in general.

I have for some time now attempted to develop “games” from every conceiveable position known to me. A “game” would constitute a series of at least 3 technique options for any given position/situation whereby at least one techniques covers any given opposing energy. This would be for escaping a postion, passing a guard, or in this case finishing a takedown.

As I spoke with Coach Wells I told him that I had felt that for the hips in, I was comfortable with his Takedown Trifecta “game” (Spiral Takedown, Knee Tap Takedown, Body Lock Takedown).

However, once hips were way, I didn’t feel like I had the same 3 or more options.

He explained to me that he had tried to offer me (and his other students) this in the form of an over hook series he had us working on and then I began to put the pieces together.

Days later,

as I shoveled the walks in front of my home, I contemplated this further and began to hypothosize that maybe what Chris had been teaching me would also answer another question that had been rattling around in the dusty, cavernous, emptiness of my brain. Why use and Underhook as opposed to an Overhook?

Why an Overhook as opposed to an Underhook? Was it a matter of personal preference? Was it a matter of body type or natural attributes?

Certainly, my hypothosis would include possibilities for the above, but what seemed to make just as much, if not more sense, especially after looking at the techniques that Coach Wells had presented (both for close range, hips in clinching as well as for medium/long range, hips out clinching) was that there was something consistent going on.

It would seem that the closer the hips, the more, the techniques favored the Underhook, which made sense mechanically, physiologically, and kinesiologically.

And conversely, it would seem that the farther the hips are away relative to each other, the more the techniques favorered the Overhook. Which too, made sense, as the farther the hips are back, the more your opponent is tempted to break the head, knee, toe rule in the frontal plane. In being situated in such a way, it would make sense that you would want to be able to exert presured downward to help him break this plane and the Overhook is a better tool for doing so than the Underhook in this situation.

I’ve been playing around with the idea of including a Flow Charting Program with the members area of DamageControlMMA.com and in light of this idea, I’ve thrown together a quick, dirty, diagram of how this hypothosis looks on paper.

Keep in mind, there are plenty of other techniques that could be filled in, different branches that could be added, exceptions, etc. etc., but my goal was to show the general idea of hips in and hips away and the correlating Underhooking/Overhooking Scheme and subsequent takedown options.

A Rapid Prototype Flowchart Drawn On A Whim To Demonstrate The Possible Connection Between Hip Distance and The Most Advantageous Arm Control (Overhook vs Underhook)

A Rapid Prototype Flowchart Drawn On A Whim To Demonstrate The Possible Connection Between Hip Distance and The Most Advantageous Arm Control (Overhook vs Underhook)

I’ve also added the other 3 techniques shared with us by Coach Wells, so that you can see the whole picture; i.e. the Double Leg Takedown as an entry into the Wellian Trifecta, The Spiral Takedown, Knee Tap and Body Lock (hips in, close range clinch *) game from Over, Under 50 – 50 Clinch Position.

The quest continues, as I am sure it will until my final days.

Remember, what I’ve presented here in terms of general principal (hips in = underhook vs hips away = overhook) is a hypothosis, which means, it is untested and unverified by those more qualified than I to make such generalizations. But at any rate, I hope it has at least given you some food for thought.

Best wishes and happy hunting!

Shooto Lockflow Series

CSW has many influences, perhaps one of the main influences was originally Shooto

CSW has many influences, perhaps one of the main influences was originally Shooto

O.k. Superfans, this week I stumbled upon a series of videos that is absolutely awesome. Especially for those of you who enjoy the culture of technique and Martial Art as much as you do watching the latest moves on the mat. This is a timeless classic that holds an important place in the history of MMA, especially for me personally and any of us that have been influenced by Sensei Erik Paulson and CSW.

Below is a series of lock flows from the Original Shooto Lockflow series. I have never seen these all compiled online like this before and so I thought I’d share.

For those of you who have been studying with Coach Kiser over the last few weeks, this is what he has been teaching you. If you’ve ever wanted to see the whole lockflow documented so that you’d have an easier time remembering everything, here you go.

Rolling Elbow Compression Lock

Here is a gem from Khuen Khru – Coach Alvin Chan of Maryland CSW. I really like this lock and have been playing around trying to hit it from other situations such as off a 1/4 nelson (a.k.a. “Kaputa Kapaula”) vs an opponent who has an underhook and is trying to come up from bottom half guard… if that makes any sense at all.

Either way it’s a nice little trick to have up your sleeves… ahem, rash guards.

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.