BJJ MMA Submission Wrestling… It’s Time To Escape!

Learn how to recognize and escape all the major positions in MMA, Submission Wrestling, No-gi Jiu-jitsu, BJJ, etc.

Brad Pickett’s Peruvian Necktie

Sometimes MMA is a formal affair. Better put on a suit and a Peruvian Necktie.

To be honest, the Peruvian Necktie has never been a strong move for me. I think it has to do with my extremely short arms. I’m like Rex in the Toy Story Movies, just look at my little arms. I can’t press the fire button and jump at the same time.

But each time I see it, I pick up a new nuance and find more ways to cinch up an inch or two of space, making it that much easier to catch the hold. A special thanks go out to Damage Control MMA member Robert Carlin of Antonine MMA in Glasgow Scotland and Brad Pickett for sharing this little beauty with us.

Because of you two, I am that much closer to being able to tie my own Peruvian.

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu: Overhook Arm Bar and Sweep

If one video clip with Butterfly Guard Expert Mike Diaz is cool, two has got to be twice as nice! Here, coach demonstrates a Sweep as well as an Arm Bar from the same set up and position as the V-Lock he demonstrated last week.

If you can, please visit his facebook page and send him a shout out to let him know how much we appreciate him taking the time out of his busy schedule to share these incredibly useful tools.

Tune in next week for some awesome takedown action with Sensei Erik Paulson!

No Gi Shoulder Lock From The Guard

Inspiration and progress can sometimes come from the most unlikely of places. This was the case when I met Pedro Sauer Black Belt, Mike Diaz. What? How could I say such a thing about such an accomplished and respected expert in the field?

Well, to be honest, the way he plays his game and the way I play mine are so vastly different, I just wasn’t sure of how, what he did would make sense in the environment I generally work in. You see, Professor Diaz, is an absolute expert in playing the Open or Butterfly Guard in Gi based Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. I by contrast, only wear a Gi during my Brazilian Jiu-jitsu lessons. My home, is without the Gi, in the world of Mixed Martial Arts. A world where, standing up out of someone’s Open Guard and raining down, stomps, kicks, and punches or backing out entirely is a very real possibility.

And yet, despite this complete contrast in perspectives, the lessons Professor Diaz taught me were some of the most influential and profound ones that I would ever learn. I remember a night in particular when we were rolling and coach Diaz must have swept me at least 15 or so times in under 3 minutes. I was beside myself. I couldn’t understand how he was doing it. I even knew it was coming, how it was coming and yet, I would inevitably find myself belly up.

I asked Professor what I needed to do differently, if there was some sort of counter technique that I was supposed to use but didn’t know. Coach Diaz, thought for a moment, reading the grief and torment written in the wrinkles of my brow. Then he smiled. “All it is, is that you’re letting me get a hold of your arms. Once I do that, I’m going to sweep you. It’s that simple.”

And it was. The moment, I started preventing Coach from gaining wrist or arm control, the moment I began clearing his control over my arms the instant he obtained it, his sweep and submission percentages were cut to a third of their previous numbers.

But that’s not where his lesson ended. His advice followed me into the clinch, into my wrestling into every aspect of my MMA Game. Now, not only was I not allowing someone to control my limbs while in their Butterfly Guard, I was not allowing anyone to control my limbs at any time, at any range under any circumstances and almost over night, my game saw noticeable improvement across the board.

Professor also taught me another incredibly valuable lesson. Once he told me that “Sometimes all you can do is play defense… And sometimes all you should do is play defense, and that’s totally o.k.” This seemingly simple lesson has helped me out of more bad situations that I can possibly remember. It was the inspiration and beginning of my formulations of the Defensive Grappling Ladder, one of my favorite series we’ve shared with the members of this site.

These principals may not hit you with the same weight and meaning that they’ve had for me. But perhaps, I can leave you with one more parting lesson I’ve learned from my experiences with Professor Diaz. Never judge an instructor at face value. Never assume that just because an instructor comes from a different background than your own that they don’t have anything of value to teach you. Because you just never know. To this day, I still very, rarely use my Butterfly Guard. But the principals I learned from Coach Diaz, through his Butterfly Guard, are ones I use almost daily.

In short, keep your mouth shut, your heart, your ears and your eyes open and the world is your Oyster. Now go train! And if you liked what Coach Diaz had to offer in this post, tune in next week for the second half of our shoot at his academy. In the mean time check out his Side Cross Escape Series we posted a few years back.

Part 1 and Part 2

Keeping Catch Wrestling Alive

Our journey in the Martial Arts has taken many twists and turns over the years. Coach Kiser and I have had many wonderful adventures and met many incredible instructors, but few have made as much of an impression as Coach Billy Robinson of Catch As Catch Can.

We shared our experience with you, the very first time we met Coach Robinson and Coach Shannon, when they visited our old school in Bountiful, Utah. It’s been a few years since that time, and our respect for these two and what they’ve set out to do has only grown.

You see, Catch Wrestlers are somewhat of a dying breed. Catch Wrestling as an art can be considered, in my humble opinion, as one of Martial Arts Endangered Species.

How did this happen? How could such a formidable art with so much to offer dwindle into a handful of practitioners and even fewer trainers to ensure the survival of the species?

I’m not even going to pretend to know. Perhaps it first began as a business decision as proposed in “The Unreal Story of Professional Wrestling“. Perhaps it has to do with modern conveniences and distractions such as the Wii, Playstation, XBox, and Girls as Coach Robinson once relayed it to me. “Back in our day, we had none of these, it was Wrestling, Boxing, or sitting at home alone.”

Maybe it has to do with the brutal nature of Catch and the feminization of modern human males, who’ve embraced the Metrosexual movement over getting their faces cranked and their shins splintered.

Or maybe the art has suffered due to the lack of an organized governing body to ensure standards and accredit coaches/instructors.

I empathize with this last assertion as I feel that arts such as Muay Thai have suffered from some of the same maladies as Catch.

The lack of a formal ranking and hierarchical structure has made it exceedingly difficult for the layman to know where to go for legitimate instruction.

By contrast, arts such as Judo or Brazilian Jiu-jitsu have flourished under their organization and structure. When looking for an instructor, the first question usually asked is, whether or not the instructor is a “Black Belt”. The Judo and Jiu-jitsu communities are usually tight knit enough that claims by instructors regarding their ranking can be corroborated with relative quickness and ease.

Begin a search for a legitimate striking instructor or in this case a Coach of Catch As Catch Can and what basis do you have to judge your prospective instructor’s ability? This is one of the many reasons why pioneers such as Ajarn Surachai “Chai” Sirisute, Coach Billy Robinson and Coach Jake Shannon are so important to the arts of Muay Thai and Catch As Catch Can respectively.

These forefathers have begun the gargantuan task of establishing organization, structure and an accrediting body to their arts. Under that guidance of Ajarn Chai, the Thai Boxing Association of the USA has taken root and is thriving. I know personally of the high level of skill and the consistent level of quality in the TBA and the instructors it continues to produce.

This gives me hope that the same feat can be accomplished for the art of Catch Wrestling.

Enter Coach Robinson and Coach Shannon and their Certified Catch Wrestler Program. According to Jake Shannon

“The purpose behind the certification program is two fold: 1) to
verify that it’s participants have indeed trained first hand with
someone like Dick Cardinal or Billy Robinson and 2) to insure that
the REAL sport of CACC is carried on, not some cobbled together
mutant born from just watching instructional DVDs and messing
around with your buddies.

Our certification concept is the same quality control concept as
belts in many Eastern martial arts. Each certification provides
evidence that the participant has trained at least 15 to 20 hours
under Billy Robinson, Dick Cardinal, etc.

The assistant coach level is only reached after 100 hours of
verified time, and at the discretion of Billy and I. We’ve only
got two of them besides myself, Sam Kressin and Jesse Marez. Once
you’ve clocked either 800 – 1,000 hours or 8-10 years (depending
upon your other contributions to the sport) of verifiable, and
deliberate effort with qualified expert CACC men, then you can be
full coach in our system.”

As you can see, the foundation for a structured CACC program is just now beginning to take shape with only a few intrepid souls taking the lead on bearing the torch for future students of the game.

I will not deny that there are other perfectly qualified Catch Wrestlers and Catch Wrestling Instructors out there, but the Scientific Wrestling/Certified Catch Wrestler program is taking great strides towards organizing a structure for learning, promoting and preserving the art. Something that I think is paramount for CACC’s survival and future success.

In these formative years of CACC’s rebirth, with only a few good years left for it’s only surviving Practicing Instructors, Catch Wrestling needs you!

If you enjoy Catch Wrestling and want to see it continue to be a fixture in the combat sports scene, you need to get involved. The Certified Catch Wrestling Program is an excellent way to get hands on with Coach Robinson, one of the few authorities on CACC who actually competed in the art. There are also Toe Hold Clubs (New York,United Kingdom, Carlsbad, Inland Empire, New Jersey, St. Emelie)that you can join in your local area where you can learn more about Catch and help to ensure it’s survival.

Will you be part of the conservation or simply watch as one of Combat Sports greatest contributers withers into extinction?

SAMBO and MMA Tie The Knot: A Marrige Of Skill

My first encounter with leg locks was with my Cousin Kelly. He had seen a technique sample clip from one of the original UFC productions where Ken Shamrock taught how to hit a toe hold and heel lock off of a broken guard. We drilled and worked leg lock quick draws for hours.

Later I would see more locks, different variations, set ups, entries and chain techniques while working with Coach Brandon Kiser. This I would supplement by soaking up everything I could from material released by Sensei Erik Paulson via his seminars, DVD’s and online instruction.

Over the years, what I’ve come to realize is that the more skilled, the larger, and the stronger my partners and opponents, the more the course of a roll or fight would bring me towards a leg lock.

It would be the only opening or set of joints that I could manage to isolate and control with relative safety against my stronger, highly skilled counter parts.

Needless to say, I fell in love with Leg Locks and have become an avid student of their many uses and subtle intricacies.

Inevitably, any thorough study of Leg Locks will eventually find it’s way to Russia’s Sambo. As far as Leg Locks go, few individuals can say they specialize on a subject as in depth as Sambo Practitioners.

It would be an understatement to say that Sambo has a complex history. But what would you expect from an art that has grown from such a large country with so much cultural diversity. Sambo is a relatively modern art, it’s formative years comprised of the first part of the 20th century. However, you could say that the seeds that would finally germinate and begin to bear fruit as a nationally recognized sport, had been present since the birth of Mother Russia herself.

In those early times pre-dating it’s forefathers, Sambo finds it’s ancestry in the form of numerous tribal, folk and indigenous wrestling styles ranging from Mongolian Wrestling to Tartar Koras and seemingly everything between, on the boarders, and from the center of Eastern Europe.

The formation of a comprehensive empty handed combatives curriculum for the Red Army would be the impetus for what could be considered the conception of early Sambo. Two men (who’s names I have seen numerous spellings for) are consistently credited with the early development of the Russian art, Vasili Oschepkov and Victor Spiridonov. Each had a different area of expertise and each had their own ideas about how Sambo should be developed and propagated (either as a system for military combat or as a national sport).

According to sources on Wikipedia

Oschepkov (a second degree black belt in Judo) would eventually be executed under orders of Stalin for his refusal to deny education and ties with Judo’s founder Jigaro Kano.

Despite the effort to expunge the influence of souces outside of mainland Russia, the similarities between many of the throwing techniques of Sambo and Judo are too compelling to ignore.

It’s important to look at the translation of SAMBO to really understand what’s under the hood of this high octane martial art.

“SAMBO” is actually an acronym for a series of Russian words that can be intrepreted as “Self Defense Without A Weapon”.

As such it’s open ended and pragmatic scope does much to explain the art’s ecclectic appoach and the numerous variations that have arisen over time. During correspondance with Reilly Bodycomb, he has mentioned that

“Sambo is not taught as a collection of techniques but rather as a series of principles which will allow a faster development of combat skills.”

I can relate to this on a personal level as I gave a name to my own gym “Mushin Self Defense” with the same intentions. I didn’t want to limit an individual or myself to any one method. I wanted to empower my students with and “ends justify the means” mentality and in so doing, lay a foundation from which the most efficient technique for the individual could be employed to that end.

SAMBO’s principle of “use what works”, works well for those of us who enjoy the freedom to experiment and modify systems and tools to suit our own needs.

Another interesting fact concerning SAMBO is that unlike it’s contemporaries,

it does not have a formal structure or ranking system.

This has, in my opinion, enabled it to spread rapidly. Less encumbered by oranizational politics, it has been able to gain a foothold in countries around the world in a very short period of time (within 2 to 3 generations of its original inception as a national sport at the hands of Anatoly Kharlampiev in 1938).

To bring this breif history full circle and back to the original discusssion, the bottom line is winning. Surviving an un armed altercation and giving an individual the best chances for victory. And there is no better way to do this than Sambo’s library of Leg Locking techniques.

Time and again, leg attacks have bailed me out of otherwise unsalvageable situations.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Reilly Bodycomb for contributing his time and expertise so that I and the followers of can continue to expand our understanding of these wonderful equalizers of the MMA world.

If you enjoyed this series of instructional videos, you might also enjoy Reilly’s DVD’s which are available for purchase. Not only is the content unique and well presented, but the price is unbeatable.

Sambo Leglocks for Nogi Grappling 2 DVD Set by Reilly Bodycomb
Sambo Leglocks for Nogi Grappling 2 DVD Set by Reilly Bodycomb

Sambo Leg Locks for No-Gi Grappling DVD Vol 1 with Reilly Bodycomb
Sambo Leg Locks for No-Gi Grappling DVD Vol 1 with Reilly Bodycomb

Sambo Leg Locks for No-Gi Grappling DVD Vol 2 with Reilly Bodycomb
Sambo Leg Locks for No-Gi Grappling DVD Vol 2 with Reilly Bodycomb

$29.95 USD$19.95 USD$10.00 USD

Reilly Bodycomb: Sambo Grappler

A special thanks to who agreed to share Reilly with us here at DamageControlMMA.

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 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!

MMA Training and Injuries

Brian with a snapped elbow and Kiser with a missing tooth... Lessons learned in the school of hard knocks.

Brian with a snapped elbow and Kiser with a missing tooth... Lessons learned in the school of hard knocks.

“If there’s magic in boxing, it’s the magic of fighting battles beyond endurance, beyond cracked ribs, ruptured kidneys and detached retinas. It’s the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you.”

– Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris; Million Dollar Baby –

So true is this statement for anybody who has really applied themselves to the combative arts. And in the case of our friend, Kevin Dillard, the price was even higher… Yeah, can you say, broken Neck?

The following is Kevin’s account of the horrific ordeal along with my thoughts on the general subject of training and injuries.



This past weekend (August 16th) marks the tenth anniversary of my broken neck. I’d just had my birthday (August 8th), I had a brand new baby girl who was weeks old (the youngest of my three children).

Saturdays were a big thing for me. Every Saturday morning me and 5 to 10 other guys all met at Oates Gym here in Columbus, Georgia to train. Train hard.. REAL hard for about 3 hours.. every Saturday.. rain or shine.. well or sick.. healthy or injured.. NO MATTER WHAT.

Oates Gym was one of those wonderfully exquisite dungeons. A true and bonafide hole in the wall. No heat, no air, no hot water for the showers.. just cinder block and iron.. sweat and rust stains.. not to mention the occasional blood stains.. But legends had trained there.. Future stars of the MLB, NBA, NFL, WWF, IFBB.. Not to mention a couple of future governors of California and Minnesota.

There we no potted plants or ferns.. and NO daycare… and EVERYONE who was there was there to WORK. WORK HARD.

The gym was owned and run by Jerry Oates, a well known and respected professional wrestler and body builder. He was extremely well respected in Japan. Particularly All Japan Pro-Wrestling; who were known for their brutally stiff and rugged style.

My group of workout partners and myself were all some of Jerry’s “boys”.. Professional wrestlers or hopefuls aspiring to one day complete training to become a wrestler. Unlike most, I’d already been wrestling for almost 10 years; but still took part in the daily and weekly workouts. I only wanted to stay on top of things and always felt (and still do) that you could never learn enough.

The sessions were long and brutal. A few small athletic mats on a thinly carpeted concrete slab floor.. that was it… guys came and guys went.. most never got to leave that room and ever actually climb through the ropes into the ring..

The theory was if you could survive “taking bumps” (breakfalls) there.. Any ring would be gravy after that. This was a truly “old school” style wrestling camp.. If you couldn’t take it and if you couldn’t dish it right back out.. You simply weren’t going to make it.. No fluff.. No sugar coating anything.. Everything was brutally all out.. all the time and nothing pulled or held back and seldom did anyone ever ask for or expect you to lighten up on them in anyway.

Despite being sore and beat up constantly;

I loved it. Loved everything about it. Took pride in the amount of pounding I could either endure or administer

. It was and still is my true passion. So this one fateful Saturday morning 10 years ago, it started like any other.. Myself and the guys meeting to do our thing.. A lot of things were all chained or flowed together..I was paired up with this kid and he and I were going through a really physical series.. Suddenly out of nowhere; I find myself planted.. head first.. on concrete..

I sat up and in a split second I was right back down again. Only now, I couldn’t move a thing. I was on fire from head to toe.. Nerves going nuts .. incredible burning pain.. I could feel everything, but I could move nothing.

An ambulance was called and I was assured it was probably just a really bad “stinger”, but that they’d tape me down to this backboard “just to be safe”.. I knew right then and there that it was over.. EVERYTHING was over..
So a few hours later I find myself still taped down to this board, only now I’ve got my head taped in some kind of orange box and I’ve got a collar around my neck.. I’m going into an MRI machine and they’re having trouble getting me to fit into the damn thing At the time I was about 240 lbs and I run about 6’1 .. So my arms are crossed over my body and taped down into place and they’re rubbing some kind of lubricant (Vaseline, KY..? ?) up and down my arms to help shove me into the tube.

Kevin Dillard during his Pro Wrestling Phase

Kevin Dillard during his Pro Wrestling Phase

Later on I would be told that I had shattered my c3 and c4 vertebrae and that the disc between the two was still intact only now it and all the bone fragments were trapped behind my carotid arteries..

Oh yeah.. and by the way.. your spinal cord is trapped between the collapsed neck column.. And your paralyzed from the neck down…. HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Later in the afternoon I’m greeted by a neurosurgeon who is going to do a fusion of the neck using a titanium plate and some bone taken from my left hip. He says that maybe once the swelling from the spinal cord trauma goes away, there’s a remote possibility that I could get the use of one of my arms back.. Of course there’s a whole slew of thing that can go wrong because of where all the bone fragments and disc are located. I tell him that at that point I’m basically just a head so go for it.. I’m obviously NOT going anywhere.


It would be a seven and a half hour surgery. I come out of it and I’m told that the fusion is a success..


I’m told I’ll never walk again. They take me out of ICU and put me into a room and that’s that.


While waking from a morphine/Demerol cocktail fueled sleep, I could’ve sworn that I just moved one of my legs. After what seemed like forever.. I managed to slide my left leg just inches across the bed sheet.. I never knew you could actually think yourself into a sweat I start yelling and screaming for a nurse.. For anybody within earshot to come.. NOW!

After performing the same feat for a nurse.. then a therapist.. then my personal physician AND then the neurosurgeon.. ALL of whom could offer NO explanation on how it was even possible for this to happen.. I was placed into a halo and collar and released from the hospital to begin a long physical therapy/rehab program..
The rehab would take 18 months. Relearning how to walk properly and how to use my hands again..

About 6 months into the process, I’d started lifting weights again.. yeah.. in my halo and collar..

Guys would ask.. “are you even supposed to be in here? ?”.. And I’d look ‘em right in the eye and say.. “OH YEAH.. my doctor said its okay.” one ever challenged me or called me out on it.. And I figured that my level of conditioning was one of the reasons that I was able to even survive the accident in the first place.. So why stop moving.. ESPECIALLY if you’re given a second shot at moving… NOT being able to move sucks.. Imagine not being able to feed or dress yourself.. Or not being able to hold your children.

The next 18 months were full of challenges. My marriage was falling apart.. I’d been labeled “damaged goods” so to speak.. The career was going down the tubes.. there wouldn’t be anymore wrestling or combat (at least as far as I knew back then)..

The next 18 months were filled with many dark days. Eventually, I was released from rehab.. I had all my functions about me.. The only residual effect was a loss of feeling in the skin of my right leg from the hip to the floor (due to the trauma to my spinal chord).. a small price to pay to walk again.

All was great.. I was thinking that I’d find a way to somehow fix everything and everyone.. including myself.. only to find myself a few months later in the middle of a divorce and being given full custody of my three kids.. The youngest being my 18 month old baby girl along with an older brother and sister.

Intellishred Author: Kevin Dillard

Intellishred Author: Kevin Dillard

I’ll skip all the sticky bits about single parenthood and the trials of rebuilding myself and a life.. Suffice to say only this.. I have no regrets in life at this point.. There is no way I could have learned as much as I know about myself, parenting, life and living if it wasn’t for having gone through all of this.

If anything… I learned that I am a fighter.. Once its in your blood.. whether on a mat, in a ring or in dealing with whatever life throws at you.. We as fighters just attack it and deal with it differently than most.. We accept the challenges. We’re participators rather than spectators.

Now I have been blessed with a beautiful, loving and intelligent wife, who is not only my partner, but my best friend and fellow combatant in taking on life’s challenges. I’m back to training. I work out five days a week in the gym with weights and conditioning. I train submission grappling and BJJ at least two nights a week and I’ve been blessed to have a career in my second passion as a full time working musician.

And so my journey continues… everyday is another unread page.


Like Kevin, I too have had my share of injuries, shoulder dislocations, broken noses, a shattered eye socket, torn MCL, countless sprained ankles, broken fingers and toes, the list goes on and on.

Many of these could have been avoided with proper discipline and safer training practices. But I was young and thought that I would live forever and that Technique would prevail over size and strength. And, in my defense, there just weren’t that many, experienced and qualified instructors available at the time who where skilled and familiar in MMA style training and could guide me and those like me in the proper, safer way to do things.

But that is neither here or there. What is done is done.

It would seem that these hardships are not without their benefits, if you take the time to find them.

I can recall hearing Ajarn Greg Nelson, a legendary Professional MMA Fight Trainer and the first survivor or stage 5 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma AND neurolymphomatosis, recount how his way of understanding Martial Arts Techniques was forever changed when he learned how to look at movement from the very ground up. He credits this new insight to his struggle to teach himself how to walk again by understanding how each and every muscle fiber did what was necessary to put one foot in front of the other. And then by sheer force of will, fired them up, one by one, to make it back to his feet. Below is a clip of Ajarn Greg, post Cancer.

I have learned much from my own wounds.

I have learned how to be an opportunist. Maybe your arm is broken, it’s an opportunity to work on your footwork, for striking, for takedowns, for guard passes.

Recently my shoulder has been diagnosed as having early onset arthritis. As I recover, I’ve been using the opportunity to isolate and work on leg locks, leg lock defenses, counters, etc.

After reading Kevin’s article and revisiting the lessons taught by Ajarn Greg, I have reflected on my own situation and learned anew, what a privilege it is to move. To just be on the mats, and to be able to do what I love. So many times in my past, I could have been without health insurance, or not been blessed with a surgeon who was able to properly diagnose and treat my ailments and that could have been it. With my arthritis, it got so bad at a point, I thought that I might even have to walk away from the Martial Arts altogether. Now, I am in recovery and I am so thankful to have the opportunities that I have.

I can hear the voice of my instructor Khuen Khru Will in my head now, relaying a prophetic quote to help drive home the point

Master Uguay: “Yesterday is History, Tomorrow a Mystery, Today is a Gift, Thats why it’s called the Present”

Any day you are on the mat is a day to be celebrated, it is indeed, a very good day! I am taking my present, my gift and enjoying every second of it. Don’t waste a single moment, for it may be your last.

It’s time to go train.