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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!

Neck Crank Submission Chain from Side Cross

I first met Coach Potenza when he visited our gym in 2009 for Utah’s first Catch as Catch Can Seminar with Coach Billy Robinson. Unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of time for us to get to know each other as the pace of the seminar was feverish. In addition, Coach Kiser and I were in and out with other prior engagements.

We would meet again at the CSW Coaches and Fighter Camp in Fullerton California. But as before, training and running around, trying to explore CA keep us from spending a lot of time together. Not to mention, it’s always dangerous working too close to guys 3 times bigger than you at the CSW camp. Either Sensei Paulson will point to you and expect you to spar, or you may simply be crushed underneath them as the Camp is always packed and mat real estate is in short supply.

But when we saw him the third time at the 2012 Catch As Catch Can Seminar in SLC, we had to see what interesting ways he was weaving his interpretations of CSW and CACC into a “Tap-Estry” of Submission. We weren’t disappointed as he ripped out a Submission Chain that would put a grin on even the most stoic grapplers faces.

Got an interesting “Twist” on something you’ve learned from DamageControlMMA.com, a seminar by Coach Robinson, Sensei Erik Paulson or anyone we’ve featured in our videos? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to take a look.

Stay tuned we’ve got so much goodness awaiting you. More Erik Paulson, more Billy Robinson, a Twister Caught Live in MMA Competition, Olympic Wrestling Gold Medalist Mark Schultz and much much more!

NAGA 2012 + Arm Triangle Finishing Details

North American Grappling Association – First Impressions

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Experience

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

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

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

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

A Coaches Perspective

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


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

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

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

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

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

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining, Even For A Coach

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parting Thoughts – Are Grappling Matches Considered “Fights”?

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

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

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

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

Should grappling matches be called "fights"?

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MMA: It’s All About the Tude Dude

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

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

ADCC 2011 Recap

Introduction
One of them any nice things about having friends and members from around the world is that it offers opportunities to catch a glimpse, first hand of the many ongoings of the Mixed Martial World. In this case, our friend Robert Carlin from Scottland, made the trip to England to watch and report on the ADCC’s of 2011. What follows is his account of the event. Thank you Robert for this excellent article.

-Khuen Khru Brian Yamasaki

When I heard that Royler Gracie vs Eddie Bravo 2 would be this years ADCC superfight I was excited. When I heard it was taking place within travelling distance from my home I was on the Internet reserving my tickets. I wasn’t even bothered that there were other contests taking place.
However, rumours quickly began to swirl around the World Wide Web that the Superfight wouldn’t be taking place at all. To say I was devastated about the contest being cancelled would be a huge understatement.

I did intially have thoughts of selling my tickets but quickly realised how crazy that would be as I had the chance to watch the finest grapplers in the world competing against each other. As I entered the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, the first person I saw was Andre Galvao. I get a photo and wish him luck and make my way to my seat. Meeting a grappling superstar on the way in set the tone for the rest of my weekend.

ADCC 2011 Nottingham England

Three large matted sections took up the floor in the middle of the Arena and there were three simultaneous matches taking place at once throughout most of the day. The first day featured the qualifiers to determine the semi finalists in each weight division and the second day had the Semi-Finals, Finals and the Absolute tournament. Each day held a Superfight, on day one it was the previous Absolute winner Braulio Estima vs Jacare and on day two it was a battle of grappling legends Mario ‘The Zen Machine’ Sperry vs Renzo Gracie.

Pablo Popovitch sporting a suit of muscle.

Many things stood out over the course of the weekend. The main thing that stood out was the outstanding conditioning of all the competitors. When you see the physiques of fighters such as Andre Galvao, Pablo Popovich, Kron Gracie and Rousimar Palhares you can see they have been hitting the weights room hard but what was outstanding is that these guys were fighting up to 25 minute contests against the best athletes their sport has to offer multiple times throughout the two days. I don’t recall any of them looking out of breath or fatigued. These guys obviously work as hard on their fitness as they do on their technique. It wasn’t only these particular fighters, virtually every competitor looked to have an elite level of fitness.

Another thing that stood out was the technique of the Grapplers. Some of the movements and transitions made were really phenomenal. As a fan of the ground game it was beautiful to watch at times. I marvelled at Marcelo Garcia and many of the female competitors as they demonstrated their ability in recurring instances of small triumphing over big in true BJJ fashion.

One instance that stood out in the Absolute was Victor Estima defeating Jaoa Asis. Victor had lost a very quick and disappointing loss to Marcelo Garcia the previous day to drop out of his weight class but he showed great heart and skill to return the following day to beat Asis who had lost to Dean Lister in a closely fought contest in the finals of the weight class above Victors own natural class. It was a great moment.

The Audience was clearly educated in the Grappling arts as it was similar to what you see in Japanese MMA where the crowd can be so silent you can hear a pin drop but if someone is close to a submission everyone was on their feet clapping and shouting encouragement or advice to the fighters. It was a great atmosphere and the fighters themselves were very approachable and accommodating.

I have some minor criticisms of the ADCC’s but only because I was greedy for more. There was no big screen to show slow motion replays. I understand that this is not essential but it would have been nice. This is because at times there were three grappling contests happening at the same time, sometimes I was watching one match and missed the submission on a different mat. At one point we had to choose between watching Marcelo Garcia vs Kron Gracie on one mat and Andre Galvao vs Pablo Popovich on another. There were more than a few times I was torn between which match to watch.

The scoring I felt didn’t always reflect the true nature of the bouts, for instance, in the Kron Gracie – Marcelo Garcia match up Marcelo took Kron down and received two points but Kron had caught Garcia in a Guillotine choke that looked very tight and Garcia looked to be in trouble before he eventually managed to escape. Most matches won on points were decided by someone taking the back and getting their hooks in or takedowns.

Some highlights of the action included Kyra Gracie winning her division with a victory over Michelle Niccolino submitting her with an omoplata.
Jeff Glover defeating Robson Moura with an arm in Guillotine in a classic match. Vinny Magalhaes used a full Rubber guard to setup an omoplata, unfortunatley he couldn’t get the finish but it was cool to see the set up being used in such a high level competition.

In another notable match, Rousimar Palhares and David Avellan rolled off the mat with Palhares catching Avellan in a leg lock but the referee called for a break. Avellan protested over something and was clearly angry yet Palhares seemed perplexed. When the match was restarted on the mat Palhares yanked on his leglock as Avellan tried to escape but Avellan tapped as his knee was popped out of place. Avellan was given medical attention and ended up leaving in a wheelchair. I hope he makes a speedy recovery.

Magalhaes vs Werdeum heavyweight finals

The main highlight for me though was Vinny Magalhaes vs Fabricio Werdum for the heavyweight final. Magalhaes had a two point lead with minutes to go when Werdum caught Vinny in a straight armbar. The former heavyweight winner had the hold on and it looked locked in. It seemed like a tap was imminent but it didn’t happen. Vinny held on, Werdum crossed the arm over his hip and pressed it down, he rotated it and applied pressure, he leaned further back, he tried everything to get the tap. The audience were all on their feet shouting, some even pleading with Vinny to tap. It seemed to carry on for ages then suddenly somehow Vinny was out. The spectators erupted with amazement and joy. Vinny managed to ride out the time and won the heavyweight division. He showed real heart and determination to survive.

All in all my trip to the ADCC’s was incredible. I had such an amazing time and I would highly recommend it to any fight fans. Watching these athletes live, in action gave me a real motivational boost and inspired me to become a much better Grappler.

Robert Carlin 2011 ADCC Nottingham England

MMA Cornermen: Unsung Heros Part 1

What fighter worth his salt would ever go into a fight without padding his proverbial hand as much as possible in his favor?

Having a rock solid wing man is one of the most overlooked and under rated pieces of prep work that a fighter can have in place for his/her up coming fight.

If you’ve ever taken the time to listen to the corners during a fight, you’d be surprised at the variance in ability and quality. It’s amazing how often the advice you hear being shouted from the corner is something along the lines of “F*** him up bro!” Really?

An important part of any successful competition is communication between Coach/Instructor and Student/Competitor.

This article will focus on a couple of methods we use to communicate to our students when they are in the middle of their matches. They can however, be applied to effectivly communicating during any traumatic or stressful event.

A good coach is like a second pair of eyes for their student. But what the coach sees is useless if he/she is unable to communicate that information to his/her student.

Below are a list of tips that we have found helpful in communicating to our students when they are in the middle of a match.

Less is more… Keep It simple

If there is a constant barrage of chatter comming from the sidelines, it tends to blend in with the myriad of other noises already being muted by the tunnel vision/hearing experienced by the student. Be patient, hold your tongue and only bark out an occasional observation. AND when you do give some instruction, keep it simple. Suggestions such as this, “slip the jab, then uppercut, overhand, left hook right kick and shoot.” Simply are too much for a student under duress to handle. Something like the following would be more helpful “SLip and counter”.

Use the student’s name.

During one of his fights, Trevor “Little Bang” Osborn related that when everyone was shouting, he didn’t know who was saying what to whom. He didn’t know if it was the opposing team or our team speaking to the other competitor or to him and pretty soon he simply tuned it all out… that is until he heard us shout his name. Then he was able to take focus and listen.

Proper use of use of this method would sound something like this:

“Trevor, be first.”
“Trevor, circle! Keep your back off the cage.”
“Trevor, Go Now!”

Make eye contact.

When your student is fatigued and or rocked they tend to do a little slot machine number with their eyes. Their head will roll lazily around and their eyes will roll up under their lids etc.

If this happens between rounds, control their head with your hands and force them to look into your eyes.

If they are in a contol position mid-round, tell them to look at you. This will again, help to re-focus them, not just on your instruction, but also onto the task at hand.

Trigger Words

Trigger Words are words or phrases whose meaning you and your students have agreed upon. They are words that have been used during training sessions leading up to the event so that the student is used to hearing them and reacting to them.

For instance, we use the Trigger Words “Go Now”. We all know that this means, it means that there is 30 seconds left in the round. We have trained the student to go all out upon hearing that phrase (Pavlov eat your heart out). “Establish Base” means, chill out. Don’t blow your wad just yet. Re-establish your position and calmly look for openings and opportunities.

These phrases should be reinforced and used repeatedly in the gym during training sessions.

Don’t use more than one or two Trigger Words in your gym. The more Trigger Words you have, the less impact and significance they carry.

Communicate Visually with Hand Signals and Expressions

There are many times that a student’s battle stress will completely debilitate their ability to hear your voice. There are also times that the venue is so loud that your voice simply cannot be heard above the rest of the noise. In these instances it is helpful to commuicate visually as well as verbally. For instance, we will point to our eyes, then look up and point to the ceiling if we want our students to arch their backs more, lift their head and put more body into straightening out the armlock, guillotine, etc.

We’ll point to the ceiling and loop our finger around in a circle if we want the student to relax and burn some time off the clock.

And remember… every communication should be prefixed with your student’s name.

I hope these tips are helpful to you and your crew and we wish you all the best of luck. Train hard… we’ll see you out on the mat!

MMA Techniques: Shin Lock 102

We recently did a video for our friends at www.LockFlow.com demonstrating another variant of the versatile Shin Lock. Ever since I learned the proper mechanics from Coach Billy Robinson, the Shin Lock has found an ever growing role in my MMA and Submission Grappling game.

Fringe Techniques and Our Disclaimer

Now I cannot emphasize this enough. Kiser and I often put up video content that demonstrate some of the more fringe type techniques (most of the fundamentals we do are in the Members Only area of DCMMA). This isn’t because we favor these over tried and tested basics, nor is it because we like them better.

We just figure, that if you wanted to see a basic guard pass, there are plenty of resources out there for you already, most of which are done by well respected, high profile instructors.

So we try to keep it interesting by exposing you guys to stuff you may not have seen just yet.

The Ever Versatile Shin Lock

The Shin Locks and their myriad of applications are something that fits the bill and this week we add a few more options based on the initial mechanics taught to us by Coach Robinson. He really does teach you how to learn, and then the rest just starts to blossom.

Add these to the stuff we showed in the BJJ CACC Shin Lock Guard Pass and your opponent will never look at that game the same.

Good luck, have fun, and happy hunting!

The Long Sit Out

It’s always a juggling act trying to deliver content to our followers and subscribers that I think they’ll enjoy, while at the same time trying to balance it with what I am passionate or excited about.

To be honest, I don’t think the two are always the same. I know from experience that the flashy submissions and things of that sort have historically always out performed the more mundane subjects we’ve posted and so I try to provide as many of those types of things as I can.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy those types of techniques as much as the next guy,

but at the same time, I find myself more and more enamored by the obscure and or understated positional escapes, grip fighting basics or in this case, Coach Billy Robinson’s take on the Long Sit Out.

I’d learned it, or rather, began to learn it decades ago while wrestling in Jr. High School. But, with wrestling being a season long sport, with only so much time for practices and only a few coaches to manage 3 different grade levels, various weight classes and different levels of potential and skill, there was only so much that I could learn about that specific move way back then.

A season filled with countless losses and 1 victory over the only kid skinnier and weaker than myself coupled with the humiliation a scrawny kid feels after being pointed at and laughed at while wearing his wintergreen tights and doing bridges on the mat in the pre-match warm ups, pretty much sealed the fate of my wrestling career (if I can call it that), and the lesson on the Long Sit Out would have to wait another 20 some odd years before I’d understand it for what it was.

An escape for desperate times.

It’s been months since that lesson with Coach Robinson, and I still haven’t quite made the incorporation of the Long Sit Out into my game seamless, but reviewing the technique as I edited the footage, helped me remember some of the details and again, understand when and where to use such a technique during a roll. It’s a late escape from a Quarter Position scramble, or a pre emptive escape from the Back Mount.

Either way, I’ll continue to work on it as an important niche maneuver of my escape and defensive repertoire.

Coincidentally, Jake Shannon and Coach Robinson have just recently released a new book “Say Uncle!: Catch-As-Catch Can Wrestling and the Roots of Ultimate Fighting, Pro Wrestling & Modern Grappling“. It’s a chronicle of the history and men responsible for the brutal art of Catch As Catch Can Wrestling. I must say, it’s a very interesting read which includes great interviews with men such as Coach Robinson, Gene Lebelle, Dick Cardinal, Josh Barnett, Billy Wicks, Fujiwara, Erik Paulson and many others as well as some fundamental play by play techniques. And heh, whaddaya know, even Coach Kiser and I make a cameo.

Without grizzled men like these, the art could easily have died out just prior to my generation. Their dedication to excellence and their tireless work ethic is really the only thing that’s kept the art alive.
Below you can see an out take from the Scientific Wrestling CACC Certification course. Just look at the seminar attendees, sitting exhausted from the morning session, catching their breath, taking notes and rehydrating, while Coach Billy, pulls up two of the young lads to inspect and then perfect their technique.

He just never stops, every second is spent developing fundamentals, and instilling the desire to achieve the perfect technique.

Coach Robinson IS the King of Catch. Long Live the King!

Next week a few more escapes from side cross with one of my Jiu-jitsu coaches, Pedro Sauer BJJ Black Belt, Mike Diaz.


Extreme MMA Techniques – The Taint Lock

And then you put his toes where?!? That’s right, that taint your @$$ and that taint your scrode. Yes folks, it’s come to this, the infamous Erik Paulson, “Taint Lock”.

I doubt that I will ever tire of studying this art. There are so many techniques, so many variations and so many minute details, and I enjoy learning them all.

Few techniques can be said to be as creative, nor as humiliating as the “Taint Lock”. I mean, just imagine, there you are, rolling with your closest training partner when, tap, tap, he catches you. “What the Hell was that?” you ask. To which he meekly replies “Yeah, that was a Taint Lock.”
Time to hit the showers… and immediately wash off that foot.

To be honest, I’ve seen the lock before, a long while ago, in one of Sensei Paulson’s old internet videos (before the advent of youtube). I’ve asked him about it and even worked on it with him on more than one occasion (can I say that without it sounding hmmmmmmmm… wrong?). At any rate, like with any technique, I never tire of seeing it taught. There’s always something new that catches your eye, or some aspect that a different presenter may highlight that you may not have payed as close attention to as you could have.

This was definitely the case with Khuen Khru Alvin Chan’s rendition.

In the past I’ve relied on butt scooting in an using my arms to generate the majority of the leverage on the lock. But watching how Khru Alvin executes the technique, I really liked how he placed his foot on his opponent and used it to push off and generate a considerable amount of additional tap out potential.

A special thanks go out to Khru Alvin this year for sharing his great teaching abilies with us once more and for being such a great friend and mentor. It was an especially busy camp this year and we had to really work hard to squeeze in a few short filming sessions. Be sure to send him your respects and my regards at www.MD-CSW.com

My advisors here at DamageControlMMA.com have suggested that I shorten my posts, and make my updates more frequent. And as I am admittedly no web, computer, or blog/vlog guru, I’ve chosen to heed their advise and see how it goes. Next week, you can look forward to the return of the Legendary Coach Billy Robinson.

We’ll see if our subscriptions, forum activity and following increase as a result of this new format. If not, I’m going to advise my advisors of the efficacy of their advise. Until next time, happy hunting… and give em taint!

MMA Training Camp CSW Style

(At about 5:19 in the video above you can see the fundamentals of the movement that we use to accomplish the Leg Lock Counter to the Arm Bar Flower Sweep Technique)

After the Paypal debacle (suckers screwed me over, refused to allow me to close my accounts and then had the nerve to send me a “customer service survey”), it was a welcomed and refreshing change of pace to head out to sunny California for my annual pilgrimage to Erik Paulson’s Fighter/Instructor CSW Camp.

As can be expected, the learning was non-stop. Everywhere you turned there was an opportunity for growth and the soaking up of Martial wisdom.

One of the aspects of camp I enjoy is being surrounded by people who are just about as crazy and fanatical about the Martial Arts as I am.

Sensei Paulson and Ajarn Greg Nelson converse with Khuen Khru Vic Spatola the guy responsible for testing me for my Thai Boxing Instructorship under Ajarn Chai.

When your life and mind are occupied by Martial Arts the same way that Rainman thinks about Kmart tighty whitites and Judge Wapner, you start to wonder about your own sanity. But having an opportunity to be in the environment that Sensei Paulson provides, gives lunatics like me a chance to kick back and simply feel like part of the gang.

For me there are really 3 seminars taking place simultaneously at a camp like this.

First is the main seminar. You learn from the likes of Erik Paulson, Greg Nelson, Rigan Machado, Marvin Cook, and Nick Saignac, and you drill the many techniques that they share during their segments. Second is what you pick up from the other high level instructors and fighters that you drill with, spar with, and interact with. You get to see how they’ve tweaked the material you both learned the year before, you get to see tricks that get developed in their relatively isolated neck of the woods and you get to see how the system you’ve developed in your locale fares versus those from around the world.

Lastly, there are the life lessons shared and discussed off camera, during a lunch break, in the hotel lobby. You realize that you’re not alone in your pursuit of Martial excellence, in your attempts to build up a school, and in the stresses and occasional heart breaks that accompany such a journey. You learn tactics for survival, and gain strength from the fact that others have endured and overcome. You see who your instructors look up to and who they glean wisdom from.

As Khuen Khru Nino Pilla said to me this year “It’s so tempting to be seduced into fixing your attentions to the young fighters, winning belts and making the highlight reel, but really your attention should be focused on the old masters (like Billy Robinson, Cacoy Cañete, Dan Inosanto, Buddy Tompson). They have had so much more time to perfect and understand the craft. And more importantly, they hold the wisdom for what is to come for all of us, as we will all get older (if we are lucky), but none of us will ever get younger like those fighters that everyone sees and idolizes on T.V.”

Now that right there was worth the price of admission for me.

But there’s much more that I take away from the CSW Camp experience. It’s a chance for me to see old friends.

The true measure of a great instructor is his students. Eddie Abney, really pushed me and made me think during our sparring rounds. I would expect no less from a student of Khuen Khru Alvin Chan.

Seniors and mentors like Khuen Khru Alvin Chan, who never ceases to amaze me with his kindness and increasing enthusiasm for our chosen profession.

Or Khuen Khru Joe Cargado, who puts up with my joking around and humors my strange quirks.

As I was lining up my sparring partners (to ensure that I wasn’t going to get maimed or destroyed by the likes of the Ben Jones that were amongst the ranks), I was hollering out to my friends “James, you’re 1, Joe, you’re 2, Brandon, you’re 3,” etc. etc. Joe hollers out to each of them, “Yeah, take a number!”

It’s a wonderful place to be, and a real privilege to be able to go, and to be a young kid again, if only for a few days. I returned home, tired, sore, and bursting at the seams with new moves, new ideas and a deeper understanding of the Martial Life Style. And for those of you loyal followers who are wondering, I tapped out that evil wolf this time around. I hope I can do it again the next time I’m on the mats at the World CSW Headquarters, living my life to the fullest.