Sunday, March 26, 2017

IBJJF Referees rules meeting/course 2 April 2016 - updated 25 March 2017

Updates made after the rules meeting on 25th March 2017 are in bold. The notes here are not designed to replace the rule book. I only note issues which I feel were discussed or explained at a level of detail not available from the rule book.

The takedown must start on blue (inside the match area). If you start with both feet on blue and take it out to yellow (safety area) and stabilize in the safety area you can get the points. Then move them back onto blue, same position.

You may start on blue, go out on yellow duuring the takedown and finish on blue. No need to stop or move them then.

Takedowns that start from the knees in a continuous movement will not be awarded points. The opponent must be in a position to be taken down for takedown points to be awarded, i.e. at least one foot must be on the ground.

Pulling someone on top of you is not a takedown.

If the opponent flees the match area to avoid a takedown or sweep: PAROU (stop the match), bring them back to the centre, apply a penalty to the one running away, and give 2 points to the athlete performing the takedown or sweep. Restart standing.

On a takedown or sweep where the opponent ends up on his knees, a full back clinch is not necessary, but you must keep control and be behind the line of the opponent's shoulders to get the points.

If an athlete attempts to pull guard, messes it up and the opponent makes some sort of passing move to a stabilised position, the opponent can earn 3 points for a guard pass.

The athlete must be presented with some sort of guard to pass, and the opponent have a chance to sweep, to be awarded guard pass points.

If an athlete in his opponent's guard gets double underhooks and flips the opponent straight back in the air onto his knees, this does NOT constitute a guard pass. Neither 3 points nor an advantage should be awarded.

The advantage is given when the opponent goes to his knees to prevent his guard being passed. An advantage should not be given if the opponent goes to his knees when no passing pressure is made. 

A guard pass should finish with the opponent on his back, in side control, front control, kneeride or mount. The double underhook flip to put the guy on his knees is not regarded as a passing attempt. 

You never EARN or ACHIEVE an advantage. Advantages are for point scoring moves that fail and/or are incomplete. Getting to half guard with 3 seconds of control is the only exception.

Advantages given for failed submission attempts should only be applied when in your judgement the sub is taken close to its limit, but there is no tap and the opponent escapes, or similar.

Facial expressions are not a yardstick for how close the submission comes to the limit. Whether or not the opponent defends the submission attempt is not a consideration.

Do not award advantages until there is NO chance of the athlete achieving the position, pass, sweep, etc. If an athlete gets a hook in in back control, he is entitled to an advantage. But do not award it yet! He may still get the other hook in eventually and then earn the points. The example was given where a guy got a hook in from the back, switched off and performed a twister roll, and then got proper back control with both hooks. That should be 4 points. No advantage should have been given for the initial hook, as it was treated as only the prelude to the full back take. Mistakes here might be understandable.

A guard pass that ends up in a kneeride on the opponent's back will be awarded the 3 points  for the pass (plus 2 for kneeride?), provided the opponent is stabilised for the required 3 seconds.

A guard pass that ends up in reverse kneeride (facing the legs) or reverse mount and held for 3 seconds will accrue the 3 points for a guard pass. There will of course be no kneeride or mount points.

Getting top position when the opponent gets deep half guard will not be awarded an advantage. Who has control? Is the criterion.

If an athlete pulls regular half guard and the opponent stabilises in the top position, the opponent is entitled to an advantage.

Mount, back mount, and back control are all separate positions, and achieving each from any of the others with a 3 second control will incur an additional four points.

If you have back mount held for 3 seconds and got 4 points, and the opponent then gets to his knees and you get back control from there with both hooks in and can hold for three seconds, you will get an additional 4 points for the back control.

If you get sidemount on the guy first up, this is counted as a mount after 3 seconds. If he goes belly down or face up from there, do not treat that as an additional mount. If he then goes from face down to face up, or face up to face down, and you hold that mount or back mount for 3 seconds, that is an additional 4 points.

If he goes from underneath mount to sidemount, then back to mount, treat it as only one mount.

Stepping the foot over from side control and immediately pulling the opponent into back control does not constitute a sidemount or a mount.

Removing and then replacing hooks in back control does not accrue additional points or advantages.

A sweep which ends up on top of the kneeling opponent's back with both hooks in could be treated as a sweep followed by back control (2 + 4 points).

The Baratoplata can be performed as like either a kimura (legal at all levels) or as a bicep crush (legal only at brown and black belt).

The (Victor) Estima footlock can be performed as either a straight ankle lock (legal for 16-17 years and all adults) or a toe hold (legal only at brown and black belt).

(In both cases, telling them apart can be difficult and possibly contentious)

If an athlete has a lasso guard in place, but the opponent passes the guard to kneeride and stabilises it, the guard pass and kneeride points should be awarded. The lasso in its own does not constitute a guard.

One can be awarded cumulative points for successive point scoring moves ending in a stabilized position, e.g. guard pass to mount gets 7 points. They are also entitled to cumulative advantages if the final position is not held for the full 3 seconds - 2 advantages in that example.

If an athlete's gi is rendered unusable, give him a time limit, say 5 minutes, but give him more time if he is actively trying to find a replacement gi. We do not want to DQ an athlete who is sincerely trying to find a replacement gi.

Knee reaping - if neither athlete has a submission in place, the DQ should not occur unless the foot passes across the outside line of the body - they should still receive a penalty if the foot crosses the body's midline and have their position reset.

Knee reaping - if either athlete has a submission in place, crossing the foot over the midline of the body results in disqualification for the perpetrator. This applies to both the athlete applying the submission and the athlete caught in it.

Knee reaping - You should stop the fight (PAROU), apply the penalty, return the foot to the position it was the moment before the reap, and then restart the fight (COMBATE).

Knee reaping - always try to stop at a penalty stage before a DQ position is reached. If they have a submission in place, this will not be possible, and the immediate DQ applies once the foot crosses the midline, or the foot gets stuck.

Before the 2017 seminar, I thought knee reaping was a lot more cut and dried than I do now. I had thought that any movement with the legs towards inside ashi garami or the saddle / 411 / honey hole would be an automatic DQ. But such positions are fine provided that the lower part of the "reaped" leg is not stuck between armpit and hip. If it is above the shoulder line or the arm, or the foot is free, there is no reap. 

One of the guys demonstrated a type of calf crush from the saddle which is legal despite the position of the legs, because the foot of the reaped leg is underhooked, not overhooked ,and thus tnot rapped between hip and shoulder. 

Will post a photo if I can remember how it looked, or work it out with Messrs. Lange and Nagel.

The rabbit hole here runs pretty deep. Any notion that you don't need to know all the cool leglocks because they are IBJJF-illegal doesn't stack up. If anything, you have to understand them better than you might otherwise to be able to adjudicate about them correctly. 

For illegal grips - the action should be stopped, the perpetrator penalised, and the athletes restarted in the position that occurred before the illegal grip was applied. If the illegal grip resulted in a sweep before the action was stopped, the sweep should be disallowed and the action restarted in the position that occurred before the sweep. The illegal grip should not be replaced by a legal grip. You should restart without the grip in place. To do otherwise would give the infractor an unfair advantage - he may have just managed to get that illegal grip, and to give him a legal one will put him in a better position, unfairly.

Stepping on the inside of the skirt of the opponent's gi is treated as passing a limb inside the gi, and incurs a penalty.

Any grip on the opponent's uniform or your own uniform in nogi matches is illegal and incurs a penalty.

20 seconds are allowed for an athlete to retie a belt, 20 + 20 seconds if they are also wearing the green and yellow belt and need to retie both belts.

The referee and athletes should not speak unless the referee is issuing one of the four verbal commands (COMBATE, PAROU, LUTE, FALTA) or for the athlete to communicate a medical issue or problem with his uniform. We do not wish to "break the wall". You do not have to ask or require the athletes to bow or shake hands.

The rule book says that the athletes should not communicate with the referee unless reporting a medical issue or a problem with their uniform, but we should use common sense for other situations. For example, if one of the athletes notices the scoreboard is not working or the clock not started, and reports it, that is a benefit to the competition and a penalty would be inappropriate.

If both athletes stand after a LUTE or FALTA command where the rules do not require it, call PAROU so that one does not get an unfair drop on the other. then COMBATE. You can do this in a number of situations, including reorienting the athletes if they look to be on their way out of bounds.

Penalty for a hand or foot on the face - face is regarded as area containing eyes, nose and mouth. There should be no penalty for such contact with the chin, forehead, of side of the head.

White belts - kids and adults - are not permitted to jump to closed guard. Flying armbars and triangles are also considered as jumping closed guard and are similarly proscribed for white belts. All coloured belts, both kids and adults, are allowed to jump closed guard with no penalty.

Upon applying the fourth penalty to an athlete, do not bother applying the penalty, just PAROU and signal the disqualification - unless there are three referees.

If one of the penalties was for exiting the match area to avoid a takedown or sweep, incurring a penalty and two points to the opponent, this is treated as part of the standard ascending hierarchy of penalties.

An example:

First penalty, for an illegal grip - penalty only.

Second penalty, for exiting the match area to avoid a takedown - for other serious fouls, this would incur a penalty and advantage to the opponent. But this specific foul incurs a penalty and two points.

Third penalty - stalling - the usual step in the hierarchy, penalty and two points to the opponent.

Fourth penalty - disqualification. You could signal a fourth penalty before the DQ, but it is redundant.

Stalling is not considered when the athlete is in a correct scoring mount, back mount, or back control. However, if from back control with hooks in, then moves to a body triangle or crosses their feet or another non-scoring back control position, and stalls (no attacks) from those positions for 20 seconds, they can be penalised for stalling.

Do not set the timer on your watch or similar to start the 20 second count for stalling. The staller or their coach may notice this and use it to their advantage. 

A "double guard pull" does not occur unless both athletes pull guard simultaneously. If they pull guard simultaneously, whoever gets top position first will get an advantage.

If athlete A pulls guard, then athlete B pulls guard as well in response, this is not a double guard pull. In this situation, were athlete A to come on top and stabilise, he would be awarded 2 points for a sweep. Were athlete B to come on top, he would get neither points or an advantage.

If there is a double guard pull, and one athlete stands up and then sits back down, the double guard pull and the associated 20 second period no longer apply. The example discussed at the course were if one athlete stood up to apply a footlock on the other.

Positions are expected to be achieved in ascending order of dominance (and points). Thus voluntarily moving from mount to kneeride will not attract the 2 points for kneeride. If the opponent escapes mount to some sort of scramble and then is put back in kneeride, then the 2 points should be applied.

The referee is expected to consider the age and rank of the athletes when considering whether to stop the fight because of possible or actual injury. A straight arm in an armbar might be enough to stop a kid's match, while an adult black belt would be expected to know when to tap to avoid injury in any circumstance.

You can attempt to warn kids if they look to be about to do something illegal, but if they ignore the warning then you must disqualify them. DQ'ing a kid is something we want to avoid if possible.

Adults are expected to know the rules. We are not coaches, we are referees.

If an athlete appears to have suffered an injury but does not withdraw or verbally submit, you should stop the match at an appropriate point and ask the medical staff to decide whether or not the competitor is fit to continue. It is not our decision to make. We are not doctors, we are referees. IIRC Jacare won the Worlds or similar one year with an obviously broken arm.

If an athlete is bleeding while applying or in a submission hold so that the match needs to be stopped for the bleeding to be attended to, 2 points should be awarded to the submitter and the match restarted if/when the bleeding has been dealt with. Separate bleeding injuries are each entitled to two attempts by the medics to stop the bleeding.

If a competitor vomits (or has similar problems) during a match, he is deemed to have lost the match. If the competitor submits his opponent, or the time limit expires, and then he vomits, that has no bearing on the result. The match was over. If he got the submission or points, or the ref chose him if points were tied, his spewing is of no consequence to the result.

If the match finishes and one of the competitors runs off the mat to vomit in a more acceptable place like in a trashcan or on his towel, etc., it would be inappropriate for him to be penalised for exiting the match area before the result is announced. He is trying to assist the competition. be sensible. (I had a kid vomit on the mat once after winning a match, after I had raised his hand. He couldn't help it, but cleaning it up under time pressure wasn't easy. It would have been much better if he had managed to exit the mat first. As I say, not his fault.)

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Trivial but Useful hack for Belt Stripes

You are sensible, and want to wash your Jiu Jitsu belt after every session.

Jiu Jitsu knowledge and your Qi do not accumulate in your unwashed belt. Accumulating ringworm, staph and hep B might, no matter how good the mat hygiene at your gym.

Your problem? The stripes on your belt are duct tape. Not real good in the washing machine, right?

You and your significant other do not have the sewing skills or inclination to sew on something more elegant or permanent.

Your solution: strapping tape, like you use for taping up your fingers. Stays on after multiple washes, no problem. If you have the red bar on your black belt, or the black bar on your different coloured belt per the IBJJF official requirements, you can use the easy-to-get white tape. I use the 1.25 cm width.

Should you have no black bar, or want specific other colours, try kinesiology tape, which comes in many colours, though blue, purple, black and brown (well, beige) are easily obtainable, which should satisfy most adults. You should be able to get all the kids' colours except possibly grey. You may have to trim it to a narrower width than that in which it is sold, but it still beats fiddling around with needle and thread or a sewing machine.

The picture above shows my belt after about ten jiu jitsu sessions and washes - an intense, one wash, two rinse, spin cycle - with a stripe of white strapping tape on one end and one of black kinesiology tape on the other. Some fraying, no loosening. If, and when, it does start to lift off ... I'll replace it with a new piece of tape.

Try it. It works!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

John Will Seminar 5 Mar 2017 - Ashi Garami 2.0

Seminar was held at Rick Spain's gym in Redfern.


Today's seminar concentrated on what John calls "Inside" leg control.

If you sit facing each other, and you have his L leg trapped in your R armpit, this is "Outside" leg control.

If, in the same position, you have his L leg trapped under your L armpit, John calls this "Inside" leg control.

This is complicated by the references to inside and outside ashi we made in the previous seminar, which are pretty standard.

There is a need for standardisation on the terminology here. As I discuss further down, I see problems with inside and outside as discussed above, as they do not match the usual terminology used for upper body controls (and Wing Chun, for that matter). But ... later.

Entries to the Position

From a "Lazy" Toreandor Pass

Preparation Drill

His feet are on your hips. Grab his pants about halfway up the shin in each hand. Bunch up the fabric so there is no slack. Step back to disengage, then move laterally to the L - laterally, directly to the side, not in a circle. Drop into a horse stance, dragging his R leg to the outside of your R hip with your L hand. Grab his R knee with your R hand and pinch his ankle to your R hip with your R elbow and the top of your R thigh.

Return to the starting position, and repeat on the other side. Repeat, continue.

To Inside Ashi

Start your "lazy" toreandor pass and grab the R knee with the R hand and pinch the R ankle into the R hip with the R elbow as before.

Put your L hand on the mat. Do not sit down yet!

Take your weight on your hand and put your L foot on his ribs. Make sure you keep hold of his R knee.

Now you can sit down, moving your butt  in close to him. Use both knees to keep his R leg controlled.

Hand - foot on ribs - butt  - the order is important. A smart guy will try to back out fast and get his leg out. If you put your butt down before you put your foot on his ribs, you can't chase him. If your butt is still up in the air and weight on your hand, you can keep moving in further as he tries to scoot away.

You should still have control of his R knee with your R hand and his R ankle trapped with your R elbow.

Use your R hook to elevate his L leg, opening the "honey hole" so you can get your L hook under his L leg as well to an inside ashi position.

Turn onto your L side, pinch your knees together tightly above his knee, try to get the outside of your L knee on the floor. Keep a tight hold on his leg with your R arm as you adjust your position. His R leg should be bent.

Not easy to find a really good picture of this. No reflection on the skill of the athletes in the pic

Some people like to triangle their legs here, John recommends just pinching with the knees and thighs as he feels this gives a tighter control.

This position is variously named the Saddle, Honey Hole, 411 and Inside Sankaku. (The last isn't really appropriate for us, as "Sankaku" is Japanese for triangle, per Sankaku-jime for the triangle choke, and we do not do that with our legs.)

John wants to call it Inside Inside Ashi. Uh-oh.

Entry via the Knee Slide Pass

He is on his back with his feet on the floor and knees up.

Step into the hole with your R foot.

Slide your R knee across the inside of his R thigh. Move it out to the L a bit further than you normally would for a proper knee slide pass. You want to encourage him to turn to his R (which is NOT what you want for the pass proper.

Post out wide with both hands above his head. Forget trying to control his arms or get an underhook. Let him think he has won the underhook war.

Backstep out to the R, over his L leg, with your L leg.
Land on the toes on the mat with the L foot, keep both hand posts on the ground. Now drive your L knee in behind and under his L knee. Pinch your knees together around his L thigh.

Fall off and back onto your R side onto your R hip, grabbing his L knee with your L hand, controlling his L ankle with your L elbow, moving your head away toward his feet. Pull everything in tight.

You should now be in the Honey Hole position on your R side.

Entry Variations

From Half Guard, your R leg inside - Stand up, your R foot now in quarter guard. Back step to the R with your L leg and continue as for the Knee Slide into the Honey Hole position.

From Mount - Bring your feet up on his thighs. Get your R foot between his legs. Backstep ...

From Kneeride, your R knee on his stomach - flip your R foot over his R leg and stand on your R foot between his legs. Backstep ...

From Butterfly Guard - sweep him to your L with your R hook to mount, but leave your R hook between his legs and stand on it. Backstep ...

Any time you can get that foot between his legs by any means and from anywhere, Backstep ...

Heel Hook

You have achieved the Honey Hole position on your R side with his L leg trapped, his L ankle under your L armpit. You can be on your R shoulder or up on the R elbow.

Do NOT try to "scoop" up the heel withe your L forearm. Do NOT turn to the R to apply the heel hook. Instead:

Pull your L elbow and tricep back, pressing his R toes onto your back and shoulder blade. The arm never moves forward, you keep pulling back.

Bring your L hand up palm facing forward in what John call a "Colonel Klink" small Nazi salute (political correctness be damned). Your thumb should be beside your nipple and the ulnar bone inside your wrist right against his heel or achilles tendon. Do not allow the elbow or the hand to move forward at any time.

Now join your hands in a Gable Grip. If everything is tight, you may well get a tap from here without doing anything else.


Three Pressures for the Heel Hook

  1. Try to drive your L elbow up his butt (John's words, not mine).
  2. Lift and turn your knees up and to the R.
  3. Drive and extend your hips forward.

Try each pressure, one at a time. BE CAREFUL. The leverage is immense, and you can easily cause your partner significant damage. Then try all 3 pressures at once, but only move a millimetre.

As a practice to roll safely using heel hooks, John advocated getting to the position, and trying to hold it for ten seconds without cranking on the submission. That way you get feedback on how good your control is, he gets the opportunity to attempt to escape without getting his leg ripped off.

The "American Knot"

You may want to deal with the top (L) leg from here, to stop him rolling, kicking you in the face, etc.

Before you go for the heel hook; you have the Honey Hole with your L hand grabbing his R knee.

Reach and overhook his L leg with your L arm and pull it into your L armpit, as if you were going for a straight footlock. you have to let his L leg come past your L knee to secure the position.

Now weave your L hand under his R leg, catch the R ankle in the crook of your L elbow. Joing your hands in a Gable grip and squeeze tight.

Get on your R side. Put your L foot on top of your R and squeeze your knees together and down. Putting your L foot on top of your R gives you a fulcrum to drive your hips forward to straight footlock his R foot. Other parts of both legs might hurt as well.

Also called the Texas Cloverleaf. John likes American knot because of the symmetry with the Russian Knot we learned at the previous seminar.

A common defence to the backstep and ashi is for the opponent to hide his L ankle by triangling his R leg over it. If this happens, do everything else the same, but just grab the R leg instead of the L and apply the American Knot instead of the heel hook. As John said, "whatever they do, just grab and attack that top leg".

A slightly different entry to the American Knot / Texas Cloverleaf. The finishing position with the feet is slightly inferior to the one we learned in the seminar IMO

A training sequence working towards Eddie Cummings' Heel Hook from butterfly guard

Scissor Takedown (Kani Basami)

Get a collar tie with your R and wrist control on his R with your L hand. to his L side.

Put your R hook behind his R knee.

Hop around counter clockwise and behind him so your L foot is to the L of and slightly behind his L foot. your R hook is still behind his R knee.

Put your L hand on the ground next to your L foot.

Take the weight on your L hand and kick your L leg behind his so your L knee ends up behind and between both of his knees. Take him down to the rear by scissoring your legs.

Grab his L knee with your L hand, turn onto your R side, and move to the Honey Hole.

A few variations of the Scissor Takedown

Butterfly Guard to Modified Kani Basami

Get Butterfly Guard with your R arm overhooking his L.

Post on your L hand, bring your L hook out and put your L knee on the mat outside and to the L of his L knee. your R hook stays in, so his L knee is now between both of yours. Keep the overhook.

Back up as far as you can and slide your L knee and shin over his L shin so both knees are inside his.

Roll to your L and pull him over you so you end up on your R side, hiding his L knee with your L hand, catching him in the Honey Hole.

No vid for this one. Might do a homegrown

Butterfly, Elevator, Transition to Honey hole

This is what Eddie Cummings does. It is not easy, therefore difficult to duplicate, therefore difficult ot find training partners skilled enough with it to work counters against. Which may be part of the reason for Eddie's continued success, and a dearth of other people duplicating it.

You need to be able to perform a proper butterfly sweep. If sweeping to your L, you MUST be able to come up on your L toes as you elevate with your R leg, and pull your L elbow behind you so you roll onto your L side and L ear rather than onto your back.

Preparatory drills:
  • Practice the sweep without a partner, to the point where you can balance on your L toes, L ear, and outside of your L elbow.
  • Your L foot is at 12:00. Do the sweep drill as above, but at the apex, hop your L foot to 1:00. Try again taking it to 2:00, then 3:00.

So now, with a partner, butterfly guard. Get a R underhook, grab his belt. Don't bother catching his R arm as you would for the normal sweep. Sweep him to the L come up on the toes. You want to elevate him with the top of your R shin, not the ankle. At the apex of the sweep, He should be posting out with both hands, avoiding the sweep. Hop your L foot far enough out toward 3:00 that it is outside his L leg. Drive your L knee in and behind his, rolling back to the R and onto your R side. Grab his L knee with your L hand and finish in the Honey Hole.

He may try to keep his legs together to avoid the butterfly sweep. This makes trapping the L leg much easier and is proably a good addition to the learning progression.

Below are two L-O-N-G but pretty good breakdowns of Eddie's strategy (11 and 20+ minutes respectively). He is performing these against skilled and successful leglock guys, so it is about as legit as it gets.


After the Backstep, it is possible to either overhook the L leg, turn onto the R hip and go to the Honey Hole, or underhook the L leg, turn onto the L hip, and secure a legbar. This applies to many Honey Hole setups. Certainly to Kani Basami.

Training Partners

You want to train successfully. So you want to be the person that everyone wants to roll with. Be engaged and respectful with your partner. No matter how good you are, there is never an excuse to be disrespectful or contemptuous. Thank your partner, tell them you enjoyed training with them, after the roll and then when leaving the gym. Lie if necessary.

Inside Trip

Somehow this came up. Train it by having your partner stand, elbows by his sides, forearms held horizontal, pointing forward. Hold onto his forearms near the elbows and practice dropping your R knee to where your R footprint was, internally rotating the hip so the shin points out to the R as the knee contacts the floor. Repeat.

The takedown itself comes from a clinch with a R overhook and L underhook. Step between his legs with your R footprint, drop your R knee to the R footprint,your R shin going out to the R behind his L leg. Grab his R leg with your L hand behind the knee. Drive forward and complete the takedown.

Terminology Redux

John calls the position with his R leg in your L armpit "ouside", the position with his L leg in your L armpit "inside". But ...

Inside control from the standing grapple has both my arms inside his. Hence, Inside.

When blocking a punch, I can stay inside and then have to deal with his other hand. Or move to the outside, the blindside. I am outside his arms, he is outside mine.

If I have closed guard, I am inside his legs, am I not? Were I to break his ankle grip from there and take a foot without pushing it across my body or anything else, I have outside leg control, according to John. But I am still inside his legs, aren't I? My body is next to the inside of his leg, is it not?

If I leg drag him from here and get out from between his legs, I am outside both his legs, am I not? But John calls that inside leg control.

This ain't over ...

John is right about terminology, in all seriousness. There's inside and outside ashi (and irimi ashi), inside and outside leg control, and also topside/upside and downside. Some standardisation would be helpful, though perhaps improbable in the Jiu Jitsu universe.

John even got the T shirt!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Stanley Tam Qigong Seminar 25 Feb 2017

The seminar was hosted by Joe Worthington of Jungle Brothers Movement.

Qi can be thought of as bioelectrical / magnetic energy.

Stan dispensing the knowledge

Check Stan out on Facebook and the web

Five Aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine

  1. Acupuncture
  2. Herbalism
  3. Moxibustion
  4. Bian Stones 
  5. Qigong, Massage, etc.

Only Qigong is a solo practice. Also known as Daoyin.

External exercise - Jiu Jitsu, Martial Arts, Weight Training, etc. depletes energy.

Internal exercise / Qigong is like recharging a battery.

Qigong is of two types:

Static - both standing and seated

Big 3 Foundational Principles

  1. Regulating the Body
  2. Regulating the Breath
  3. Regulating the Mind

Regulating the Body

Bowling ball posture - feet shoulder width apart, tilt the bottom of the pelvis forward and bend the knees slightly. Knees should not go in front of the toes. Hold the hands near the waist as if you are holding an imaginary bowling ball. Over time, you may begin to "feel" a ball of energy and your fingers begin to tingle as the qi flows.

Shaking/bouncing - from the centre, not the legs
Twisting - fast, arms loose
Twisting two - slap lower back and chest with alternate hands as you twist to each side
Bend from the waist and shake alternate arms downwards - centre, left and right

A video demonstrating these appears below.

Regulating the Breath

Sleeping posture - lie on the back, feet drawn up, let knees fall out to the side in a butterfly position. Hands have fingers interlaced and rest on the belly / Tan tien. Can also have arms overhead to reduce anxiety.

Sleeping on the side - Sleep on right side, so the heart is on the upside and not smothered by other organs' weight. Knees are not stacked.

The yoga Child Pose (Balasana) with outstretched arms can be adopted immediately after waking if you are feeling fatigued or otherwise out of sorts on waking. Hold for up to 10 minutes. Also a good posture for upper back mobility.

Child Pose (Balasana)

Seated Meditation and Breathing

A small cushion to sit on is recommended to make the posture easier and help stop you rounding the back.

Place one heel directly in front of the perineum (between anus and genitals). The Kegel exercise targets this part of the anatomy. It is believed that Qi will leak from here unless the heel is there to block it. The other heel goes directly in front of that foot. The posture is Siddhasana in Yoga (the Adept's Pose). As in the image below, though the hand position is different.


Move the butt back on the cushion so you have a very slight forward lean. This will help prevent rounding your back from fatigue.

Place your thumb on your palm the pad of your thumb touching the palm just below the ring finger. Close the fist around the thumb lightly but completely. Rest each upturned fist on the corresponding knee.

From here, clench the fist over the thumb

Types of Breathing

In all cases we try to breath using the diaphragm, and not the clavicular muscles. You should be able to "breathe into the kidneys" so the breath expands the lower ribs and abdomen out to the sides and rear.

Regular breathing - as you inhale, deep into the lower lobes of the lungs, allow the abdomen to expand out. As you exhale, the abdomen comes in.

Reverse breathing - as you inhale, pull the abdomen in, and lift the perineum and anus up. Hold this position briefly, everything drawn in and up (rising). Relax as you exhale and allow the abdomen to expand out, sinking into the abdomen.

Combination breathing - inhale into the upper chest, pulling in the abdomen and pelvic floor. Hold, relax and transfer the breath down sinking down into the lower lobes of the lungs as the abdomen goes out. Exhale. Like a see saw.

In general, static qigong uses regular breathing, moving qigong uses reverse breathing. But you can practice both styles either way.

We performed an exercise for the lung meridian (see videos below)

Regulating the Mind

In Chinese Medicine, there is a concept of the Heart Mind. As if we had two brains, one in the head and the second in the solar plexus (where the is an anatomical nerve plexus).

We did a standing exercise where it was important to lift and inhale as we raised our arms up, twisting our shoulders one way and our pelvis the other, so the nexus of the twist was in the spine at solar plexus level. To be honest I can't remember this that well and probably conflated it with the third qigong exercise in the videos below.

We sit, as for seated breath meditation above, and perform the "turtle breath", tilting out heads far back so ass to engage the traps as we inhale and imagine breathing in white smoke or white light. Then we take our head forward as we exhale all our worry, stress, fear and negativity.

Internal Exercise has been described as working IN, not working out.

Internal exercise left column, external right

Wim Hof's methods have a different purpose than does Qigong. Adrenalizing the body to withstand extreme cold or other stress. Impressive as hell, but for different goals than those of Qigong.

Eastern philosophy is about experiential thinking, seeing for yourself.

Western philosophy is more logic and theory.

Videos and Qigong Exercises

Most of these videos were taken the day after the seminar. Obviously, I had just learned the exercises and have much practice to undertake. Use them to jog your memory, not as any sort of technical reference.

In general, inhale when the body extends or straightens, exhale when contracting or bending. There are exceptions to this rule which I try to elucidate below as necessary. Staying relaxed and keeping a flow going with the breath is better than tensing up to try to keep too "correct" a breathing pattern. It would be a mistake to take my breathing cadences in the descriptions as gospel. They are my best memories, and in some cases, guesses.

For some movements you must learn to "budget" your breath to match the movements, not breathing too fast or too slow. If you cannot sustain a particular breathing patter, because it takes too long, try speeding up the movement to match your breath capabilities.

Return to the bowling ball position between exercises.

Shake, Twist, etc. for Regulating the Body

Not sure the last one (bending) is quite right. 

Shake, rattle and roll

You hear breathing during the videos below, taken at Red Boat Wing Chun Global HQ. I don't think it's me, there are other people off camera doing "external" exercise (Jiu Jitsu) 😉

Exercise for the Lung Meridian

From the bowling ball position, inhale and lift your hands to the prayer position. (Exhale and?) push forward shoulder high, arms horizontal, leading with the fingers, getting a stretch across the upper thoracic spine. Inhale, open and stretch the arms to the sides, leading with the wrists. Hold the breath, clench the fists and tense the arms while outstretched. Slowly lower the arms, exhaling, while progressively relaxing shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers. Repeat. (In the video the final relaxation phase is done too early and too fast).

First Qigong Exercise

From the bowling ball position, Lower your hands to your sides, then inhale, raise them forward to shoulder level, arms and hands relaxed, leading with the wrists.

Still inhaling, open arms wide to the sides, leading with the wrists.

Exhale, bring the arms back in to the front, leading with the palm heels , no closer than shoulder width (otherwise you start to clench the pecs). Still exhaling, lower arms, palm heels leading, back next to your hips. Repeat.

You are "swimming in air", according to Stan.

Second Qigong Exercise - The Six Harmonies

From the bowling ball position, bring your fists up next to your hips.

Exhale, reach out forward with your open left hand, turning the body  and extending the shoulder into it, but not bending at the waist. Grasp an imaginary object and inhale, bringing the fist back to your side.

Repeat with the right hand.

Reach out with your left hand, exhaling, to the left side, grasp and inhale as you return. Your gaze follows your hand.

Repeat on the right side.

Turn to your left and reach back behind you with your left hand, exhaling, grasp, inhale and return, gaze following your hand.

Repeat on the right side.

Bring your left palm up in front of your face, as if you are a waiter offering a menu. The hand circles down toward the floor as you exhale, bend forward at the waist, and continues behind you and up until overhead as you inhale, straighten your body up again, continuing forward and down, exhale, bending at the waist until your hand nears your left foot. Now swing your left hand across towards your right foot, continuing over to the right and inhale, circling overhead as you straighten up, continuing out to your left side, exhaling, once again reaching and grasping an imaginary object. Inhaale and bring the fist back to the hip. So your arm first circles forward in the direction of the sagittal/medial plane, and then sideways the direction of the coronal/frontal plane.

Repeat on the right side.

Third Exercise - Press Up, Grab from the Earth

This exercise activates the Triple Warmer (San Jaio) and associated TCM internal structures.

From the bowling ball position, inhale and lift your forearms, palm side down, until your hands are level with your shoulders. At the same time, turn your shoulders about 45 degrees to the left, while trying to turn your pelvis, back the other way, so you are getting torsion in your spine centred around the solar plexus level. Continuing the movement, still inhaling,turn the palms over and press upward with the hands, to full extension, but not tense, keeping the twist. Now exhale, reverse the direction of the push, coming back down and pushing toward the floor, still keeping the twist to the left. As you reach the limit of your mobility (without strain), inhale and reach out with your hands and scoop up and imaginary double handful of good energy from the earth. Bring it back up to the bowling ball position.

Repeat on the other side, turning to the right.

Fourth Exercise - Waist Twist

Bowling ball position. Bring your palms up and cross your arms at the wrists, left hand on top. Inhale and push the hands out horizontally as far as you can without strain, then, still inhaling, open the arms out to the side. Without moving your feet or bending over, exhale and twist at the waist to look behind you, as your left hand moves down. until the back of the hand is resting on your lower spine at the level of your Tan Tien (a bit below the level of your belly button), and your the back of your right hand is out in front of your forehead. Unwind and return to the crucifix position, inhaling, and still inhaling, bring your elbows in to your sides, contract, bring the knees in, bending the wrists, to what Stan calls the "retarded duck" position. Exhale, open out to the crucifix position and then lower your arms to the bowling ball position.

Repeat pressing out with the right hand on top, and twisting to the right. Slight moment of indecision in the video as I struggle to remember which hand is on top.

Fifth Exercise - Teacup

I'm not sure my explanation will add much to the video itself. You will notice I had a small kerfuffle at the start deciding which hand should be on top. Also, the feet should be slightly wider apart for this exercise than the others, and the way I did it in the video.

This exercise is excellent for shoulder, elbow and wrist mobility. Visualise you are holding a Chinese teacup in the hand and endeavouring to do the entire movement without spilling any tea.


Perform 6 reps of each exercise. If pressed for time, can drop to 3 each of the longer ones. There isn't a lot of point doing more than 6 per session.

There was a closing sequence  - 3 lift arms sideways bring down in front, abdominal circles with folded hands on stomach, and some massage exercises as well. I need to revisit this with Stan when I get an opportunity.

UPDATE 28 Mar 2017 - Stan kindly made a video of the closing sequence at my request and uploaded it to Facebook.

Qigong Closing Sequence

Seminar group

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Steve Maxwell - Gracie Jiu Jitsu Core Concepts 11 Feb 2017

It was hot ... it was good

The seminar was held at Higher Jiu Jitsu, Woolloomooloo PCYC.

I arrived early, but not as early as Steve Maxwell, who was already on the mat doing his mobility workout.

It was an extremely hot day. I went up to Steve, shook his hand and asked the obvious Jiu Jitsu question on such a day - "Gi or no gi?".

"It's Jiu Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu is done in a gi", was Steve's response. Delivered with a smile.

This was pretty much an introductory lesson for absolute beginners. I don't try to include everything Steve went through below, only the points I felt salient to students with around six months or more experience.

Standing Up in Base

We first looked at standing up in base, also known as the technical standup. Key points are to bring the non-supporting foot right through behind you and ensure the stance you finish up in has both feet pointing in the same direction, ready for immediate follow up (retreat or engage). The free hand should be up protecting the face.

Sweet little girl demonstrates a solid technical standup. I would not straighten out the non-supporting leg before swinging it back, as demonstrated) but keep it in close. The extended leg gives an opponent the opportunity to grab or stomp on the extended ankle. I think Steve would concur. Excellent form otherwise.

Once the student has this wired, a partner should try and hold them down using pressure on the shoulder. This should not stop them from performing the technical standup.

Non Resistance

Resisting the opponent's movements by tensing up allows them to manipulate you too easily. Instead try to stay relaxed and try to use their efforts against them when the timing is right. At aa more advanced level this becomes what Kit Dale describes as formlessness. 

Some drills:

Stand relaxed facing your partner, feet parallel. Bring your hands shoulder height and bring your opposite hands together like a double high five. Your partner and you should try and push each other over while not moving your feet. Tense up, you'll lose for sure.

Both of you have your right foot forward so the outside edges of each of your right feet are close together. Each of you gets a grip on your partner's right wrist. Now try and pull each other off balance, without moving your feet. Keep the grip, don't let go.

Defense from the Ground against a Standing Opponent - Leg Kick, Stand up in Base, Step Back

You are sitting down, an attacker is closing in on you. Assume the preparatory position for the technical standup with one arm posted behind you, the sole of the opposite foot on the ground. As the attacker comes into range, lift your hips, stomp kick the closest shin, take the weight on both hands and bring both feet back away from the attacker as you standup, so you get as much distance as possible from him.

Stephan Kesting demonstrates. Steve Maxwell would have you put both hands on the ground as you do the standup to allow you to back up further as you stand. On the other hand, the method demonstrated still allows you one hand to protect the head. Try both. 

Inside control

Inside control as a principle is extremely important in grappling. The person who obtains inside control has the ability to control the other person's Centreline and centre of gravity. Place your hands on your partner's shoulders. He does the same but outside of your arms. Move your foot to the triangle foot position; his feet are parallel, one of yours is forward and on the line that goes between his. 

You should find it easy to push him back, but he should find it very hard to push you. You are the only one with access to leverage. You foot position also allows you to employ your front leg to throw him. He cannot lift a foot without losing balance.

Move your hands down onto his biceps, no thumbs. This will allow you to turn him and bend him sideways as well as push him backward, and pull him forward to some degree. 

From this position, practice taking him down by using your arms to rotate or bend his body. Lower your centre of gravity, and then pull or turn him toward the ground.

Defending against strikes from inside control

If you have proper inside control on his biceps, he should find it difficult to hit or headbutt you. A few drills:

If you feel him withdrawing his arm to break contact and straight punch. just follow his elbow with your hand.

If you feel him try to throw an uppercut or body hook with his R hand, guide his elbow across your body and point his arm away from you. You should be able to walk him around like this unless you break contact. It is an easy transition to a 2 on 1 from here.
He tries a hook to your head with his R hand. guide it overhead with your L hand and duck under. 

Either go to a body clinch, or: 

Get a seat belt grip by joining your hands over his L shoulder in a gable grip. Move around behind him until you are at a good angle to stomp kick behind his far (L) knee with your L foot, and take him down, possibly getting the back in a crouch position from where you can apply a RNC.

Side Headlock Escape

He tries to put you in a side headlock from your L. Move your hips in close to his and posture up hard, looking at the ceiling, so he cannot bend you down at the waist or neck.

Reach over his R arm with your L hand. Put it on his face (optional eye gouge) or R side of the jaw and push and twist his head back and away until his grip breaks. Push on his R hip with your other hand and spin him to your L, into a guillotine choke using your L arm around his neck.

Throat Grab Escapes

He grabs your throat or shoulders with both hands. Hands up, protecting your head. Step back with your R leg and weave your head to the R under his L arm and out, breaking the grip. Check his L elbow on the outside with your L hand so he cannot hit you with it. Strike him with your open hand (not fist. hand damage!) behind his left ear. get him in a 2 on 1. From where you could go to a guillotine.

The other option against one or two throat grips, is to hold his wrist(s) in place with with your hand(s) and step back out of the grip. 2 on 1, shoot, or plenty of other options from here, There are other options if your back is against a wall.

Mount Escape

Steve demonstrated his version of the bridge and roll escape. He gets a cross grip on the wrist, and blocks the foot on the same side with his shin. His concern from here is that the guy can slide the knee on that side up as he bridges to stop the roll. Grab the sleeve on the trapped arm above the elbow and pull down hard so as to torque his spine and put weight on that knee so it is difficult for him to slide it. Move your head out to the side away from the roll as you bridge and roll, which sets the angle of the roll so as to defeat his attempts to post with his free hand. Per Rickson's Invisible Jiu Jitsu.

When Rickson demonstrates, you watch

This was before the seminar. After, we would have been in a huge pool of sweat

Monday, February 13, 2017

Steve Maxwell - Integrated Breathing 11 Feb 2017

The Usual Suspects

The seminar was held at Higher Jiu Jitsu, at Woolloomooloo PCYC in Sydney.

The major problem most people have with breathing is that they tend to breathe using the top (clavicular) and middle (intercostal) chest muscles for the breath rather than breathing deep into the diaphragm.

This comes about from sitting for extended durations and staying still - like in a school classroom or at a desk job.

The muscles associated with breathing in the upper chest are designed for emergencies only - their overuse results in chronic stress, premature ageing, raised blood pressure, production of cortisol and under-oxygenation. Like a constant state of panic This results in poor health ... but also in poor performance and rapid gassing on the mat.

Proper breathing uses the diaphragm. The upper and middle chest should not move. On inhalation the belly should expand, but also the sides and back of the lower rib cage. Inhaling into the back this way allows for the creation of intra-abdominal pressure to form a sort of virtual weight belt to protect the lower spine during heavy exertion, like a standing guard pass or deadlift.

All inhalations should take place through the nose. Exhaling through the mouth or nose is OK, but mouth inhalation is a sign of poor breathing.

Clearing the Nasal Passages

Steve advocates a Neti Pot which allows you to rinse and cleanse your sinuses with warm, salty water. You need to follow care instructions to avoid possible infections or worse, though.

Another practice Steve advocates is massaging the inside of the nostrils by sticking two fingers up there. You can use sesame oil (Steve's favourite), coconut oil, even olive oil. It should be a natural vegateable oil, not supermarket cooking oil. Sesame oil is preferred due to its amino acid profile and compatibility with human biochemistry. Gently push the fingers up there aas far as you can to open up the nasal passages. Painful, but Steve says it really works well. He has broken his nose five times - not from doing this, but this has improved things significantly for him.

Learning to Breathe Diaphragmatically

Have a partner stand in front of you and place their fingers  on your collarbones. Breathe normally. If your partner feels your collarbones rise. you are breathing clavicularly, into the top lobes of the lungs, a practice we wish to avoid.

Keep breathing normally and have your partner place his fingers on your lower ribs at the sides. Intercostal breathing is indicated by your partner feeling the ribs move.

Have your partner stand beside you and place one hand on your abdomen near the belly button, the other hand on your back at about the same height. If you are breathing into the lower lobes of the lungs using the diaphragm, your partner will feel your stomach, and to a lesser extent your back, moving in and out with the breath.

We want to breathe from the diaphragm as much as possible, with as little involvement of the intercostal muscles and those of the upper chest as possible. I found my breathing was mostly diaphragmatic, with some intercostal. No movement of the clavicles or upper chest.
To practice correct breathing, lie prone (on your stomach). Put your elbows out to the side and rest your forehead on your hands, one hand atop the other. As you inhale, feel your stomach push into the mat.

Lie supine (face up), one hand on your stomach, one on your chest with the thumb and index finger resting lightly on your throat. As you breathe, you want the hand on the stomach to move a fair bit, the hand on the throat as little as possible.

The diaphragm should move out to the sides and back as well. Check this while standing by finding the iliac crests (bones at the top of the pelvis at your sides) with the ends of your index fingers. Find the bottom floating rib on each side with your thumbs. You should be able to feel the ribs expand with each inhalation. Move your fingers around toward the back and you should be able to feel the same movement.

Burst Breathing

This is the primary form of breathing for recovery. Fast inhalation through the nose and fast popping exhalation through the mouth, all done from the diaphragm. Best learned by standing against a wall an having a partner lightly punch you in the diaphragm (not solar plexus, but lower) repeatedly, forcing the exhalation, and going faster and faster, until you lose the rhythm, then starting over at a slower frequency.

Setting Benchmarks and Measuring Progress

Breaths per Minute

Set a timer for one minute. Breathe normally and count your breaths. I got 9.5. Below 10 is good, 20 or over you shouldn't do Jiu Jitsu and seek help. Rickson is reported to breathe 3-4 times per minute.

Control pause

Exhale completely. Pinch the nose with the thumb and index finger. Hold the exhale until you feel a strong urge to breathe.

This checks the efficiency of blood oxygenation at cellular level in the red blood cells. In my three trials I managed between 29 and 35 seconds. 30 is satisfactory, a minute or more is excellent. One guy went for about 1 minute 20 seconds.

Stress test

Walk in place, at 120 steps per minute for two minutes, lifting the feet at least six inches of the floor. Use a metronome app on your phone. Then exhale, pinch your nose as before, and see how long you can hold your breath. 30 seconds is satisfactory. I got about bang on.

This test evaauates your sensitivity to carbon dioxide buildup in the blood. Also a guide to the levels of Erythropoietin (EPO) in the blood, which governs redo blood cell production. THis type of breath training can positively affect your EPO levels resulting in greater endurance. EPO bacame infamous as a performance enhancing drug amongst professional cyclists, including Lance Armstrong.

The training can also affect Nitric Oxide levels, which will favorably increase nasal passage dilation and blood vessel dilation for endurance.

While training you wish to avoid the "Valsalva sync", usually betrayed by involuntary breaah holds, grunting and groaning while exerting oneself. The Valsalva sync and other involuntary breath holding spikes cortisol, blood pressure, and can result in premature ageing.

Holding one's breath voluntarily and mindfully can result in beneficial training effects. It is involuntary holding of the breath that we wish to avoid.

According to Steve, you shouldn't make much noise when training Jiu Jitsu. No snarls, screams, grunts, thumps, or slaps. Both the breathing and technique should be smooth and relaxed.

Breathing Drills

All the following can be lumped under the term "hypoxic training".

Breathing Ladders

This is the primary form of breathing for recovery. Fast inhalation through the nose and fast popping exhalation through the mouth, all done from the diaphragm. Best learned by standing against a wall an having a partner lightly punch you in the diaphragm (not solar plexus, but lower) repeatedly, forcing the exhalation, and going faster and faster, until you lose the rhythm, then starting over at a slower frequency.

Walk at a relaxed pace. Start by matching the breath with the steps:

Inhale - 1 step, exhale - 1 step. Do this for a specific interval or distance, then
Inhale - 2 steps, exhale 2 steps, for the same interval distance, then
Inhale - 3 steps, exhale 3 steps,
4, 5, 6 ... up to 10, 15, 20, ...

Keep good structure and relaxed posture. You should extend the inhalation and exhalation so that they last for the entire number of steps for that rung of the ladder. The hardest part is slowing down the inhalation rather than gulping the air in at the start. Think of taking little sniffs or sips of air.

If you lose control of the breath, do some burst breathing, and start over with a low number of steps per inhale/exhale.

Square Breathing

Similar to the above,  except the pattern is:

Inhale for 3 steps. Hold the inhalation for 3 steps. Breath out for 3 steps. Hold the exhalation for 3 steps. Repeat.

Then increase to 4 steps, 5, ...

There is also oblong breathing, where the length of the holds is different to the lengths of the inhale and exhale.

If you lose control of the breath, do some burst breathing, and start over with a low number of steps.

Breath hold ladders

From a fully relaxed state of breathing, breathe out and hold it while you walk for 10 steps. Recover the breath fully using burst breathing. Then go again, but this time for 20 steps. Recover fully. Then 25 steps, 30, 35, ...

When you can do no more with a held exhalation, try it by inhaling and holding the inhale as you walk. You should be able to go significantly further. I couldn't get past 40 steps on a held exhalation but got to 55 on a held inhalation.

You can do any of the above drills while running ... probably slow running.

Breathing to Overcome the Stretch Reflex

The stretch reflex occurs when you move toward the limits of your flexibility and your muscles automatically tighten to prevent injury. Sometimes the stretch reflex fires at times which can tear muscles, however, it is a blunt instrument.

Get into any stretch position you like, take it close to your limit until your muscles begin to tighten. Do burst breathing while tensing the muscle. Now relax and let all the air out with an audible sigh - Huuuh. You should find you fall a little deeper into the stretch. Tense and burst breathe in the increased stretch position and repeat. Keep going until you are unable to improve after three tense/relax cycles.

This mechanism can also be used to reduce the potential injury from jiu jitsu submissions.

Have a partner slowly put you in a gooseneck come along wrist lock. You will encounter a "startle" reflex when your limits are close and it becomes painful. Stay at the point and burst breathe to overcome the stretch reflex. The pain should reduce and the muscles relax.

This mechanism may be useful for giving that little bit of extra time to escape the submission ... or, more likely, to tap before you get injured.

Dogpile - Staying Calm Under Pressure

Groups of five, all about the same weight. One guy lies on his back, arms in a defensive posture. The first guy gets on top with a side control, weight ideally on bottom guy's lower chest. Other three pile atop him at different angles. The guy on the bottom should burst breathe into the diaphragm, little sniffs if necessary, feel the urge to panic but damp it down, and slowly but deliberately "move to where the weight isn't" and eventually escape out from underneath the pile.

NB - the guy directly on top of the bottom guy is just lying as dead weight, not trying to hold the bottom guy down.

Quite interesting - you DO feel a moment of panic from the pressure, but you CAN get out if you just stay calm and work centimeter by centimeter out from under. (if the guy panics, let him up, maybe try later with fewer guys on top. Probably not a great drill if you have a rib injury either.)

Under pressure

Emil Zatopek, the famous Czechoslovakian runner of the mid-twentieth century, used breath hold training extensively. He won the 5000 meters, 10000 meters, and the marathon at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952. He could reportedly run 200 meters on a single breath.

More Ladders

Exhale, hold the exhale. Drop softly, one knee at a time, to a kneeling position. Do a soft front breakfall. Roll onto your back. Kick the legs to sit up and do a technical standup to regain your feet. Recover the breath . Now exhale and hold, and run through the entire sequence twice on the held exhale. Recover the breath, then go for three. Then 4, 5, ... I got to 3, but no further.

Exhale and hold. Drop and do 1 pushup. regain your feet. Recover the breath. Do 1 full squat. Recover. Exhale. 2 pushups. Recover, exhale, 2 squats. 3,4.5 ... I got to 11.

Lying down. Exhale and hold. Lift both legs up and over behind the head to a yoga plough, return, now sit up and back down. Recover. Then try 2, 3, 4, ... leg raise / sit ups on a single held exhale.

Stanley Tam demonstrating the leg raise / situp breath hold ladder

You could follow a similar ladder with kettlebell swings, pushups alone, etc.

When you get past 10 swings or pushups, you might be better holding the inhalation rather than the exhalation.


The massagee lies prone (face down) with head turned to one side arms by the sides, insteps flat. The masseur stands on the person's feet, then moves up to calves, thighs, buttocks, back, can put a careful foot on the trapezius muscles, then down the shoulders, triceps, forearms and hands. May be best done next to a wall so the masseur can hold on to it for balance. The subject should burst breathe through any painful spots and try not to fight it.

Not sure I am a huge fan of this. It may grow on me.

Owwww ... Massage


There is more on breathing in my notes on Steve's 2015 seminar. Including a link to a video on some of the breathing ladders.

Steve has a video on a Breathing Control Workout on his website, in which he demonstrates some options for hypoxic training.

End of another great seminar ... host John Smallios to Steve's right