Saturday, August 19, 2017

Why you aren't a streetfighter ... and why you don't want to be

From "Taking It to the Street; Making Your Martial Art Street Effective" by Marc "Animal" MacYoung, Paladin Press, 1999

A lot of martial art instructors claim to be streetfighters. They brag about how their system is street proven. To listen to these people, you'd think they were real hardcore street savages. And to give them credit, they may have been bouncers and even brawlers. Still, that's a totally different league than streetfighters.

Simply stated, most martial art instructors who claim to have been streetfighters don't have the stink. 

There is a certain psychic odour that comes from growing up and living on the streets. It's a rot that comes from constant exposure to violence, death, alcoholism, drug addiction, sociopathic behaviour, poverty, sadism, and viciousness. It's reflected in a person's attitude, speech patterns, personal interactions, and how he looks at the world. It's a certain hardening of the spirit that comes from living years with the attitude "do unto others before they do unto you." Add to that the chronic paranoia of having spent years looking over your shoulder, lest someone you have wronged slithers out of the shadow you just passed with revenge on his mind.

When I say I was a streetfighter, it means that I was a vicious, self-centred, misbehaving, drunken, stoned thug among other vicious, self-centred, misbehaving, drunken, stoned thugs. We were the worst kind of savages. Man to man, mano a mano was bull. Numbers and weapons were always used to increase our odds whenever possible. Once you realise the other side could and would shoot back, you did everything in your power to make sure they never got the chance. You always stacked the deck in your favour. You hit first, and you hit hard enough to make sure he didn't get up. You ran as often as you hit, and you hit from behind as often as you could. Anyone who didn't play that way didn't last too long. The blood, the bullets, and the knives were real. In the streets, life and death were determined by whims, intoxicants, and sheer stupidity.

Being, or having been, a streetfighter is nothing to be proud of. Nor is it something you turn on and off. It's not a job that you go to and come home from. It's a way of life (and often death) and it's constant. It's living with being the hunter and the hunted every day and night. Knowing that the next corner you turn could end your life, you don't swagger boldly around it. You cautiously turn that corner.

It's not aggressiveness or how many people he's beat up that makes a streetfighter - that's just a sadistic brawler. Such people don't last long in the streets. A brawler goes into places, picks a fight, and then leaves the area to go back to a home far away from the trouble he caused.

Streetfighting isn't stomping someone and then contemptuously forgetting them like so many brawlers and bouncers do. It's spending two weeks after a conflict watching approaching cars lest a gun barrel comes poking out of a rolled down window. It's dashing wildly through alleys to escape six guys who suddenly jumped out of a car. Of course having  the guy you beat up waiting in the shadows with a baseball bat as you come out of a door is also loads of laughs to deal with. That is what being a streetfighter is about. It's surviving the aftermath of your actions when someone backs up on you on his terms, not yours.

There's a lot of pain and paranoia involved in being a streetfighter that the fakes don't know about. Standing over a friend's grave is a horrible experience. Spending your life always looking over your shoulder doesn't do your social graces any good. Waking up with the cops pounding on your door for what happened last nights really compounds the suffering of a hangover. Long nights spent in the emergency room because someone blindsided you with a beer bottle or scrubbing your friend's blood out of your car seat - these are the experiences of a streetfighter. The scars, both physical and psychic, stand out clearly. Trying to impress people by claiming to be one is like trying to impress people by claiming that you're a leper.

Most people I knew in the "Life" are now either dead, in prison, totally burned out courtesy of drugs or booze, or crippled because of a shadow with a shotgun. That's what happens to most "streetfighters". The few that do manage to escape know about the downside, and that's why they left. Even people who weren't players, but grew up in lousy neighbourhoods and fought their way out, have the stink. It stays with you forever. Someone who thinks going out and picking fights or working a few months as a bouncer in a local watering hole means he's a streetfighter is very much mistaken.

You can see why such a life would give someone a spiritual stink. I should know - that is how I was raised and that was the environment I operated in while running in the streets of Los Angeles. Even though I left it behind, the residue still remains with me to this day. It's taken me many long, hard years working to improve myself from that state, and I still don't have it down.

Oh, by the way, something I've noticed for you social climbers: One of the more interesting things about "civilised conversation" isn't so much what you talk about, but what it is you DON'T talk about. If a subject is discussed it's reached round about, you don't just blurt it out. That kind of directness is one of the marks of someone coming from the street, not someone with so-called class.

It's knowing the downside of the "life" that is the litmus test for telling ex-streetfighters from wannabees. Basically, you can see now why someone who brags about being a streetfighter isn't one. What's there to impress people with? "Hi! I'm a dysfunctional, intoxicated thug who hurts people unnecessarily ... what do you do for a living?" Gee, that goes over well at dinner parties.

In the same way that a lot of camp cooks suddenly became snipers when they returned from Vietnam, a whole lot of martial arts instructors became ex-streetfighters when they opened their schools. It's a marketing ploy. It sounds really good. It attracts students, and people who don't know the difference believe them - thinking that streetfighting and aggressive sports training regimes are the same thing. The problem is, it's not true. If you believe such a person in good faith, you are the one who will bleed to discover what he's teaching won't work in the real thing.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Plan for an "Introduction to Jiu Jitsu" Seminar

Introduction to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

BJJ is a style of grappling, developed in Brazil from a base of Japanese Jiu Jitsu, with elements added from other grappling arts over the years.

Excels in fighting on the ground, and especially off your back.

Sport and self defence aspects

You never want to go to the ground in a defence situation. Will you always have that choice?

Jiu Jitsu trains for worst case scenarios. On the ground, your attacker on top of you, trying to hurt/damage you, or choke/strangle/punch you unconscious. You must expect the worst and have strategies and tactics to deal with it, if you train for self defence.

Jiu Jitsu allows a spectrum of control and lethality, more so than striking arts. If you hit someone, you'd better hit hard enough to knock them out or hurt them, and be prepared to deal with an assault charge. Grappling has gradations. you may be able to defuse a minor situation via control with Jiu Jitsu. Though you can do real damage if necessary.

Bigger and stronger people are much more dangerous to you if they are on their feet and mobile. If you can put them on the floor, their size and strength matters less (though it still matters).

Wing Chun Strategy vs. Jiu Jitsu strategy

Wing Chun – bridge the gap, go to the blind side, control the elbows and knees, hit them until the threat is neutralised

Jiu Jitsu – take them down, achieve a position of control, move through successively better positions until you are in a place where you can apply a submission hold – choke or joint lock. Negotiate of possible, otherwise snap or nap.

Wing Chun blind side vs Jiu Jitsu inside control

Practical – standing self defence

Warm up, revision of ukemi (breakfalls)

Explore the principle of non-resistance with a couple of standing drills

Introduction to inside control
- try to push and be pushed
- bicep control, stopping a straight punch

- bicep control, stopping an uppercut or body hook
- against haymaker, bil sao to side clinch

- from side clinch, he goes to grab your head, duck out to get the back and spin takedown
- from side clinch, he squares up, bearhug takedown
- from side clinch, he steps behind, hip toss
- from side clinch, he tries to retreat, hook his leg and trip

Short break

Practical – ground defence

- Mount position
- your options from mount
- keeping the mount
- bridge and roll escape
- guard
- his options from guard, and yours
- basic pass to side control
- step over to mount
- basic circuit as a drill
- americana from mount
-drill RNC from sitting
- he tries to turn under mount and stand up
- side mount – gift wrap
- he turns to stomach, go to hooks in back control with underarm wrist control, break him down
- from there, rear naked choke (RNC). Drill first in isolation, then add to the mount / turn to stomach sequence.

Where to from here?

Evolutionary rather than traditional art
The role of competition in evolution
It goes on forever
How much does Wing Chun help?

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