Tuesday, November 13, 2018

True Story #15 - the Dragon Pole

I practice Wing Chun Kung Fu under the tutelage of Sifu Rick Spain.

Wing Chun is a pretty minimalist Kung Fu system. Its standard curriculum consists of three empty hand forms, then a set of techniques to be practised on a specialised wooden dummy, though they can also be done without it - "Air Dummy", like "Air Guitar", and finally, weapons forms.

There are two traditional Wing Chun weapons. One is a pair of knives, of length slightly shorter than your forearm with hooks on the handles, sometimes called Butterfly Swords. They allow for intricate twirling, slashing, stabbing, and blocking movements.

The other is a long, tapered pole with a brass ferrule at the business end, named the Dragon Pole. It can range from five to approximately thirteen feet in length. It is significantly heavier than the Japanese bo, or staff, and is generally held with both hands at one end, the stance and body acting as a counterbalance. It is used more like a spear, rather than the double ended Japanese weapon. Manipulating a pole of considerable weight is also seen as a good exercise for building the particular type of strength Wing Chun Kung Fu requires. I'll pass discussion of the veracity of that statement to those better educated in exercise science than I.

Rick Spain practising Dragon Pole techniques with the Dragon Mettle, a high tech metal staff, stick and pole training tool, developed by Sensei Russell de Lacey

Some Wing Chun systems have additional traditional weapons, such as throwing darts. But the swords and pole are the ones universally cited.

Neither is particularly practical as is, in twenty-first century Australia.

Carrying knives for self defence is illegal where I live, and pairs of blades around forty centimetres in length aren't exactly easy to conceal.

Unless you are very highly skilled, sharp butterfly swords are as much a danger to yourself as to anyone else, and most practice is done with unsharpened metal weapons, or those made of wood or hardened plastic.

Many of the techniques, if performed with sharp weapons, could result in you losing a hand, if you are not fully cognisant of what you are doing, and well practised. I know one highly skilled trainee who accidentally cut a finger tendon with sharpened butterfly swords and was unable to make a proper fist for the next twelve months.

A thirteen foot long pole isn't exactly easy to carry around either, especially if your commute  involves public transport, a bike, or a small car without roof racks.

The reason for this choice of weapons is that their techniques can be easily adapted to readily available improvised weaponry. In essence, short or long sticks. You might have a rolling pin and spatula in your kitchen drawer to defend yourself with using butterfly sword techniques. Or you can pick up a broom, mop or umbrella, and use dragon pole techniques against an attacker.

Several martial arts practitioners I know keep sticks and cudgels concealed in easy to access places in every room of their residences, in case of home invasions. One man's paranoia is another man's preparation, I guess. I will neither confirm nor deny.

A good length for a practice dragon pole is often stated as being from the ground to your outstretched finger tips, when you stand with one arm stretched vertically overhead. This is a practical length which allows for a pole of reasonable weight, and still allows you to practice with it in spaces smaller than aircraft hangars and sports stadiums.

Still, one needs to be careful. As I found out one day.

I came in about an hour before class to practice the Dragon Pole. It takes up a fair bit of room, and other students gave me plenty of that, once I started swinging that sucker around.

I went through quite a number of repetitions of the form, the entire sequence, and in bits and pieces. I felt I was slowly becoming one with the weapon, my movements, smooth, economical and precise.

Well ... only up to a point.

Just before class was due to start, I decide on one final run through, full power. One of the sequences involves the bon dao, a diagonal deflection used against an overhead strike, after which I swing the pole around on a large overhead circle, then striking directly down on my hapless imaginary opponent with what might be called a number twelve strike in Filipino martial arts.. 

I had performed this action several dozen times in the session without incident, and proceeded confidently through it this time, doing my best to add a little extra oomph! to my technique.

My overhead strike takes out a fluorescent tube. Shattered glass and powder go everywhere. Of course, I am barefoot. Everybody gasps.. 

Some buds help me as I rush around with broom, dustpan and brush, and newspaper, to clean up my mess in the final seconds before class start time. Clock's ticking, dude! We finish, line up, and bow on with not a second to spare. 

Sifu, Rick Spain, laughs. He asks me to take the warm up, still chuckling. I do so, reflecting on the virtue of humility.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Pedro Sauer Seminar 27 Oct 2018

The seminar was held at Higher Jiu Jitsu, in the City of Sydney PCYC, hosted as usual by Mestre Pedro's Sydney representative, John Smallios.

The seminar was pretty much all Pedro answering questions from seminar participants. While this blog describes "techniques", he would want them to be seen as particular manifestations of more fundamental and general concepts, that could be applied in a far wider range of situations.

A packed mat, as you would expect

Passing Closed Guard

We want to put the person whose closed guard we are passing in as difficult and uncomfortable a position as possible. Stretch him out. If his legs are pulled in tight, he has mechanical advantage. Make him long. he is now at a significant  mechanical disadvantage while trying to use his legs to move you around. Like the difference between bent leg knee raises and straight leg raises while hanging from a bar.
If we spread our knees wide, it is easy for him to pull us forward and break our posture. If we are in this posture, we will need to keep our arms in play to keep him from breaking us down. Ideally, we want our arms to be free, so we can attack, rather than have them occupied with keeping our posture. 

We should bring our knees closer together behind his butt or close enough to frame it ,and stop his pelvis coming under out centre of gravity. We control his hips, using our femurs to stretch his legs out, our knees to frame his hips. He should find it much harder, hopefully impossible, to pull us in with his legs. 

You can test this by sitting up straight on our heels and taking our hands up near our chest while he tries to pull us down. We roll our hips under in the posture to increase his difficulties. 

He could still take us sideways, we keep our knees narrow but spread our feet wider to stop that. We should be up on our toes, so the toes are engaged.

Pedro emphasised using skeletal alignment, or frames, to maintain and improve our position, rather than muscular strength and energy.

He talked about, and demonstrated, using both our upper and lower arms as distinct frames, rather than using the stiff arm as one big frame with gaps around it. Using "two pieces of wood", rather than one.

Inside his closed guard, you can control his femur both with the frame of your upper arm, shoulder to elbow, preventing him from moving it upward, and the lower arm, with your hand on his hip or rib cage and elbow pressing into his thigh to stop him pulling it back towards him. 

His black belt student Cam, from Singapore, showed how using your elbow below his knee as a frame, your humerus and his femur aligned, can stop him coming toward you as you move back to pressure his ankles open.

Once you have made him long and put pressure on his crossed ankle grip, you can use an elbow frame combined with the hip drop to open the legs. Then try and scoop that leg up. If he goes to heavy leg on that side, push the other leg down and bring up your knee on that side, ready for the knee through pass. He can try to heavy leg but he can't do it on both sides, and if you can't lift his leg, you can turn his hips and then look to pass over the leg that is low with your knee and shin.

When your path is blocked, don't fight against the obstacle but seek a different path.

Use your shin and elbow on the low leg to control his femur at the end of the lever. keep your elbow behind the leg while your shin is up, so he cannot get his knee under your elbow and thus lever it up and put his foot onto your hip. 

If he grabs your sleeve and pulls it towards him, that is the time to move with the pull get your knee to the floor in front of his leg and start driving through for the knee through pass. Keep that knee, shin and foot to the floor as you switch the other leg out to pass, so that he has no opportunity to catch your other leg in half guard.

Once you pass, consolidate your side control. Turn your toes out for maximum control if he is energetic. 

Do not rush to the mount. If you go to mount while he is flat, you run the risk of being bridged immediately. The best time to go to mount is after you have encouraged him to bridge.

If you place your knee on his stomach from side control (just moving the knee up, not going all the way to the knee on belly scoring position), this may trick him into bridging, giving you the opportunity to mount.

If while in side control, you are using a switched base toward his head (also called the modified scarf hold), take the far foot behind you and come up on its toes, thus making his attempts to slide a knee underneath your hips much more difficult.

Two finger grip the first two fingers are aligned with the forearm, not the others

Passing open guard

We always play the "dirty feet" game, doing our very best to stop him putting his feet on our hips, chest, or shoulders.

While approaching him, keep you elbows and knees together, to prevent him putting his feet on your hips, deflect with your hands to stop him putting his feet on your shoulders or biceps. You want to prevent him getting any kind of purchase whatsoever on your body with his feet. Grab his pants inside his knees and use your elbows to pry his shins apart and come between them. 

Try to get to where you can control his knees with yours from the inside. Carlos Machado talks of getting to a position where your belt knot is directly above his with good posture, during any standing pass. His leverages here are compromised. 

Try to underhook his legs with your elbows or press down his legs and use your shins to pressure his thighs. Eventually you want to get your hips past his leg frames so you are pressuring his hips with yours. Look to control his arms anytime the opportunity arises.

if he grips your sleeve or reaches for you, look for ways to exploit that. If he grips your sleeve, counter grip and move his arm out of the way of your pass, 

If you are controlling his R leg underneath with your L arm with his R leg on your shoulder, and he reaches for your R collar with his L hand, grab his R hand with your R and pin it to your chest/shoulder as you continue to pass under his R leg, pressuring with your hips and chest. This will result on an armbar of opportunity on his R arm. 

Use every attempt he makes to counter your pass as an opportunity to exploit by taking his arm out off the game, or counter attacking it. Don't necessarily fight off  grips and frames used against you, look for opportunities those grips present for you to exploit.

Aligning your elbow and knee and keeping them together can also work while consolidating the pass,

If you can get to him to face away during you have an opportunity to get his top collar from under his neck, to apply a variety of chokes - half nelson lapel, bow and arrow, etc.

The Two Finger Collar Grip

Pedro demonstrated how, from sitting back control, he likes to open the collar and turn it over to provide a better "handle" for extra control. 

From the seat belt / harness grip with your L arm going under his L armpit and R arm around his neck, use your L hand to open his L collar, allowing the space to zip your R thumb inside deep.

If you use the regular grip using the thumb on one side and all four fingers on the other, say with the R hand on L collar, when the opponent grips the collar below your R hand with one or both of his and pulls it out to your L, to strip the grip. The force of the strip hits your little/pinkie finger first, then the ring finger, and it seems that this progressively weakens the grip of the hand - presumably the interplay of the fingers as controlled by the nervous system causes them to fire or weaken as a group.

Instead, try gripping the lapel with the thumb inside, and only the index and middle fingers gripping the lapel on the outside. You should still curl all your fingers into a tight fist, only with the lapel under the index and middle fingers, passes between the middle and ring fingers, with the ring and pinkie now inside the lapel.

Pedro explained that if you look at your hand from above, the index and pinkie fingers align with your forearm, while the other two are slightly offline. A training partner pointed out that the tendons controlling the index and middle fingers are on the radial side of the forearm, while the others are not.

I'd really need to consult someone with a strong anatomical background to take this discussion much further. Suffice to say that in experimentation, the two finger grip is significantly more difficult to strip than the more conventional one.

I am not sure how far this goes, e.g. whether it will make all chokes using that grip more or less effective, whether it can be effectively applied to cuff grips, etc. That is left as an exercise for the reader (and the writer, for that matter). 

Regular (top) and Two Finger (bottom) collar grip

Escaping Front Control / North South

He is on your R side, with his L arm under your head and his R arm under your L elbow.  You block his L hip with your R elbow, to stop him coming around to front control. Use the elbow and lay your hand on his back to use the frame of your upper arm, rather than trying to use the forearm and muscular strength, which he can fairly easily crush with bodyweight.

Arm and shoulder strength will not be enough to stop him moving around to front control. Instead, use your legs to follow his movement by scooting sideways, clockwise, your R hip following his L. You legs are doing the work, not your arm.

Also, experiment with bringing your legs up and crunching slightly, to get your head and hips slightly off the ground, presenting a small surface area to the mat so you can spin easily and thus you get pushed around by his movement to follow him. 

If you stay flat, you entire back is on the ground, and friction is greatly increased. He can then get sufficient purchase to lever your arm out of the way with his hip 

We are looking to reduce mat friction, but more importantly not relying on the elbow in his hip as the sole means of stopping him coming around but allowing our body to follow his. From our perspective, we want it to require less force for him to spin us thna it does for him to remove the frame of our elbow.

He should eventually realise this isn't working,  and change hand positions so his R hand goes next to your L hip, thus stopping your hip from following his, as he tries to move to front control. 

Now, trap his R arm and elbow with your R arm and elbow and pin his R arm to you. He will probably also move his L elbow to the L side of your head, you can reach over his L arm with yours and  at least partially trap his L arm on that side as well.

AS he now moves around to front control, push back into him  the R, to get a reactive push back from him. With timing, use the force of his pushback and a bridge and roll him over to your L as your bodies align like a pencil.

There are quite a few subtleties with this move against higher level people. Against them and big guys. the fundamental strategy, as it is anywhere, is first to survive. Do not feel you have to compromise a safe position to escape for ego driven reasons. Wait in safety for your opportunity.

Butterfly sweep to Mount

Oscar Loudon complained that he could get the sweep to mount, but was often getting rolled immediately out of the mount and reversed.

As you sweep, and come to the mount, get the knee down first, then the foot with the toes pointing outward, heel to the mat. You want to try and finish in high mount, not low where he can bridge you easily.To prevent the elbow/knee escape, use your heel on the mat to track and control his knee, which is the end of the lever that is the femur. Dig the heel in, and lift the toes, which makes it much harder for him to slide his knee under your leg. Carlos Machado calls this "sinking the stirrups", and he uses it all over the place.

To avoid the mount situation entirely, it makes sense to hook sweep the guy into side control. rather than mount. Per John Will - If you are butterfly sweeping him to the R, as soon as he starts to fall, turn face down and get your L knee next to his torso, "building a wall". Flatten him out and wait for your opportunity to mount him, best time is when he bridges or tries to get his knee under.

This video of John Will gives some excellent reasons NOT to butterfly sweep direct to mount, but to go to side control instead. The relevant section is at about 05:00, but the whole video is well worth watching.

John Will and the Butterfly Sweep

Back Defence

We are sitting up, he has back control with two hooks in behind us.

As before, we want to do our best to compromise his position and its mechanical advantages. The best way to do this is to slide down towards his feet, this making him long once again, and also making ourselves more difficult to choke. Try and make ourselves heavy on him by getting on our heels and slightly lifting our hips.

From here, it will usually be reasonably easy to free one leg, say our R, by kicking our R leg straight. The hook should slide off and we can bring our R knee back inside his leg, and our knee to our elbow to stop him putting the hook back in.

It may be possible to remove the second L hook that way, but unlikely.What we should do here is fall on our L side, killing his left leg by putting our weight on it, turning face up and sliding our butt out to the L over his L leg. If he has the seat belt on, you should fall to the side where his arm is under your armpit as your weight can then trap his arm as well.

You can sit on his L leg to stop him crossing his R leg over it and trap your R leg in a form of half guard from the back. You could put either foot on his L shin as well. Slide your butt over his leg, perhaps blocking the outside of his shin with your L foot, as you slide your R knee under his L leg. Start turning towards him and come on top as you step your L foot right over both his legs. Come on top and triangle your legs around the bottom of his thighs in the Leg Mount Ride / Leg Clamp / Khabib Mount position.

Here's a video by my training bud, BJJ black belt and MMA fighter Sonny Brown giving a detailed breakdown of this position as used in MMA, and some BJJ:

 From here you probably want to move up to full mount and get your points and increase your submission options. If he pushes/frames on your back or side with stiff arms as you try to move on top of him and up to mount, do not push directly back into him - instead move up obliquely so that his arms must move up and over his head ot follow you, putting him at a mechanical disadvantage and removing the frame by changing the angle.

Once his arms are up and over his head, this gives you the opening to control them, and to move your knees one at a time up under his armpits to attain the high mount.

If he has his R thumb in your L collar in back control, looking to choke, but you manage to slide down and get your hips over his L leg, you cna work on escaping the choke by moving your hips out to the left and counter clockwise so that you are a bit less than a right angle to him. Try and get the point on the top and back of your head into the crook of his R elbow. 
Come up on your heels and lift your hips slightly so your weight is on him, making it harder for him to reset his choking arm. If you sit in the floor, he has  way more freedom to move. Lift those hips.

Turn your head to look at his face, and you should be able to slide your head under his arm and escape the choke, If your weight is on him as advised, that will make it easier for you to come on top in the likely ensuing scramble.

Freeing the head in back control

You should try to work your way out of his arm controls using small, conservative progressive mechanics, creating angles and space that perhaps you can dig an elbow into or slide a hand through to gradually improve your position. The most immediate threat is getting choked and that is your prime directive for survival. Try not to present him with armbar opportunities by keeping ypur elbows close.If you can clamp both his arms under your armpits, you are probably pretty safe. 


If you are stuck in a hold and feel your ear is folded over and likely to get mashed if you move, think (and survive!) for a second before you try to rip your head out. See if you can move your head of the other guys arm just enough to free that ear up before you continue working your way out. 

This is how Pedro has managed to train for fifty odd years without cauliflower ear.

Freeing the arm trapped from the back

Many people like to hook one of your arms with their leg whne they catch you in back control. This can make your defence more difficult and opens up different submission opportunities for them.

Trying to free your arm by moving it around, trying to get pull it out, will almost certainly never work against a competent opponent.

Instead, hide that arm by placing it against your side and the top of your thigh, so it effectively becomes part of your torso. Now you can lift your hip, kick your leg straight, and/or manipulate his foot so that your hip comes out in front of it, with your arm along for the ride.

Freeing the arm from back control

If he is in your Guard

Once again, let him start but don't let him finish. Anticipate and intercept. If he goes to push down on your leg to open your closed guard, open your guard and get your foot to his hip, shoulder or hooked under his leg before he has a chance to control your leg.

For your long term benefit, get comfortable with opening up your closed guard and play using your legs. A pretty old Jiu Jitsu maxim is that it should be you, not him, that opens your closed guard. look for the opportunities his movements present to use your legs and feet as controls, or to set up attacks of your own.

Learn to get good at guard by playing this way,

Leg Locks and their Counters

As with most things, it is much easier to escape by doing so before the control is fully established. Rather than concentrating on escaping, and thus perhaps injuring yourself by using strength and speed, try to undo the control instead, but opening the legs, knees apart, or pushing the control down below the knee line. If Cyborg Abreu decided to tap to Gordon Ryan's heel hook rather than try to roll and thrash around when he knew he was caught, you probably should too.

Pedro advocated developing an accomplished guard game before trying too many footlocks. However, this was the same advice given to me way back when I was a white belt, and a long time before the Danaher Death Squad, Craig Jones, etc. At least get good at fundamentals before becoming a leglock specialist, or any other type of specialist for that matter.

A few other videos featuring Pedro Sauer from other Australian seminars:


Standing posture

Defending the guard


Pedro talked about training with longevity in mind. The importance of a playful attitude and developing sound technique using frames, levers and proper posture and structure rather than muscular strength.

First, survive. Survival before escape. Survive until the opportunity to escape is presented. This is a fundamental them of Saulo Ribiero's Jiu Jitsu University book as well.

A roll is like a negotiation or deal - you take what he gives you and do with it what you can. Timing is paramount - you don't try to escape while he is controlling you, you escape while he is attacking or transitioning. A white belt will probably make less advantageous deals, but blue and purple belts should be rolling as if trading and negotiating.

Let him start, but don't let him finish. Use his grips, defences and attacks, not so much as threats to be fought against, but as potential opportunities to advance your own position and goals. Whne you encounter obstacles and roadblocks, not opposing them directly but looking to see what toher paths may be open or what opportunities the obstacle may present.

It's difficult for beginner and intermediate practitioners to cultivate such an attitude when many such attempts will probably fail, but the mat culture should be structured so as to allow trail and error without undue punishment for failure. 

Jiu Jitsu should help you develop confidence and ways of dealing and negotiating effectively with others from a confident position, both on and off the mat. How to proceed in a deliberate and stepwise fashion toward your goals, to develop and employ strategies, and so on. This is obviously a huge subject, but one you should definitely consider. You spend so much time on this, it seems only sensible to try and leverage it into other areas of your life.

L to R: Andrew Nerlich, Dave Badlan, Mestre Pedro Sauer, and our HJJ host John Smallios

Sunday, October 07, 2018

John Will Seminar 7 Oct 2018 - Advanced Crucifix

The seminar was held at Rick Spain's Red Boat Wing Chun Academy in Redfern.

The crucifix is a variant of back control, with one arm trapped by your legs. The essence of back control is to keep your chest glued to your training partner's back, and it applies equally here.

This seminar assumed a basic knowledge of the crucifix. An earlier seminar we took with John in 2013 covered more fundamental aspects of the position.

29th September 2013 - Crucifix Control

IMPORTANT: John no longer recommends the common setup where you trap the guy's near arm with your leg from side/back control and roll forward over his back. He has seen or heard of several neck injuries from heads being driven into the mat when partners reacted too violently. Plus it is usually less effort to pull them back toward you once the controls are secured.

John Will and Sean Kirkwood demonstrate the Crucifix position

The Hunter's Drill

We hunt the crucifix position and when our partner tries to escape, we hunt and reclaim it again.

Crucifix Entry from Head to Head

We sprawl on him and get a front headlock, our R arm around his neck and our L arm around his R armpit and neck. We come up on our toes and drive him back, pushing his butt onto his heels and we stand up, until our hands touch our L knee. Drive into him, don't pull him toward us.

We push our L knee between his R arm and his torso, trapping pinching his R upper arm between our legs. We turn slightly to our R. We change our grips on his upper body so our L arm goes under his L armpit from the back, our R arm around his neck. The L hand grabs his R wrist, so we have the same grips as if we had a seat belt grip from IBJJF-sanctioned back control.

We step our L foot slightly in front of our R foot, then sit/fall down onto our left side, so his R arm is trapped between our legs and our arms encircle his head and L arm. The position of John and Sean Kirkwood on the photo above is the position we want, but on the other side.

The Hunter's Drill Itself

He will want to escape as he would from back control, by getting his back and shoulders on the ground, sliding down onto the mat toward his feet.

As soon as we realise we are losing the position, we change to a kimura grip on his L hand. Our R arm comes across his face so we no longer encircle his head, and we grab his L wrist with our R hand and our own R wrist with our L hand under his L arm.

He frees his R arm from our legs (for the drill, let him do it!) and turns L to his knees. We also turn L to our knees, keeping our grips, So we are kneeling next to him on his L. This position is called the "Kimura Dogfight". We post our head on the ground, keeping the kimura grip, come up on our toes and walk toward our head, this lifting our hips, so we can post on our head and jump over him to his R side. Come up on our R foot and put our weight toward our L hip, so we can snag his R arm behind our R shin and knee, Change our upper body grips to a seat belt, going under his L armpit, as before.

Fall to our L now and we are back in the same crucifix position.


(iI may be possible or sometimes desirable to get the seat belt grip again before snagging the leg after you have jumped over. I need to experiment with this.)

With the seat belt, we generally grab the wirst of the arm around the neck with the other hand, the one under the armpit. If he tries to strip our grip he will peel off the top armpit hand, and we go directly for the choke with the other. If our hands were the other way round and he peels the top, choking, neck hnad off, we do not have that option.

Crucifix Entry from Side Control

We have side control on his R side. His hands are up, protecting the neck, elbows in.

We switch base towards his head, to switchbase side control, our R arm under his L. Our L hand slides between his R forearm and chest, and grips his R shoulder, thus starting to separate his arm from his torso. Use our L elbow to pry his R hand further away from his chest. Our L leg sweeps up and over his face and snags his R arm, dragging it away to our L, so we can pinch it between both our knees and push them and his arm to the mat.

Reach over our L leg and grab the sleeve of his R arm, pinched under our L knee.Move our L foot above our R shin and post it around his shoulder level. Our R fist posts next to his L hip.

We push up on our R hand and L foot, swinging our R knee to meet our R wrist, in a knee ride position, still gripping his R sleeve with our L hand so his R arm is under our L leg.

We grab his R collar with our R hand, and hoist him up to a sitting position. We turn slightly to our R, pinching his R arm between our legs, similar to the first technique. As before we get a seat belt grip on his back, our L arm underhooking his. We sit/fall back to the crucifix as before.

John said he uses this method, sweeping the knee backward, to get kneeride from side control almost exclusively these days. The standard way of just jumping straight up from side control gives a quick player on the bottom too much opportunity to get his knee in and go to guard while you're trying to get your knee in.

First Choke

In setting up any choke from the seat belt, we want to start by pulling the choking arm in tight, before we release the seat belt grip. So from the crucifix position with his R arm trapped and the seat belt grip we have achieved, pull with our L hand and drive our R forearm in under his chin and into his throat. This will prevent him being able to drop his chin to his chest and foil our subsequent choking moves.

Turn on our L side, and use the L arm to open his L collar and get a deep grip on it with our R, thumb inside.

Now we do two things at once:

  1. Slide our hips underneath his shoulders, going towards flat on our back again. You will need to post on your feet at least a little to do this.
  2. Move your L arm out in a wide arc, snagging his L elbow, ending up with our L hand grabbing the back of our head, this effectively trapping his L arm.

We should end up close to flat on our back - not so far that he could backward roll and escape.

From here, we just pull our R elbow to the mat for a strong choke.

snag the throat - turn on your side   - get a deep grip - Slide hips under him and snag his arm so you are flat on your back - pull elbow to the ground

Enhanced Choke

This is an enhanced version of the choke that makes any escape far more difficult. However, we MUST have a DEEP collar grip first. Otherwise, failure is an option, and a likely one.

We set up the deep collar grip with our R hand, thumb inside, as above.

This time, we move our hips so they are next to his, our L hip up against his R. We take our L leg over the top of his R leg, and hook out L instep under his R calf or Achilles tendon. We use this grapevine-style hook to lift his R foot off the mat, so he cannot bridge or post with it. Our R foot goes under his R hip.

We do not need to trap his L arm like before, we can just grip his L shoulder from behind.

We choke him pretty much the same way.

Our hips next to his makes it much harder for him to free his R arm from our leg control, or to bridge and roll backward, etc.

Upstream / Downstream

The above techniques all result in us landing in the crucifix with the arm trapped by our legs pointing "upstream", with the top leg (in the cases above, our R leg) hooking his arm and his hand more or less pointing toward his head, like an Americana.

It is also possible for us to trap his arm using the bottom leg (for the above, the L leg) with his hand pointing more toward his feet, like a Kimura. This we call the "downstream" control.

Both allow us to apply different submissions. In particular, the downstream configuration frees up our top leg to allow us to employ it for submissions without losing the arm.

Sorry, this was irresistible - but you too can be the Puppet Master with these Crucifix techniques ;)

Entry to Downstream

From Head to Head, he shoots at your legs. You sprawl to avoid the takedown. You move up on him slightly and get a "butt seatbelt" grip around his R leg and hip - your L arm goes under hi groin, the R arm over his butt - your R arm in line with his intergluteal cleft, or in more common parlance, his butt crack. John's words!

Slide your R knee in under his L elbow, R knee going between his L elbow and knee, as you use the grip around his R hip to pull and roll him toward you onto his L side. Your R shin hooks over his L elbow to trap his arm, as you hold it down under the outside of your R knee on the mat .

You now have a crucifix, except this time you are controlling his arm with your bottom leg and controlling his hip instead. It should be fairly easy to slip your L elbow over his R arm, controlling it under your L armpit.

Hell Choke - Jigoku Jime

From the position you are in, reach over and grab his L far collar with your L hand, thumb inside, palm down. Your L leg comes over his head and hooks his R ear in the crook of your L knee. Your R leg still has L arm trapped. You can grab his pants at the R knee or underhook his R leg with your R hand for extra control, which is always a good idea. Choke him by pushing his head away with your L leg wihile pulling his L collar toward you with your L hand. This is a very strong choke. It does not require a deep grip with the L hand and will work with more stretchy material like a T shirt just fine.

As John pointed out, it is ironic that a Hell Choke comes from a crucifix position.

Judo version of both upstream and downstream versions of the Hell Choke (Jigoku-Jime). With a different setup.


We need options when our partner starts to escape, and we start to lose the position. We need a Zen attitude here, where over attachment to a position can result in our downfall. A time to kill, a time to heal.

A time to hold, a time to transition.

To everything there is a season

We have the crucifix and seat belt control, his R arm trapped. He starts to shimmy down toward his feet, trying to get his shoulders on the mat and escape.

We transition to the kimura grip on his L arm as for the Hunter's Drill above.


"Float" his elbow by getting your L elbow/forearm underneath it, so it is "floating" off the mat.

Hip escape away from him and turn face down, feet behind you so you are 180 degrees to him , driving your R elbow to the mat. He is flat on his back. Your R hip should be next to his L ear. You never release the kimura grips. Move forward and try to snag his shoulder with the bottom of your rib cage. flatten out and sink into the mat, applying kimura pressure to his elbow and shoulder. This may be enough for a tap.

If not, we move around to side control on his R side and apply the top kimura proper. Key points - Our R hip is dropped to the ground and our R leg stretched back as far as possible to stop him sitting up and rolling us. We step over his head with our L leg with our foot on the ground, which also stops him sitting up, but its main purposes is as an engine to drive him up on his R side enough so we can crank his arm without the ground getting in the way.


He starts to escape, we get the kimura grip as before. He manages to turn away from us and get up on his L elbow.

We keep the kimura grip. We slide our L knee through the gap he has made between his elbow, his chest, and the mat. Our R leg goes over his head, and pulls it back to our R to the mat. We drive our L knee and hips under him and up, turning onto our back and into an armbar position.

Whether we want to bring our R leg out and over his body for the arm bar or leave it where it is depends on a number of factors.

If we do want to take it over, the safest way is to keep out knees pinched and take them to our R toward his head, this keeping his arm tightly controlled. this allows the foot to come out so we can take it to the far side of his torso without compromising our control.

Kimura Dogfight and Crucifix on the Other side

He starts to escape, we get the kimura grip. This time he manages to turn to his L all the way to his knees. We follow him turning L to our knees. keeping our grips, as per the Hunter's drill.

Now we post our R knee on his L thigh, in a sort of mini knee ride, giving us enough room to stuff his arm between our legs, catching it in a downstream position.

We get a seatbelt grip on his back, but on the other side, our R arm under his R armpit and L arm around his neck, our R hand gripping our L wrist,

We pivot on our knees, taking our feet clockwise as far out to the left as we can, keeping his L arm trapped. We fall onto our R hip, ending up in a downstream crucifix, his L arm trapped.

"Desert Island" Drill

It should be apparent that this gives the opportunity a different take on the first, Hunter's Drill. From here, he could start escaping, we get the kimura grip on the other side, go to the kimura dogfight with him, stuff the arm, and end up in another crucifix on the original side.

We could mix the two drills up, getting crucifixes and drilling on both sides, interspersing upstream and downstream.

John talked of his project to devise such drills for every position family in Jiu Jitsu, so that one could devise the entire panthen of Jiu Jitsu systems from those drills. If you were trapped on a desert island with no instructor (though presumably, with other people to train with).

Other Links

29th September 2013 - Crucifix Control
 - mentioned above, more fundamental material.

11 Nov 2017 - Pirate Grip, Russian Tie - has an entry to the crucifix from the Russian Tie when he is turtled near the end. Can be started from your guard.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Dave Camarillo 21 Sep 2018

The seminar was held at Higher Jiu Jitsu, in the City of Sydney PCYC, hosted by head instructor John Smallios.

The seminar was no gi. The techniques are equally applicable to gi, MMA, and possibly self defense or law enforcement arrest techniques.

Warm up Games and Drills

Start from a wrestling crouch. Attempt to touch your partner's knee with your hand and not get tapped yourself, while he attempts to do the same and stop you tapping his knee. If you get tapped, do a pushup.

Switch it up so everyone in the room is trying to tap everyone else's knee.

Same starting position, look to get a two handed grip on one of his wrists, then get your head in a good control position under the side of his jaw and drive him around for a few moments. Reset.

Same as above, but try to get an arm drag position, with the other hand controlling his wrist. Same head position as above.

A drill, no resistance from your partner - arm drag, to two on one,  shoulder pressure and turn to front headlock, drive him down so at least one of his hands is on the floor, turn and take his back. Swap.

Guard passing and/while pinning

All passes should end up in a pin. Dave's system does its best to allow us to pin our opponent all the way through the pass.

Three fundamental concepts to understand are:

  • The elbow line
  • The knee line
  • The battle zone

The battle zone is the area between the opponent's elbow, knee and hip on the side to which you are trying to pass. So your objective, for example when passing to his R or trying to maintain side control there, is to occupy the space between his R knee, hip, and elbow.

In these passes, we stay low, and try to keep the opponent pinned with pressure, and when possible, grips, as much as possible throughout the movements.

Passing Half Guard, with no Knee Shield

We apply "OCD of the knee." Both the bottom and top guys should be obsessed with occupying the battle zone with our knee.

He has our R leg in half guard. We should go straight for a far side underhook on his L arm with ouR R. Our head is posted on the mat next to his R ear, looking out to our L, driving our head into his, bending his neck to his L. Our L foot is out to the L. We are keeping our R hip low as possible so as to turn him on his R side with his R knee on the mat.

We control his bottom R knee with either our L hand, or if we have the flexibility, our L foot, holding it place so he cannot follow our R knee as we move it toward his head.

We free our R knee from his half guard, by tripoding up on our R toes, lifting the hips, holding his R knee in place as we extract our knee from his guard. As soon as we can, we drop our R knee over his R thigh, thus using it to occupy the battlezone. We do not take our head from the mat or loosen our far side underhook at any time, we stay as low as possible.

Once the knee occupies the battlezone, we can stop holding his knee in place with our L hand or foot. We drag his R elbow out from his body with our L hand and get an underhook on his R arm with our L. We join our hands in S, butterfly or gable grip under the base of his neck, flaring our elbows out to separate his arms from his torso.

Use our L foot on his top R knee to push it toward his feet and free our R foot.

We move to side control, short base, hiding our R foot. We move back/down slightly to lower our base even more and increase the pinning pressure. Our head stays next to the R side of his head.

As he moves to try and create space to escape, we must similar move to reclaim that space. If he moves his hips away to our R, rein him back in by clinching hard with the R elbow, and chasing down his hip with or R knee, driven from our toes.

If he manages to recover half guard at any stage, or later on, repeat the process. If our position gets compromised at any stage setting up the pass, back out and reset.

Passing Butterfly Guard, using the Tackle Pass

We start learning the pass in a position where he is on his back. We are on our feet. His shins are inside our thighs and we are in effect sitting on his shins. Stay upright so as not to give him gripping opportunities on our upper body.

We sit/push down on him using our bodyweight. hoping to get him to react by kicking us off using his shins. As he kicks, we straighten our legs and lift our hips, while "diving" forward over his knees, wrapping our arms around his thighs above his knees, like a rugby tackle. The grip Dave uses is one hand grabbing the other forearm, like an anaconda choke or guillotine.

Our head goes next to his R hip as we switch off to our R, twisting our torso to the R, driving our R shoulder into his abdomen or hips, pinching the grip by pulling our elbows in. We should be facing his knees.

Get our L knee under his knees, and his it to drive his legs out to our L, his R, flattening his torso out, but with his legs twisted to our L we can now hunt with our arms for the double underhook pin position we used in the first pass.

We could also drive his legs further still with our L knee until his R knee is on the mat, and drive our L knee between his thighs to achieve the classic leg drag pass position. From here we could pass, or fairly easily sit back to the Irimi Ashi Garami position (John Danaher's terminology, check Google) and start working your heel hook game.

Passing Z guard with the Tackle Pass

Z guard is half guard with a knee shield. Assume he has our R leg caught again. Our starting position for the pass is to be upright. We do not put any pressure on his knee shield. We should already eave our knee up and over his bottom R thigh, fairly close to the groin, because we also want to grab his R knee from underneath with our L hand. Grabbing the knee both prevents him getting a base from which to do a technical standup or slide backward to bail out of Z guard, and will allow us to get our arm underneath him and encircle his legs when we go for the pass.

We stand, lift our hips and "dive" over his knee shield as before, our arms encircling his legs. Once we have the grip, over his thighs, we sprawl hard, driving our R leg back,, flattening the knee shield and our hips to the mat, freeing our leg. We keep our weight on his legs.

If his legs stay flat, we may be able to just crawl up to a mount position, where we get the double underhooks and head control as for the first technique.

Otherwise, we can drive his legs across as before with out knees, this time to out R. We can look this time at sliding our bottom L knee under his legs, stepping over them with our R foot, then coming in top, triangling our legs around his knees, R ankle behind our L knee. We can move up to mount here. Or switch off to side control at any time we feel our mount is being compromised. There is ample opportunity to use wind shield wiper, grapevine and other leg work techniques here to change positions and move around his defences and counters.

This video, from the excellent Sonny Brown, shows how the "leg clamp" Dave shows as a prelude to getting the mount is used extensively in MMA by Khabib Nurmagomedov, among others.

Setups - Up/Down, Left/Right

Up/Down: if the guy is sitting up as you approach him, grab his ankles and flip him onto his back, pushing his legs over his head. As he reacts by rolling forward and sitting up, drive forward through his half guard, going for the first half guard passing technique above, with OCD of the knee, head position and the far side underhook. If he gets the knee shield, we go for the tackle pass.

Left/Right: push one or both of his knees to one side. His reaction, swinging them back in the other direction, will give you an opening to go for the tackle pass.

Up/down and left/right should be seen as principles rather than specific techniques. You always need to adapt to the actual movements of your opponent.

Troubleshooting and Maintaining Control

If his legs stay flat diring the tackle pass, we have the opportunity to go to mount. If he starts lifting his knees before we consolidate the mount, we should be prepared to switch to side control.

If he have the double underhook elbow control, and he is pushing our head away, we can just slide our linked grips down to his thighs to a tackle pass position, and work our way back, We are so far away from his arms in the tackle pass positions as to negate the value of any attempt to pass.

We do need to be careful of guillotine attempts, though these are of limited value when the head is on one side and the legs on the other. The choke is pretty much unworkable then, while at the same time we are given the opportunity for a Von Flue choke.

We should be able to keep constant pinning pressure with the body lock on him all the way from the elbow line to the knee line and back.

If he starts sitting up while we have the tackle position, we need to break him down immediately. Dave did this when the guy came up his elbow by grabbing the posting forearm with one hand around the front and one around the back, pulling the guy toward him while driving forward and breaking him back down. Try to stop such counters immediately, before he can post all the way up on his hand.

In Sun Tzu's The Art of War, military leaders are advised to take high ground and let the enemy try to attack from a lower position. Fighting from an elevated position is said to be easier for a number of tactical reasons. Holding the high ground offers an elevated vantage point with a wide field of view, enabling surveillance of the surrounding landscape, in contrast to valleys which offer a limited field of view.

So, don't let your opponent up.

Once we have our hands linked around him, we can in effect slide them up and down his body between the elbow line and knee line, switching sides and positions, constantly adjusting to nullify his attempted defense's and counters and keep ahead of him as he tries to catch up in the OODA loop.

Realistically, we may need to release and regrab our grips, especially if the mats are not slippery and thus not conducive to easily sliding our clasped hands up and down his body.

He gets an Underhook

We have the bodylock side control with double underhooks we reached after the first pass. Somehow he manages to get an underhook, say with his L arm under our R arm.

We switch to head and arm position (scarf hold / kesa gatame / headlock control). Dave will keep his hands clasped rather than change to more conventional hand controls here. Lift his head off the mat so he cannot bridge.

We turn our head to look towards his feet, bridge up slightly, turn our body toward his feet, walk our feet in the same direction, as we drop our L elbow to the mat near his R hip to occupy the battle zone, reach over and behind his legs and encircle his thighs with our arms as we turn into the tackle pass position, with our head on his L hip and our L shoulder controlling his hip.

While we are turning from kesa gatame, our weight distribution should be such that we are trying to keep him turned slightly to his R side. This both makes the tackle pass setup easier, and also makes it much harder for him to roll us to his left.

Dave is not a fan of kesa Gatame as a long term control - he feels the back is too exposed, especially if the guy has access to a blade with his untapped hand (the one he got the underhook with). I can't argue with this, though I'd like to hear Josh Barnett's opinion as well ;)

Go to SAP (standard armbar position)

We get the double underhooks elbow line side control from the first pass, on his R side.

We move our head from the R side of his head to pinching his L arm between our R arm and R ear. We take our L arm out from under and pass the L hand under his chin and get the L elbow on the ground, our arms encircling and isolating his L arm. We can now drag him up on his R side with our R underhook, and then start hunting for the Kimura position and then move to the standard armbar position (SAP) per Dave's first seminar in 2016.


These moves are as much about concepts and principles than specific technique. We need to constantly adapt to his movements and stay at least one step ahead. Dave reminded us of the Zen of position - not becoming too attached to a position and trying to hold onto it once it becomes compromised. Move on to a more suitable position.

Dave is all about systems. Systems are all about dilemmas for the opponent. Ryan Hall and John Danaher also talk about this on their instructionals.


Similar but different approach here:

Similar ideas from Lachlan Giles:

This is not quite the same thing, but this BJJ Scout video of the Miyao brothers no gi bodylock passing style has some interesting parallels. Interesting ideas about blocking his hip movement.:

Links to Previous Seminars with Dave Camarillo

Until 2019...

Monday, September 17, 2018

IBJJF Rules and Knee Reaping - Gordon Ryan, Texas Cloverleaf

Gordon Ryan is a successful Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitor at elite levels. Much of his earlier success came in competitions with rulesets allowing use of a range of leglock techniques which are banned by the most popular sport Jiu Jitsu body, the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF).

Gordon Ryan trains under John Danaher, a celebrated Jiu Jitsu and MMA coach operating out of the Renzo Gracie academy in New York. Several of John Danaher's students have done very well using his leglock system in professional matches, most notably Gordon Ryan, Gary Tonon, and Eddie Cummings. These students are sometimes referred to as the Danaher Death Squad (DDS).

Some in the Jiu Jitsu community regard the IBJJF Jiu Jitsu competitions as the pinnacle, and imply that the DDS's supposed "avoidance" of IBJJF competitions, and preference for lower profile (though not necessarily less challenging) competitions meant they had yet to be tested at the top levels of the sport. Also, that as leglock specialists they were in effect "one trick ponies", who had not developed the fully rounded Jiu Jitsu skills required to be regarded as truly elite.

Gordon Ryan recently put such criticisms to bed by winning double gold at the 2018 Pan Jiu-Jitsu IBJJF No Gi Championship. This under IBJJF rules, which allow no "knee reaping" or heel hooks, which are the DDS' bread and butter in non-IBJJF competitions.

Interestingly, he enquired about and addressed the various issues surrounding the legality of various leglocks, especially from the cross ashi garami (411 / honey hole / inside sankaku) position, after a detailed discussion of the rules with the Pan's head referee.

This article contains a couple of videos where Gordon explains what he learned. Unfortunately the sound quality is not great, and, despite what the article claims, is no better if you view the videos on Instagram, where they were originally published.

The takeaways are:

The cross ashi position is only illegal if the foot of the opponent's leg trapped by your legs, the "inside" foot, is also trapped between your armpit and hip.

So an underhook or "scoop " grip on the inside leg in cross ashi is perfectly legal.

Overhooking the "outside" ankle, the one on the leg not trapped by your legs, is also legal in cross ashi. This is John Danaher's "double trouble" position, so called because you are controlling both legs.

BUT ... combining the outside leg overhook and inside leg underhook in the "Texas Cloverleaf" submission is illegal and will get you disqualified.

The Texas Cloverleaf

This seems to be contradictory and inconsistent. I queried this via Facebook Messenger with David "Silver Fox" Karcher, "The Grappling Referee" on social media. While he is not the IBJJF head referee, he did attend an IBJJF rules meeting in Boston recently where the subject was discussed in detail. I have corresponded with him on Facebook for a while and respect his opinions, though quite often he seems as perplexed as anyone about certain match situations shown on video.

According to Mr Karcher:
It's about isolating the reaped leg, either by attacking the foot, clamping the foot, or trapping the foot in the Cloverleaf. 
if you can move the foot or escape the foot, its legal. 
the thought process is if the foot is trapped, you can hurt the knee.
There are Youtube videos of people winning IBJJF athletes winning matches with the Texas Cloverleaf, but as far as I can tell these all happened before the current knee reaping rules were introduced in 2015. I read somewhere where a person on social media claimed a referee disqualified him for a Teexas Cloverleaf in 2018, and the referee told him afterwards that the submission was legal in 2017 but not 2018. I have no way of determining the veracity of these claims.

The rules remain inconsistent and arguably even contradictory in places, and leave grey areas in aa number of situations. This is likely to always be the case in a constantly changing sport with almost infinite possibilities. We referees just have to keep doing the best we possibly can for the competitors, I guess.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Wing Chun Forms

These videos are of myself performing Wing Chun forms - which are solo movement patterns, analogous to kata in Japanese systems.

These forms are from the Traditional Wing Chun system of William Cheung. My instructor, Rick Spain, teaches them with modified stances and extra footwork from those normally taught in a Traditional Wing Chun school, but he claims that these are variations first demonstrated to him by William Cheung.

I believe that forms should be passed on from instructor to student as they were taught. However, after a decade or more in the art, I believe it is beneficial to experiment. Rick Spain's senior studentss may experiment with the forms as regarding sequencing, different footwork, adding or removing techniques, etc.

Surely there comes a time where a half decent student should start thinking for him/herself. Progress in most human endeavours comes from creativity and experimentation, not blind adherence to tradition. Traditional Chinese Martial Arts seems to be regarded as different by some, but in my opinion for no good reason.

As noted by Jordan Peterson, tradition requires constant regeneration through close attention to changing times, and creativity. Wilful blindness to changing conditions leads to stagnation and death. Horus and Osiris.

I was aged 62 or 63 when all of these videos were taken. I am an adherent of the maxim, "slow is smooth and smooth is fast."

I started training in Kung Fu in 1977, Wing Chun in 1988. I am also a student of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu which I began studying in 1998, and in which I currently hold a black belt first degree.

Siu Lim Tao

This is the first form of Wing Chun. Note the front stances and incorporation of baasic footwork with the striking. I include another form, Tien Shou / Heavenly Hand, from David Crook's Bac Fu Do system, in this video after SLT.

Chum Kil

This is the intermediate empty hand form of Wing Chun. I recorded this on New Year's Eve, 2017/2018, so there is a related missage at the end.

Bil Jee

This is the third empty hand form, usually taught last.

Butterfly Swords

There are two Wing Chun weapons, as the system is usually taught. The short weapons are the twin Butterfly swords. Arguably I am coming close to breaking the law here by practicing with these weapons in public even though these are unsharpened practice weapons.

The other weapon usually taught in Wing Chun is the Dragon pole, A heavy, tapered pole ranging in length from approximately six to thirteen feet. It is held at one end and brandished more like a spear than like the Japanese bo. I may publish a video of myself executing this form at some future time.

In keeping with the necessary spirit of Creativity and innovation, many practioners practice with other weapons from Filipino Martial Arts, other Chines or Japanese systems. or Western martial traditions. I have dabbled with combat folders, karambit, La Canne and Uno Baston Dos Manos, for example, though I would not claim any great expertise in any of them.


Here I am performing the San Chien (Three Strengths) form from Bac Fu Do, a system taught by David Crook. There are similarities ot the Sanchin kata of some karate styles. I was going through the 22/22 pushup challenge at the time, so you get to see some staggered hand pushups as well.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

It Seems to be Working Part 3 - Media Adventures

Media Interest. Really?

I was involved in a serious road rage incident on May 11, 2018. Described in It Seems to be Working - Part 2.

Senior Constable F had asked me for my thoughts about possible media attention. I told her that I wasn't opposed to the idea, if some good were to come of it. She asked if the Police Media Liaison until could talk to me, as apparently there had been some interest from the Channel 7 Sunday Night documentary program. I spoke to a gentleman from that police unit, and told him that I would be willing to discuss possible media articles or appearances with them. At the time I thought this was highly unlikely to go anywhere.

The Floodgates Open

My attacker's court hearing was scheduled for June 27th. Early afternoon on that day, I started getting Facebook messages from friends from the gyms where I train and teach, Lange’s MMA, and the Red Boat Wing Chun Academy, saying several media outlets had contacted them, requesting to be put in touch with me. I started to panic slightly, and tried to phone the police involved in my case, to make sure I wasn't going to do anything stupid by talking to reporters.

Unfortunately, none of the police dealing with my case were contactable. I presume they were either rostered off, or busy, out catching criminals. Which is perfectly fine by me.

About 3 PM Sophie Walsh, a Channel Nine reporter who occasionally also presents the weather on the evening news, rang my doorbell. She was shortly followed by her Channel 7 colleague, Tom Sacre. The people you see regularly on television look good on screen, but are preternaturally, jaw-droppingly beautiful human beings in the flesh. Like supermodels, or angels. These two had clothes, hair, everything just right. Tall, slim, perfect. I wondered if genetic engineering or Faustian bargains were involved.



I invited them in and sat them down and Pat and I had a nice chat with them. I wasn't prepared to put much on the record until I had talked to the police, and told them so. They probably stayed for twenty minutes. They told me that my attacker's name was Chances Moana, that he had not turned up to court, and that a warrant had been issued for his arrest. I could have tried harder to find out his name before this, but knew it would come up eventually. I was trying to move past the event, and not fixating on such details was a strategy I was employing to manage that.

Pat and I watched a story about my attack on both Channel Seven and Channel Nine TV news that evening. The dashcam video of the attack was shown along with a picture of me, in a Jiu Jitsu gi, dating back to about 2012.

Embarrassingly, I was referred to, "ironically", as a "Kung Fu master" and a "Jiu Jitsu black belt". Technically true, but ... iyiyi. One of the channels said I took myself to hospital after the attack, which hopefully makes me sound slightly more badass than I felt at the time.

It's somewhat disturbing to know you can be tracked down so quickly and easily, though not difficult to work out how they probably managed it.

Sunday Night

 That evening I had a call from a Sunday Night producer, Rebecca, who was rather annoyed that I had spoken to both Sophie and Tom already, after she ostensibly had gone to the trouble of clearing things with the Police Media Liaison first.

She asked if she could come and talk to me the next morning. I agreed. Senior Constable F and Constable R both called me the next morning and explained that my attacker had missed court because he had been hospitalised after a motor vehicle accident. "Karma, perhaps," was suggested by Senior Constable F.

Rebecca arrived at around 9:30 the next morning. She talked to Pat and me for maybe a couple of hours, about perhaps interviewing us both.

She asked about other interests we had, besides Jiu Jitsu, and I mentioned I like to take long walks and exercise in a nearby Park, which backs on to a large tract of bushland. From this a tentative schedule of interviews for both of us, and the video recording of a short bushwalk together, was to be set up for the next day.

It took until around 10 pm that night to finalise the details, for the first interview at least. I came to realise quickly that most of this was being worked out on the fly. I took the train to Hornsby the next morning, and walked to the Hornsby RSL, where a large room had been converted to a temporary TV studio.

After a while everyone had turned up. I met the technicians, who were there first, and then Rebecca's co-producer Mick, and presenter Matt Doran.

Soon Matt and I were sitting down, and we talked about the incident for well over an hour, to camera. He told me during the interview that my attacker, Chances Moana, had in fact been in a serious motorcycle accident.

He had been in intensive care, in a coma for five days, with a punctured lung, both legs and his pelvis broken, and with other internal injuries. His recovery might take two years.

Telling it like it is ... truth bombs

Obviously, they did it this way to capture my reaction, which is perhaps trickery, but, I recognised, done in the pursuit of the best possible story.

I took no pleasure from his fate. If that was karma hitting back, it was quadruple overkill. I said as much in the interview.

Matt suggested that I record a video statement to be shown to Chances. I told him, or at least, the camera, that violence had solved nothing, and only caused additional problems for him. I told him I hoped he made a full recovery, that while this was in his past and present, it didn't have to be in his future. I suggested he sort himself out, try to do something positive with his life, and to try to do some good for other people. Fairly straightforward and predictable, perhaps, but sometimes the obvious is also the best ... and I was making it up as I went.

I found Matt easy to talk to, and, while nervous, I felt I spoke well and genuinely, and would come across that way. I enjoyed the experience. I felt that I had been slightly tongue tied and went off on tangents, but having watched a few articulate celebrities being interviewed since, I saw that they did much the same thing, and still came over quite well. Fingers crossed.

I talked a fair bit about martial arts and Jiu Jitsu, how I felt my training had kept me in control of myself, and kept my injuries to a minimum, during the attack.

Afterwards, Rebecca asked me about the possibility of them filming some Jiu Jitsu. I thought, "Hell yeah!"

I messaged Nikki Lange, Anthony's wife, to inform her of this development, and both the Langes were keen to get involved. I gave Anthony's number to Rebecca, and she started setting something up with him for the following Monday.

Rebecca drove me home, grabbing us some Macca's on the way, enough for Pat as well. We were having bathroom renovations done, and a friend of ours, Susan, had kindly volunteered to mind the house, while we were out swanning around the local bushland. The bathroom tradies had finished for the day by the time we were ready to go out, so Susan's offer turned out to be unnecessary, though much appreciated.

I had suggested a location to Rebecca which was in bushland, but still close to the road, making life easier for the techies.

Pat and I took innumerable walks, hand in hand, along a path, being filmed, talking about how much worse things could have been with the attack and how lucky we were to have each other and be healthy, yadda yadda yadda. All of that is true, but it becomes weird and absurd after nine or ten repetitions.

Still, nothing to complain about. I was finding the whole extravaganza fascinating.

We all went back to our townhouse. Matt Doran had arrived and was now schmoozing Pat for her interview, while the techies converted our kitchen / family room into something resembling an interview studio. Matt talked to Pat on camera for more than half an hour. They left about 6:30 pm, leaving Pat and I looking at each other, wondering what the hell had just happened.

Jiu Jitsu Day

Rebecca and the Langes had set up the film shoot at Lange's MMA in North Manly for 11 am Monday morning. There were six of us - Anthony and Nikki Lange, Will Spillane, Andre Powell, Nick Pudney and myself.

Anthony had obviously put some thought into the presentation, as we drilled defences against a puncher while we were downed on the floor - or perhaps, in a car seat, dealing with an attacker punching us from outside the car. We did some other self defence sequences and some more spectacular throws and takedowns. A few sequences of Anthony dispensing the wisdom, belt tying, and me walking up to the camera looking tough in a gi, and we were done.

Anthony was throwing some fairly hard punches at me for the defence sequences, and Nikki actually called me later because they were a bit concerned I might have been triggered by the verisimilitude of that particular sequence. No, I was fine. I enjoyed the whole thing immensely. Jiu Jitsu with friends in front of a camera - what's not to like?

Rebecca asked if she could borrow my car for the afternoon, because they wanted to go out to the attack site and film a re-enactment, with actors. Seriously? So I drove her car back home.

She told me that they would film Matt Doran and myself driving through the incident site the next day, Tuesday. The plan was that Rebecca would drive back to my house that evening, and swap our cars back, but she rang about 6 pm to ask if she could keep my car for the evening. I agreed.

Road Games

Next morning, I drove her car out to Adams Street, the cross street to Forest way with the set of lights where the incident occurred. When I got there, I was pulling in to park and the guy in the car behind pulled up beside me and motioned for me to wind the window down. Deja vu? Too soon.

He told me that one of Rebecca's brake lights wasn't working. I thanked him, and told him it wasn't my car, but that I'd inform the owner. Which I did.

I wore a Red Boat Kung Fu hoodie, hopefully to provide product placement advertising for Rick and Amy Spain. Lange's MMA was already doing well out of this odyssey, and I wanted to share the good fortune around.

After affixing four Go Pro cameras inside and outside the car, and a few false starts and replacements getting them to work, getting wired for sound, etc. etc., Matt and I got in the car, and I proceeded to drive him around an extended block around the back of Forest Way Shopping Centre about eight times, repeating pretty much the same conversation each time.

The crew wanted me to stop at the lights at Forest Way and Adams Street, but timing this, even approximately, was close to impossible in the fairly heavy traffic. One of the last times through we stopped at the side of Forest Way (legally!) for an extended chat. Matt remarked on how busy the road was with traffic, and he was right. Not a place to get out of your car and start a fist fight or wrestling match with another driver.

The final time around the block we pulled into Adams Street, and finally got out of that damned car.

They had set up a surprise for me, bringing out Steve Bloor, the truck driver who had helped me after the attack, and who was responsible for the dashcam footage, from where he was concealed in a nearby driveway.

With Matt moderating, we exchanged the predictable thanks, pleasantries, handshakes and hugs. It was genuinely wonderful to see him again, though the nature of the occasion made our interaction a bit stilted. Not to take anything away, I was genuinely very grateful for his assistance and generosity on the day, and to the crew for setting it up. And for Steve's concern - he had been calling Senior Constable F repeatedly to try and find out how I was, but privacy regulations prevented her from telling him.

I also met the young actor who was playing my attacker in the reenactment. Unfortunately my own stunt double was not there. I would have been interested to see who they had chosen to play me - I would have liked Guy Pearce in Jack Irish, but probably would have ended up with John Jarratt in Wolf Creek.

We had a quick lunch in the Forest Way Shopping Centre Food Court. I was shouted a pretty good Thai Chicken Fried Rice. I was able to have a quick informal chat to Steve. He is passionate about road safety and spreading its message, and how people place themselves in danger around trucks, by not appreciating how limited the truck drivers' vision of the road immediately ahead of them is. Don't pull in right in front of a big truck! The driver cannot see you! If he is distracted or forgets you are there you will be turned into a human pancake!

Steve had spent the morning at Dee Why RSL being interviewed by Matt, since 7:30 AM. His rather large truck was concealed somewhere around the back streets of Frenchs Forest or Belrose. I swapped cars with Rebecca again, because they were spending the afternoon using my car for the reenactment, along with Steve in his truck, and a ute like my attacker's, which they had borrowed or hired.

I drove home and veged out until Rebecca arrived home with my car around 6 pm. Pat and I talked to her for a bit and then let her drive home, back to her office, or wherever her hectic lifestyle required her to be next.

The "Logical Next Step"

I thought that would be it. Haha. Next morning, Wednesday, Matt Doran called me. He told me they had been to talk to Chances Moana in hospital, and shown my recorded video statement to him. Matt said he was very remorseful, had a nice religious family who were concerned for him, but were horrified at what he had done, etc. etc. All of which was probably true.

You didn't have to be Einstein to work out why he was calling and telling me all this.

He asked me to think about going to Royal North Shore Hospital and meeting up with Chances. I knew they all thought it would be good television etc., and I thought it would be the logical next step to take on this journey. In hindsight, they oversold how it was going to be, but I also got carried away with the supposed magnificence and heroic nature of the gesture, and oversold it to myself.

Extreme Ownership. The outcome is always your responsibility.

I don't blame Matt or Rebecca for doing that. I'm sure the job is like herding cats, and I have no problem with being manipulated to a reasonable degree, for what appears to be a good cause - which, hopefully, is what the finished product turned out to be.

Robert Anton Wilson calls this "constructive gullibility".

I'd pretty much decided to do  the hospital thing there and then, but told Matt I'd call him back mid afternoon after I'd had time to think about it, talked to Pat, etc.

In reality, I wanted some time to myself to do my usual Wednesday lunchtime no gi Jiu Jitsu class at Lange's, have a quiet lunch and shower after training, chill out with Pat, etc., before I allowed the circus to descend on me again.

I called Matt back and told him I was in. He was happy. I knew Rebecca would be in touch with details.

I met Rebecca in a cafe at the hospital at around 4 pm on the next day, a Thursday. I took my takeaway coffee up to meet the techies and Matt, at an outside area near the hospital chapel.

We took a few sequences of me crossing an internal street in the hospital, supposedly on my way to somewhere, and a few takes of Matt and I discussing what I was about to do, and how I felt about it. I felt more nervous about this day than anything I had done for the program so far - though I was hardly apoplectic. I told Matt I was nervous because I wanted to turn this meeting into a positive outcome for everyone concerned. Which was the truth.

Chances' uncle and cousin brought him out in a wheelchair. He did not appear to be in good shape. He seemed very shy, and a bit overwhelmed by the situation. He was soft spoken, to the extent that the sound technician had a great deal of trouble capturing what he said - they didn't want to put a wire on him because of his injuries, and were relying on the boom microphone. With Matt's encouragement, he was able to look me in the eye and apologise for attacking me. I was able to forgive him and say some encouraging words about making a good future for himself and helping others, and shook his hand.

As with Steve, the nature of the situation made everything a bit stilted, and probably embarrassing, or even intimidating, for him. Hopefully, it makes for good storytelling and television. I shook hands with his uncle and cousin, who seemed genuinely grateful for my presence and actions.

After the nerves and excitement wore off and I was riding the train home, alone, I realised this wasn't anything like the climactic moment, act of courage, or catharsis that I had talked myself into believing it would be.

Chances will be in hospital for a long time, and his full recovery could take two years. I think it is possible that he may be unable to work in his chosen profession, that of tree lopping, again.

I believe it is a family business, and I'd hope they could find him some less physical way to contribute to their business, and earn an income, until such time as he can fully involve himself again. But, his injuries are still going to keep him out of life's rich pageant for at least two of his best years. Pathetic, and I mean that in a strictly technical and not a derogatory sense.

There is little upside to this, and I can't take much positive for myself from it.

I wondered if he finds talking to strangers difficult. Perhaps the circumstances of the accident on Forest Way were too daunting for him to negotiate verbally, and thus he panicked and resorted to violence.

Effective communication is vital to civilisation. Negotiating with words is far more likely to end well, than any physical alternative. "Verbal Jiu Jitsu", as recommended by many, is a thing.

Peak experiences and transcendent events can't be planned. Sad but true.

While it was not uplifting, climactic, or cathartic, as I was expecting and hoping, I still think this was the right thing for me to do. I hope it brought some comfort or relief to Chances, and everyone else involved.

"Virtue is its own reward," as the saying goes. Whatever virtue I embodied certainly did not seem to be packaged with an ultimate catharsis, a huge dopamine hit, or a transcendent moment of oneness with the Godhead.

Still, it is all there was, and it was enough.

I went to Jiu Jitsu training the next day, Friday, and had lunch afterwards with some Jiu Jitsu friends. I related the whole strange and terrible saga from go to woe, as one of my lunch companions had heard none of it. Now, THAT was cathartic.

It had been a fascinating few days, and an experience I enjoyed. I knew I'd been schmoozed and manipulated, but understood the reasons for that, and know it was done, in part at least, in the pursuit of good - a road safety and anti-violence message - and not evil. I can see that Rebecca, Matt, and the other media professionals work hard, and for long hours, and believe in what they are doing. I respected Rebecca and her work ethic in particular, and found her good company.

After meeting Chances at RNS - Loz (camera), Rebecca (producer), me, Matt (presenter), Will (sound)

The Final Cut

Final show as released for TV

What must have come close to ten hours of filming was condensed into perhaps fifteen minutes or less of final product. The Jiu Jitsu sequence at Lange's MMA was cut to about forty-five seconds. Pat's and my walk through the bush didn't make the final cut, but only appeared for a moment in one of the trailers. All the driving I did with Matt was condensed down to maybe fifteen seconds.

My meeting with Steve Bloor, the truck driver, was relegated to an extra clip on Facebook, though they did include a good deal of that, and I got Rick Spain's Red Boat Kung Fu product placement into that clip. Result!

My story was interwoven with that of another road rage incident. Several people have remarked that I presented a far more positive image than the other interviewees (Steve Bloor excepted) - though, as I replied to them, the bar was pretty low.

I had intentionally sat during my interview with my hands clasped in a Gable Grip, a standard wrestling grip that I hoped viewers who trained Jiu Jitsu would notice and remark on, a sort of Masonic secret handshake recognisable only to the initiated. An in joke. But my clasped hands never made it into the final product.

The Gable Grip

My story was followed by one about women who were having poor medical outcomes from breast implants. Before each ad break, there was a brief clip indicating what was coming up next. I was playing the program video on my computer, while running a video capture, and doing other things in the meantime.

At one stage I looked up at the screen briefly to see an glimpse of my face to camera, immediately followed on screen by the image of a pair of breasts. Not sure of the subtext of that.

Take Aways

I was conscious while I was doing this that the crew were forming an impression of me, a persona, if you like. I see that what I brought to the camera is similar.

Hopefully, I appear as a potential victim, who chose not to be a victim, and someone who could rise above the situation, act rationally, articulate his reaction to the experience competently and intelligently, and even reconcile with, and forgive, his attacker.

I am much more complex and flawed than this. I had been very conscious through this of the need to protect, and live up to, this persona, to avoid having it come crashing down, and the whole moral thrust of the program’s theme damaged or ruined. So, careful driving, no breaking the road rules, no accidents. Act politely towards everyone, with grace.

A persona perhaps, but with with some fleshing out, perhaps a better or ideal self. That persona would seem to be a goal, at which to aim up. This then, hopefully, can continue to be useful to me, beyond the short term requirements of the story.

The Ideal Self

It has been quite the experience. Remarkably, there have been many unexpected positives coming out of a very brief, though serious, assault. Overall, I'd have to say that, in the final tally, the positives well outweigh the negatives, and my life has been made richer for it.

The Latest

On August 8, Chances Moana was sentenced to 18 months jail, minimum 15. He will stay out until October, while being assessed for possible home detention. His injuries apparently prevent community service from being an option.

This was a harsher sentence than I expected.

I truly hope he can move forward after his recovery and sentence, and live a good life.