Review: Smak Sak

IMAG1693Review: Smak Sak:
by Josh Nixon, ESP

It’s not often that a new product comes out in the self-protection and martial arts industry that is genuinely innovative. While most products I’ve seen have been marketed as ‘innovative’ and as essential for training to be taken to some next level or other as imagined (conveniently) by the designer, almost without fail they have been near-pointless gimmicks that detract from training more than they add. I’ve always been of the opinion that, in general, simplicity is the key to good training. Good pads, a training knife and a stick will pretty much set you up for most of your training to my mind.

That said, every now and again somebody has an idea that genuinely is a good and innovative one. These are generally simple both in concept and execution. The Smak Sak is a good example of this.

The premise is simple:

‘In repetitious training, students can get lethargic with technique, even to the point of injury. Also, beginners throw punches inefficiently and ineffectively. A revolutionary new solution to these problems is the Smak Sak: a simple training tool that will help you clean up your punches and train at full speed without the risk of injury.’

‘Beginners often throw punches poorly. The Smak Sak forces the thrower to perform a proper straight punch.’

Here’s a short video introducing the Smak Sak and showing its usage:

‘The Smak Sak’, uploaded to YouTube by knightsun84010 on 01.05.2013.

 

Following my email discourse with Fraser Anderson of Krav Maga Scotland, he sent out two for me to test and review. The day after they arrived in the post, I took them along to a local martial arts class I teach at to test them out. The results were good! As I said, a good idea for a training tool is generally simple and these fit that parameter (it’s essentially a nice bean-bag on a cord with a wrist loop), but with a pleasing build quality that makes them truly worth considering for your training. They also look nice, which is a bonus!

IMAG1697What I found when using them was that they allowed beginners to throw faster, more direct punches by making it safe to do so. In addition, they were enjoyable and engaging to use for something that can at times be fairly repetitive. All in all, it was a most welcome change that everyone present at the class enjoyed! It helped some to ensure their ‘strike’ was biomechanically sound, with the shoulder, elbow and wrist aligned. As with all training tools, it isn’t absolutely perfect and you shouldn’t become dependent on it for your training but it is definitely an inexpensive and enjoyable way to mix things up a little, and the novelty of doing the same thing in a different way went down very well with beginners and children when we tried it out. I enjoyed using them myself with my brother, and the instructor of the class enjoyed using them too.

All the information can be found at http://www.smaksak.co.uk/ and you can email Fraser at enquiries@smaksak.co.uk.

How to Increase Your Child’s Ability to Cope with Bullying

Scenes like these should not be familiar.

Hi all,

I recently found this article thanks to a post from @Beatbullying on Twitter, and thought I would share it with everyone, as it is essential knowledge.

One of the major issues with bullying is, aside of course from the bullying itself, the fact that many parents can find it difficult to tell if their child is being bullied in the first place, as it is perhaps not discussed enough.

On the article, found at http://ronald-williams-garcia.suite101.com/increasing-your-childs-ability-to-cope-with-school-bullying-a392456, there is much advice on what kinds of symptoms to look out for if you suspect your child may be a victim at school or anywhere else for that matter. Rising above it all in my opinion is the following piece of advice for parents:

In addition to being observers, parents must develop good communication with their children. There should be daily time set aside to discuss the child’s experience in school or school related activities. These should be free talks more from a peer to peer dynamic. Parents should not present themselves as investigators but rather interested listeners to their children. When children discuss their feelings or concerns this is not a time to demean or criticize. It is a time to be empathetic and reflective on what the child is expressing. All of this requires, of course, that the parent learn to be ACTIVE LISTENERS!!!

This is not just advisable for parents to listen to however – the same applies for siblings, grandparents and friends – if you have a friend who shows signs of bullying, don’t feel awkward in asking if they’re ok! The only way bullying can be effectively combated is if people work together, and this has to happen across the world in every scale. Talk to the new kid; invite them to eat with you. Make an effort to be nice to people, and it’ll pay off. Beating bullying isn’t all about smashing attackers with hammer fists and elbow strikes, or about locking them up and throwing them to the floor – it’s about stopping it happening in the first place. Make the bullies the minority, and make sure everyone knows about it. As Mahatma Gandhi said:

‘You must be the change you want to see in the world.’

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Image courtesy of http://nationalbullyinghelpline.co.uk/images/bullying_child.jpg

11 Year Old Karateka Fights Off Attacker in Bristol

Jade PiddenJade Pidden, an 11-year-old Karateka from Bristol has managed to fend off an attacker she described as white, 6ft tall, slim, in his early 20s, with light brown hair and a long fringe. She said he was wearing a blue hoodie, with white writing and tight jeans with black and white Nike trainers.

The following is an excerpt from the original news story. Police are investigating the incident and are appealing for witnesses.

Brown-belt Jade says she first spotted the man when she turned off Lyons Court Road and into Winash Close.

By the time she reached the lane running between the Imperial ground field and Knowle golf course she said he was right behind her and asking to speak to her.

Jade ran away through a gap in the fence and into the field, pursued by the man who managed to grab her rucksack.

But she fought back, delivering the blows that saw her attacker run off.

"He was trying to grab me, not my bag. The bag was just something he was able to get hold of when I ran.

"When he did I just automatically responded by elbowing him in the chest and punching him in the face.

"He looked pretty shocked and ran away with his hand over one eye. I was quite upset but my sister and her friend comforted me on the rest of the way to school."

It should be noted that it’s likely the attacker has some injury to an eye, so bear this in mind while it might still be swollen if you’re in the area and see someone matching the description!

To those who can’t be bothered training in a martial art or other combative system, I urge you to think again. This isn’t about me plugging CSPS as an answer, or using scare tactics to get more students. This is me urging you all to think about your level of preparedness if something like this happened, and think about those you care about too. Would your children be able to defend themselves against an attack like this? Would they be aware enough to see it coming? Would you? If you have any doubts when thinking about these questions, get yourself to the nearest martial arts or self protection class as soon as you possibly can. Get in touch with the British Combat Association or check out their club listing for yourselves at http://britishcombat.co.uk/club-listing/ to make sure you find a reputable club who’s insured with the leading organisation in the UK. Don’t take the chance – find yourself a class you enjoy and an instructor you like, and prepare yourself!

I can’t congratulate Jade enough – she’s an example to everyone’s students. Your training’s not supposed to be left at the Dojo! Never let the scum win. Get away or fight back, but whatever you do, commit. Commit to your training and commit to your personal security. Get training!

I’ll get off my soap box now, I’ve got some training to do.

Do you think self-protection should be taught to kids in PE at school? Join the discussion at the CSPS forum: http://cspsonline.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=general&thread=93

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Image courtesy of the original article at http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/Karate-girl-11-fights-attacker-Bristol/story-13579700-detail/story.html

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