Training Notes – 08.05.2015

Armour Close UpThis week’s session was the stuff of legend.

We began with just walking around. Whenever a participant met another, they gave them a friendly shove to test their ability to relax and maintain posture and balance.

Then we continued, but with our knees bent at about a 135° angle, with our backs maintaining good posture. This presented a bit of a challenge!

Quads aching a bit, then we bent lower to about 90° and continued.

Then we crouched fully down and continued, before coming up halfway to the 90° point and then the 135° again before walking normally. We referred to this one as the ‘Walking Around Like We’d Sh…’ umm, never mind what we called it!

Following that, the usual madness ensued for ten minutes or so: some plyometrics, some running –> going prone –> running again, some pushups while clapping with a partner, some partnered asymmetrical high plank work…

A Look at Backwards Fall Absorption:

Nice and simple, we just looked at surviving being pushed over using the backwards fall absorption method.

Then we worked from someone picking up one of our legs and pushing us over that way. Nice and slow, and lots of fun. A great way to loosen off and for beginners a good way to get used to partner contact as well as floor contact.

Shoulder Mobility and Relaxed Striking:

This was a very enjoyable section working with the waveform striking methodology that many proponents of Russian martial arts favour, as do we. A simple exercise for enhancing relaxed shoulder mobility:

Hold a high plank position as though you’ve just done a pushup and, while keeping your arms straight, rotate your shoulders slowly and gently. Work on increasing the rotation you can comfortably manage. This can be done against a wall if that’s too difficult.

This ability to rotate the shoulders adds a lot of acceleration to a strike, and can be used for a close-in strike itself from a clinched position. We worked on this with the pads, using pushing and then striking movements.

Oblique Kicks: Sneaky Sneaky…

One of the quickest, easiest and most useful kicks in your arsenal is the Oblique Kick: a short, sharp stamp into the shin, knee or ankle with whichever leg is closest. I believe it’s Chris Roberts from SAFE International who’ve coined the phrase ‘closest weapon to closest target’ (at least that’s where I heard it first!) and it’s a good principle to bear in mind.

To train this excellent method from Wing Chun Kung Fu, we put on the riot gear and simply worked on stopping an approach with it to appreciate its effectiveness.

Padwork with an Attacking Partner:

Instead of merely presenting pads to strike, our friendly padholder would start hitting you with the pads this time whenever they liked. As they were wearing a riot gear chestplate, however, you could lay into them with strikes to the torso as much as you liked while maintaining your cover with a high guard, gaining control and managing that distance.

A Look at Tension and Relaxation when Dealing with Strikes to the Torso:

Nice and simple, but fun and useful. To begin, we looked at tensing our abdominal muscles to deal with strikes to the torso. Beginning with ridiculously soft and gentle hits, our partner would slowly increase the power sent at us. We would maintain that tension as a core conditioning exercise, and then whenever it started to push our limits too far, we merely used breathwork, relaxation and movement to absorb the strike and not oppose it.

Friday Finished with Fun and Ferocity on the Floor:

To finish, we just had four good, old-fashioned rounds of back-to-back with a change of partners halfway through. Simple rules:

  • Sit back-to-back (bet you never saw that coming!) on the floor with your partner.
  • On command, turn around and grapple. Get to a position of dominance and stop them from doing the same!
  • You’re not allowed to come up any higher than kneeling height though.

Of course, we never want to go to the floor on purpose, and if we end up there we don’t want to stick around either. That said: it’s extremely good fun, it’s incredibly dynamic resistance and cardio exercise and it’s a great opportunity to practise the biomechanical manipulation skills you need to get to a better position from which you can do what you need to and get back up to escape against a resisting partner.

To add to things, we had our friendly neighbourhood Samurai Alec with us who is an accomplished, highly skilled Ju-Jitsu practitioner.

An awesome session as always – many thanks to all who came and have a great weekend!

See you next time,

-Josh

All the details of this class are on the Public Classes page up at the top. Your first session is FREE and all are welcome to come along and take part. Every session is beginner-friendly. If anyone has any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Training Notes – 03.04.2015

Elbow Strike NeonAnti-grappling!

This session was a lot of fun – we explored some ideas to help us deal with common methods involving grappling and develop some useful skills with that in mind.

We started, after the usual loosening off, with some breathwork under stress. This took the form of simple exercises done with good breathing, followed by inhaling and performing the exercises with that breath held, and exhaling before performing the exercises with empty lungs.

This kind of breathwork is useful for lots of reasons. It places greater emphasis on the quality of your breathing while exercising by giving an extreme counterpoint to effective breathing, but also it helps us deal with the very real fear inherent in not breathing. By dealing with this fear, even a little, we can help ourselves to panic less in the event that someone tries to stop us from breathing in a violent encounter. In contrast, we also appreciate much more viscerally how seriously we should take such an assault, and how quickly we need to act in order to prevent syncope: a loss of consciousness.

From there, we moved onto tension and relaxation drills: Person A tries to manipulate Person B’s spine and effect a takedown by disrupting their posture (we looked at this in detail when we trained on Red Nose Day), while Person B resists with tension. This made for a great core stability exercise! Then, instead of using tension to deal with the stimulus, we used relaxation: allowing the push to continue past us and moving to a position of advantage. Like fighting a ghost. We also did some padwork with resistance from the padholder, having to forcefully push them off us before being able to strike the pads they presented.

IMG_20150408_130057 - CopyWe focussed in on grips themselves for the next section, using grabs to the wrist, arm, clothes and throat to look at the anatomy of a grip and how to break it. We found that, as the weakest part of a grip is the gap between the thumb and fingers, what tends to work best in breaking that grip is moving what’s been grabbed in the direction of this gap, and moving the grabbing hand in the direction of the back of that hand. That’s difficult to articulate, so have a picture!

In this example, we moved the hand in the orange direction and ourselves in the blue direction (if possible – we did this up against a wall too). If there’s two hands, they just need to go in opposite directions! This is very simple to do and show, but complicated-sounding to type.

Grip Size ComparisonWe also found a simple thing to bear in mind: the wider the thing being gripped, the weaker the grip on it. Thus, a grab further up the forearm is structurally weaker than a grab to your wrist.

Grips to clothes, however, were not quite so easy to break quickly and so we used that grip to effect various biomechanical manipulations or bypassed it altogether to capitalise on the striking opportunities that the grab gave us. The difficulty in breaking these grips lies in how the material tends to wrap around the fingers into the middle of the tightly clenched fist, as the picture to the right shows. Clothes Grip GIFThus, it’s generally more efficient to use these grips to our advantage instead of focussing on them and trying to break them. Everything the attacker does presents us with opportunities – we just need to know how to look for them and what to do with them.

Once we’d worked on the anatomy and angles regarding grips and breaking them, we put this basic knowledge into practice against some of the more common assault dynamics involving grappling:

  • Grab with one hand (typically clothes/chest, or throat), followed by a strike with the other towards the face.
    • High guard, intercept and drive through with the elbow before following up with control and/or striking as necessary.
  • Grab around the throat up against the wall (either one hand, typically followed by a strike with the other, or a concerted effort to choke with both hands).
    •  Various methods of breaking the grip and using the high guard and elbows to strike while maintaining control of limbs, head and shoulders.
  • A ‘shoot for the double-leg’ takedown, involving the attacker grabbing both legs and pushing forwards and upwards with their shoulder, in an attempt to flip someone over so they land on their back or the back of their head.
    • Sprawling and turning the tables on the attacker: allowing their own movement to be their downfall (literally!).
  • To reiterate some previous points, a bear hug.
    • Sometimes it’s just as easy as standing up in the right place: using your whole body to disrupt their posture while you improve yours.
    • Sneaky strikes work wonders.

We discussed how the grabs themselves that we’re looking at are rarely the most pressing issue when it comes to the assault that’s taking place – nobody tends to just grab your clothes and leave it at that, otherwise we wouldn’t be overly bothered by it – but rather it’s the followup that we’re most concerned with. The grab to the clothes isn’t a problem, but the punch in the face following it is! The bear hug in itself isn’t much of an issue, but the other three people hitting you while your arms are pinned are! That’s why our response has to be as fast and efficient as possible – especially if the person attacking knows what they’re doing or is naturally stronger than you are.

Again, it’s worth mentioning the force continuum here: we’re not interested in sticking around once we’ve dealt with the assault and battling it out, having a wrestle (despite the fun and games between Steve and I whenever there’s the opportunity for some wrestling!) or ‘teaching the scumbag a lesson’. We’re getting to a position of advantage and doing what we need to do to escape and stay safe. That’s it. Sometimes one or two good, well-placed and well-timed strikes is all that’s needed. That’s when you didn’t manage to see it coming, evaluate the situation and talk your way out of it (or just avoid it altogether) in the first place of course. Never lose sight of the goal of your training: survival and escape.

As always, it was a pleasure to train with you all and many thanks to everyone who came. I hope you all had a very happy Easter and see you next time!

-Josh Nixon

All the details of this class are on the Public Classes page up at the top. Your first session is FREE and all are welcome to come along and take part. Every session is beginner-friendly. If anyone has any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

PHDefence (24.09.2011) Feedback

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It feels like ages since I’ve done one of these! It always does when we miss a week. Today we did some work on Jiāosao with Paul, and a good section on ground mobility too just to get you all back into it. In my section I took you through sparring in various forms, increasing protection and intensity. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of condition white drills implemented in sparring in the future. No, this picture isn’t PHDefence; it’s a 2008 TKD spar from Wikipedia. It’s a sweet kick though.

Next week, we’ll be working on specific issues that come up in sparring, so get thinking! If you often get caught in the same place, or if a particular technique never works, or if a particular one always works on you, then tell me next week and we’ll work on those problems specifically. It’ll be epic.

An important announcement: YOU NEED SPARRING GEAR!

It wasn’t much of an issue at PHDefence before, as sparring was an occasional thing. However, now they’re aiming to build up the sparring a lot; implementing it at least every other week, if not every week. I’m not saying we’ll be spending as much time as we did today on it every week, but there should be at least a small section of sparring every time. As such, it is imperative that all of you bring your sparring gear to every lesson. Those who haven’t got any really need to get some soon. Low grades can perhaps just about do without headguards and shin/instep pads for a while, but gumshields really are essential. They’re also (usually) ridiculously cheap. If you’re paying more than a few quid (say, £5 or so) then you’re either being ripped off or it’s unnecessarily fancy and technological (though if you’ve got an epic one with lasers and hidden bombs then by all means go for it). Bear in mind that not all gumshields can be re-moulded.

Here are some examples I’ve found on my travels around the Internet of the things you need. The basic kit includes:

  • Gumshield
  • Gloves
  • Headguard
  • Shin or Shin + Instep Pads

Other kit includes padded boots, torso pads, thigh pads, knee pads, elbow pads, forearm pads, groin guards, etc. To be honest, it’s all pretty unnecessary, but if you want a bit more padding then don’t let me stop you! Groin guards are perhaps a good idea, but you’d really need to be wearing it all lesson, which isn’t going to be overly comfortable. Your choice though.

The Three Kinds of Sparring Gear:

Basically speaking, there’s three kinds of sparring gear. Crazy and awesome one-offs aside, they generally fall into these three categories:

Fabric pads, typically white cotton in construction and almost always elasticated, offer the least protection but the most comfort. They’re also usually quite cheap. The foam inside is usually Ethylene vinyl acetate (also known as EVA) polymer foam.
Dipped Foam pads usually have Velcro straps instead of elasticated sleeves, and are coated in a plastic vinyl coating. This means they’re easy to clean and are more hardwearing. They also take a bit more abuse. However, over the years they can be prone to cracking and/or ripping in certain stressed areas, particularly the join between the shin and instep bits of shin + instep pads.
Rigid pads are the most hardwearing, and offer the best protection. They’re also usually very expensive. They have a hardened cover (usually Kevlar) or a leather cover with a rigid inside. This type is usually illegal in competitions, but that’s not really an issue. These will hurt if you smash into them with a shin, but if you’re sparring you should have shin pads of your own, and if you have there’ll be no problems. These pads aren’t rock-solid usually, but their padding is on the inside, so they’re geared towards the protection of the wearer rather than the person getting kicked, so bear this in mind. They’re great for Instructors because it means we can let you kick us properly hard (with your shoes, not your shins – think Oblique Kicks…)

This is the website that Paul uses – Ki Martial Arts – and here’s the protective equipment section for your perusal: http://www.kico.co.uk/products/protective-equipment/

Different Kinds of Gloves, etc:

Gloves come in all shapes and sizes – ‘sparring’ gloves typically have finger holds like these Blitz ones (right).

Alternately, your normal boxing style gloves are fine. Another kind of gloves worth a mention is MMA style gloves, which allow for grappling as well as striking, like these classic UFC gloves (below, left). I don’t think Paul’s too keen on junior members using these though, as they don’t absorb much of the impact from your strikes. They’re perhaps better than other gloves for light contact though, particularly if the sparring is going to the ground. Adults can make their own minds up really. I find them quite comfortable to use, but of course it’s not just you that you’re thinking about!

As for gloves being used for padwork, I would really recommend that you don’t use gloves when doing padwork. If you do, I would recommend ones like MMA gloves which aren’t too padded, as you miss out on the conditioning and the fine detail of the technique then using gloves in my opinion. If you really, really want to though, don’t use soft ones.

More sparring gear can be found on eBay, etc: http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p5197.m570.l1313&_nkw=sparring+gear&_sacat=See-All-Categories

Of course, headguards also come in all kinds, from boxing style ones to martial arts style ones, to grappling ones (just help prevent cauliflower ear when grappling) to full face-visor ones. Pick one that’ll protect you enough, and you probably can’t go far wrong. There’s merits to having a face visor and to not having one: not having one will train your reflexes better because you’re getting hit in the face, which will make you want to keep your hands up, but having a face visor allows the sparring partner to employ elbow strikes, etc which would be dangerous otherwise. Weigh up the pros and cons and decide yourselves, or have a word with us in class.

The bottom line though is:

YOU NEED SPARRING GEAR!

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If you’ve got any doubts, problems or questions about whether this or that is suitable, just chuck me an email at csps.info@gmail.com

Individual Points:

I’m not going to put names on here, just initials, for the junior members. It’s probably not an issue putting first names, but just in case I’ll just stick down initials. If any of you are really conscious of your personal security, ask and I’ll remove your name or initials straight away. (I doubt any crims will be able to find anyone from initials though!)

G.C: Believe in yourself! I know it sounds cheesy, but you really should believe in yourself more – stop telling yourself you can’t do things, and start telling yourself ‘no, actually – I can’. You’ll go from being awesome to awesomer. :D Welcome back to Callum, who should be joining us more regularly from now on, so we’ll have a more senior student in our midst; a veteran from the Good Old Days! Honourable congrats to Charlie for throwing out epic punches despite a bad back, and goodbye to Owen for a while, as he’s going off to university soon. Hopefully by the time everyone’s back again we’ll have a full and separate adults’ class for them!

See you next week! Training was great this morning – there’s some truly awesome progress being made! Time to make some more though…

All the best,
FCIns. Josh Nixon

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