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.

Review: ‘Ultimate Self-Defence Seminar’ by Peter Consterdine and Geoff Thompson

Consterdine, Peter and Thompson, Geoff. Ultimate Self-Defence Seminar. Protection Publications. 2005.

Review: Ultimate Self-Defence Seminar:
by Josh Nixon, ESP

This video is one of those well-known ones, considered essential by many, that you often hear about as an instructor. There’s good reason for that.

‘Action beats reaction’ – this is the key understanding that makes Geoff and Peter’s approach so much better than most when it comes to self-protection. Peter makes this point with a little demonstration of blocking’s uselessness in a reactive manner after a simple warmup of exercises chiefly concerned with coordination. He goes on to give what I consider the best explanation of the double-hip method of striking I’ve ever seen. There’s similarities between this and Systema’s waveform striking, which is definitely worth looking into as well if you like this method of power generation. I definitely do. It works very nicely for me, especially for body shots.

Following from this, Peter goes on to discuss and demonstrate sections on: speed and the flinch response, pre-emptive striking, UK self-defence law, adrenaline and the physiological biochemical responses of stress, pre-planning for violence, the effects of mind-altering chemicals, effective punchbag training, dialogue training, palm striking, the issues around striking with the knuckles to the face, lining up an aggressor, the biomechanics of efficient striking, zanshin, footwork, distance’s effect on striking opportunities, and the effects of surprise and shock on striking efficacy.

‘There’s no growth in comfort.’ I’ve got that up in the garage with my punchbag. For the second half, Geoff Thompson takes over and begins with hook punching on the pads, then a drill of striking with restricted movement. Afterwards, Geoff goes on to discuss and demonstrate sections on: fear and discomfort, double-hip striking towards the face, verbal distraction and deception with pre-emptive striking, usage of ‘the fence’ and shows of aggression, dynamic biomechanics in kicking (with Peter Consterdine), bodyweight grappling drills, foot tripping and trapping drills, striking from positions of biomechanical disadvantage, throwing and groundfighting, the importance of reading and learning, and attitudinal changes that are beneficial to training and to combat.

This really is a gem of a video. I personally find it quite motivational to listen to aside from the training ideas it offers. I highly recommend this one in particular as a worthy addition to any instructor’s shelf. Moreover, I would recommend this to students and prospective students too – if your instructor or prospective instructor doesn’t discuss any the kinds of things shown in this video (or especially if they’re ignorant of the concepts) then chances are they’re not worth your time. That’s a strong thing to say, I realise, but I feel that the quality of the basic information and sentiment behind this video’s content is substantial enough to warrant such a statement. The bottom line: watch this.

This video is available on DVD or for digital download (much cheaper, understandably) from http://www.peterconsterdine.com/store.htm. Further information and a download link can also be found at http://peterconsterdine.com/ultimatesd.htm.

Training Log–January 2013

As you all know by now, the CSPS is an evolutionary concept and I pretty much apply that philosophy to everything I do, including my writing. At least, that’s the excuse I’m going to use for my complete and utter laziness of late with these training logs. As the year has become busier and busier with training, teaching and research (alongside everything else in life), I’ve found myself writing training logs later and later after the sessions themselves, and sometimes just not finding the time. As a result, I’m going to do them as a kind of newsletter format where I aggregate all the training news from the CSPS into one monthly little post like this. Any questions on CSPS training are, as always, more than welcome any time as this is primarily for you, the reader, to see what it is that we get up to!

January’s been a great month this year for change and progress, especially at PHDefence in Stockton Brook. With their newly-stabilised payment structure, there’s guaranteed training for their students every week regardless of numbers attending, which has pushed forward a period of great progress in this stability for their students. They’ve even got a new student who’s making great progress, and a couple of students who should be ready to grade soon so it’s a very exciting time for them!

At PHDefence, the higher grades have been focussing on their weapons techniques a lot, particularly the use of the long stick (Jō staff and Bō staff for the more traditionally-minded). So far it’s been mostly stick acclimatisation drills and basic striking as this weapon’s new to them, but soon they’ll be progressing to more in-depth stick usage. They’ve also been doing some aerial coordination drills as a preliminary to their spinning and aerial kicks.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll just say it again here, especially with talk of the spinning and aerial kicking:

I’ll just take a moment to explain what PHDefence is and what my relationship with it is. PHDefence is a local martial arts class, based in Stockton Brook at the moment though it’s been all over the place through the years. It’s owned and was founded by Shifu Paul Horrobin, who created a hybridised martial art mostly based on concepts from Wing Chun (yǒngchūn ~ 咏春 ~ ‘Spring Chant’), Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do (zhènfān jiéquándào ~ 振藩截拳道 ~ ‘Jun Fan’s “Way of the Intercepting Fist”’) and Shaolin Kung Fu (shàolín gōng fū ~ 少林功夫 ~ ‘Young Forest Kung Fu’) among others. The basic premise of what they do there is the attempt to take traditional martial arts concepts and make them practical while retaining their martial-arts focus. I just want to make clear here that they are not a self-defence or self-protection class, and that while I am a self-protection instructor while I’m teaching there I’m also a martial arts instructor. I alternate between teaching and training there every other week, with Paul teaching every other lesson. While on occasion I mix in odd concepts and training ideas from the CSPS, this is not a CSPS class. The reason I take such steps to make this clear is that I would hate for someone to read a PHDefence training log and think I was equating the martial arts training described to practical self-protection training, which it is not. Worse, I would hate for someone to read it and think that the training described was self-protective in nature.

Now that the perfunctory disclaimer’s over, I can get on with the actual point of the post! I won’t do that every time, don’t worry – I’ll just point people here if there’s confusion. I only make the point as it’s so important (to me) that martial arts and self-protection are never confused, and I realise that text on a screen can easily be written badly and misunderstood.

The snow’s been a constant source of amusement and difficulties, but as my friend (and excellent Systema instructor) Rob Poyton mentioned in a recent YouTube video, these difficulties only present opportunities if you approach your training with an indomitable warrior mindset. Whereas for PHDefence the problem was merely students getting to the session and needing to dry their feet, for CSPS students the opportunities for development were more apparent as we were training primarily outside!

Chris returned to his long-term training recently, and so we got straight to the point with a lot of drills involving use of the shoulder, elbow striking, hammer fists, knee striking and I don’t even know how many other striking methods. Taking an initial contact as a reference point, we used a set framework of movements to efficiently train the different muscle groups of the body to work together efficiently to present a functional combative response.

(What that means is, the pad got bashed hard, fast and lots!)

For Chris, the focus has been on brushing off the rust of Christmas and sharpening up the basic concepts of the CSPS with a slew of new approaches to the same things to further increase the adaptability of their application.

For Matt, the focus has been on initial training of the basic concepts, and I really must say how proud I am of both students with their continued effort and skyrocketing progress week on week.

Other students preferred not to be named, unless you count my brother Jake, with whom I just fight, and that’s pretty much his training most of the time! We just fight. That’s what brothers are for, right?

February’s been an amazing month so far but I’ll elaborate more on that next time!

All the best,

FCIns. Josh Nixon, CSPS

FCIns. Josh Nixon of the CSPS is at Stoke College’s Disability Day–25th of April 2012

On Wednesday the 25th of April 2012 FCIns. Josh Nixon (that’s me) will be representing the Combative Self-Protection System at Stoke College’s ‘Disability Day’. From 10:00-14:00 you’ll have the opportunity to speak with me and I’ll answer any questions you have about the CSPS or training in general. Details are also on our events page.

The event will be held at Cauldon Campus on Stoke Road, Shelton, ST4 2DG, in the Sports Hall from 10:00-14:00 on Wednesday the 25th of April 2012.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service have said on their site:

The aim of the event is to raise disability awareness and provide information, advice and guidance to individuals within the college and the general public. There will be over 60 organisations on hand to provide the most up to date information on a range of disability issues to an eager audience and the celebrity guests will be ‘Race2Recovery’ who have recently been on the BBC’s Top Gear.

(From http://www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk/2091.asp on 14.04.2012.)

It’s going to be a great opportunity to speak with a lot of interesting organisations and individuals so I heartily recommend coming and taking a look – everyone’s welcome! I’ll be on hand for the full four hours to answer all of your questions on training with or without disabilities for self-protection, health, fitness and personal security. I’ll also be representing local martial arts class PHDefence, which I am Co-Instructor of. There may be an offer available to people who attend this event…

See you there!

-FCIns. Josh Nixon, CSPS

P.S. There may also be sweets…

PHDefence (13.01.2012) Feedback (And Thank You to Andrew Holland)

imagePHDefence is starting off as it means to go on this year – new students who we’re very pleased to see and who are already shaping up to be fantastic martial artists, guest instruction from Andrew Holland of MASAC Ju Jitsu in its second training session of the year and a lot of great ideas in store for the rest of the year. I’ve got a few things to say in this one so apologies for the essay. I made a meme though, so…

Andy’s approach was largely the same as ours, but introduced plenty of fresh ideas which PHDefence is always open to – I certainly have taken on board some great ideas and will be implementing them along with some awesome ones I’ve had brewing in my mind while I should have been writing essays over Christmas!

Before I go any further with feedback and general waffle, I just want to thank Andy once again for coming, and for sharing his top-notch instruction with us. While you can tell a good deal from seeing someone on YouTube, keeping in touch online, etc you can never properly know another instructor until you see them teach, or even better train with them yourself. I’ve now had the pleasure of doing both, and so I can say truthfully that Andy’s approach is commendable, enjoyable and effective. If I was a scummy crim, I wouldn’t like to be caught by this guy standing over my victim, crowbar-in-hand, put it that way! He’s big in the BCA, so you know he’s epic anyway, regardless of anything I have to say. Andy has written about the night on his blog, which I recommend everyone take a look at: http://theselfdefenceexpert.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/the-tour-begins-2012/?utm_source=The+Newsletter+List&utm_campaign=1000696770-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email

As I said, I’ve got a lot of ideas for PHDefence including (but certainly not limited to) some new warmups, some new and vastly improved methods of stretching following some training revelations I’ve had at home, some small refinements I’ve made a while back to my CSPS syllabus regarding defending strikes which I think PHDefence will benefit from, a few things I didn’t think you all were ready for yet (my deepest and most sincere apologies for underestimating you in this way – it is never a good thing for an instructor to underestimate what his students are ready for, and I am truly sorry for this) and a few more things that I think you’ll approve of which are far too epic to utter a word about publicly.

A Note on the New System:

PHDefence, as some of you will already know, is undergoing a change in how things are done. Instruction will be split evenly between myself and Sifu Paul. Before, it was split in such a way that we would do an hour each every week, usually Paul then me. Now because of Paul’s work commitments we will be operating on an interlocking week pattern where one week I will be teaching the whole session, and the next Paul will do (though I’ll be there as Pad Man as often as I can manage to be), then the next week I’ll do again, etc. This week was Paul’s (though Andy’s really this time) and next week will be mine, to start you off knowing where things are going to be. It makes sense, trust me. I’m just tired and not articulating this particularly eloquently tonight.

A Congratulation:

imageOne new student in particular was commended by Andy for being ‘hardcore’, as it has been brought to my attention that on his second session this dude (who’s at the end of primary school as well) had the choice of doing the groundfighting on the mat or on the wooden floor, and he chose the floor! It’s exactly this kind of warrior spirit that PHDefence needs, so (you know who you are) – we’re proud of you my friend. Good on you dudeth.

Just for that, I made a Success Kid meme.

I might make this a recurring theme for special congrats…

Until next week folks! It’s going to be a good one – make sure you make it down!

FCIns. Josh Nixon

CSPS Syllabus and Guide 1.2.2

Hi all,

Just a quick announcement that the CSPS Syllabus and Guide version 1.2.2 has been released today! Students can get in touch for a new copy (just costs £1 – I hate to charge but I just want to cover my paper and ink!) or head over to the forum to join the discussion and see what the changes are if you prefer to annotate your existing copy and save the world a little (and save yourself a quid)! This isn’t a hugely major change, so I’d recommend the latter in this case. You can find the changelog in Home –> CSPS –> CSPS Members’ Exclusive Board –> CSPS Syllabus.

All the best,
FCIns. Josh Nixon

Update: Clarification of CSPS Endon Startup Offer

Hi all,

Just a little clarification on CSPS Endon. The class is starting on Wednesday, 11.05.2011, and for eight term-tie weeks we’re offering you training for free. You can literally come along and train every time for eight (term-time) weeks without handing over a penny. After that, it will cost just £3 per student per lesson.

No joining fee. No monthly fee. Just £3 per lesson.

Here’s a breakdown of which weeks these will be, because half-term is in the middle of it so some people have been getting a little confused:

Free Week 1: Wednesday, 11.05.2011
Free Week 2: Wednesday, 18.05.2011
Free Week 3: Wednesday, 25.05.2011
(Half term, so we’re not training on Wednesday, 01.06.2011.)
Free Week 4: Wednesday, 08.06.2011
Free Week 5: Wednesday, 15.06.2011
Free Week 6: Wednesday, 22.06.2011
Free Week 7: Wednesday, 29.06.2011
Free Week 8: Wednesday, 06.07.2011

So starting from Wednesday, 13.07.2011 classes will cost £3 per student. This class is exclusive to EHS students and teachers (though this could be subject to change in the future, so keep your eyes on the updates).

Come and have a go, it won’t cost you anything! In fact, I’d recommend that you do while the exams are on, even if you hate it and never come back. Exercise is the best remedy for stress – when I had my GCSEs, I actually trained more than usual because I was getting stressed. As a result, I was chilled out in the exams themselves, and they went much better than I expected. I’m digressing anyway – come and have a go, you’re all more than welcome. It’s fun and friendly; we’re not recruiting an army, despite the fact that much of the training is derived from various global special forces! Respectful but fun too is how I’d describe the atmosphere we train in. I’m well-known for my bad jokes though, so I’ll warn you about those right now.

Spread the word! (About the class, not my bad jokes…)

See you next week! Any questions then feel free to email us at csps.info@gmail.com or ask Mr Legomski, Mrs Hughes or Jacob Nixon in Y7.

FCIns. Josh Nixon

Update: March 2011

Hey all,

First off, let me send out a huge thank you to everyone who’s been showing interest in CSPS over this start-up period. We’ve been having steady views here at CSPS Online, and have been pleased with all of the questions we’ve been receiving. By all means keep them coming! To address some of the more repetitive questions, I’ve just updated the FAQ section to accommodate the ones we keep getting again and again, so if I refer you to that section I’m not being rude and ignoring you; I just don’t have the time to type out the same answer over and over again. Also thanks to everyone who’s following us on Twitter, our likers on Facebook and our subscribers on YouTube too. We really appreciate all of the support and interest.

Thanks to the select few (and you know who you are, my friends) who’ve been contributing to the redrafting process of the Syllabus and Guide, many hours of discussion and training later we’ve finally published version 1.0; the final draft and the first official release version! There has also been a general redraft of some of this site’s information as a result, because a lot of the information is also found in the introductory pages of the booklet.

Syllabi will be available in class for just £1 – I’m really sorry to have to charge, but it’s literally just to cover the printing costs. It’s a 23-page concise booklet, so I’m not ripping you off with it; you’re getting a meaty wad of paper for your quid. It’ll be invaluable in your training to have a copy of everything you’ll need to hand, but while it’s recommended it is of course optional, and you can share with a friend or anything. You’re also not obliged to buy a new copy with each update; we’ll tell you what the changes are if and when updates happen (CSPS evolves, as you all know) and you can annotate your copies instead of buying a whole new book.

The Syllabus also now explains our revolutionary, unique ‘CSPS Ranges Notation System’, which I created myself, in the Beginners’ section, just so you have a reference for that as well as everything else. If anyone has any suggestions, criticism or spots and mistakes (even niggly English mistakes – they’re important to us!) then just chuck us an email at csps.info@gmail.com.

See you all in May at the launch of CSPS Endon – full details on the Classes page.

Thanks again,
FCIns. Josh Nixon

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