Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Gun Fu

I really like this quote from the movie “The Forbidden Kingdom”

Jackie Chan as Lu Yan:
“Kung Fu is hard work over time to accomplish skill. A painter can have Kung Fu, or the butcher who cuts meat with such skill, his knife never touches bone.  A musician can have Kung Fu, or the poet who paints pictures with words and makes emperors weep, this too is Kung Fu.”

A similar description for Kung Fu was given in the Netflix series "Marco Polo".

It makes sense as the writer for both of those is John Fusco

Small world, Dillon used to train with John at Vermont Kung Fu Academy

The point being hard work over time to accomplish skill is a path to "the way".  
"The Way" can be used for anything

Another way of looking at this was mentioned in a recent episode of Doctor Who titled "The Woman that lived"

In the previous episode Ashildr was made functionally immortal.  In this episode the Doctor catches up with her 800 years later.

 - The Doctor: You're immortal, not indestructible. You can be hurt - killed, even.

 - Ashildr: 10,000 hours is all it takes to master any skill. Over 100,000 hours and you're the best there's ever been. I don't need to be indestructible - I'm superb.

Cool episode, made even cooler by the fact that Ashildr is played by Maisie Williams who also plays Arya Stark on Game of Thrones (she is my fav)

Fanboy mode off, let's get back on track.

Why I bring this up now, is that after last week playing with Maija Soderholm using different weapons and styles I feel "the way" reveals itself through motion.  

Regardless of what you are using the motion for there are only so many ways a human body can move.  Some motions are more efficient than others.  

When you remove all the motions that require strength or speed,or are representative of only one very specific physical endeavor, the remaining motions are going to look awfully similar.

None of us are indestructible, or even immortal, however, we can all be superb.

We can't devote 100,000's of hours to training in different skills.  So we must make the most of the 10,000's of hours we can train and learn how to make that work for other skills.

The trick is not to let things get compartmentalized.  Rather use your way the way as you know it for new purposes.

Adult learning theory calls this building bridges to previous learning.
Building a new skill out of parts of things you already know how to do.

Recently I helped Cabot put on a class - Firearms for Martial Artists.

After a solid level of familiarity with the weapons was attained you could see the fundamental motions sneak through as the students had to move to cover and transition to different shooting positions.

The information was no longer compartmentalized as gun stuff over here, martial arts stuff over there.  Gun stuff is martial arts stuff.  This is how I move, becomes no different than this is how I move with a gun.

We were out there for about 6 hours.  In those 6 hours we pushed the students further than I have ever pushed a beginner's class before.  This was possible because they were like sponges, they wanted to be there, and didn't have bad habits to break.

This was also possible because Cabot excels at building bridges to the students' previous knowledge.
It is customised individual training.  Not a one size fits all cookie cutter approach.

Because they were sponges, and martial arts "nerds" they asked for home work.

 - Ashildr: 10,000 hours is all it takes to master any skill. Over 100,000 hours and you're the best there's ever been. I don't need to be indestructible - I'm superb.

These are the type of folks, that if you give them a drill they will find time to work that drill to mastery.

So I told them I would post some drills on the blog.
With out further adieu - Gun Fu.

"I know gun fu"
C'mon you know you just read that in Neo's voice

Dry fire drills

I started typing out all the dry fire drills that I do.  It was a pain in the ass, and if you haven't already done the drills the descriptions really didn't make much sense.

So I figured I'd talk one of my partners into filming a couple of the drills.

Randy King makes a video rant like every 4 months so how hard can it be?

Bullet Balance

Move Draw Shoot

So there you go, two very basic drills you can work every day to be a better gun fighter.
All it costs you a a little time and effort.

Hard work over time to accomplish skill.
You won't be indestructible, or even immortal, however, we can all become superb.

I hope you liked the videos, if you would like to see some more gun fu, let me know in the comment section.

Making the videos was actually much harder than Randy makes them look.

Train hard, train smart, be safe

Saturday, October 3, 2015

USA Combat Wrestling

Katamedo translates as the way of grappling

A major tenant of Katamedo JuJitsu is that the principles of the grappling arts are common, only the rules differ.
Whether the rules are department policy or rules of engagement for professional use of force, state statutes for personal protection or sport rules for competition in any grappling or mixed martial arts setting.

The principles of grappling are constant, as are the skills involved; it is the techniques of applying these skills that holds the potential for the progressive evolution of the art.

A practitioner of Katamedo JuJitsu will be able to use these skills within the context appropriate to the circumstances

For example, a great freestyle wrestler will be able to adapt to sport judo, jujitsu, Sambo, Capoeira or Greco-Roman wrestling, and vice versa.

The most confident fighter is one who can compete on equal ground no matter what the rules.

For personal protection and professional use of force you have to be able to compete on equal ground no matter what the rules. Confidence in this is built through competence. Competence is built using modern sporting methods to prepare practitioners for the situations they will be called upon to face and train them to deal with those situations in the most realistic manner safely possible.

This is what separated Kano's Jujitsu from other older schools and led to Judo becoming the preeminent Jujitsu style in Japan.

Live training that embraces all forms of grappling.

There was a time when Judo was growing that the Kodokan sent out representatives to teach and compete all across the world.

This interaction with other grappling styles spurred positive changes.  Judoka were getting taken down with a double leg, so Judo incorporated Morote Gari

Morote gari (双手刈) is a double leg takedown adopted later by the Kodokan into their Shinmeisho No Waza (newly accepted techniques).

This is representative of the best attitude shown by the best people I have trained with.
If you catch them in something, they don't get mad.  They don't bump up the intensity to retaliate. They respond with something like  - Wow! that was cool how did you do that?, or show the class how you did that to me?

Then they work on incorporating what you did, or learning how to defend against it.

Sadly, that is not the case in Judo any more.  Instead of incorporating or defending, rules are changed to make more and more things illegal in competition.

Some Judo organizations going so far as to bar their members from participating in any other form of grappling competition besides Judo.

The primary focus of my school is personal protection and professional use of force.
I employ modern sporting methods so that we can train against a resisting opponent as realistically as safely possible.

I also want to offer students interested an opportunity to compete.  Randori in class and Shiai competitions are not "fights".  However, there are some things you can only learn by stepping in the ring - pushing yourself to do something uncomfortable.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

  - Theodore Roosevelt (Boxer, Wrestler, Judoka)

I want my guys to be able to do this safely with out a rule set that will ingrain negative habits that could get them killed in an actual confrontation.

The best rule set I have found is USA Combat Wrestling

1. Tap or verbal submission to joint lock or strangle hold
2. Technical victory via 12 point differential
3. Majority of points.
4. In case of equal score, the winner will be determined by the following factors:
a) Player with less cautions wins
b) If neither player has any cautions, the player with the highest scoring throw/takedown will win
c) In case the score is still equal, two extensions of 3 minutes are permitted. In the two extensions, the player who scored 2 or more points first wins. If the match finishes without a clear winner, the referees can vote to declare a winner based on his performance (active game play, willingness to finish the match, submission attempts).


1. Throws/Takedowns:
1 point for throws/takedowns landing the opponent on his front (belly) or on his buttocks, and he is not lifted off the mat.
(What would be Koka in Judo)

2 points for throws/takedowns landing the opponent on his side.
(What would be Yuko in Judo)

4 points for throws/takedowns landing the opponent on his back, or throws which lift the opponent off the mat with full rotation over of elevation higher than the attacker’s hips (landing position is not considered in throws where the player is rotated or lifted above the attackers hips for a throw).
(What would be Waza-ari in Judo)
There is no Ippon or win by throw

*Pulling/jumping guard risks being scored against as a throw.

*Players are not penalized for disengaging subsequent to a throw (in other words, you can urge your opponent back to their feet).

*Players who lift a grounded opponent (from turtle or belly down position) above the elevation of the attackers hips can score throw points.

*Wrestlers using flying armbars, flying triangles, etc, must bring his opponent to at least his knees for action to continue. Otherwise, the submission attempt will be considered a standing submission (illegal) and action will be stopped.

2. Positioning:
1 point for back mount (two hooks in for 3 seconds).
1 point for mount position (held for 3 seconds).

*Back mount and mount points can only be score once per match.

3. Pins:
Pins are scored when the top player has immobilized his opponent with torso to torso positions passed the guard (mount, side control, north-south, chest compression, etc). A player can score a pin from a back to chest position IF he is not being threatened by submission from bottom player. Pins can’t be scored from guard or half guard.

1 point will be awarded for a 10-19 second pin.
3 points awarded for 20-29 second pin.
4 points awarded for 30 seconds.

There is no Ippon or win by pin
*A maximum of 4 pin points can be scored per match. If the pin is applied in the end of the match time, the immobilization will be allowed for the full length, even if exceeding the duration of the match.

For in house randori we usually don't keep score, but if we do I like to add 2 points for a reversal and 1 point for an escape like "folk style" wrestling.


1. Inactivity. If the two players are not active on the ground, the referee will break them up and the action will be restarted from standing in the center of the mat. The referee can award cautions to both players at his discretion if Inactivity continues after verbal warnings.

2. Failure to engage. If one of the players is reluctant to fight and continues to fail to engage after a verbal warning, the player will be awarded caution and 1 point will be granted to his opponent. If the inactive player continues to avoid engagement, a second caution will be awarded and 1 point to his opponent. A third caution leads to immediate disqualification.

3. Rude and un-sportsmanlike behavior and/or verbal & physical aggression towards any event staff or official, by any player or his coach, corner man or team-mate.

4. Disqualifications: In case of 3 cautions. The referee can disqualify any player at his discretion in the case of a serious foul. Malicious or uncontrolled application of any submission can lead to a disqualification.
5. Prohibited actions:
a) Use of closed guard (full guard).
b) cervical and spinal locks.
c) Small joints manipulation (fingers/toes/wrists).
d) Heel hook.
e) Spiking on the head
f) Throws against the joint.
g) Standing joint locks.
h) Any kind of striking.
i) Slamming
j) Use of Vaseline or any similar substances on the body.
k) Biting, scratching, eye gouging, fish hooking.
l) Any kind of non- sportsmanship behavior.

Two mottos of the Keishoukan Dojo are:

Maintaining traditions of the past.
Utilizing the best training methods of today


Time Tested
Pressure Tested

In order to safely use modern training methods to pressure test your skills you need to take a smart and considered approach.

The following video is fairly lengthy, but makes a lot of good points.

A lot of the suggestions they make, especially for people in their first 6 months are built directly into our training methods.

I like to work a 12 week peak program
We start with principle based drills to help people learn to see and improvise.
Then we start to use more force on force drills focused on problem solving with each person having a specific task to accomplish.
Finally we move to freestyle drills.

Even in freestyle although we are competing the focus is on helping each other learn.

After 12 weeks we start again with principle based drills.

This method helps prepare students for increasingly difficult training.

Sadly most of today's youth have never played a contact sport yet alone been in a fight.  Also most young women grow up never rough housing.  So they never learn the unwritten social rules of violence, and all violence becomes perceived as wrong or evil.  (Not good when you need to use violence justifiably to protect yourself)

This method also helps me get a read of who I am teaching.

If someone gets overly aggressive (emotionally out of control) or competitive during the intro drills they will be dangerous at higher speed drills

I reserve the right not to teach anyone.

The Dojo has to be a emotionally safe place to practice physically dangerous things.
It also has to be a physically safe place to practice emotionally difficult things.

That sounds pretty profound right?  Honestly I just stole it from Dillon I don't if it was his or if he was quoting someone else but the sentiment rings true.

Another tenant of Katamedo JuJitsu is that every person has his or her own set of abilities and disabilities. Katamedo embraces practitioners of all abilities, races, religions and creeds.

Katamedo believes that organized sports and occupations can assist in providing important values and habits that help to organize the individual and assisting him or her in everyday life. One may have a challenge in life like attention deficit disorder, depression, visual impairments or an amputation. These in themselves do not preclude performance. They may initially impede performance, but in the end, the diversity and richness that these individuals provide improves themselves and all others involved.

With this 12 week peak method I want to provide everyone an opportunity to receive the positive benefits of force on force training.

Some of my students are dealing with a life time of injuries.  I can't let them get hurt.  I want them to learn, the things you can only learn by stepping in the ring - pushing yourself to do something uncomfortable.

So I wrestle them.  I am confident in my control that I won't hurt them.  I know I won't get all weird competitive.

I also benefit from this training.  I improve my skills by the just enough method.
What the hell is the just enough method?

Rory Miller told me a story of his Sensei Dave Sumner.
Rory was young and dumb and thought Judo was the only thing worth while in the world, and while he couldn't train in Judo at the time he would give this Old Jujutsu school a try.  So he sat in seiza and watched an entire class.  Eventually he introduced himself.  Finally he rolled with Dave, and although Dave was tough, and the head of this school he just barely beat Rory.  Then Rory watched him roll with someone else, and Dave just barely beat that guy.  So fourth and so on until...
Rory realized that Dave was so good he could roll with anyone adjust what he was doing so his partner was striving and struggling and learning, and then beat them by just enough.

Any chuckle head can crush someone of lesser skill and or physical ability.  It takes something much more to to win by just enough.

So, all my guys have an opportunity to train in randori no matter what physical challenges they may face.

I also want to provide opportunities to compete for those interested.
I am working with Allegiance Fitness in the Metro and Lee's Champion Tae Kwon Do in Mankato to host a USA Combat Wrestling open grappling competition twice a year (Once in spring and once in fall)

Why USA Combat Wrestling?
Besides the rules that embrace all styles of grappling as mentioned before, the reason I chose to work with this organization is Tim Kuth

I met Tim (on line at least) 6 or so years ago through Taiho Jitsu International.  Steve Jimerfield's organization.
Tim is a Police Officer and runs a martial arts school TK Martial Arts
click here to check out his school

Tim is also a Katamedo JuJitsu Instructor.

Sounds pretty cool right?  I know a guy just like that.  When guys have this much in common they either become good buddies or bitter rivals.

I got to meet Tim in person this summer at the USMAA National Training Camp where he taught Muay Thai.

Luckily we became pretty good buddies.  So when I saw he was involved with USA Combat Wrestling I looked into it further and liked what I saw.

They are inclusive to all grappling styles.  The rules make sense.  The rules are for safety, not to give an advantage to any one style over another.  Nor to make grappling more exciting for the spectator.

Judo, Wrestling, any grappling sport is not a spectator sport.  Honestly it is boring to watch and no adjustment to the rules is going to change that.

Grappling is boring to watch...unless you grapple, or know the person who is grappling.  Then it is very exciting.

Grappling is a participation sport not a spectator sport.  If we (as a grappling community) want to increase viewership of grappling events, we need to increase the amount of people that are actively participating in grappling.

USA Combat Wrestling is a way to achieve that.

My sister Kay loves to watch collegiate wrestling.  Why?  Because she knows how to wrestle.  She was the practice partner at home for my older brothers for years.  When she would come home from the Air Force for Christmas she would routinely kick my ass through my sophomore year (even then I think she was taking it easy on me so I wouldn't cry).

As fun as wrestling is to watch for someone who has wrestled, and watched family wrestle. Watching wrestling will never be as fun as WRESTLING.

USA Combat Wrestling can provide opportunities to my daughters that my sister never had.

It can also be a life long pursuit.  It is easy to let your self get soft.  If you continue to challenge yourself, doing what is necessary to maintain capibility becomes habit.  Not a hobby, a lifestyle

Do you want to be part of USA Combat Wrestling?
Of course you do.  Who dosen't?

Well, you can't be any geek off the street.  You have to be good with the steel if you know what I mean.

Do you know the riddle of steel?

"Crom is strong! If I die, I have to go before him, and he will ask me, 'What is the riddle of steel?' If I don't know it, he will cast me out of Valhalla and laugh at me." ~Conan the Barbarian

The true strength of steel is in the hand that wields it – in other words, it is the resolve and commitment we bring to a task, not the quality or quantity of tools we use in performing it, that is the most important factor in determining success.

So if you are willing to put in the work you can be part of USA Combat Wrestling

USA Combat Wrestling is open to any club from any wrestling or grappling style that wishes to join USACW in our efforts to help promote Combat Wrestling in the United States. If you practice, compete & encourage training for the Combat Wrestling rule set at your club, you are eligible to be listed in the club directory. As your club becomes more active with USA Combat Wrestling and earns competitive achievements, they will be noted along side your club’s directory listing.

To apply click here

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe