What stands up must go down

The dawn of a new week, the start of a new topic, this time we explore options for taking a person to the ground in the form of a double leg takedown.

Professor addressed us on the target details for the week, starting with tonight’s lesson. Areas he will be covering are the basics with the double leg takedown and ways to enter the mount position.

We started a warm-up consisting of running, side stepping , running backwards, knee lifts and raised heels. We also performed hip escapes and backward rolls, making sure to go over the shoulders. We then did an exercise which involved trying to grab a person’s gi for control whilst trying to protect your own gi. We did this a few times, swapping partners periodically and then the professor added a dynamic which involved performing a takedown by placing a foot on the waist and bringing them down.

We then started the lesson on the double leg takedown. Professor explained that this should be attempted from roughly arms distance from your attacker. Any further back and it can end up being bad for you. We then drop height, place front foot underneath attacker, wrap arms around the legs in a manner to squeeze the legs together, then push forwards from the shoulders and pull back on the arms. This will result in the attacker going down.

We practised this a few times on both sides to reinforce understanding of the mechanics.

At this point, once the attacker is down the next objective is to get side/cross body control. Professor explained the process for doing this, involving trapping a leg and moving both legs to the side of the trapped leg. Then securing the cross body position. 

From here, the professor had 3 different variations for obtaining the mount.

Placing hand on the thigh and guiding foot to meet the hand, to wrap the leg around the thigh and underneath the body to obtain the mount.

If the attacker raises their knee against your side to prevent you obtaining the mount then this variation can help. Place arm against the near side hip, create space for foot to be passed to the hand being used to block the attackers hip, the use hand to guide foot across the attackers body to obtain the mount.

The last variation shown makes use of the leg being used to block your mount attempts. This option involves pushing down on the leg, trapping it then moving your other leg across to obtain the mount.

All three were practised several times with varying levels of success.

This concluded the evenings lesson with the professor explaining importance of connections when performing these techniques and eluding to submission options which will be covered during the week.

My thoughts, some good details and I am also  finding it easier to understand as a lot of the principles are being constantly used. My preferred mount option was definitely the last variation as my long inflexible legs found greater success using it. I noticed people with smaller legs preferred the second variation.

“Tapping out”


The mysteries of head locking…

Wrapping up an educational week on head lock counters, the professor addressed the academy congregation present on the importance of sensible sparring, then went into details of tonight’s lesson.
We started off with very light ‘rolling’ to get ourselves warmed up and again advised not to over exert as we are doing this to just warm-up; switching partners as we go.
We then recapped head lock escapes from earlier in the week, emphasising the points when brought to the ground of making sure to be on your side and to defend yourself against punches and head butts.
Professor then went over some added details from the stand up position, this included two additional escapes. The first being if you’re head locked and are still standing but the person head locking you is either attempting to just squeeze or attempt to punch with the other hand. In such a situation it’s important to keep your head turned towards the head lockers body, having one hand on the choking arm and the other braced against the head locker’s free arm. This gives sufficient protection for the moment, to escape the situation requires use of leverage by placing a leg, the one opposite the side your head is trapped, underneath the head locker then performing a squat action whilst straightening from the waist to get up right again. From here an arm lock submission is possible.
Another variation to this is to potentially move the other foot to the side and then straighten which did make executing this counter easier.
We practiced this a while, using varying degrees of resistance to test the technique. The other technique involved taking a person down to the floor. This is achieved by keeping a hand on the free arm or hip of the head locker, placing your hand just above the arch behind the knee, palm up with the fingers and thumb separated making an “L” shape, simultaneously pushing the back of the leg, pulling with the other hand and sliding your leg through the head locker’s legs to bring them down and positioning yourself in a modified mount with them possibly still head locking you. From here the previous drills gave us enough to turn this position into a submission.
We practiced this a few times, the professor stopped us a few times to remind us of safety aspects when doing this manoeuvre, namely to make sure not to land on our own elbow when performing the takedown for reasons that we are on mats and if we ever
had to do this in the ‘streets’ would be landing on concrete! We practiced some more and then brought a close to the lesson.
My thoughts, important details… I think back to some of my ‘skirmishes’ in the earlier part of my life and the headlock plus strikes to the head was such a common attack and probably still is. Plenty more for me to practice…
“Tapping out!”

Obtaining keys to head locks…

A new week… continuation of headlock and baton defence, progressing on from last week’s tutelage on the subject. Professor gave us the break down on the nights lesson accompanied by some philosophical words on head locks, how they can be
obtained and also how common it is for fights to end at some stage in a head lock. At that point i thought back to a conversation I had with my son today… He was in school and a fight almost ensued and the other kid that wanted to start a fight opened up with a headlock followed by a trip attempt. Needless to say, my son managed to defend the head lock and avoided being tripped.
We started the evenings warm-up with a gentle roll/sparring just to get warmed up, swopping partners periodically. We then went straight into baton defence with another attack aimed directly at our head. The principles learnt last week were identical but we learnt another position, which allowed us to protect our head and drop straight into a clinch which allowed us to control the arm with the weapon, options from here lead into either a single leg take down or a knee into the ‘open space’ followed up by a hip throw.
All variations were practiced several times, with the professor scolding us for not being more committed with the baton attack on the head to help our training partners.
Afterwards we went into headlocks, talking about regularity of headlocks being used as a vehicle to take people down. Professor did a quick revision on things to do when in the basic defensive position on the ground, in particular arm positions and body position then began to explain other options available to us if we aren’t able to get the defensive techniques taught last week.
This included variations to hook over the leg to effectively allow you to get up on to your knees and get to the modified mount position.
Bridging into them to lift them and to place your hip under theirs, this particular technique was especially good if they are driving weight on to you, since the connection is there bridging into them lifts their waist off the floor allowing you to drive your hip under theirs. Then it’s a case of rolling them back the other way so that you’re on top.
The last technique taught was if the person head locking keeps moving their leg you’re trying to hook, to potentially remedy that scenario you can hook the other way and lift their leg up allowing you to get underneath them to roll them back the other way… straight into the modified mount.
All of the above was drilled, with an exercise at the end to potentially work different head lock escapes based on what the person holding you were doing. Surprisingly, the options available were numerous and combinations were plentiful.
At the end we spoke more about head lock philosophy which lead into jiu-jitsu philosophy and were encouraged to do more headlock drills in our sparring.
My thoughts, this was a nice addition following on from last week, knife ambushes, baton attacks and head locks does it get much nastier? For now i am thankful I have something to potentially answer some of those questions…
“Tapping out”

Lock, stock and a smoking baton!

Due to heavy work commitments i neglected to write up Wednesday’s account of the lesson at the academy, so I’ll be summarising two nights in one.

Just as normal, we were addressed by the professor on the tone for the week with reference to self defence of batons and also if you ever get caught and end up in a headlock. We had some background philosophy on the regularity of headlocks in street fights and different ways people can try and put these on you.

With the warm-ups on Wednesday, we did running, side-stepping, running backwards and hip escapes. We finished off with a drill to simply try and escape someone’s guard and enter into cross body position or full mount. Tonight we did simple rolling to gently warm up the body.

We then went in and revised the moves from Monday’s lesson and on Wednesday; we had expanded on certain moves when defending over head attacks with the baton. This ultimately lead to the a throw over your head so that the attacker with the baton ends up landing on their head. This is performed if the person with the baton ends up behind you.

Moving on from that position tonight we also looked at another similar throw, which had a different element to it but achieved the same thing. When performing the throw, your hips need to be lower than your opponents. With the added details tonight this throw was performed more by aligning your backside with their thigh and simply walking backwards, whilst bending over to achieve the throw.

After drilling a few times, we then progressed to doing headlocks counters. We again revised Monday’s lesson and the added details taken from Wednesday lesson, which consisted of performing a frame on the person still trying to keep a tight headlock on you. The purpose of the frame is to eventually persuade them, via pain and discomfort, to let go of your head so you can perform an arm-lock. This was drilled with differing levels of success. The professor also showed us an alternative counter if we couldn’t frame. This consisted of going to your knees and putting them on their back.

We drilled this for a reasonable length of time before moving on.

All the extra details added into tonight’s lesson consisted of additional arm-locks, some arm-lock escape counters and a very sneaky triangle setup. One of the arm-lock escape counters involved a method of breaking the ‘gable grip’ which is common for arm-lock defending. The method involved doing an americana type lock on the ‘gable gripped’ arm.

After going through the other details, my mind was literally spinning at the level of detail being shown. The lesson concluded with a final address from the professor to make sure we respect the person we’re sparring with.

My thoughts, the lessons this week have been up to the expected standard and the knowledge transfer is truly amazing. Baton defence will beautifully complement the knife lessons. The only downside probably to the week is that, for me, a lot of the extra details on the mat, will require a lot of adjustment for me to make sure i can be effective. All work in progress…

“Tapping out X2”


From knives to bats…

Defending yourself couldn’t be more important… the start of a new week a focus change, away from ambushes with a knife to ambushes with baton’s in addition head lock defences which were briefly touched upon last week.
Professor discussed the philosophy of the use of baton’s in skirmishes in the streets and nicely lead on to the use of headlocks. Such a common attack especially when you get close. So the evening was looking at basic positions with respect to dealing with these two potentially lethal assaults.
We started with a warm-up which consisted of running, side-stepping, backward running and hip escapes. Then we did a set of drills, first one a speed ‘grab’ drill, where we had one arm on the wrist and the other on the gi, we then proceeded to pull in the grabbed person into a hip throw position and then retracted the position. The point of the drill was for speed and we were expected to do this 20 times each side.
Afterwards we did a throw, which apparently was used on Helio Gracie in his battle against Kato, (check 8mins 07 seconds into the fight) this involved stepping across the
grabbed opponent, right foot in line with their right foot, pulling their head down and bring the left to foot to raise their left foot resulting in them being thrown down.
The last warm-up drill we did was a combination of the previous two, we had one hand on the wrist the other behind the head, idea was to again step across so right foot in line with their right foot, then this time drag the right foot back to stretch their left foot, once that is done you can then use your left hand to pull their right foot at which point they go down on to the floor. From here armlocks were attempted as a finish.
With the warm-ups over, we looked at initially two baton defences, with the attacks coming from above the attackers head. The idea was to get in before the swing has started. Good posture and base was necessary and placement of the first initial move of the hand on the wrist is vital. The first variation required stopping the attacker, whilst making sure to protect our head and keeping the arm free to defend against attacks from the other arm, whether they are armed or unarmed in the other hand, then disarming the weapon hand.
The second variation facilitated not getting a full grip on the wrist and the attacker attempting to move their arm back, at this point to defend this position grabbing of the arm at 3 points was essential, the wrist, the elbow and our head tight on their shoulder with the other hand clamped underneath. From here the idea was to keep the base low and take a step, then using momentum from the top down and with the leg sweeping their leg up from behind to perform a takedown. Once they’re down, performing an armlock was the finish.
The above was drilled a few times making sure to understand balance and not to topple after the trip.
Next we looked at scenario’s involving headlocks. Stories were told and videos mentioned of how dangerous headlocks can be. One scenario explained by the professor, is if you’ve been able to distance yourself from a would be attacker and they then advance, inviting the clinch learnt last week, what is common is for them to headlock and then take you to the floor, where the future will look exceptionally bleak. The first part of the headlock counter was to ensure safety from being squeezed and hit, which involved being on your side, then stopping assaults. We practiced this one piece first before moving on the first escape.
This escape involved building a frame against the neck of the attacker then using hip escapes and outstretching the arms to change position. Once enough space was obtained and the ‘headlocker’ releases the headlock, this essentially pushes their head near you legs allowing the opportunity to attempt a leg scissors around their neck. An important detail with this is to make sure the you raise their chin up, prior to engaging the legs around the neck.
This was drilled successfully, seemingly a straight forward concept to grasp.
The last escape similar movement to the above, but if the headlocker doesn’t let go. In that situation, the idea is to use the leg facilitating the hip escape to act as a weight in a pendulum to allow the headlocked the ability to sit up, then position themselves in a modified mount position on the headlocker. From here control is key, as there are various options from this position, in terms of causing damage to them, either via other locks or strikes.
We ended the night with a summary and also how these simple positions will be the foundations of the rest of the lessons for the week.
My thoughts, this to me was very interesting since i got caught in a headlock on the mats not long ago. Also the weapon defence from a baton was interesting as it is a completely different dynamic to the knife. Again looking forward to the rest of the lessons this week.
“Tapping out!”

Practice, Practice and Practice some more!

As luck would have it, i was able to make the Friday afternoon session at the academy. Even though the professor wasn’t there one of his black belts, referred to as Coach, took the class. A stickler for details especially when it’s self defence.
Very much like the professor, coach addressed the class explaining that the format for the lesson was to go over the details already taught by the professor this week. So, of course, knife defence was on the agenda as well as the clinching and awareness.
We went straight into things with coach’s take on distance management and quickly got us doing drills geared around making sure we attempt the clinch at the right time. Details were made not to try and attempt the clinch when a punch has already been thrown
but to commit before, making sure on connection we are connected at the hip and placing head just under the chin making sure we protect ourselves from any strikes.
We also did drills when the attacker begins to reach, that we back off from them by making sure hands are up and we step away from them. Key detail was to make sure when moving backwards we move the back leg before moving the front leg. Failure to do this will leave us vulnerable to being taken down. This was drilled to good success.
Leading on nicely from this was the basic knife defence from an attacker attempting a stab to the stomach. This was achieved by using both hands to block down on the arm with the knife, making sure to move body away and stepping backwards afterwards to keep the distance. This again was drilled to good success.
Leading on from this was practice of the basic knife counter which leads to the attacker being put in a nasty arm-lock. With this detail, it was noted that we were ending up too much behind the attacker, where we needed to be more at the side. This adjustment meant we were able to do the behind the knee push and keep better control of the attacker by having a hold of their opposite shoulder, whilst pressed into the locked arm. This, for me at least, made me feel more confident with the counter. We drilled this several times noticing gradual improvements.
Lastly we finished on the knife defence when grabbed from the front on the shoulder with their arm going against the neck. Since we had replica training knives it was evident to see that with a 6” knife in my hand my reach was quite considerable! I raised this potential problem with coach who demonstrated the point of the initial defence. Then it all became extremely clear! We drilled this and slight adjustments were needed for certain people, but initially the reflex defence for such an attack is paramount to gaining success with this technique.
We came to close on that last detail and in preparation for people’s up and coming graduations, coach did a ‘circle’ and put people through their paces by making the more experienced members go through self-defence techniques on their least favoured side.
My thoughts, an excellent end to the series on clinches, knife defence and distance management, unfortunately i wasn’t able to make the evening class due to personal commitments but either way I felt privileged to be able to get extra details from another black belt to help improve the technique i’ve been learning these part few weeks.
“Tapping out!”

We should all take this seriously..

Gaining popularity, the class was very full Wednesday night, more videos seen, knife ambushes are no joke!
As I prep for the lesson, my mind wanders off to when I sat on the tube during my daily commute home from work, i looked around the carriage eyeballing people, the lady doing her make-up, kids reading comics, everyone else playing “candy crush” or listening to their smart phones, oblivious to people they are travelling with…
Professor opened up by welcoming newcomers to the academy and with the format for the evening, more on clinches and knife ambushes plus introducing an added element of head lock counters… With that said we proceeded into doing the warm-up, which consisted of running, side stepping, running backwards then into , 2 sets of hip escapes, backward rolls over the shoulders, lizard crawls forwards and backwards.
Head lock counters were explained by the professor and the different stages where this can begin, starting with posture. This then escalated to defending a punch which then lead on to locking the attackers arm behind their back.
We also looked at defence of someone grabbing the shoulder and trying to disrupt balance, this essentially worked off of the previous drill on posture again and this time the end product was wrapping up their arm and using leverage against their elbow.
Next, we reviewed Monday’s lesson going through different elements of knife ambush philosophy, how things work in the street and we recapped the different ambushes and defensive actions to take. Professor also added a dimension to the mechanics of edged weapons attacks, essentially ‘stabbing’ and ‘slashing’.
More review work was done on clinches and an additional detail in the event that when attempting to clinch someone, they manage to control your head in a Muay thai clinch. This counter involved protecting yourself from attacks from the knee and ultimately
locking up both the attackers arms and performing a takedown, which then lead on to either more strikes or an arm break. (I say ‘break’ as that would be the intended action if this happened in a street fight). We went over the details and the professor demonstrated
various takedowns and potential finishes from this position. The key detail was in the locking of the hands to maintain some control over the attacker.
Lesson came to a close with the professor outlining what’s to come at the end of the week, with knife defence still heavily on the agenda also the mindset to have whilst training/drilling these details. Another important tip from the professor, generally if involved in a clinch and there’s empty space, always strike! whether it be a kick, head butt, punch, knee all these things provoke actions. Fights in the street won’t be like the sparring sessions we are accustomed to when practising the grappling elements and the professor makes it very clear that having the correct mindset first is absolutely paramount to all the techniques being taught to us.
My personal thoughts, the repetition is needed, the philosophy is intriguing, the insight is immense.
“Tapping out”