Arghh! my back!

Title says it all, since my last postings on the wonders of Kimura arm-locks, i’ve managed to do the thing that most people do in training and that’s injure themselves, or in this case I’ve injured myself.

So what did i do?

During a simple warm up exercise i managed to hurt my lower back, not terribly serious, but when the following day comes and you can’t even put your shoes and socks on without screaming in pain? you know this won’t get easier any time soon. Luckily, or unluckily,  i’m not a stranger to injuries so i know that the first point of call isn’t your local GP, it’s a specialist that knows about lower back pain, i.e. an Osteopath. But before we get to that point, i was helped out by a member of the academy who also went through this themselves and helped me stretch my lower back out a bit, no it wasn’t pleasant!

Later that particular evening a very hot bath to try and relax the muscles in the area, which helped slightly. Gingerly getting into bed and the fighting for hours to find a reasonably comfortable position to sleep in. I don’t recommend lying flat on your front or on your back. The following day comes and disaster already struck! I’m on my back. I attempt to sit up and quickly lie back down again, my back in telling me things… don’t try to sit directly up! I manage to roll out of bed and come to my knees. It feels like my back doesn’t understand the concept of movement. So i grit the teeth and slowly come up straight, even though still slightly stooped.

Dressing myself was a challenge, i.e. putting on trousers, socks, etc. Getting to work was generally unpleasant. Sitting at a desk to operate a pc, yeah that didn’t go down well, considering every time i got up was recipe for disaster. A colleague gave me a contact number for a local Osteopath in the area, which he recommended very highly, so i dutifully made an appointment.

After answering all the normal questions, you do on a first visit, it was time to strip then get on the table. The hour flew by… crack, crack, crack, crack… crack some more. No training for the week, ice the back to reduce swelling, do not sleep on your front or back, sleep on your side with a pillow between the knees. Plus the Osteopath put these strips on my back, why? apparently it helps blood flow to the area.

Days past, movement is coming back, pain still there but I’m moving better. Decided to have another assessment done, as i really want to get back to training, went and saw the Osteopath, another series of cracks and checks. Confirmation, my back is a lot more  responsive and feels like there’s some give in places as before there wasn’t any. Warned me of going back to training and to take it easy, otherwise i can undo all the healing that’s been done. For good measure they cracked the sh1t! out of my neck too and my upper back. (I really do think that back cracking is like ‘popping your cherry’ for Osteopath’s)

But my range of movement is a lot better now and next to no pain. I will now look forward to going back to training, but no high impact stuff. Being injured isn’t cheap!

“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”

It could save your life…

New week, same story… self – defense in particular clinches and bladed weapons…
As i reflect on last night’s lesson, i’m interrupted by a headline on Good morning Britain

“Why is it so easy for kids to buy knives?”

Professor addressed the class and explained what we would be doing this week, in terms of knife defense and generally continuing the work started last week. Discussions we had about certain videos uploaded and explanations as to how such things were possible, human reaction, etc. It was said that if you had an option to go up against a gun or knife? the option preferred was a gun? Why? i’ll divulge at the end of this blog entry.

We started the warm-up with running, side-stepping, running backwards, raised knees and raising heels up to the backside.

We then did pummel – re-pummel drills, an extra dimension was added to this, if a person gains double under-hooks ( both of their arms under your arms) then we were shown  techniques to defend/escape this position. It was also mentioned that this particular technique was used to excellent effect by Rickson Gracie.

We then went through potential ambushes with knives, (No longer will i use the term ‘knife attack’ it’s KNIFE AMBUSH!) and what to potentially look for before and do before things turn really ugly…

1) Visibility of attackers hands
2) Distance management between yourself and attacker
3) Awareness of surroundings, are they alone? Do you have limited escape options?
4) Having hands up to improve initial defense options

We then went through drills from last week as a needed refresher, adding in details with reference to which side to move to if someone tries to stab you in the stomach. Not to move in straight lines, always circle. High attacks keep you arm out stretched to also ensure protection of the neck area.

Professor added another potential defense/counter to a stab to the stomach by doing the following:

If the attacker is right handed, stop thrust at the elbow crease and just above the wrist, top hand being the left hand. Make sure to arch body to avoid knife blade, when placing hands make sure to lean slightly to the right as to get the palms of hands on to the
attackers arms. Keeping your own arms straight, keep a tight grip on wrist and change your top hand position to double up on wrist. Keeping arms straight bring the attackers arm to the side whilst twisting at the wrist and stepping through. When done, you should be behind attacker.

This was practiced a few times on both arms; being on the receiving end was rather painful.

We spoke a little more on knife philosophy and different ways attackers will try to control you prior to attempting the ambush. This is when the
professor introduced us to one potential counter, to buy you enough time if an attacker grabs you on the collar/shoulder with their arm pushed against
your neck…

Assuming they are going to ambush you with the knife in their right hand, place left hand into the arm pit of the attackers firmly, this will potentially save you from the first ambush, at this point retaliate with your own punches (3 if possible) then disengage after the strike. The idea is to stop the first attack and hit them to discourage a follow-up attack and effectively let go.

Ideally you don’t want to be in this position for long and the objective is gaining distance. We practiced this but found this defense tricky.

We spoke about other grabbed positions, which will be explored in more detail as the week progresses. We also spoke more about the philosophy of aggressive
people and changing from a self-defense position to an offensive one with subtle movements via hands and stance shifts.

Professor said at the beginning of the lesson, that he’d rather go up against a gun than a knife, for the fact that guns will run out of ammunition. Knives
potentially don’t and a knife in the hands of a committed, ruthless individual can cause ridiculous levels of damage as the video the professor uploaded demonstrated.

My thoughts, this was an informative addition on last weeks information, still a lot of this needs to be drilled and preferably with training knives! which all
appear to be missing… Now i think more actively about edged weapons and how i would stop the attack.

“Tapping out”

There’s no such thing as a knife attack!

The title appears misleading? But when you think about it, it’s true, you don’t get attacked with a knife you get AMBUSHED! Many wise words breathed tonight by the professor as he shaped up to round off the week.
He addressed the class as always explaining the format for the lesson which included more references to scenarios involving edged weapons, so not so much about knives but about anything that can cut, example razor blades taped between fingers, box cutters, etc.
Then more details on the clinch and how to engage and fend off.
At this point it’s important to say this.
We started the night, as a warm-up, some light rolling switching partners as we progessed to get accustomed to different body types, pressure, strength, etc.
We then went through different points to be aware of when dealing with someone with il intentions.
1) Can you see their hands? If not, assume weapon
2) Check what they are also doing with hands/arms? They maybe trying to protect the side with the weapon, a dead give away.
3) Check for bulges in pockets which could also indicate concealed weapons.
4) Check stance?, depending on which foot is back depicts their main striking hand/side.
5) Distance management, if there’s the suspicion that they are armed a minimum distance of 10-12 ft away. Note:
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, as ideally you want to be as far away as possible!
6) Are they alone? Try to be vigilant for accomplices.
We went through all the items that were covered in previous lessons, putting in extra details where necessary for certain positions.
An additional detail was added to the drilling involving someone performing a close quarters lunge at you, an attempt to grab you with both arms.
The following is for people who are right handed, i.e dominant striking hand.
They lunge!, you place left hand on their left shoulder, forearm against neck,this is the frame, using left elbow to push into their neck, then fire of three punches. (One low, one high, one low) then break away. When framing, sending hips backwards keeps the body out of reach, plus the punches need to be quick.
If they appear to be reaching for a weapon? disengage without pushing them, essentially step away.
The important part of this technique is to be aware of what they are doing with their hands.
We closed with discussions on groups, intimidation tactics in particular on women, concept of pre-emptive strikes via verbal triggers and we had a recount of one of the academy member’s experience when he was 14 and getting mugged for his phone.
My thoughts, a very insightful week and i don’t look at people the same way anymore. We do live in a very violent world but for me avoiding confrontation has been a life long objective, mainly because i didn’t have the necessary understanding or knowledge of such violent situations to be able to protect myself or loved ones. My objective is still the same but my understanding and knowledge of violent confrontations is now increasing.
“Tapping out!”

Clinches, knives and mindsets

This week has been dubbed “Knife Week” with regards to a training event
the professor conducted at the weekend and the invaluable information passed on to us in the previous lesson.

This is all relevant as it is a strategic add-on to the main topic of the week around getting into the clinch from a ‘standup’ scenario and knowing when is the right time to enter the clinch and to be wary of other dangers.

The professor gave us the customary breakdown for the evening and also spoke briefly on a video he posted in the academy ‘whatsapp’ group about different knife assaults, with a few demonstrations.

From there we moved into doing recap from the previous lesson, please see the previous blog post for details.

An additional detail added tonight was an extension from the initial knife defense drill from mondays lesson. Before doing that we did an exercise which involved using a two armed push on to a person you suspect maybe armed with a knife. What transpired
was that when we completed this drill it was 99.9% possible when you attempt to push someone away they will get at least one stab attempt landing on you!

To counter this, instead of doing a two armed push on the attacker, if they are right handed, push with your right arm whilst twisting and stepping away from the knife side. When this was drilled, even when attempting this for the first time, the success rate of avoiding the attack was tremendously higher.

We then went on to doing reflex drills within arms distance with a person attempting to stab from either arm into the stomach or a higher attack to the neck or face, the objective to instill a reflex to block the attack, by pushing on to the forearm and stepping away. We did this a few times, with the professor encouraging us to start from a close distance, naturally people would start to create distance subconsciously.

The added detail tonight was a defense of a stab to the stomach, which resulted in getting the attacker into a very nasty armlock.

If the attacker is right handed, when the stab attempt comes in meet the arm with both your arms perpendicular to the attack, with the left arm at the wrist to forearm and the right arm at the crease of the elbow with your right hand cupping the elbow.

Depending on force used could potentially make the attacker drop the knife. Attacker may draw their arm back at this point, use your left arm to bend attackers arm whilst sliding your arm into the bend of the attackers right arm and pushing through and securing hand on to the tricep. It should look like they have got their arm behind their back with your right hand on their elbow and your left arm threaded through and holding onto their

Keeping tight, it’s possible to free right hand and using your left arm and body to secure the arm. With the right arm free, damage can be done to the attacker. From here it is advisable not to allow the attacker to drop go forwards to the floor as it gives them an opportunity to roll and escape. It is advised to push your left knee into the space behind their right knee and pull them back so they sit down on the floor.

This was drilled several times on both sides, with the left arm attacks make sure your left arm is the top arm.

Then we went and did more clinch drills which included distance management. Professor then taught us the body fold take down which we all drilled, giving attention to making sure we protect ourselves properly before we attempt the take down.

The final addition for the evening was a potentially nasty RNC that can be attempted after we have taken the attacker down and forced them to go into the turtle position. I struggled with applying the RNC but the professor was able, as always, to help me make adjustments. We drilled this a few times before coming to the end of the lesson.

Professor closed on more philosphy on self-defense, mindset, state of knife crime in the UK and other members of the academy were able to relate to personal
experiences relating to knife crime.

Personal thoughts, of all the martial arts I’ve attempted in the past, nothing compares to what i’m learning now. Being a parent it makes me more appreciative of the knowledge I am gaining as I need to pass it on.

Learning this, i.e. jiu-jitsu, with a sport agenda is to me a complete waste!

“Tapping out!”

Man can’t run out of self-defence moves!

Tonight was a new beginning in the academy syllabus. Tonight we ventured into understanding and arriving at the clinch.
Along with this part of the curriculum was a discussion over the psychology of a fight and also the common false interpretation of someone knowing a self-defence art such as ‘Gracie Jiu-Jitsu’ being immune to harm or being some sort of super-human.
We started the class with the normal address from the Professor and then started the warm-up. We did running, side-stepping, running backwards and then back to running forwards. Next we did a drill which involved clinching your partner with either arm under their armpit and resting on their shoulder referred to as a pummel or re-pummel. We did this a few times swopping partners to deal with different people of different sizes.
The lesson started, a more philosophical tone to the evening, explaining fight mentality, aggression and dispelling common belief potentially taught by other self-defence disciplines around… knives.
The first move explained a reaction to someone potentially stabbing you towards the body, however certain things need to be addressed first:
1) Distance between you and the attacker
2) Options, i.e. can you run?, should you run?
3) Position of hands
4) Eye contact during confrontation
5) Do they have an accomplice?
If you can run, you should run it’s not about being a hero.
Always maintain an estimated 10ft between you and the attacker, especially if you don’t know if they are carrying a weapon, the distance gives you time to get away from them.
If you are in a situation where you can’t directly escape use your hands to create an initial frame around yourself. Or a better option would be to use any obstacles near where you are for example a parked car.
Maintain eye contact with the attacker.
If the attacker attempts a stab, with your arms already up, you can do the following:
Shift your mid section back, almost like bending over whilst placing your arms out to target the arm that’s wielding the knife. It’s almost a pushing motion on their arm whilst moving your body back.
This was drilled for quite some time, expansion on this move will be done later in the week.
We then moved on to working with distance management, at this stage the weapons went away and this was more essentially altercations with people that weren’t armed but still aggressive. So we did some drills keeping distance between our training partners, one person advancing the other adjusting their position and vice versa.
Next we added in an extra move to discourage advancement from a would be attacker, the Pisao kick!, this was practiced taking note of stances and what part of the foot to use in addition to where to target. This position was advanced to kicking to two other locations on the attacker, all designed to keep them at bay. This was practiced with varying degrees of success.
After that we then used the Pisao kick to potentially ‘encourage’ a strike from the attacker, giving us the opening to clinch. The strike in question was a ‘haymaker’ attack, which we would perform a high block with the arm and use that as an anchor to put weight over the arm trap and engage into a clinch. Head positioned just under the chin, body engaged hip to hip at the side. From here a headbutt and a knee into the groin is available, then leading into hip toss. This was practiced on both sides with differing degrees of success.
We then talked about jabbing, again incorporating distance management this move is an addition to the basic punch defences down several weeks back, but tonight take downs were added on the end. So first we would need to understand when would be the right time to engage in this defence. Attempting to punch requires commitment from the puncher, if we are managing distance we are essentially encouraging the attacker to come at us so we can capitalise. This would involve a parry to the punch followed by initiating a clinch under the punching arm. This was practiced a few times to understand the basic principal.
The professor then added a takedown at the end, this one involved  same entry but this time, we grabbed around the backs of the hamstring on both legs, moved our legs so we were positioned directly beneath them, stood up whilst holding them and raising their legs up together whilst twisting round which sent their top half towards the floor. For those that were partnered with bigger training partners, were encouraged not to do this if they were possibly carrying a back injury. There was a different variation which basically was a single leg take down, involving same entry, but both hands on the leg just behind the knee with the head positioned into their body. Then stepping round whilst holding the leg to send them to the floor.
We drilled this for a while, alternating between the different take downs.
At this point the professor asked us if we had any questions, different ones came up and the professor as always had an answer for us.
Personal thoughts, the mindset is absolutely vital when carrying out these drills and techniques. I personally never want to have to get into a situation where i would need to use this, hopefully i’ll be able to read a situation, preferably from afar, and not get involved. But sometimes it doesn’t always work that way. The logic behind these techniques make a lot of sense but the most valuable part was the professor’s experience in dealing and seeing these situations before. Effectively there’s no bullshit involved. I look forward to more education in these situations and techniques when dealing with people with weapons!
“Tapping out!”