Saturday, May 8, 2010

Knives, Knives Everywhere

iStock_000008189664XSmallI was on my way to work this morning and while traveling down Columbia Road… in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston… I came to a stop behind a vehicle at a traffic signal in Fields Corner.
While waiting for the traffic signal to turn green, I noticed a man come over to the passenger side window of the vehicle in front of me. The man pulled a knife… it looked like a steak knife… out of his pants pocket and started waving it. I couldn’t make out what he was saying because my windows were rolled up and my radio was on.

After the man was done gesticulating, he turned around, put the knife in his left pants pocket and walked away. At that point, the traffic signal turned green. I didn’t know whether the man was returning to a parked vehicle or getting back onto the sidewalk.

What’s the point of the story? Assume everybody carries a knife!

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sparring is not Fighting

Sparring Sparring can be defined as free-form fighting with enough rules or agreements to make injuries unlikely. Sparring is not fighting. Sparring is normally distinct from fights in competition. The goal of sparring is normally for the education of the participants, while a competitive fight seeks to determine a winner.

As we all know, although there are rules in combative sports, many fights are ended by one combatant purposely injuring another combatant. And, in street-fighting, the rules of the asphalt jungle come into play. The fight might be ended by death.

So then, why spar? What are some of the advantages?

Sparring allows you to practice your movement, blocking, slipping, bobbing and weaving, ducking and other defenses against a moving opponent trying to punch or kick you. This is in stark contrast to shadow boxing, hitting the heavy bag or defending against prearranged punches and kicks thrown at you. In addition, there is the stress of being hit by an unpredictable opponent as well as understanding that you will be hit. Remember this saying: “Fighters get hit. Good fighters get hit less.”

When I’m sparring, I concentrate on a few things that I want to improve. It may be counterpunching, seeing the holes in my partner’s defenses or practicing a particular kick. I do not think of my partner as an opponent. We’re educating each other; not competing.

Is sparring necessary? Maybe not. According to a KMWW Force Training Division instructor, “Students I've trained who have gone on to defend themselves in real life (mostly law enforcement and/or military) usually had no sparring experience when they defended themselves successfully.” Once again, sparring is not fighting.

The downside to sparring—I believe—particularly for a smaller or weaker individual, is the development of a false sense of fighting ability versus a larger partner. Since the larger and stronger partner has been instructed to temper his punches and kicks, the smaller and weaker partner mistakenly believes that he can overwhelm his larger and stronger partner with his fighting prowess.

In this universe, greater mass overwhelms lesser mass. I think we all know this Sir Isaac Newton law of motion: Force = (Mass x Acceleration). For example, in a head-on collision, a Humvee H3 will do more damage to a Smart Car than the Smart Car will do to a Humvee H3. Do not attempt to go against the laws of physics; you’ll lose. There is a reason combative sports have weight classes!

The bottom line is… keep sparring in its proper perspective.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Knife Attacks on the Ground

Knife Attack The advanced Monday night class was full of fun and frolic on the ground. Coincidentally, most of the students participating also participate in Wednesday night’s ground fighting class. This made it a very interesting class, indeed.

The ground fighters easily made the adjustment from remaining on the ground with their opponents in order to apply chokes, arm bars and the like to striking, getting up and getting away. Later, intensity was heightened when punches and knife attacks came into play.

As I mentioned in a previous post, “Unless you’re a consummate grappler, have complete control of your environment (a plush surface to grapple on) and are sure you're facing a single, unarmed opponent, don’t go to the ground and grapple.” However, there are times when you end up on the ground through no fault of your own.

Warm up #1
Holding a tombstone pad moving around, our partner placed the pad in positions for straight punches, round kicks and groin kicks.

Warm up #2
Holding a tombstone pad moving around, our partner placed the pad in positions for straight punches, round kicks and groin kicks. Our partner dropped the pad and attacked us with chokes and bear hugs.

Drill #1
While standing with our eyes closed, our partner attacked us. We counterattacked and our partner fell to the ground. Our partner had to get back on his feet.

Drill #2
Straddling the tombstone pad with our knees in a mount position, we delivered strikes to the pad and then pushed off on the pad to get up and get away.

Drill #3
With our partner on the ground, we placed him in a scarf hold (kesa gatame) or headlock. We delivered strikes to our partner and then pushed off on him to get up and get away.

Drill #4
While our partner had us in a scarf hold or headlock, we practiced various escapes from those positions.

Drill #5
While standing with our eyes closed, our partner attacked us. We counterattacked and our partner fell to the ground. We went to the ground and placed him into a scarf hold or headlock. He had to escape from the hold.

Drill #6
With our partner on top of us in the mount position trying to stab us with a knife, we practiced 360 defenses.

Drill #7
While we had our partner in a scarf hold or headlock, our partner pulled a knife. We defended and got away.

Drill #8
We were on our knees facing our partner preparing to grapple. We both had knives hidden. We started to grapple and one of us pulled a knife.

“If the knife is present and used as a threat to induce you to hand over money, do so and get away as fast as you can; if a knife is going to be used to attack, your first option always is escape! If unable to escape, you have to counterattack, but wisely.”

Peter Robins

I thoroughly enjoyed this class. It was like rolling on Wednesday night with a twist. In addition, it was a lot of fun with great intensity.

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Krav Maga True Colors

By Moshe Katz

Color Wheel We say true colors are beautiful but do we really see things that way? Do we really want to see the true colors or the colors we have become accustomed to?

Let's take a look at the martial arts. We have many traditionalists among us. A judo man will stick to judo, he will not dilute his judo with kicks or punches; he is a purist. A karate man will not go to the ground, nor will he put on boxing gloves and train with a boxer. A wrestler will not kick. Bruce Lee came along and said, really there is only one martial art. What you are seeing are just many different parts of one whole, it is time to put them all back together again. Real life self defense is not only kicking, or punching, or takedowns, or wrestling. Real life is all of the above.

When man first started fighting it was everything goes. That was the original "color". As time went on one school specialized in ground work while another perfected boxing or kicking. Yet another dealt with the art of pressure points. But in reality Lee said, they are all only parts of one original puzzle. That is the true color. The problem was that for so long we became accustomed to the red paint that was not real. It was just a way of preventing rust, and now that the real color has been restored it seems out of place, unnatural.

Bruce Lee, the UFC, Krav Maga, are all hitting on the same theme. The real color is the totality of fighting. Each martial art is but one school preserving and perfecting one limited aspect of this totality. It is time to reunite the pieces and recreate the whole.

We are very limited in our vision and in our perception. We are conditioned to see things as we are used to seeing them, even if it is not real, even if the color we are seeing is merely a preservative. True colors confuse us, they upset the apple cart. In life and in martial arts we need to be open to seeing real colors, even if they are sometimes confusing.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Krav Maga Mind Training

By Moshe Katz

Mind Training Where is your mind when you are training? What are you thinking about? What should you be thinking about?

I will tell you exactly what you should be thinking about, so pay close attention, Fare attenzione (Italian), Venimaniye (Russian) Sim lev (Hebrew).

Your mind should be nowhere in particular. Shut it off and lose yourself in the training.

Now I am not talking about technique learning, then of course you must be focused and pay close attention. I am referring to when you are working on your drills; your kicking, punching, full contact knife defense. I am talking about when you must drive yourself physically.

If you have a teacher, that is great. Just surrender to his/her control, be a robot, do as he says. If he says kick, you kick until your legs can move no more, if he says punch, you punch until your hands bleed and can no longer move. Man, I miss those days.

So what do I do these days, I will blast something like AC/DC singing "No mercy for the bad if they need it." Or "Evil walks behind you, evil sleeps beside you, evil talks arouse you, evil walks behind you."

Maybe I will hit myself in the head with…

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Krav Maga Theory

By Moshe Katz

Got You! Mankind produces many great theories. We have theories on evolution, on the creation of the earth, on global warming and a million other topics. Some theories make men famous for the duration of their lifetime and then, years later, poof! The theory is dismissed and replaced by another theory.

Test out your theories in training, don't wait for this to happen on the street.

Most of these theories have one thing in common; you can't really prove if they are true or not. You may 'prove' it with mathematical notations that cover many pages or with abstract concepts that only the brilliant can comprehend but, in reality, in remains just that, a theory.

With Krav Maga, and other reality based systems of defense, it should not be that way. Often, however, it is.

Recently I met a Krav Maga practitioner who showed me a certain knife defense. He "explained" it to me with various theories involving the nature of the triangle, the angle of the body as compared to a body in motion, and the concept of a straight line vs. a bent line and so forth. Interesting! To me it made no sense at all so I just said, "interesting" and let it go.

By chance I bumped into the fellow again...

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tips for Randori

Judo Throw Students practicing randori, or free practice, are learning the use of letters, words and sentences of Judo to communicate in a meaningful way. The meaning of the Japanese word randori suggests there is generally no controlling form or pre-established method of practice. It is often practiced freely, with each person attacking and defending at will with full power.

In randori, one can never be sure what technique the opponent will employ next, so they must be constantly on guard. Being alert becomes second nature. One acquires poise, the self-confidence that comes from knowing that he can cope with any eventuality. The powers of attention and observation, imagination, of reasoning and judgment are naturally heightened and these are all useful attributes in daily life as well as in the dojo.

– Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo

The following are tips for randori. I believe many of these tips can be applied in Krav Maga practice as well as grappling practice.

  • There is no score or winner in randori, so banish thoughts of victory or defeat.

  • Focus on attacking freely without regard for being thrown.

  • Keep a relaxed and natural posture to retain free movement of your body and mind.

  • Keep your arms loose.

  • Keep your head up and centered over your hips.

  • Do not waste energy.

  • Follow through with each technique; do not get in the habit of going half way.

  • Follow up each technique with another.

  • Never refuse a practice partner.

  • Seek out training partners who are better than you are.

  • Try new moves to overcome problem situations.

  • Rely on skill and timing, not strength.

  • Control your breathing.

  • Keep your elbows close to your body where they are most powerful and least vulnerable.

  • Always face your opponent.

  • Do not cross your feet when moving around.

  • Learn to feel your partner’s intentions and anticipate attacks.

  • Maintain mizu no kokoro (mind like water); stay calm and undisturbed.

  • Focus on kuzushi (breaking balance) to create opportunities for attacks.

  • Employ the principle of maximum efficiency even when you could easily overpower the opponent with size or strength.

  • Help your partner to learn while you perfect your technique.

  • Act now; analyze later.

  • Do not make excuses; do not give up. Tomorrow you will be better.
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