Posts Tagged ‘jiu-jitsu’

How ‘Bout Now…

Posted: July 11, 2013 by beforethefire in Humor
Tags: , , , , , ,

These Jiu-jitsu practitioners address the problem of eye gouging when ground fighting. For those who don’t know, eye gouging and other dirty fighting tactics are a common argument against Jiu-jitsu training.

How do you defend against dirty fighting tactics?


Martial arts culture is full of rivalries and dichotomies: traditional training vs. sport training, eastern arts vs. western arts, hard vs. soft. The list goes on. One rivalry, however, is one I’d eventually like to see put to rest. I’m talking about strikers vs. grapplers. In my mind, striking techniques and grappling techniques are but tools for achieving an objective. I began my martial arts training in the striking arts: Kenpo, Karate, and Taekwondo. Now I train Gracie Jiu-jitsu. Very seldom did these two different strategies meet for me in class, but now I see a little of one in the other can make a good fighter great.
Since I usually talk about the many virtues of Jiu-jitsu, I want to point out the incredible usefulness and versatility of strikes. I do agree that grappling is more appropriate for all levels of violence, since grappling techniques can be as gentle as they are effective. Strikes, however, are useful tools for opening opportunities, disrupting your opponent’s movements, and causing some quick, obvious damage. This is assuming, of course, that your opponent has become assaultive, and you are legally justified in hitting him.
Striking has so many great uses besides simply knocking someone out. One is to simply cause your opponent to move. Throwing jabs and crosses at your opponent’s face, for example, can cause him to cover his face with his hands and even change his posture, thus making him easier to approach and grapple. Mounting your opponent and striking him from above can, besides causing him to surrender, force him to raise his arms in defense, opening the way for an armbar or a shoulder lock.
Strikes can also cause your opponent to hesitate, stumble, or otherwise abandon their intended movement. Is he rushing towards you with his fist raised, ready to strike? A simple push kick to his leg or hip can stop his movement dead in its tracks, or even cause him to stumble and fall. Is he trying to grab your groin when you’ve mounted him (don’t laugh, we’re all adults here!)? A simple elbow to his face, even if it doesn’t connect, can convince him that such an exchange would not be in his favor.
I like how many things you can achieve through a little blunt force trauma. I’ve never been confident in knockout strategies. Knockouts are harder to get than most people think. As a grappler, however, I highly value any tactic that can help me close the distance with my opponent or illicit a predictable reaction from them. Though Gracie Jiu-jitsu takes up the bulk of my training, I sometimes pull out the target mitts and drill a few combos and my footwork.
Grapplers: how do you incorporate striking into your training?
Strikers: how do you incorporate grappling into your training?

A lot of people like to argue about which of all martial arts styles is the best, “best” meaning “most effective” most of the time in those arguments. Never heard this argument before? Go to YouTube, look up a self defense video, and proceed to the comments section below. It’ll be there. The hard part about this argument is, of course, that fighting is a form of complex problem solving, the complex problem in most cases being interpersonal violence. And, like most complex problems, violence has many possible answers whose effectiveness is hard  to quantify or measure. That is why, I believe, martial arts can be considered arts. Just like there are many ways to paint a portrait, there are many ways to navigate the progression of violent acts from an opponent. Hence so many martial arts styles.

There are a few, however, that stand apart from all other styles. These are the combat forms and martial arts of armed forces. These are the martial arts practiced by those who regularly experience combat on its grandest scale. The most notable of these arts is MCMAP, or the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. It is a heavily researched, well formulated program that tries to instill in every marine far more than simple hand to hand combat techniques. It is also the military combat training system most recognizable as a martial art, complete with a colored belt rank system. This program, I believe, is head and shoulders above all other military martial arts styles, not only for its physical training aspects, but for its mental and character emphasis as well. Their challenge is unique and daunting: to produce warriors who are not only unafraid to run towards the sounds of gunfire and engage the enemy at any range, but also capable of functioning as emotionally and mentally healthy members of the societies which they protect.

Physically, MCMAP is everything you could hope for in a combat-ready martial art. It emphasizes the use of strikes, grappling, arrest techniques, disarms, and a dizzying array of modern and improvised weaponry. It ties seamlessly into the principles of armed combat, so marines are able to switch between armed and unarmed techniques without hesitation. It is a flexible art that trains marines to be as lethal or non-lethal as is most appropriate for the situation.  Marines are more than just killers, after all, and regularly deploy on peacekeeping and humanitarian missions.

More impressive to me, however, is the fact that the Marine Corps tries to instill moral values and intellectual lessons into their warriors as part of their martial arts program. To sum it all up in a few words, these lessons of moral accountability and warrior tradition are called the warrior ethos. In an article in The Marine Corps Gazette, Andrew Lubin explains what the warrior ethos is.

“The warrior ethos is a code of conduct… that embodies a life where integrity, loyalty, honor, and selflessness, and courage are one’s guide. Starting thousands of years ago with the hunters, these concepts evolved into the warrior societies where protection for the tribe was best achieved as a group working together. The rudimentary laws arising from the successful tribes evolved into the warrior ethos practiced by the Spartans and others where courage, cooperation, and acknowledging the strength of the group over that of the individual, enabled the tribe or the nation to survive.”

I often get skeptical when I’m presented with a list of pseudo-Asian philosophical values in a martial arts class, but the warrior ethos speaks to me. I think this is evidence that there are martial arts out there that are truly American, as opposed to distillations of Asian or Brazilian culture. I wish there were more civilian martial arts schools patterned after this program, complete with bayonet training and all!

How does the warrior ethos compare to the ethics taught in your martial arts training center?


I wish my training journal looked like this...

I wish my training journal looked like this…

Here’s a subject I would appreciate your feedback on, especially if you’ve ever kept a martial arts training journal. I’m currently brainstorming ideas for developing journals dedicated to martial artists for recording the details of their training sessions. The first, of course, will be geared towards Jiu-jitsu practitioners. Instead of simply having writing space, I thought of including some of the following:

  • Dedicated spaces for recording the techniques you covered and the people you trained with.
  • A list of symbols and shorthand script for common Jiu-jitsu terms (mount, guard, trap, sweep, ect.).
  • Monthly and weekly goals.
  • Competition dates and results.
  • Space for recording warm up exercises and fitness training.

I’m still in the concept phase of this project, but my ultimate goal is to mass produce these and make them available to martial artists everywhere. This is the sort of thing I think can be helpful to a lot of people, especially since some martial arts require such detail-rich instruction many people forget much of the material the next day. This will probably be one of those things I’ll work on every once in a while over the next year.

After that, I’ll be sure to publish them in scroll form, complete with ninja spells to guard your most forbidden techniques from the eyes of the uninitiated (patent pending).

What do you write in your training journal?


Here is a trailer for the upcoming Pro Jiu-jitsu Invitational, Metamoris 2:

I am excited. For those of you unfamiliar with Jiu-jitsu tournaments, this is a unique movement in the art. Normally, Jiu-jitsu tournaments have a point system and a relatively short time limit of about 7 minutes or so. If no fighter has been submitted by the end of the time limit, the winner is decided by points accumulated through takedowns, sweeps, and establishing positions. It’s a lot like wrestling. Metamoris, however, features no points and a 20 minute time limit. You must win by submission. If neither fighter submits the other by the end of the time limit, the match is declared a draw. This is Jiu-jitsu at, what many practitioners agree, its purest. It’s a competition that accurately captures the finer points of the art as it was originally created.

This is also an opportunity for those uninitiated into the intricacies of grappling to see the art in action. These are among the best fighters the art has to offer. I hope you enjoy it. I know I will!

Pass the popcorn…

What is your favorite martial arts tournament?

The whole purpose of starting this blog was to get people to talk about martial arts. I kinda felt like the more common forums for martial arts discussion were unfocused, narrow, and hostile. Case and point: YouTube. Look up any martial arts video on YouTube and proceed to the comments section below. What you’ll inevitably find is a cacophony of NSFW language and vulgar arguments (and strangely, harsh grammar corrections) all aimed at a answering a single question: Which martial art is best?

But this argument isn’t just limited to YouTube. It seems to be part of our martial culture. Take UFC for example. It started in 1993 as a tournament between practitioners of different martial arts to see which martial art would prevail in a no-holds-barred competition. Though UFC has moved on from that question, martial artists all over the world are still trying to answer it. Which, of all the countless styles and variations of mankind’s fighting systems, is best?

UFC 1 was all about answering questions like "Can a Jiu-jitsu fighter beat a boxer?"

UFC 1 was all about answering questions like “Can a Jiu-jitsu fighter beat a boxer?”

But define best. For that matter, define martial art. What you might find, if you’ve spent any time visiting various martial arts training centers, is that the definition of Karate or Jiu-jitsu or Taekwondo largely depends upon the people running that individual training center. When I was fifteen years old, I started training ATA Taekwondo. I loved my instructor, I loved the forms, I loved the training. I swore I would study ATA Taekwondo my whole life. When that school shut down, I found another ATA place and tried a few classes there. Big difference. In fact, I haven’t gone back to ATA since. So what changed? The instructors…

That brings me (finally) to the main point of this article. A martial art, in the sense of a system of fighting that can be rated against others in a contest, is defined by its dojo. It’s not the techniques or the philosophies or the forms or even the organizations that create good fighters. It’s the instructors, trainers, coaches, and other assorted staff that make up the dojo.  A  martial art is defined by its sensei.

Want a great example? Let’s go back to the UFC. In its early years, who was the undisputed man to beat? Royce Gracie, of Gracie Jiu-jitsu, of course. And what was the defining characteristic of Gracie Jiu-jitsu that Royce apart from every other fighter in those competitions? It wasn’t his ground fighting. Ken Shamrock was also a grappler and submission artist. So were Kimo, Dan Severn, and that Judo practitioner (I forget his name). Royce won because he was better trained. Remember the Gracie Train? The Gracie family, the UFC’s first fight team, was a unified collection of Jiu-jitsu masters and trainers that honed the skills of one of their smallest, weakest members until he was able to beat the best the world had to offer at the time. That’s a dojo.

The Gracie family walks out to the cage as a single, unified group...

The Gracie family walks out to the cage as a single, unified group…

I think I’ve made my point. But I still feel like there’s a question to answer here. Which martial art (and by martial art, I mean dojo, training center, or academy) is best? I will try to find out by posting my own video reviews of local martial arts training centers.  Unlike many forums that give a simplistic scale of awarding stars or a number between one and five, I plan on dissecting the center’s instructors, training style, facilities, and other attributes that affect its ability to turn out good fighters, competitors, and practitioners. I hope it will facilitate some interesting discussions in the comments section. And, of course, the reviews will be done with all due respect to these trainers and instructors. I expect the comments will be the same. We don’t want this blog to become an extension of those foul YouTube keyboard warrior sparring sessions…

After my previous post on the responsible use of force, I decided to show this clip from Enter the Dojo. It features my favorite fictional martial artist, Master Ken, teaching his students his own unique style of martial arts, Ameri-do-te. During the lesson, he teaches an extremely violent defense against when someone points their finger at you (don’t you hate it when they do that?). Listen to Master Ken’s justification for the incredibly inappropriate force response and behold the perfect example of what not to do.

Please excuse the NSFW language.

What is the most overkill martial arts technique you’ve ever learned?