Thursday, January 29, 2009

The passing of a master

News has started spreading on the net that the patriach of the Gracie Family, Helio Gracie passed away on Thursday Morning (Rio Time). He was 95 years old.

For a more comprehensive write up on Grand Master Helio and the amazing legacy he has left behind please have a look at the Gracie Academy website.

Grand Master Helio Gracie should be seen as an inspiration to all BJJ practitioners and martial artists in general. He is reputed to have continued training in the art he developed untill his passing.

The art itself is a marvel in body mechanics, human movement and leverage. I have been training in BJJ for over 10 years and I still continue to learn more about the principles of leverage and body mechanic each and every time I train.

Training in this art has had a great impact on my life personally, as it has likely on thousands of others. It has lead me to a greater appreciationof human movement which in turn has lead me to look at things like Yoga, Gymnastica Natural and Flow fit. All of which I now incorporate into my daily exercise regime. By using these training methods I hope to be able to maintain free flowing mobility and agility well into my senior years.

For myself BJJ has become a majr part of my life, it means, fun, friendship and enjoyment.

I have made a number of very good freinds from BJJ. Within BJJ circles I have met numerous others who I have the utmost respect for and continue to inspire me.

All this is thanks to the spirit and devotion of one man, who took a Japanese Martial art and turned it into an amazing system of fighting and Self defence, an art form of beauty in human movement and inspired thousands of others the world over to embrace his wonderful art.

To the Gracie family, I offer my condolances.

Grandmaster Helio Gracie, may you rest in peace, with the knowledge that your legacy will live on through the countless devotees to your art.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Self Defence Tricks vs Concepts

I have been chatting with a young Taekwondo 3rd dan lately about self defence.

He has been telling me about what he does for self defence, and how his taekwondo is different and superior to all others. Including thier use of 'dim mak' type of pressure points.

It is good to see someone who is devoted and enthusiastic about thier martial arts, but it is apparent that that devotion may have blinded this person to reality.

During discussions with this perons and many other martial artists, one thing that has become very noticeable is that most martial artists are proud of how many different ways they have to dispatch an attacker and to deal with the myriad ways in which they are attacked.

The young taekwondo black belt proudly exclaimed that he knew and needed at least 5 different ways to deal with any (each) sort of attack.

He could not understand when I claimed that I had one concept that I applied to all the most likely self defence situations. I attempted to explain the reasons for my minimalist approach to self defence, but was countered with, "but what if they do something that is slightly different".

So which is better?

Do we need 5 techniques to deal with a right cross, another 5 to deal with a headlock, and another 5 to deal with someone grabbing us?

Or are all these techniques really just 'tricks'

As an example of the techniques used I was shown the following to deal with being grabbed around the throat a held against a wall:

Technique 1: Push down into the Jugular notch

Technique 2: Using two hands grab the wrist (two 'pressure points' indicated on the forearm) and push (force) the arm and in turn the attacker back.

Both of these techniques were demonstrated, and all though there was no adrenaline involved, neither technique proved to be effective, and certainly did not deal with the likelyhood of receiving a punch in the face. Yes there was some small amount of pain involved, but not that much. Not enough to stop me or to even dissuade me from advancing or countering his escape attempt with a punch to the face if I had wanted.

Effectivelly these two 'self defence' techniques are nothing more than gimmicks. They are tricks that may work against non resisting training partners, but they are still nothing more than tricks and certainly not usefull for real self defence. There was no cover of any sort in case I decided to start punching, and in fact the second defence tied up both arms, removing the possibility of any sort of effective block or cover.

Then I was shown a counter to a full nelson. My first response was, WHY? Why do I need a counter to a full nelson, its not exactly an easy technique to apply in the first place. If someone goes for it, you simply lower your arms and turn into them.

But I was shown a technique that involed assumming a rigid stance with the arms locked out in front of the body (legs in horse riding stance). The techniue certainly worked, I could not apply a full nelson, so I moved onto a 'shredder' type head control from the rear instead. He had no answer to that one.

Realistically, by assuming that locked up position, he made it difficult to deal with anything else, so what would a normal assailant (assuming normal assailants put people in full nelsons in the first place) do. Move onto a choke or other hold, punch etc I would bet.

There was no attempt to turn into and face me so he could defend himself from a better position, he was happy to assume the stance and maintain it till i gave up going for the full nelson. Not a good training philosophy.

Looking at most martial arts, and I have trained in and watched a few over the years, one thing that does stand out is the vast amount of techniques they have to deal with different grabs, punches etc.

Looking at the techniques, I would classify most of them as mere tricks, usefull for looking good and fluffing up the syllabus of that particular martial art. But certainly not based on reality. Then of course if you have so many techniques to choose from, which do you pick, when under duress.

So what would a 'realistic' technique be to deal with the situation mentioned above (throat grab and push up against the wall)

Really anything that provides a measure of cover for a possible punch (which is likely to come when you start to fight back), maintains your balance (so you dont end up under someones boots) and removes the hand from around the throat. Then of course there needs to be some form of counter attack or control initiated so that you dont just end up back were you started or even worse copping a beating.

I will throw up some video or photo's in my next post to show how I would do this.

If the three elements of cover, balance and control (over the assailant) are not present, then what have you achieved? except to possibly piss of the assailant even more and indicate you are going to have a go back (losing the element of surprise whilst achieving nothing useful)

Control could mean, a tie up that neutralizes the attacker or at least stops them via some form of injury or knockout (chokes included).

So have a look at your responses to the most common form of assault/ attacks. Are they merely 'tricks' or will they actually stop a commited attacker.

I like to practice or test this by having the person playing the role of attacker put on a pair of boxing gloves and 'open up' with punches or whatever they feel they need to win as soon as they feel resistance from me. This is the trype of training you need to test your techniques. Does chosen technique deal with this circumstance?

Does your chosen technique stop or control the attacker?

Or do you get quickly overwhelmed by the punches comming at your head?

Can you instictivelly access and perfrom your chosen technique under pressure and the effects of adrenaline?

Both parties can wear helmets if required, but the punches do have to be real enough to hurt at least, that is if you want to test yourself and your SD technique.

When you do this you quickly learn that having a single 'concept' that works against many different types of attacks is much more likely to be usefull in a real self defence situation than a collection of 'tricks'.



my name is Wayne Ardley, and would like to welcome any one who finds their way to this blog

I have started this blog in order to offer my insight and experience, as limited as that may be, to a variety of topics that interest me. In this case Martial Arts, in particular Brazillian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) , Floro Fighting Systems (FFS), Self Defence and Kickboxing/ Muay Thai.

Then some of my other interests including, Yoga, Natural Health and Fitness.

I run a small school teaching the above listed arts in morningoton Vic, Aust. If anyone is down our way you are invited to come and have a play.

As the inspiration takes me, I plan to blog on these topics and anything else that may be of interest at the time.

I do invite any one to argue a point or post in reply. That is if any one actually finds this blog and then takes the time to read it. Hopefully I can provide something that may be of interest to someone.