Martial Arts News – February 2017

Shadow Boxing

“Never discard knowledge that is not applicable to you, but store it. The day may come when that knowledge could be taught to someone who can apply it.” Ed Parker, Founder of American Kenpo

Articles

Don’t Be a Talker, Flopper or Resister!

Nice article on how to be a good partner during drills.  The talker does the drill once or twice then wants to talk about something else. The Flopper offers no resistance, toppling at the slightest touch. The Resister is made of steel on the first repetition, making it difficult to work the basic forms.

Play the game

This article by John Titchen talks about what it takes to be a good partner for drills, including some concepts about holding targets.

A couple of key take aways from the article are:

  • Work at the appropriate level of resistance. There is a time when someone is first learning a drill where too much resistance will impede their ability to figure out the body dynamics, but as they become more proficient, they need more resistance in order to pressure test the motions.
  • The person receiving the technique (bag holder or person who the self defense technique is being applied to) should be learning too. No one in a two person drill should just be standing there.

The Practical Problem of Teaching Self-Defense

Teaching civilian self-defense can be complicated. Every person is different, and the situations that they need to prepare for are equally different. And, when it comes time to use self-defense skills, it’s never in the best situation. You’ll be injured, alone, out-numbered, out-gunned, caught by surprise, or any combination that works toward your attacker’s advantage and against you. As instructors we need to do our best to give our students a fighting chance in these situations.

When Running Will Get You Killed Against An Active Killer

The standard training these days for civilians in an active killer situation, is to run, hide then fight. Run first. If you can’t run, hide. If you can’t hide, fight.  The articles looks at the situation where the killer is in the same room with you, withing 20 feet, and has you targeted.  At that point, it is too late to run.  You can’t hide when someone is watching you.  Your best option (and it’s not a great one) is to attack.  Couple of key points in the article:

  • It takes a typical law enforcement officer 1.5 seconds to ready their weapon which is about the same amount of time it takes for an average person to cover 21 feet.
  • We all tend to get tunnel vision during an aggressive confrontation. Shifting five feet one way or another can be enough to cause the aggressor to get you back into focus.
  • And, by attacking, you are resetting the OODA loop. (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act).  A hesitation by the attacker of even a second can allow you to get into position.

Get out of Jail

It’s important to understand the self-defense laws in the area that you live, but it can get tricky when you travel.  Different states have different laws, and it is even more complicated when you travel to a different country.  This article by Kris Wilder explains the AOJP principle.

  • A (Ability) – Does the attacker have the ability to harm you?
  • O (Opportunity) – Does the attacker have the immediate opportunity to harm you.?
  • J (Jeopardy) – Are you in immediate jeopardy of being harmed?
  • P (Preclusion) – Even if everything else is true, can you do something else (like flee) to get out of harm’s way?

Books

Infinite Insights into Kenpo: Mental Stimulation

I find it helpful to read the works of the old masters to gain a greater insight into karate.  Ed Parker is the founder of American Kenpo and a leader in popularizing the martial arts in the united states.  I read Mr Parker’s Infinite Insights during my early days at Action Karate, and I’ve recently picked them up again. In the words of Mr Parker, “Never discard knowledge that is not applicable to you, but store it. The day may come when that knowledge could be taught to someone who can apply it.”  The first time I read it, I looked for only those things that could apply to my own training. Now, I’m looking at it to see how it could apply to others.

Podcasts

Iain talks to Peter Consterdine 9th dan!

Iain Abernethy interviews Peter Consterdine.  Peter was one of the founders of the British Combat Association (BCA), World Combat Association (WCA) and is one of the forerunners on focusing on realistic/pragmatic training in Karate. The sound quality is off on this one, but there is a lot of great content that makes it worth listening to multiple times.

Videos

Watch “Karate Nerd in Okinawa” (Free Web Series)

Jesse Enkamp gives us all a chance to visit Okinawa vicariously through his 8 part web series. Each episode is about 15 minutes long. In it he explores the culture and landmarks of the birthplace of karate, and they end with a brief glimpse of a local dojo.

Double Hip Action – Knock Out Punch

This video demonstrates the double hip action that Iain Abernethy mentions in his interview with Peter Consterdine.  Kyoshi Dave Kovar also talks about using hip action to generate speed and power during his seminars.  As a young student training in Shotokan, I often recall Sensei Vernon telling me to use my hip, a message I often repeating when I am teaching.

 

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Martial Arts News – January, 2017

Various articles and stories that I found interesting during the month.

When I’m not practicing technique, I am often reading about the martial arts, looking for ways to improve my own self-defense skills, knowledge as an instructor, or just general knowledge.   I’m a firm believer that training doesn’t end when you leave the dojo or after you’ve reached your black belt.

Articles

The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

A reminder that repetition is not enough. We have to practice with a purpose by studying our current performance and comparing it to our goal.

De-escalation Tactics

Most self-defense situations don’t need to end with a physical confrontation. This is a four part series of articles by John Titchen that review the principles, verbal approaches, a video on body language and a final article on taking the ego out of it.

The Parry-Pass Method – Karate’s Universal Defense

Nice explanation on the use of both hands during blocking drills.

Self-defence against knife attacks: a full review

An analysis of over 150 recorded instances of violent knife attacks identifying attacker behavior and points to consider when defending yourself.

Headlines, knives and kneejerk reactions

Not new, but interesting nonetheless.  John Titchen looks at the change in knife offenses in the UK.  In 2015, there were 26,370 crimes committed with a knife.  182 of those were homicides.  10,270 were robberies, which indicates that about 2/3 of all knife offenses were violent in nature (attempted murder, intent to harm or sexual assault).

Stand Your Ground Laws in Pennsylvania

This came up in discussion the other day.  Pennsylvania has a stand your ground law which authorizes the use of deadly force to protect yourself or others without being required to escape first.  This isn’t an unrestricted right. You can’t be engaged in a criminal activity, must be in a place where you have a right to be, must believe it is immediately necessary to use force to protect yourself against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or sexual intercourse by force; and the person threatening you displays a firearm or other weapon that is capable of lethal use.

 

Books

Training for Sudden Violence: 72 Practical Drills Kindle Edition
by Rory Miller

This book contains drills that help you understand yourself, your enemy and the nature of violent confrontation.  Many of the drills should only be attempted under the supervision of a qualified instructor, but even those that might go beyond what your comfort or training level permits contain information that will broaden you knowledge of violence.

Seminars

PRACTICAL KARATE SEMINAR with Iain Abernethy

Iain Abernethy will be in Swarthmore PA on October 6, 7 & 8. I just registered for this today. If you are interested in the practical application of karate for self-defense, then you’ll love his seminars.

Click here for tickets.

Keith and Iain at The Charland Institute of Karate in Connecticut

 

 

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ProMAC #1

Have you ever been to a ProMAC conference?

I hadn’t, at least not until last Friday, and it was pretty much a last minute decision.  More last minute than decision though. My instructor asked if I would be interested in going two days before the event, and as soon as I could clear my schedule, I said yes.

To be honest, I didn’t know what I was saying yes to, but I hate turning down the opportunity to try something new in the martial arts. Plus, I’ve been to martial arts seminars before, and they’re pretty much all the same, right?

Wrong.

And, I’m not talking about the quality of training when I say that. I mean the content.

ProMAC is the Professional Martial Arts College, and if I had to summarize what that is in as few words as possible, it’s all about having a better martial arts school, and that was the emphasis of the conference. The better our schools, the more students we can help, and regardless of what style that we teach, the goal is to help students.

How was it different than the other seminars I had attended? Instead of showing up at 9am in a gi ready to work out, we arrived in casual clothes with notebooks and laptops and audio recorders.

We were all there with a common goal, how to make our schools more successful.  We want to provide a quality environment for our students, and one of the best ways to approach that is to address the business side of running a karate school with the same commitment that we used to learn karate in the first place.

January, 2017, ProMAC East Conference

In our dojos we practice kihon (basics), kata (forms) and kumite (sparring).  Those same principles can be applied to studying the business of running a martial arts school.

Kihon – The Basics

Anyone who has taught for even a little while probably understands the basics.  You need to have enough students to cover your expenses or you are paying out of pocket for the opportunity to teach others.

That’s sort of like saying everyone understands that karate is about kicking and punching. It touches the surface but misses the depth.

While the tone of the conference included sharing of basic concepts it wasn’t the main focus. It’s like going to a bunkai (kata analysis) seminar, everyone expects you to know how to throw a punch, but if you have a little trouble with an arm lock or a take down, someone will guide you over the rough spots.

Kata – The Forms

In the simplest sense, a kata is a series of basics strung together to make it easier to remember, practice, and to teach concepts. For those things that you want to do well while running your school, have a script, practice it, and share it with your staff so everyone is working toward the same goal.

If you don’t practice kata, think of it like practicing a self-defense drill.  Script it, then practice it alone and with a partner until it becomes second nature.

When it comes to student retention, identify the potential change moments in advance and prepare for them. Change moments are events like when the student first approaches you about training, right after their first lesson, when they consider taking a break to make time for something else and anytime the student might be faced with a decision to continue training or to stop.

Remember, it’s a lot easier to help the students who are actively training with us, then it is to help the students we no longer see.

Kumite – Sparring

I look at sparring in two ways. First, as a competition where students can rise to the challenge, and second, as a proving ground to test technique under pressure in a relatively safe environment.

At the conference I witnessed both types.  There was friendly competition as instructors discussed the various techniques that they had employed to grow their schools. We also broke into groups and tested our ideas against others, either in role-playing scenarios or as brainstorming sessions.

At the end of the day, I had a new way of looking at some of the basic concepts (kihon), a few scripts to practice (kata) and a goal to reach the performance levels of others through application (kumite).

Except that wasn’t really the end of the day.  Lets be realistic. We are martial artists, and its almost impossible to get a bunch of us together and not do some sort of workout.  This conference was no different.  After the workshops many of us traveled to a local dojo and spent a few hours on the mats training.

Grandmaster Arnulfo “Dong” Cuesta (front row, center, in red pants)

Grandmaster Arnulfo “Dong” Cuesta lead the training with an introduction in Philippine Eskrima. He covered a tremendous amount of ground in a very short amount of time, and I’m still struggling to compile my notes from his training session so that I can retain as much of the experience as possible.  Saturday morning, I was at the dojo practicing a few of the drills that I stumbled through the night before.

Kyoshi Dave Kovar (left) at Action Karate Feasterville

The evening ended with Kyoshi Dave Kovar conducting a session on hand speed drills. My big take away from his session was that being faster isn’t so much about increasing your speed as it is about eliminating those things that slow you down.  I’ve already have the opportunity to use one of his drills during a class which is always fantastic. I mean it’s great to have the opportunity to train with talented martial artists, but having the chance to share that knowledge is really what it’s all about.

When I left, I was pumped about being a martial artist. Actually, I’m pretty much always pumped to be a martial artist, but it always spikes to a new level after a great training session with people who love what we do as much as I do.

I have to thank Mr Seth Bittner and Mr Solomon Brenner for inviting me to attend. It was a great experience and I appreciate the opportunity.

 

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