Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Quit yer bellyachin'

by Mike

There was a great scene in the Krav Maga episode of Fight Quest where Jimmy gets floored by a Thai kick to the leg. He curses and growls as he tries to gather himself and get back on his feet, but the instructor says something to the effect of, "Nobody cares about your screaming. You need to get up and keep fighting."

Which is, in effect what the episode was about. And really, what much of your training is all about - keeping your cool when things aren't going your way.

What we can learn from Jimmy getting beat up

Obviously, Jimmy was frustrated - he'd taken a number of shots, he "knew" what to do, but his body just wasn't reacting the way he wanted it to. It's the hell of a place to be, but in the end, it's not about what you intend, it's what you accomplish.

Getting angry doesn't accomplish much. Unless you've got the ability to "Hulk out" (recall Chris Leben vs. Terry Martin), you're really only doing yourself a disservice. A couple months ago, Sifu Z delivered a great post-class pep talk. He said, "when you get frustrated, you're not mad at the other person or the situation, you're mad at yourself. You're frustrated because you're not as good as you thought you were."

Which is all well and good for when you analyze the night on your ride him, but what's one to do when you're in the middle of a ten-man kumite against a bunch of legitimate badasses who keep picking on your obvious handicap?

Exactly the opposite of what you want to be doing - instead of hoping someone stops the fight and everyone takes it easy on you because dammit you're trying, you need to do whatever you do to center yourself - take a step back and shake out your arms, do the hoppy-hoppy thing or touch your nose, then get right back into it.

Frustrating as it is to spar with the multi-time everything champ and get blasted with a jab that almost breaks your nose (even though he's going light) and then five more that you can't seem to stop even though you know they're coming, whining is the last thing you want to do.

Nobody likes a whiner

A couple weeks ago a bunch of us were getting ready to spar and waiting for the ring to open up. The boxing coach had a couple relatively new students in there sparring. One dude got popped and turned his back. The coach shouted, "don't turn your back."

Dude looked like he wanted to say something, but was too busy trying to work out of a corner. A couple seconds later, he got popped again and turned his back. The coach repeated his earlier command and this time got an answer.

"But he hit me in the nose."

Inadvertent as his reaction may have been, that guy's foreverafter going to be remembered as "the guy who was surprised that he got punched in the nose while boxing" by everyone watching.

What should he have said in that situation?

It's impossible for anyone but him to know what was going on in his mind or what it felt like to take those shots, but the correct answer is, "nothing." Or, if he felt like his health was in danger, he could have taken a knee, which is a suboptimal ending, but not something anyone would fault him for.

In the end though, it goes something like this
  • Stress testing like Jimmy's mini-kumite, or me getting handled by a guy not even trying is an awesome opportunity to figure out how comfortable you are with how much you suck - except for the time you actually spend in the "middle" as it were - then it's the most embarrassing and frustrating few minutes of your life

  • If you make it to the end, you've "won." If you can swallow your ego and quit in the middle, you've "won." Hell, you can still win if you spend your time complaining and later realize that you made a fool of yourself and work to correct it

  • Quit yer bellyachin'
There is a flip side to this - namely the "I'm a warrior/es mi vida" mindset where it doesn't matter if you get beat up and crippled, the important thing is that you didn't quit. We'll examine this in a future article.

CC-licensed image from _KoAn_

Mailbag! Why do boxers always touch their nose?

Whenever I watch boxing, I see the boxers touch their noses a lot. What's up with that?

There's no "real"/definitive answer for why this might be. However, some likely causes are:
  • The boxer just got popped in the nose and is checking to see if it's broken/bloody

  • The skin on the boxer's nose is irritated from getting jacked or other things Doc Dill discussed a while back

  • They're checking to see where their hands are - if you can touch your nose, you know your hands are basically in the right spot

  • Doing it as a means of "resetting" themselves, similar to clapping gloves

  • Picked up the habit in the gym

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

MMA Workout 2/24


Catch everyone up who wasn't there last week. Hips, hips, hips.


More balance ball madness, learning to keep your hips under, working cartwheel pass (I recently nailed a cartwheel pass from my knees against a very skilled player, so don't tell me it can't be done, even from standing)

More work with the Paulson pass

Due to injuries, we couldn't work guard passes on a person necessarily, but went with different passes on the grappling dummy

Technical work on thai-kicks and showing your junk, as well, as the proper way to block (shield and parry-by-opposition) with stuffing or moving away from kicks. Some full-speed drills to work on reaction time and technique.

Short session due to the aforementioned injured people and that we needed to put on our shoes and help out the Savateurs who are going to be competing in April. Exciting, because it looks like we'll be sending a good contingent to face the Belgians.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Review: Combat Sports Air Thai pads

by Mike

Combat Sports Air Thai Pads

One Liner:

Light, durable and let you take some big shots without any problems.


Combat Sports Air Thai Pads are a great alternative to traditional Thai pads. With their futuristic-sounding "Dome Air Technology" these pads manage to disperse shock without being stiff, which is helpful both for the coach holding the pads and the attacker reducing fatigue and saving some wear and tear on the joints, allowing you to work with guys that otherwise leave bruises on your forearms.

A side effect of their relatively soft padding is that they pads are thicker than you might want them to be, but they're also lighter most pads and so are surprisingly maneuverable. The bulk may get in the way of quick transitions to the clinch and knees, but for most things, you can get away with having only one pad in place.

As rivethead-chic and "I got these in Bangkok, yo" as buckles are, velcro is much more adjustable and quicker to put on and take off. The velcro on these is very strong, unlike the velcro that you often find on more expensive brands.

I'm not sure if this is a deliberate design feature or merely a happy coincidence, but the space in "Combat Sports" lines up with the sweet spot, hitting where the padding is strong as well as the optimal place in your forearms to keep a strong structure to take the kick, which is very helpful to point out your classmates who may not yet have learned the finer points of targeting.

The Good:
  • Surprisingly light and maneuverable
  • Durable handles and...velcro that doesn't fall apart or come loose
  • Excellent shock absorption qualities, yet soft enough to not hurt your partner's delicate shins
The Bad:
  • Kinda pricey, but not too bad
  • Significantly bulkier than other Thai pads, which probably isn't a problem unless you have limited space to pack your gear before riding your bike to class

These are some great pads, especially if you're going to be taking kicks from the heavy-hitters.

Basic Injury Prevention

Almost as a follow up to our last article about visible injuries, White Collar Jiu-Jitsu has five easy rules for injury avoidance 101.

Hazmat does a good job of describing some basic safety precautions you should be taking to eliminate or at least mitigate common sources of injury.

The only thing I'd add is, "dont' be stubborn, know when to tap."

Etiquette advice: once you put your mouthguard in, leave it in. Constantly taking your mouthguard out and putting it back in is disgusting - you may as well lick your training partners and the floor.

Also, wearing a mouthguard doesn't excuse you from swallowing. Don't drool all over your partners. Or the floor. You're not 6; have some pride.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mailbag! How hard do you have to punch someone to give them a concussion?

Q. How hard do you have to punch someone to give them a concussion?

Doc Dill responds:

As my instructor used to say, "you don't have to hit someone hard, you have to hit them right to knock them out."

Basically you need to jostle their head. The "button" is considered the chin. if you hit the chin with enough snap that the jaw slaps shut hard or the whole head jerks down then up or twists sideways suddenly, you will probably knock them out. Think of it this way, you want to shake the ketchup from the bottom of the bottle to the neck. so you jerk down, then up suddenly, making the ketchup in the bottle travel opposite the direction of the bottle. Same thing with the head. You want that little brain bouncing around inside that skull like a walnut inside the husk until lights out.

For more information about knockouts, brain trauma and concussions, see:

Is it a concussion?

What's in a knockout?

CC-licensed photo by Arriba

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Review: Top Contender Quick Strike MMA gloves

by Mike


These gloves are terrible, don't buy them.


I figured that Top Contender gear was to Ringside gear what C fire-rated doors were to A doors - same thing, but they didn't do as-extensive testing on them and so were able to pass on those savings.

Then I tried to save a couple bucks, got a couple bits of TC gear and am starting to suspect that it's substandard rebranding in order to drive more sales to the Ringside/Combat Sports brand.

Or it could be that their gear is just crap.

The Top Contender Quick Strike MMA gloves are a cheap alternative to even midrange gloves from other manufacturers. By cheap, I don't just mean inexpensive. These things are poorly constructed and painful to wear.

I know that the problem isn't with me not knowing how to size gloves - I have small girl hands and I got the largest size they sell. The left glove fit pretty well, but the right was waaay too tight. This was strange since I don't think my hands are noticeably different sizes and when I have problems with gloves fitting, it's usually on the left hand.

The padding appears to be sewn onto a weak mesh backing which somehow makes the gloves very stiff and tears easily. The palms are semi-enclosed which looks cool with the white piping, but deforms when you make a fist and is strangely uncomfortable. Except for the strange mesh and the "striking surface," the gloves are made of vinyl.

The padding is also very stiff - reminiscent of Fairtex fight gloves, but even worse. I'm surprised there's not a roll of quarters in there.

The Good
  • Least expensive gloves you're likely to find
The Bad
  • Ill-fitting in general, leading to:
    • Cuts in between my knuckles
    • Right wrist strap doesn't fit properly
    • Straining to make a proper fist
  • Even only after a few uses, the wrist straps are tearing
  • That might be just as well because these wrist straps are nearly useless anyway - I can get away without using handwraps with most other boxing gloves and MMA gloves for even medium sparring or bag work but I'm afraid to use these even for light bag work
  • Hard to get handwraps on under them
  • Material is very stiff and hard to make a proper fist with. Fortunately, there's a short break-in period. Unfortunately, the break-in period ends when the seams tear
Check out that awesome tear!
Less than two months' use with these things.


Save your pennies and get a decent pair of gloves.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

MMA Workout 2/17/08

by Mike

We hold an MMA workout every Sunday at our gym. Usually, these are workouts to tie together what Eric and Jim have been working on with their specialty coaches and training specificly for upcoming fights.

We're going to record our workouts here. Normally each workout has a theme, whereby we work on a number of drills that accomplish the same thing in different areas. That is, if we're working on movement, like we spent most of Jim's training for his last fight on, we'll work circling both while striking, defending takedowns and escapes on the ground.

This week only had one student show up, which wasn't surprising considering bad weather, one guy coming off an injury and another taking a break after his fight. This session was a little more "so whadda you want to work on today" than they normally are.

Also, since we only had one student, we were able to cover a lot more ground without having to take time to swap partners, let both sides practice, etc.

Theme: Balance and keeping hips low. Maintaining balance while keeping the other guy off balance to set up for your offense.

Time: ~ 3 hours.


Balance Ball drills to work keeping weight centered and work scrambles

Guard passes on grappling dummy
  • Throw legs to overhand
  • Throw legs to Paulson pass
  • Throw legs to knee-on-belly
  • Somersault pass
Transitions on grappling dummy

Kesa-Getame to cross body to knee-on-belly to mount to knee-on-belly to cross body to kesa-getame and back

Striking on grappling dummy

Mount, "crucifix," knee-on-belly

Grappling dummy drills for when you're lonely
  • Clinch
  • Striking to changing levels and takedown
  • Throws
  • Strength & Conditioning
Stuffing kicks and returning punches
Guard Passes
  • Knee-in-the-ass
  • Standing break to Lindland squat
  • Standing break to cross body
  • Bear walk
Defending the slam

Standup sparring

  • Jump squats/broad jump
  • Bear crawl
  • Shrimping
Quiet time and note-taking

Monday, February 18, 2008

Glossary: Assaut a thème

Roughly, "sparring with a theme."

Savate loves to make simple things difficult. Assaut a thème is one of the more insidious ways of doing that.

During an assaut a thème one is given the direction to react to a technique with a specific response. This could be something simple like, "scoop the chasse frontal and return with a fouette median." The sparring partners would then spar normally, but whenever that front thrust kick is thrown, they defend as directed and throw a roundhouse kick.

Easy enough, but higher level savateurs will end up doing things like, "if they attack with A, respond with this 5-strike combo. If they attack with B, use this one" and so on and so on until you have essentially specific responses to a half-dozen different attacks.

While some consider this unrealistic busywork, in actuality, it is an extremely useful tool to apply your knowledge in a live environment as well as just get used to immediately responding during sparring.

Glossary: Assaut & Comabtif

Savate competition is generally divided into two categories: Assaut and Combatif.

Assaut is light-contact, where perfect technique must be observed and contact is limited - that is, hitting incorrectly or hitting too hard results in penalties. The idea is that you demonstrate technical proficiency, both in the elegance, as well as control of your offense and defense. Assaut is excellent for practicing timing, combinations and movement while still in a "live" situation.

Combat/Combatif is full-contact sparring/competition. Unfortunately, until you take a full-on fouette from someone wearing Rivats, it's hard to appreciate the old saw "Muay Thai is a baseball bat, while Savate is a hammer."

It could be argued that taking a half-speed fouette bas from someone wearing wrestling shoes and getting dropped is worse, but let's not split hairs.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Beer a post-workout drink?

by Mike

Caught this in the latest issue of Modern Drunkard:
Juan Antonio Corbalan, a cardiologist who worked formerly with Real Madrid football players and Spain’s national basketball team, said beer has the perfect profile for rehydration after strenuous exercise.
The Daily Mail has some more details regarding the experiment:

[Professor Garzon] believes the carbon dioxide in beer helps quench the thirst more quickly, while beer's carbohydrates replace calories lost during physical exertion.

Based on the studies, the researchers have recommended moderate consumption of beer - 500ml a day for men or 250ml for women - as part of an athlete's diet.

Not only does the post-class trip to the bar make for team-building and camaraderie, but it's appears to be smart training as well.

Quick note for anyone competing

by Mike

If you're going to be competing at any level, one of the most important things you can do is to make sure that you have all of your own equipment. Gloves, shorts, mouthguard, cup, gauze & tape, headgear, no foul protector, shoes, whatever may be required.

You may find yourself in a situation where the promoter requires you to use specific equipment that they provide, but in all other situations, it's your responsibility to ensure that you have the necessary gear - don't rely on others to lend it to you and certainly don't assume that you'll find someone at the venue to lend you their gear.

That's all.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Added photo to Notebook post

Original post The Notebook.

If you're not currently keeping a notebook, now's a good time to start.

Make sure it's legible.

Make sure that you've got enough detail in there so you'll remember what you were trying to work on when you revisit it in the future.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Review: Evolutionary Fitness

by Mike


More science than an undergrad course, but simple and easy-to-apply principles make this a superb all-around diet/fitness system. May not be ideal for high-level athletes though.


The Evolutionary Fitness system encompasses both diet and exercise to work your body in a way that is consistent with it's evolutionary history. Like other Paleo diets, De Vany wants to eliminate modern foods (including grains, beans and dairy) and work out according to how a hunter-gatherer would have worked (short, intense bursts of activity).

The basics of the diet are pretty simple - eat nutritionally dense foods, stay away from grains, sugars and other foods that promote inflammation or have otherwise detrimental effects on the body and try to even out insulin spikes. A big sticking point for a lot of people will be the no supplements (De Vany does take an antioxidant supp).

On the exercise side, things are equally simple: short, intense workouts one to two times per week (both the day of the workout and the exercises in the workout should be randomized to a degree); intense work to limit oxidative stress and promote anabolic hormone release.

Easy enough, right?

In my personal experience, I went from heavy lifting and a diet pretty close to what was in the Grappler's Guide to Nutrition and hit a plateau at 195# (my goal was to get to 205# - I'd never been heavier than 195# in my life). From there, I injured my shoulder, stopped lifting and started eating in an EvFit manner (to be sure, I kept my normal class load at the gym). Within about six weeks, I had dropped about 10#, was noticeably leaner had more energy than before. Though I had stopped lifting, I had instructors notice the difference and ask what sort of lifting program I was working.

These four docs/posts from Art's blog will get you up to speed, after digesting (as it were), you can go through the rest of the Evolutionary Fitness posts for more background.
The Good
  • Once you understand the basic principles, it really is easy to follow

  • You'll become a much better cook, trying to work with essentially fewer ingredients

  • The workouts are short, challenging and fun, even for people who don't like slinging iron

  • I think this is the most comprehensive and useful diet/workout got all-round health. However, see the last point under "The Bad"

  • Art's OK with drinking beer
The Bad
  • I'm pretty sure the book is never coming out. Fortunately, aside from more science I don't know what else he's going to put in there.

  • One big turnoff that's going to get to people is the "your body knows what it wants"/"do what you feel is right." This leads to the standard comeback, "if you knew what your body needed, you wouldn't be such a fatass in the first place." I can see this to a degree, but even in a rigidly monitored diet, there's still a lot of trial-and-error, so I'm not sure that there's a problem past a given diet guru's own biases. If keeping a journal helps you, keep a journal. If you don't have the discipline to stick to a diet of any regimentation, keeping a journal or not won't matter.

  • No deadlifts? No bicep curls? No bench press? DeVany uses machines on occasion? Don't worry, it's OK, but these may be reasons for some to pass this workout by.

  • This diet is for optimizing the human body, not sport-specific training. As such, I don't know that it's the best plan for martial artists competing at high (or even intermediate) levels of competition - Grappling/MMA requires you to be in some very strange positions, positions that DeVany wouldn't suggest to anyone (those with a high amount of shear forces on the spine). Neglecting to train those is asking for injury.

    Also, the daily, intense practice required, even for just skills training, is phenomenal and a full-time job for many pro fighters. This is vastly different than the "1-2 workouts a week, do something fun in between" that DeVany ultimate proposes.

    Then, there's the issue of supplements which are almost necessary to aid in recovery (if nothing else) for most athletes.

    That's not even getting into the diet and the difficulty of trying to stuff all those calories and macronutrients into not-six-meals-a-day.

Despite falling off of the EvFit way due to laziness, I was really happy with my energy levels and etc. while on it. Art's not a big fan of martial arts (from the perspective of keeping everything in line with what it's supposed to do, not necessarily what you can do with it), or at least considers it suboptimal, the training and diet methodologies make the most sense to me of anything I've read and combined with better results from this, I'm definitely a fan and recommend giving it a try if you're looking for something new. Just be sure to give yourself enough time to make sure you've got it and can gauge the results.

Updated 2/16/08 - totally forgot about the beer thing

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

First Aid for Fighters: Stupid Shoulder Injury

by Meredith & Doc Dill

It was time to take the stupid family Christmas picture. I began to trundle down the stairs yelling over my shoulder for my cousins to follow me. I slipped. My left hand instinctively latched on to the railing and didn't let go although the rest of me fell. (This would have been cool had I been falling off a cliff or something cool like that.) After a couple of hours, it became clear that this was not just a minor strain. I couldn't live my arm above my waist without pain in my shoulder. Really I couldn't move it much at all. I iced it and took tons of Advil and when I got home two days later, a P.T. worked on it. It felt much better after that, but it still gets 'tired' when I work out and feels 'delicate' when I do certain things. I.E. after throwing a couple of hard jabs into a focus mitt, I get that 'this minor discomfort is a warning' kind of mild pain. I've been avoiding grappling and throwing hard left hooks.

Doc Dill says:

Well a couple of things could have happened here. Overhead injuries like the kind you describe happen in sports to pole vaulters and gymnasts. In those sports you are trying to lift or hold body weight with one or both arms in extreme flexion. A little too much extreme flexion or a ballistic move like you did (falling with a sudden recovery) and something's gotta give. Three possibilities come to mind: 1) acromioclavicular joint separation (separated shoulder), 2) rotator cuff strain, tear or compressive injury, or 3) torn labrum. Number three is bad and will only get better with surgery if you're lucky. Luckily these are rare. Number two is serious but unless it's a complete tear you can avoid surgery. Number one hurts more than the other two and takes a long time to fully heal but is relatively a minor injury. How do you tell the difference?

Well, 1 will hurt when you touch the end of your collar bone or if you grab the collar bone and try to wiggle it hard. 2 will be painful in the resisted "empty can" position. if a complete tear you will have no pain and be unable to resist at all.* In 3 you will most likely have pain with movement and a feeling of slippage as if you're shoulder wasn't attached right or a painful arc where everytime you move through a motion it hurts only through the same portion of the motion. Whattaya do? Well ICE then strengthen the scapulo-thoracic musculature and retrain scapulo- thoracic rhythm which I'll cover in another article.

* Empty can position fists in front of pockets arm rotated so thumbs point down, flex shoulder so arms are lifted on angles lower than shoulder height, as if emptying pop cans.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Glossary: Open Weight vs. Absolute Weight Divisions/Classes

Open Weight refers to a weight division where there is no upper boundary. By definition, this is the heaviest weight class. In boxing, this is the heavyweight division, for fighters over 200#.

The Absolute Class or the Absolute Division refers to a competition having no weight restrictions. That is, a 150# fighter could find themselves up against a 350# fighter. The most famous Absolute Division is in the Abu Dhabi Combat Club's where the winner of the yearly Absolute Division tournament is considered to be the best submission grappler in the world. Old-timers may also be nostalgic for the original UFCs.

Public Domain photo from Library of Congress

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Partial Results From Total Fight Challenge 11

by Mike

Total Fight Challenge 11 was an interesting experience. A near riot, a fighter refusing to leave the locker room and HDNET showing up to get some footage. Very strange night.

Jim Peterson ended up fighting Jose Maldanado in a sort-of last-minute replacement. I actually remembered Maldanado from a Muay Thai fight on the same card as Jim's first TFC appearance. Since then, he'd compiled a perfect 2-0 record in MMA matches. We didn't have any time to try to adjust Jim's game aside from a, "crowd the guy and work your takedowns" phone conversation. This was basically been the opposite of our gameplan for when we thought he was fighting Kevin Nowacyck.

Maldanado came out and pressed the action with crisp striking, cutting Jim in the first exchange. He pressed the pace throughout the first round, although he displayed a tough chin when Jim caught him a couple of times. Peterson tried to clinch and work his sweeps, although Maldanado displayed some strong wrestling of his own.

Jim scored a nice takedown that accidentally sent Maldanado through the ropes and onto the apron. The crowed popped for that one in impressive form.

Maldanado walked away with with the decision while Jim got a Sesame Street bandage from the paramedics.

Good showing by Jim against a tough opponent.

Friday, February 8, 2008

First Aid For Fighters: Is it a Cauliflower Ear?


I got earholed. Now my ear hurts. I hope it's not cauliflower ear. What can I do about it?

First off, is the pain in your ear canal or the external ear? If it's the external ear you prolly have a hematoma and should get it drained.* I waited too long and had to have a surgical irrigation and drainage. Essentially opening the skin removing the clot, sewing it up and smashing the ear with a hard dressing. the cartilage of your ear gets its nutrition from the skin. if you get a clot under the skin one of two things happens. 1: The cartilage thickens and twists giving you a cauliflower ear. Looks like a pig chewed on it. 2: The cartilage can die, rot and you have your ear removed. Bizarrely enough, this looks worse that the chewed up ear.

If the pain is inside your ear you may have a serious problem, especially if you can't hear very well. You may have an infection or the bones (ossicles) in your hearing mechanism may be dislocated. either way go see an ENT doc. (Ear, Nose, Throat or otorhinolaryngologist).

* Why We Not Hit Hard? recommends that you see a trained professional to have your ear drained. Don't let your buddy do it. Don't let your buddy's wife do this, unless she does it for a living. Just working in a hospital doesn't count. Maybe your wrestling coach, but if he's smart, he'll tell you to go to a doctor. Having your ear drained is a simple, quick and terribly painful procedure. But it's better than the alternative which is to walk around with a giant cauliflower ear. Regardless of what the other guys in the gym say, girls don't find it attractive. We've done studies.

CC-licensed photo by daviddeferro. Yes, that's Alessio Sakara.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Shoutout to Kerstin...again!

Our sources report that Kerstin took another fight last night, this one on a couple hours notice (!) and came away with another decisive win!

As I understand, Kerstin and her coach only had a couple minutes of watching her opponent warm up on the pads to figure out a strategy. Granted, at this level of competition, one isn't able to learn much about their opponent, but one generally has some time to prepare for the event itself - here, I think she had a long-ass drive to the venue to collect herself.

I think Kerstin had less notice for this fight than Peter Aerts did during his 2006 bout with Ernesto Hoost. As the story goes, Bob Sapp was originally supposed to have his third match against Mr. Perfect, but demanded more money and eventually pulled out of the competition. Aerts (who was a commentator for this event) was asked to replace Sapp in the main event and had to borrow all of his equipment (including Semmy Schilt's oversized shorts).

I'm amazed that people would take fights on such short notice, but it's a tribute to Kerstin and her training that she not only went in cold, but came out with a decisive victory.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

How I learned to stop worrying and defend the guillotine

by Mike

I'm always surprised at how many trained fighters get caught in guillotine chokes. At UFC 81, both Jeremy Horn and Tim Sylvia tapped to guillotines. One one hand, these guys should have known how to defend against them. I'm going to show you how to successfully defend against the guillotine, at least until you run up against Nate Marquardt or Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueria and their next-level jiu-jitsu.

When the rest of us are facing good, or even excellent opponents, defense against the guillotine choke is simple and effective. It was very sad that I went so far in my career getting caught in guillotine after guillotine until I finally learned this defense. Since then, I've never tapped or even been in danger from a guillotine.

Aesopian taped a Bryan Harper seminar where guillotine defense was shown, I've added some commentary to the mix.

Defending the Standing Guillotine

How does this defense work?
  • Like the demonstrator says, the most important thing is to turn your head into your opponent, keeping your opponent from attacking both carotid arteries. This will not necessarily be sufficient to spare you the choke, but it will keep you in the game long enough to go to step 2:

  • Reaching up to pull his choking hand down. If you're lucky, you'll break his grip and you'll be able to escape. If not, he's still putting pressure on your neck and it is possible to be submitted/go out if you spend too much time in the choke.

  • Putting your arm around the opponent's shoulder and pulling tight. The pulling tight thing is vital, but not mentioned. The guy applying the submission wants to stretch the defender out as much as possible. Either from standing or in the guard (see next video), he wants to stretch himself out and, by virtue of his tight grip, stretch you out as well. From standing, this involves pulling his shoulders back (from the guard, he pushes your hips down as well, giving him more leverage). If you can keep yourself tight to him you and/or prevent him from pulling his shoulder back, you can take away a lot of the pressure of his choke.

  • One thing that I'd like to add to this presentation is that it's not only important to reach as far up as you can, but to try to put your hand/arm as deep into your opponent's back as you can. This will hold you closer/immobilize their shoulder more effectively.

  • The bump/trip should be obvious, but note if the guy on the bottom doesn't let go, you set yourself up for a very nice Von Flue choke.

Just as an aside, it's really embarrassing to tap to a Von Flue choke. Defense against the Von Flue - let go of the guillotine.

Guillotine defense from the guard

Why does this work?
  • As noted earlier, the attacker wants to stretch you out, the defender wants to keep that from happening. The easiest way to do that is to clamp down on his shoulder and start trying to stack him.

  • It's important to keep a good base so you don't get swept or have your legs kicked out and you're back to square one.

  • Putting pressure from your shoulder onto the opponent's neck/chin, causes him to instinctively curl up, keeping him from stretching you out. If he's stubborn and stupid, you might even get him to tap.

  • In an MMA situation, a dick move (but very effective) is to throw some shoulder strikes once you've gotten up on your toes and secured a good base.
In a future installment, we'll demonstrate a variation of the guillotine that Renzo Gracie likes that turns the guillotine from a Hail Mary into a high-percentage move.

Until then, don't get caught in guillotines.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Glossary: One-Punch Knockout

A one-punch knockout is the when a fighter throws one punch during a fight and that punch results in a knockout.

Note that that it will be the first punch a fighter throws.*

The stats would looks something like:

Fighter A:
Punches thrown: 1
Punches landed: 1
Connect rate: 100%

It's irrelevant what the other fighter does. But, generally, the one-punch knockouts are the first (and only) punch thrown by either competitor in a match.

The term "one-punch knockout" is often used incorrectly by casual fans and UFC commentator Mike Goldberg to refer to a lone punch (not part of a combination) that results in a knockout. By definition a knockout punch is a single punch thrown that knocks someone out, so technically they are right, however if you're going to do that, you may as well note that even in a combination, a single strike will be the one that causes the knockout.**

* It's possible in MMA that a fighter follows their opponent to the ground and continues to pound on them - this will still be a one-punch knockout.

** I suppose it's possible to punch someone with both fists simultaneously. I've never seen it actually used in a competition before though.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

This might have helped Brock Lesnar - Defending the Kneebar

by Mike

Brock Lesnar showed some decent skill in his UFC 81 match against former champ Frank Mir. Brock's standup was much better than I anticipated it being, but he got caught by a canny jiu-jits player. It happens.

From MMA Saddle, which has a nice collection leg lock information.

One of the dangerous things about kneebars is that your knee doesn't feel pain the same way that your other joints do - instead of "this is hurting, pop," you have more of a "this is kinda tight, but I'm pop."

That is to say, the knee feels pressure, not pain. Careful training kneebars.