Friday, July 30, 2010

Dynamic Muscle Tension Choke

I got the new guy in a straight-armed wrist lock, jumped up, clamped my legs around his neck, fell to the floor in an arm bar before he even knew what happened. 

That didn’t happen at all because I would have hurt my back and probably kicked him in the head instead.  Never the less, after choking one another for 20 minutes it had felt like I’d done the flying arm bar. 

Teacher was going over all the basics to prep Robot, and the Wonder Twins for the test in the 2nd hour, but got a bit burned out and decided to teacher a blood choke for the last half of the 1st hour.  When done correctly it goes smoothly and the main vein on one side of your neck gets pinched you go nighty-night. 

What I learned – Some people have a big vein on the neck and it’s easy to choke them (me).  Some people must have their vein buried deep in the or their body takes up the slack by pumping hard on the other side (new girl).  So when you can’t knock them out you crush them and that doesn’t work at all.  So the lesson is you better have something else up your sleeve.

Needless to say learning this technique means that everybody has a sore neck and has been choked out a multitude of times.  It left me wondering how much brain damage we were causing.


Teacher keeps harping on the judicious use of muscle to stabilize positions. For instance – in preparation for a side kick our chamber is standing on foot, that knee bent, the kicking leg thigh is almost parallel to the ground.  What he sees is that many of use are not using a bit of muscle to help us stabilize here.  Once he tells folks their balance in this position improves dramatically.

This got me thinking about how much other pieces of the pie are tied together with a bit of dynamic tension.  Normally, the demonstration about being relaxed and kicking (for instance) is contrasted by having the student squeezing the muscles through the kick to demonstrate how it impedes the process.  While a fully relaxed exertion moves very quick.  It’s only at the end point in which tighten to give the big boom. 

I don’t know how to adequately describe this phenomenon, but I know it’s fundamental to a good kick, but hard to teach. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Click, Click, Boom

I may have mentioned that I live in a very remote section of the country in the past.  Part of that means that I get to do things that most folks don’t have easy access to do.  One of these is to go hunting.  Let me just say that I have never really hunted.  As a suburbanite raised gringo the closet I ever came to seeing wild life was at a zoo or cows along the side of the road.  It certainly means that I’ve never seen the taking of an animals life up close and personal.  That’s all about to change.

In an attempt to eat healthier and save some money my wife and I have been trying to stick to fish caught during the summer and occasionally eating of venison or buffalo for a red meat fix. 

Where we live fish is given almost all the time as way to share the bounty and spread the luck, but venison is a prized possession because of the effort to get to it and get it back. 

Short story long – my friend invited me on a hunt.  The season starts on Sunday and I’ve got to hike into the mountains and bring something out.  Unless the weather is bad.  I guess deer hide very efficiently in bad weather.

This leads up to how I’ve been changing my work out routine as of late.  Normally, I try to work out three times a week and go to beatings twice.  The irony is that with that schedule I would presume that I would be reasonably fit for a hike in the mountains, but the truth is that I’m huffing and puffing within the first few minutes uphill. 

Too be a good hunting partner I’ve been hiking instead of going to the gym.  My wife and I head up the mountain behind town every other day for a couple of hours in hopes that I’m not an entire embarrassment to our friend.  

This radical change in exercise pattern has been nice for a bit of weight loss, but my legs are completely shot.  This makes beatings nearly hilarious.  Last night Teacher had us focus on kicking in close range.  In order for us to kick at any height the knee must be very high.  After a few minutes my tell-tale wheezing and sweating had already made an appearance, but I noticed that I was able to do the kicks whereas in the past that might not have occurred.  Also, my level of soreness this morning is the same as any other day so maybe I’m making some progress after all.  

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Video Outtakes

Teacher pulled me aside and said that he was going to be taking video of the students doing their kata/hyungs.  He remembered years ago where he and I had done some elementary attempts and it turned out to be a great teaching tool. 

The first hour was an ironic treat.  He pulled me and the new tall guy up front and we worked on “how to attack a tall guy.”  Something I’m all too comfortable with.  Not that I know what to do with it most of the time, but to give everyone ideas was a little stressful.  One of the shortest guys in class is a nightmare to spar with because he simply climbs inside and beats me to pieces. 

Thankfully, after a frustrating time of getting pummeled he pulled me and the other guy aside to give some pointers about what to do.  These turned out to be hilarious because it took advantage of head control.  So if my less that average heighted opponent got too close I could steer or turn his head.  That lasted about one round with each of the students.  They immediately started slapping that hand away.  Attack, riposted, repeat.  

The video review portion showed pretty much what we all expected – bad shoulder position, standing too high, etc.  Plenty to work on in the coming weeks.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wrist Locks

On almost every paper I’ve read there is a main title and then a subtitle that is a play on words.  I think mine would be "and other forms of self abuse via teaching.”  I’m pretty sure that any psych professor would be pleased to see that in the pile of their evening reading. 

Teacher is trying to get us to use more combinations and to this end he’ll have us do a sort of Simon Says routine.  He’ll do a staggeringly complex combination of blocks and strikes and count and we are supposed to follow along.  Hilarity ensues.  We’ve found out that you have to move slow or suffer that dumb look when you know you’ve done it wrong. 

During break I asked about a throw I’m not very good at and that got Teacher’s juices flowing for the 2nd hour.  So we brought the mats and learned how to do that throw. 

Imagine someone grabbing your left shoulder from behind with their left hand (improbable, but it’s easier to describe this way).  You reach across with your right and clamp down on their hand, your thumb over their web.  You step back and pull the hand down at a 45 degree angle in front of you.  To avoid a painful shoulder the bad guy needs to roll out in front of you.  Simple, elegant and frustrating as hell to do right.  

After that it was basic wrist locks from every conceivable angle.  I was given the new guy, Shootah, again and I took him through everything I could recall until the end of the class.  Ouch. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Too many laughs?

What is becoming a predictable joke in my repertoire happened yet again last night but with a bit more substance. 

I love telling people that I get my ass kicked by children, adolescents and whatever comes across as a juxtaposition on my size compared to theirs. 

It’s not a great advertisement for our school based on the fact that I’ve been crippled by children more than a few times.  The worst was when I was in a perfect chamber for a side kick and a kid kicked underneath and collapsed my ankle.  Result – rehab for months.  Thankfully nothing was torn completely through.

So last night one of the new girls, Swimmer, did a one-two on my face.  One chop in the jaw that snapped my head around and the second in the lips because my head was turned.  Double ouch.  End result – two fat, bloody lips.  I got to smile at the class with my carmine stained teeth whilst I knuckled away a manly tear. 

At the end of class I noticed that we’d spent most of the class laughing hysterically about little things.  Many of us appear to be tickled by the smallest things and Teacher isn’t stopping it so it goes on unabated.  A lot of fun, but I’m worried that we might be less effective in our learning.  It’s not often that folks launch into combat while they are laughing their heads off.  What do I know?  Maybe it happens all the time.

Friday, July 09, 2010


Yet another night of being the prime demonstration fall guy.

Not too many people in class lately (during the summer we loose a lot of folks to work and travel) so it was nice to see four folks run in just as we finished the bow in.  Dorks.

Teacher seems to be ratcheting up the action more since the base level of our group is pretty high.  As a result, the new guy is struggling to keep up, but he’s game for all it and loves every bit of it.  In keeping with the theme, the post warm up punches, blocks, and strikes were twice as much and twice as long.

The practical part of class was with the mats, which I eyed with some trepidation.  After taking a thrown I get worried about the constant standing up.  Coming out of seiza isn’t too bad because I use my right leg first, but if we do throws that require me to bend or lean with the left leg first it usually starts squealing pretty bad.  No problems emerged as we started flying through the air.

Continuing with Tuesday’s theme of what do do with the person who tries to drag you to the ground we started with steering the shoulders, backing away, and shoving a person down all beautifully performed by me.  Alas, this meant that I had the wind knocked out of me a couple of times and generally had to take a beating to get the best views for the rest of the class.

By the end of class me and the new guy were wheezing horribly because ups and downs, but mostly due to the take down in which the shoulder or elbow are pressed down on the mat while the wrist is controlled caused the most anguish. 

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Tight and flight

As we finished our bowing out one of the Wonder Twins said, "this was the best class ever."

During the class I had a few fleeting insights that I'm wracking my head over. They seemed really important, but nothing is surfacing as I type.

For some reason the class is clicking as a phenomenal level. Tonight it was only guys and everyone was an adult.

I'm trying to take my job as junior instructor seriously with the new guy and he appears to be totally open to everything I'm saying. Teacher often pairs him with me, because I enjoy as well. During the break I was talking to him about the word Randori and was pointing out the differences between schools. For whatever reason the jujitsu schools came up (because we have no idea what they do) and I mentioned that we rarely "rolled." I guess Teacher over heard me because we went right into how to deal with someone who tries to take you down.

Unfortunately/hilariously I was the demo man. Teacher spared no expense in using full effort into driving me into the mat, throwing across the room and in one demo kicking me in the chest at 90% force. I let out the worst strangle noise as my chest collapsed and my shoulders tried to wrap around to the front. Either the class thinks I am the hardest man they have ever met or the dumbest; perhaps both.

We went directly to the next stage which was "if he's got you in this position" scenarios and how to deal it and finally ended with "if he's got you in full mount what do you do?" During the former I was working with Beard on how to get a good hip throw into the mix and he borrowed to illustrate a point. I basically had him in a side head lock and he picked me up and for whatever reason I was particularly light this evening and shot into the air. I came down pretty well considering the height, but he was really being nice and laid me straight out instead of a throw. More minds were blown. No one had ever seen a throw that high given or taken.

The later was having another fellow sit on you. It's such an intimate position especially when they are punching you in the face. I was watching a video at Patrick Parker's and the fellow was saying that martial arts are good for you because the physical contact is fantastic because you touch all the acupuncture points. I don't think he meant that another dude was going to sit on you with his privates and then punch you though.

Friday, July 02, 2010


This was getting ridiculous.  I was literally using all my muscle at this point.  My left hand was in his elbow and my right was under his wrist.  The other students were starting to titter as my face become congested with blood and the veins in my neck bulged with the effort.

I’m often picked for demos because of my height or size in class.  It shows that a smaller man can easily manage a man 50 to 60 pounds heavier than him or 5 to 6 inches taller.  In this case Teacher picked me for the muscles.  In demonstrating unbendable arms he picked me because I was going to pop out of my gi trying to fold him up. 

Unbendable arms are something I never request to work on.  I’m not even sure I can sum it up it quickly either.  Teacher puts it under the heading of “energy work.”  He says we are to visualize a ball of energy that swells in us and then is channeled by leaving us via our arms.  The analogy is our arms are fire hoses.  They are without structure until water is moving through them and then they are like steel. 

I keep waiting for a trick to emerge so I can understand this phenomena, but there is no trace of muscle use that I can see or feel.  When I try to do it I immediately start using muscle and it fails. What made is worse last night is that a majority of the class could do it.  As a senior student/semi-teacher I totally thought I had egg on my face. 

At least my knee didn’t hurt during the class.  That and during one of our exercises I farted loudly when one of the twins got a good punch in on my gut.

Bassai in the park

Holy Cow!  So much time has passed since I've sat down and collected my thoughts for a quick update about my martial practice.  March wa...