Sports, Martial Arts & Combat

The more I think about it, the more I realise that training happens for one of 3 areas.  We shift between each focus depending on the individual, style and class but it helps to understand what each side brings and is best at.


Perhaps most easily seen in terms of MMA training.  In sport training, the focus is often on duels in a controlled environment.  There are rules, there are prohibited attacks, there is a perfect ‘balance’ of opponents (weight classes at least).

In sport training, you train to win the tournament / fight.  It’s great training and it adds a sheen to your fighting that is hard to duplicate other than ‘live’ testing; but it’s also very artificial.  It’s resistance training at its best and worst.

Martial Arts

To me, Martial Arts training is different.   You can train in a Traditional Martial Arts School (TMA School) and train sport training and miss out on the actual martial arts training.  As Ip Chun and every good martial arts teacher I’ve known has emphasised – martial arts is for health and self-defense.  It’s not for fighting.

So, you train martial arts with a focus on self-defense, on getting healthy (mentally and physically) and you might never step into a ring or do a tournament.  You should spar (somethings you can’t learn without sparring – though  not necessarily full speed all the time) and work against a resisting opponent (scaling up drills slowly) but at the end of the day, if you never step into a ring; you’re not a bad martial artist.

Ignore all the UFC-wannabes who say any training that isn’t sports-focused and doesn’t put you into the ring is not worth it.  Martial arts training, done well; will improve your life in ways sport training by itself won’t.


Okay, last difference.  The first two training styles are meant for civilians.  The third, combat training starts adding in things you don’t expect and probably (like 99% of the time) ever encounter.  Things like:

  • multiple attackers
  • weapons
  • body armour
  • scenario training
  • surprise attacks / targeted attacks

Martial arts training or sport training will generally allow you to deal with 1-on-1 attacks.  It starts breaking down in the above situations quite often as we just don’t train in it enough.  In addition, the need for scenario training isn’t there in the vast majority of  the cases.

If you think of it as the various confrontation situations, you are great at vocal & social confrontations and can head those off, but you aren’t trained to deal with ‘real‘ violence. That’s where combat training comes in – and it’s the kind of training that police officers, soldiers and the like receive.  It’s training often given for those who need it, and hard to find otherwise.


Retirement Savings & Compound Interest

So, I want to discuss something that is dear to me.  Compound interest and retiring.

Did you know that if you can get a 10% return on your investments, your initial investment will double every 7 years?

Or flip it around, if you get 7% interest; your money doubles every 10 years.

If you are 25 years old and saved $10,000 by that age, by 65 that initial savings at:

  • 7% interest rates = $160,000 (doubled 4 times)
  • 10% interest rates = $400,000+ (doubled over 5 times!)

Of course, few of us have $10,000 at 25.  So let’s say 35.  If you can get the above rates from 35 to 65; you’d have with that initial $10,000 investment:

  • 7% interest rate = $80,000
  • 10% interest rate = $160,000+

Note, I’m not discussing interest rates here and the numbers given are rough estimates.  They aren’t actuals at all; the actual compounded amounts are slightly smaller.

Still; not bad eh? But those are just numbers.  What would you need to live on? Well, assuming you could live on $28,000 a year including OAS & CPP; at 65 you would need about $128,000.

So, why aren’t you saving yet?

Grappling Class Notes

Some quick notes for my own rememberance from the latest 2 grappling classes.

First class – how to escape from guard to side guard.

  • push up to keep head away from body.  Hands go to liver or lower ribs
  • don’t leave hands on chest
  • get up on one leg, use the propped up knee to shove elbow into pressure point on inside of thigh.
  • slide opposite knee / shin over the now lowered leg and push over to side
  • keep body low, stay next to opponent
  • go into side guard, getting underhook and overhook if possible with knees to upper body and thigh as fast as possible


  • step past opponent’s front leg
  • sweep with second leg, kicking into his weak centre of balance while twisting with arm (elbow and arm hangs down in 90 degree) to throw
  • keep control of arm, get into side straddle with back to ground and his arm between legs
  • Curl leg around his head to you to control head
  • pull back to finish. Thumb facing up.

Counter to Throw

  • Let yourself be thrown, roll with the throw and keep arm to head.
  • Bring leg furthest from body overhead to counter and go into a direct armbar

Day 2 lessons

Getting out from guard to side

  • Trap his double-arm (i.e. two hands on you) with one arm.
  • Opposite hand, crunch to his leg and hook all the way to elbow.
  • Roll opponent to side
  • Enter side control

Head control in side

  • If you are grasping his head in side control (facing up), splay legs in 90 angle.  One directly perpendicular to him, the other as much of 90 as possible.  Grab thigh with your arm around his head.
  • This will stop him from throwing you off by pulling you towards him and then away to regain control

Head control to choke

  • From above position, flip legs around so that you are now facing him downwards
  • Prop legs up, angled into him
  • Squeeze with arms (gently, no need to use much force) and let your shoulder dig into him to create the choke

Head / arm control to armbar

  • push hand down towards leg
  • from there you can use first propped up leg (straight perpendicular before) to prop underneath and then cross to go into armbar
  • if arm starts turning, follow the turning and slip under opposite leg and lock with second leg.  Raise hips and push down gently to finish

Class formats and styles

I’ve been doing martial arts for quite a few years.  Taken from when I first started, we’re looking at 18 years or so.  Total number of years though is significantly less – probably only about 7 -8 years.  It’s hard to tell – there’s a lot of gaps in between and right now; I’m practising / learning when I can but it’s not often.

Anyway, the point is I’ve been at this for a while.  I’ve probably gone to over two dozen schools, trained in (i.e. did more than 1 class) about 5.  I’ve seen a lot of teaching and training styles and I’ve practised everything from Ninjitsu to Tai Chi (both forms & martially) to Western Martial Arts.  So I have a wide range to draw from, though not necessarily depth.

And one thing I’ve realised – there’s no one ‘best’ style of teaching.  Setting aside the fact that different people learn differently (auditory, tactualy, repetitively or visually come to mind); the different ways I’ve been trained have worked well to improve me in different ways.

Form work has given me an amazing level of body awareness.  Doing Tai Chi forms at 1/10th of full-speed means that I have to pay attention to each muscle as I shift.  Every time I practise (properly); I feel and sense something different.  It’s one of the reasons I pick up motions much faster these days.

Unpaired drills help generate and set specific body mechanics I want to become innate.  Whether it’s punches or kicks, repeating them slowly and quickly makes them part of my body’s repertoire of ‘tricks’.

Paired drills adds an edge of realism and adaptation that unpaired drills just miss.  Speeding up; especially for blocking drills drills them into flinch response level territory.  One of my main flinch responses is ‘block’.  When I used to drill regularly, both our responses to everyday ‘fast moving object to body’ was block. Or in his case, catch (shuttlecocks being the main enemy).

Technical discussion has added a layer of understanding to what we do and why something works.  Often paired with drills to then drill in the correct actions.

Slow work starts putting our drills into a dynamic environment at a safe level.

Full speed duels (or 80% in unarmed)  has taught timing, distance and tactics in a dynamic environment.  Drills can help, but there’s nothing that replaces doing it against a resisting opponent.

I have to admit, the two areas I’d love to do more of are:

  • scenario driven drills (ambush, attacks from behind, weapon against unarmed, etc.)
  • group combat

Unfortunately, for both you need both the right group and the time to do it in; and often neither is as plentiful as I’d like.

First MMA Kickboxing Class

Quite a few years since I’ve done a lot of punching and kicking in a class.  Before I forget, things I found out that I learnt:

  • When punching / kicking continuously at a heavy bag / focus pads; wraps and gloves are good. If nothing more than to save the knuckles on your hands
  • I hit too much with the last couple of knuckles – right hand little finger knuckle skin came off
  • My left cross has a tendency to drift outwards and come in a circle instead of snapping right out.  Also, I’m way too lazy on both sides with putting a proper twist to my hips to generate power.
  • I fight southpaw naturally, though my lead hand is my right.
  • I throw way too many crosses as a start especially when I’m in southpaw
  • My right roundhouse though (from orthodox in particular) is very powerful.  My left roundhouse needs more work
  • Heck, kicks in general from orthodox / left need a lot more work
  • I need to work on shifting stances more often and more dynamically.  Time to do more research
  • I need to work combinations more, especially straights and body hook combinations.  Not as fluid as I’d like it to be.
  • Same with the front kick / switch / back leg roundhouse & forward plant roundhouse. (From orthodox, that’d be right front kick, right roundhouse after switch, plant with right foot forward and left roundhouse).
  • Don’t rush – plant my feet more before I throw a combination so each has power.  I’ll probably want to change that up a bit in a fight to throw both speed / power shots but it’s a good habit to make sure I’m throwing proper shots in drill.
  • Work on planting my foot better so I can throw a proper high roundhouse and pivoting all the way through.

Things I’m unsure I need to work on, have to consider:

  • Breathing out more harshly when I hit.  I do so normally, but not in the explosive manner these guys like.
  • Hands in muay-thai / boxer stance.  Shoulders raised, elbows in a lot more, hands at same height (or almost) and covering face much higher.

Other general observations:

  • Movement fluidity came back after a while
  • Same with combinations before I started flagging
  • Cardio isn’t as bad as I thought, didn’t have a huge amount of rest but I kept it up for nearly an hour and a half
  • I obviously didn’t kick things as much as I should – bruises all along my shin / top of my foot

Overall, good training.  Time to get back to it properly.


This is a short post.  I just wanted to get it out before I had to run off.  There seems to be three major forms of confrontations out there:

– Verbal

– Social (Monkey Dance)

– Ambush

In fact, you could say (and I know others do) the first two are the same.  Any verbal confrontation is part of the social confrontation.  As a man though, a monkey dance confrontation is very different from a verbal confrontation (e.g. a shouting match with my wife is not the same as one with a random dude in a bar).

Training in martial arts often seems to focus on part 2 – the social / monkey dance aspects.  You can, with good training be quite confident you can handle the violence stemming from a monkey dance (so long as it stays to 1 person at least).

Ambush training though, I just don’t see happening a lot. Which is a shame, though it obviously requires a lot different training. I’m reading a lot of Rory Miller’s work right now, and hopefully I’ll be able to find some people to work some of those drills with.  Especially the group / blind ambush tactics.

Atlas Shrugged Part II

Watched Atlas Shrugged Part II.  What a horrible, horrible book.

Sadly, the actors weren’t bad for the most part. I’m assuming that they just needed the paycheck – we’ve all done way too much for a paycheck.  The directing wasn’t horrible either, in fact the scriptwriting wasn’t bad.  So, as a movie adaptation; it wasn’t bad.  It was actually pretty okay.

Which means all the sins have to be left at the doorstep of the source material.

Continue reading Atlas Shrugged Part II