Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Have I mentioned what a tough time I'm having?

I can't imagine how I got so out of shape. I started running 10 days ago and found, at first, that two miles at any pace was really hard. I've run most days (well, maybe 6 times) with distances between 1 & 2.8 miles. Today, I ran 2.3 and it was just really hard. I'm not even keeping time yet since I don't want to see the numbers.

After my beating on Saturday, I came back determined to the Monday night class. Informally known as Legs Night. We work on some cardio with a bunch of kicks. Near the end, we were doing a left front kick, axe kick, left round house, spin around right hook kick. Not pretty. But I stayed with it except for the pushups where, I'm still not in the game. We did a pyramid to 20 (first 5, then 10, then 15, then 20) and I probably hit 60% of them. The pushup position makes my feet hurt!

But the march towards street defense and MMA continues. Not a kata in sight. And last night, it was side shoulder grab. Gone is the Kenpo approach in which you did an outside block and a roundhouse. The new approach: Grip his bicep with the hand closest to him, then palm to the face or neck, elbow to the face or elblow and a quick knee strike to the body (groin).

We also did the side head grab. The kenpo (old) approach had been to step around, strike with the heel of both hands to the groin and kidneys, reach up to the scruff of the neck while bringing the heel of the other hand up into his neck, and then a groin strike. Now, we grab the far arm from around his back (I doubt the realism of this since it can be hard to reach if the person is bigger) but then stand up, arching back and pushing forward into him with your hip, light strike to the back of the near knee while throwing one arm around his neck into a choke, then step slowly backwards while putting up the other hand to grab the bicep and put him to sleep (or force him to tap out).



Saturday, April 26, 2008

Coming back is so hard

I sparred for the first time in over a month today. I started out OK holding my own and feeling it come back. I moved well and while slow, I was staying in stance and my footwork and combos were good.

But I finished pathetically. I did 6 or maybe 7 matches, the last four back-to-back. It was too much. I was totally worn out for the last two matches which unfortunately, were against the best two in the dojo (Weeks & Gavin). Since last time I had sparred them, I had been in pretty good shape and sparing form, they didn't expect me to be such a wet noodle. It took them each about half of the match to realize that I was a punching bag. By then, I was a sore punching bag.

Coming back is hard. It's humilating. I even had to ask one to "Ease up" but his body shots were about to make me into a punching bag with a very loud wheeze. I know that there's no reason to be ashamed but then, I didn't make it to be BBat50 without having a lot of pride, high expectations, and a competitive spirit. So excuse me if being pathetic on the floor just ain't my favorite thing. Tomorrow: stretching, situps, kicks, pushups and a 3 mile run. I need to get back in shape.



More Mixed Martial Arts

The Friday night adults class at our dojo is known as Happy Hour. Monthly, there's a special BBC (black belt champion) Happy Hour when new material is introduced. Last night, we did some new jitsu work including some submission moves. The jitsu techniques appear to be dominating MMA (mixed martial arts) today.

BTW - a few people have told me that I was using too much jargon so I'll try to spell out the acronyms more systematically.

We learned to clinch, a sweep take-down, and two submission moves once you were on the ground. I believe that this is all Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which Kyoshi (Steve Lavallee) has been learning from Gracie Academy in Miami. The Gracie website has a great history of jiu-jitsu.

The clinch was executed by blocking a jab, approaching with a jab and then clinching. You held with your right hand on the persons tricept, your left arm under the person's arm and up his back.

The take down was by stepping out with the right foot, leaning forward (and the other person back) at the waist, and then with your left leg, sweeping back. The main point on the sweep was to hit behind the opponents knee (to avoid injury) and to do a full high followthrough with your leg going bakc and you leaning forward to counterbalance. Weird. You finish by maintaing your grip on their left hand, going low into a horsestance, and slowly going to your knees. One knee should be on or very close to their body.

Once down, you got down low. Your opponent is on his back. Right now, you are close to his head lying on your chest with your weight on him. The goal is to shift so you can sit up on him. To start, you have one arm behind his neck, the other around him under his far arm. First step, you move your right hand from behind his neck to where you have your right elbow on the ground in his neck on the far side. Your left hand stays across his body but moves lower. Second you shift your lower body from face down to having your on your right side, right leg extended down, left leg bent, With your left hadn, you push his knees towrads you facilitating stepping over him with your left knee. You place it up as high as you can. Your objective is to get your knees under his armpits. His objective his to keep his elbows in and you sitting low on him near the stomach. When you are down there, it's hard to strike his head and easy for him to oompah you off (an oopmah is when you back up and try to throw him off).

Submissions. We learned two. One, grab one of his arms with both hands with both your hands facing the same way and lean on it so you pin the arm down. Two notes: keep your thumbs with your your fingers like a claw, don't put your thumb on the other side of your grip. Two, don't be trying to push his arm down tih your arms. Keep your arms alomst stright and just lean using your weight. Once one of his arms is down, lets say his left, you've got him. Your position now is your sitting on his chest leaning forward to the right with both arms pinning his arm to the ground. You release with your left hand (closest to you), snake it under arm and grip your own right arm. To apply pressuse, you lift up with your right elbow until he taps out.

WARNING - Be sure your training partner understands tapping out. You are applying pressure here which, if you over do it, will break a joint. Easily. You need to apply it slowly and be ready to release. He needs to know that he taps out as soon as he knows that you have found the correct position.

Second submission. From the chest ride, you lean forward and work your right arm under his head and reach under and across until you have finger or so under his armpit. Your head is down low to the left of his. He is holding you off with his right hand. At the right time, you shove his arm out of the way so you can put your head right next to his and you can reach your left bicep with the right hand (the one that was reaching under him). With your left hand, you reach up to his head or your own and then flex your right arms bicep. This will apply pressure to his neck and he'll tap out. Unless he wants his neck broken.

I bet all these moves have names. I'll try to learn them. Anybody?



Monday, April 21, 2008

We're now an MMA school

It seems that at Lavallee's, at least for the moment, MMA is in. And kata are out. I noticed last week at testing that there were NO kata. Bbth the junior and adult classes earned their new belt without performing a single Kata (except for the basic appreciation form)! No XMA, no weapons, no three set kumatai, no bookset, no 6/8/10 count kicking, and no long or short ones. The entire evening was the basic strikes, pad work, and MMA style holds and grabs.

Today was an A day. Traditionally, A days means Kata work. But today, it was all MMA. The same thing was true last week (I've only made two classes in two weeks). It's a dramatic change. And how far will it go? So far, our take downs and ground work are drills. I go, you go with no resistance. But, are we on a path to real wrestling and jutsu? Will we start resisting the moves and trying counters in free form? Will sparing include take-downs this year? How far will Kyoshi take us on this MMA path?

When I joined Lavallees, in the summer of 2003, all of our holds and grabs were of the kenpo variety. Then, the holds and grabs disappeared from the curriculum for awhile. When they returned, they were much more MMA and street style self-defense. Kenpo holds and grabs were structured as releases, strikes, and then the creation of distance. Now, our holds and grabs are about holding and maintainng control, elbow and knee strikes, taking the other person to the ground, and maintaining a dominant position.

It's interesting to see how far down this road we'll go. And it helps make us more rounded martial artists.



Monday, April 14, 2008

World Record for Baseball Bat Breaking

louisville slugger baseball bat At Steve LaValle's April 2008 Black Belt Spectacular in the War Memorial Auditorium in Ft Lauderdale, FL, Shihan Moti Horenstein set a new world record for baseball bat breaking in 60 seconds. I think it was 49. Check it out. He's amazing.

Shihan Moti is an eighth degree Black Belt. He is Director and Chief Instructor of the World Survival Hisardut Organization. He holds World Titles in 5 different styles.

In 1995, Shihan Moti was crowned Champion of the World at the International World Oyama Karate Open Championships as well as capturing first place honors in Team USA Shidokan, representing the United States in Tournaments around the world. Most recently, Shihan captured Champion of the United States in Muay Thai and in August 1998 he captured Champion of the World at the King's Cup Muay Thai World.

Want to know a name for "totally tough and lots of technique"? Have you ever seen anyone make baseball bat breaking look easy? Wow! Go Shihan.
Shihan Moti



Sunday, April 13, 2008

What's really hard?

Many people seem to respect the fact that I've earned a black belt. But the fact is, I know the truth. The running, the sparing, the intense four-classes-per-week run-up to earning the belt, and all those pushups.....was fun. There was a team of us that were into it. I felt great. They weren't really challenges or accomplishments in my book.

The real challenge for me... what has been really hard.... is the "come-backs". Being human , I get injured. And I have to take time off. And being old, my physical conditioning deteriorates rapidly.

The hardest thing I think I've ever done in terms of sports challenge was coming back after an 8 month layoff due to my sore shoulders when I was (something like) a blue belt. There was no real support team. I showed up at the dojo and while the staff was great, I practically didn't recognize any students. The people who had started with me had left or were onto their black belts (that wasn't my first time-off for injuries). I could hardly do a push-up and I had not much endurance. My flexibility was gone. I was full of doubts and my shoulders didn't feel all that great despite the months of rest and therapy. It was discouraging. Coming back was for me, something that I'm really proud of.

I'm thinking about this now since I'm hoping to start class on Monday after a 3-4 week time out. I'm nervous. I've been hurt. Both feet were injured. One has been sore for six months (since October). Both feet are still a little sore. I've put on five pounds. I haven't done much stretching.
This will be hard....



Sunday, April 06, 2008

Black Belt Spectacular

This was (by my count), the third Spectacular in the large, comfortable, professional Parker Playhouse. The chairs comfortable, you can see well from every seat in the house, and the lighting and accoustics are great. It's really a great show.

I have only one picture so far. Congrats to Sylvia & Dawn & Chloe & Joey & Eduardo & Wes & Mr Vince and everyone who got their new belts. This promotion was smaller than our HUGE one in November. And the show was different too. The highlight for me was the XMA team in masks.

Isn't Kyoshi ferocious? One cool thing this show is that it highlighted the difference between muy thai, boxing, mixed martial arts, and jitsui. It's pretty clear to me from my reading, never mind from watching Steve Lavallee, that for pure street fighting, the most reliable way to go is jutsu. I'd like to know ever more about the variety of styles. It would be cool if they would bring in some demos of completely different approaches to keep our education broad.

Isn't Moti amazing? Did you see him kick thru those 40 baseball bats? I think they made a new world record in bat breaking. I hope someone got a video and will put it up. (Note, found it. Here's the info on the new world record in bat breaking). I looked this morning and found an earlier attempt in the UK (linked below). More notes to Kyoshi. Next time, lets have some Louisville Slugger baseball bats on display on the way in and out. I went and found one in my garage today and it feels even more amazing to me when I can see and touch the bats. Also, please tell the kids NOT to go home and try this.

Here a link to a previous attempt at the world record for bat breaking in the UK. I can't seem to get it to embed properly so I'll just link to it. He's a pretty tough guy too.




Saturday, April 05, 2008

Why do you block?

I just read a great post by Charles Goodin on Why do you Block?
He starts with some commentary on multiple choice questions and then zeros in on his point, there are many ways of blocking depending on what you are trying to do (block and counter vs being purely defensive etc etc). It's a long and good post, I won't try to summarize or paraphrase.

At our dojo, our drills fit into his point that you should being thinking about why you are doing what you're doing. We start with a simple partner punch and block and then we build up to more complex and realistic drills. He points out that if your purpose is just to block the punch, you'll probably just get clobbered by the next one. You should have a purpose that directs your block and provides you a plan for the next few steps.

I really like the way that Charles Goodin talks about blocking and makes em think about it. Having read it, I'll block with more purpose (when I get back on the floor)

I would like to share some info online kids learning, . From them, I learned about reading comprehension, and math help, for home school.

Black Belt Spectacular Tonight

I'll be there, you should too.