Tuesday, October 30, 2007

MCMAP video: Start on the ground

Check out this MCMAP clip of the participants starting their grappling on their knees. I think it's a good idea because it isolates the clinch and ground game, while taking away the footwork factor. The downsides are that it takes away the footwork factor, plus the standing throws and takedowns that are a big part. That's the compromise with all handicap sparring/drills, though.

Mike and I did this in the park at the end of March, though slightly different, but it was a great drill.

1,000 Post Milestone!

1000 posts at TDA!

I was going into my Blogger dashboard and noticed something: TDA Training has hit 1000 posts! It may not mean anything to you, but for some reason it's significant to me. My video post tonight demonstrating MCMAP Tan Punches was post number 1000!

Starting in June of 2004, over the last three years, TDA Training morphed into what you see now. We try to bring you the best links and posts on training in the techniques and tactics of modern martial arts. I want to thank the readers whose patronage has motivated us to keep going.

Now. back to work. Oh, it's midnight. I'm going to bed. [Yawn] Sleep, a critical part of training. Zzzzzz.

Video: MCMAP Punches - Tan

This is a demonstration of the punches from the Tan Belt level of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) curriculum. I will try to post more as I am able. I am going to recruit some law enforcement training partners/students from here in Western PA as soon as we close on the house we're purchasing here. You may forward questions to me, and I would be glad to answer them, and consult with Daniel, my MCMAP instructor. Enjoy.

I attempt to answer Dojo Rat's question about the fist angle on the hook punch. Check out Hook punch, vertical or horizontal? at Mokuren Dojo blog.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

BBM hurtin'!

I feel like a goofball! I've been catching up on posting and just linked up to one of  BBM's posts in my last one, complimented her, then went on my merry way. I just read that she went down and has a torn ACL. Let the prayers and well-wishes begin. I'm challenging all you TDA readers to head over and comment, saying nice things to BBM. If you have extra cash, send her some. Do her dishes. Wash her car. Walk her dog. Or just say hi, and get better soon.

BBM, your encouragement of all of us is always appreciated. Please accept ours in return. Get better soon!

- Nathan

Update: BBM is soliciting anyone who's rehabbed a torn ACL without surgery and was able to recover to resume training or competing in any sport. Please contact her at her blog, via email, or post something in the CoCA thread (ACL anyone?) with your feedback. Thanks!

Showing off - key to parenting a new karate student

I loved this post by Black Belt Mama for a number of reasons, but one salient one: it illustrates something I've preached for years. And I love it whenever anyone validates how brilliant a martial arts instructor I am. Oh yeah, the thing that was validated was that, as a "karate parent," you need to have your kid show off.

I once had over 700 students in three schools, and I was always asked by the parents of new students, "Mr. Nathan, you are so amazing at teaching and all. How often should we have our son practice every week at home?" Keep in mind that the first part was not usually a part of the question, but I've inserted it to add to my credibility (hah!). I would answer with the following:

  1. You shouldn't make your child practice. [At this point, I would have to assist said parent with raising his/her jaw back to a normal position] We shouldn't approach this as if it's football or soccer practice where some parents are more interested in their son/daughter playing/starting/winning than the kid is. Catch this: this is something that your child loves now. If you make him practice, it's not his anymore, it's yours! If you force him to practice, he will resent it.
  2. Instead, ask your child to show off! Instead of saying, "Junior, get over there on the wall like that incredible Mr. Nathan said, and do 500 round kicks off the wall!", say, "Hey Junior, show Mom that cool roundhouse you were doing in class last night. Wow!" In other words, have him or her show their stuff and make sure they know you're proud of it. Make sense?
  3. At some point, your child will have goals that you can help him meet: a belt test, a tournament, a demonstration team tryout. That's the point where you need to ask the advice of your child's instructor, then develop a training plan that the child explicitly agrees to, then follow up. In other words, make sure the training plan is coming from Mr. Instructor, not Mr. Mom, and it has credibility in the eyes of your child, then you can hold him accountable.
  4. Another idea, is to tell him that he's not allowed to practice during the week, if he's a very contrary child, and you can be assured that he will!

Never underestimate what can happen when you show you love your child by making sure he knows you're proud of him. Love never fails.

Coffee shop meeting for the gang of Ball Bus****

It was a great pleasure to try out a little coffee shop in the small town that we've recently moved to, and to meet the proprietors, a wonderful couple. My wife has been bugging me to go check it out, raving about the pumpkin frappuchino or something like that. It was a really nice shop, out of place in that it's so well appointed, atypical for the community. Anyway, after a few days on business travel, it was nice to relax together, get a coffee, and enjoy each other's company. I also thought it was cool that there's a nice looking Tang Soo Do school right next to it at which I may enroll my son.

One thing that stood out to the both of us was a large, rowdy group at several tables that were pushed together to form one large on, in the center of the place. To tell you the truth, I was intimidated, and was hesitant to even walk by this group of tough looking guys and fine looking ladies, much less look them in the eye. Rick, the proprietor explained when we went to order our sissy drinks. The group was a reunion of the "Ball Busters," a semipro football team that played together in the 1940s! They were having a blast, catching up with one another, and sharing memories of their good times on the gridiron and the days since. It made all of us smile to see them the old warriors, who probably formed just after the war, then must've gone their separate ways, get back together and relive old times.

I hope to do that with my training buddies someday. Warm fuzzies, for sure.

PHOTO: Allposters.com

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pic of the day: Military recruits covert snipers

This is my tribute to Dojo Rat's Cute Hippie Chick of the Month series. They will blend in with any surrounding, eh?

Arnis style that defies description!

My wife sent me the link to this last night, saying I'd get a kick out of it. I think you will, too. You have now seen the pinnacle of martial(?) "art." Enjoy! [Note: make sure you read the note at the end]:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's gooood to know Karate!

See Monster in the closet! at Mokuren Dojo. Hilarious!

What have you learned from watching MMA?

Richard Pauley at Ultimate MMA Videos posts what he's learned:

10. MMA is more addicting than cocaine and painkillers put together.
9. Even though I don't know all the facts, I believe fighters are vastly underpaid.
[TDA-I don't doubt that]
8. When I watch a Boxing match, I yell at the screen "He's open for a knee" or "Take him down". [TDA-ditto]
7. Dana White is that guy at a party that everyone wants to fight.
6. Fedor Emelianenko is still the best fighter I have ever seen.
5. Frank Shamrock should've never retired, the guy is a beast.
4. Matt Hamill won a unaminous decision against Michael Bisping at UFC 75.(Thats what I saw). [TDA-I think he was robbed. It sets up a great rematch later, though. Perhaps that's the plan?]
3. Forget the boogeyman, children around the world should be scared that Anderson Silva is hiding in their closet.
[TDA-Uh, I'd be scared if Anderson Silva was hiding in my closet!]
2. The fighters that I would show to people looking to get into MMA is still Wanderlei Silva, BJ Penn and Fedor.
1. I love blogging about MMA and I will never stop.

Head over and comment at Ultimate!

What have you learned?

My personal list (in no particular order):

  • MMA has forever changed the public's perception of combative/martial sports. I perceive that most kids aren't as into boxing or pro wrestling, as much as MMA, primarily the UFC.
  • MMA has forever changed the martial arts. You now have a means of testing most non-lethal or non-crippling technique. It has shown the effectiveness of the grappling styles (BJJ, wrestling, etc.), and has revolutionized the martial arts world in the same way that the JKD/Bruce Lee revolution led many to question tradition.
  • MMA is both a sport, and an evolving combative (if not martial) art, in the generic sense. Both our Marine Corps and Army have an MMA component, or at least have adopted some of their training methods, as a testament to their realism and effectiveness.
  • MMA is not the be-all end-all of martial arts. It is a young man's game (and ladies), and is, like all martial sports, a distortion of real fighting. I reiterate - it's not real fighting (see Ain't none of it is real!) But, it's pretty darn close!
  • The quality of MMA fighters technique has grown every year, and is now, among the elite fighters, excellent in all phases of the MMA fight game. The quality of technique, primarily boxing, muay thai, wrestling, and BJJ is very high, but the boxing seems to lag the most noticeably.
  • The specialization, or split between grapplers and strikers is now all but gone. The quality of the opposition is so high that you can't be one or two-dimensional and win anymore (at least at a high level).
  • I still care little for the the sport's personalities, 'cause I don't have the time or inclination to follow it closely, but there are some fighters I admire: Randy Couture, Fedor, Anderson Silva, Matt Hughes, and some others. Included in this incomplete list are only active fighters whom I have seen fight (on TV).
  • I am still too cheap to still pay for any fights on PPV, whether MMA or boxing. That will probably never change.
  • Conditioning and toughness can get many a fighter a win, even if his skill and talent is inferior to that of his opponent.
  • My previous perception of MMA fighters as punks is, for the most part wrong. Instead, I see them as any other athlete. There are good guys and bad in every sport, including MMA. I apologize to no one in particular.
  • Many of the top-level BJJ players whom I have seen have not been able to handle the striking that is involved with the transition to MMA. I don't understand it, considering the availability of good boxing coaches.
  • I still cringe every time I see a big slam or suplex. What's missing from MMA, for me, is the devastation of the throwing arts (and slams) that would take place if there were not a padded surface. Everything else is there, and relatively realistic (*see next bullet), considering the equipment. The use of Judo throws would quickly end careers if the rings (and octagons) weren't padded, though. Sigh...
  • I still long for one aspect of the early days of the UFC - no gloves. I loved watching how players dealt with it, and the proliferation of open hand striking as a result. There were less knockouts from hands though, and and that meant it was less exciting, I think, to the layman.
  • I've learned to love the sport.

Any feedback? Comment at the Convocation of Combat Arts thread or here at TDA.

See also:

When Arts Become Sports
The Martial Art vs Sport Debate
Why Are Martial Sports Superior?
Boxing for Self-Defense and MMA
What is the relationship of sport judo to unarmed combat?
Fighting in the Clinch
American Wrestling vs. Jujitsu
Training for Sport vs Training for Combat
If it's against the rules, then it must work!
Making the Transition from Boxing to MMA Gloves

The war on droopy drawers

Have you noticed the recent spate of news related to saggy/baggy/droopy pants in the news? While I agree that it's slovenly in appearance, it's made it harder for those so outfitted to get away from the cops, which can be a good thing. See our archived post, It's Hard to Run Away in Them Baggy Pants.

Healthy Kata Debate

Since posting The Efficacy of Kata, there have been a number of excellent responses at CoCA, and a new post by Charles. Please read them over. After Charles new post, my response:

Hi Charles, etc. First of all, let me say that I greatly respect your opinions, but still disagree, and both are OK.
I want to add:

  1. Kata are an important training method for many styles, but not all. Some have no kata at all, and few would argue that that they are viable fighting methods.
  2. Kata are, in the history of personal combat, or warfare, as defined by Charles' post and common practice, a relatively recent method of training method, and not widely adopted in that sense. As far as I know, only asian fighting arts practice them in the way that we're discussing it, and truly doubt that they are practiced widely as a formal training method by their police or military forces. Neither are they used as a primary training method by any police force, paramilitary, or combatives (military) training system. Since my own training is not almost entirely in a DT/combatives focus, I am sensitive to what I perceive as being practical for that type of training for myself and my students, many of whom are, or have been in law-enforcement/public safety. My LEO students at my TKD schools seemed to appreciate poomse for what it was, TKD, but asked for scenario-based training, and so saw the "traditional" within the TKD as a supplement to that training. I look at this as akin to range-only shooting, as opposed to the "aliveness" of tactical course and, now airsoft scenarios. Which is better? The innovation of the tactical training by modern equipment will never supplant the fixed target practice on the range, but instead focus on building the true combat skill. Would an officer who went through just fixed target, or even the same course of pop-up target be more effective than one who ALSO trained versus live, resisting opponents in airsoft scenarios? I think not.
  3. Even the staunchest advocates of kata do not seem to claim that kata are the best method of training for combat, but a part of that training, or one of many methods. It seems that those advocates posit that they're the "encyclopedia" of their art's techniques.
    I agree.
  4. I read through Maj. Morgan fine book over ten years ago, shortly after it was published, and agreed with much of it, though not all. I will definitely review it again, and pay a great deal of attention to his opinion on forms, and may post again at that time.
  5. My position, and be clear that it is only mine, and from my experience, is that kata are not the most efficient means to the end of training for combat. I stated in the reasons for my original opinion (Are Kata/Poomse Important?), "Kata performance is not an efficient means of preparing for sparring, fighting, or self-defense. If it was, Lennox Lewis, Tyson, and all other fighters with millions on the line would be doing them, wouldn't they. Oh, they're boxers? How about martial artists? Did you see a Chuck Norris, Bill Wallace, Joe Lewis, Nasty Anderson, or Arlene Limas (dating myself, eh?) doing forms to prepare for competition? No, of course not. Enough said."
    Ok, obviously it was not enough said, and it was also a poor example of anything other than those fighter's preparation for sport competition, not combat, but to support that point, our Marines, Navy SEALS, and Army infantry, don't have kata included in their training regimes for a reason. If they were the most efficient means to prepare for combat, they'd be included. Perhaps in the future those forces, as well as civilian defensive tactics would include them, but I don't think that will happen.
I don't expect to change anyone's mind, but I think that every opinion posted in any forum should be backed up with the reasons for the belief. If they are convincing reasons, they may convince. Charles, BBM, and others have tried to give those reasons, and for that, have earned my respect.
There are definitely well-formed lines of disagreement here. To me they are not a disagreement of substance, just of degree. Excellent thread, and worthy discussion. The only thing I would hope for, more input from practitioners of systems or styles that do not include forms, but have done them in the past. That's probably too much to ask, though.


Nathan Teodoro

TDA Training

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Nation honors SEAL with Medal of Honor

Via BlackAnthem.com]

On June 28, 2005, Lt. Murphy was the officer-in-charge of a four-man SEAL element in support of Operation Red Wing tasked with finding key anti-coalition militia commander near Asadabad, Afghanistan. Shortly after inserting into the objective area, the SEALs were spotted by three goat herders who were initially detained and then released. It is believed the goat herders immediately reported the SEALs' presence to Taliban fighters.

A fierce gun battle ensued on the steep face of the mountain between the SEALs and a much larger enemy force. Despite the intensity of the firefight and suffering grave gunshot wounds himself, Murphy is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his teammates. Murphy, intent on making contact with headquarters, but realizing this would be impossible in the extreme terrain where they were fighting, unhesitatingly and with completed disregard for his own life moved into the open, where he could gain a better position to transmit a call to get help for his men.

Moving away from the protective mountain rocks, he knowingly exposed himself to increased enemy gunfire.  This deliberate and heroic act deprived him of cover and made him a target for the enemy.  While continuing to be fired upon, Murphy made contact with the SOF Quick Reaction Force at Bagram Air Base and requested assistance. He calmly provided his unit's location and the size of the enemy force while requesting immediate support for his team. At one point, he was shot in the back causing him to drop the transmitter. Murphy picked it back up, completed the call and continued firing at the enemy who was closing in.  Severely wounded, Lt. Murphy returned to his cover position with his men and continued the battle.

As a result of Murphy's call, an MH-47 Chinook helicopter, with eight additional SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers aboard, was sent in as part of the QRF to extract the four embattled SEALs. As the Chinook drew nearer to the fight, a rocket-propelled grenade hit the helicopter, causing it to crash and killing all 16 men aboard.

On the ground and nearly out of ammunition, the four SEALs, continued to fight.  By the end of a two-hour gunfight that careened through the hills and over cliffs, Murphy, Gunner's Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny Dietz and Sonar Technician 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew Axelson had fallen. An estimated 35 Taliban were also dead.  The fourth SEAL, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell, was blasted over a ridge by a rocket-propelled grenade and knocked unconscious. Though severely wounded, the fourth SEAL and sole survivor, Luttrell, was able to evade the enemy for nearly a day; after which local nationals came to his aide, carrying him to a nearby village where they kept him for three more days. Luttrell was rescued by U.S. Forces on July 2, 2005. 

By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit and inspirational devotion to his men in the face of certain death, Lt. Murphy was able to relay the position of his unit, an act that ultimately led to the rescue of Luttrell and the recovery of the remains of the three who were killed in the battle.

Lt. Murphy was buried at Calverton National Cemetery less than 20 miles from his childhood home. Lt. Murphy's other personal awards include the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon and National Defense Service Medal.

Lt. Murphy is survived by his mother Maureen Murphy; his father Dan Murphy; and his brother John Murphy. Dan and Maureen Murphy, who were divorced in 1999, remain close friends and continue to live in N.Y.  Their son John, 22, attends the New York Institute of Technology, and upon graduation will  pursue a career in criminal justice, having been accepted to the New York City Police Deparment.

Read the rest at BlackAnthem.com

There is much more:

USA Today
Michael Yon: Online Magazine
Blackfive.net (many links)

We honor him and those with whom he served. Our thanks and prayers to his family, comrades, and friends. May we honor Michael with our actions and integrity.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Efficacy of Kata

One of the debates that has recently resurfaced, as it does periodically, is on the tradition and training method called kata. Or poomse. Or forms. Or patterns. I was inspired by a relatively recent comment on a previous post here at TDA (Are Kata/Poomse Important?), and by Black Belt Mama's thoughts at her blog on the same subject (The Great Kata Debate). To summarize a few views out there (and here):

My (Nathan at TDA Training) views from Are Kata/Poomse Important?:

What forms are good for:

  1. Preservation of classical or "traditional" technique.
  2. An excellent workout.
  3. Teaching concentration and memorization.
  4. Demonstrates and preserves the beauty of the martial arts.
  5. Forms provide steady income for schools.
  6. Forms break up the monotony of training.

What they aren't good for:

  1. Kata techniques aren't used in self-defense.
  2. Kata performance is not an efficient means of preparing for sparring, fighting, or self-defense.

Bottom line: Kata aren't the most efficient way to prepare for unarmed combat, but are a great way to carry on the techniques of the past in your respective arts. I will continue to do them into the future because I love them, but I'll be training for battle in another way. [Please see the original post for full explanation of each bullet point]

Other Views:

"Being a martial artist that started learning kata during my very first karate class, it never even occurred to me that the martial arts could exist without kata.  To me, it has always been the backbone of what I am learning; and as one of my instructor's calls it, "the vehicle" to greater understanding of technique.  It's not just that either.  Repetitive kata has the ultimate goal of the practitioner entering a state of mushin (mind no mind), which loosely translates into your mind being so free from thought that you just instinctively react to what's going on around you.  Simply put, mushin means "don't think."" - Black Belt Mama, The Great Kata Debate

A great point, and one which I don't cover, but experience almost exclusively through kata.

"Employing true martial waza during sparring is definitely not socially responsible behavior. So to maintain the original fire that a traditional art was forged in, we have kata. Kata, specifically bunkai, reminds us that the martial arts are of a very serious nature. When Okinawans were denied the right to bear arms at various times throughout their violent history (including the US military occupation following the second World War), the practice of kata became a stealthy option. Karate's earliest training sessions were shrouded in secrecy, and often took place after dark. So it should come as no surprise that kata was created, in part, to conceal its real purpose." - John Vesia, Breaking The Kata Code

First of all, how do BBM and John come up with those great post titles! Man, if only I could hire them at TDA! My response is that John is correct: sparring cannot include the more serious and deadly techniques of any art - else we'd all be cripples or dead. But herein is the crux of my argument against kata as "the most efficient way" to prepare for fighting or self-defense - they're not! If it requires interpretation, there is a shortcut: just teach the application, but in a way that's truly applicable.

"I've been studying martial arts for about 6 years now, and I felt the way you seem to about forms (their combat applications being useless) until a few months ago. I'm currently studying at a Matsubayashi-Ryu School that emphasizes bunkai for Kata (applications) and links self-defense to Kata.

Now, you may think this is cheating, but you have to look at Kata as the tip of the iceberg of Karate. Each move is abstracted to be non-lethal, and to effectively 'hide' the true technique.

I don't want to keep talking forever about this, but a good book I would recommend is Gennosuke Higaki's (a pen name, not his real name) Hidden Karate.

Kata really are the encyclopedia of a martial art, and I bet if you looked hard enough (again, if you don't think viewing Kata as far removed abstractions of combat is cheating) you would see the combative moves you practice for self-defense 'hidden' in the Kata/Poomse/forms that already serve as valuable tools in your curriculum." - Dean Dieker, replying to Are Kata/Poomse Important?

To which, I replied, "... I respect your position, and think I understand it. I am coming to this point of view after many years (30+) as a student of martial arts, and over 20 years teaching them. It took years before I learned the application of forms, then years before I abandoned them as a form of training for application.

Here's a summary of my reasons:
I agree, that hidden within each pattern/poomse/kata are self-defense techniques. I just question whether 1) they are all valid in today's world, and 2) whether kata are the most efficient means to their instruction.
You have inspired me to post on this again. I will try to locate "Hidden Karate" as soon as possible.
Please understand that my opinion is no more or less valid than anyone else's, even my own students'. It's just my opinion. It (my opinion) has changed before, and will probably change again on this very subject."

John Vesia even posted to the same effect a few months ago: "Certain bunkai (traditional self defense applications) are either misunderstood in some schools, or require too much finesse or fine motor skills to pull off when the heat is on." Which reinforces my point. The skill required to use the technique can definitely be achieved, but is it the most efficient means to that end? I say, "no."

Will I change my mind? Hmmm. Who's to say, but I don't think so. I will always consider kata as the truest expression of Karate-do: grace, peace, violence, harmony, and coordination in action. Will I consider it the best means to teach how to defend one's self? Probably not.

For more information, please read:

"Why Kata Is Important" at FightingArts.com.

Many posts at Isshin Ryu Karate Bugei by Charles James

Have you had to defend your home?

I am catching up on email (sorry for whomever has emailed and not gotten a polite and timely response), and on threads at the Convocation of Martial Arts, and came upon a thread entitled, "How would you defend yourself in your home?" Excellent! Read through the whole thing, then post if you like, but I'd like to ask a more pertinent question that can be a learning experience for us all:

Have you ever had to defend your home? Rather, have you ever been in a situation where you've faced an intruder and, successfully or unsuccessfully defended yourself? If so, this isn't a theoretical situation for you, and you can help thousands of the readers of this blog and the partner sites at CoCA. Please reply via comment, or better yet, at the Have you HAD to defend your home? thread there.


  1. What happened?
  2. Why do you think it happened, or why were you vulnerable?
  3. What would you do differently?
  4. Any other advice for readers on this subject?

Many thanks,


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Rating your instructor as practitioner

John Vesia of Martial Views raises some good points, as always.

We've all heard the saying, "Those that can, do; those that can't, teach." There's no guarantee that someone who's highly proficient in their subject matter can teach their skill. In fact, quite often it's gifted people that have trouble understanding why others don't have the same knack they do. I certainly don't believe the opposite is true: that incompetent slobs make qualified teachers.

Read the rest!

Yon: Achievements of the Human Heart

Achievements of the Human Heart

Our magnificent military at work. Every post by Michael Yon is worth reading. Support his mission here.

MA Toplist tops 60!

See Bob at Striking Thoughts has taken the martial arts toplist up to 60 MA blogs. Check it out on the sidebar, too. Way to go, Bob!

I will survive!

Feel-good story! Like the story of the man who cut off his own arm to escape certain death, or of the 7-year-old girl who escaped her abductors, this story inspires, and shows that if you have the determination to survive, no matter what, you just may be able to do it against the odds! Via USA Today:

Woman survives 19 hours in sea off Maui

UKUMEHAME, Hawaii (AP) — A 49-year-old woman held onto a water container to stay afloat for 19 hours until she was rescued from choppy ocean waters a mile off Maui, she said.

Lillian Ruth Simpson, of Juneau, Alaska, told the Maui News that she also wrapped her bathing suit top around her head to keep warm after sunset.

A fishing charter boat spotted her in the water Friday morning, dehydrated and sunburned. She was treated at a hospital and released.

"The times I thought, 'I'm going to die, I'm going to die,' I would say, 'No, I have three kids and you're not taking me anywhere," she said.

A buoy near where Simpson was floating registered an average water temperature of about 80 degrees this week, said National Weather Service forecaster Robert Ballard.

Simpson, who worked as a drug and alcohol counselor in Alaska, had been canoeing alone and paddled out to some tour boats Thursday morning to distribute invitations to a fundraiser for a documentary on youths and drugs. She was already tired from the effort when strong winds flipped her canoe, she said.

She called to a nearby charter boat for help, but she apparently was unable to attract anyone's attention and it left. She tried for hours to right the canoe before giving up, she said.

"Every time I turned it, the boat would partially submerge," she said.

Then she decided to swim for shore.

"I just kept trying to swim toward Olowalu, but really the water did not want to take me there," she said.

Simpson spent a long night dozing off, accidentally swallowing sea water, throwing up and trying to keep warm.

Joseph Carvalho Jr., captain of the boat Strike Zone, spotted what he first thought was a large balloon in the ocean early Friday morning. He went to investigate because floating objects usually attract mahimahi and other game fish.

It wasn't until the boat got close that the crew realized it was Simpson. After they carried her aboard, she was hungry, thirsty and couldn't remember her name.

"She told me that she kept telling herself, 'At least the water's warm,'" Carvalho said. "Your survival instinct kicks in. She made something out of nothing and that saved her life."

Simpson said that she is not a strong ocean swimmer, but that she has been around boats all her life because her father and sister fished.

"I won't say I'm not going back in the ocean," she said. "But I'm not going back alone anytime soon."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Handicap sparring: Striker vs Grappler

One training method in which I am a strong believer is handicap sparring, whereby you improve one area of your skill set by isolating it. In this case, striking versus grappling. The striker (with boxing gloves) is allowed to use any strike in his arsenal, and the grappler can use any takedown, submission, or choke he wants. Not sure who these two jokers are, but it's a good example of the idea of handicap sparring. Enjoy.

Round 1

Round 2

Mindsighting for mental toughness

I haven't picked it up yet, but Hock Hochheim recommends it:

Mental Toughness Skills for Police Officers
in High Stress Situations

"MindSighting for police officers describes psychological techniques and training to develop mental toughness, the survival mind set and a hardened focus. Designed to be used by individuals, the book is also instructor-friendly and ideal as part of any training program or class. The book is designed to be integrated with physical and tactical training to add a dimension that is often overlooked and to promote maximal performance excellence."

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fighting multiple opponents from the ground

Can you do it? Perhaps. But Scott Sonnon can! Watch:

All of our regular TDA readers know my personal position on going to the ground: avoid it unless it gives you the advantage. Most of the time, it doesn't - irregular, potentially hazardous surfaces, weapons, reduced mobility, and usually, multiple opponents make the ground somewhere to avoid. I posted this video just to show the possibilities.

Keep training!


New Link: Rape Escape

Check out Rape Escape, "Women's self-defense instructors dedicated to educating and training  women worldwide in rape prevention, self-defense and personal protection."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Submission Trap

The popularity of BJJ and MMA has also introduced the general public, and even some martial artists, to the idea of submissions. Per the Wikipedia entry, "A submission (depending on the context also referred to as a "tap out" or "tapping out") is a combat sports term for yielding to the opponent, and hence resulting in an immediate defeat. The submission is commonly performed by clearly tapping the floor or the opponent with the hand or sometimes with the foot, to signal the opponent and possibly the referee of the submission. The submission can also be verbal, during which the fighter verbally informs that he is giving up. In some combative sports where the fighter has cornermen, the corner can also stop the fight by "throwing in the towel", which may count as a submission."


  1. Are "submissions" appropriate for self-defense?
  2. What happens if someone won't submit?
  3. What are the best submission techniques for self-defense, if appropriate at all?

Let's examine:Finger lock

Small joint manipulations are basically digital submissions, which doesn't mean sending a PDF file via email! By "digital," I mean that you apply a finger or toe lock (the digits) on someone so that they give up. These techniques may cause your opponent to submit due to the pain.

If they don't respond to pain, or are hyper-flexible ("double-jointed"), you could be in a world of trouble because your lock is ineffective, and you've lost the initiative. You may be focused on the lock, expecting the subject to submit, and he/she is not only unphased, but knows something sooner than you - they are still effective in the fight. Not good.

Ankle lockDepending on the type of lock, you can proceed to break the finger or toe, or cause other damage which may  reduce the effectiveness of your opponent. Or not.

Progressing up the chain, wrist and ankle locks are twisting and turning those joints in a direction they aren't meant to twist or turn, or further than they are intended to go. Either way, they can hurt, or fail for the reasons suggested above.

Elbow and knee bars usually cause less pain, but, I feel are more serious, at least when they are applied to me. They're scarier. I hate the feeling of knowing that if I don't submit to a knee bar or leg lock that I may not be walking right for the rest of my life. The arm bar is the same way. I submit out of fear of injury.

Arm locks are applied to the shoulder joint, and include techniques named things like arm lock, Kimura, Americana, Omo  Arm barPlata, etc.

Finally, we get to chokes - including the guillotine, front choke, side chokes, rear choke, chokes utilizing the body only (naked chokes, which can actually be performed with clothes on - I've tried it), and chokes using the clothing you or your victim are wearing. We further break the choke down into "blood" chokes, in which the arteries to the brain are constricted, causing loss of consciousness, and "air" chokes.which restrict the flow of oxygen to the same brain.


  1. Are "submissions" appropriate for self-defense? Depends. If you know a submission, whether it's a small-joint or arm lock, you must be prepared for the subject to be non-compliant or insensitive to the pain of the manipulation, or just too strong for you to lock it in properly. The other consideration is weapons and multiple opponents. In every case where we've sparred with multiple opponents, including grappling, once you tie yourself up by touching or grappling with an opponent, you will probably be taken down and stomped, unless you are so far superior that you can handle anyone at any range. If weapons are involved, and you never know whether they are until it's too late, then you don't want to try a submission.Multiple opponents
  2. What happens if someone won't submit? You can be in a world of hurt if you tie up one or both hands with trying to submit someone. If you are a BJJ black belt or superior wrestler, you may be in your element, but there's always someone better, as they say. You always need a "plan B," and in a self-defense situation, that means escalating the force (i.e. breaking the joint to disable it, or moving up to a choke), or breaking off if possible. This also means you may need to depend more on your footwork and striking, which have more potential for criminal or civil liability.
  3. What are the best submission techniques for self-defense, if appropriate at all? I'd have to say that they can all work, at the right time, but if you are skilled in choking, that's as sure a fight stopper as there is. Many of us could fight with a dislocated joint or even broken bone, but absolutely no one can go with no oxygen going to the brain!

Final note: Submissions are absolutely appropriate where you have to control the use of force (law enforcement, security, and corrections officers), or where you have superior numbers. Gang-tackling and superior positioning plus skilled submissions means less people get hurt. Unfortunately, many of us don't have a posse with us, so use discretion and don't get trapped into trying submissions when they aren't appropriate!

Stay safe - Nathan

MCMAP Thread at CoCA

Have you seen the MCMAP episode on The Human Weapon? I've started a thread at the Convocation of Combat Arts, and you're invited! Daniel, sign on and post! Watch some of the video here.

The CoCA thread is here.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Getting Down and Dirty

Via Mokuren Dojo, reference a Modern Army Combatives Program video (I believe it was posted by Pat as being for Rangers, but my understanding is that it's for all soldiers) detailing their philosophy.

So, what is it about grappling that fosters the warrior spirit?

Grappling instills a willingness to get down and dirty and closely involved with things that inspire primal terror (i.e. being immobilized and choked, being dominated and forced to submit, being in peril of broken joints, the possibility of grappling with a guy who might have a knife, having your every action make your situation worse, impending total anaerobic fatigue, etc...)

It is this willingness to engage the enemy even under conditions of terror that defines courage, and grappling instills this ethic better (in my opinion) than stand-up fighting styles because the student of stand-up fighting is allowed to hold out the illusion that it might just be possible to achieve a nice, clean, hands-down victory. It is this stand-offishness, this unwillingness to dirty oneself for the cause that seems antithetical to the warrior spirit.

Well said, Pat.

My issues with what I believe are the U.S. Army program's over-emphasis on grappling are probably known to regular readers (see many posts in the TDA Combatives category), but I can't disagree with the point that is made by Matt Larsen, the interview subject in the video, that, "the willingness to close with the enemy" is built through training like this. That willingness is what can keep you alive, and win wars. It builds courage.

My past criticism has only been with my perception of an over-emphasis on grappling, and the sport aspect of, the training program. Again, a perception from afar. I have had the privilege of teaching, training with, and learning from a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) Black Belt Instructor (Daniel), but have never done likewise with the Army's equivalent. I hope to, at some point, and may revise my opinions then. I do have a post nearly finished that will detail more of my opinion on the subject of grappling and submissions with respect to civilian self-defense, so look out for that.

Please read the whole Mokuren post, and especially the excellent comments discussion.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Teaching women

Photo: BoutReviewUSA.com

I like Gary Moro's post, "Who Says Women Can’t Fight" at Yachigusa Ryu featuring video of a female MMA fighter, and his respect for female martial artists in general:

Over the years, I’ve read numerous articles debating whether women belong in the martial arts, whether they can compete with men, and the pros and cons of men training with women. I assume that those that believe women have no place training in the martial arts don’t realize that there have been many notable women warriors throughout history. Even the creation of the art of Wing Chun is credited to a woman named Yim Wing Chun (Beautiful Springtime).

I, for one, have never understood these debates. So when I teach women, I teach them exactly like I teach the men. I give them no preferential treatment, and I expect them to perform techniques just like the men do. No “Dojo Bunnies” are allowed.

While the argument that men are physically stronger on average is true, my experience has shown me that women compensate by becoming more technically oriented. This doesn’t mean that any woman could go toe to toe with any man in a fight, but it doesn’t mean they don’t have a chance either. All factors being equal, I don’t see why a woman can't beat a man.

In fact, I know a few women martial artists I wouldn’t want to fight with, and that I would be extremely happy to see coming to my aid in a real a street fight. To be perfectly honest, I was once saved from being thrown off the top of a water tower by my female police partner: she grabbed the suspect’s testicles and pinned him to the ground without ever losing her grip. Now that is technique over brawn. I bet the bad guy is still singing soprano to this day.

Mr. Moro gives a couple of examples of female martial artists prowess, including the video clip of Satoko Shinashi's MMA bouts. Awesome skill! Head over and read the rest.

How should we treat female students? It may seem an odd question for some, but it deserves an answer. I believe we should treat females no differently than male students, with only a few caveats.

The is that female are more at risk of violent attack than men, not numerically, but are probably less prepared to handle it physically or emotionally. Women are taught to act "like ladies," and less inclined to sports, specifically contact sports, where we learn to handle the impact bodies crashing against on another, of checks, tackles, blocks, or takedowns. Few are the girls who grow up wrestling in the living room with their siblings or dads until mom breaks it up, lest they break some furniture. Men have a certain competitiveness that's expected of them. In women it's got to be encouraged and nurtured. All of this social conditioning leaves our sisters, mothers, daughters, and wives unprepared for someone who wants to do them harm.

I believe it's the duty of all martial arts instructors to teach effective techniques, and tailor them for their students body types, disposition, and capabilities. Specifically, treating women no differently than a male student of their size and age is a requisite step in preparing them to face male attackers. I agree with Moro; don't shortchange your female students, or yourself by treating them differently.