Showing posts from November, 2015

What makes a beginner?

The title to this essay might seem like an odd question.  On one level the answer is really quite simple: the beginner is the person who just walked in through the door.

But on another level, you'll sometimes hear experienced martial arts practitioners say: “I’m still a beginner.”  This isn't just false modesty either.
There is some truth to the notion that even an experienced martial artist can be a beginner. How? Because in the end, it’s all relative.  In February I will have celebrated 36 years of continuous training in the martial arts.  Am I a beginner?  Manifestly not, in the ordinary sense of the word “beginner”.  But how does my 36 years compare with Kyoshi James Sumarac’s 50+ years of training?  Or, for that matter, Master Chen Yun Ching’s 72+ years of training?  In relation to them, I am a beginner.
It also depends on what type of martial arts you’re talking about, hence my gif above of Ronda Rousey - a judo expert - boxing (more on her in a minute - note this is not

Standing arm bar - issues and solutions


I've previously written about how civilian defence grappling differs from full grappling in that it maintains a kind of "buffer" that avoids clinches and other grabs that take you into a range where you can be tied down (a situation that might be quite useful in combat sport, particularly if you're good at grappling, but which is contrary to the objectives of civilian defence, as I've often discussed).

You will see from my civilian defence grappling article that I'd chosen to illustrate my point (at least partially) with the classic (and oft-seen) standing arm bar - noting the pitfalls of this technique and how easily it could take the unsuspecting traditional martial artist out of the melee range and into the grappling one.  Indeed, at one point I went out of my way to point out how traditional martial artists seemed largely unaware of this factor in demonstrating their suggested applications of traditional forms.

Unfortunately, I took a partic…

Using overhand inverted punch as simultaneous deflection

My recent article on the overhand inverted punch covered the surprising utility of that technique.

It's main use, as exemplified by Holly Holm in her fight against Ronda Rousey, is of course, as a punch - one that can come from an unexpected angle.

In my article on the punch, I also added an extra video showing its use as a projection/throw.

But something I neglected to discuss was actually one of the most important attributes of the punch: the fact that it can, while striking, also "simultaneously" intercept and deflect (what some people call "block") an incoming attack.  This should be apparent from the animated gif below:

The key to understanding how it works lies in understanding one of the most basic techniques of traditional martial arts - and also helps explain the function of that technique.  I'm talking about the humble "rising block" (age or jodan uke).  I've previously dealt with this technique in "Back to basics: blocking&quo…

"Superfluous" technique names in karate

I noticed my previous article on the overhand corkscrew punch being discussed on Sherdog.

One member there said:
For some reason it rubs me the wrong way whenever someone wants to attach a superfluous name to movements of striking arts.  Presumably this is because in the second sentence of the article I said: "In karate I suppose it would be an otoshi ura zuki (an inverted dropping punch)."

I think it is hardly "superfluous" to mention this in relation to karate which, like judo, is remarkably codified - each technique has a name.  Generally speaking karateka of various styles agree on the names (with minor variations).  So just as a judoka knows full well the difference between "o-uchi gari" and "ko-uchi gari", a karateka understands the meaning of "jodan zuki" and "chudan uke".

Since about 70% of my readership appears to comprise karateka, I took the liberty of guessing (note my reference to "I suppose") the cor…

Overhand inverted punch - underused gem

One of the techniques I noticed frequently in the Rousey vs. Holm fight was the overhand inverted punch.  In karate I suppose it would be an otoshi ura zuki (an inverted dropping punch).1

Holm used it time and time again to devastating effect - both moving to the outside of Rousey's lead (something I'll examine in a moment), and sometimes just square down the middle on the inside, as shown in the three pictures to the right.  However it lands, the technique is devastating.  It's a very useful punch precisely because it is so unexpected.

I suppose this raises the question why that would be the case.  I'll get to that soon.  But first, let us not forget what an oddity this technique really is - in both combat sports and traditional martial arts.

In an industry often obsessed with rejecting any level of "corkscrew" in punches, it seems out of place to expect one that corkscrews to its maximum possible extent - ie. so much that the thumb ends up pointing down.  I…

Rousey vs. Holm - lessons

Okay, so the dust is settling on Ronda Rousey's historic loss to Holly Holm.

And there are no shortage of pundits analysing the details of what went wrong with Rousey's game and what went right with Holm's.

Heck, some people managed to get the commentary right before the fight even started.  Consider this adept video that my friend Gene Burnett put me onto:

Doubtless, writers like the amazing Jack Slack will use this kind of analysis to examine the fight down to the finest technical degree. [Edit: Jack has posted an article - and I'm glad to see his conclusion is consistent with mine!]

But I'm going to be brutally frank here.  I don't think we really need to go to that level of detail to understand what went wrong for Rousey and right for Holm.  I think that in the end it's as simple as this:
All of Rousey's previous opponent have been second rate strikers (compared with Holm). Rousey simply wasn't prepared for a good stand-up game.  She mostly reli…

My third DVD "Internalising Karate" in production

My third DVD title "Internalising Karate" is set to be released in the next month.

It provides a detailed discourse into incorporating functional internal arts concepts directly into karate and without recourse to material from the Chinese internal arts.

From the back cover:
Many senior karate, particularly those who are noticing the effects of age, express the desire to explore its "softer" side. Karate is, after all, meant to combine both "go" (hard) and ("ju") soft techniques.  In this video, prominent traditional martial arts researcher Dan Djurdjevic uses his 35 year background in both karate and the 3 "internal" or "soft" arts of China (taijiquan, baguazhang and xingyiquan) to explore the "softer" side to karate. While some would prefer to imagine this "softer" side as some form of paranormal or supernatural skill, Dan reveals it to be something better: something concrete that can be learned; a tool …