Jul 242011

Yeah I know, this kind of thing has been done to death, but every time I turn a round I have someone repeating one of these jewels of martial wisdom. Oddly enough, these myths (normally spawned from an ’80’s martial arts flick) are normally repeated by high ranking black belts!

6. The Gi (Martial arts training uniform) was based on traditional japanese samurai clothing.
Yeah, I wish. At some point all of us non-Japanese Americans need to realize YOU ARE NOT AND CAN NOT BE A SAMURAI. Sorry, I don’t care if Tom Cruse did it in a move. Kano (founder of judo) decided that tearing each other’s clothing apart wasn’t a good idea, so adoped the jackets worn by japanese firefighters called hanten. These tended to be heavy cotton and could be soaked to help deal with heat. Yeah I know, wearing cotton to deal with fires, well, you use what you have. You’ve got an oven mitt don’t you? Naturally they adapted the hanten to fit their needs better, but as you can tell from the picture (view from the back) it looks like a martial arts uniform to me! Now unless the samurai spent a lot of their time being firefighters, and I’m not saying no one did, it’s really not samurai garb.

5. You can kill a man by hitting him in the nose and jambing it up into his brain.
Don’t get me wrong, you very well might die if you managed to shove someone’s nose, or any other body part into their brain. However, there is no angle you can hit to make this happen. You would have to cave their skull in before you had a chance to shift their nose towards the brain, and your opponent is likely already dead, or on his way there.

4. You can stick your fingers into your opponent’s eye and into his brain.
Sorry to be stuck on ugly things like this, but really, has anyone ever seen a human skull? The sockets that the eyes sit in do not connect to the inside of the skull except for a really tiny hole that the optic nerve runs through to the brain.

3. The black belt in martial arts came from ancient times when the blood and dirt of training staining a fighter’s belt until it turned black.
No, Kano (founder of judo again. Thank you sir!) decided if the teacher wore a different color belt then the rest of the class it would be easier to identify him, oh yeah, and this started in 1886, which was six years after the light bulb was invented and the first pay phone was installed (very ancient) . The other colors of rank came from one of his students, Mikonosuke Kawaishi, in 1935. Yes, we had aircraft carriers, submarines and cars were common. Heh
2. Neck breaks are the ultimate killing techniques. If you know a neck break you can easily kill a man.
Well maybe you know one, but as a general rule of thumb, the majority of these methods require a surprise attack from behind Neck breaking techniques are best implemented by a very strong man versus a much weaker adversary who is struggling helplessly, otherwise they are extremely difficult to perform. Neck snaps are typically a “finishing move” used on a fallen opponent who is either unconscious or too exhausted to defend himself, hence, they have no reasonable application to the study of self-defense. In our country, performing a finishing move on a helpless individual is known as “murder,” and carries stiff penalties. And chunking a passed out man with a rock is still easier to do.

1 .The Shaolin Temple is the source of all martial arts.
China had been doing martial arts for some time. It was a cultural thing, but until 1517 A.D., there is no record of martial arts being practiced there, despite there are plenty of people who mentioned the temple in their writings before that point. Now there are plenty of records from the Ming dynasty that tell of Shaolin’s monks doing cool stuff, but Jiu Jitsu and Ken Jitsu among others were already being practiced in Japan at this time. Now all you Kung fu people out there, I am not saying China wasn’t the cultural seat of the area, and most likely most martial arts were flavored by Chinese influence, I am just saying there is no proof that it started everything!

Jul 222011

Well its that time again, Hollywood decides to cash in on MMA by producing a movie that doesn’t really resemble mixed martial arts at all. This sets into action a very predictable set of events, first every local martial arts school will be clogged with a bunch of teens who’s first words will either be, “I want to be a cage fighter” (Shutter) or “I want to train UFC.”(grabs own hair to keep from head butting young person). In either case this results in the Internet being clogged by traditional martial arts teachers writing about the depredations of MMA competition, and whining by students at MMA schools about the place being over run by “Tap out kids”. The owners of the MMA schools don’t say much, they just write out their deposit slips and wait for Never Back Down 2 to come out!

Ok, as you might have figured out, the story is about four young wannabe fighters, a boxer, a clerk, a wrestler, and an young mma fighter (I guess one that isn’t very good). These young men trade clichés while training under a former MMA Champion to get ready for a competition that is run by a local college student (?!). I’d pick on the plot, but lets be honest, martial arts movies have never been burdened with deep story plots. Anyway, training, blah blah blah, teen angst, blah blah, some hot chick that is pretending to be in high school, blah blah, Lyoto Machida.
Yes, that is correct Lyoto Machida is appearing as himself to teach these rough and tumbled youths karate.
Anyway, Never Back Down II: The Beatdown comes out on September 13, and despite my misgivings, I’m going to keep an open mind about it for as long as I can.

Jul 212011

Today I’d like to do a salute to the martial arts masters who took the conventional wisdom of the day and decided to ignore it in favor of doing their own thing. This list isn’t a list of the strongest fighters, but the ones who made it using something unique.

4. Dave Camarillo. Here’s a man who’s martial arts are unique. He started out as a world class Judoka on track for the Olympics. When things didn’t work out, he took up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Ralph Gracie. Then he started using flying attacks in judo competitions (they’re banned now, thanks Dave!), and to many of us became the father of flying submissions. He started his Guerrilla Jiu Jitsu organization which teaches judo and BJJ together in a way that is really different that the approaches of either of those arts. He has also been the grappling coach to BJ Penn, Forrest Griffin, Josh Koscheck, Mike Swick and others.
3. Loyto Machida. Everyone in MMA probably has a black belt in something tucked away somewhere, but to be honest, when was the last time you were able to identify a particular martial art other than BJJ, Thai boxing, western boxing and wrestling? Machida said he was a Shotokan fighter, and darn it, we can all see it. This has lead to his being loved and hated. Loved by traditional martial artists everywhere and hated by people who hate karate. The Machida family took a style that is known for its love of kata practice, and turned it into a striking style that took fighters forever to figure out how to face it. The lead hand and lead leg strikes, the weird hip movement, even the refusal to put his hands in front of his face are all so karate-ish it blows the mind. How is this unique? He took a style everyone in the “in” crowd had dismissed, and became the UFC light heavy weight champ. He adapted his karate in a way that surprised most other karateka.
2. Cung Le. Kung fu of any kind has been having a rough time in modern competition. Cung Le showed that he could take his style San Shou, (Which few of us had heard of before he appeard) and much in the same way as Loyto Machida, adapt it to make him and his style icons. There is contraversy that he’s never competed against the best in the world, but I say anyone who can pull off the moves he does in a real fight is ok in my book. I just wish there was a place to train San shou around here.
1. Bruce Lee. The list isn’t complete, but it would be totally incomplete without saying something about Bruce Lee. He stood the wisdom about fighting in his day in age and stood it on its ear. He ditched kata completely, added western boxing to his kung fu, and pioneered the now common idea, “If it doesn’t work, don’t do it.”. There isn’t a style of martial arts that hasn’t been changed by Lee’s innovations.

 Posted by at 11:41 am
Jul 192011

The only thing I like more than reading a good article in a martial arts magizine is to read the ads. The article is always about something boring like how to do better drills for kicking, or a new take on a choke, but the ads are where the real juice stuff lies. Ladies and gentlemen, we have been doing it wrong all this time. Just imagine if you could break boards and bend steel? What if you could do it without even breaking a sweat? You do it by mastering your MIND POWER. Yes my friends, this is the words right out of ad for the martial power summit taught by Scott Bolan

I didn’t know Charlie Sheen had a brother who did martial arts! Basicly Mr Sheen Mr Bolan is working of the old martial arts ideas of ki (or chi) to make ourselves into superheroes. For a price he will teach you “information that’s not being shared at the McDojos, McSchools, McOprahs, McBookstores, and McSundaySchools…” (and yes that is a quote from his website). We martial artists love to complain about “McDojos”, but I am glad someone is finally bringing up the subject of McOprahs. This is the silent killer of our times. Now if you didn’t get an image of a red wig wearing Oprah in yellow and white strips with a red clown nose offering you advice….well I’ll bet the image is there now, heh. I’m also not sure what a McSunday School is. I am guessing he’s refering to the flood of high cost/low value VBS classes that are cropping up across the nation. I know! That’s where McOprah teaches!

If its all the same to you, I’ll just keep hitting the bag, lifting weights, and training with my partners ’cause I’m ” one of those egotistical self-righteous paranoid freaks who are afraid of information” (Real quote! I don’t spell well enough to make this stuff up)

 Posted by at 12:35 pm
Jul 192011


 Its really a shame that he was knocked out in his last match, otherwise Wanderlei Silva had promised to do something about Chael Sonnen. I’m sure if you were paying attention, you heard that Silva said “Sonnen is a Twitter fighter. Of course I’ll fight with him. He’s talking a lot. He do the wrong way for the promotion. He’s talking too much. Sometimes he talk about the wrong person, no? I need to talk to him again.”
Of course after his most recent loss to Chris Leben, everyone is wondering if Silva is headed for retirement rather than teaching noisy fighters lessons in manners.
Chael Sonnen is a truly colorful fighter, less for his fighting (which have netted him the rank of #2 middle weight in the world), and more for his trash talking and other shenanigans (thanks spell check) outside the ring.
First, you doubtless heard he was suspended after failing a drug test right after his fight with Anderson Silva. Now it turns out that he has a doctor’s note for getting test injections, so they cut the suspension time in half. Personally, I have the same affliction, mainly I would win fights more if I was on test too.
Second is his political bid to become a State Representative in Oregon’s House, District 37 as a Republican. I am sure the Republicans are thrilled to have you on board Mr. Sonnen. Of course this fail because of his money laundering conviction. Wait what?
Third, yes, confessed to money laundering. He also had his real estate license revoked. Now once again he managed to beat the rap and ducked the 20 year sentence that money laundering carries in Oregon instead getting probation.
Been a tough year for Mr Sonnen.

Jul 182011

Get your hooks in, set up your choke...then bite your partner's neck

Punching people in the face or choking them out getting boring? It turns out that there is a martial art out there that is meaner and more painful sounding then the rest. Its called Kino mutai, a Filipino martial art that emphasizes biting but don’t worry, they also cover eye-gouging. Move over Krav Maga, there is someone gunning for the meanest martial arts award. In an interview for Black Belt Mag Harinder Singh, a teacher of the art had some interesting things to say.
He started off with normal common sense stuff, but his words on ground fighting were the most interesting. “When a larger man slams you to the ground you need to instantly put him in your guard and latch on. He’ll probably pick you up and slam you again. He’ll probably punch you in the side- you need to be able to take it, wait until he gets tired and then bite as soon as he runs out of gas. Exhausted, he won’t be able to escape or defend himself.”
So to summarize, let your larger attacker repeatedly slam you and punch you, then when he finally gets tired you bite him! Never saw that coming! Wikipedia says their main targets are the face, neck, ear, groin, and the nipple. *Taps out franticly*

I’m really waiting to see this on an episode of Fight Quest, but for now, at least you know that it exists. I’m also not rolling with new students who don’t wear mouth pieces either. You never know.

Jul 182011

Forrest Griffen demands to be respected. Inspite of himself.

I am a big Forrest Griffin fan. Don’t start insulting me, I am not saying he’s the best fighter, I just like him. When I saw that he’s going to be fighting Shogun Rua in UFC 134 I was thrilled.

So I took a trip to his official web site. If you haven’t been there, the background is a picture of himself with the words “You’re gonna respect me.” This is right next to a picture of himself in a fur loin cloth, and a post that says “Don’t eat onions before working out.”
Forrest, you seem to be sending a mixed message buddy.

Jul 182011

Helio Gracie with a blue beltMy brother and I had our picture taken with several other bjj guys, and when we were looking at the picture my brother said, “Why are we the only ones in the picture with our bars on the left side?” This of course sparked an extremely dull debate with other online BJJ folks as to the correct side to wear your rank bar.

I’ll digress for just a second for those uninitiated among us. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the ranking structure is a little different from the normal Japanese rank structure that most martial arts loosely follow. Depending on your martial art, you might have ten or more ranks (kyu ranks, which mean steps, or student rankings) before reaching your black belt ranks, (dan ranks which are advanced or instructor ranks). In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu there are only three ranks before black belt rank, blue, purple, and brown. BJJ also takes much longer to progress than most (and I am stressing MOST) other martial arts. This is off set by sub-belt promotions indicated by white stripes on a black (or in the case of black belt holders, red) sleeve attached to one of the ends of the practitioner’s belt. As far as I know, they are the only martial that does rank like this.

Wow, that was longer than needed. Anyway we know what the rank bar is, now where do you wear it. A quick google search reminds me why I hate reading online forums. You know the drill,
Person one: Which side should I wear my strips in BJJ class.
Person two: Only an idiot would ask a question like that!
Person three: You are both idiots. You care too much about rank! You need to find a real teacher!
Person four: BJJ is stupid, you train in gi’s, that’s sooo not realistic…
And at some point someone calls someone else a nazi. But from what I can glean, different BJJ schools do it differently. BJ Penn wears his strips on the right side, Royce Gracie wears his on the left. The picture above is of Helio Gracie with some blue belt and they both have their’s on the left, but Carlson Gracie says the right. So ask your instructor and ignore online advice, including this one.

Jul 102011

Great! My first post and it has to be about something depressing. According to Gracie Magazine, the state of Illinois has passed a law that makes BJJ tournaments adhere to the same guide lines as MMA events! That means blood tests for every fighter and that the boxing commission will make the rules for grappling.

Boxers making rules for a sport that doesn’t even hit each other. Yeah, that makes sense, after all, law makers need to make sure the spread of arm bars and triangle chokes doesn’t run unchecked. Those of you who compete will back me up when I say that grappling events are expensive enough. Average $100 for the fun of getting someone to choke you out, now we have to add doctor’s fees and boxing commission license costs to the mix. Thanks guys.