Thursday, 20 August 2009

Why it may be time to relook again at the traditional arts as seen in this months (October) Martial Art Illustrated letters page

I am like most martial artists who started in the early eighties, I actually started to study boxing in 1977 and in the early eighties fell in love with Muay Thai, an art I still train in. From there I got into JKD which was the first art that stressed how important it was to think about how and why you were training and also the only other art that seemed to rate Muay Thai at the time. Through the late Eighties and into the Nineties I trained in Filipino Martial Arts and various Silat systems.

Never one to casually train in any art, I spent at least five years in each art, trying to get the soul of the art. Along the way I met and trained with some great people, Dan Inosato, Bob Breen, Gary Derrick, Dave Carnell, Marc Mcfan and many others. I have been reading and contributing to MAI from the first issue, so I heard about people like Geoff Thompson early on and also what he said about traditional arts on the street.

I always had friends who trained in the traditional arts, you know the ones, who put on a gi three times a week and walk up and down the village hall shouting at each end and who take pride in looking like they live in the eightieth century.

I could never understand why they trained in an obsolete art; I knew it was fun from the one class of Karate I took years ago.

The years rolled by and I fought ten boxing matches, four Muay Thai matches, travelled to the states to fight top dog at a Dog Brothers gathering and coached Vale tudo/MMA fighters for early cage matches.

Here we are in 2009, I am now a senior manager at work and I like to think an accomplished martial artist. The last time someone attacked me in the street, I hit him once and he was finished. I then gave him first aid. All the above is not to make me sound great but to give you the reader some of my martial history.

Lately I have been looking at street defence and especially how people defend against knifes. Have you ever noticed how people, tend to draw from the traditional arts when weapons become involved?

Its funny isn’t it but the more you look, the more you see a person using the old method’s to deal with the old problem.

Now I am a modernist and one of my key concerns about that one karate class I attended was the fact they trained in an old fashion way, you know one and two step sparring, forms and that entire one strike, one kill rubbish. Worst of all they wore the pyjamas. I was training Muay Thai at the time and our class consisted of a warm up, shadow box, pad work and sparring. Karate and other traditional people came in and we would toy with them during sparring. They seemed so very rigid.

Lately as I wrote above, I have spent the last two years looking at knife defence, drawing on my old FMA and Silat training and I have noticed something. When you use a sport art like Muay Thai or MMA, you get stabbed a lot. Sport arts just don’t protect the zones they should for knife fighting. This should be no great surprise as:

One: you can’t use knifes in MMA.

Two: to cover your body from a knife attack you have to cover the low and high line with your hands. A tactic that you will get you smashed in boxing.

A funny thing occurs with distance in a street attack, it disappears! Muggings and ambushes start at hand range and move in from there. There is little time to use footwork until after the first beat or second, little time to defend and if you do not pre-empt, you will probably be overwhelmed and lose. Basically you get one or two moves and then its chaos. This is why most fights look the same.

The traditional arts work the basics over and over again but then so does Muay Thai. Silat and FMA put a knife and other weapons into the mix right from the first lesson. Traditional Japanese arts used to do the same. Something happened and the weapons were filtered out until you reached first Dan which could take three to five years, not the six weeks it does today... Even arts like Aikido and Jujitsu were changed and empty hand was separated from weapons. Even my beloved Muay Thai was a weapon based system before it became “sportified” (a word I just made up).

If you take an art out of the battlefield, it will become something else, normally a means of self improvement, shortly followed by a sport. I see this trend in Silat, in fact in all the old arts. The older generation dies off and the hows and more importantly the whys of training are lost, that is until someone rediscovers them again and calls them a new name like the spear or the shredder etc.

Perhaps if we looked again at the traditional arts we could come full circle and rediscover what we are losing every day. If we trained them with committed punches or stabs that had to be blocked like they were trained at the turn of the last Century, we would find real value.

At the end of the day perhaps it’s time we looked again at the traditional arts with open eyes. After all one punch one kill is cool.


Richard Sackville

Mike Faraone Silat - Palermo Maggio 2009


Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Chair drill by Alan Beckett

"Being attacked while seated and knocked out of the chair.......Just thought I would see how I would react, what would work and what wouldn't.
I didn't know exactly what the attack would be only that I was going over and not allowed to take action until I hit the floor. "

Very interesting drill

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Grovit Wrestling Front Face Lock

God of Catch as Catch Can Wrestling Billy Robinson and Jake Shannon demonstrate the fine details of the Grovit/Groffit. Known in contemporary Wrestling Circles as the Front Face Lock or Front Head Lock, this staple of the Catch Wrestling arsenal was originally known by the Wigan Wrestlers as the Groffit or Grovit.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

MMA Underground Forums

MMA Underground Forums

It's not a wing chun punch,it's not a JKD punch and it's not even a Karate punch.

It's a Lyoto punch...

Once you learn something, it's yours. You don't go from boxing hands, to a thai kick to a silat sweep to a BJJ choke.

You go from Richard's hands, to a Richard kick, to a Richard sweep to a Richard choke.



Saturday, 16 May 2009

Brutal Self-Defense: Jugular Attack

Happy Days

Basic clinch

Self-Defense: Lapel Grab / Chin Jab

Combatives expert Kelly McCann is a military and security analyst who was a U.S. Marine special-missions officer responsible for counterterrorism and counter-narcotics. For more self-defense videos and articles, go to

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Boxing - why not?

Lot's of people don't rate boxing yet it's one of the core things I teach my little workout group first. Basically you need to be able to hit without being hit and boxing offers a lot of solutions and best of all anybody can do it.

There really is no excuse not to train it, boxing is cheap to learn and train. Equipment is a pair of decent boxing gloves, groin guard, mouth guard and possibly head guard. Boxing is a dangerous sport, in my family by tradition we don't box hard after the age of forty, as repeated head trauma will cause issues later in life. However being forty three I still light spar.

One of the best things boxing gives you is the ability to deal with real time pressure of someone trying to hit you. Most people who will try to hit you in the street situation will fire something that resembles basic boxing and sparring will teach you to deal with attacks and land your own. It's rather funny but the people who most berate boxing for not being real world, are the people who seem to get knocked out quickest. Being able to relax whilst under pressure is a key skill for self protection.

Boxing hands blend nicely with other martial arts such as silat, judo etc. The style of boxing I was taught is a blend of old style English boxing and later I went on to mix it with some Filipino boxing. I have been going to martial arts workshops since the early Eighties and there is a certain sense of satisfaction and well being that you get from knowing how to box. To be honest as a thirteen year old, I did not pay to much attention to some of the old style boxing I was being taught, however since my research into systems like Silat and Kali, I can see a lot of interesting shapes that I also seeing in our family style.

In the older style I studied, I was also taught basic clinch and throws and because it was based on bare knuckle fighting, we were taught to throw punches from a different stance and also to cover differently. We were also allowed to grab and hit. Once you get that relaxed skill, you can start to blend it with your other arts.

One of my silat teachers used to say silat is boxing when all the fighters have one or two knifes.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

The female triangle AKA getting off the X

If you are attacked it's likely that it's going to be some kind of ambush and the odds are against you from the start. There's a couple of ways to deal with this problem. One is to switch on your awareness and spot trouble before it develops and take steps to avoid danger.

However there may be times when you mess up and it's a good idea to have a plan and train it under some pressure. If you are ambushed, all your enemy's weapons will be pointed at you and you will be standing on the proverbial X. Not a great place to be!

You basically have three choices:

Retreating, which is not always possible if the ambush has been sprung.
Moving down what I call route one, which is to step directly towards the enemy, aiming to overwhelm them.

Stepping off at an angle towards the enemy but rather than coming straight down his centre line, you come in on his left or right side, out flanking him.
Assuming weapons are involved, of the three options I prefer stepping off the X on an angle on the Kali female triangle as below:

Outflanking him gives you a number of advantages, you get out of the line of his attack and you can come back in across his centre line, closing down one side of his body and distance yourself away from the far side of his body. You can also get in behind him, allowing your weapons the bare on him as below:

Your footwork will need to be explosive as you will need to get off the danger area as quickly as possible.

Pa harold Koning nov 22 Silat DAY workshop Miami fl

Pa Harold Koning, because watching him makes me feel very good.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Helio Gracie, the father of Gracie jiu-jitsu, is dead at the age of 95. Gracie passed in his sleep early Thursday in Itaipaiva, Rio de Janeiro, after he had been admitted to a local hospital a few days prior for stomach problems.

“He passed the way he always wanted to –- quick and fast,” said an immediate relative, who asked not to be identified. The relative said Gracie’s body would be buried on Thursday.

The youngest of Cesalina and Gastao Gracie’s eight children, he learned traditional jiu-jitsu by watching his brother, Carlos, teach it, but his small frame made it difficult for him to execute the moves. As a result, he adapted techniques to fit his limited physical ability and gave rise to modern-day Brazilian jiu-jitsu. ...His impact on the sport of mixed martial arts was profound. His son, Rorion, was credited with developing the concept that became the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and another of his sons, Royce, won the first two UFC tournaments in 1993 and 1994. Two other sons, Rickson and Royler, also competed in MMA.


For what ever reason you're training, I would like to recommend you investigate aliveness, even if you're quite away down the martial arts path.

I first heard Matt Thornton of SBGi coin the term and credit should be given to him for pushing this topic at his workshops, on blog and training DVDs. Matt lays out the basic idea on the video below:

Basically there is not a physical endeavour you cannot train in alive fashion, this includes live firearms training and other weapons training. In same cases you may need safety equipment such as simuntion and other training weapons etc.

Some of the main advantages of training in an alive fashion are:

You develop your own game, suited to your body type and you find out what works for you.

You are actually training to do what you intend to do during a conflict situation.

You start to develop what I call fighters instincts, and what others call good habits whilst under pressure.

You don't have to base your training on second hand information from others about what works, as you get to experience it first hand, as many times as your need.

You should find your training also becomes a lot more fun and stimulating.

Below is a link to Matt's aliveness blog that contains a lot of great reading:

If you can grasp this principle, you will reach a higher level of performance quicker and learn to problem solve in the moment.

Working bad positions

Sometimes you end up in a bad position like here, where the other guy has you under control in the thai clinch and is about to rain in high knees to your head and body.

Option one is to change position and regain the control of him. However if you are about to take knees, you will have to block them to buy yourself some time to switch out and throw him to the ground.

Some people say you should never try to block knees but they're the ones who normally get knocked out during clinch work. It's never going to be easy against someone with a good clinch game but it's worth training bad positions or situations so at least if it happens you have been there countless times in the gym.

You can practice the techniques below in a safe and alive fashion, I recommend you wear a gum shield and a groin cup. Some people also like to wear head protection which is fine. If you put in the hours of drilling and sparing clinch work, you actions will become instinctual and you will get out of bad positions and best of all you will have fun. I like to work three minute rounds and if I reverse the position, I place myself back in it.

Working from a bad position in thai clinch i.e. you are taking high knees, one option if you cannot change the position, is to take the knee with a double arm block (think elephant tusks) and then capture the leg and switch to throw or sweep. The nearer your block to his hips the less power you take, however you have to make sure you do not leave a gap that his knee can travel into.

Once you have control of his leg/ hip, you can unbalance, hit and or turn him into a throw. This works well with an impact weapon or blade. At any point you can switch to wrestling or counter clinch but rule one is if you have to take knees, deal with them ASAP as dents to the head or body are not fun!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Slide Show

Why do you train?

Same days start like this:

and end up like this:

I loved that car as well..., however the reality for most of us is that we are not in careers that have an element of danger. Go to must martial arts classes and after the first six months of starting people are probably training for enjoyment, fitness, self improvement and in some cases the need to belong.

Most pre planned attacks are ambushes and if you are ambushed the odds are against you surviving. The ambusher is already inside your OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide and Act) and you will be playing catch up.

Most of the world does not have a fair fight attitude; it’s all about winning any way you can. Assume it will be an ambush, there will be others involved and they will bring weapons to get the job done. If you’re training for self protection I recommend you consider adding these elements into your training because it will change the way you train.

Over the next year we will be looking at how you can bring the above elements into your training, building a portfolio of skills to help you survive what I call unwanted close encounters and best of all it’s going to be free!

Home work: Sit down and think about why you are training and how likely it is that you will be attacked; you may want to log your conclusions.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

General Principles for our off road system

I have started to write down principles to underpin our training:

Be aware that you’re training for self-protection not a match fight.

Assume it’s never a fair fight i.e. there is more than one person attacking you.

Assume that there will be a weapon(s) involved.

Train the skills but throw away rules. There are no rules in a self-protection fight.

Train to get safely away from a situation as soon as possible. Don’t let your ego write cheques your body cannot cash.

Train and drill soft skills such as pre fight talk, the fence, post fight details and awareness.

Train at conversation range.

Train and drill, from your fence, i.e. don’t train from a bai jong or muay thai stance etc but from your natural fence position.

Train to hit very hard with all of the body’s natural weapons but in such a way as to not cause you damage when doing so.

Train in a safe and alive fashion.