Put the Guard to the Test (diary)


03.05.17   Tonight we revised guard-work and then began putting everything under pressure, progressing through specific to general rule-set sparring.   We began with our usual warm-up of mobility and callisthenic, muscle-activation exercises. We then drilled sets of solo movements – bridges, snakes, arm-bars, triangle chokes and oma platas. Next we did some partner drills – arm-bars, triangle chokes, oma platas, guillotines and kimura key-locks/sweeps from guard. Next we worked on using the mid and long range open guards to […]

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Moving the Body to the Target (diary)

John lines Jamie up for right cross

29.04.17   My client completed his second and third hour of my course on basic western boxing for martial arts cross-training. We warmed up with a revision of jabbing and footwork drills – including slipping, the shuffle, angulation and stance switching – before getting onto the cross.   The main area of focus today was on moving the entire body to the target. Due to our innate drive to preserve energy and also to view techniques at their extremities – […]

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Back to the Stand-up Range (diary entry)


26.04.17   Tonight my client took a brief break from submission/ground fighting and focused on the stand-up range. Over the next few lesson we will aim to have a review of MMA to address any outstanding problems and to add to the knowledge base.   We began with Western Boxing concepts. Taking the focus mitts it was straight into footwork, progressing onto upper body movement (slipping, bobbing and weaving) and onto various angles of punches – jabs, crosses, uppercuts, hooks, […]

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Oma Plata and Open Guard (diary entry)

Tarn back mount4

19.04.17   Tonight we revised chaining and guard movement patterns before focusing on the oma plata as a sweep and a gateway into open guard training.   The lesson began with specific sport-specific callisthenics and mobility exercises moving into techniques. We then drilled the arm-bar and triangle choke applications to promote flow. We checked and discussed angulating and correct posture. The shoulder stand was covered as a means to help promote a stronger core when executing submissions from guard.   […]

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Coaching Notes on the Jab (diary entry)

jab woman

15.04.17   Today began my client’s first basic course on western boxing for martial arts cross-training. We covered one and a half hours of a scheduled 10 hour programme. The objective of the lesson was to develop footwork and the jab punch.   We warmed up using agility markers. This began with repetitions of gentle jogging around the markers. The client was encouraged to keep their guard up and to then repeat the movement backwards. I then introduced angling off […]

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Deconstructing the Triangle Choke under Pressure (diary entry)


12.04.17   Tonight’s lesson continued my client’s series on chaining together of submissions/sweeps from closed guard. We are currently going back over individual techniques as they fall within possible combinations. Tonight we mainly looked at the triangle choke and looked at how it linked in with arm-bars and the oma plata shoulder lock.   We warmed up with mobility exercises and specific callisthenics. Whilst looking at ground movements I focused on the essence of bridging and snaking/shrimping. These are the […]

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Grappling with the Law and Black Dogs (diary entry)


08.04.17   Today’s double lesson finished off my client’s 10 hour course on Basic Self-Protection. The material mainly consisted of primal/combat grappling and post-fight strategies.   Grappling is not normally selected for frontline civilian defence. In a high risk situation the priority is usually not to become entangled and to create/maintain distance. However, the civilian needs supporting plans when the striking range deteriorates and anti-grappling is not a viable option. Besides, in order to be able to operate efficiently at […]

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Flow and Resist (diary entry)

arm bar (small)

05.04.1   Tonight’s lesson brought the various individual techniques we have been focusing on back into a chain. This encourages better flow using the guard and combination work. This was all preceded by various mobility and muscle activation exercises specific to ground grappling.   Yet again my attention was drawn to the underlying principles of the techniques. Working these submissions and sweeps requires active core engagement. The hips need to be mobile and the spine needs to be tight as […]

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Anti-Grappling Tactics (diary entry)

eye gouge standing

01.04.17   Today’s double lesson consisted of the seventh and eighth hours of my client’s basic course on self-protection. The lesson was begun with a series of relevant movement exercises, using transitioning and striking, and finished with an anti-grappling pressure test from various positions.   Previously we had moved to the threshold of anti-grappling tactics. Our over-arching strategy for a frontline civilian counter-assault is to get back into a strong striking position. Striking is the default trained method for dealing […]

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Avoiding Shape-Seeking (diary entry)


29.03.17   Tonight’s lesson brought us onto the omaplata. This Portuguese word for “shoulder blade” has become the most popular term used to describe a type of shoulder key-lock applied by the legs. Despite the move existing in competitive judo (and especially in kozen judo), where it is known as “ashi-sankaku-garami”, translated as “triangular entanglement”. Apparently catch-as-catch-can wrestlers call it a “coil lock”. The omaplata’s name popularity is probably down to the fact that it is a very common move […]

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On the Threshold of Anti-Grappling (diary)

cover close

25.03.17   This morning’s double lesson comprised of hours five and six of this client’s first basic course on self-protection. We revised previous material before covering the clearance of obstacles/fighting around obstacles, regaining the initiative and short-range natural weapons.   The lesson began with a serious specific muscle activation exercises, focusing on straight and round strikes. We also used the opportunity to move through the individual postures covered in the previous class – half-kneeling, seated and from the back to […]

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Triangle Choke in MMA (diary entry)


22.03.17   Having covered countering the leg triangle choke in MMA we looked at setting up the choke itself.  The lesson began with the usual series of mobility and muscle engagement exercises with a special focus on groundwork movements. We then began deconstructing the technique.   This time, when it came to the set-up, I looked at the importance of using the guard to immediately break the opponent’s posture. During the previous two lessons with this client – where we […]

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Transitioning Postures & Hook Punches (diary entry)

Defence from guard to standing7

16.03.17   Tonight’s double session comprised of the third and fourth lesson of my basic self-protection course. We layered the fence by looking at offsetting a potential risk and pre-fight conflict by setting up physical angles. This was followed by revision of lineal rear-hand striking with the addition of referencing targets and incidental combinations with new techniques. Then we moved onto hook strikes and backhand strikes with an early short deviation into multiple threats. Next we covered fighting from different […]

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Breaking down and breaking through the triangle (diary entry)


15.03.17   We continued our ground-fighting training for MMA with a look at handling the classic leg-triangle choke from closed guard. The lesson began with a simple warm-up of grappling specific exercises before moving onto a breakdown of this submission hold and the various phases where a fighter is vulnerable.   Breaking Grips/Releasing Hands to Strike: Much like any submission using the legs from closed guard the attack is usually initiated through climbing the guard up an opponent’s back. As […]

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Self-Protection Ground Zero (diary entry)

Angry Fence to make space

11.03.17 Today’s double lesson was with a new client. He has a background in rugby and traditional martial arts. He has decided to begin his training with me on the 10 lesson basic self-protection course. As covered in the lesson and in previous diary entries on the same subject we began with a discussion on defining self-protection. Self-protection can be divided up into soft skills that we call “personal security” and hard skills we call “self-defence”. Soft skills cover attitude, […]

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MMA Guard (diary entry)


08.03.17   Tonight we continued work on the guard, but brought it back into the MMA arena. We deconstructed the arm-bar and looked at two different executions from the closed guard.   The lesson began with some mobility and callisthenic exercises targeting specific movements involved in working the guard and activating muscle groups that would take on a primary role. This segued into a partner warm-up in-guard, where we drilled preferred reactions to whatever tactic the opponent might take. This […]

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