Today’s double lesson concerned joint locks with a request for a particular focus on the clinch range. We are currently working around a recent operation. A strong feature of the coaching and teaching I offer is the ability to adapt. Geoff Thompson and Mo Teague have been strong influences on the importance of adaptation. Fighting is rarely convenient. This is why training through a range of inconveniences from simulated injuries and around less than ideal conditions are crucial elements for martial arts education. My mandate today was to train pragmatic techniques that involved minimal groundwork and no impact work. Pressure is a big part of the way I teach, so this can be a little difficult. However, specific training using varying degrees of pressure helps address this problem.
We began with edged weapons. Although this wasn’t in my brief I felt it was a good grounding principle. We know that our ancestors had developed handheld weaponry long before they were even humans. Blunt instruments were used to kill and sharp ones to cut meat. It wouldn’t have been a huge adaptive jump for Australopithecus and its descendants to work out that sharpened bones, sticks and stones were equally good at cutting and stabbing live enemies as was for doing the same to inanimate objects. This really puts into perspective how much of a support skill unarmed combat has been in terms of human survival. Much of what has been isolated and refined as variations of striking, grappling and a combination of both probably has its roots in having a back-up plan when a weapon wasn’t immediately available. So we did some simple angles of attack using a practice edged weapon.
I have to thank a wide range of teachers with vastly more experience and trained knowledge than me on weapon defence. The methods taught here come directly from their programmes. They include Mo Teague (naturally), Dennis Jones, Karl Tanswell and Eddy Quinn. Nothing I teach could really be easily defined as being from a particular martial art, but aspects of Filipino Eskrima, Malaysian Silat, Muay Thai and Greco-Roman Wrestling are in evidence, as well as straightforward data from real life encounters.
The Southeast Asian approach tends to rely a lot on slashing for various reasons, but these slashing angles are easily changed to stabbing motions too. It provides a great simple base for fluid tight movements and dexterity. Once the basic angles were confirmed, we moved onto some simple trapping and countering drills. Again, this is a great way to build up in-fight tactile awareness which translate well over to grappling.
We then went back to foundation self-defence tactics: pre-empting a weapon attack. This is usually taught as a resort for a person who is about to be attacked at close-range. The chances are if someone wants to stab another person the victim won’t see the blade before the action is done (please note there is no guarantee that one who shows the knife will not use it!), but it makes sense to train good twitch muscle reflexes against anyone who makes a sudden aggressive movement upwards with their arm. Rather than blocking – which is the common way this tactic is taught – the fighter intercepts the movement as early as they read it with a trap and check simultaneously. This is a very simple flinch response that is easily learned and confirmed under pressure. We trained this from every conceivable angle before moving onto controlling methods.
The controlling methods come straight from Karl Tanswell’s STAB programme. We trained the two-on-one, the single under hook and the back position. Each naturally flow into each other and answer most questions when the pressure is on. Mo Teague’s superb adaptation of the two-on-one makes a lot of sense and allows for a lot effective add-ons from a strong position. The single under hook is good for keeping control at a transitional period and the back position has obvious dominant benefits so long as the bladed hand is kept away from the thigh.
This brought us straight onto stand-up grappling/clinch. We looked at defending against the back position with an arm-bar and also breaking the full-nelson into a sideways slam. We also briefly looked at getting a simple arm-bar from the mount position.
Photo by Sonia Audhalia Photography circ. 2009 – Jamie Clubb and Steve Male demonstrating a two-on-one edged weapon restraining technique.