I was kindly invited by Sam Stewart the founder and owner of Kyushinkai Martial Arts in Telford, a full time martial arts academy and host to numerous luminaries of the British Combat Association, to teach the Clubb Chimera Martial Arts approach to their junior students. I have been to the centre on several occasions and I am always impressed with the progress the place has made. Not only does it offer a broad range of martial arts classes, but the fact that it is so spacious means that options for training are always so open. I have completed nearly every one of Mo Teague’s infamous and gruelling Red Flag Days as well as seminars by Peter Consterdine and Geoff Thompson. The place not only hosts great training days and regular classes but also fight nights and competitions. Since the last time I visited the club has made an impressive MMA cage and has new matted area in addition to the large hard floor training area. They are also still fully equipped with the functional fitness/”cave man” equipment, which are fast becoming the preferred tools for athletes actively involved in MMA and practical combatives.
The CCMA approach to combatives is to teach a truly progressive method to training, which is constantly up for review. We typically begin with getting across basic self protection across. Once this is down pat we look to ways to develop individual’s personal abilities. Children are a great place to start in the chronology of development. A child is physically more vulnerable, has less personal prejudices and often provides more immediate and honest feedback. I have learnt a tremendous amount from teaching children. In fact, a good number of the activities I set up as fun yet functional games for children have developed into demanding and ferocious pressure tests for adults.
After beginning with some basic games to teach avoidance and evasion we pressure-tested the pre-emptive strike. We looked at different ranges, which is particularly relevant with children when sizes differ quite dramatically and where their adversary can be a wide range of predators from different age groups. This began with the fence and was trained through role play and then moved into an active focuss-mitt exercise. We then looked at applying relevant weapons to revelavent targets and then pressure-tested everything with the “Stategy One versus Strategy Two” game. This exercise not only teaches evasion and pits grappling tactics against striking tactics, but also teaches awareness.
The class then moved onto some two-on-one pad drills from different ranges and finished with a discussion on the five CCMA tenets: Respect, Awareness, Courage, Discipline and Open Mind.
My teaching experience at KMA allowed me to test an idea I have been playing with. Despite what commonly occurs in martial arts themed self defence classes, it always seemed a little strange to me to get everyone’s bodies really warm and then to spend too look talking with them before beginning any physical acitivity. One instructor who was critical of this approach argued that it was not very effective to get blood racing through students’ minds and expect them to pay attention to the information you are providing at the beginning of the class. There’s a lot of sense in that, but I have often found that no matter how engaging you make the soft skills section those in attendance are just itching to get on with the physical side of things. Now there is a good argument that said impatient students need to exercise more inner-control, but sometimes people have to experience things first before they are open to learn. After all, it is often some form of physical experience that brings someone to a class in the first place. Tonight I felt the time was to fully test that theory. So with a slight warning that “there will be questions later” we jumped straight into behaviour training exercises. Once the physical side of things cooled down, we started discussing the reasons behind everything and I gradually added the information or provided food for thought. I am not saying this is the “new way” for CCMA, but it is a way that is worth exploring. Every lesson is different and every lesson is a place and time for investigation. That investigation extends as much into teaching as it does learning.