Teaching Challenges; Progress Through Adaptation (diary entry)

Talking Hands (small)Inside the fence Angry fence to make space (a) 05/11/10


Tuesday’s late evening session was my teacher training lesson. In addition to going through my own pin transition and guard transition routines we looked the use of the half-guard. This is all designed to form certain basics for my client’s students to have down prior to a workshop I will be teaching on MMA.


I discussed suggested hierarchies for submission grappling and MMA in relation to using the guard. We both agreed that the students in question will more than likely begin their ground fighting from a pinned or guard position. They will be going for their black belt grading which involves a type of MMA stamina test. Half-guard is also a very common position for a pinned fighter to attain when scrambling to escape a pin. I introduced the lockdown and electric chair sweep from this position. The lockdown can be a very effective means for using the half-guard and it can be quite surprising if an opponent is not familiar with it. We will go into more detail in the future.

We discussed progress with power generation in strikes. My clients students have generally done very well from seated and with their back to the wall restrictions. These are fairly robust methods that teach fighters to isolate the right body mechanics. There was also general success in movement through the postures. Resistance band training has been met with mixed results. The conclusion was that it acted better with students who already have underlying skill.


My views on resistance bands have varied over the years. Initially I fully embraced the concept of training force vectors in any technique. It made a lot more sense to me to increase resistance along the correct powerlines rather than using weights which seemed counterproductive from a basic physiques perspective. Judo was an early pioneer of using bicycle inner tubes for the solo practise of throws. Other systems brought this into striking. The main problems with using resistance bands is trying to mimic exact techniques and also using too thick bands. This can cause certain problems such as being too literal with a technique when certain compromises need to be made and the focus should be on developing the right muscle activation for a technique. Too thick bands can result in the fighter activating the wrong muscles – such as the arm muscles in a strike. My client reported that this could even happen with thin bands when an inexperienced striking used them.

We discussed the value of the fence and crowded spaces. It is becoming increasingly evident that cookie-cutter approaches to self-protection are not the way forward if you want to students to use concepts effectively. Certain cultures have issues regarding entitlement that are not easy to override. The general concept of keeping and maintaining one’s personal space, setting boundaries that act as action triggers still hold up. The challenge presented to the self-protection teacher is being able to adapt these concepts to unique environments.


The Halloween edition of my podcast also raised some difficult subject material that self-protection teachers need to address. The case reinforced the importance of attitude in relation to awareness, particularly at the pre-incident stages of a crisis. It also called into question both compliance and fighting options in such situations. My client said there had been success with role-playing activities regarding pre-incident options – distract, dissuade, comply and assert. I also added in the obvious fight – which has always been covered along with escape – and compromise.

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