Self defense techniques that aren’t useless

Special thanks to Dave Walmsley for creating and posting these videos.

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Body building stir fry recipe

Here’s a recipe that meets most of your nutritional needs for a day through its blend of healthy fats, vegetables, protein and spices. It can be cooked up very quickly and is customizable to anyone’s tastes.

Ingredients:

Boneless chicken breasts, beef, tofu or whatever your preferred protein source happens to be. Bags of vegetables (sliced carrots, broccoli, snap peas, mushrooms, squash, cauliflower, etc)
Olive oil
Soy sauce
Spices. I like onion, garlic, black pepper, red pepper, paprika, etc. I use whatever spices are available to taste.
Optional: avocado, pitted dates.

In a large pan or wok, pour a thin layer of oil. Cut up your meat into cubes, put the pan on low heat, throw in the chicken and immediately start adding spices and soy sauce according to preference.

Once done seasoning, stir the meat until cooked. Throw in a bowl.

Add vegetables to wok. Stir. Re-season and add soy sauce. Combine with the meat.

Or just throw the vegetables in with the meat when meat is almost done, for quickness.)

If you want extra fats, cut up an avocado over the finished product. If you want sugars, sprinkle on some dates.

If you’re a cheapskate, you can also serve this stir fry over rice, but then it wouldn’t be paleo and your crossfit instructor would beat you over the head with some useless exercise gadget.

First MA training observations

So I spent these past two weeks hanging out with a friend who’s done Chinese martial arts for about the last ten years, and now I feel like making notes on what I learned. My friend has training in Wing Chun and Tai Chi push hands with some other styles thrown in along the way. Now he does something that looks completely different from standard wing chun. You can find his blog here: http://humanityproxy.wordpress.com/
My other training partners in this time included a guy with limited Choy Li Fut training (from here on called “Sasquatch” because we only had one day of serious training with him during the past two weeks and he’s an elusive guy when trying to get a hold of him around Christmas) and a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (grappling) exponent.

Background:
Training started off with light sparring to figure out our strengths and natural movement. I naturally moved forward very well and threw a lot of damaging shots, HumanityProxy was a lot more elusive and hard to land good hits on. So on the second day we had Sasquatch over for practice. We were paired off to work on upper body evasion, kick defense and basic offense. The first few days after were focused on isolating aspects of the fight to drill proper evasion into me.

Notes:

-When I’d fight in place or slip back out of any attack I’d generally get bulldozed. Sparring and evasion drills are essential. I learned to tuck my chin into my shoulder like a boxer and move inside the radius of an attack, how to slip and step to the sides and move my body from whatever position I find myself in to minimize damage to myself.

-HP would demonstrate looseness by pointing up at a security cam video of us both when we walked into a store. If I was tense, I’d have worse body language vs him, as he’s very loose and floppy 24/7. Likewise , if he were to throw a punch or kick and you strike his attacking limb, the limb would be so loose that his body won’t turn when the punching hand is struck off to the side.
-HP seems to have gained a lot of his evasion skills from backyard boxing and Tai Chi push hands.
-His upper body strikes are mostly whipped with a lot of power but he focuses too much on generating from the spine instead of pumping from the legs too. I demonstrated to him that whippy strikes combined with leg pumping and dropping energy penetrate a lot harder even if you don’t harden up on impact. My secret? Picking my feet up slightly from a normal stance and dropping slightly closer to the ground, over and over; doing exercises patterned after ape movements, over and over.

-Counters to kicks:
Striking down on the leg, especially from knee up.
Kicking the kick, especially with crescent motions from the side.
Moving the target (leg, body, head) out of the way, using shuffles and switching stances to avoid low kicks from range.
Moving in on the kick and smothering it with striking and locks.
Close in: hip bump into groin and perform a throw.

-Counters to holds and attacks from behind:
-Like strikes, chokes and locks seem to get you when you stop moving. I usually escaped attempts to choke me by twisting out of them.
-Do push hands to better avoid being put in holds.

-Lessons from BJJ guy:
-I always knew the types of bear hug counters taught to women are weak (stomp foot, headbutt backward, etc) and found I could escape easier by going limp until I drop close to the ground. Limpness slacks up the hold and makes other moves possible. The BJJ guy prescribed a four inch body drop into a wide stance and bringing the hands upward in a strong position, then moving for any move possible from there.
-BJJ and Tai Chi push hands seem to work on similar principles and carry over to each other. Our grappler friend picked up a Tai Chi push hands drill in a matter of seconds.

-Wrestling vs “WWII combatives”:
A lot of guys who watched a few Carl Cestari videos (and then appointed themselves as experts and gurus) will go around saying they have a superior fighting system that was tested in WWII, ramble about martial arts sucking, bash grappling even though their WWII combatives heroes all did centuries of Judo, etc. I got a few chances to pressure test their moves against my sparring partners.
-Against a “Dracula guard” (resembles a horizontal elbow strike, crashes, strikes with the elbow and edge of hand): Go low and to the outside of the raised arm, get in close to the body. (HP and the wrestler both use elbow-traps too)
-There are ways to mitigate the counters to a Drac guard through practice, but a vertical-forearm elbow spear seems more useful against a grappler as it’s harder to get around and can crash both high and low attacks.
-Against a mount position on the ground: If your enemy straddles on top of you, he can pin an upper arm under the knee or the foot. If he uses the foot, it’s easy to roll him off.

-As far as “Combatives” as a style and not a catchall term, we coined a phrase for it: “Idiot wreckers”.
Idiot wreckers are moves that catch you unaware in a vulnerable position and do a lot of damage. A chin jab is an idiot wrecker because the victim has to open up his body’s center line. A lot of locks and throws are also idiot wreckers along with outrageous moves that catch you when you’re on guard but get motor-set to focus narrowly and do the same thing over and over.

-Kickboxing stand off situations and a lot of “efficient” moves can be broken by using dramatic “surprise” moves that the opponent hasn’t seen before. Reaction speed is slowed down against anything that doesn’t look like an imagined attack, or which comes from an unexpected range and angle.

-Forms and drills that lack “aliveness” are still useful for ingraining an underused movement pattern into the brain, no matter what anyone says.

-Physical training and conditioning:
Contrary to common internet knowledge, exercises that focus on specific muscles are the way to go for developing strength. I coached HP to do sternum chin ups (try to touch lower chest to bar, arch back) and his back muscles were fried by just a few reps. The upper back muscular supports punching and protects vital organs from damage, so the value in this bodybuilding type of exercise should be obvious.

More to follow when HumanityProxy does his own writeup on our findings. Until then, I recommend everybody check out Rick Hernandez’ “Predator and Prey” series on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRV6aOODy4_ImO8njdN_22PHaFiLagXAK

Learning kung fu

Just to inform those of you who didn’t click on the Facebook link I plugged in my previous post, I am now signed up for online training programs from famed Filipino Kuntao and Chinese Baguazhang expert Rick Hernandez at http://icsstraining.com/

I won’t go into detail about what they are since my friend did so here. But in a nutshell, the Primal Warrior series teaches effective self defense while going beyond the need for specific techniques (a principle Rick calls “whatever, wherever and whenever”).
The Optimal Body Intelligence series whips you into shape while teaching your body to move better using movements from martial arts.

Most of the training drills can be done anywhere, any time. No special equipment needed. You only get good through constant practice and sheer determination.

On that note, I’m going to practice every day.

Some Floor Exercises

A previous post explained how to hit the ground. This one is all about how to get comfortable sitting there, moving around and getting up.

Formal Japanese sitting position or “Seiza”

This is the bane of Westerners who try to fit in with the Japanese. Many natives of Japan can sit like this for hours, but those who didn’t grow up doing it can’t feel their legs after five minutes.

With practice, the shin muscles get more flexible and this becomes a comfortable way to sit for a short time. Don’t force it by holding the position when it gets painful. Try seiza out on mats or carpets for a few minutes at a time and gradually work into it.

To assume Seiza, drop to one knee (half-kneeling) with the top of the foot flat on the ground, bring your other knee down and sit down on your heels. Keep an erect posture from the hips up.

300px-Judo03seiza

Squat sitting or the third world squat

Squatting is a very basic human movement that even a baby can do. Common in many non-Western countries where people haven’t lost all their hip and ankle flexibility – they squat down on flat feet and rest there.
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Basic Physical Skills – Running

Modern running shoes are usually designed with soft cushioned soles and a thickened heel to “absorb impact”.
When running with thick heeled shoes there’s a tendency to overstride, striking the ground well ahead of the body and heel first. Heel strike causes a slight braking action and sends the impact up into your knee.
The squishy soles of these running shoes cushion impact, but the effect is to ruin proprioception (your ability to feel what’s happening within your body). Your feet don’t feel the impact with the ground so you don’t notice that you’re running with bad form.

As an experiment, go outside and run up and down your yard barefoot.
An experienced runner may heel strike from force of habit. The average man, woman and child will touch ground with the midfoot.

In barefoot running, the foot usually touches down below or slightly ahead of the hips. The ball of the foot absorbs the shock of your foot strike. The body is erect but leaning forward, and the knee is bent when the foot hits the ground.

For a proper visual, watch this video on proper running technique:

Footwear

I recommend wearing light running shoes with minimal or zero heel drop.
There’s a whole industry of “barefoot” running shoes today (I wear Merrells) but old style running shoes fit the bill and worked perfectly for runners up into the 70s.

new-balance-trackster
Pictured: The good old days of athletic footwear.

If you start running in minimalist shoes, don’t start with long distances. The muscles of the feet and ankles will need to be developed. Start with short distance runs, walking, running in place and skipping rope.

One more consideration is footwear for small children: The bones of the feet are deformed if tight or inflexible shoes are worn. Many children and adults have outer toes that curve inward. If they had never worn shoes, all toes would point straight out.
See: http://www.unshod.org/pfbc/toysawov.htm

If you can’t have your kids going around barefoot all the time, consider soft minimalist footwear, such as moccasins (leather shoes, and yes, there are companies making them for everyday use).

Side note: Don’t lift heavy weights in running shoes, including most brands mentioned in this post. Lift in shoes with flat, hard soles to give you the maximum possible stability.