Here's to record some of the things we've worked on.

The Entry: Coming close in with your hand guards connecting almost dead on to each other. To get into this distance, use CM2.

The Half Necktie: Snake one of your hand in between his guard around his neck and with your hands cupped onto the crown of his head. Your forearm should be in contact with his neck. Maintaining the necktie requires you to drive forward pressure from the elbow area into the neck rather than trying to to force him down with your arm.

This should be utilized with strikes to the face which can be simple punches, hooks or even uppercuts.

Completing the Necktie: While retaining firm control of your half necktie, only then attempt to snake in the other hand. It is ideal to still go inside the guard but in practice may be difficult so sometimes it's ok to go outside the guard. As long as you have either hand inside, you can establish a solid grip. Do the same thing as the first necktie except place your remaining hand on top of the hand of the first necktie. Rest your chin on your hands and make sure to focus on squeezing your elbows together. Shoulders should be relaxed.

Upon establishing a successful complete necktie, then you can proceed to knee him.

In practice it's sometimes possible to surprise someone with both hands outside his guard and then snake one in but it was not so reliable especially if the other guy knew what he was diong.

An interesting thing I learnt from watching Randy Couture is how he used the half necktie. As the person tries to square up to get out of the necktie, you pull him a bit toward you and then switch to the other side to get the opposite necktie. Playing around with it, it was quite effective but it remains important to continue to be trying to punch the head.

Another tactic I found particularly effective is to CM2 and then ram the person with my guard. As he is pushed back I throw punches forward.

Some light sparring

Serina showing girl power

When Serina boxes, it looks like she's dancing

Sparring for tips as we didn't have money to try the new cinema :P

Bobbing and weaving

Yesterday, we dealt with palming and cuffing punches with the jab/lead hand (not sure if I got the terminology right here).

This works best when having 'matched leads' meaning if my right foot is forward, then the other person is having his left foot forward or vice versa due to

  1. the shorter distance covered when doing the counter punch which makes it a lot quicker and less telegraphed
  2. still being protected against the cross with the free hand.
Being a southpaw, this was an especially important lesson since I was for the most part dealing with orthodox boxers.

Cuffing happens in the CM1 (rimshot) range and as your partner jabs, you intercept the punch by palming over it with your jab hand and pushing it down and slightly towards you. This redirects the force of his punch and opens his face to a quick flick punch back to his face.

If you are fighting with the same stance, for e.g. orthodox vs orthodox or southpaw vs southpaw, this is a lot more difficult to do.

Parrying can be done with the rear hand which is actually a commonly used technique in traditional boxing. Some notes from an old boxing magazine I found on Google Books which deals with the above situations:

Note: Albert mentions that this isn't directly applicable to CMD due to the different stance and how traditional boxing is less strict about head protection and the hands are not locked to the head but is interesting nevertheless:
Rear-hand parry (assuming orthodox stance):

Use the right hand to deflect the jab while the left leg is forward. This is a very fast counter and is one of the most common techniques taught by trainers. Although the parry appears to be a simple movement, mastering it requires speed, timing and accuracy. In order to parry effectively and consistently, the technique must be a short and economical movement. Overextension sets up the fighter for a double jab or a fake. When parrying, remember to keep your rear hand high, relaxed and ready to respond. Once you have parried the jab, return the rear hand to its ready position.

Front-hand parry

The front hand can also be used to deflect a jab but it is generally not encouraged because it removes your lead hand from a protecting position in front of your face. Unless you are highly skilled, there is a tendency to overextend the parry, which creates an opening for your opponent's right cross.

The front-hand parry puts you in a vulnerable position. Nevertheless it is effective against kicks, since you are out of hand range and have more time to react to your opponent's follow-up technique.
There are several things to note when doing this move
  1. If you're slow or mess up the timing, you could eat one in the face so it is a risk. Remember that your hands leave your face while you are trying to intercept the punch so if he contacts at the wrong time,
  2. Don't do it too often as if the opponent knows it's coming he can fake you out and then follow in with a real punch.
  3. Seems to work better if the punch is deflected before it's fully extended as the punch then is relaxed while its still gaining speed. If it's fully extended, you've probably already eaten it.
  4. There should be very little delay from the parry to the counter punch as you only have a very brief window to execute the counter-punch before he pulls back. Ed: Albert mentions that the counter is not necessarily immediate as sometimes your punching hand can be dragged back towards his face which can be followed with a counter to prevent him from trapping your hand again but this is more a case when using big gloves.
Avoiding the parry is basically keeping your punches random with fakes thrown in and also a quick recovery.

Personally I found the movement a bit awkward as I am used to cutting down with an extended arm like Aikido and doing so with just the lower arm felt tiring and unnatural (for now at least). Definitely one move to actively train while sparring.

Is it me or are CMD classes zooming faster and faster by as my cardio goes up? :(

Since my last post on CMD we have covered quite a lot of material:

  1. Bobs and slips
  2. Level Changing and Body Shots
  3. Feints and false attacks
  4. Lowering your guard to just above eye level
  5. Forming a proper fist
  6. Faking your range

Bobs and Slips

Moving your body and head so that it's more difficult for someone to punch you. Easier said than done as it has to be random, properly timed, have a quick recovery and yet stay balanced.

With newer students, it was really effective with their slower strikes, but once training with the more experienced peeps, the speed had to increase a lot and more particularly the randomness. Slight CM movement also has to be maintained while doing this as it's too easy while trying to dodge that you forget to CM and take one in the face.

The movement can be slight and in fact the closer it is, the more efficient it is. I find that if you bob or slip too much, it's hard to react quickly with your own counter punch but a slight slip as it maintains your posture generates a much quicker response.

One mistake that I keep on making is that my bob and slip tends to resemble an infinity symbol instead of rapid quick linear movements that are more unpredictable.

Also important not to lean your head in too much as although this is quite effective in avoiding's not so good if someone decides to grab your head and smash it on his knee...

Level Changing and Body Shots

Not attacking or defending at one level but constantly moving up and down in an unpredictable fashion. Similar principles to bobs and slips. You can't start too low or else you won't be able to level change.

Important in defending against body shots and side attacks and also keeping yourself difficult to hit.

You lose mobility while dropping low so this is something to consider when deciding to 'shell up'. In one instance I recognized this first hand when I was a bit fearful of body shots and ended up being unable to get away from the barrage although I had my center defended.

For a body shot, in most cases it's good to follow combination theory where you start with a jab to the head first, go for the body shot and then jab as you come out. Trying for a bodyshot straight away in most cases isn't a good idea as it tends to be slower as you have to level change and then punch and if you didn't prep it up, can result in just being hit in the face before you can throw your body shot. More effective against people taller than you since you can drop easier than them though I notice Owen's body shots on me are more effective than vice versa. Something to look into.

Feints and False Attacks

This is where you fake or feint an attack to illicit a response or disrupt the timing of the opponent.

There are several kinds where you punch halfway, pause for a short while then follow through or you can change the direction of your punch halfway for eg from high to low and vice versa. The power on this is pretty weak and is more as an annoyance tactic

It's important not to pull back your punch halfway as it just means more time that you're exposed while you're false attacking and since it's just an annoyance tactic it's not important to generate power from this.

I still preferred the shoulder movement feints coupled with a very quick small dart of the hand that gave the illusion of a punch which was then followed up by an cross or a quick jab. This is especially effective if the opponent's CM is a bit slow or he was not keeping his hands moving as by making him misjudge your timing, there is usually a small hole in his defense that you can punch your hand through.

Lowering your guard to just above eye level

Owen and I have been encouraged to lower our guard to just above the eye level. It sacrifices a bit of head protection for better vision and body protection. It also gives much better hook protection as it's a one size fits all defense for punches towards the head.

Still not totally comfortable with this as you feel suddenly quite naked. The first CM stance we learnt really felt like a womb of sorts where you could hide whenever you were trouble and having that taken away reintroduced my flinching which had gone away previously. Just something that needs to be worked on again!

Forming a Proper Fist

I often tried to form a fist by clenching it until there was no air in it. What happened was that I also folded up my little fingers in resulting in my index finger taking the brunt of most of the punches. What should be done is for the fist to be squared up so that impact is distributed around the whole of the fist rather than just one or two fingers.

The alignment of the wrist is also important to ensure that upon contact, the energy travels along your hand rather than it resulting in a wrist injury. This can be done by using your hand to point forward and then that's the proper alignment of the wrist. Straight and centered.

At this point in time while using the gloves, I worry about building a bad habit in not learning how to form a proper fist so I try to practice doing it during my idle moments e.g. while waiting for my coffee or bath water in forming the fist as I punch. Would probably prove useful once we move to the MMA gloves.

Faking your range

I often tried to get as much range as possible on my punches and although this is generally a good thing, Albert brought up that this sometimes gave your opponent a very good idea of what your range is especially if you throw out a lot of jabs.

So instead, when throwing range finding jabs, it's sometimes good to not extend fully. That way you continue to occupy some space but give your opponent an underestimation of your range. In practice I found this was pretty effective where although we were told during the class to try it, some of my sparring partners fell for it by rushing forward only to be met with a quick jab before they could throw theirs. I suppose it's also more effective where you have a range advantage.

While trawling a popular Aikido forum, I was sharing my experiences in the Aikikai Hombu HQ in Tokyo which was in short, not positive.

Basically I expressed how I felt like an outsider with nobody returning my smiles and the instructor more concerned with the other Japanese student whom I was partnered with even when at times I was struggling with the technique as much as the that Japanese student. Even the locker room situation before and after the class was just as tense with nobody talking to each other. Training itself was like some sort of strange religion where the instructor did and you followed without much more than a few words (which I unfortunately did not understand either).

I basically wanted to know if this was an isolated case or was this truly the 'Hombu experience'.

I was told by a few forumers that I had to 'learn humility' and 'be grateful that they let you train there' and that 'training is serious, not to make friends'. In short, they are doing me a favor by letting me be there in the first place and I should be thankful for whatever I got.

To hear this from fellow Aikidoka, really made me wonder how brainwashed are these people? There's one thing to be strict and no nonsense, but another to be unapproachable and expect blind obedience. I doubt having such a 'strict' environment improves learning at all! It's one thing preventing people messing around in class and goofing off, but to have everyone fearful and not daring to talk above a tiny whisper when you are genuinely discussing what works and what doesn't, is to me a very antiquated way of learning.

I think the era where teachers are respected as mini deities is over. A teacher-student relationship is based on communication and understanding, not a hierarchy. Sure, a teacher has to be accorded some degree of respect, but not to the point where the teacher is considered to be a different class of person to you and everything he says is law. A martial art need not be a puzzle that you have to figure out yourself through training thousands of hours if it can be communicated within a few minutes.

In retrospect at my years of training, I wished I had been given some very basic anecdotes that could have been told to me in two minutes, but because no one told me, it took me some 14 years to realize it. That to me is unnecessary and a complete waste of time. Whatever benefit/satisfaction I got from discovering this myself was offset by the sheer amount of time I had invested to find this out.

I guess I can understand this as many martial arts develop in such a repressed environment where your teacher is literally your 'master' and you had to clean his house, do his chores and if he felt like it, he would impart a few techniques to you. But it is still shocking to think that there are those who still believe this is an acceptable and in fact ideal way to learn things.

I cross train Aikikai Aikido with CMD.

Yes I can sense the smirks already :P

Yes, yes, Aikido, that art that has some of the most fake-looking techniques and often steeped in unnecessary mysticism. It's the very essence of a traditional martial art where you watch and then you learn. You deal with single attacks, and seldom any form of have unrealistic attack scenes, but yet I continue to still practice it.


Partly because I've been doing it for so long...some 16 years perhaps and also an idealism that effective martial arts can be graceful and non brutal.

However lately, after about 6 months into my training in CMD, I have found that certain aspects of CMD has entered into my Aikido techniques and approach to the art which have unlocked insights that I would have probably not obtained in a traditional Aikido atmosphere.

Perception of an Attack

In Aikido, most students aren't really good attackers. In fact, I think in most Aikido schools, we're trained to be sloppy to let the other person learn the technique. Unfortunately even at the dan levels, due to repeated 'training' of sloppy attacks, we never quite learnt how to do a proper attack, getting further away from practicality.

However, CMD removed my fear of being punched. I no longer flinch and got used to the faster punch speeds. Hence when I trained Aikido, suddenly all the attacks were moving in slow motion and it became incredibly easy to dodge these with increasing efficiency.

You can't expect to apply Aikido to every attack

When I swapped these sloppy attacks with more realistic quick punches, you realized that there are punches that you can't do a technique on (for example a crisp jab), while others which give u a window of opportunity to do something (for example hooks and crosses).

For those jabs, it was basically learning to keep a distance and circle (much like CMD) while deflecting them with non committal slaps. CMD talks about occupying the space with jabs, while Aikido has it all out there ALREADY occupying this space putting you in an ideal position to redirect non committal attacks without sacrificing defense.

Realistic Sparring changes your Mindset- you can't be passive

CMD also introduced me to realistic sparring where you don't really know how the other guy is going to attack. Aikido randoori or jiyuwaza isn't really 'free' in that there are still predetermined attacks and geez they still sometimes attack you with holds...

It's one mindset doing jiyuwaza and another where there is a real danger of being punched and where it's accepted to get punched.

When approaching jiyuwaza with this mindset, you actually develop a more pro-active style, moving in before the person has fully gotten up and pre-emptively striking right before he strikes if his posture is weak.

It no longer is an elaborate dance but resembles a real fight scenario where you're really thinking about how to protect yourself. I think this is what many higher dan Aikido masters have found when they mentioned that in a real life situation you need to take a lot more initiative rather than waiting for an attack to come to you.

In fact you unlock true 'jiyu' where you remove the rules of what's acceptable dojo sparring and are free to innovate.

Atemi is super important

Atemi is the act of striking your opponent. Now are often told that atemi is a distracting move and there are even some Senseis who see atemi as sort of a cheating move.

I don't see it that way but as a necessary extension of what Aikido is. In fact, I believe Morihei Ueshiba advocated the importance of this. In real life, your opponent is not going to be compliant or stationary and you need a surprise jolt to buy yourself enough time to get into position for a technique.

Training counter-punching in CMD is VERY relevant to the proper application of atemi. The timing and applying the necessary force to disorient your uke is an aspect not trained.

Too often in regular Aikido training, atemi is an afterthought, done poorly and more of just a movement that in the heat of a real fight, it's often forgotten or done ineffectively.

A proper atemi hurts. Imagine getting your face smacked by a fist or being punched below the ribs, and most people will be to disoriented to resist your technique.

Some techniques remain a mystery to me

Still some Aikido techniques continue to be a mystery to me and seem only applicable against a crazy guy charging at you giving you full committal. For example, certain versions of kokyu-ho seem incredibly unrealistic unless the guy continued to hold your hand throughout the movement. This is obviously ridiculous in a real life situation.

However I do see a point in learning these techniques as it does teach you the proper flow and extension needed to execute throws but this should be made clear from the beginning rather than passed off as a 'technique'.

A technique that can only be applied on a compliant uke, is not a real technique to me. It's a practice drill.

Aikido against a trained fighter

Now I have to admit, Aikido against a trained fighter will probably have very limited usage. An experienced fighter who just does a little research on Aikido can easily see what an Aikidoka is trying to do and easily prevent it.

Aikido does rely heavily on the element of surprise. In fact I'll be quite confident if I had to spar with someone who only knew Aikido.

Aikido has no place in the octagon/professional fighting as much as BJJ has no place outside 1 on 1 fighting.

However, the majority of the guys you are going to face are untrained fighters or people who aren't actually expecting you to resist in such a manner. This is really in most cases a true self defense scenario where you're going to be caught by surprise and the attacker isn't expecting you to fight back.

Just imagine getting yourself into a CMD stance when faced with attackers, it immediately puts them on notice that you know how to fight and they react accordingly.

The great thing about Aikido is that you can still assume a non threatening stance and yet be ready to explode into action. It builds muscle reflexes where if someone grabs me, I immediately instinctively move into a throw (yes I once threw my ex-gf and almost threw my Japanese tour operator). It is also very final and yet non lethal. Sure a punch in CMD should end most fights but a proper pin or throw has a certain finality to it perhaps only less as compared to a BJJ choke.

Aikido is still relevant

So in my opinion, Aikido is still very relevant. Sure it may not be as 'complete' as CMD, but its applications in a self defense situation are still very real as long as a more realistic emphasis is placed on training.

We often forget that legends such as Morihei Ueshiba and Gozo Shioda perfected their art through real life fighting gaining the necessary instincts to be able to pull off Aikido. In a way, realistic sparring may be that missing element to complete Aikido.

I hope that my journey through CMD continues to open such insights into Aikido and removing the stigma of Aikido as a 'fake' martial art.

Guys from KL

Had a great time with Albert's pals during open mat on Saturday. Learnt a lot of things from Patrick who showed me a glimpse of the full repertoire of CM.

Will post more later but here's a pic that sums it all up :P

After a long hiatus from CMD class due to my trip in Japan and Albert my trainer going off to US for 2 weeks as well, it was great to get back into the action. Owen and Roderick were still having exams and Riri...the bastard FORGOT! So it was just me and Albert for Monday and Wednesday.

Albert started out the precursors to CM2 and introduced the concept of counter-punching.

First of all a bit about CM2. CM2 is moving from the rim-shot range and closing the distance with the opponent which puts you in the range of counter-punches.

What is counter-punching?

Here is my own understanding of it (and the usual disclaimers in that it may be entirely wrong). Whenever someone punches, there is always a slight (or large) opening, the most vulnerable points being
  1. When the person is about to throw a punch
  2. When the person is recovering from his punch
As the punching arm is rather relaxed during prep and recovery, a well timed punch can exploit first of all the hole created in the guard when punching and also the lack of readiness both mentally and physically (the hand is not usually prepared to take a blow when recovering/prepping).

Counter-punching can be devastating, it can utilize the opponent's forward motion to strengthen your blow but perhaps more importantly it breaks the flow of an opponent's attack. There's nothing quite like beginning a combination only to be interrupted prematurely with a hit in the face. It frustrates the opponent as you are preventing him from carrying out his plan of attack and over time, this accumulates to become a substantial mental effect.

The Counter Punches I learnt

The first one was a very quick punch after a block, dodge and while the opponent is pulling his hand back. Albert demonstrated this to me when I threw him a slightly sloppy jab (not intentionally) which resulted in a lightning fast smack in the face which left me wondering 'What the heck happened?'.

The second one was rather awkward where you back off slightly to get out of range of the punch and then recoil back to land a punch in straight away. I am having a hard time visualizing how this will work effectively against a good punch.

The third one is where you punch as he punches and try to land a quick combo in the moment your counter punch connects. At first I thought this was something like punching when he was punching, but if you think of it logically it's more of trying to punch him before he even starts punching fully which I believe is what Phil Wright from Revolution Gym was trying to tell me over Twitter :P.


I am quite happy with my progress. I still am not absolutely free flow, but I start to try to have a plan and I think perhaps the most important milestone was I stopped closing my eyes while being under heavy attack and still able to think more or less with a level head as to how to react.

I have confidence in my CM1 and my stamina has improved a little where I can last a few 3 minute rounds. My calves no longer hurt and I can move around without thinking too much about it.

Sparring sessions like this really remind you how far you have come from the first time you stepped in and is extremely rewarding.

Stamina is still a problem where I have problems maintaining burst but it was no where as bad when I would be busted within the 1st minute of a round to the point I could barely move anything. Perhaps also something to do with pacing as well.

My first 'injury' from CMD

As we stepped up the sparring, Albert managed to land a middle strengthed jab to across my cheek which resulted in my innerlips grazing on my teeth which lead to a little bleeding. He was of course very apologetic and actually it's a bit of a wonder that this had not happened a lot earlier considering how we have been sparring for a while now!

In a way I was also happy in that Albert was also stepping up his power in line with my progress and sparring took a slightly more serious tone (yet still firmly being a non competitive game/play) which just reminded you to be more focused.

Certainly time to invest in a mouth guard. :D

With our trainer Albert away in the US for the BJJ Mundials for 2 weeks, it was just Owen and me training.

Owen is an interesting sparring partner as he is taller than me and has a similar reach as me. As such it wasn't too easy to keep him away but I found a proper diving board punch still gave me the necessary reach advantage to keep him at bay.

Jabbing to keep distance

I found the jab pretty effective at discouraging him from attacking me even when he tried to push forward as long as it was a properly executed jab with some force behind it or used as a push rather than a strike by making sure your body weight is behind it.

Bad CM when under heavy attack

I noticed that I was getting hit a bit on the sides of my face even while doing CM and as Owen's punches packed some power, I at times ended up CMing while looking at the floor which placed me in a very passive and bad position as I couldn't necessarily tell where he was.

Owen was also guilty of this but in a different way in that he turned his side to me which allowed me shots at his exposed side of the face.

Counterattacking when under attack

I really don't like being pummelled at and really want to get out of a barrage. I should be circling out more but sometimes when I still can't get out, I find that I like to just move in and launch a counterattack of my own to disrupt his rhythm.

This seems kinda risky as even with diving board punching, I still feel rather exposed but perhaps what exacerbates the situation is my tendency to extend my hands and pop my head out to take a look at where to direct my punching. While this allows me to see where his weakspots are and punch at them, it also creates a huge spot of my own. Thus far Owen or Albert has not taken advantage of this but I believe someone with a longer reach or more determination to move in could easily knock me out.

I need to find a way to maintain TES and still be able to direct my punches. I remember Albert's words that if you see the chest, you know where the head is but sometimes when being punched, it's hard to see much more than the fists coming at you! I think counter-attacking while under attack should be a valid strategy especially since there's a psychological effect rather than just taking it and weathering the storm even with proper CM. Must make a mental note to ask Albert.


Finally walking around in tiptoe and working on strengthening those calves have paid off! I can now move with a lot more freedom and can dodge attacks a lot faster than I used to without feeling pain in my calves. I still need to work on circling off more and not stepping back.

Dempsey Roll

Not quite related to CM but I couldn't resist going back to a bit of interesting history on boxing.

Jack Dempsey, one of the greatest boxers ever pioneered the bob and weave move. Previously boxing was generally bolt upright fashion and Dempsey revolutionized boxing with his innovation of dropping low and attacking from a half crouch position. Perhaps the very early precursor to the CM hunchback position?

In fact, Jack Dempsey would do rounds in a 5 foot cage, forcing him to box in a deep crouch. This drill builds leg strength and endurance and adds explosion to his punches.

I first learned of the 'Dempsey Roll' from an anime: Hajime No Ippo, the bob and weave move which incorporated the natural momentum of the bob and weave into devastating hooks.

First the anime version:

Now the real thing from one of the most one-sided fights in history: Jack Dempsey vs Jess Willard.

A bit of background info, Willard, the reigning champion is 6 foot 6 inches and the huge favourite. Dempsey utterly mauled him with his new style of boxing with Willard quitting in round 3 after being knocked down countless amount of times and sustaining broken bones and teeth.

The Dempsey Roll has been since used by early Tyson who used his shorter stature to great effect by ducking under punches and using his enormous punching power to dominate his taller opponents.

The Roll doesn't look quite that effective in a MMA fight as the bob and weave is quite predictable to experienced fighters and it does leave the 'roller' open to quick counterpunches or shoves but it is fascinating nonetheless and is great fun to do!

Yesterday was Basrull's last class with us before he heads back to the UK to continue his studies. We wish him all the best and will miss his cheerful demeanor!

Last night we basically did tennis match and light sparring and continued to drill the CM1 phase. Everyone shows marked improvement and when sparring I notice it's a lot harder to break through their CM1.

On my own end, I am beginning to learn how to pace myself and move around efficiently. I no longer feel as if I have difficulties breathing when approaching the 2 minute mark and can still throw attacks.

Several points I noted last night:

  1. CM1 movement can be very light and still effective. I find that as long as I don't overtense my muscles but keep it firmly planted on my head, I need not expend that much energy when doing CM1 even when the force of the punches get heavier. Need to test this against stronger punches.
  2. When attacking heavily, sometimes it is possible to use that as a distraction to get off at an angle to attack the unprotected side.
  3. Varying the height of your stance (by going lower not higher) seems to give better angles and makes it harder for your opponent to punch you if your CM is tight
Albert while watching us spar, reminded us to keep our elbows close to each other and keep the forearms more or less vertical so that the space in between the arms are consistent and tight. The rationale is to ensure that punches cannot be jammed in and also makes CM1 more efficient by minimizing the distance that needs to be covered to close the centreline.

We also learned some basics of the uppercut which is a very close range upward punch that is aimed at the chin. The punch is kept close to the body to ensure that the power generated from the legs is passed fully into the uppercut. Albert demonstrated that with proper CM structure, even an uppercut can be blocked relatively easily.

Here is a video of last night's sparring with Riri and Basrull in front and me and Owen at the back (I'm the shorter one).

The past few lessons I have been focusing on my footwork, where I find that

  1. I bounce too much
  2. My legs often come to close together
After a lot of practice, managed to reduce my bouncing by following suggestions from the CMD Pro Forums and my trainer
  1. Imagine that you're a ninja walking
  2. Always keep at least one foot touching the ground when moving
  3. Practice, practice and practice!
This has improved my footwork a bit but I find that I still slip up when my legs get tired.

Last night I got in two sessions of light sparring with Albert along with the usual tennis match sparring and it felt a lot better.

Several key pointers that I noticed while sparring with Albert:
  1. I was aware of large movements trying to corner me in but when done inch by inch, I often didn't notice I was being cornered until it was too late.
  2. Because of the way Albert positioned his head and his shorter height, when I did manage to contact his head mostly by virtue of my longer reach, it felt difficult to get a solid punch in because of the angle of his head.
  3. I lowered my guard when trying to attack quick. I should not be sacrificing defence for attack at this stage. I got hit in the mouth once because of my carelessness
  4. I don't quite like the Runner style, extremely tiring and I don't like the idea of prancing around my opponent while he takes his time to move in towards me. It also feels less flexible in an environment where you don't always have a lot of room to move. However this may be just due to my lack of conditioning.
  5. MY CONDITIONING IS HORRIBLE. Need to do more running/skipping/cardio activities.
Here's a vid of me struggling in my last spar of the night (I was pretty exhausted already and after a while decided to just stick to defending as I had no energy to throw any meaningful punches so I focused on just keeping a good CM1). I panicked halfway through and got myself mown down as you can see me frantically shuffling my hands in almost pure desperation.

Basrull is showing great improvement and I notice his punches to be more probing and his defense a lot tougher to get into. I'll be so sad when he leaves back to the UK :(.

Our CMD class is growing to a nice number and I hope we can have a more regular set of people coming in!

Yesterday was a full lesson of sparring where we did mostly tennis match sparring though near the end of the class there was some light sparring.

While sparring with Riri and Basrull who were going harder on me and punching me with a bit more force, I started to feel more comfortable with the CM1 movement and the contact of their punches against my elbows felt pretty solid. I appreciated the increased resistance and was a good test of how well my CM1 was doing.

The CM1 movement and hunchback position is also starting to feel a lot more natural and I am starting to get used to the limited vision.

Several things that need working on:

  1. Keep on forgetting to move hands constantly
  2. Sometimes when doing CM1, my hands block past the centre line leaving the side of my head exposed.
  3. While doing CM1, found it hard to maintain rim-shot range without backing off. Punches closer in that range still feel pretty heavy. Perhaps this is where CM2 comes in?
  4. Footwork is improving but I found that when fatigued, it tended to go crappy. Back left calf hurts! :P
  5. Still moving backwards but making a conscious effort to circle or sidestep now.
  6. Sometimes during a strong punch towards my guard (especially when sparring with Riri), even if it was in the correct position, I found my guard being blown open for a short while. Do I need to bring it in tighter?
At one point when I was sparring with Albert after a round with Riri, I was literally out of breath and extremely exhausted and ended it prematurely. On retrospect I should have gone on to see how to operate in times of fatigue and it would lend valuable lessons in incorporating TES (tight economical structure) in my game.

I also found it difficult to mount an offense when Albert had his guard up. Only when he started punching me could I use my reach advantage to sneak some hits in. I don't quite get it as it seems so pointless to hit a good guard so how do you actually get past that? Something to think about as it seemed very energy inefficient unless you are confident you can overpower him.

Watching Riri and Basrull spar was very educational in picking up what was working and what wasn't. I showed Riri the video I took and he picked up things from his video that he didn't notice while sparring like how he turns his body too much when being attacked and his straight body posture. Next week, Riri is going to help video me while I spar so that should be pretty educational and I am looking forward to that.

We had 7 people who came today which bodes well for our growing CMD class! Have several potential regulars! Now just to get them to buy their own gloves so that we don't need to get 'sloppy seconds' :P.

Today Roderick and I moved on to some light sparring which represents the next level of sparring from 'tennis match' sparring where you each take turns to punch each other.

During my sparring session with Albert, noticed that i was still slightly panicking and expending a lot of energy to defend myself. The punches just seem to come so fast and i was just doing the CM1 movement without quite seeing what was happening. Was particularly uncomfortable when Albert moved forward towards me. Need to incorporate more circling around and using the jab punch to push him away. The jab push worked quite well in the beginning till Albert hooked his arm around my jab hand and then gave me one! Nice little trick to note and I guess stresses the importance of keeping your jabs quick.

I however didn't take too many in the face (and those I did were when I was punching) and I'm slowly building up confidence in utilizing CM1. The movement feels more natural now and smooth.

Another thing I noticed was my tendency to smack my ear with my shoulder when doing diving-board punching. This was rectified by concentrating on reaching out.

Today in my quest to get more people interested in CM, I posted a thread in Lowyat and someone asked me what was unique to CMD as compared to MMA? That got me thinking for a bit.

I don't profess to know CM or even MMA a lot, but I have never seen the CM1 movement or diving board punching anywhere else. But then it kinda dawned upon me that the techniques weren't just what made CMD unique. It was MMA for the everyday guy! Not too brutal, structured and with a strong focus on footwork, solid defense and easy to learn.

Anyway here's a quick vid of my friend Ida doing her 'crazy' tiger uppercut defense :P and followed by Albert working in slowly his punches with Riri, on his 2nd lesson.

Found an old post of Rodney's from this site. I have bolded the sections which I found particularly interesting.:

Hi Jeff,

I think Phil and the guys answered this really well. Here is my 2 cents

I believe this is an important post and it is in answer to questions posted on this forum and others. The HUGE and I mean HUGE misconception out there amongst those who have limited training or understanding of CM is that CM is only the defensive positioning of the hands near the top of the head. This could not be further from the truth. This has been perpetuated by those who came to one of my seminars years ago or a seminar where I was specifically asked or told only to coach that part of the CM. Just another reason I have gone on my own- if anyone attends one of my seminars today they will realize straight away that CM is a whole lot more than they thought it was.

Secondly to this, what I coach on my DVD's is not the whole CM. With the exception of the sparring 101 DVD most of the information I put out on CM was to help people improve their defense, something I felt was lacking in MA/MMA. However if you chat to any one of my athletes they will tell you that on any given night at my gym we work the entire game from stand-up, clinch to the ground. We work at times self-preservation against weapons and so forth. All of this encompasses what we term the CM Defense Program. I recently read of a guy who taught a seminar in the UK, he called an athlete out who knew CM and went on to show how useless CM was against a blade…. this is exactly what irritates me about MA as an industry- idiots who don't know what they are talking about. This instructor simply showed his ignorance of the CM Defense Program- thinking that the defensive hand posture was all there was to it. Not to mention that I view it as a compliment that he feels CM is such a threat to what he does, that he needed to take time out of his own international seminar to discredit it

Sure the name Crazy Monkey came from that hand positioning and was it not for a very good friend of mine who went on Safari who witnessed a troop of monkey's doing a similar action while defending themselves from another invading troop- the name would probably not exist today. When we talk about the CM today we talk about the CM Defense Program. The CM hand position is only and in fact less than 1% of the total amount of the entire PROGRAM. Those who train with me on a regular basis- know that outside of what makes CM obvious and notable are the more integral and most important components of the vehicle we call CM Defense Program.

I am going to outline things here otherwise it will take pages (The membership program outlines these better).

  • CM has its very own coaching & teaching style. The way we coach is very different to most other MA or MMA training groups. We believe in intelligent training initiatives, client focused and most importantly performance based- but set out in such a way that it encompasses a broad spectrum of the MA population (Military, close protection, law enforcement, self-defense, fitness, wellness etc). I am yet to find any other single MA program that has such a wide scope of use, with little or no change to the engine that drives it.
  • CM Defense Program is not just the hand defense, but also our own and unique clinch boxing game. The way we approach grappling and Vale Tudo. This also includes and is not limited to elbows, knees and so forth.
  • CM Defense Program is one of the very few MA programs that actively coaches and integrates mental game training as a natural process of training in it. Sport and Performance Psychology is a huge part of the CM defense program. But we approach this from a healthy perspective not one driven and fueled by paranoia or religious, mystical nonscence.

This is only a few aspects that make up the CM Defense Program. No disrespect to some of those in the SBG, but most of them have very limited exposure to CM or at least in so far as it extends past just the defensive hand positions to the CM defense Program itself. We don't endorse anyone who coaches our program unless they are part of the STWA or more specifically a CM Defense Program Certified Trainer. Many of the gyms under the STWA banner are still in the process of becoming certified…. I will be putting a list up in the next couple of days of who is actually licensed to coach the CM Defense Program. If you go to one of those trainers and watch one of their classes you will see a very different program that is currently offered by many unlicensed trainers or seminar wanabee coaches.

This is exactly why I have decided to do my own thing, so I can focus on the CM Defense Program, ensure high standards and that clients training in the program are getting the right coaching methodology. A while back a saw a well known MA coach demonstrating my material on a DVD, it was simply crap and is not what I coach. This guy had never trained with me at all but was trained by someone else who never spent much time with me either. All he showed was a very bad version of the CM defensive hand positioning and nothing else. This is what happens when you don't actually train the program yourself and think taking notes on the sideline actually gives you full insight to what is going on

The end of all of this, CM is an entire program, not just the hand positioning that made it famous

Jeff I am happy you found an excellent group to train with, my advice though is this, unless the group is part of STWA, more specifically CERTIFIED and LICENSED in the CM Defense Program don't think for a second that you are getting or seeing the entire package- expect and know it is probably less than 1 percent! Secondly if you do or are getting a chance to train with a CM Defense Program Licensed Trainer- realize that the hand postion that is relatively unique to the program is not the program at all- merely a small percentage of it

Those very thoughts crossed through my mind on how CMD is applied in a situation against weapons without realizing that I was still a long way from understanding what CMD is.

When you do see the content out there and the youtube vids, the hand movements seem to be the most distinctive part of CMD so you can't really blame people for thinking that's what CMD is all about. But it's another matter entirely when you profess to rubbish a martial art which you don't fully understand (something that I have unfortunately been guilty of as well).

However I don't see this misconception dying anytime soon until CMD becomes more public about what it teaches. I am unaware if this is intentional or merely just because CMD is a new martial art.

I understand the logic of keeping CMD techniques private especially when there has been a lot of plagiarism and people taking CMD techniques and calling it their own, but I think at the end of the day, it doesn't quite matter.

Anyone can claim that they teach a martial art for e.g. karate, taekwando by looking at the wide amount of material on the subject there but without the proper certification and instruction, what does that amount to? It's not just the techniques that make a martial art, it's the training style , philosophy and the community that evolves around it. That is something that cannot be easily emulated from watching a video.

My personal opinion is that a wider range of CMD material should be made more accessible to the public. When I tried to get my friends to sign up to CMD, they went home to google/youtube it, only saw the boxing elements and decided that it's not for them. In fact, I was under this same misconception myself when I signed up for it!

A larger showcase of what CMD techniques are like would serve to dispel misconceptions of what CMD is without devaluing the benefits of being an official member of the CMD program. Of course there will be haters and people who post criticism of it, but that's unavoidable unfortunately in the martial arts community. What is important is that those who are genuinely interested in CMD get enough information to make an informed decision to give it a go.

Had a strange dream last night. Fought against a female Wolverine with adamantium claws. Started doing CMD out of panic but obviously...indestructible claw against puny bone...kinda obvious what the result is.

Don't ask me what I think its meaning is though I did for a nanosecond wonder if it would be better to just surgically implant claws into my hand rather than learning martial arts :P.

At least she was hot.

Albert my instructor, mentioned how Rodney prefers to allow the person to get up rather than get into a proper grappling fight.

I believe I have the same inclination to prefer a stand-up from my limited experience with BJJ. This is not to detract from BJJ, but rather a personal preference and choice.

  1. My leg flexibility isn't there (can't even touch my toes) and a lot of BJJ moves are rather difficult for me to do. Obviously this can be worked on.
  2. I really like my reach advantage which although gives you some benefit in grappling, I really like it from a striking perspective.
  3. My main purpose of learning CMD is to learn a practical martial art. Going to the ground in many cases is not practical especially when on the street. In the majority of cases, people only attack you where they have an advantage, be it numbers or weapons. CMD retains the option of dealing with multiple attackers.
Will continue BJJ to see how it goes as it's a bit too early to make judgments and it's always good to get some solid grappling fundamentals as you need some of them if you are to be able to get away from having a fight taken to the ground. The people at the studio I go to are nice and the 'rolling' really gives you the feeling of a real scruffle.

The lack of sight while defending with CM1 can be alleviated by moving hands but is not overly important when dealing with a barrage of quick punches.

All you need to do is keep sight of chest as that's where you can read his attacks and take note of keeping him squared towards you.

Covered a little bit about defense against takedowns. I noticed I was vulnerable to it while being too focused on punching quick in front.

Hunchback stance makes it easier to sprawl when a takedown attempt is coming in.

Two options here.

  1. Maintain Distance
  2. Sprawl
Maintaining distance

Use jab hand to push against his shoulder as he tries to charge in. Light steps in a larger and larger arc. Tiring for the charger.


As you are being pushed in, flay and extend legs out in a Y shape and keep knees off the ground.

As his forward momentum pushes in, the extension of legs bears your body's weight on top of him which brings him under you and in a good position to knee or strike him.

Another option is to also look into hooking your hand around his neck as he dives in while sprawling. This gives you an added choke possibility.

Notes: Need to work on this as still a bit anxious when being taken down. When strength difference is great, the sprawl may not be effective.


Focusing back on the stance before moving first:

  • Hips square
  • Feet are square, helps to point both feet forward to keep hips square (found this awkward and hard on the ankle. Perhaps due to lack of flexibility as it was a constant fight to get it to point forward.)
  • Right leg forward, left leg back for southpaw stance
  • Knees bent
  • Back foot is lifted up to give you a springboard to push off from and to keep it light and moving.
Actually moving with it:
  • Keep distance between feet as even as possible even when moving.
  • DON'T BRING FEET TOGETHER!!!!! This reduces balance and easily deteriorates to a bad posture to punch from. Maintain the same distance as far as possible.(this for me was the hardest part to do and I found that as I got more tired, the legs automatically started coming together. Calves ached)
  • Neutral/Normal Stance > Wide Stance (loss of mobility) > Narrow Stance (unstable platform)
  • Hips continuously facing the opponent
  • Push off with the left foot when moving to the right and vice versa.
  • Movement begins with the push-off, and NOT the extension of the leading leg. (incorporating this made the movement a lot easier).
  • Knees relaxed
  • Do not end up tiptoeing on both feet!
Footwork Drill
  • Place a central marker on the floor and keep a 1 metre distance around it.
  • Circle around it imagining it's your opponent.
  • 5 revolutions clockwise, 5 revolutions counter-clockwise.
  • Do not change footwork
Notes: Found it tougher to go in the direction the back leg is in (in my case the left side). Also realized that in sparring with the other new students of CMD, their tendency is also to move in the direction their front leg is in.

Since my natural tendency is to go counter-clockwise, while orthodox stance students is to go clockwise, think of using the movement instead to sidestep and block them off from turning. I can forsee this gets less important as students get more used to moving both directions but perhaps it is a natural tendency to watch out for to take advantage of (wishful thinking :P)

Hunchback Stance

Hands and elbows tucked in close, neck and shoulders hunched, back curved, knees bent and hands on your head at all times.

Back leg on slight tiptoe while front leg grounded. Hips square. Weight distribution about equal.

Constantly move hands to introduce unpredictability and also aid peripheral vision.

The point is to minimize exposed surface area and protect your most vulnerable areas.

Duck when being body shot rather than moving your hands down which exposes face.

CM1 Movement

While hands are on head, lift them one at a time and aim to contact the incoming straight punch with your elbow or the upper sections of your arm.

Keep it tight and unpredictable.

Reuben's notes: Found it hard to see while doing CM1 movement...even when constantly moving. Was hard to deal with a barrage of punches while maintaining sight of the opponent leaving me a bit oblivious as to what my partner was doing.. Will need to recheck what I was doing wrong.

Here's Rodney demonstrating CM1

Eye Focus

Centered around torso area but eyes relaxed. Imagine a triangle extending to the shoulders.

For punches to begin, they have to move the shoulders first so relax eyes and learn to read punches.

Never focus concentrate on face lest you be distracted, or captured in his gaze. Never focus on hands as they are too fast.

Keep to the torso, and relax.

Reuben's Notes: Need to work on this as frequently lost concentration while under attack or attacking and then perception of partner's punches became very poor.

Diving Board Punching

Punch as if you are diving. Punch is slightly on a diagonal line forward. Extended fist should be directly on your centreline. This minimizes being counter punched to the face as well.

Slight inward corkscrew of hand while lifting the shoulders up that protects side of head and chin while punching.

Extends reach slightly.

Reuben's Notes: Found it rather tiring on the shoulders and had to resist the urge to bring head to shoulder rather than shoulder to head. Smacked my ears a lot with my own shoulders while beginning this.

Combination Theory:

Start with a jab, end with a jab to the face in any combination

The end jab to the face gives you time to get back to your defensive stance as it necessitates a reaction.

As you develop further, this is not necessary but its a good basic to start from.

Sideway Stepping:

Not sure what this is called but instead of endlessly circling in a sparring session, move directly sideways. This blocks his route of turning and puts you in a good position to counterattack and take the initiative.

Reuben's Notes: Saw it in one of Rodney's youtube vids and tried it in sparring and was quite effective. Need to figure out footwork.


Most important punch. To gauge distance, to push away and to create openings. The punch that is used the great majority of the time.

Jab has slightly more range than a cross due to its frontal position. Controls space in front of you.

Reuben's Notes: I really love the jab. Fast, annoying and not easy to avoid. Took southpaw stance although right-handed to give jab more oomph at the cost of a weaker cross. Found this also easier on my legs as I am used to leading with my right leg. Does this reduce my frontal burst speed as the back leg is weaker on push off?

Being KOed

Top of head and stomach are not as vital as the jaw area as they are more resilient. Jaw area is weak and if punched strong enough, will cause sufficient vibrations in skull to cause unconsciousness.