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!