Albert mixed it up a bit today with take-downs from the clinch game. We focused mainly on a throw which involves
  1. Getting one underhook and one overhook.
  2. Secure your hands together and bring the person in tight.
  3. Depending on whichever hand is on top, the direction the hand is pointing to is the direction you'll take down the person.
  4. Turn your hips into him with a step and throw him over your hips. You want to do this in one smooth motion.
  5. You can also consider stepping your leg out and placing your ankle near his ankle to further trip him up as he goes over.
 Owen and I also worked on some counters to this move:

Reuben's solution:
As he turns his hip, stepping to the outside of the leg that he just moved to turn his hips to off balance and throw him.

Owen's solution:
As he turns his hip, jam it with your hand so that he cannot turn while you are free to punch him with the free-hand.

Albert also suggested something a lot simpler.

Albert's solution:
Drop your hips lower which lowers your center of gravity.

We also worked on several attack options from the sprawl where we have one hand wrapped around the head. This included several chokes such as the guillotine and another one where one of your partner's hands are wrapped around his neck and is used to choke him.
We of course did some sparring with take-downs allowed:

Chilling out during Albert's debrief (those gloves are comfortable!):

And here's a disturbingly happy shop of Jeremiah grappling with Owen. As Patrick says, "It's not gay as long you don't make eye contact!"

The main focus of yesterday's lesson was working in body shots and level changing for the newer students, while we also worked on improving the sprawl.

Previously, I normally sprawled and wrapped both arms under the armpit but found myself with limited attacking options and it was just a matter of waiting for him to tire and using my body weight to bring him down. Albert also mentioned that if the guy was strong, he could still pop his head out and carry you despite you executing a good sprawl. We tried a modified sprawl with one hand under the armpit and the other wrapped around the head. This not only limited his movements to push out but also gave choke options to the person sprawling.

On an unrelated note, after class we tried out a suggested self defense tactic for women/children: going to the ground, making noise and kicking like crazy. I had my doubts so decided to try it out.

First let's take a look at the proposed defense:

I can imagine this working if help is nearby but I didn't quite like it as
  1. Rules out possibility of escape
  2. Seems to help the attacker if he's trying to get on top
  3. Gives a very clear 'I am weak' sign that may encourage the attacker
  4. Extremely tiring and hard to keep up for a prolonged period
  5. It is not easy to pivot on all surfaces.
In fact, I think for kids, especially with the size and strength difference...dropping to the ground isn't going to make it that much more difficult for someone to drag them away.

Let's give this a shot:

Considering that I'm actually stronger than my attacker and have longer reach, the fact that he could still get on top of me suggests that this tactic seems to only delay the attack for a few seconds.

Also if the attacker side-stepped into my kicks, he could take it and easily cramp up my legs for a position to drop on me.

Someone suggested  to try and sit up when your legs are caught and go feral on their face: bite, scratch, claw, poke the eyes which may deter the less determined attacker but I feel that if it doesn't incapacitate him, it's just going to make him angrier and double his efforts.

Going to the ground right from the get go for self defense, just isn't my sort of thing.

EFC Africa has finally released a highlights video of the Costa Ioannou vs Brendon Katz fight which I had posted photos previously. Costa (who is also a CMD Trainer) was coached by Rodney King, founder of the CMD program and Nuno De Gouveia, Master Coach CMD Trainer.

A solid fight...with a controversial referee decision in Round 2 where Costa had Brendon in a full high mount and initiating his ground and pound when the referee reset the position after Brendon had called for a time-out.

Nevertheless, despite it being his first professional fight, Costa kept his calm, delivering a solid performance to win by unanimous decision. Congratulations to Costa and his team!

It was Lawrence, Foong and Alex's first class on clinch so we went back to basics. This revisit was a moment of 'eureka' for me.

I had been having problems understanding on how to bring the head down easily. Although I knew that you had to drive in the elbow to the neck and cup the hand on the crown of the neck, I still found it required quite a bit of effort to break the posture. I had previously dismissed this as a problem in timing of lack of practice.

What I was apparently missing was the visualization of the elbow as the fulcrum of the lever. Although I was driving in the elbow, I wasn't using it as a pivot point for the clinch. I had been pushing with my elbow and trying to pull down with my hands. Imagining it as a single lever immediately made the clinch very easy.

This actually reminds me of a movement in Aikido where the hands are held from behind. Should you try to bring it forward directly this is difficult but if you focus on bending your elbows first to draw the uke in, you can easily bring your hands in front of you.

It is amazing how strong biceps can be with a properly grounded fulcrum!

Albert also went through the defenses against the clinch.

The first is a preventive measure where you want to turtle up your neck to make it more difficult for your head to bring down which also protects the sides of your neck. It was much harder to establish a solid clinch when the neck is turtled since you don't have a solid location to ground your elbows/upper forearm.

Two other defenses were shown in the case where the clinch is already partially in. The 'shrug' is a popping motion that you use before your opponent gets a solid grip in and also the 'corkscrew punch' where you place the your vertical fist on your opponent's face and corkscrew in in a twisting motion to shove his face away and break his posture and clinch. The corkscrew punch is used when the elbow is already firmly lodged on your neck making shrugging difficult.

Alex raised a good point where because of my height and long limbs, he was having problems breaking my clinch even when he had fully extended his corkscrew punch. Albert told him that it wasn't something to be overly concerned about as first, my face would have already been punched and secondly my front body would be completely exposed to body-shots so it would be pretty hard for me to complete a full clinch.

Class ended with some light sparring with a focus on entering into clinch and fighting for the dominant position (both hands inside). Foong did an awesome job fighting for the dominant position with me and we frequently ended up in a neutral position.

And Lawrence helping me to take off my gloves. :D Special thanks to Georgette who stuck around through the whole class to take photos for us!

I requested Georgette to help me take some photos but had forgotten to switch the camera mode away from Gourmet mode...The results are...interesting:

Session today was on matching height by lowering stance and footwork revision. Felt jabs to be snappier today but have to remember to maintain squared up posture even when working the jab.

The CMD system strongly emphasizes remaining in the stand-up game for several reasons. In a self defense situation, you don't want to be on the ground as unlike training mats, the ground in the real world is often hard and unforgiving but perhaps more importantly, it leaves you vulnerable to multiple attackers. Take-downs are generally quite committal moves where if it isn't successful, it tends to leave you in a vulnerable position.

That being said, take-downs do remain an essential part of any martial artist's repertoire as executed properly, it can easily put you in a position to get away or gives you options when you are being overwhelmed by a superior stand-up fighter. Learning to execute a proper take-down also ensures that your partner gets proper training in learning take-down defenses.

Yesterday we focused on the double leg take-down. These are my notes from yesterday's session:
  1. As a general rule, don't just directly go for a take-down, set it up with strikes to the head to distract before going in for the take-down.
  2. Make sure you're close enough to do it, and you should be at rim-shot range.
  3. After striking, level change first by dropping your body to a lower level and bending the knees, then shoot in by driving your lead foot between the gap in his legs.
  4. Using cupped hands, aim for the back of the thighs above the knees and lift and pull.
  5. Lift with your legs (not your back). Back must be kept straight and not stooped forward to make sure that you are not lifting with your back which is more difficult and can result in injury.
  6. Head is placed on the side of his body, below the armpit area and is in the opposite side of the leg that stepped through.
  7. As you lift, start turning over his legs in the direction that your lead leg is in while using your head to also push into his body to help the take-down along. You want to imagine lifting and then rotating him in one smooth movement as if you're picking up a oil drum full of water and dumping the water to the side.
  8. The rotation is important to sweep him completely off-balance and ensure that when he lands, he cannot get you into guard.
  9. Remain balanced while doing this and aim to remain standing after the take-down (though if you can get into side-control to move into mount is also good)
  10. When in a mirrored stance, it may be easier to take a step in with the back leg as it allows you to scoop up and lift your partner's already bent front leg.
  11. If your opponent is significantly shorter than you, it might be difficult to go for this take-down due to the extreme level change you would have to do which sacrifices your balance.
Albert's favored method unlike the traditional double leg, doesn't require you to drop your knee down to the ground which in his opinion is impractical as hitting your knee on concrete when you're shooting in quickly isn't so fun. Having your knee drop down does give the takedown a bit more oomph as the take-down is aimed at the legs. However, Albert's slightly squatted position still generates the necessary power lift with the power coming from the legs which also has the advantage that you still remain on your feet even in a failed attempt.

While doing some background reading, I realized that recently the International Judo Federation had banned this technique (morote-gari), most likely due to traditionalists viewing the technique as 'bad judo'. I don't understand why such an effective technique should be banned though Bill Lewis had suggested that it was because it was easy enough for amateurs to do and is not exciting enough for spectators.

Conversely, I think this is the very one reason why this technique has to be studied. Out there, someone may just try to take you down with a similar tackle or a sloppy double leg. Knowing a take-down's mechanics and knowing that you can defend against a proper take-down gives us the necessary tools and mental readiness to deal with it.

Rodney's recent move towards implementing take-down defenses in the Evolutionary Core of his system probably reflects this thinking.

Credits: Picture taken from EHow.