Here are some videos of our lesson last night! My lower back was still a bit injured so I was a bit more upright than desired.

We have finally moved on from the physical aspect of CMD to the strategy aspect and for the past few weeks have been delving into Fight Compass. To be honest, when I first started CMD, I didn't really give much attention about the strategy aspect. As an Aikidoka, we were in a way drilled in a school of thought in which the technique is ALWAYS right and if it doesn't work, you're doing it wrong. After all, who were we to question the great masters who had such and such lineage and had trained every day to come up with the technique?

Aikido in its highly controlled environment where the boundaries of nage and uke are clearly drawn, it is hard to develop any sense of strategy. You know you're safe, your attacker is co-operative and attacking you in a pre-determined fashion or at least in a range of pre-determined attacks.

CMD on the other hand is in its very nature much more chaotic and random. It is suddenly ok to feint attacks, vary your rhythm, attack from odd angles and in fact is even encouraged! This was quite a big departure from my 16 years or so of experience in Aikido in which I thought I knew at least the fundamentals of a fight, but realized I didn't know two hoots about it.

When I started CMD, I focused heavily on developing techniques, over-analyzing things and thinking consciously in sparring, "What technique am I going to do now? I'm going to do a jab, jab, cross now and then come off his side and etc etc...". Funny thing is, even with all this thinking and research...I was often still wrong (as Rodney King pointed me to an old post of mine that referenced to a site that described the CM Defense all wrong). You could even see this in the style of the first few blog posts which concerned almost purely on technique.

Rodney also said that lawyers also have the hardest time in picking up CMD as we always over-analyze things when really, it's not the brain that knows but your body that knows. I guess I had exceedingly tried to reduce what I had learnt into some form of text where the lawyer in me felt that it was more correct just because it was written (CAUSE THE BOOK SAID SO!).

The way I see it, CMD's techniques are a base in which your strategy flows out from. Techniques are like learning the moves in chess or rather sharpening your sword. How you string the moves together  in a chess game or use your sword is something entirely different. You may have the sharpest sword, but what's the point of it if you have no idea how to use it? Similarly, I would have my bets on someone who has had no formal training in martial arts but has fought on the streets to stay alive against someone who has just trained  for years in a traditional dojo.

Sparring is therefore in my opinion the pre-requisite in developing a true understanding of a fight and strategy. Fight Compass made me realize that as I found an immediate improvement in my game over my fellow classmates who prior to this were more or less equal. Now they've caught on to the Fight Compass syllabus  as well and things are in equilibrium again but it is amazing how a few key principles and strategies can alter the quality of your sparring game and is a testament to the importance of strategy.

That being said, that doesn't mean technique isn't important. When I first saw the Fight Compass DVDs, I absorbed it mentally but couldn't really apply it in my game as I did not have the necessary technique and tools to do so. I couldn't counter punch because I did not have the timing down right. I could not angle because I could not circle step fast. I could not run because my footwork sucked and I could not pressure because my defense was full of holes. So technique opened the doors to strategy!

I'll post soon with some videos of us implementing Fight Compass in our classes.