I got into a little scuffle yesterday night which made me reflect on how I was progressing as a martial artist. Not physically which is easier to measure but more importantly what martial arts was doing to the way I viewed situations.

The guy was your typical Ah Beng, not very big either and had tattoos on him. He was being verbally abusive to his girlfriend but that wasn't my concern. He was kicking everything including the stair railings and walls and was obviously making a big show of his anger. There was some contact with the girlfriend but it wasn't serious. I watched him from behind and told myself that if he started hitting the girl seriously, I would intervene. He then took this large metal bar (those divider things), and lifted it to threaten to hit his girlfriend. The bar was very big and unwieldy and he didn't look like he could do much damage with it. He was probably showing off how angry and manly he was. Girlfriend ran off so she didn't look like she was in immediate danger. He then looked like he was going to throw the metal bar onto the glass doors in front of him and that's when I intervened to take the metal bar from him.
Now I don't know what made me take the metal bar from him. Although I told him in a calm voice to chill and calm down, a part of me knew that he was unlikely to back down especially since he was so eager to show how macho he was. Should I have allowed him to smash the glass doors? I wasn't scared of him which made me brave enough to take the bar from him. I was brave enough because I knew I could defend myself. I had also sized him up and was confident that he wouldn't pose a threat to me.
I felt like deep down inside, I wanted to fight him to shut this guy up and I knew that I would win. I also hated people threatening me, a pet peeve of mine that actually lead me to learn martial arts in the first place as I didn't want to feel scared. That added with my disgust for people of his kind that needed to be abusive to their girlfriends to feel empowered and the whole 'gangster' bullshit. And that disturbs me. If I didn't know CMD, would I have acted then? If he was a more imposing person, would I have done the same? CMD has empowered me and this is how I use this power?
So when he started giving me shit for taking the bar from him and moved to strike me, I punched him in the face but turned back and faced me. I got into my guard position and hesitated but I saw him swing his hand as if to throw a hook (I can't be absolutely certain) so I just pushed into him to prevent him from striking and jammed him against the wall and started going all out on his body as I felt it was safer to hit there. I had intended to have him collapse and leave him but he was still standing, maybe cause he was propping himself up on the wall so I started kneeing him. He didn't pose a threat anymore and I had become the aggressor. But I was caught in a dilemma and was worried that if I didn't floor him, he would attack me again. I was yelling with every knee and I felt with every hit he took, he deserved it. I had become an animal. I was not entirely in control of my emotions.
Eventually the girlfriend came to intervene and was apologizing to me. She didn't seem very upset though and looked calm as if she was used to this sort of thing. The guy had the cheek to say to the girlfriend, "See what he did to me?" as if it was the girlfriend's fault that he had been beaten up. He was still standing but demanded to know who I was. I threatened to beat him senseless. I was disappointed that he still had fight left in him. I hated his cowardice in having to know who I was so he can find me later with a weapon or his friends when I was right there in front of him ready to take him on. I shouted at him asking him if he really wanted to fight me. He walked away and in my anger and adrenaline fueled frenzy, I shouted, "Fucking coward!" to his back. Security then came but didn't do anything as the fight had ended.
I still don't know what was the right thing to do. Just lay off and watch it happen? I felt that because I could defend myself, I shouldn't just stand by and watch it happen. What is the point of learning how to defend yourself if you're just going to standby and watch injustices take place? But by acting, did I cause an injustice of my own? What is the level of injustice that warrants an action? Was it really my business to prevent...property damage? Was this something to be proud about? The guy probably still would keep to his ways, possibly an angrier man. He probably suffered some injuries, for me I possibly fractured my knuckle. The only winner was the mall itself in not having its glass doors smashed.

My sister asked me why didn't you just get him into a lock? I said I had just assumed that he might be armed as I had stereotyped him to be a gangster. She then referred me to a book called Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, which among other things detailed the killing of a man named Amadou Diallo, where four New York policemen shot an innocent man on his doorstep 41 times, possibly due to cultural stereotypes as an example of how rapid, intuitive judgment can have disastrous effects. These same stereotypes also keep the officers alive on a day to day basis as well...An interesting discussion of this can be found here.
Friend of mine told me I shouldn't judge. I had no idea what they were arguing about and the background to his tantrum. But perhaps instead of judging him, I should have judged myself. When should we just stand by and watch? When is it not our business to act?

Scissor Sweep

Jeremiah and I have been working a lot more on clinch and grappling lately and I think we finally got a hang of the scissor sweep.

Not having much of a grappling background, when I have someone in my closed guard, I usually am unsure on what to do beyond defending myself and using my legs to try and offbalance him. I knew of the scissor sweep but didn't quite understand it as it wasn't working out for me during rolling and only during drills. Jeremiah was also having similar problems and didn't seem to be generating enough power to offbalance the guy in guard.

We finally found out how to execute this to a reasonable level of proficiency and it has everything to do with the positioning of the body and utilizing body mechanics.
  1. Make sure to control the arm in the direction you are sweeping to prevent him from posting.
  2. Create a bit of space by lifting the hips up and doing a mini hip escape while unlocking your closed guard to slip your leg across the opponent's stomach with your foot locking on the side of his hip.
  3. The other leg is placed at the side of your opponent's leg in the direction in which you wish to sweep to.
  4. The body has to be inclined to the side and this is important since if your back remains flat on the ground, you'll be trying to scissor sweep just with the lateral strength of your legs which is weak. By placing your body in the same direction in which you are going to sweep to, it gives your legs much more power as it is now similiar to your walking movement in which your legs are designed to have the most power.
  5. Imagine using your leg on the hip to tip him to one side by pushing forward while the other leg goes backward and here you imagine sweeping his legs away with the bottom leg.
  6. Properly executed, you will be in mount and possibly still retaining control of an arm.

Watch Cecil Burch from the CMD Trainer's program at 1:28 onwards as a Guest instructor for SWAT Magazine TV Season 3.

For the past 2-3 lessons, we've been working on my pressurer style. At the moment, I'm probably the only guy without a truly defined style in the class.
  • Owen is an angler/runner with counter-punching with a long reach and a loose game.
  • Jeremiah is a counter puncher who hangs back and picks his punches while locking down on his defense.
  • Chris is a counter puncher relying on accuracy and timing.
For me, I don't quite know what I am as I switch from style to style depending on my opponent. Psychologically however I'm most comfortable when hanging back and counter punching but at the same time I enjoy taking the initiative which doesn't quite gel together. These two factors lead to an inconsistent gameplan and strategy where without mastery of either, lead to an unhealthy rojak lacking coherence.

Hence our decision to try working a new style, one that I only knew in theory: the pressurer.

Here's a description of the pressurer style from Rodney:
The Pressurer Style is recognized by strategic forward pressure. Pressurers are the battle tanks of the fighting styles; Pressurers have presence, guts and are fearless. They know how to control space between them selves and their opponents and are always poised to take advantage of any weakness the opponent presents.
Owen's style particularly gave me the most problems with my regular style (if there is one). He stays right out of firing range, in fact slightly past rimshot and waits till I engage forward and then punches me with a few quick combos while circling off. Owen controls the distance where I cannot reach him but should I lunge forward, he would step off and angle. His guard is very loose which breaks the basic rule of CMD of keeping a tight defense but it works for him because of his reach advantage and nobody having an effective cutting-off strategy to place pressure on him.

I didn't quite understand this until last week when I tried to play his style of game while sparring with Albert. 

At first Albert played this annoying game to examine my problems. Despite Albert's shorter reach than Owen's, when playing my normal game, I was unable to take the initiative. When I tried to, I just got shot in the face. It became rather funny as whenever I tried to engage and punch I would almost immediately get smacked from an awkward angle even when I was doing a reasonable diving board punch. It was obvious then I was having a particular issue against this strategy using my regular game. Albert told me to try cutting him off but it wasn't really sinking in as I thought I WAS trying to cut him off. Apparently it wasn't active enough.

Then I tried to play Owen's game. I found that having your hands loose makes it easy to pick targets and swing them in unpredictable angles. They don't have much strength in them but what they sacrifice in power they gain in annoyance factor. The game only falls down when there's a lack of space or you're facing someone who particularly can pile on the pressure. Albert showed me how this was done and I realized you needed to have a lot more conviction in moving forward if you were trying to pressure. Being a pressurer requires a mindset to say, "Yes I may get hit but it's not going to be bad and I will actively corner you and make you pay." You have to want to OWN the space your opponent is having and not be furtive when moving forward or hesitant when hit.

When I tried implementing this, I noticed a marked improvement. Yes I was still unable to do much when he had a lot of space to maneuver but once I had closed off the space into a corner and was active about it, I fared much better as the loose defense crumbled under pressure.

There is still plenty of room for improvement and possibly the two important things to work on for now is:
  1. Tighter defense especially with the diving board
  2. Maintaining relaxed awareness especially when piling on the pressure. Remembering it as a fun game (and playing Michael Jackson music) does wonders
and I definitely want to see how it looks like on video!

While I still don't quite know which fighter type I am, heck I'm enjoying the journey in finding out!