Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Everyone now-a-days seems to know what MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is. It's what's all the rage on TV and the largest growing spectator sport in the US. In my opinion the premise of MMA has been around ever since we wanted to survive in the jungle, desert, street and if given the flexibility of rules, the ring (or octagon!). A person faced with a threat will do whatever it takes to survive... period. If your daughter was being threatened by some 800 pound gorilla you would do what ever you had to do to protect her regardless of what was traditional, fair, nice or by the rules right? So if everyone is claiming that their art is the "real deal" and then proceed to rationalize why and how they train, how come things break down with a resisting attacker/opponent on the street or in the cage? Why do some people train in things that are more possibility and less probability?? Why do people do things that tactically don't make sense and then justify it by a mish-mash of rationalization to make some type of logical since of it all? Have you ever trained something that your partner has to almost help you make the technique work? ...Oh I'm sorry, we can't train with live resistance our techniques are too "deadly" or "well, if I poked you in the eyes or grabbed your groin then you couldn't mount me and use my head like a pinata!" We've all heard the excuses, oh I mean reasons that people continue to use techniques that just don't work! Maybe they did once upon a time...or maybe it was someone long ago who didn't have access to TV, Play Station or a YMCA membership who was just trying to keep from being bored? I don't know, but what I am pretty confident in saying is that you should be your own judge and play with your techniques and strategies yourself in a live setting with a resisting opponent. Now that doesn't mean that you need to go full tilt and hurt one another, but if you "play" with varying degrees of resistance you will find out for yourself what's working and what isn't. Granted your effectiveness will also determined by who the attacker / opponent is. You can make things work on an out of shape drunk who hasn't fought since the 8th grade or a 50 pound 11 year old much more easily than you could on an aggressive motivated terrorist, Randy Coutour or an 18 year old gang member with intent on doing more than just car jacking you. The point is that there are many safe, fun and effective ways of training that will hone your skill and make you more realistically functional in a live situation if you should have to use those skills.

Oh, I should probably explain my Probability vs. Possibility continuum. Probability is when something works the majority of the time for most people under adverse conditions against a resisting attacker. Possibility on the other hand is something that has the chance of being successful only if everything is set up "just right." Thus it is POSSIBLE, but not probable to happen. Knowing the difference is clutch in training from a more honest and safe perspective.

I think a lot of it boils down to usage or lack of it. If you are a cop, soldier or a ring fighter and you face something in an environment that if what you are doing is not working you will, at the very least have your ass handed to you, or in the case of the police/soldiers etc. you would be putting yourself, your partners, and the people who you are protecting at risk of injury or death. When your life or safety is at risk your tactics change to what you hope will give you the best possible chance of surviving that situation. If there are any conflicts with how you were trained and its effectiveness you will either do something more instinctual, do what you were trained to do for better or worse, freeze, submit or flee (I am not going to even get in the reptilian brain survival instinct or fine vs. gross motor skills under stress issues on this blog post). If you are training in a manner that is not using progressive resistance your technique may breakdown all together leaving you in a more vulnerable situation.

So what is this TMA? It stands for Tactical Martial Arts which I describe like this:

Think of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) meets Krav Maga. (...or in English modern combat-sport conditioning and the latest law enforcement / military defensive tactics). Add some life empowerment strategies and tone down the intensity a few notches making it safe, fun & sustainable for people like you and me (men & women 16 to 60). TMA is a great way to stay in shape while learning real world self defense. Classes are taught in a supportive. non-competitive way using progressive resistance drills that safely adjust to your comfort and fitness level! We train for life!

Well, that's my advertisement pitch anyway. I think it describes it pretty well without limiting the content too much.

Keep going.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Same but different

Once again I have been comparing and contrasting various approaches to warriorship, combative tactics and training methods. I have been traveling to New Jersey to train with Jack Hoban (Budo Tai Jutsu) trying to better understand their approach to warriorship and tactical combat. Likewise I have also been studying with Mushdaq Ali in Silat which is an Indonesian martial art specializing in empty hand, knife and stick combat. Both are very cool arts with many practical applications. Although my background encompasses many areas it is good to get new perspectives of how things can be the same but different. I began studying martial arts in 1976 and have spent time as a student, competitor, combatant, survivor and teacher in numerous traditional, sport styles, and tactical arts. A few years back I had some complications from a seemingly routine operation that limited my ability to roll (grapple) for a little more than a couple years, putting a HUGE cramp in my training (and my spirit) for a while. It defiantly shifted my focus. I am grateful for all of my hard sport and functional training of sport styles in particular MMA, BJJ and Kickboxing (in all their variations). Training with a no nonsense approach is important from a functional standpoint, but so is personal development, health, proper psychology, tactical strategy, empowerment, compassion, defensive tactics, fitness, developing / maintaining warrior ethics and having an overall sustainable training methodology if you are planning on getting the most out of your training over your lifetime. Everyone develops their own groove as far as how they like to train. It will change over time if you follow this path long enough. So, find what is good for you and adjust what you need to as you grow, develop and age. Look for people who share your general views in training. If you get a lot from Tai Chi but, don't like hard contact you may not enjoy Bjj or MMA classes, but don't confuse how practical and functional your training is if you are not training in a way that is using free flowing progressive resistance. Typically the greater the adversity the more realistic the training. Know what you want out of your training. Train safe because it is hard to train if you are injured, besides no one will want to train with you if you are hurting them all the time. Have fun or you won't want to do it for long. In the long run I think it is about Humor, Paradox and Change. Although it usually takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears too!!

Keep going.