April 2012

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by Robert W. Young

In the turbulent world of krav maga, there’s perhaps no name that’s more respected than Eyal Yanilov. Born in 1959, he started training in the Israeli martial arts when he was 14. He began his Israeli martial arts education under Eli Avikzar but then shifted to Imi Lichtenfeld, founder of the system.

Imi Lichtenfeld was so impressed by the aptitude of Eyal Yanilov that he made him his assistant. The Israeli martial arts master tasked his disciple with committing the art’s principles and techniques to paper. The first fruit of the assignment was the Israeli martial arts book Krav Maga: How to Defend Yourself Against Armed Assault, co-written by Imi Lichtenfeld (as Imi Sde-Or) and Eyal Yanilov and published in 2001, three years after the founder passed away.

In case further evidence of Eyal Yanilov’s qualification as an Israeli martial arts expert is necessary, know that he is currently listed as “master level 3/expert level 8” in krav maga — the highest rank Lichtenfeld ever gave anyone.

The official title Eyal Yanilov carries is chief instructor of Krav Maga Global, the Israeli martial arts organization he founded in 2010 to spread real krav maga to the world — a mission he’s been carrying out since the 1980s.

With that goal in mind, Eyal Yanilov recently traveled to Southern California to meet with the staff of Black Belt so he could explain his system’s defense against variations of the front kick.

Krav Maga Technique Situation #1: Pre-emption

It goes without saying that the best to handle an attack — whether a front kick or anything else — is to avoid it. “The first lesson in krav maga is, don’t get into trouble,” Eyal Yanilov says. “But if you do get in trouble, we teach you how to deal with the problem.”

A krav maga technique that he prefers to use against a front kick entails counterattacking before your opponent can complete it. “You identify the problem — an attacker is approaching you from a relatively long range,” Eyal Yanilov says. “One option is to run away. If you can’t, you can do a pre-emptive attack.”

As soon as you detect the incoming technique, move off the line of attack, he says. That way, even if your follow-up krav maga technique fails, you won’t get hit. Immediately launch a kick — perhaps into his groin — before he finishes extending his leg.

Although krav maga technique instructors often demonstrate block-and-counter responses to an attack, Eyal Yanilov prefers pre-emption whenever possible. “We have what’s called the pre-fight or pre-technique,” he says. “The idea is that you should prevent, avoid, de-escalate the problem. Instead of waiting for him to attack you, you attack him while he’s advancing.”

Are the associated skill and theory reserved for high-level krav maga technique practitioners? No, Eyal Yanilov says. “We start this almost from day one in krav maga.”

Krav Maga Technique Situation #2: Parry If You Must

If you don’t have the advanced warning or range to do a pre-emption, you should employ Eyal Yanilov’s “200-percent defense” principle.

“When he kicks, do a hand defense with your forearm to deflect the kicking leg,” Eyal Yanilov says. “At the same time, move your body out of the channel of the attack. Then move diagonally forward until you can reach him with your counterattacks to the face and throat. Then leave the area. Don’t stay in the danger zone. That’s the post-fight [part of the altercation].”

Your counters can range from palm strikes to straight punches. “We specify the best technique for a specific situation, the best solution for a specific problem,” the Israeli martial arts expert says. “The best thing is to understand [your abilities and the situation] so you can have the best performance, and if you’re not able to do your best, you’ll still be able to function and solve the problem.”

The krav maga straight punch starts with a vertical fist and rotates to about 45 degrees while making contact, he says. “In training, you may not see a lot of turning because we don’t hit the partner. The turning is only at the end of the strike.”

Krav Maga Technique Situation #3: Sitting in a Chair

Although the basic concepts of the front-kick defense don’t change, the details for executing your chosen krav maga technique vary according to the situation. If you’re sitting in a chair when the attacker initiates, you start the same way — with a hand defense and body defense, Eyal Yanilov says. Swing your arm in front of your torso, effecting a redirection with your forearm, and move your body off-line.

“When you move, one leg will go a little bit backward and the other forward, making it easy to get up,” he says. Immediately counterattack to the thug’s head with your palms, fists and hammerfists. If you feel so inclined, yank his head down into a rising kick or knee thrust. You can even pick up the chair and use it as a weapon.

Krav Maga Technique Situation #4: Defend and Disable From the Ground

If you’re sitting on the floor when you’re assaulted — either because you wanted to be there or were knocked down — you should deflect the kick while moving your body out of the path of the foot, Eyal Yanilov says. Again, use the 200-percent defense: 100 percent with your hand deflecting the leg and 100 percent with your body moving out of the way to the rear or side.

“As soon as you can, counterattack,” Eyal Yanilov says. “The moment you shift your weight, there’s no longer any weight on your legs, so you can kick with them.”

The Israeli martial arts expert’s favorite targets are the back and side of the knee, depending on the orientation of the aggressor. Continue kicking while you get up, he says. “Once you’re on one knee, you either move toward him and continue to attack, or you move away from the danger zone.”

Krav Maga Technique Situation #5: Lying Down (Worst-Case Scenario)

“If you’re lying on the ground, the natural behavior of an attacker will be to stomp on your head or chest,” Eyal Yanilov says. As dictated by the angle of the kick, your hand defense starts with a deflection aimed at the inside of the ankle or the lower leg, which deflects the foot from its path.

“Your body defense is a bit more difficult,” Eyal Yanilov says, “but you definitely have to move out of the way. Immediately counterattack to the groin. Before he falls on you, push yourself away by placing your hands on his knees—which also straightens his legs and keeps him from letting them bend and landing on you.”

Resume your counterattack with your legs, targeting his upper body, knees or groin. As with all krav maga defenses, you must then decide whether you will continue to counterattack —perhaps to ensure the safety of a loved one who isn’t quite so mobile — or leave the area and seek safety.

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by Raymond Horwitz Photo by TJ Daly

For more than 30 years, Lamar Davis has studied and trained in Bruce Lee’s art of jeet kune do. He has been certified as a full/senior instructor by five of Bruce Lee’s original students: Joseph Cowles, Patrick Strong, Leo Fong, Jerry Poteet and Steve Golden. Lamar Davis is the founder of and head instructor at Hardcore Jeet Kune Do. He also serves as the Hardcore Jeet Kune Do Chinese Gung Fu Association’s executive director/senior instructor in addition to being the co-founder of the International Wing Chun/Jeet Kune Do Alliance and the Efficient Warrior Alliance.

JEET KUNE DO VIDEO Lamar Davis Demonstrates Simple Trapping and Compound Trapping

In this exclusive jeet kune do video, pulled from Lamar Davis’ DVD collection Jeet Kune Do for the Advanced Practitioner, the second-generation Bruce Lee student explains and demonstrates the concepts of simple trapping and compound trapping.

“A simple trap is where a single trapping movement is used to accomplish your goal — which is to clear the line and hit the opponent,” Lamar Davis says. “A compound trap comes into play when you try to clear the line with the first trap, you attack, and your attack is defended by the opponent, making it necessary for you to trap again.”

Training Safety for Jeet Kune Do Techniques

In this exclusive jeet kune do video, Lamar Davis stresses the importance of safety in training while preserving execution follow-through. “When I train this [simple trap], I punch past the head … so that I get to train penetration without hurting my partner.”

How Compound Trapping Works

“If [my opponent responded to my first trap] with a defense — let’s say he crossed the centerline a little bit — then that means I didn’t get in here,” Lamar Davis explains. “So what I have to do is trap again. I pull [his left arm] across [his right arm] to shut him down completely so I can land my backfist.”

Learn More Jeet Kune Do Techniques From Lamar Davis!

The preceding jeet kune do video was an excerpt from Lamar Davis’ three-DVD series — Jeet Kune Do for the Advanced Practitioner — which details a wide variety of jeet kune do techniques and training tips, including:

  • mobility
  • centerline preservation
  • attack lines/zones
  • primary vs. secondary targets
  • hand tools
  • zero-pressure drill
  • cross-energy drill
  • harmonious spring drill
  • single/double-arm sticking hands
  • attacks and trapping
  • seong chi sao applications
  • the four kinds of traps
  • simple trapping
  • compound trapping
  • the four basic root traps
  • timing beats/half-beat insertions
  • trapping functionalization
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by Robert W. Young

Like the people who run most magazines, we at Black Belt love to look at surveys — in particular, surveys that tell us what you want to read. Back in the 1970s, those surveys told us you were interested in kung fu self-defense moves and jeet kune do moves.

In the ’80s, it was taekwondo techniques, ninjutsu techniques and jeet kune do techniques. In the ’90s, it was kenpo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and jeet kune do. In the 2000s, it’s been the mixed martial arts and — you guessed it — jeet kune do.

To serve up an article about the one fighting art that has remained on everyone’s radar ever since Bruce Lee began showcasing it in movies, we talked with Ted Wong, the man many claim was Bruce Lee’s No. 1 disciple. In 2006, Ted Wong was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame as Man of the Year for his ongoing efforts to propagate JKD around the world. Who better to turn to for advice on fixing the mistakes students make in their jeet kune do techniques?

Sadly, Ted Wong passed away on November 24, 2010. Before his passing, however, he shared with us the 14 mistakes he encountered most often and offered advice from his decades of experience.

Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #1: Wrong Origins

Not all aspects of JKD punching stem from wing chun kung fu, Ted Wong says. “Much of the JKD being taught today is based on wing chun structures. I have a lot of respect for wing chun, but it’s not JKD. In fact, the majority of Bruce Lee’s notes in Tao of Jeet Kune Do are from boxing and fencing.

“One of the most important phrases in his notes and in the Tao comes from a boxing book: ‘The essence of fighting is the art of moving at the right time.’ But you have to move and think like a fencer because mobility is the key in JKD or any fighting art.”

Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #2: Wrong Balance

Bruce Lee taught that the key to balance is having your head positioned vertically over the line that connects your feet, Ted Wong says. “If it’s not and your opponent forces you to move backward, you have nowhere to go while staying balanced.”

Even worse, you can’t follow up when your balance is off. You’re basically limited to your initial jeet kune do moves, be it a punch or a kick, because you’re not in a position to throw another one with any power, he says.

In some instances — specifically, when your opponent is backing up after your first strike — you’ll need to pursue him with follow-up shots. That’s when you really have to keep your head over the line between your feet so you can quickly close the distance.

“JKD is all about action: moving, shifting, kicking, punching, trapping, blocking and parrying. It is a continuum of perpetual motion, yet there is a flow of stillness that encapsulates awareness, perceptiveness and intuition.”

— Floyd Burk

Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #3: Wrong Stance

Bruce Lee developed the JKD stance for a reason: It serves a fighter well in the greatest variety of situations. All the more reason not to abandon it as you face different opponents — a grappler, for instance.

“If you make your stance too wide, you cannot move,” Ted Wong says. “A grappler will pick you up and throw you to the floor. If you keep the proper stance while your opponent shoots for your front leg, however, you can quickly move back and hit him.”

Remember to keep your balance forward for maximum power, he adds.

In order to execute jeet kune do moves correctly, you need the proper JKD stance. To construct the right stance, imagine a line between you and your opponent. The toe of your front foot should be on that line, as should the arch of your rear foot. An isosceles triangle is formed with your lead toe at the top and your rear heel and rear toe at the bottom vertexes.

“If you have an open stance like a boxer, that line will point away from your opponent, and you’ll lose your power structure,” Ted Wong says. “One key part of JKD is, it’s not how fast you hit or how much muscle you have; it’s that you have that power structure. You have to keep it intact no matter how or where you move. When you’re off, you lose power and mobility.”

Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #4: Wrong Understanding

You can’t rely on one or two forces in jeet kune do moves. You need three, Ted Wong says. “The first is vertical. Your stance is slightly down to begin with, and then you strike as you rise. It’s normally used in the uppercut.

“The second force is linear, which means you’re moving forward. It’s what powers the lead-hand strike.” Obviously, footwork is important to create that forward motion.

“The third is rotational,” Ted Wong says. It emanates from twisting your hips and is the force that powers the hook punch and hook kick.

Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #5: Wrong Distance

“Perhaps the most common mistake people make when learning JKD is [related to] distance, Ted Wong says. “If you have the wrong distance, you cannot get your technique or combination off, and you might get hit. So it’s critical to be able to judge distance.”

The philosophy, which derives from fencing, is simple: Stay far enough out of reach to prevent your foe from touching you with a punch or kick — and from being able to lean and touch you. If he wants to make contact, he’ll have to take a step. Obviously, you’ll have to do the same to reach him, but because you’re trained to close that gap, it’s easier for you.

Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #6: Wrong Timing

“Nobody throws a punch like in JKD,” Ted Wong claims. And that’s why it’s so hard for the average martial artist to master jeet kune do techniques. When developing timing in your jeet kune do moves, Ted Wong advocates memorizing a motto from fencing: Hand before foot always.

“You can see reference to it in the Tao,” he says. “Your hand moves before your feet move. It comes from Aldo Nadi, who was a four-time Olympic medalist in fencing. It enables you to bridge the gap and land the shot.”

Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #7: Wrong Defense

Too many students lean away from their opponent to avoid a punch. Ted Wong calls the remedy to this mistake “half-half sharing.” Instead of merely leaning, your upper body is angled backward to cover half the distance needed for your evasive movement and your footwork covers the other half.

That gives you a margin of safety, and it doesn’t leave you out of range or off-balance, either of which could preclude a counterattack, he says.

Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #8: Wrong Flow

Another mistake beginners make is separating their forward step from their lead-hand strike — in essence, they step, plant their foot on the ground and then punch. It’s way too slow, Ted Wong says.

The preferred way to execute jeet kune do moves is to make sure that when you land your blow, your front foot isn’t on the ground yet, Ted Wong says. “When you hit, it’s one, two, three. One is your fist hitting his face, two is your front foot hitting the ground and three is your rear foot hitting the ground after the step.”

Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #9: Wrong Power Source

The power of your jeet kune do moves should come from your rear leg, not from your arms. “You channel the power from your back leg through your body and into your punch,” Ted Wong says.

Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #10: Wrong Angles

Jeet kune do combat isn’t just a back-and-forth exchange of blows. It’s two-dimensional. That second dimension comes from moving off to the side when you’re confronted by an attack.

“Angling can put you in a safer position to counter from,” Ted Wong says. “For example, at the same time you move in for a punch to counter your opponent’s punch, you angle to the outside of his arm so he can’t hit you with his counterattack. It’s a built-in safety.”

Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #11: Wrong Approach

In JKD, you shouldn’t just step toward your opponent and try to score with a punch, Ted Wong says. Even if you execute the attack correctly, success is hard to come by because he can react before you land the shot.

The right way to enter is with a stop-kick — for example, using your lead leg to attack his lead leg or body, whether he’s moving forward or not. Then you launch your punch as your front foot comes down. Make sure to angle off to the outside as you strike, Ted Wong adds.

Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #12: Wrong Punching

Many martial artists throw the rear-hand punch while their fist is vertical, but that creates less than optimal bone alignment, Ted Wong says. The right way according to JKD is to turn your fist so your elbow is pointing slightly up — so your pinkie knuckle is higher than your index-finger knuckle. That orientation aligns the bones in your forearm with the ones in your hands for maximum structural integrity.

It also raises your upper arm, which protects your chin. In contrast, if you punch with your fist vertical, your upper arm will be lower, thus exposing your chin to a counterattack.

Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #13: Wrong Kicking

One of the most serious mistakes Ted Wong has identified involves practitioners who lean backward while kicking. It’s bad for many reasons, he says. First, you sacrifice power whenever you lean backward. Second, you probably won’t have a chance to land more than one technique because your arms can’t reach him from your compromised position. “It’s a one-shot deal for you,” he says.

Third, you might fall — more than a few fighters have taken a tumble in the ring or on the street because they’re off-balance after such a technique. Fourth, if you have to struggle to avoid falling, you could very well find yourself hopping backward to regain your balance, and that’s not good.

In lieu of leaning in your jeet kune do moves, you should keep your balance forward as required by the JKD stance.

Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #14: Wrong Reaching

Punching is a highly effective subset of Bruce Lee’s art, but it’s often sabotaged when beginners lean too far forward to hit in their jeet kune do moves. “In JKD, we start from farther back — just like in fencing — so if all you’re going to do is lean, you won’t make it,” Ted Wong says. “It’s too far, which is why footwork is important to cover the distance.

“In boxing, it all takes place within arm’s reach. I touch you and you touch me. But in fencing, if I touch you and you touch me, we both get killed. It’s about who can bridge the gap and get in quicker to score. JKD students think the same way.”

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by Raymond Horwitz Photo by Robert Reiff

Tim Larkin: How to Defend Yourself Against an Attacker Using Target Focus TrainingTim Larkin, Black Belt’s 2011 Self-Defense Instructor of the Year, knows how to get people’s attention.

One of his favorite ways is to rattle off a statement that just happens to form the nucleus of Target Focus Training, the fighting system he founded: “Violence is rarely the answer — but when it is, it’s the only answer.”

Intrigued? We were, too. That’s why Tim Larkin and his Target Focus Training system were featured on the cover of our February 2012 issue.

In fact, response to Tim Larkin’s cover article was such that we decided to feature him in our upcoming June 2012 issue (which ships to the printer this week with another Black Belt Hall of Fame member — Julius Melegrito, the 2011 Weapons Instructor of the Year — on the cover) to teach readers how to master deadly self-defense techniques without killing their partners.

For Tim Larkin, the name of the game in Target Focus Training is recognizing opportunity and turning it into an injury. “An injury, as we define it,” Larkin says, “is breaking something on the human body — either a sensory system or a structure — so that part of the body no longer functions during the time you’re involved with that person.”

In other words, Tim Larkin wants you to learn how to hurt “them” so they can’t hurt you anymore. He wants you to “put [them] into a nonfunctional state.”

“[‘Nonfunctional’ means an attacker] is injured to the point where you can turn your back on him and he’s no longer a threat, or he’s unconscious or dead,” Tim Larkin explains. “Only then can you disengage. If he’s not in one of those states and you turn to get away and he pulls a gun — maybe you thought he just had a knife — you’re dead. Making sure he’s in a nonfunctional state is the only way to guarantee your safety.”

In the video above, Tim Larkin talks about the methodology he developed for target selection through opportunity. Each strike you unleash against an attacker has the potential to cause damage.

When deployed correctly and effectively, a strike elicits an immediate reaction — a cringe, a collapse … some sort of alteration in trajectory and/or stance that opens up vital targets for a follow-up strike.

That strike then causes a reaction, which opens the body to another strike.

“We’ll do like eight to 10 strikes,” Tim Larkin explains. “Often times, people will ask, ‘What the hell are you doing? The second strike would’ve taken care of the guy.’ We assume you’re going to miss under stress.”

When asked about technique sequences in martial arts magazines like Black Belt, Tim Larkin says, “We assume that [the photos shown] are the success points. There may have been eight, 10 strikes back and forth. But you recognized that one [vital] are of the human body, you got right in and you blasted it. And now everything’s changed in your favor [because now your opponent’s] in trauma. He can’t respond anymore at this point.”

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