September 2013

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by Joe Lewis
Photo by Wyatt Higginbotham

Joe_Lewis_kickboxing_mistakes_150pxJoe Lewis: Fix the 40 Most Common Kickboxing Training Mistakes
In any sport from football to fighting, when two opponents are practically equal, usually the one who makes the fewest mistakes becomes victorious. With that in mind, presented below is my list of the 40 most common errors martial artists make in the ring.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #1

Trying to counter when you should be leading the attack. Counterattacking, like faking, is an advanced art. It requires knowing three things: the lead of the opponent, your method of avoiding his lead and the exact way of executing the proper counter-shot. Unless you know them all, initiate.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #2

Failing to step in when you punch. Whether jabbing or kicking, you always need to put your weight behind your executions for maximum power. Stepping in also increases your energy when you use the pivot-shifting and waist-pivoting (hinging) principles for punching power.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #3

Rushing your closing kick after a punching combination. The kick doesn’t have to be in cadence with the rhythm of any preceding punches. After the last punch, you should practice angling out of one of the side doors, resetting and then finishing with a power kick.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #4

Slugging toe-to-toe from the pocket with a slugger. Remember the fundamentals of fighting: Don’t slug with a slugger or hook with a hooker.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #5

Standing square while you’re in front of an opponent or in the pocket. If your shoulders are open, you not only present an easy target for your opponent but also limit your ability to fully rotate your hips through the centerline to create power in your knee strikes or inside punches.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #6

When facing a southpaw or a sharpshooting hard kicker, failing to possess effective feinting or faking skills. Such skills would enable you to draw him off-balance by breaking his timing. When it seems impossible to back him up, you need to know how to disrupt his rhythm or cause him to hesitate using faking skills. Then you must work defensive timing to come in the back door with a counterattack.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #7

Failing to keep your back toward the center of the ring. You’ll end up getting walked to the ropes and find yourself trapped and punished without any room to maneuver or escape.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #8

Remaining in the same pocket position and continuing to fire combinations. You need to at least turn your opponent or change the angle or position from which you attack. Remember that standing in the same spot makes you an easy target.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #9

Failing to keep your feet directly under your punches. When you overreach with your punches, especially a straight right, you’ll end up lunging off-balance without any power. You’ll have too much hang time at the end of your punch, which leaves you unable to follow up with a left ridgehand or hook. You’ll often find yourself collapsing into your opponent directly behind your overextended punch. Or you may leave yourself open to his counter.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #10

Positioning yourself directly in front of an aggressive opponent. This will get you hit. To avoid that fate, you must know how to employ rhythm sets, both with your head movement and your footwork, to offset his alignment or range just before his trigger squeeze.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #11

Allowing yourself to get hit often while you’re coming in. You need to know how to make your opponent miss while you’re breaching his defenses. Against an advanced or equally skilled fighter, you must be able to use faking skills or create angles to turn him after you’ve crossed the critical-distance line or bridged the gap. Failing to do this against a taller or more experienced opponent will definitely cost you.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #12

Neglecting to develop your ability to execute an educated jab or double jab. You’ll have difficulty with your penetration skills, and you’ll be easily countered.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #13

Failing to counter immediately after using defensive movement. If you move your body (rolling) or move your head (weaving or slipping), you’re trying to make your opponent miss. That’s your opening for a counter. If you don’t take advantage of it, he’ll just attack you again.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #14

Refusing to recognize the potential consequences when a taller opponent quickly steps back or pivots in from a clinch. Both actions are designed to create a favorable range to fire a clearing hook kick or straight right punch. You must know how to read and react to this tactic. That usually entails stepping simultaneously to negate the positional advantage such an opponent is attempting to create.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #15

Not learning how to execute kickboxing techniques from a single- or double-arm clinch. If you freeze in this position because you lack the skills, you’re making a physical and mental mistake.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #16

Being a headhunter. No experienced fighter should develop a habit of always aiming for his opponent’s head — unless a specific opponent leaves himself open to such an approach. It’s better to use a game plan that first attacks his body, thus causing him to leave his head exposed.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #17

Standing upright and staying that way for the entire fight. Unless you’re very tall, the use of such a posture demonstrates a lack of disciplined movement skills and sets you up to be hit. Example: If you’re short, don’t stand upright to fight a taller opponent.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #18

Neglecting shoulder and hip rolling as a defensive maneuver. In the martial arts, too much emphasis is placed on using hand blocks as the primary means of defense. It’s better to use body-rhythm skills. They provide you with a more effective way of countering and enable you to more efficiently absorb or deflect incoming shots. Even worse: Every time you use your hands for defense, you eliminate any opportunity you may have had to use them offensively. Don’t trade offensive tools for defense.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #19

Practicing each combination using the same amount of speed and power. If you’re executing a three-punch combo, be sure to vary your speed and power. Suggestion: Fire the first two punches with speed, almost like slapping, just to get your opponent’s attention or cause him to drop his guard. Then throw the third shot hard.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #20

Not having an “attitude technique.” In sports, all teams have that one play, serve or pitch that they call their “attitude play.” It’s the same in the combat sports. All great fighters have one technique or combination that puts fear in the hearts of the competition. You should spend an hour a day perfecting one maneuver that you’re certain you can execute with total conviction at any time, against any opponent and in any situation.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #21

Habitually stopping inside the pocket after attacking. If you do that, it’s easy to stop working and just cover up. Unless you make an attempt to disengage or reset, you’re a sitting duck.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #22

Not making your ability to throw body punches as refined as your ability to throw head shots. This doesn’t make sense because the body is a much larger target than the cranium and contains just as many nerve transmitters, which determine your chances of scoring a knockout. Word to the wise: Practice your body shots.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #23

Failing to develop your ability to properly rotate your hips past the centerline when you execute a power punch. Do that, and instead of a knockout shot, your punch will be a glorified slap. For maximum power, rotate your hips (which serve as hinges) until you cross the centerline, after which you release the punch.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #24

Not maintaining your composure when fatigue sets in or when you get hurt. It’s all too easy to do when you’re inexperienced. A related problem that stems from inexperience is not developing your ability to maintain your focus after a momentary loss of control. The best way to prevent both from cropping up is to study under an educated trainer.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #25

Positioning your hands too low to mount a proper defense, which is worsened by a lack of head movement. That combination makes your skull an easy target for your opponent. You can’t expect to survive long when you do that.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #26

Getting so aggressive or cocky that you overcommit in an effort to get your opponent to act. That means you’re getting too physical and attempting to use your body and muscle strength to get the job done. In reality, you should trust in your techniques and let them do their job. Fight with your head, not with your hands or feet.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #27

Coming in headfirst or upright when you attack. If you always lead by slightly tilting your head toward your opponent on your initial move, you’ll leave yourself open for a counter that travels straight up the middle. You’re better off using rhythmic head movement.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #28

Freezing up. In the ring, non-action has consequences, and they’re usually not consequences you’ll like. Learn to avoid non-action by focusing on only what you have control over and then acting accordingly. Not doing so is both a physical and a mental mistake.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #29

Refusing to listen to your trainer and allowing your ego to dictate your actions. This all boils down to not following directions. If you trust your trainer, do what he says. Note that it’s possible to be on your own and still find yourself the victim of a bad trainer. In such cases, don’t fall into the trap of letting your ego override your strategy.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #30

Allowing your opponent to get set. It’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make. The reason is, once you’ve mastered controlling your opponent’s set point and maintaining the advantage of distance, you can beat 90 percent of the fighters out there.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #31

Getting cute and doing ridiculous things in the ring. Both are huge mistakes and send a message that you either don’t know the fundamentals of fighting or don’t see a need to stick to them.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #32

Succumbing to a mental laziness that encourages you to hold back and not let your techniques go. You must — by reflex, not by consciously thinking about it first — fire the moment your opponent is in range. Build that skill by sparring a lot, staying in shape, having and using a strategy, and practicing timing drills.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #33

Trying to execute a kickboxing technique when you’re off-balance. When you’re off-balance, it’s better to focus on covering up and clinching. Or, if the rules permit, you can tactically drag your opponent to the ground.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #34

Underestimating your opponent and then finding yourself falling behind in the fight. This is a real fear experienced by all fighters. Be like the great martial artists who overcome it: Never let your mental guard down. Realize that no matter who he is, your opponent is tough. Prepare for a real battle.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #35

Simply firing at your target, hoping to hit it. It’s better to always execute your techniques through the target. Be certain that you will make contact.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #36

Allowing your opponent to constantly back you up. Few martial artists know how to fight while moving backward, especially when their weight is on their heels. They often leave themselves in an open stance with squared-up shoulders. Retreating also increases the momentum of your opponent’s attack. Avoid all that by not backing up except when absolutely necessary.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #37

Letting your opponent beat you to the draw. This is bad even if you’re a counterfighter or a grappler who likes to let his upright opponent strike with the intent of getting under his attack. Not permitting your adversary to fire first is one of the cardinal rules of fighting.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #38

Having a sparring-partner frame of mind. It can leave you fighting a defensive game in which your opponent attacks and you block when you should counter. The remedy entails learning to work behind your blocks. For example, if your opponent executes a jab, don’t just block it or cuff it and then stop. Instead, time a right cross that travels over his jab as soon as you complete the cuffing movement.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #39

Getting too hungry. This refers to the habit of leading with power shots like the straight right, left hook and power kick. Those techniques are primarily for counterattacking, not initiating.

Kickboxing Training Mistake #40

Not knowing how to reverse the momentum of the fight when it starts going downhill. Fine-tune your ability to return to a base stance or style of fighting when the going gets tough. Then stick with an “attitude technique” or immediately change strategies to one that’s designed to shift the momentum in your favor.

The best way to apply the 40 lessons listed here is to remember that training is a process, not a game of unfounded predictions. Predictions never justify anything in the fight game, especially the end result. What counts is not what you say; it’s what you believe. A successful outcome stems from self-confidence and adherence to a work ethic. As they say, the journey is always more important than the destination.

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Adapted from a Black Belt article by Edward Pollard
Photo by Rick Hustead – Today

Alvaro_Barreto_150px-OPT1BJJ Techniques: Pedro Sauer’s Instructor Alvaro Barreto on How to Improve Your Lapel Chokes
Pedro Sauer is a well-known name in the world of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. His BJJ techniques are noted for their technical accuracy and elegance, and he is a well-respected seminar presenter.

Pedro Sauer earned his black belt from Helio Gracie and Rickson Gracie in 1985. In 1986, Pedro Sauer began his career as an instructor of BJJ techniques when he was asked to teach with an organization known in Brazil as Corpo/Quatro (“body of four”), where he continued training under ninth-degree red belt Alvaro Barreto.

Alvaro Barreto is one of three brothers — Alvaro, Sergio and João Alberto. Upon being introduced to Brazilian jiu-jitsu, each of these brothers became proficient in BJJ techniques in their own way.

The Barreto brothers were originally associated with the Gracie family during the setup of a challenge match. Alvaro’s brother, João Alberto, was singled out as a competitor by Helio Gracie and appeared in many televised challenge matches.

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Alvaro Barreto, a Highly Respected Instructor of Pedro Sauer, Shows You His Take on the Lapel Choke

However, João Alberto broke an opponent’s arm, resulting in the cancellation of the show. He soon detached from the Gracies and, with his brother Alvaro — who had also risen through the ranks to become a distinguished instructor and was teaching children BJJ techniques at the Gracie Academy by age 17 — opened his own school.

These days, Alvaro Barreto focuses on the educational aspects of BJJ techniques. His foundation for teaching BJJ techniques is based on four components: self-defense, submissions, throws and ground fighting.
Alvaro Barreto strives to teach every student that jiu-jitsu doesn’t stop at the edge of the competitive sphere. Its purpose is not to create better fighters but to develop better human beings. According to Alvaro Barreto, a complete martial artist must have discipline and commitment to persevere.

At age 24, Alvaro Barreto opened the Academia Alvaro Barreto in the Copacabana quarter of Rio de Janeiro, where it remains to this day. It was later renamed Corpo Quatro, which means “body of four,” from its four partners. He centered his operations in that school, allowing him more time to focus on seminars and private classes.

Alvaro Barreto teaches several group classes a week but holds private lessons every day. “He’s not a guy who sits back with his arms folded and gives orders,” his son Eduardo Barreto said during an interview for a story in the April 2009 issue of Black Belt. “He shows how to do it and actually does it with you.”
These days, many of Alvaro Barreto’s seminars take place in the United States. While they’re open to the public, they’re usually held in conjunction with the associations run by the aforementioned Pedro Sauer, who’s based in Herndon, Virginia, and Pedro Carvalho, who operates out of Rancho Cucamonga, California.

In fact, Pedro Sauer has one of the largest jiu-jitsu organizations in the world — the Pedro Sauer Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Association — which reaches more than 250 affiliate schools.

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Kapap_Techniques_150px-OPTby Avi Nardia
Photos by Rick Hustead – Today

Israeli Self-Defense: The Genesis of Kapap Techniques and Their Application Against Attackers (Part 1)
There’s a saying by Rabbi Nachman of Braslav: “Don’t let who you are destroy who you can be.”

Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert John Machado always tells his students, “Don’t let your ego step onto the mat.”

Bruce Lee advised us to enjoy the way and not look only for the target.

My friend Ben told me that Israeli martial arts politics stink almost as bad as a rotten gefilte fish.

All that has persuaded those who teach kapap, or Krav Panim El Panim, that keeping an open mind is essential to progress in the martial arts. Unlike adherents of many traditional arts, followers of kapap embrace continuous change and ongoing efforts to upgrade their curriculum and teach kapap techniques to others.

Kapap Techniques’ Global Roots
Although modern kapap definitely has Israeli roots, it’s more of an international system because it includes numerous components that don’t exist in Israel. Its leaders know that to meet the needs of modern martial artists, kapap techniques must not be limited to the “Israeli way” of fighting. Doing so would be tantamount to throwing away all the strategies and self-defense moves that have arisen in other martial arts around the world.

Actually, appreciating the wisdom of other arts has a long history in Israel. Many of the nation’s martial arts pioneers learned their skills from immigrants. Some of the knowledge regarding self-defense moves from around the world was assimilated into what eventually became kapap techniques. Among the styles that played a pivotal role in the development of this Israeli self-defense system are boxing, judo and jiu-jitsu.

In the same way that original kapap adopted principles and self-defense moves from the best martial arts of the day, today’s kapap techniques are based on the continuing assimilation of teachings from the systems that are most relevant in the 21st century. That’s the source of the kapap saying, “Always a student, sometimes a teacher.”
Rather than continuing to use techniques and self-defense moves that are ineffective in combat but still taught in an army or police manual, instructors of kapap techniques have adopted a policy of evaluating and evolving — hence the recent incorporation of Brazilian jiu-jitsu into the curriculum of the Israeli self-defense system.

Enter Carlos Newton: How He Changed the Israeli Self-Defense System

In 1995 Carlos Newton, a young jiu-jitsu champ from Canada, visited Israel. Impressed by his ability and fluidity, I accompanied him to the top Israeli counterterrorism schools and was surprised at how he toyed with the instructors and the strongest students. Although he faced opponents who possessed extensive experience in a variety of arts, he outperformed them, playing with them on the mat as if they were children. Something was definitely wrong with our training.

As practitioners of kapap and implementers of kapap techniques, our mission was clear: Analyze what had happened, identify what we were missing and assimilate it into our system. We wound up bringing Carlos Newton to Israel many times, studying his training regimen and following his moves.

It seemed as if no matter where he was relative to his opponent, he could move into a better position from which he could easily apply a variety of techniques. In an effort to learn as much as possible from him, Lt. Col. (Res.) Chaim Peer, founder of the International Kapap Federation, and others in the group spent as much time as possible analyzing Carlos Newton’s methods.

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MarkHatmaker01_150x1501by Mark Hatmaker

Drilling is repetition, plain and simple. The very word implies performing a task so often it’s “drilled” into your skull. The word “training” carries the same sort of single-focused connotation — a train gets to its destination by staying on the tracks. It makes no unnecessary side trips; there are no detours. To do anything other than what’s absolutely necessary to stay on track is to literally and metaphorically derail.

Drilling and training are composed of the actual skill work needed to improve the technical expression of the combat art. We should see drilling as separate from conditioning in that conditioning may contain zero apparent correlation with the sport being conditioned for.

In other words, we may run, lift weights and hit the plyometric box to condition for fight training even though these activities don’t specifically resemble the technical expression of the target sport. We must condition elements outside the physical correlates of our sport. Example: Does anyone really think an NFL lineman gets that large and powerful simply by playing football? No, he must engage in auxiliary sports (running, lifting, etc.) to improve an altogether separate game.
Conversely, drilling, which is all about the technical cultivation of the sport in question, can (and should) contribute to the conditioning effect by shear physical intensity. Both pure conditioning and drilling contribute to the conditioning effect, but we should never allow the conditioning effect contributed by drilling alone to stand in for the necessary supplemental work.

A number of roadblocks may prevent us from embracing drilling as it’s meant — and needs — to be. The excuses fall into two broad categories: lack of discipline and lack of mission perspective.

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There are essentially five punches in boxing (jab, cross, hook, uppercut and overhand), yet the sport thrives. All successful boxers work on those five punches for their entire careers without the need for “intellectual novelty.” They’re confident that thousands of reps of those techniques will serve them well — and it does. We’d find it ludicrous to hear of a boxer who threw only a few hundred punches and then decided to go pro.

That strikes us as absurd because we recognize that the imaginary athlete is missing what his sport is all about. It’s about doing a handful of activities exceptionally well. To do something well, we must be either gifted or exceptionally disciplined.
Genetic exceptionalism is rare, so that leaves the rest of us to cultivate self-discipline.

The second mistake, lack of mission perspective, can afflict even the supremely disciplined. It’s not enough to drill with intensity and mental focus; we must match the drills to the game at hand.

Back to our boxing example: If a fighter recognizes that a lead hook drops most opponents and he works that punch to the exclusion of all others, he’s making a mistake. Yes, the hook may be a dropper, but the jab sets up all else, the cross has a high drop rate, too, and so on. We can immediately see that such a limited strategy is unwise.

By the same token, the combat athlete who invests drilling time in unlikely, or even impossible, scenarios is not much better off than the undisciplined athlete.

Where conditioning may draw on multi-sport activities that bear little resemblance to the target sport, drilling must be fine-tuned to reflect what the sport entails. Not what we want it to be, not what we wish it to be, not what we surmise it to be, not what this or that authority says it is, but what it actually is. We must scrutinize each drill to see if it correlates with the game in question — if not, we may be wasting precious conditioning and drilling time.

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