February 2014

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by Jon Sattler
Photo courtesy of Bruce Lee Enterprises LLC* – Yesterday

Side-Kick-Combo-BruceLee-e1313175010997Bruce Lee demonstrates jeet kune do side kick techniques.When you study violent encounters, one fact tends to stand out time and again: The prepared fighter almost always wins. But being prepared requires more than just training.

Long before self-defense experts and military analysts adopted the phrase “situational awareness,” Bruce Lee taught us that we must always be aware of our surroundings. Or as Lee would say, “The best surprise against a surprise attack is not to be surprised.”

To help us develop our alertness, Lee provided us with four surprise-attacker counters in the book Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method: The Complete Edition. Today, the Little Dragon will teach us how to counter an ambush with a side kick combo.

Bruce Lee’s Side Kick Combo
Walking down the street, Lee notices someone standing at the corner, as in photo 1. Instead of walking near him, Lee leaves enough room to defend against an ambush, as in photo 2. As the assailant attacks, as in photo 3, Lee counters with a quick and powerful side kick to the forward knee, as in photo 4. The kick is followed through completely so it causes the assailant to reel backward, as in photos 5. Lee counterattacks with multiple hooks and straight punches to the face, as in photo 6, keeping the assailant off-balance.

Note: You have to constantly practice the side kick on a heavy bag — preferably about 70 pounds — to develop good power. Notice that Lee delivers his kick while keeping his body away from the assailant.

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Nunchaku_glow-150px-OPTby Larry A. Ytuarte
Nunchaku photo by Raymond Horwitz – Today

You’re reading a book or an article on nunchaku techniques. You read that a person is confronted by a knife-wielding assailant and the defender slips his nunchaku around the waist of his attacker, gives a twist and sends the brute flipping onto his back.

Or the defender parries a knife thrust, adroitly steps inside and gets the attacker in a nunchaku chokehold.

Or the defender knocks the knife from the person’s hand with a nunchaku technique, lunges forward and down, wraps the nunchaku around the assailant’s ankles and sweeps him off his feet.

How do you feel when you read something like that? Do you buy it? Do you honestly think these types of nunchaku techniques would really work?

The Realities of Nunchaku Training

Imagine yourself in the role of the defender in a real-life situation. You’re walking down a street — alone. Suddenly, someone approaches. This someone is holding a knife. By his words and actions, you have no doubt that he intends to use the knife on you.

It’s a narrow, dead-end street. Consequently, your best defense — escape — is not possible.

But you do have your nunchaku with you. You grab hold of the sticks and face your attacker. ln that precious fraction of a second, you have to decide what you are going to do and which of your nunchaku techniques you’re going to use.

How to Use Nunchaku Techniques in a Dangerous Situation

Ask yourself these questions:

Do you really want to get close enough to attempt slipping the nunchaku around his wrist? (There’s a hand at the end of that wrist, and there’s a knife in that hand.)
Do you really want to try to parry a knife thrust? (Remember, this is for real.)
Are you really sure that, under such circumstances, you could be accurate enough with your nunchaku techniques to knock a knife out of someone’s hand? (Hands are pretty small and very mobile targets.)

If your answers to the preceding questions are “No,” well then, what do you do?

Something practical. Something realistic. A nunchaku technique that has a very good chance of working.

You may only get one chance.

Choosing Nunchaku Techniques

Whatever nunchaku technique you choose should meet the following criteria:

It is fast.
It is unexpected.
It does not require unrealistic accuracy or power.
It leaves you in a good position to strike again or withdraw in the event your attacker is not neutralized.

With these criteria in mind, the following two variations of a practical nunchaku technique against a knife attack are proposed. Both variations share the same general outline:

a feint (to draw the attacker’s attention away from the direction of the actual strike)
the strike itself
good final position (ending in a stance that is neither awkward nor defenseless)

One variation of the nunchaku technique uses a forehand swing of the weapon to the attacker’s head, the other a backhand swing. Let’s analyze the steps in each variation.

Nunchaku Technique #1: The Forehand Variation

In this nunchaku technique for self-defense, the defender squares off against the knife-wielding attacker and leads with his left side. The nunchaku is held in a ready position over the right shoulder. The defender leaves a fairly large distance between himself and the attacker (always a good idea when up against someone with a knife).

The defender then throws a low (about knee-high) front kick with the rear leg (his right leg). This serves three purposes:

It draws the attacker’s attention down and away from the nunchaku, putting the assailant, at least for a moment, on the defensive.
It closes the gap between the two combatants while the attacker is on the defensive, putting him in range of a nunchaku strike.
It pivots the defender, turning him in the same direction as the upcoming strikes, thereby adding power to the swing of the nunchaku.

The feint-kick is not meant to connect with the attacker’s leg; it is meant to divert attention downward. (Glancing down at the attacker’s knee just before throwing the kick can help draw his attention downward.) The kick should look forceful enough to put the attacker on the defensive, but it is not necessary to make contact. This allows the defender to maintain a safer distance because the striking range of nunchaku is considerably greater than that of a kick or a knife.

The real strike is a full-swinging nunchaku forehand to the attacker’s head. The strike should begin when the feint-kick has reached full extension. Don’t lose the momentary advantage over your attacker by taking time to plant your foot after the kick and then begin your strike. It will be too late. Strike while you are retracting your kicking foot. The pivoting motion of your swing and your own forward momentum will bring you to the final position.

After the nunchaku strike, the defender is balanced and mobile, ready to skip back from the attacker, if needed. The nunchaku is in excellent position for an immediate follow-up backhand strike if the attacker has not been neutralized.

Nunchaku Technique #2: The Backhand Variation

In the backhand nunchaku technique, the defender leads with his right side. For reasons that will be explained, the nunchaku sticks are held 90 degrees apart, and the right hand grips the stick in a palm-up position. Again, the defender keeps a good distance between himself and the attacker. The defender then executes a low side kick — again a feint — to draw the attacker’s guard down. This kick can be preceded by a skip to help close the gap, if needed.

The nunchaku strike is delivered in a backhand type of motion to the right side of the attacker’s head. It is hard to generate as much power with the backhand swing as can be generated in the forehand strike described earlier, but holding the sticks 90 degrees apart helps. This gives the striking stick a greater arc to swing through, increasing its speed and therefore producing a more forceful blow than would be the case if the sticks were held in a straight line with respect to each other.

After the strike, the defender is balanced and mobile, his footing remaining virtually unchanged during the technique. The nunchaku has been caught in an across-the-back position with the left hand, making it very easy to execute a powerful follow-up forehand strike. It is for this reason — to be able to swing the nunchaku all the way around and across the back — that the stick is held palm-up in the right hand. Holding it palm-down would greatly restrict the arc of the swing.

Nunchaku Training Question #1: Which Nunchaku-Technique Variation Is Better?

Neither of the variations is the better of the two. Like all nunchaku techniques, both have their good points and their bad points. For most people, the forehand variation will deliver the stronger blow. This is a serious consideration.

However, the backhand variation has the advantage in that, during the course of this nunchaku technique, the defender only presents his side to the attacker — while in the forehand version, the defender pivots and, if only for a fraction of a second, gives the attacker a potential frontal target. Your best bet is to practice both of these nunchaku techniques and see which of the two you feel more comfortable with.

Nunchaku Training Question #2: Does Handedness Matter for Nunchaku Techniques?

In the preceding nunchaku techniques, the defender was right-handed. If you, as the defender, are left-handed, simply reverse your stance.

In other words, in the forehand variation, you would square off leading with your right side and the nunchaku over your left shoulder. You would throw the low front kick with your left leg (the rear leg), pivot and swing the nunchaku with your left hand.

In the backhand variation, you would square off leading with your left side, and the low side kick would be thrown with the left foot. You would swing the nunchaku with your left hand, bring it around your left shoulder, down across your back, and catch it in your right hand.

The attacker in the preceding scenarios was also right-handed. What if you are confronted by a left-handed attacker? Does it matter? Do your nunchaku techniques change?

Not very much, for the reason that this is a long-range nunchaku technique aimed at your attacker’s head. Whether he holds the knife in his left or right hand will have little bearing on how successfully your nunchaku techniques are executed — especially if your feint-kick is convincing and draws his guard down from the head-level strike.

Nunchaku Training Question #3: What’s the Best Nunchaku Strike Against a Knife-Wielding Attacker?

It could be argued that the best strike would be one in which the nunchaku swings toward the side of the attacker on which he holds the knife. In other words, against a right-handed attacker, a right-handed defender might want to use the backhand variation, while a left-handed defender might want to use the forehand version. (The stances are reversed against a left-handed attacker.)

The reason for this is that, under these conditions, the attacker’s free hand and arm are rendered almost useless. If he attempts to block the nunchaku strike, it will most likely be with the arm and hand holding the knife.

Forcing him to block with this arm has two advantages: It momentarily renders the knife useless, and if the strike is blocked, the blow to the arm may leave the assailant unable or unwilling to continue the attack.

Nunchaku Training Drills: The Importance of Practice to Develop Nunchaku Techniques

Learning nunchaku techniques is very much like learning to juggle. You can read an article on how to juggle 10 times, but you won’t be able to juggle until you put the article down, pick up three objects and start doing it. Juggling involves thought, intuition and quick reflexes. It requires practice.

The same sort of thing can be said about nunchaku techniques for self-defense. Reading about nunchaku techniques is not enough. Timing, distance, accuracy and power will not come from reading about nunchaku techniques. These are developed through practice.

If you have a friend who shares your interest, practice together. Take turns in the roles of defender and attacker. Use a rubber knife and hollow plastic or foam-rubber nunchaku. Wear headgear and eye protection. (If you don’t have these things, do not practice with someone.)

Practice these nunchaku techniques until your timing is right. Vary your distances from each other when you square off. Have the assailant vary the aggressiveness of his attack. Get comfortable with both variations. When you feel comfortable, include the follow-up strikes.

Practice these nunchaku techniques and others by yourself with real nunchaku against a target. If you don’t have a training bag, a stack of five or six cardboard cartons makes an excellent target. Arrange things so that the topmost carton is about head size and at about head height. Aim only for the topmost carton, drilling the nunchaku techniques to increase your power and accuracy.

Big-Picture Considerations for Your Nunchaku Training

In a self-defense situation, it is the fastest and least expected technique that has the highest chance of success. Drill for speed. Make the feint-kick convincing. Reach a point at which your nunchaku techniques become more of a reflex action than a conscious, premeditated act. Practice.

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16-Feat2 Top10ArtsPart1 VERSION 2.inddby Joe Lewis – February 3, 2014 (2 weeks ago)

Karate champion Joe Lewis teaches a martial arts clinic.

This list is in no particular order. I could have put krav maga, haganah and others in there, but when I got to 10, I stopped. This list will piss off many instructors, but they have to realize, for example, that with a system like kyokushinkai, which came from goju-ryu and has many descendants like asahara, enshin, yoshukai and zendokai, they were not left out. Krav maga, for example, has nothing that the Okinawan, Japanese and kickboxing systems do not. If I were to include all of them, the list would go into the hundreds.

Kyokushinkai Karate

Kyokushinkai has a great history of physical toughness and conditioning, as well as an arsenal of leg kicks, sweeps and knee strikes from the outside and from the pocket. Most K-1 champions come from this style. It’s weak on ground maneuvers, though.

Outlaw Tai Chi

It has an effective composition of quick strikes (cutting and tissue-ripping moves) to vital areas like the eyes, ears, face, neck and groin. The emphasis in training is on pure nonclassical maneuvers, as is seen in most other Chinese systems. However, outlaw tai chi is weak on structure and ground maneuvers.
Bando

Although strictly a weapons-based style, bando lends itself to highly effective defensive techniques (without weapons) from old-school monk tactics largely developed years ago in Southeast Asia along trade routes. It contains bleeding techniques, head striking, low-level flange kicks, drop kicks and farewell kicks not taught in other kickboxing styles.

Kajukenbo

It’s a hybrid system that uses the best parts of other styles, from upright maneuvers to grappling. It was designed strictly for self-defense instead of adhering to traditional rituals or sporting competition. Its weaknesses are a lack of movements to control the horizontal relationship with assailants — like all styles — and always using the hands as the primary means of defense.

Chinese Kenpo

Chinese kenpo has a curriculum that encompasses all areas of self-defense. Practitioners learn a range of attacking angles, realistic scenarios and methods for defending from any position with any weapon. The main weakness is a lack of emphasis on ground maneuvers, along with limited kicking and knee striking.
Okinawa-Te

The original system had a complete arsenal of weapon and non-weapon skills. It had the perfect blend of old-school, pain-tolerance training with scientific skills that utilized the least amount of effort and time to produce the maximum amount of damage. Its weaknesses are the amount of time it takes to learn all the long animal forms (there are 36, with one having up to 500 moves) and a lack of “balanced” ground maneuvers.
Judo

Although it was created along the lines of a non-jutsu activity — which means it was designed mainly for exercise and sport — the best bouncers I’ve ever worked with were judo black belts. Because judoka spend most of their time doing tug-of-war-type drills with partners on the mat, they’re very successful in reality combat, even with their limited striking ability.

Aikijutsu

Its tactics for off-balancing an opponent before leveraging him — as opposed to jujutsu, which is more concerned with straight leverage — is a good system to bridge the gap between the sport/exercise aspects of the old-school (read: hard-core) jutsu forms and the free-flowing sport forms we see on TV. Beware of the “consumer” atmosphere found in some schools today and the lack of effective striking skills when practicing self-defense drills.

Kickboxing

This style can offer the very best of realistic, upright striking skills, hands down. If you learn the old muay boran knees, the head butt, the bleeding and cutting techniques, and the old-school takedowns, this system cannot be beat. Its weakness is a lack of attention to self-defense as opposed to sport. The conditioning drills taught at most authentic schools make up for any need to practice purely self-defense scenarios.

Boxing

Few martial arts teach these two defensive skills: Use the head to protect the head and the body to protect the body. Instead, they use weapon-fighting tactics — using the hands to protect the head or the body. For self-defense from the pocket, it would be hard to defend against a good boxer. Of course, boxing’s lack of elbow strikes, groin attacks and ground defense is limiting, but for pain tolerance and conditioning, it can’t be beat.

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10-OctVersus-e1299275700836by Mark Hatmaker – Yesterday

In the combat sports, a dilemma beginners face remains a point of contention even for the more experienced: Should you stand with your strong side to the rear or in front?

Typically, beginners choose their leads by emulating what they see or adopting the advice of their first coach. Boxing has a tradition of taking right-handed fighters and placing them with their left side forward. Roughly 90 percent of all boxers adopt the left-side-forward stance, and that matches the percentage of right-handers in the general population.

In MMA and other combat arts, there are differing schools of thought. (Bruce Lee’s influential observations come to mind immediately.) That leads to a higher percentage of right-side-forward leads. In fact, MMA competition demonstrates a significant change from boxing doctrine. Instead of 90-percent orthodox stances, it’s about 60 percent. Should we conclude that there are more left-handers in MMA than in boxing or the general population? Turns out the answer is no — the distribution is roughly the same. What we have instead are “deliberate southpaws.” I confess to being one of them.

Before explaining this choice, let’s look at why placing the strong hand to the rear became the norm. In the 18th century, the act of hitting another human being was turned into a science. The lead arm was held somewhat extended in front of the body as one might hold a foil or quarterstaff. This extended lead arm acted as both a defensive tactic — “Stop right there!” — and a range finder — “Methinks he’s close enough to poleax with a powerful windup of my mighty arm.”

The jab was not a go-to weapon in the arsenal. Instead, fighters circled one another, looking to unload powerful straights and swings primarily from the rear arm. With that in mind, placing the strong hand/arm to the rear for the windup made sense.

The advent of boxing gloves — then called “mufflers” — gave fighters with an entrenched strong rear hand an even greater impetus to keep it there. The mufflers made knockouts harder because of their cushioning effect, and the case for keeping the strong hand to the rear became even more compelling because a greater windup was now a necessity.

When the jab developed in emulation of the fencer’s foil, boxing changed but stances did not. The jab was and is essentially a foil looking to stab and spear with precision. If the boxer were to truly mimic the fencer, he’d place his coordinated side forward just as fencers wield the foil with their dominant hand. Ninety percent of fencers hold their foil in their right hand. They prefer the coordinated hand forward because they’re looking to strike with precision.

Boxers accepted the jab as a foil substitute, but why didn’t they adopt the coordinated stance-shift? Again, the answer lies in the glove — it’s hard to knock out an opponent when you have gloves on. Boxers erred on the side of power and kept the strong-side windup as their mainstay.

Which brings us back to MMA. Why are there so many deliberate southpaws? There are two answers. First, there are many athletes who were wrestlers, grapplers or Brazilian jiu-jitsu players before they transitioned to MMA, and, as a rule, shooting (seeking takedowns with leg shots) is taught with the coordinated side forward (usually the right side). So when it came to striking, many of these grapplers adopted a southpaw stance to stay as close to their comfort-zone stance as possible.

The second reason: MMA gloves are far lighter than boxing gloves, kickboxing gloves and muay Thai gloves. Having lighter gloves means less power is needed to deliver damage. With that said, light gloves allow for jabs that can land as heavy as a cross in standard boxing and enable the less-powerful hand to have the benefit of the windup. Light gloves put power back into both hands, and rather than the lead hand being a feeler, defensive tool or point scorer, both hands have KO power. This equalizing nature of light gloves allows grapplers to shoot in with their coordinated side forward. Therefore, we see more deliberate southpaws letting go of a stance that’s now an artifact of a rule set tailored to a different era.

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01-Combatives.inddby Raymond Horwitz
Photo by Thomas Sanders

Combatives for Street Survival author and self-defense expert Kelly McCann puts a choke on his training partner.Combatives and self-defense expert Kelly McCann comments on use of live training partners in this exclusive combatives training video! Kelly McCann details certain commonplace aspects of martial arts training that should NOT be part of combatives training with a live partner. He and his partner Jack Stradley discuss grabs and assailants using their “off hand” to strike when they have their unprepared victim frozen with fear, as well as exactly how hard training partners should go in their training … exactly how “real” your combatives training sessions should get.

For example, as Kelly McCann says in the combatives video below, “If I say, ‘Throw a punch at me.’ No. 1, I want him to throw it at me. No. 2, I want him to retract so I have to deal with the reality that his arm’s not going to be there, ” like it would be in traditional martial arts training in which the partner might launch a technique and then the counterpart practices the technique.

This approach to combatives training, as Kelly McCann says, “tests me physically. How fast do I get out of the way? And can I do a follow-on movement?” This manner of reality-based training also simulates the dynamics of a street-attack scenario.

As Kelly McCann notes, “Guys on the street just don’t grab and stop. He’s gonna smack me with that [off]-hand … so in training, that’s what your partner should do. He shouldn’t just grab your arm and stop like he’s frozen in stone.”

WARNING: The following combatives self-defense training video is intended for mature audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.
COMBATIVES VIDEO | Combatives Expert Kelly McCann Shows You How to Use Live Partners in Self-Defense Training

A former U.S. Marine special-missions officer responsible for counterterrorism and counter-narcotics, Kelly McCann now serves as the president of Crucible, an elite empty-hand and weapons-training facility. Kelly McCann’s organization has taught combatives and other special-ops skills for more than 25 years to a list of clients that includes the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as other U.S. government agencies and special-mission units. Crucible also provides security support services and trains military, government and law-enforcement operators to do whatever it takes to survive.

More combatives training insights like this can be found in Kelly McCann’s three-disc self-defense DVD series Combatives for Street Survival: Hard-Core Countermeasures for High-Risk Situations — available now!

Combatives for Street Survival: Hard-Core Countermeasures for High-Risk Situations is designed as a martial arts multimedia companion for Kelly McCann’s acclaimed full-color combatives book (also available in our online store), featuring a special on-screen closed-caption track detailing specific chapters and pages in the book for in-depth written analysis of the subject matter being presented visually on screen!

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