Beating the Jab

This subject is a little deeper than just beating the jab. The tips I will give you will also help you beat the taller fighter or fighter with better use of his reach, the faster fighter, and the fighter who fights on the outside.

First I would like to clarify something I said:  fighter with better use of his reach…  Often, the taller fighters does not have good use of his reach as a advantage. A few good examples of this would be tall power punchers, or fighters who are tall but prefer to use short punches like the hook and uppercut. Or worse–taller fighters who like to clinch, fight inside or do not have the ability to keep shorter fighters away. Sometimes the taller fighter does not have longer arms, while a shorter fighter may have longer reach. If anyone has ever fought with a reach disadvantage, this can be a frustrating experience whether or not you are quicker than your opponent.

Ditto that for fighting a guy who is faster than you are. Just as frustrating as that is a fighter who fights you on the outside (meaning from outside your front foot), when you can’t seem to reach him with your rear hand. The ironic thing about this article is that I am about to show you how to beat me. For those who know me as a fighter, my strengths are that I fight from the outside, I use my reach well despite being only 5’7″, and I have a speed advantage over my opponents. On top of that, I am not afraid to get hit. The result is that I have several disadvantages, as do many fighters who have my qualities and characteristics. Where possible, these are the things I teach my fighters to use as well as the advice I am about to give you to beat this strategy.

  • First, you have the choice of trying to beat an outside moving opponent to the button versus fighting him on the inside. The outside firing position has many advantages, but it also has its disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is that whatever you throw will not come down the centerline. If your opponent is a master of the centerline, he will intersect you at whatever you decide to use. (Side note, this is the primary principle behind a famous Eagle Claw form called Jeet Chune. You guys may know the rest) When you fight your opponent on the inside, shorter arms are actually a plus. Speed is secondary also.
  • Go open. In this, I mean that if your opponent has his left foot in front, put your right foot forward. It will change much of what your opponent may have planned for you. The dynamics of the change of angle will confuse many opponents who have not prepared for this position. Then instead of fighting for the outside position, circle in the same direction he is going. This will put him right in firing range of your rear hand, which is now in the power punching position.
  • Attack him in 2s and 3s. This is a universal fighting strategy for me and my style, yet you would be surprise how many fighters have no answer for it. Punching in combination is not natural for many fighters and they don’t do it well… let alone defend against it.
  • Give him your head. As he moves drive forward with the top of your head. If he’s smart, he will uppercut you but that will leave his own face open and vulnerable to attack. He could also attack with a hook, but since he is lateral moving he will not have good power or timing to make it meaningful. If this is a streetfight, drive forward until you have headbutted him. A great fight strategy. Anyone who tells you otherwise can just put the gloves on and prove it to you. I know this technique well and will stand by it should we ever meet in person. If you use it, someone’s getting hurt–point blank.
  • Break away and put yourself out of firing range to break up his rhythm. Break away from his punching, not straight back. He will be forced to stop what he is doing and re-engage you. When you come back together, initiate the attack. But this time, attack the position you know he is moving to, not where he is standing. Another good fight strategy for faster opponents.
  • Counter hit. Even if your opponent is faster than you are, you can still gauge when he will be open to get hit. This will take some guts to do and toughness on your part, as you must accept that you might get hit while doing it. The beautiful thing is, you will make him pay for hitting you too. After he has taken a few good shots your opponent may be more careful and hesitate when he fires, and this will give you an opportunity to come out on top. The way this works is that when you know he is planning to hit–most of the time you do, just too slow to stop it–brace yourself, cover and attack at the same time he attacks. While you may get hit in this strategy, if this is a faster fighter you are up against, he will likely be using quick punches rather than power punches (especially if they are off the front hand). You, on the other hand, will attack with power punches. So he jabbed you in the forehead–you power-punched to the nose. Who comes out on top?

Hopefully I have presented this information in simple language and made it easy to understand. If you have questions, please post them and I will do my best to answer. If you are in the Sacramento area, email me and make an appointment to stop by the gym! I’ll even go a round with you to demonstrate if you need more detail. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Teaching the Art of Fishing

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.

Teach him to fish, feed him for life…

Oh, I just love true wisdom, and I’m sure you’ve heard this one. How can one not agree with it?

The idea is that we can keep spoonfeeding the needy, but if you teach the needy to feed himself he will be able to feed himself and be independant of you and handouts. The martial arts and development within the arts are very similar to this philosophy. No, I am not speaking of teaching men to teach themselves; that idea is proposterous. What I am referring to is teaching your martial arts students the most valuable skill you could ever give them. This is the skill, that if they never took another lesson in their life from where they are in their training from this point forward… that in time, they will be skilled enough to defend themselves, physically fit, and ready for combat as if they had been studying the martial arts all this time.

Allow me to break from this to inject another point. This is something that can never be taught in a seminar or video. It is something that I am positive that 100% of the seminar guys out there (yes, even your Grandmaster) is missing. It is the reason why my students will always beat your students, unless your students have developed a foundation elsewhere, besides those seminars. It explains one of the main reasons I am anti-learning by seminar. And even if I taught it to you right here, right now–any attempt to impart this in a seminar will fail.

The most valuable thing you can teach a martial arts student is not a technique or fight strategy. It is not a particular weapon. It is not a shortcut to proficiency in the art. In fact, it is the opposite to the shortcut to proficiency:

The most valuable thing you can teach a martial arts student is how to train.

Easy enough concept to understand, right? No. It isn’t that easy. One of the clichès I hear martial artist regurgitate over and over, and they think they are making profound sense when they utter it is the too-simple-to-deny-but-more-complicated-than-you-realize “Practice, Practice, Practice“. Babies, we are not talking about the damned Piano. Martial arts is not something that we simply practice to get. Sure, when we are infants in the art or learn a brand new technique, practice may suffice. But when you are serious about fighting and you have the goal of dominance, you must TRAIN. Big difference. “Practice” refers to the repeating of something over and over until you “get it”. Can you practice beyond mere “ability”? Can you practice your way to perfection?

Yes, you can “practice” beyond simply the ability to perform a technique or skill. You can even practice your way to “pretty good”. But if you wish for perfection or dominance–you want to reach your potential in the art and on the street–you must train.

So, what’s the difference, Mustafa? Let’s see what Google has to say about “practice“:

Perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.

And “train“?

Teach (a person or animal) a particular skill or type of behavior through practice and instruction over a period of time.

Wiki says

Training has specific goals of improving one’s capabilitycapacity, and performance. It forms the core of apprenticeships

If you look at the definition of “train” (yes I know, it also says that “train” is a series of railroad cars, but we are referring to fighting, smarty pants) there are two important factors here. First, it includes “practice”. Secondly, there is the element of “instruction”. In practicing something, you assume that you already know it. With training, you are in the pursuit of more knowledge. Yes, you already “know” the skill because you must practice it. Yet, you are continuing to learn through more instruction. The martial artist assumes that he knows everything. Sure, the fake humility we find in the martial arts requires him to say that he doesn’t know everything. Yet the martial artist really does think he knows everything because he determines that his teacher’s classes are not complete enough, so he supplements with seminar and video. He prowls Youtube for more info to add to his repertoire. He attempts to teach himself through books. He believes in making his own path. The martial artist who “practices” his art believes that this alone will make him improve. Take a seminar to learn new stuff in one day, spend a lot of time “practicing”, and one day he will slap on the title of “Master”. Learn>>Practice>>Master. That is the idea behind this false philosophy in the art.

Where the fighter who trains is not just practicing. He is in the constant process of improving and learning more about what he is doing. When he trains, simply knowing how is insufficient–he wants to be able to do and do better. When we envision a man practicing, we see him alone, casually doing what he knows, over and over. When we picture a man training, he is not alone–he is with a trainer. The trainer is counting cadence, he is calling the shots, he is asking the man to perform more–and faster, stronger, more accurately. The man practicing may have learned his skill from someone else, but he is not adding more instruction and certainly not doing so under stress. Yet the man being trained is continuing to learn, and not only is it assumed that he does not know all, and he is not good enough and being pushed to do better. The action of the word “to train” involves two people:  The trainer and the trained. The word “practice” has no practicer or practicee… not only does this fail to make sense, it is also very arrogant and is as false as the level of the humility of the guy saying that “practice makes perfect”.

When you train someone, you make them do more than they think they are capable of doing. You find a way for him to fail in his attempts to practice. He must defeat something–a clock, a previous level of performance, an opponent. He is too slow. He is too weak. He is not good enough. Yet he continues, until he is satisfied with the results–and then he tests himself on someone else and concludes that again… he is not good enough. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

The most valuable thing you can impart to your students is the notion that in the gym, you are never good enough. Yesterday you were pretty good, today you suck, and you are in competition with that jerk who came to the gym yesterday. The saying of the Eskrimador is that skill is not what you are able to do–but how high your limit and potential are, and what you can do when you have exhausted yourself at that limit. In the martial arts, Eskrimadors practice too fresh. They do not put themselves under pressure enough. They surround themselves with friends. For them, practice is rehearsing a skill of coordination. The Eskrimador who trains is running a marathon against himself, and the sooner he learns to push himself to his limit and fight when he is scared, fatigued and in pain–the sooner he will be on his way to teaching and learning from himself. This is not something that will be easily learned. It will take about six months of being trained–understanding, accepting and expecting that concept as normal–before training replaces practicing in his vocabulary. This is the way of the Filipino Fighting Arts.

Thank you for visiting my blog.