Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dirty Fighting in MMA: What to Expect and When to Use It

As far as MMA training goes, I covered a number of dirty fighting tactics with Perry Kelly Sensei, though he didn't present it as such.

Perry would demonstrate one technique after another. After each I would ask him, "Is that legal in MMA?" and he would answer, "It doesn't matter. Your opponent is out there to hurt you. You should be willing to do whatever it takes to protect yourself." He explained that it doesn't matter if a technique is legal or illegal. What matters is what you can do without getting caught. And even if you do get caught, you generally only get a warning as long as the technique isn't so devastating that the other fighter can't continue on.

This was demonstrated in the fight between Cheick Kongo and Mostapha Al Turk in the recent UFC 92. Al Turk accidentally (or not so accidentally, it can be hard to tell) struck his knee in Kongo's groin. In the same round, Kongo responded in kind and intentionally struck him back in the same way. His response makes sense if you look at it the way Perry does.

"It can be well worth it to knee an opponent in the groin," Perry explained. "All you get is a warning and while your opponent is still recovering from having the fight knocked out of him, you end up winning the round." If this is the case, Kongo was smart to respond in kind so that the two were fighting on even ground, even though it was a dirty and illegal move.

Perry showed me a few other, very subtle things you can do both standing and on the ground that are questionable for rule abiding fighters. One of these includes doing a horse bite (i.e. a pinch with your full hand) to the flesh on the side of the body. The sharp pain that results can serve as a great distraction as you fight. It is against the UFC rules, but as Perry put it, it only matters if the ref sees it, and that type of pinch is hard to see. And even if he does see it, you would only likely get a warning. You're also not supposed to put your fingers in any cuts or lacerations that your opponent may have, but you see people do it "by accident" all the time in the UFC.

It is good to be aware of what types of dirty tactics people might end up using as they fight. And it can be competitive to initiate the use of dirty tactics, but be warned: If you fight dirty, your opponent will likely respond in kind, just like Kongo did.

My personal message to any of my potential MMA opponents: I will not initiate dirty fighting, but know that I am very capable of fighting dirty. My style of Jiu-jitsu the one I have trained in for 15 years specializes in self-defense for the street in which there are no rules, only results. If you take the fight to that level, I won't hold back.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiday Training with Perry Kelly Sensei

Before the damage of the indulgent holiday meals could set in from the past week, Chris and I went to meet and train with Perry Kelly Sensei. Perry Kelly Sensei is a 4th degree black belt in Can-ryu, as well as a instructor of Muay Thai, Shamrock fighting, and Fast Combatives. Being a martial arts author/ historian with several books published, he had contacted me earlier this year having taken an interest in my book, Weapons of Opportunity.

What his impressive list of accomplishments doesn't tell you is how, over his decades of martial arts training, he has used an inquisitive and open-minded approach to training to intelligently and effectively integrate his multiple disciplines and training experiences for the purposes of martial arts competition and self-protection. Needless to say, training with him was a fascinating and educational experience.

Chris and I trained with Perry Kelly Sensei for 3 hours, which seemed to go by in a blink. He showed us some very interesting training methods and technical applications, many of which we had never seen before. A number of them, I intend to employ myself. Others, well, even if I would prefer to avoid using them personally, they were certainly effective and gave me things to think about.

The most important thing I took away from our training session was the confirmation that I should make the most of all the various opportunities to learn from the myriad of skilled martial arts instructors that are out there. As Perry himself said, even if you only take away a single concept that you can use and apply from a seminar or other training experience, it is well worth the time, money and effort.

We took away much more than a single concept, but far too much to tell you about in a single post. I'll cover 2 of them in my next 2 posts, one of them relates to MMA, the other to self-defense. The next post will be on the MMA concept, Dirty Fighting Tactics.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Have a Merry Ninja Xmas!

Merry Christmas to all my blog readers, as well as my students, training partners, Senseis, etc. Though I've been in Ottawa for the holidays, I've managed to squeeze in two training sessions at the Gladstone Shorinji Kan dojo. I'll also be visiting with Sensei Perry Kelly with whom Chris and I will be doing a little Muay Thai and grappling training. I've also managed to maintain my strength and cardio training for MMA with a little help from Chris. I'm very grateful for all who have contributed to helping me keep active over the holidays.

Please enjoy this cute take on Santa from

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Shorinji Kan Meets Can-ryu

This past Sunday, Chris invited me out for dinner with a group of people from his other style of Jiu-jitsu, Shorinji Kan. When he can, he helps out with the BCIT Shorinji Kan class taught by Kevin Eugene on Tuesday evenings immediately after our own class. The students of that class graded over the weekend and they were celebrating their successful testing. The test was conducted by Andy Dobie Sensei, head of the style in Canada, so I got to meet him at the dinner.

Andy Dobie Sensei is a very interesting character with whom I had the pleasure of exchanging training stories. At the end of the night I invited him and his group to come to one of our classes while they were in town. To my surprise and delight, despite the fact that he was fighting a cold, they accepted the offer.

Last night I ran the class and it was good fun. Even though he is the head of his own style in Canada, with nearly 30 years of training experience, Andy Dobie Sensei got on my mats and trained with all my students and did so with a smile. In my mind, this is one of the signs of a true master. He loves the martial arts and takes something away from every experience. He seemed to enjoy his time on the mats, even though I'm certain most of what I taught was not new to him. Coincidentally, he is also going to train with Robert Mustard Sensei tomorrow night, whom Chris and I went and trained with last Saturday.

Kevin Eugene, the instructor of the BCIT Shorinji Kan class, also trained with us. He is getting ready to grade for his Shodan in the new year. I offered for him to come train during our open training sessions on Sundays so he can work with Chris. Though I secretly harbour a desire to throw myself into the mix occasionally so I can learn more of their style.

Anyway, it's been a busy last week of classes before the holidays. Tonight, I fly back to Ottawa to spend the holidays with family. Chris will also be in Ottawa (he also has family there) so tomorrow we'll be heading out to train with his old Shorinji Kan group. It's so nice to be able to keep up the training while I'm away. :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Visit to Robert Mustard Sensei's Aikido Dojo

Chris and I visited Robert Mustard Sensei's Aikido dojo in Burnaby earlier today. We were welcomed warmly and very much enjoyed the training in the short time we were there.

One of things I like most about experiencing other martial arts styles is seeing how certain principles are consistent across all styles. Robert Mustard Sensei's strong focus on "kamae," the stance that is foundational to their style, reminds me of the emphasis we place on stance when applying our own techniques.

In kamae and in some of our own style's stances, there is a groundedness that starts at the legs but influences your entire body's movements. That groundedness makes certain takedowns, throws and joint locks much more efficient so as to make their application seem effortless. It can take many years of training to develop this sense, but when you are able to achieve that groundedness without thinking, you can apply it in a wide variety of situations, and not just ones you are specifically trained to handle.

Robert Mustard Sensei generously offered to visit one of my dojo's classes to teach one night some time in the new year. I believe my students will greatly benefit from the opportunity. I am very much looking forward to it.