Saturday, February 28, 2009

Gun Kata?!?! Awesome!!! -- A Review of 'Equilibrium'

Tonight I saw the movie 'Equilibrium' for the first time, after having had it recommended by a number of martial arts buddies. I don't know why I didn't see it sooner!

The movie is largely a rip of Orwell's '1984' and doesn't offer much that is new plot wise, but the fight choreography and style makes the movie well worth watching. The combat system in the movie is based around a gun kata, which you can see in the video below.

I could have put some of the actual fight scenes from the movie in this blog post (there are a number of them on YouTube), but honestly, I really don't want to ruin it for those of you who haven't seen it. If you are such a person and you consider yourself an action movie aficionado by any stretch of the imagination, see it NOW!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Re-sizing Our Mats for the New Dojo

Setting up a dojo is a lot of work, as I've come to discover over the past few weeks. One of the problems we ran into was that our mats didn't fully fit the area in which we were setting up. We had a gap along one wall that wasn't big enough for a full mat, as you can see in the image on the right.

We did, however, have some scraps from a couple of mats that were cut up because they were slightly too big for our old space. These, unfortunately, were not the right size either. We decided to cut one of the larger scraps lengthwise, then glue two of the smaller scraps we had to get the right fit for the space. To cut the mats, we used a long ruler to mark the cut then a sharp retractable knife to make the cut (left).

We started out using a flexible epoxy but it was kind of expensive and a bit messy. We ended up switching over to a glue gun, which was much more affordable and easier to work with. As one person applied the glue using the gun, another person squeezed the top of the mat together, while I stretched out some tape across it so it would pull the mats together as it dried. You can see the way the tape was done up on the right. We then piled some mats on top to keep the mat in place as the glue dried overnight. After the glue at the top of the cut was set, we glued the underside of the cut to solidify the bond.

I was very pleased with the finished product. It is pretty solid. We made sure that the cut was placed as close to the wall as possible so that it would receive less dojo traffic, as you can see on the left. On the right you can see a close-up of the final product.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

An Introduction to the X-guard

Last weekend, some of my students and I attended a Jiu-jitsu BC Society seminar. One of the concepts that was covered was the X-guard in Randy Martin Shihan's lesson. This is a handy position to be familiar with. It flows quite naturally from the butterfly guard among other positions.

Here is a video that shows some of the basics that were covered during the seminar:

The X-guard can be very useful for dealing with an attacker or opponent who is standing over you while you're on your back. It lends itself to a variety of sweeps and knee submissions. It is well worth exploring.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Escrima Stick Sparring: Basic Striking Methods

Some of my students like to try their hand at foam escrima sparring ever since I introduced it at my annual dojo BBQ last year. Since the use of sticks as a weapon is still very foreign to most of my students, I wanted to post a video here to point them in the right direction.

Basic striking methods come from a sharp wrist movement. One should hold the stick at around a 90 degree angle from the forearm to allow you to use the wrist to get maximum 'snap' when striking. You can see an example of it in this video showing basic linear strikes.

Note the way the instructor flows his strikes from one to the next while still using the snapping wrist motion. In this next video, the instructor uses the same wrist snap but this time in circular strikes.

It is also worth noting that the instructor generally keeps the same foot forward as the hand that is holding his stick. This gives him maximum reach when striking. In this last video, the instructor combines linear and circular strikes.

I hope you find these videos useful as a reference point for stick sparring!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Crisis Over Re: UFC 97 in Montreal

I'm happy to inform you all that I read on MMA Weekly, that the crisis regarding UFC 97 in Montreal has been averted.

Apparently, the UFC & the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (RACJ) – the governmental agency that has authority over combat sports in Quebec – were able to come to an agreement. The event will still be staged in Montreal without any rule changes, as was being considered.

I'm not all that surprised that they worked things out. With a projected $12 million dollars in financial impact expected from the event, it's kind of a no-brainer that the city would want the event to go on, especially after the success of the last one. Either way, I'm glad they worked it out.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tightening the Triangle

One of my students, a fairly strong grappler, has a narrow neck (we sometimes call him 'Pencil Neck' as a nickname) and high tolerance for neck discomfort. As a result, many of my students have difficulty tapping him out from chokes, myself included. I often just transition to the arm bar because it's generally an easier way to submit him, but last night I got in a nicely tightened triangle that tapped him out.

There are a number of tips on how to tighten the triangle. Here is a good video demonstrating them from

By combining all the tips in this video, including the head pull, I successfully tapped Pencil Neck out. Though even with it tightened to its max, he still lasted longer than you would imagine is humanly possible. He did, however, say that he needed a moment afterward as all the blood was rushing back into his head.

Have fun tightening those triangles!

Friday, February 13, 2009

UFC 97 May Not Happen in Montreal Due to Local Regulations

It was very exciting to have the UFC make its first appearance in Canada last year. Sadly, UFC 97, scheduled again to be in Montreal, may not happen due to Quebec's sports policies, according to, a Quebecer sports website. This is yet another nail in the coffin for MMA in Canada.

Réjean Thériault, the communications director for the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux, which governs alcohol, racing, gambling & combat sports in Quebec, told CorusSports that UFC's use of elbow & knee strikes to the head are not in accordance with the commission's policies at this time.

The commission's current policies only apply to boxing, kickboxing & mixed boxing and do not provide regulations on the use of a cage. Thériault told CorusSports that if the UFC is unable to adapt its own policies to suit the commission's regulations, the company wouldn't be welcome to stage their return event planned for April 18.

UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Marc Ratner told it was too soon to know how this revelation would affect UFC 97. "UFC is working diligently to ensure the event goes on as planned," said Ratner. "We've got to make it work."

Another report by the Canadian-based states that sources have suggested the commission may create regulations to require "a much smaller cage than the UFC's patented Octagon, prohibiting elbow & knee strikes and requiring that the referee to halt a bout should a fighter get knocked down from a strike in order to ensure the downed fighter is OK to continue."

Personally, I can accept that the idea of removing elbows to the head to reduce the number of cuts to the head. That's what Pride did and I never found it lacking in excitement. But requiring refs to halt bouts to prevent strike-ins would be a huge disadvantage for strikers/ ground-and-pounders. It would just change the nature of the sport way too much.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Working Out the Kinks at Our New Dojo Location

Setting up a dojo is a lot of work. It's not just a matter of laying down the mats. When it's your own space, you want it to be the best it can be. I've come up with a list of issues that I'm in the process of resolving in order to make the most of our new space. They are as follows:

Issue #1: Storage for students. Students' bags and coats are cluttering the area.
Solution: Buy a shelf for student bags and put up hooks in the stairwell for coats.

Issue #2: Equipment Storage. Equipment is currently a bit disorganized.
Solution: Buy hooks and other storage systems to store equipment in a more orderly fashion.

Issue #3: Mat space. Our mats are too big to fit them all the way to the back wall.
Solution: Cut up 1-2 mats to the right size to make full use of the room's space.

Issue #4: Personalization. Would like to personalize the look of the training space for our dojo.
Solution: Build a traditional "shomen" (front of dojo) to include a Japanese style arch, the Canadian and Japanese flags, and a calligraphy scroll with the name of our dojo on it.

I'm sure a number of other issues will come up as we go along. Setting up a dojo is an iterative process. If you are a student and you have an idea or suggestion, please feel free to post it in the comments for the blog entry.

Friday, February 6, 2009

West Coast Jiu-jitsu Gets Its Own Location

This past Wednesday, Louis (my manager and trainer) came to me and told me he found a great location for a new gym and that it was big enough for each of us to have our own individual areas in which we could run our businesses.

When I heard this, I was naturally excited at the prospect of having my own autonomous space for my dojo, but I didn't want to let myself get too excited. There are so many variables that must be considered to make things work. I didn't want expenses to go up so much that I had to raise fees, since I had already done so earlier this year. I wanted my own closed-off area. I wanted to make sure the commute didn't change drastically for my students. The list goes on.

As it turns out, the space is perfect for our needs. Our mat space will be about 25% bigger at the new location and I'll even have a front office to share with Louis. Here is a photo of where our new training area will be:

Over the past 3 years, I've built my dojo up from nothing to make it what it is today. Till now, I've been running my club out of other people's spaces. This is in fact my 5th location. One of my students even made me a joke t-shirt with my dojo logo on the front and "Tour de Richmond" on the back.

I started out sharing a warehouse space in central Richmond. I then relocated to a student's garage for a month before finding a space at a pilates studio in Steveston. Following that, the guys at Next Generation found me and offered me a space at their Boxing/MMA school. Now, Louis and I will be running our businesses out of a split unit just south of the Bridgeport Ikea in Richmond.

It feels good to have come so far and to be in a position that I can run my own dojo with its own space. I have many plans to make the new dojo the best it can be. I'll keep you all posted. Thanks to all who helped and offered to help with our move. :)

Here's a photo of our students doing one last attack before the move:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Class with a Purple Belt

This past Sunday, Jennifer came to our dojo at my invitation and taught a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu class for me and my students. I met her at a recent Eddie Bravo seminar and we later met up to do some grappling together. She is uber-talented (unsurprising considering that she won last year's pan-ams for her division) and really showed me what the art is all about. I was very grateful that she was willing to come in and share the experience with my students.

What's really great about Jennifer is that she is a small woman (around 5'5", 125 lbs.) as opposed to most BJJ instructors who are usually big guys. This means she understands how best to cope when grappling with larger opponents. The materials she taught that day weren't unfamiliar to me, but she added little adjustments that altered the techniques subtly and had the potential to improve a person's chances against stronger opponents.

After class, Jennifer even grappled with a few of my students to give them a few tips on how to improve their approach. Here she is in a video working with one of them:

I look forward to grappling with Jennifer more in the future as she gets ready to compete in this year's BJJ Pan-Ams. The advice she has offered has been invaluable and I've even started to put it to use a little on her while grappling (for all the good it does...;).

Sunday, February 1, 2009

UFC 94: Machida Shows His Roots

(**Spoiler Warning: If you haven't watched UFC 94 yet, I discuss the results in this post.) Last night's UFC was probably the most hyped UFC's of all time for its main event, a rematch for the welterweight title between BJ Penn and Georges St. Pierre. While I was happy that GSP won (I never liked BJ Penn because of all his trash talk and thuggish attitude), the fight that highlighted the night for me was the other main event, the match between Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva.

Machida really impressed me. His ring style seems to encompass the idea: "Why take damage if you can take out your opponent without getting hurt?" While he is widely criticized for his evasive fighting style that doesn't engage as often as many people would like, I personally think that this is a smart way to fight, both in the ring and on the street. Fortunately, Machida used this approach last night with both effective and exciting results.

Machida defeated Silva by slipping and side-stepping his attacks while simultaneously delivering powerful blows and quick takedowns, eventually ending the fight by knockout. This was all done using his original martial arts style, Shotokan Karate. Machida has trained in Karate since he was 3 under his father, Yoshizo Machida, a Karate master. You can truly see Machida's Karate influence when he fights, with his low guard and well-timed use of punches and kicks. Rather than absorbing blows as he attacks, he uses his excellent sense of distance as his primary line of defense, moving in and out of the line of attack to deliver devastating blows.

Most MMA fighters these days train in various combinations of BJJ, wrestling, Muay Thai, and western boxing. Machida, on the other hand, brings us back to the roots of UFC by mostly using his primary style in the ring. And Karate is not exactly widely touted for its effectiveness in the octagon. I like his spirit for this very reason. That's not to say that he hasn't studied up on grappling/ ground game, having also trained in Sumo and BJJ to complement his Karate. You kinda have to to do MMA. But it's still nice to see a fighter who stays true to a traditional style and uses it effectively in the ring.