Monday, May 11, 2009

How to Improvise Submissions

I recently saw this clip from a fight in which a triangle is applied in a highly unconventional way. Check it out here:

I can't imagine that Toby Imada, the one applying the choke, went out of his way to learn to apply the triangle in this very odd position. In all likelihood, he got into the position and on some level he recognized the opportunity for a triangle.

This is what happens when you devote hundreds of hours to training. You develop an intuition for submissions so that you can improvise application methods that are beyond what is traditionally taught. This is true whether it's a choke, lock, crank or any other submission.

It is this intuition that makes the martial arts truly artful. When moments like the one in the video happen, it seems magical. And I would bet you that if you asked Imada about the move he pulled, he was just as surprised at how it happened as everyone watching.


Anonymous said...

Actually, he says he trains that move all the time!

Lori O'Connell said...

Really? Craziness!

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. While I do not follow the MMA-competition (it’s not shown on Belgian tv and I do not have cable) and did not see this fight I do agree with the gist of your post. MA is not a science in the sense that you can determine once and for all what the most effective and justified respons in a given situation should be, program your body and it will come out automatically every time you need it. Fights are not rational nor predictable and the essence of fighting effectively (at least in my opinion) lies in adaptation and spontaneous action. In reality it does not matter what you do exactly aslong as it’s effective, quick and decisive. If it gets the job done it’s perfect although it’s still necessary to master a few basic techniques before you’ll be able to combine them or develop your own variations or sequences. Most people after all are not natural fighters and fighting is a skill that can and must be learned just like other skills. When you see some people move and fight, even if it’s just in training, it’s a truly awesome sight to behold and it’s even better when it happens to you.

Sometimes you get so wrapped up in what you’re doing you completely forget both yourself and your surroundings (at least up to a point) and the result is near perfection while you didn’t even plan it or thought about it much. Of course this is exactly why you pulled it off so nicely and it’s not something peculiar to the MA. Just one example to illustrate this, from my own experience. A few weeks back I had to deliver a presentation for class on Plato’s Phaedo (the account of Socrates’ death and his arguments for the immortality of the soul) and since I was pretty nervous I rehearsed it quite a few times (including actually giving the presentation in front of a few people) and when the time came it worked like a charm. Not only did I not blunder once, I actually got nothing but positive comments and quite a big applaus to boot. The funny thing is afterwards I didn’t even remember what I said exactly or wether or not I stuck to the schedule… I do remember I actually made up some examples on the spot and that was probably why I got pretty high marks for it, nothing beats sincerity and natural ease and grace. In the words of Bruce Lee, ‘don’t think, feel!’ And act one might add.

Untill next time,