Monday, August 31, 2009

Jitsu International - Spartanburg 2009

Yesterday morning, I took my gi out to throw it in the wash. There were blood stains both in the top and in the pants. I can't say whose blood it is, but I know it's not mine. Oh, those Shorinji Kan-ers...

This past weekend, Chris and I travelled to Spartanburg, South Carolina to attend an international event being held there for students of the style of Shorinji Kan Jiu-jitsu. It was a great privilege to have been able to go and a wonderful experience, albeit a brutal one. I would challenge anyone who'd say that Shorinji Kan-ers don't train seriously. After 4 days of training, conference participants could be seen sporting black eyes, bruises, blisters, fat lips, and more besides. A couple of guys' faces were so scratched up they looked like they had stuck their head into a bag of angry cats. I can't help but wonder what went on at that particular seminar...

While I've been studying Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu for 16 years, I only recently started learning Shorinji Kan at the beginning of this year. As a result, some concepts that were featured at the conference's seminars were more natural for me to pick up, others had me fighting against my previous experience. And as frustrating as it can be to learn new things that are very different, there is something comforting about the fact that there are still many concepts out there that can make me feel like a white belt just starting out, even after 16 years of training martial arts of various styles. The more you learn, the less you realize you know.

Overall, the conference was fun and educational. My muscles were pretty sore by the end of the 4 days of training, but it was worth it. I am very impressed at the Jitsu Foundation's level of organization, allowing them to coordinate huge multi-national events like this one, which attracted over 100 participants from the UK, Canada, the US, and South Africa. In my next blog post, I'll write about two impressive Jiu-jitsu practitioners, both followers of my blog, whom I had the privilege of meeting for the first time at the event.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Classes Continue While I'm Away

Me and my dojo's other official instructor Chris are going to be away for a week and a half for Jiu-jitsu related trips to South Carolina and Ottawa. When we first planned the trip, I was expecting to have to close down my dojo while I was away.

I'm very happy to report that classes will continue while we're away thanks to the voluntary efforts of my martial arts contacts here in Vancouver. We'll be away for 6 classes and we have 3 guest instructors each taking over 2 of our classes. The instructors are Alex Fairweather Sensei, 2nd degree black belt in Shorinji Kan Jiu-jitsu, Les Andrew, 2nd degree black belt in Shito-ryu Karate (and orange belt in Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu), as well as Jenny, my faithful doctor student who holds a purple belt in Can-ryu.

I'm very grateful that everyone is so willing to contribute to help keep the dojo running while I'm away. My only regret is that I won't be able to be there for what I expect to be some very interesting and educational classes.

Friday, August 21, 2009

See You In Spartanburg at the Shorinji Kan Internationals

As I write this, I am eagerly anticipating my upcoming trip to the Shorinji Kan Jiu-jitsu International conference in Spartanburg. I see this as a great opportunity to meet other Jiu-jitsu instructors from around the world and have a good bit of fun too. I know I have a number of Shorinji Kan practitioners who read my blog. If you're going to the event, send me a message so I know to look out for you. I am excited to meet my readers from around the globe in person. I'll be the one wearing the gi with the "West Coast Jiu-jitsu" patch on my left chest and the Jiu-jitsu BC patch on my right shoulder (looks a little like the Canadian flag). Oh and if anyone is interested in buying a copy of my book, 'Weapons of Opportunity' let me know and I'll bring an extra copy for you. I'll offer it to people at the conference for a discounted price of $15 US.

I look forward to seeing you on the mats!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Knee on Belly: A Solid Top Position Against Larger Grappling Opponents

In the last couple of months, I've been playing more with the knee on belly position when I grapple. It's not for everyone. To make the best use of it, you need to be fairly flexible in the groin. You also need to have great balance and quick reflexes. But I've found that as a smaller person grappling with larger people, it works really well for me as a top position.

Here are a couple of knee on belly videos I found on YouTube, showing how to apply an arm bar to either arm of your opponent:

The reason why knee on belly can be better than side control or scarf hold against bigger opponents is that it allows me to use my speed and agility to counter their efforts and getting me off the top. Even if I have a very solid side control or scarf hold, it requires that I put more of my body closer to my opponent where it can be used, attacked, entangled, etc.

With knee on belly, on the other hand, I can keep my body away from my opponent. And if he tries to shrimp away or push me off, I simply lift my weight off to keep control then re-establish the control point. Plus, there is the added benefit that I can drive all of my weight into the muscles that control breathing, causing my opponent to tense those muscles so that he doesn't lose his or her breath. This is great for tiring out a larger opponent, while conserving your own energy for a decisive attack. On top of that, if you're doing MMA, this position can be a great place from which to strike your opponent.

Anyway, it's been working out pretty well for me. Give it a try!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Proud to Announce Two Purple Belt Promotions

I am proud to announce the recent promotion of two of my students, Glenn and Jenny, to purple belt. These two were two of my first students who started soon after I founded my dojo back in January 2006.

Both of these students lead busy lives, one being a doctor, the other being both a store manager and a father. That being said, they have continued to balance their lives enough so that they could progress in their Jiu-jitsu training, while maintaining their devotion to their other pursuits and commitments.

Glenn and Jenny are both very active people. In fact, neither of them took much of a break after their tests (which lasted over 2 hours). Jenny cycled home (from Richmond all the way to New Westminster) and Glenn went home and mowed the lawn.

Both of these students have come a long way in their training through dogged persistence and a love of the art. I am very proud of the progress they have made over their time at the dojo.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Kali Knife Defense Techniques at the Action Room

This past Friday I went in for one more class at the Action Room. Two hours flew by so quickly as instructor Kirk Jaques led a class of conditioning, kicks, and Kali knife techniques.

I was very much interested in the knife blocking and stripping techniques Kirk taught, particularly for the way they blended into joint locks that are used in Jiu-jitsu. Some of these blocking techniques are more easily learned than others, but I believe that some of the easier blocks and controls could be practically applied to the police-oriented Can-ryu style of knife defense. The ones that take much more practice, like some of the knife stripping techniques, while they aren't as quickly and easily learned, I believe they could be effectively applied in real defensive situations (if the time is taken to become proficient in them).

Here is a video of the techniques Kirk taught that day:

Please note that while some Kali schools may teach the use of a knife for use in a defensive context, in Canada it is illegal to carry a knife for intentional use in self-defense or any other kind of combat. The use of lethal force must be legally justified according to Section 34 of the Canadian Criminal Code. Read more about self-defense and Section 34 of the Canadian Criminal Code.

Special thanks to Kirk for allowing me to film and post these techniques!