Monday, November 30, 2009

A Holiday Gift from Me to You

December is rolling in and the holiday season is in full swing. Traditionally, there is a dip in attendance at this time of year with all the merry-making, but Chris and I will both be teaching right through the holiday season except on Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve and New Year's day.

I know it can be hard to work in Jiu-jitsu training with all the festive events and holiday shopping that needs to be done, but it is definitely worth it to make the time for yourself to help keep your sanity together.

To thank everyone for their continued support on my blog and in my martial arts training, I'm offering a 10% discount on my book, Weapons of Opportunity, an autobiographical narrative of my training experiences in the martial arts. The discount code is 'holiday2009' and it can be applied when you buy my book on my website until Dec. 25, 2009.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

On Being a Guest Instructor

Being a guest instructor at another dojo is an honour. Particularly so when it's a different style. Especially so when it's a completely different martial art.

I have been invited to teach a ground grappling class at the BCIT Shorinji Kan Jiu-jitsu dojo tomorrow night. I very much welcome this opportunity in the interest of fostering a good relationship with people in this style, but also for my own development as an instructor.

Teaching students that are not my own is a good exercise. They're used to different ways of receiving information in a different style of class. It is therefore a good way to test my own teaching abilities to help make me more adaptive, and to see the different difficulties a different set of students might encounter.

It's not just me either. I'm quite happy to say that the leadership of our two styles do teaching exchanges. Steve Hiscoe Shihan taught a class at a Shorinji Kan dojo in Ottawa. Andy Dobie Sensei taught a class when he visited Steve Hiscoe Shihan's dojo in Chilliwack.

Being exposed to different ideas allows us to expand on our own knowledge and question concepts that are may be taken for granted. I'm glad to do my part in encouraging an openness to learning in the martial arts world.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The 4 Key Tenets of Can-Ryu Jiu-jitsu

In re-evaluating the ground defense portion of the Can-ryu curriculum, it is important to think long and hard about the key tenets of our style to ensure that the core curriculum I propose fits with those tenets. I will review them here.

1. Simplicity. Our core curriculum is meant to be easy to learn. A student should be able to be able to learn a defensive technique in a way that is usable in less than 3 minutes. If it doesn't work for the student for whatever reason, the student should be shown something different. But ideally, our core curriculum should comprise of techniques that will work for the greatest variety of body types and attack situations.

2. Commonality of Technique. We strive to use similar types of techniques in similar defensive situations. The purpose of this is to prevent brain stalls which can occur in the pressure of an attack as a person tries to "think" of what to do. If the defense that is taught is the same within all the different minor variations of the same attack, it reduces the chances of this.

3. Usage of Gross Motor Skills. In the interest of making our core curriculum easier to learn and apply, we emphasize the use of gross motor skills over fine motor skills. Gross motor skills include manoeuvres like knee strikes, shin kicks, open hand strikes, and simpler takedowns like centre heel lock or the jugular notch takedown.

4. Awareness of Multiple Attackers. In all the defensive techniques we use in our core curriculum, we emphasize a constant awareness for the potential for multiple attackers. This means that we teach students to look around and be aware as though someone may attack, even while you are defending against one person. This is true whether you're taking someone to the ground, striking, or doing after throw techniques. We also don't emphasize techniques that leave us prone on the ground. This means there are no sacrifice throws and we teach students to get up off the ground after every ground hold technique that is successfully escaped.

Our primary purpose for teaching Can-ryu is to teach usable self-defense. These 4 tenets are the focal point of all our "core" curriculum that is to be uniform across all Can-ryu dojos to keep us in line with that purpose.

That being said, we still have the liberty to teach outside the core curriculum at the discretion of the instructor. Manoeuvres like hip throws, joint locks and other moves that take longer to learn and apply have a place in each dojo's "variation" curriculum. Students are to understand that their first line of defense is Can-ryu's core curriculum. The variation curriculum, on the other hand, which receives increased emphasis from green belt onward, provides an avenue for skill enhancement over the long term. It also keeps things interesting.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What's in Store for My 33rd Year

Today is my birthday. I am now 33 years old. I have now been doing martial arts for more than half my life. And this year has great expectations for me as such.

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with my Sensei, Ed Hiscoe Shihan, head of the style of Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu. He gave me my assignment for my Yondan (4th degree black belt) test. I've essentially been asked to write a thesis about knife defense, covering the history of knives as weapons, different types of edged weapons that are used, how they are carried by civilians, the attack & concealment methods used by the military, criminals, prisoners, and police officers. In addition, I am to describe how I would teach knife defense, as well as the reasoning behind my teaching methods. After my thesis has been submitted I'm also expected to teach a seminar on knife defense, drawing from my thesis, during which I'll be evaluated as an instructor.

I've decided that since I'm putting in all this research time anyway, I will structure my research for the purposes of writing a book. Who knows? I might even be able to get it published.

The second big thing for me in the martial arts world is that I've been asked to review the ground defense portion of the Can-ryu curriculum with the goal of putting ideas forward to help bring it up to date with the key tenets of our style. I'm to compile all my information and ideas in time for the next black belt seminar in January in Western Canada at which I'll be presenting them.

I am honoured to be asked to do this. Having spent a few years training in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and MMA, I have been combining it with my Can-ryu training to create an effective system of ground defense that I have been passing along to my own students. I am excited to share this with other instructors in the hopes that even more people can benefit.

When I look back at when I started training in Jiu-jitsu about 13 years ago at the age of 16, it's amazing to think about how far I've come, while simultaneously seeing how much more I have to learn. That's why I recently decided that I want to work toward an early retirement from the 9 to 5 working world (ideally by the age of 40) so I'll have more time to focus on martial arts and writing. That would be an amazing gift to myself when I turn 40. Here's hoping...