Monday, December 21, 2009

Guest Instructor: Robert Mustard Sensei

Last Thursday, my good friend, Robert Mustard Sensei came and taught as a guest instructor at my dojo. Holding a 7th degree black belt in Yoshinkan Aikido, Robert Mustard Sensei runs Aikido Yoshinkai Burnaby. He has been training in Aikido since 1977 and has been training in the martial arts since he was a child.

It was a full dojo the day Mustard Sensei came to our mats, but the class was fun and entertaining, and it gave us all something to think about too. I am happy to say that even though Mustard Sensei's style is very different from our own (despite their common roots) the students in attendance all kept their minds open to the experience.

Mustard Sensei teaches joint locks and manipulation as ways of controlling a person, but not through pain compliance like what we teach. It is all about breaking balance and preventing movement as opposed to getting your attacker to do what you want through the use of pain. That is not to say that pain cannot be applied should the need arise, pain, after all, is easier to use and apply. That being said, the methods that Mustard Sensei uses can be applied in a more humane way.

Here is a short clip of Mustard Sensei teaching that day:

Mustard Sensei has asked me to come teach a women's self-defense class at his dojo, which I am happy to do. Chris and I are also planning to do some extra training with him in the new year. I am interested to find ways that Aikido principles can be applied in my own Jiu-jitsu training.

Thanks again go out to Robert Mustard Sensei and his uke Christian. :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

How to Train through Injuries

Last night, I was feeling good. I had enjoyed one of my first training sessions at my dojo since Chris came back to teach (he was on hiatus for the last month as he prepped for his black belt grading. Then it happened. After class I was grappling with one of my students and there was an unfortunate slip that led to me getting injured. Now I'm suffering from a hyper-extended elbow.

When it comes to injuries, obviously you should rest or take the necessary time off until you can train safely again. But I can walk. I can move. I just can't use my left arm right now. So instead of taking a break, I'm going train in how I would defend myself if I couldn't use my left arm.

Chris is teaching at my dojo tonight with his shiny new black belt. I'm having him teach a special Shorinji Kan Jiu-jitsu class to my students to pay homage to his recent achievement. As a gesture to me, he is teaching the entire class on doing one-armed defense. I am grateful for this gesture.

But if you have a particular injury, there are always ways to train around it. Like, for example, you could do defense from a chair if you can't use your legs for some reason. Obviously, not all injuries permit this. Neck, back or hip injuries, pretty much limit your options for safe training, but the next time you have an injury, ask yourself: How would I safely defend myself if someone attacked me while I'm still recovering from this injury? It's a good exercise in creativity and it might lead to some interesting training.

Monday, December 14, 2009

11 Signs That a School Might Be a McDojo

I've discussed the topic of McDojos in the past, their disadvantages and their benefits, but how can one tell if a place is in fact a McDojo? To help identify them, I've compiled a list.

It Might Be a McDojo if...

1. It's located in a shopping mall.
2. The words "black belt" are part of the dojo's name.
3. Their logo involves some sort of cartoon animal.
4. They teach every martial art you can think of.
5. They advertise children's birthday parties on the home page of their website.
6. They absolutely refuse to give their prices over the phone.
7. You have to test for "stripes" between standard belt tests, both of which you have to pay for.
8. Everyone always passes their belt tests, no matter how much curriculum they forget during the test or how incompetent they are at what they perform.
9. They make the statements like "Your real goal should be to attain the rank of black belt."
10. As an adult, you have to train with 6-year-olds.
11. They do demos that involve light shows and smoke effects.

This is by no means a complete list. If you have any other items you think should be on this list, by all means, share them in your comments.

Be sure to check out "The Foot Fist Way", a classic mockumentary of a McDojo. Or, read "Enter the McDojo" for a more serious post on the topic.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Addressing Size Issues in Ground Defense

As many of you know, I've been asked to review the ground defense curriculum of my style, Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu, and to propose updates that will put our curriculum more in line with the 4 key tenets of our style.

In doing so, I've come to accept that we can't always have a single "basic" technique against a particular ground attack that is taught to all students. The problem is that what works for a person who is small and/or short, doesn't necessarily work well for someone who is big and/or tall and vice versa. In stand-up defenses, it's easier to establish basic techniques that will work for the greater majority of people because there is more room to move and the situations tend to be less confining. But size differences matter a lot more when it comes to the ground. We would be doing a disservice to our students to force them all to use the same techniques in cases where the size difference matters.

As such, I'm reviewing each ground hold defense in terms of how it works for both shorter and taller, smaller and bigger people. Where possible, I'll work out basics that will work best for greatest number of people, but I'll establish back-up techniques to be taught for the exception cases, for whom these techniques aren't as practical.

On a separate note, I'd like to congratulate Chris Olson for achieving his Shodan (1st degree black belt) in Shorinji Kan Jiu-jitsu over the weekend. Next stop: brown belt in Can-ryu. :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wishing Chris Good Luck for His Shodan Exam

This Saturday, my assistant instructor Chris Olson is testing for his Shodan (1st degree black belt) in his other style of Jiu-jitsu, Shorinji Kan. He is flying all the way to Peterborough, Ontario for the privilege of being repeatedly attacked by a group of Shorinji Kan black belt toughs.

Getting the opportunity to test for Shodan is a milestone for Chris, who has been training for 9 years. No matter what the outcome of the grading, he is an excellent martial artist and teacher and everyone here at West Coast Jiu-jitsu is proud of his accomplishments.

Good luck, Chris! Break some legs! ;)