Scenes from Mixed Martial Arts

There’s a classic Warner Brothers cartoon from 1951 1948 in which Bugs Bunny takes on a huge, evil bruiser of a fighter called the Crusher. One of the funniest bits is a scene where Bugs is grunting and straining in an attempt to shift one of the Crusher’s legs. The viewpoint pans back and we se the Crusher completely ignoring this feeble effort, playing solitaire on the wrestling mat.

I was in Mixed Martial Arts class tonight, doing the five-minute wrestle for submission (joint lock or choke hold) with an intermediate-level student, and found myself unexpectedly thinking of the Crusher. It happened when the guy I was wrestling with (20-something, good technique, taller than me but a good twenty or thirty pounds lighter) tried to put an arm bar on me.

In MMA the classic way to work this is to isolate the arm by getting a leg on either side of it, pull the arm towards your head with both hands along your straightened torso, lock the elbow joint and then press down with one forearm while arching your body to put maximum pressure on the joint. My opponent saw the opening went for it, and got his arm bar all nicely set up in the approved manner…

…and I thought “Where’s my solitaire deck? :-)

There’s the guy gamely huffing and straining away, thinking he’s accomplishing something. I let him work on it for a bit, thinking tranquil thoughts. Eventually he got my arm twisted around just enough to actually lock the joint, so I took it away from him. No big deal, I just postured up a bit and pulled. There was no way his grip strength, even two-handed, was going to be able to fight my arm and shoulder strength any longer than I let it happen, even if I weren’t using my body weight.

Heh. Being spastically partially paralyzed in my legs sucks, but there are compensations. This is one of them. There are probably people who can make that move work on me when I’m not cooperating for training purposes, but I haven’t met any of them yet; it would take exceptional skill or strength or (probably) both. That’s a nice tactical advantage to take into the ring.

He tried it again about thirty seconds later; same result. I was fine with that; any time you can get your opponent to expend energy to no purpose it’s a win. I’ve found that, especially in fighting younger guys filled with testosterone and a need to prove something, it’s good strategy to deadweight on them — let them expend energy, let them pull moves that don’t actually get a submission, and use my torso mass as much as possible to drag on them and make them tired.

You don’t necessarily get physical submission that way, but you can get psychological collapse of the will to fight surprisingly often. The younger they are, the faster that tends to happen. Post-adolescents have good wind and physical stamina but, as a rule, their will is weak. Or perhaps “brittle” would be a better adjective; they lack mental toughness, what chessplayers call sitzfleisch.

I’ve observed this before when doing striking arts, but the effect seems to be amplified in close-contact styles. I’m not sure why this is. Maybe there’s an evolved mechanism that encourages submission to older males?

Anyway, it was all good clean fun. And this guy didn’t collapse, bless him; he eventually figured out he wasn’t going to out-power me until hell had been frozen over for at least three days and switched to trying to out-speed me. Good move — he managed to work a light choke hold just before the (figurative) bell rang.

Later update: One of my regular commenters observes that is sounds like I dominated this guy for 4:30 and then let him win. Nope, he won fair and square by getting inside my OODA loop. I’d say I learned a lesson from this, except I didn’t; I already know from experience in other styles that I can be defeated that way by someone with significantly better technique or speed. And I’ve only been fighting in this style for six weeks, so it’s more or less how I expect people to beat me. Six months from now I’ll have muscle memory for basic moves and counters, and I’ll be much harder to take that way.

I like this style. When I get enough clues about technique I believe I’m going to be very good at it.

85 thoughts on “Scenes from Mixed Martial Arts

  1. I train a bit of the ol’ jiujitsu myself. I’m a young man, and I love it. Great fun.

  2. As a former American Folkstyle wrestler, this is a very familiar scene. I continually found it amazing how technique could neutralize any other advantage, with the possible exception of speed. And even if the other person is faster, they need to have somewhat comparable technique; really fast convulsing isn’t going to get you anywhere.

    Some of the best wrestlers I saw, the ones with whom their opponent had no business even being on the mat, would have this really calm demeanor. While the other guy bounced and jumped and spun around, the technique master would just kind of push lightly at just the right times, and this big scary brute would crumple to the ground. This is most noticeable when play-fighting with non-wrestlers, as it is comically easy just to calmly move their limbs around and put them on the ground.

    Man, I miss wrestling.

  3. Not nearly as entertaining as a jiujitsu bout I had with my then-master several years ago. At the start of the match we both immediately put each other in a collar choke, and sat there. Being also a varsity swimmer at the time, I won.

  4. You might enjoy judo.

    You don’t get hurt like you do in jiujitsu.

  5. I think when sparring you can disengage for a moment and recover mentally before the next flurry. And you can always hope for that lucky punch. With close combat, when you’re being dominated, it’s unrelenting.

    My experience from Aikido is that good technique can trump strength. But I won’t hazard a guess as to any kind of handy wavy quantitative relationship. How does one even measure technique anyway? Years of training? Belt attained? In my experience the only real way to tell is to get on the mat and see for yourself.

    Maybe one could design one of those arm wrestle video game type things, with the big plastic arm? “Can you get an armbar on the armbarminator? Congratulations on your green belt!”

  6. >With close combat, when you’re being dominated, it’s unrelenting.

    I think that observation has the germ of a good explanation in it. The evolved response (you see it in other primates) is to submit rather than be badly injured.

    > “Can you get an armbar on the armbarminator? Congratulations on your green belt!”

    Heh. I am the armbarminator…

    I used to study aikido. For the same reasons I’m difficult to arm-bar, I’m nearly immune to a significant class of throws. If it depends on wrist torsion or making my elbow bend, give it up unless you’re skilled enough to pressure-point me first, and even then I might just power out before you can finish the move.

  7. My arm strength has another odd consequence. I’m good at hitting things, but I’ve never liked doing it with my knuckles. Palm strike, blade or ridge hand, backfist, tiger mouth, even the odd cocked-wrist strike you get in mantis kung fu, I can and will hit like a freight train with any of those – but somewhere in my backbrain lurks the settled conviction that if I ever strike a hard surface full-force with my knuckles, I’m going to break them.

    This is a bit of a problem now the MMA guys are teaching me to box Western style :-)

  8. My money is on any skilled (e.g.Golden Gloves) welter-weight boxer.

    Especially if they’re younger and/or in better shape.

  9. In general, at equal levels of training/experience, size and strength will carry the day. Combative sports (boxing, wrestling, MMA, etc) have weight classes for a reason, and it ain’t to protect the big, strong guys from the small, fast guys…

    The caveat to the above has already been noted – what constitutes “equal levels of training/experience”? And the solution already given is the only practical one – go at it and see for yourself.

  10. There are techniques in fencing that help compensate for speed – they’re all about efficiency.

    I don’t know how well they translate to unarmed/close quarters. Some probably map to a striking art, but the premise under them is that you’ve got something in your hand that will perforate the guy in front of you.

    One of the “lightbulb going off” moments with fencing with Eric was saying “OK, how much of this is because I’m faster, and how much of it is because the technique is more efficient? Can you tell the difference?” And watching him think, and start to pick out what was reflexes and kinesthetics and what was efficiency of motion.

  11. >And the solution already given is the only practical one – go at it and see for yourself.

    Indeed. I’m very new to MMA and my technique is crude and primitive. Even so, I’m not a pushover for the advanced students; they have to work to beat me. Part of what makes them work is that I have a strength and weight advantage on most opponents – my wife, who’s fond of historical references, likes to say I’m built like a Roman gladiator.

    More of it is that I use my strength efficiently, doing as little work as possible; in MMA I’ll outpower people when I need to, but mostly I use it to make them work harder. In MMA parlance I’m told this is called “cooking the opponent”, and my instructors approve; they say it’s “fighting smart”.

    There’s a practical consideration behind my strategy. At 51 I’m not going to have all this bulk muscle forever; if I rely too much on strength, my fighting ability will go out the window when I begin to age seriously. Better, I think, to prepare now for the day when guile and technique will have to do because my body won’t be capable of much force.

  12. Hey Eric that’s great you are training. I have done Kempo Karate and some Brazilian JiuJitsu, learning the groundfighting techniques. It’s good powerful stuff as you are learning. My brother and I have trained with Pedro Sauer. And my brother has done some no holds barred fighting.

    Stick with it; it’s good fun and good exercise and you will get a lot better. Hell Helio Gracie still trains and is pretty tough for a man in his 90s. This stuff will keep you young and alive.

  13. I have a strength and weight advantage on most opponents – my wife, who’s fond of historical references, likes to say I’m built like a Roman gladiator.

    ahem quoting:

    A minimum number of individuals (MNI) analyses revealed that at least 68 individuals. All individuals found turned out to have been males aged between 20 and 30 years, except for one female associated with a female slave gravestone, and one male aged 45–55 years, had been buried in this area of the cemetery. The male mean body height was 168cm (S.D.=5cm), which lies inside the normal range of height for Roman populations at those times.

    And on the off-chance that Cathy will ‘splain that
    she really said/meant Roman soldier

    Better, I think, to prepare now for the day when guile and technique will have to do because my body won’t be capable of much force.

    You could always start lifting weights.

  14. “You could always start lifting weights.”

    Much can be said both for and against weightlifting in the usual gym sense. As a sole and only exercise it’s probably not good – I think this is how I managed to reach a quite unhealthy state: strong muscles on weak joints and sinews. I didn’t overdo it, max bench press is like 120-180 lbs, not much really – it’s rather than I did absolutely nothing else, not even a normal amount of walking.

    However. Once I saw pictures of a body building competition which had senior categories: 60+ and 70+, in years. And the winner of the 70+ looked more healthy, vibrant and youthful than most 25 years old people. Quite amazing. He looked like he found an anti-aging miracle. I figure most kinds of exercise you will gradually stop as you age, exactly because of the deteriorating sinews and joints. The problem of weightlifting in a gym style, that it does not exercise these joints and sinews, turns into a benefit at old age: you can do it even when you cannot do anything else. And it really seems to keep people young.

    OTOH as a well-know counter-example, Arnie doesn’t age very nicely. It’s a shame. If there is someone who should put effort in showing people how to grow old real nicely with weightlifting, it’s him. Perhaps he had to stop it due to some illness, I don’t know.

  15. >I figure most kinds of exercise you will gradually stop as you age, exactly because of the deteriorating sinews and joints.

    One of my blessings is that my sinews and joints are in excellent shape — I’ve never had even the tiniest sign of joint problems, and the worst issue with sinews has been mild tendonitis in my arms that readily responded to anti-inflammatories.

    I think I have some kind of physiological advantage here, because it is also a fact that I’ve never needed an elaborate warm-up before exercise or fighting – raising my heartrate seems to loosen up my muscles and tendons automatically. This seemed only a little odd at 30; now that I’m over 50 it makes me quite the strange outlier :-)

    That said, this is the subsystem failure I worry about most. Connective tissue gradually loses flexibility as one ages, and that’s probably going to be what takes me out of the game at some point.

  16. >And on the off-chance that Cathy will ’splain

    Oh, I know what she means. I don’t have the super-lean, tall, V-shaped build moderns associate with athletes — I’m built more like a Russian weightlifter or a heavyweight wrestler, bull-necked and short-legged and thick-bodied for my height and with what looks like but is thankfully not in fact a fat gut. This is not to say I don’t have fat on me or even that I couldn’t stand to lose some of it, it’s just that a good deal of what might look like it to the casual eye is actually bulk muscle.

    There’s been a lot of interesting recent archeology and study on Roman gladiators, which Cathy and I have been paying attention to because we’re both martial artists and history buffs. It turns out that a wrestler-like barrel build that would look somewhat overweight to moderns was the norm for these guys. There’s even some indirect evidence that they cultivated an overall layer of fat in order to put on a better show – it meant slight wounds would bleed spectacularly but superficially, without actually being disabling.

  17. Maybe there’s an evolved mechanism that encourages submission to older males?

    “Try to establish dominance but back off before you get maimed” seems a perfectly sensible instinct, especially in younger males who will have more chances later.

  18. >I have done Kempo Karate and some Brazilian JiuJitsu

    As you probably know, MMA is basically Brazilian JiuJitsu with strlking techniques mainly derived from Western boxing and muy thai added in.

    My school has back-to back BJJ and MMA classes, and I did both when Cathy and I were scoping out the place. The biggest difference is that the BJJ guys wear gi uniforms rather than shorts and a t-shirt :-). This was actually a factor in my choice; I’d prefer to train in clothes as close to street wear as possible. Heck, I’d train in street wear and shoes if I could, but they won’t let me – it risks damage to the matting.

    The “mainly derived from Western boxing” part annoys me a little. I’m having to unlearn habits from Asian striking styles that I spent years building, especially posture habits. Every time try to bob and weave the way you’re supposed to in boxing, I hear a dozen Asian masters in the back of my brain yelling “KEEP YOUR SPINE ERECT!”

    And they keep wanting me to hit things with my knuckles, dammit…though, to be fair, my instructors are showing some flexibility about that.

  19. >I used to study aikido. For the same reasons I’m difficult to arm-bar, I’m nearly immune to a significant class of throws. If it depends on wrist >torsion or making my elbow bend, give it up unless you’re skilled enough to pressure-point me first, and even then I might just power out before >you can finish the move.

    Yes, this is all part of technique. Manipulating joints and balance are all well and good, but for many people it’s not enough; you have to control the brain. In my dojo we do this through atemi, or strikes to whatever sort of body part is open and vulnerable. Hopefully these kind of ‘distractions’ set the person up for the throws and joint locks. In any event they help maintain initiative.

    I understand that more advanced ground submission practitioners do the same thing; working submissions in combinations to mentally confuse the opponent, and they don’t know what’s really happening until it’s too late.

    It’s this sort of chess-like forward thinking and trickery that can trump strength, I think. That, plus a LOT of practice manipulating joints and balance just so. (Funny story; one time my instructor missed a throw on me and we wound up stand-up wrestling judo style. We went back and forth a bit, and then he caught my eye and blew me a kiss. “What the hell was that?” I thought, just before I saw the stars on the ceiling…)

    And for me, I avoid pressure points like the plague. I find they don’t work on even a sane person dumping adrenaline, much less somebody drunk or stoned. Maybe that’s just cause I don’t know what I’m doing though. Never sparred with a Krav Maga guy.

  20. > I’m having to unlearn habits from Asian striking styles that I spent years building, especially posture habits. Every time try to bob and weave the way you’re supposed to in boxing, I hear a dozen Asian masters in the back of my brain yelling “KEEP YOUR SPINE ERECT!”

    Interesting that you say that. My sister studies systema, a Russian fighting style used by the Spetznaz. I’ve never been one to one of her lessons, but the theory of operation behind the style seems to be to take advantage of people’s reflex to tense up so that you can gain leverage for throwing them down. She laughs at oriental martial arts and says the training they get makes things very easy for her. Have you ever sparred with a systema student? If so, what were your impressions?

  21. >She laughs at oriental martial arts and says the training they get makes things very easy for her. Have you ever sparred with a systema student

    I have not. I would very much like to, as I’ve heard interesting things about that family of styles.

    Note that “erect spine” doesn’t mean “tense spine”. As I was taught, the purpose of erect posture is so that, by keeping the center of gravity of your upper torso centered above your hips, you (a) make it more difficult to the opponent to take your balance, and (b) have a solid base from which to deliver power.

    When my boxing instructors tell me to bob and weave, it feels to my Asian reflexes like they’re telling me to deliberately fall off my center. I have trouble with this.

  22. >As I was taught, the purpose of erect posture is so that, by keeping the center of gravity of your upper torso centered above your hips,

    Am I missing something here? Shouldn’t your centre of gravity be above your feet?

  23. >Am I missing something here? Shouldn’t your centre of gravity be above your feet?
    And your hips are above your feet.

    Head, shoulders, hips, feet, all stacked up on top of each other. That’s the Asian way. And then, when you’re doing a throw, the more of those you can take out the better.

    Ideally, your throw is attacking the head, shoulders, hips, and knees all at once, moving them in all different directions. That really messes people up.

    Also, with a straight, relaxed spine, your torso opens up for better breathing. Better breathing, better relaxation, better mind, focus, stamina, all good things start with proper breathing. Tough to do when you’re all hunched over. I think anyway.

    And Eric, if you’re that excited about practicing with your boots on, systema is the style for you! Although I wonder how well you would fare with the religious content…

  24. >Head, shoulders, hips, feet, all stacked up on top of each other. That’s the Asian way. And then, when you’re doing a throw, the more of those you can take out the better. [...] Also, with a straight, relaxed spine, your torso opens up for better breathing. Better breathing, better relaxation, better mind, focus, stamina, all good things start with proper breathing.

    Sean is correct. Or at least this is certainly what Asian styles teach, and they’ve convinced me that it’s sound.

    >though I wonder how well you would fare with the religious content…

    Huh? A style designed for KGB and Spetsnaz has religious content? What kind?

  25. > … what looks like but is thankfully not in fact a fat gut. This is not to say I don’t have fat on me or even that I
    > couldn’t stand to lose some of it, it’s just that a good deal of what might look like it to the casual eye is actually
    > bulk muscle.

    You have bulky abs?

    From deep to superficial the abdominal muscles are:

    transverse abdominal – This is the deepest of the 6 ab muscles. It can have a tremendous effect on body posture. You cannot touch this muscle from the outside. It wraps around the torso, creating an effect similar to a back support belt.

    The internal obliques are a pair of ab muscles, residing on each side of the torso. They are the next deepest, after the transversus. Just like the transversus, they affect body posture tremendously, only slightly less, because of their more superficial position. The internal obliques are involved in, among other things, rotation and lateral flexion of the spine.

    The external obliques are another pair of ab muscles that are located on either side of the torso. The external obliques are more superficial than the transversus and the internal obliques. Consequently the external obliques have less effect (but certainly not none) on body posture. Like the internal obliques, the external obliques are involved in, among other things, rotation and lateral flexion of the spine.

    The rectus abdominus muscle is the most superficial of the abdominal muscles. It and the external obliques affect body posture, just not as much as the deeper interal obliques and transversus. The rectus abdominis muscle is responsible for the 6-pack ab look in very fit people.

    Which of these did you build to be “bulky”, and how did you do it?

    Note also that fat deposits can be subcutaneous or visceral. While subcutaneous fat sits in “storage” waiting to be burned for energy, visceral fat cells which lay below the muscle layer are much more metabolically and biologically active, largely in negative ways.

    So if it “feels” like you have solid abdominal wall, you’re actually (likely) much worse off at the same abdominal diameter as a person who has fat deposits which are largely subcutaneous, but “plushy”.

    I still recommend a weight training regimen. You’ve got the martial arts, which are good for aerobic conditioning and flexibility (warming up by stretching is over-rated, but you’ve already discovered this), but the MMA isn’t going to help you maintain muscle mass. Lifting weights will.

    Eric, I was 6’3″ and 285 lbs a year ago. Today I weigh 235 lbs. The only real changes I made were diet, hiking (ever been to Oahu? Then you know what the hills here are like), and hitting the gym every morning.

  26. >Sean is correct. Or at least this is certainly what Asian styles teach, and they’ve convinced me that it’s sound.

    I’m not so much questioning its soundness as asking: how do you duck while maintaining the head/shoulders/hips/feet stack?

    It seems to me that there’s a trade-off between

    a) an erect spine
    b) the distance you can duck
    c) the long term use of your knees

    but (c) is probably because I’m doing it wrong. Or do the Asian styles simply rely less on ducking to avoid blows?

  27. Huh? A style designed for KGB and Spetsnaz has religious content? What kind?

    This is the first I’ve heard of it too. But a little Googling turns up http://www.langleymartialarts.com/systema/systema.html:


    Systema has another name “poznai sebia” or “Know Yourself”. What does it really mean to Understand Yourself? It is not just to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, that is good but fairly superficial. Training in Russian Martial Art is one of the sure ways to see the full extent of our limitations – to see how proud and weak we really are. Systema allows us to gain the true strength of spirit that comes from humility and clarity in seeing the purpose of our life.

    As the roots of the Russian Systema are in the Russian Orthodox Christian faith, the belief is that everything that happens to us, good or bad, has only one ultimate purpose. That is to create the best possible conditions for each person to understand himself. Proper training in the Russian Systema carries the same objective – to put every participant into the best possible setting for him to realize as much about himself as he is able to handle at any given moment.

    My sister has never mentioned this, and as she’s none-too-fond of Christianity, I think she would have if she’d encountered it. I’m guessing most schools today are entirely secular.

  28. >Or do the Asian styles simply rely less on ducking to avoid blows?

    That’s it. We’re trained to diagonal-step rather than ducking.

  29. >Which of these did you build to be “bulky”, and how did you do it?

    Damned if I know, But if that were mostly fat of either kind in there, several things I routinely do with that region of my body wouldn’t go so well

    Things begin with 40 situps or reverse crunches at a time postured so the abs are isolated. The really weird part is that most people get better at that sort of exercise when they can involve their leg muscles, whereas when I rely on my part-paralyzed legs my performance drops – I have to pull power from my abs, instead. There was a slow, shallow leg-lift and hold we did at TKD school that was all ab muscle, and torture for everyone but me – I caught the instructors looking at me funny more than once during that one. I’ve also been pretty good at the stop-a-strike-with-the-abs parlor trick the few times I’ve tried it, though I have no illusions about that being useful in combat — at least at my level you have to be mentally set for it and holding your muscles in an intermediate state of tension.

    Finally, I can feel the difference in tone it makes when I’ve been slacking off the exercise – even if my weight doesn’t change, the tone of my abdominal muscles slipping is a sign I need to be working a bit harder. I get this kind of tell from the large muscles in my back, too; for whatever reason, the tone level in my limbs and shoulders is less sensitive and doesn’t need maintaining that way.

    I’ve been relatively out of shape recently, because I was out of training while my wife was recovering from shoulder surgery for most of a year. So I’m feeling the tone-building happen now at MMA.

    P.S. You made me curious about whether I can still do the parlor trick, so I just had my wife fist-strike me in the abdomen repeatedly, starting at about a quarter speed and dialing up to three-quarters in four blows (this is three-quarter-speed from a 19-year fighter, mind you). I stopped all four without much effort; she reported that it resembled hitting a fairly hard surface, a little tougher than some of the punching bags we use. When I’m fully back in shape I expect I’ll be able to stop a full-speed strike.

  30. >I’m guessing most schools today are entirely secular.

    And I’m guessing, given the known history of that family of arts, that the Greek Orthodox stuff is a recent opportunistic graft disguised as a back-to-the-pre-Communist-roots reversion.

  31. > Damned if I know, But if that were mostly fat of either kind in there, several things I routinely do with that region of my body wouldn’t go so well
    is the circumference of your waist larger than the circumference around your hips? If so, you’re overweight (by a lot). (You didn’t bring it up, but I’ll state here and now that BMI is horseshit, btw.)

    I don’t expect an answer here (in a public forum), but you’ll know the answer as soon as you measure.

    > Things begin with 40 situps or reverse crunches at a time postured so the abs are isolated.

    It’s impossible to completely eliminate hip flexor recruitment during the crunch. The crunch supposedly takes the hip flexors out of the movement by eliminating the top portion of the sit-up; the lower back stays down on the floor, while you curl up, pulling the rib cage towards the hips using the abs alone. That’s only partially true because of a neurological phenomenon where tension naturally spreads from a contracting muscle to its neighbors. In the case of the crunch, the hip flexors are necessarily activated to some degree, taking some of the stress off the abdominal muscles.

    You can solve the problem by leveraging the principle of reciprocal inhibition, which says that the nervous system, as a matter of efficiency, relaxes the muscles opposite the ones contracting. Therefore, you can inactivate (or isolate) the hip flexors by contracting the hamstrings and glutes. Have a training partner placing his (or if you’re lucky, her) hands under your calves as you assume the standard bent-knee sit-up position. You then squeze your glutes as you pull against his/her hands and attempt to sit-up.

    > whereas when I rely on my part-paralyzed legs my performance drops – I have to pull power from my abs
    Wouldn’t surprise me.

    > There was a slow, shallow leg-lift and hold we did at TKD school that was all ab muscle,

    As long as your arms are above your head, yes. If you allow the arms below shoulder level, then you de-stress the abs

    If you really want to do “leg lifts”, hang by your arms and lift your legs. In doing this, the rectus abdominis must rotate the pelvis posteriorly and stabilize the pelvis to allow the legs to move freely toward the chest. Since the legs are relatively heavy, the strain on the rectus abdominis is due largely to its role in stabilizing the pelvis. Until you know your back is ok, keep your knees bent, as this reduces the load on the lumbar.

    If you get to the point of being able to lift your legs straight ‘up’ (pointing your toes the entire time), then you can start some “windshield wipers”,
    where the up and down cuts a ‘curve’ to either side, rather than all in front.

    Once you master that, have someone pass you a soccer ball. You get to trap it and kick it back, or kick it back. Make sure they pass it around your
    waistline. :-) Its much more difficult than it sounds.

    > I’ve also been pretty good at the stop-a-strike-with-the-abs parlor trick the few times I’ve tried it, though I have no illusions about that being
    > useful in combat — at least at my level you have to be mentally set for it and holding your muscles in an intermediate state of tension.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Houdini#Death

  32. >As long as your arms are above your head, yes. If you allow the arms below shoulder level, then you de-stress the abs

    Arms above the head is how we did it, all right. I actually enjoyed that exercise – I found I could sort of lock my abs and hold my legs in place for a relatively long time with nearly zero perceived effort. Everybody else thought I was fucking nuts when I reported this.

    >If you really want to do “leg lifts”, hang by your arms and lift your legs.

    I have the strength to do this, but not the flexibility – my legs would start to bind (and shortly afterwards to hurt a lot) once I pulled my thighs any higher than about parallel to the floor. The palsy again.

  33. > I have the strength to do this, but not the flexibility – my legs would start to bind

    OK, so just go thighs parallel to floor, unless that’s going to hurt too. If you’re way successful, add some weight.

    Or ya know, the modified sit-up outlined in my previous post. See if you can get up to 100 2X / day in the next 90 days.

  34. “Note also that fat deposits can be subcutaneous or visceral. While subcutaneous fat sits in “storage” waiting to be burned for energy, visceral fat cells which lay below the muscle layer are much more metabolically and biologically active, largely in negative ways.”

    I figure what you mean in laymen terms is back bacon vs. streaky bacon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacon

    Most people, like me, have their abdominal fat like back bacon: on top of the muscle, so it looks soft, and if I flex my abs you see nothing, as it’s covered by the fat. However f.e. my father has it like streaky bacon, fat _within_ the layers of muscle, so although he has a round belly, when he flexes it, you can see the six-packs on the outside of the belly, looking like an F1 grenade (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F1_grenade )… very strange.

    I don’t know what makes it grow differently – I guess if you use your abs hard while taking in a lot of calories you get streaky bacon, if you don’t use them hard you get back bacon. Anyway, I figure a bulky but strong belly is usually streaky bacon.

  35. > And I’m guessing, given the known history of that family of arts, that the Greek Orthodox stuff is a recent opportunistic graft disguised as a back-to-the-pre-Communist-roots reversion.

    My understanding is that Mikhail Ryabko chose to make it part of his program. I never knew the man, and have never even met a systema practitioner, so I won’t hazard a guess as to why he chose to do so. Or speculate on what you might find at any particular school. YMMV.

    >>Or do the Asian styles simply rely less on ducking to avoid blows?

    >That’s it. We’re trained to diagonal-step rather than ducking.

    And when we do duck, we do it like a weightlifter doing a squat or split-jerk. For all the same reasons.

  36. the guy I was wrestling with (20-something, good technique, taller than me but a good twenty or thirty pounds lighter) tried to put an arm bar on me.

    Eric, What is your height BTW, and what are you weighting right now?(Just out of curiosity and also to get a better understanding of what really happened there.)

  37. >Eric, What is your height BTW, and what are you weighting right now?(Just out of curiosity and also to get a better understanding of what really happened there.)

    5’7.5″ and no scale handy, sorry.

  38. >And when we do duck, we do it like a weightlifter doing a squat or split-jerk.

    So you trade off speed and distance for slightly better balance? Not sure that’s a deal I’d want to make when I’m trying not to get hit in the head. esr’s explanation make sense though.

  39. >So you trade off speed and distance for slightly better balance?

    To some extent. But another thing about diagonal-stepping is that it helps you get inside the opponent’s OODA loop – you can close to striking range with a motion that tends to make it look like you’re evading away, because the eyes are better at noticing the lateral motion than the closing one.

  40. >So you trade off speed and distance for slightly better balance?
    To clarify, in Aikido, we don’t typically duck to avoid blows, we diagonal step. ‘Ducking’ happens after we’ve closed and are in clinch range. But we don’t really practice the clinch in the same way that judoka or mui thay people do.

    And in my experience even a small compromise in balance and posture costs you big in terms of power, wind, and stability. But then, boxers and MMA people will tell you different, and those guys are no pushovers.

    >To some extent. But another thing about diagonal-stepping is that it helps you get inside the opponent’s OODA loop – you can close to striking range with a motion that tends to make it look like you’re evading away, because the eyes are better at noticing the lateral motion than the closing one.

    To add to this, once you’ve made that diagonal move, your hands and feet are all pointed towards some of your opponents vulnerable spots, and his are pointed where you used to be. In practice, at full speed, it can be difficult to execute this kind of maneuver against an awake and aware opponent. This is why you see a lot of circling in striking arts; they’re trying to get that diagonal position.

    Virtually every Aikido move starts with a diagonal move of this kind.

    In the end though, as I said earlier, blog forums are a terrible place to explore these issues. Tatami are the way to go.

  41. >Virtually every Aikido move starts with a diagonal move of this kind.

    It’s stock in most Korean and Japanese striking styles, too — I’ve seen this movement pattern over and over in shotokan, tae kwon do, kenpo, etc. It is not, however, universal, and the reason it isn’t is revealing.

    I’ve done one Chinese striking art, wing chun, in which we didn’t train to diagonal-step. But this is because wing chun is optimized for fighting at very close range and in confined spaces, not the 4 to 6 foot engagement range that’s typical for most other striking arts. There’s barely any footwork at all in the style.

    >And in my experience even a small compromise in balance and posture costs you big in terms of power, wind, and stability. But then, boxers and MMA people will tell you different, and those guys are no pushovers.

    Yeah, I’m trying to integrate both views now and it’s difficult. I have the Asian belief Sean expressed very well as “even a small compromise in balance and posture costs you big in terms of power, wind, and stability” and a black-belt-level set of reflex reactions grounded in that. It’s colliding head-on with what the MMA people want to teach me about Western boxing. I don’t know where I’m going to come out.

  42. Hopefully I remember this conversation when I go snowboarding this winter — I vaguely recall (what I thought were) conflicting instructions to “stand up straight” and “keep your centre of gravity low”. Luckily there’s nothing aimed at your head during snowboarding, so there’s no excuse to compromise on balance.

    >even a small compromise in balance and posture costs you big in terms of power, wind, and stability

    I suspect the MMA guys will tell you that even a small hit to the head will cost you big ;-) nb: obviously I defer to your (Sean/esr) actual experience in the martial arts; just thought I’d play devil’s advocate to help you integrate the opposite view.

  43. >Hopefully I remember this conversation when I go snowboarding this winter — I vaguely recall (what I thought were) conflicting instructions to “stand up straight” and “keep your centre of gravity low”.

    Just to reinforce this, what they’re probably trying to tell you to do is keep your spine vertical and drop your hips with an extended stance, exactly the same body dynamics you’d see in shotokan or tae kwon do.

  44. >>Hopefully I remember this conversation when I go snowboarding this winter — I vaguely recall (what I thought were) conflicting instructions to “stand up straight” and “keep your centre of gravity low”.

    >Just to reinforce this, what they’re probably trying to tell you to do is keep your spine vertical and drop your hips with an extended stance, exactly the same body dynamics you’d see in shotokan or tae kwon do.

    Pretty much, although you don’t want too wide a stance as it’ll be restrictive, too narrow and your hips will be moving; you want one which feels comfortable and allows you to create and transfer pressure through your feet. You then use your legs to flex up and down to keep you balanced, foot pressure to control the board, and keep your body in parallel with it (just turn your head to look where you’re going, not the rest of your body) — a lot of riders break at the waist and bend over to try and balance, or use their hips / shoulders to force the board around, when you just need to flex up and down by bending their knees.

  45. “But this is because wing chun is optimized for fighting at very close range and in confined spaces, not the 4 to 6 foot engagement range that’s typical for most other striking arts. There’s barely any footwork at all in the style.”

    So that’s why they say Wing Chun/Tsun is a practical m.a. for real-world brawling such as if you get attacked in a bar. And somewhere I’ve read that most of the time when people get shot by a gun, it happens from a distance of no more than 7 feet. Apparently, reality has a bias for close ranges.

  46. “It’s colliding head-on with what the MMA people want to teach me about Western boxing. I don’t know where I’m going to come out.”

    Is it a wise thing for you to learn it then? Can’t the end result of having contradictory things engraved in muscle memory be sheer paralyzed confusion in a fight?

  47. >So that’s why they say Wing Chun/Tsun is a practical m.a. for real-world brawling such as if you get attacked in a bar.

    I think so. On the other hand, I’m told wing chun fares very poorly in Ultimate Fighting competitions. There, you see, your opponent is more likely to be able to open the range to a degree where wing chun’s close-fighting toolkit is not useful.

    >And somewhere I’ve read that most of the time when people get shot by a gun, it happens from a distance of no more than 7 feet. Apparently, reality has a bias for close ranges.

    Correct. This is why it’s realistic to train people to rush a shooter. A skilled, aggressive hand-to-hand fighter can close from 7 feet and execute a disarm before the shooter has time to react.

    >Can’t the end result of having contradictory things engraved in muscle memory be sheer paralyzed confusion in a fight?

    It’s a risk, but I think it’s more likely I’ll develop two different sets of neuromuscular scripts that I invoke in different circumstances, like having both Emacs and vi in my fingertips.

  48. For the MA practitioners–if you’d like to read some great stuff on the relationship between your training and real world fights, check out Rory Miller’s blog at Chiron Training http://chirontraining.blogspot.com/. His essays changed the way I think about MA.

    ESR, Sgt. Miller totally agrees with you regarding closed fist strikes in real fights. This guy was a long-time corrections officer who’s been in more than his share of unarmed fights with people who intended to kill him.

    ” . . . I know, personally, five people who have been sent to the hospital for broken hands after closed-fist strikes to the head. . . .”
    http://chirontraining.blogspot.com/2008/12/di.html

  49. >ESR, Sgt. Miller totally agrees with you regarding closed fist strikes in real fights.

    Cool. Miller’s book, Meditations on Violence is amazingly good — a Book of Five Rings for the 21st century.

  50. Question: Lion, Gorilla and Alligator Fight. Who wins?
    Answer: It depends on the situation. In water, the wet cat
    will be attacked from the back and alligator will do the
    victory spiral dance.
    Isn’t swords Security Theatre and Historical Play-Acting?
    Much of Mixed Martial Arts and Shaolin dance appears fake.
    Fake meaning NOT real world tested.
    It’s not typical of American Violence Situations.
    1.)YouTube – Bloods Vs Crips Fight At Dipset Concert
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Sy6mW2KmqM
    2.)parking lot of bar; it dark and a gang has picked on you.
    True TV shows the undercover detective fighting for his life in
    the ‘drug house.’ He can’t draw his gun, so he gets
    a standing choke hold and uses the body as a shield from bullets.
    http://www.trutv.com/
    3.)shopping mall or public educational campus. Regulations
    may require you to be disarmed, except for a Handicap
    Cane.
    Cane is like a spear, a point weapon.
    Moral: if a cat, stay out of water.

    PS. Russian Systema looks similar to Chinese Ba-Gua, Circular
    Walking, Ducking and Evading bullets.
    http://www.rmaxinternational.com/flowcoach/?p=434
    evading MUCH superior force. The gang will not pick on you
    unless they think they can take you.

  51. Obviously, the lion is quick strike, but gets tired fast.
    Gorilla is crushing choke hold, but not agile and cat footed.
    Alligator is sneaky surprise. Gator body slams lion to the bottom.

  52. Yes I know it’s off-topic and really sorry about that [My first and last thread-jacking.feel free to delete it anytime after you read it]:

    I am very eager to know your stance on the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict in Gaza.Hamas alleges that Israeli forces kill civilians and the Jews continuously deny that.I would be very thankful if you would blog about the crisis any time you pleased.Richard Stallman has made clear his dislike of the current war and I just wonder what your read on this matter would be.

  53. BECAUSE IT’S *TOO DANGEROUS*!!!!

    >I used to study aikido. For the same reasons I’m difficult to arm-bar, I’m nearly immune to a significant class of throws.

    yeah, i used to do a lot of judo. something noticeable is if the other person has not slipped into a mindset of playing along, it’s almost impossible to cleanly throw someone nontrivially strong who’s resisting. ippon is rare in top-tier competition, and usually comes only at the end of a series of progressively off-balancing failed attacks, for example.

    >My arm strength has another odd consequence. I’m good at hitting things, but I’ve never liked doing it with my knuckles. Palm strike, blade or ridge hand, backfist, tiger mouth, even the odd cocked-wrist strike you get in mantis kung fu, I can and will hit like a freight train with any of those – but somewhere in my backbrain lurks the settled conviction that if I ever strike a hard surface full-force with my knuckles, I’m going to break them.
    This is a bit of a problem now the MMA guys are teaching me to box Western style :-)

    a good instructor will slowly ingrain in you a muscle memory for using soft-to-hard and hard-to-soft: palm to chin, fist to muscle/organs, for example. to the point where you’ll flinch watching people mis-choose in noncontact sparring.

    >gym

    yeah, not good exercise for the body. it’s all i have at the moment, but due to my previous martial arts, at 68kg, i bench 110. the gym junkies doing the same are all over 100kg. and sneer at my weediness until they see me do that, then look at me with unconcealed hate.

    >You have bulky abs?

    this is not uncommon. a powerlifter mate of mine in uni looked almost round-gutted. built in the bear style, a bit like eric but much more so. strong as i was at the time, i COULD NOT bend his stomach with my fist.

    at the time, i myself couldn’t be hurt by a stomach strike. my gut was stronger than i weighed — you’d throw me back but not bend the stomach. surreal case back then: sparring a guy in his 2nd dan grading (10-15kg heavier than me), mis-read his spin as a spinning kick, leaped forward to kidney punch mid-spin, caught a lightning fast back kick on my solar plexus while i was in the air, landed nearly 2foot behind where i’d jumped from. “ARE YOU ALL RIGHT!?!” “no, i’m PISSED OFF!!” hideously embarrassed i misread the turn so badly.

    i’d fold up like a british bank if you did that to me now :D

    >is the circumference of your waist larger than the circumference around your hips? If so, you’re overweight (by a lot).

    nah, depends on body type. this pattern is not uncommon among powerlifters, for example.

    >(You didn’t bring it up, but I’ll state here and now that BMI is horseshit, btw.)

    awesomely so. i jumped on a new fat-tester scales thing at the gym recently, it said 16% fat (i knew i was padding up but still painful — used to be 3%), and that my BMI rated me at the top end of overweight, a shade under obese. and i’m average height!!

    i remember reading that the entire english rugby team was clinically obese according to BMI. YOU can tell them that, if you like :D

  54. >>gladiator
    >And on the off-chance that Cathy will ’splain that
    she really said/meant Roman soldier

    the french army has kept extraordinarily detailed records for a very long time. at the time of the french revolution, the average height of soldiers was a shade over 5foot and the average weight something silly like 100lbs.

    diet. much poorer back then. compression of population vs food, population expansion not yet caught up by technology/food-productivity improvements.

  55. >at the time of the french revolution, the average height of soldiers was a shade over 5foot

    This doesn’t necessarily mean what you think it does. They’d have been using the old pre-metric French foot (pied du roi), which was based on an “inch” (pouce) of 2.71cm rather than 2.54cm. Thus one French foot equaled 1.066 English feet, or 12.792 inches. This is the source of the common misconception that Napoleon was extremely short; he was 5’2″ in French measure but 5’7″ in English, and just under average height for his time.

  56. hmm! i was unaware of the difference b/w the french&english foot — ta.

    not sure if the numbers i saw were scaled or not. pretty sure i’m not interested in trying to dig them up again this many years later, to determine that. so i’ll just have to tag that observation as “highly dubious” for now, despite the matching weights. bugger. but ta.

  57. I’m not convinced of the value of western boxing in MMA. Personally I would expect Judo+Thai boxing to be the best combo.

    The issue with boxing in MMA is they are ignoring history. Initially boxing was a bare handed sport and a specific way of punching was developed. Later as the sport changed to have the big gloves the method for punching changed. In MMA the situation is either bare hand or with 4oz gloves, but the fighters continue to punch the same way leading to lots of broken hands. Very few fighters punch appropriately for the smaller gloves. One such fighter is Chuck Liddel. Watch how his hands are when he throws a punch. It should look something like this: http://www.savateaustralia.com/Savate%20Essays/Bare-Knuckles%20to%20Modern%20Boxing.htm

  58. >http://www.savateaustralia.com/Savate%20Essays/Bare-Knuckles%20to%20Modern%20Boxing.htm

    A very, very interesting essay. Logical, informative, well presented; high marks. Really puts my misgivings about knuckle strikes in historical focus.

    I differ with Ruzicki in one detail. He rather deprecates a close or “tuck” guard, but I’ve found that a tuck guard over the body works well against Asian-style fighters who aren’t specifically trained to go for head shots. OTOH, his explanation of the longer stance and guard you see in old engravings of bare-knuckle fighters is extremely illuminating, especially to anyone with multi-style sparring experience.

  59. > I’m not sure why this is. Maybe there’s an evolved mechanism that encourages submission to older males?

    Positive feedback (*on expectations of success). Young men have different reasons for fighting. A seemingly unwinnable fight, due to perceived unfair ‘non-skill’ advantages, makes it not fun anymore.

  60. actually, boxing was originally bare-knuckle. and head-shots (“hard targets” i mentioned above) were almost never taken with the closed fist. though were taken with open arm/elbow sweeps. similar to rugby union vs rugby league, until Queensbury you couldn’t tell a boxer by the face. you will notice that in unconstrained full-contact bouts with light or no gloves, punches to the head typically have no immediate (combat) effect and typically marmalise the puncher’s hand. i remember a bout where a judo champion broke his hand and arm in many many places punching a much smaller opponent (in a lock and on the ground) in the head. the guy eventually gave up. but he gave up as a conscious decision, to reduce the future damage (to his social life).

    the trick, incidentally, is that knock-outs are triggered by jolting the skull/spine joint, NOT the brain. watch even modern boxing for clear examples: the overwhelming bulk of modern boxing clean knockouts come from a strike to the skull-neck part of the neck, rather than the classic shot to the chin (which IS extremely effective but tellingly is more effective on a circular blow sideways than any strike upwards: the knockout comes from triggering the skull-neck protection, not from jolting the brain).

    eric: i agree with you re specifically-trained fighters, but for unconstrained fighting we found that even vs kick-focussed styles guarding the chin emphatically dominated all other guards for non-leglength-distance fighting. which all fighting rapidly becomes once either party’s reluctance-to-engage is overcome.

  61. ^chin^chin/ears
    “put your ears on” is the boxer phrase — for us (in fighting crouch), get your guard round your chin, and when it gets frantic get your fists up in front of your temples. touching safest, if you’ve got gloves.

    worked for tyson. worked for us.

  62. Given your martial accomplishments Eric, I’m curious. When did you actually start your formal martial training? I’m more interested in the fists and blades rather than the guns.

  63. >When did you actually start your formal martial training?

    About 1989. So I’ve had about 20 years at this.

  64. You’re in your early fifties now? That would mean you started in your early 30s. That’s kind of late isn’t it? I’m impressed by your level of achievements.

  65. >You’re in your early fifties now? That would mean you started in your early 30s.

    Correct on both counts. I did start rather late.

  66. Didn’t you have any physical flexibility trouble? At the school where I go, some of the folks in their mid 30s have trouble actually moving quickly. Perhaps it’s because they lead a rather sedentary life otherwise.

  67. that’s more a function of the automatic reflex to protect the joints where the general muscle condition has degraded and all the “small” muscles around the joints are no longer able to safely hold it vs fast acceleration.

    people who stay fit don’t have that problem. well, if the “fitness” is whole-body, such as you get from martial arts.

    an interesting pattern among martial artists is a gathering strength as they age. the young are weak, the old are strong.

  68. >an interesting pattern among martial artists is a gathering strength as they age. the young are weak, the old are strong.

    That fits me. I am much stronger now that I was in my twenties.

    >Didn’t you have any physical flexibility trouble?

    I did and do, but it’s not from age; it’s from the cerebral palsy.

  69. Okay. You sound ‘blessed’ in some sense. I haven’t met anyone in real life who’s very agile and who was not trained (formally or otherwise) at a very young age in some physical discipline.

  70. interestingly, at a world-class level, the reverse is disproportionately true. my sensei was the australiasian freestyle champion, and he was introduced to martial arts (physical exercise…) in his mid-teens specifically in order to try to overcome his extreme uncoordination. darcy bussell started ballet about the age most dancers start dropping out.

  71. >Okay. You sound ‘blessed’ in some sense. I haven’t met anyone in real life who’s very agile and who was not trained (formally or otherwise) at a very young age in some physical discipline.

    “Agile” is not a word anyone would use to describe me, alas. “Strong”, yes; “tricky”, yes; and “a right bastard at close-quarters work”, occasionally; but “agile”, no. Agile people can p0wn my sorry butt if they’re good at distance control.

    I’m inclined to think Saltation has done the correct analysis; my blessing is that I have the whole-body strength to support and protect my joints well, so I can move fast and hit hard without my backbrain jamming me up because it thinks I’m gonna blow a gasket. Not many 51-year-old-men can report that they’ve never yet had a second of joint trouble, so there must be something in my physiology that’s helping protect them.

    And Saltation’s put his finger on something else, too; my experience has been that I’m getting tougher as I age. I don’t expect that to keep being true past 60, because at some point my connective tissues will start losing elasticity seriously, but the 20-somethings at my dojo who’ve sparred with me even once tend to get a serious what-the-fuck look on their faces when they find out I’m old enough to be daddy.

    In truth, it startles me sometimes, too. If anyone had told me how physically capable I’d be at this age back when I was thirty years younger, I’d have wondered what drugs they were on. I can remember when I expected 50 to mean “old and past it”, and now I’m having huge fun demonstrating that anyone who doesn’t take me seriously will get schooled. Heh.

  72. Hi esr, I looked you up after realizing you had a hand in coding in Wesnoth, and had a look at your blog again. BTW I like the transparent windows, they are cool. I used to read your blog something like 5 years ago. Interesting that you are now starting BJJ. I’ve done it for a bit over a year now.

    What you say is true regarding strength and armbars. See Fedor versus Mark Hunt. Fedor is probably the best heavyweight MMA fighter ever, and certainly up there in pound for pound. He loves the arm bar. Mark Hunt is a massively strong Samoan. Fedor tries to armbar Hunt and just can’t do it. He eventually hangs in there long enough for Hunt to gas, and submits him. It’s a classic fight, probably the closest I’ve seen Fedor to losing. Fedor is a way more experienced grappler than Hunt, but Hunt is stronger and is doing exactly what you do (when you can that is).

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8203619605884626864

    Technique does play a part. Wait until someone skilled gets you in an armbar from knee ride (knee on belly). It’s a lot more tight than the armbar from mount, for example. If your opponent gets his hips on your shoulder and his knees holding your upper arm, he has a lot of leverage (he’s not pulling your arm into himself, he’s pulling your arm into empty space) and the friction from his legs will stop you being able to just yank your arm out. It also helps to be pulling on your wrist normal to the lever. However, I haven’t seen much use of the knee ride from the white belts in my class so I doubt you will see this unless you roll with blue or purple belts. (I’d also be wary trying to armbar someone with a size advantage from mount – it’s too easy to end up in a bad position and in a world of hurt. Better to go for a choke – you don’t lose position and weights won’t help your neck vs a choke).

    Of course, if you are doing it smart (as you say) you probably haven’t given your opponents many opportunities to arm bar you from those positions, especially if you have a size advantage. You’d be hanging out in side control while they are gassing themselves, like I do. In fact, you’d probably like the knee ride. If someone is really fighting you in side control, creating space, pushing you towards their hips… give them some space! Get up, drop the knee, and watch them hand out some free armbars. Or drop back in side control, rinse, lather, repeat. (Not sure the extent to which your legs are paralyzed, maybe this won’t work for you).

    Just remember that learning is somewhat proportional to the number of different moves attempted during a roll, so crushing your opponent in side control isn’t teaching you much technique. I like to give my opponents a dominant position and work my way out of them, especially if I have a size advantage. I learn more, and when I do go against someone bigger, I know my escapes.

    You’ll love BJJ, it’s extremely addictive. It really rewards the intelligent and analytical. You’ve already figured out “position before submission”. That’s key. Again, to improve at a maximal rate you will want to know how to upgrade every position. Have two submissions from mount or side control (the two shown in the Fedor vs Hunt video are probably enough for now – you can muscle the arm one way or another with those figure fours sufficient to reset the roll). The rest of your inventory should be escapes and sweeps from every position. This ensures that none of your rolling time is wasted – you always have an objective at any given point in time, and you are always integrating some part of your inventory of moves into your rolling so that they become second nature. At a later date you can learn some subs from inferior positions – learning them now is like trying for some sort of Bobby Fischer style sacrificial checkmate before you even know the value of the pieces, how to use forks, discovered check etc. to get material advantage and win that way.

    BTW I’m not surprised that you’d be stronger than in your twenties especially if you weren’t doing anything much physical during that time. Strength training is cumulative to a point, and if you keep it up you will maintain it. There are some freakishly strong powerlifters in the gym I used to train at, in their mid-40s. If you can double or triple the strength you’d have as an untrained adult until say, age 35, and at age 50 there might be a 10-20% drop off, you are still significantly stronger than the average for your size.

    Even if they didn’t know any grappling I’d be very cautious taking on someone twice or even 50% stronger as measured by something like squats, deads or bench. Especially if striking was involved. You just want to hope you survive until they gas.

  73. pleasure to see someone Involved contribute

    >long enough for Hunt to gas … You’d be hanging out in side control while they are gassing themselves

    i don’t know this usage/language of “gas”/”gassing themselves” — could you explain? do you mean hitting fitness limits (with concomitant sudden usable strength drop)?

  74. Hi Saltation, and thanks.

    Yes, gassing is exactly as you say. Reaching the limits of your endurance by being above your aerobic threshold for too long. I assume that the expression means “out of gas”. You can see this in the Hunt fight, where Hunt basically falls over as he is taken down, with virtually no resistance.

    Gassing has all sorts of bad consequences for grappling, probably more so than stand-up. You won’t be able to explode when necessary, or even sustain much movement, which is usually somewhat necessary to escape inferior positions. Your ability to think (and hence, seize opportunities and not make mistakes) is also severely curtailed. Gassing almost always results in a loss – your opponent will sense your energy level much better than in a striking situation, where you might be able to fool him.

    As a newbie, you have two options. The first one is to do nothing and get submitted. The second option is to flail around for a few minutes, gas, then get submitted. Most choose the latter.

  75. You’re in your early fifties now? That would mean you started in your early 30s. That’s kind of late isn’t it? I’m impressed by your level of achievements. Good luck for further plans. :)

  76. Given your martial accomplishments Eric, I’m curious. When did you actually start your formal martial training? I’m more interested in the fists and blades rather than the guns.

  77. >Given your martial accomplishments Eric, I’m curious. When did you actually start your formal martial training?

    Hand-to-hand: Started more or less continuous training in 1990 when I was 33. I’d had maybe six weeks in college before that.

    Blades: Started in 2005 when I was 48. I’d had dibs and dabs of the sort of Asian sword-work that gets tacked on to their empty-hand styles before that.

    Guns: Starting in 1987 when I was thirty. Had some childhhood experience plinking with a family .22 to build on.

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