Monday, August 29, 2011

An anti-gunner makes a point I agree with

Link to article.

From an author who admittedly hates guns, he talks about a state official who says "legally carrying a gun is a crime."
Then the author goes on to point out some of the legal loopholes in the official's reasoning.

Seen on Facebook

Seen on Facebook:

"25 years ago, we had Reagan, Johnny Cash, and Bob Hope. Now we have Obama, no hope, and no cash."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Repetition in training

This is one of the "Core 10" talks I give. It is about repetition in practice and training.

In the Usagi Dojo, I have an informal repetition minimum limit of 3 reps for each person on each side of the body. 

Too many people are of the mind that they try something until they get it right, then they stop practicing the move. Problem is, then they never remember the correct method - especially when it comes time to spar.

I suggest instead that the student practice the move until they get it right, and then put into play my "3-reps" rule. This way, the student gets familiar with doing it correctly. This also gets most people just a tad tired of doing the move... which means it just became something they can remember!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Being a good training partner

In martial arts being a good training partner is essential. Specifically, arts that require a partner, like judo, jiu-jitsu, and others.

It is natural for a person to want to practice the specific offensive and defensive moves that are being shown. It can be boring to allow someone else to do the movement on you. But a good training partner not only endures, but looks to learn while being used as a training aid. This is in addition to the common courtesy one should show when training a new move.

The Obstinate:
Some people come into training with an axe to grind. They wish to prove the move ineffective - either in general, or on themselves specifically. This person is invariably a newer student. People who have studied for a while understand that nobody is immune.

The main problem with this type is that they will intentionally sabotage their training partner's attempt to perform the movement. The issue here is that their own selfishness prevents their partner from learning what they have paid to learn.

Not only that, but an obstinate training partner also prevents himself from learning. This is a person who will often give up too soon, saying they just cannot learn a move.

The Distracted:
This student is far more common in children's classes. They have a lot on their mind... or not. But one thing is for sure: the class is NOT on their mind.

In children, this situation is common for a child who is overly-medicated. Usually the medication is prescribed for ADD/ADHD. It is the opinion of the Usagi Dojo that ADD/ADHD do not exist, but are simply code words for a problem occurring in children the root cause of which lies in parenting, nutrition, and exercise. Nevertheless, Ritalin and similar medications cause a person to "zone-out" and lose focus. Kind of ironic since one of the "symptoms" of "ADD/ADHD" is lack of focus.

When seen in adults, this student rarely stays in class more than a month or so. This is the person that leaves, and usually has a mild complaint about the instructor, the setting, the location, or some other trivial matter.

The "Other Art" guy:
This person studied another art, and they feel that gives them some edge in this art. Sometimes (albeit rarely) this is true. More often, though, it is simply the way this person wants to be. They try to make your art fit to theirs.

If the truth were known, this person really wishes they were doing their old art. But for some reason, they aren't any more.

There are many other types of poor training partners, but these are the main ones. If you see any of these symptoms in yourself, try to lose the baggage first; before class. You'll learn a lot more, and you'll enjoy class more.

If you notice another student with one of these issues, try to help as best you can. Rotate training partners so you can limit the amount of damage the person can do to any one of the more serious students.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How to arm bar

In a previous article, I discussed juji gatame - the arm bar. Let's talk about how to apply the arm bar.

First things first, juji gatame can be applied from many positions. It can be applied form transitions, as well. As always, an alert student will be looking for an indicator - something that the opponent does that signifies an arm bar can applied. Generally speaking, this is the case when the elbow comes free from the body with enough separation.

Now we have to get into position:
- Secure the opponent's arm above the elbow.
- Shift hips to prepare to move leg.
- Move leg over opponent's head.
- Final hip shift(s) and adjustment to get into position.

Next, we have to secure the arm:
- Keeping opponent's arm secured above the elbow, glue opponent's elbow to your chest.
- Use any of a number of arm peeling techniques to break whatever grip the opponent uses.
- Arch back to straighten arm.

Now, we apply pressure:
- Make sure opponent's thumb is pointing away from your chest.
- Squeeze knees together.
- Press down on opponent's head with your leg.
- Glue opponent's wrist to your chest.
- Lift hips slowly.

It really is that simple. Practice!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Transitions in the martial arts are important. So much of training is done from fairly static positions or postures, and then live sparring incorporates these wonderful things called transitions.

Transitions have several types of categories. Broadly speaking, there are transitions between positions, transitions from one attack to another, transitions from one defense to another, and transitions from position to attacks/defenses.

Transitions between positions:
In Jiu-Jitsu, it is common to go from side to mount, or from inside the opponent's guard to the side. There are many other variables as well. Most of these transitions are studied in detail.

Transitions between attacks:
Often referred to as combinations, or attack chains, these transitions allow the practitioner to set up an opponent for a submission. Because it is far more difficult to defend multiple attacks, these transitions allow a higher percentage of success than single attacks.

Transitions between defenses:
Arts that teach transitions between defenses understand that just like when attacking, defending with multiple escape options allows a higher percentage of success.

Transitions between positions and attack:
Not commonly taught in Jiu-Jitsu, but trademark of the old style of Judo, a person attempting escape is vulnerable to being caught in a submission. In fact, the vulnerability is greater in a transitional position than in a classic "hold-down" type position.

In Judo, there are five broad hold downs:
- Tate shiho gatame (mount) and variations on same.
- Yoko shiho gatame (side) and variations on same.
- Kami shiho gatame (north/south) and variations on same.
- Kata gatame (shoulder hold / arm triangle)
- Kesa gatame (headlock / scarf hold) and variations on same.

Of those hold downs, Kata gatame has no major variations. However, it can be used as an actual submission - that being a choke.

Submission from Pins
Of the four hold downs with multiple variations, the ability to strike an opponent is relatively easy and effective from mount, side and scarf holds. And though prohibited in Judo or Jiu-Jitsu competition, it was seen in judo as a dominant position because of the practicality in actual combat.  I personally add back control with the opponent face down and flat into this category.

When speaking of the major hold downs, the only real submissions that can be effected against an opponent with decent defense from any of them would include ude garami (arm lock) and juji jime (cross choke) and variations on same. Some might point to juji-gatame (arm bar), but there is a difference with juji gatame. 

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, they say that you give up position to gain the arm bar. This is truth, the position changes for the practitioner to be able to move to the arm bar, because the whole body is moved in position around the opponent's arm. In a self-defense situation or MMA, depending on circumstance, it may not be advantageous to risk a juji gatame attempt and potentially lose position.

Submissions from Holds
Kamishiho gatame - "north/south" (my dojo calls it the Wedge position) is a unique pin. In Judo, one can win with this pin if applied for 25 seconds. However, striking from this pin is more limited than striking from Mount, Side, or Scarf holds.  Because of these facts, I put it in a category with other holding positions like Guard, Back control, and Modified Mount (mounted, but opponent is on his side). These positions offer excellent opportunities for juji gatame and other attacks.

Wedge, back, guard, and modified mount offer numerous opportunities for juji gatame as a primary attack, and various chokes or arm locks as backup attacks.

Submissions from Fully Transitional Positions
Fully transitional positions - Turtle, Sprawl, and Half Guard offer limited opportunities for submissions. Turtle is the best of them from which to submit the opponent, and half guard is worst. 

Train hard friends!


Arm Bar

The standard cross arm bar, juji gatame, is one of the most commonly used techniques in jiu-jitsu and judo. It sees widespread use in MMA and submission grappling. Here is a nice article on the move and its use in Judo.

One of the things that makes juji gatame so useful is the fact that it can be applied from numerous positions. Most finishing holds can only be applied from just a few positions. Juji gatame can be applied from every major position of advantage: Mount, Guard, Side, Back, headlock, turtle, Wedge (aka "North-South"), and even from the standing clinch.

Juji gatame also combines well with other techniques like collar chokes (i.e. - juji jime) and arm locks (i.e. - ude garami).

A good student of the martial arts will not only learn juji gatame, but will master it as it is one of the most commonly used techniques to be found.
Saw this posted online some time back. Not sure if I agree 100%, but the author hits it on the head.
Edited for language and accuracy.

Item 1: Do not listen to what women have to say about women. They are not privy to the keen powers of self-instropection, nor are they honest when the mirror paints the picture of womanhood in a less-than-flattering light. If women were to be trusted about how they tick, we'd all have it figured out, and women would be happy. Society is afraid of saying what I am, that women have been led to believe they are a noble half of the human race, and more suited to matters of the heart. Fact is, they're just as clueless as you. Next.

Item 2: Women are 95% a product of the relationship (or lack thereof) between they and their fathers. Men are made by their mothers, women by their dads. If daddy beat them, left them, or otherwise was a [dirtbag], you had better believe they will not have healthy impulses and chaos will follow them throughout their days. This is an absolute, so trust me when I say, if they don't have a healthy relationship with pops, they're not having one with you either, so run. Yes, they're going to be fun in [bed], but trust That other 5% of their nature comes from lucky genetics, but you're not turning that into anything by yourself. You ain't fixing a broken girl, so just run.

Item 3: To attract women, you need but one be in charge. Not necessarily of the world or the building you work in, but in charge of your surroundings. You need to be in charge of whatever setting you and the women will be in. In any herd of animals, the females obey the alpha. You must be, no matter what the situation, the "guy". You might need to be the funny guy, or the cool guy, or the host, or the entertainer, or even the "taken" one, but you had better be the center of attention that day. To be this thing, you need some confidence, you need your [stuff] in order, and you need some sort of talent that will put you in the alpha spot - no matter if that's at the library or at the night club. Women do not fawn at the slowest, weakest gazelle. They look at what's running out front, and follow. Get your life in order. Women are not laying in the tub right now [fantasizing] about a gun nut who's playing Rainbow Six in his mom's basement. You follow? This leads me to item 4.

Item 4: Women, real women, do not want a boy. They want a man, so be one. Don't get [idiotic] haircuts, tribal tats, spinners for your [subpar] car, the latest trendy clothes or skin care products. These are the tools of vain boys, and a woman does not want these things from you even if she acts like she does. You may get some dates, you may get laid, you may even get married by being a boy.....but bet your [bottom dollar] that your woman will dream of a man (which is not you).

Item 5: Women want sex as often as you, but for different reasons. See, women have sex for very different reasons than we do. They have it to feel sexy, to feel loved, to feel wanted, even to feel in charge....but they don't have that physical drive like us. Women's physical drive is to get pregnant, even if they don't know that's why. Even if they say it is not. They have a strong urge to reproduce. Period.

Men, by contrast, have sex to purge the evil venom from our testicles, or to satisfy some ego trip about some beautiful girl, and that's about the extent of it.

Item 6: There is nothing a woman can sniff out like desperation. If you have even one tiny cell of creepy in you, she'll smell it all over you like a possum carcass in the sun. One of the lessons of adulthood is [FLIPPING] RELAX. Do it, for all our sakes. Don't chase women, for there is no need. Be a man, be yourself, have a good time and get your life in order, and the women will forever come to you. Believe this fellas.....nothing could be truer.

Item 7: Women, contrary to another urban legend, are [dirtbags] too. They will have you convinced, if you talk to them enough, that they are the masters of reason and emotion. BS, fellas. They are contriving, maniacal masters of chaos and work feverishly against their own happiness sometimes. Nothing will disturb a woman so deeply to her core as true contentment. Some women shudder at the thought of a placid, pleasing life. It's a very rare thing, a woman at peace and comfortable with when you find one, say "I do" and keep her away from other women. Wanna see proof of this? Work along side a lot of women. When one finds happiness, the others go about dismantling hers with ant-like industry. Nothing on earth is quite so destructive as women screwing with a happy one. It's a pretty safe bet that if your lady friends hang out with other girls, they will try (even unwittingly), to [mess] you up. Sorry girls, you know this one is true.

Item 8: Get to know your prospective inlaws....even if you "have no idea you're going to marry the girl you're banging." If you don't love them like they're your own parents, RUN. Seriously, it's that simple. Run. Look at their relationship - her mother and father's. Look at it hard, because that's you in 25 years....or some variation of it. Your woman will make sure of it, because she's hard wired to.

Item 9: A woman's beauty is her worst enemy, and her only true servant. Be very afraid of a woman who has relied, or counted on her looks to survive or succeed - for when those looks or your attention to them wanes, she will self-destruct before your eyes. You will come home to find her gone, or on top of your best friend. Again, not to drive a point too fine, but stay away from the 10's. A stripper model does not live to enjoy a 50 year wedding anniversary, and she will not change your diapers when you're old. Believe it or not, that stuff really matters. You, like women, are driven by your nature. If you're always attracted to the worst kind of women, it's not their fault bucko. It's fight your impulses and go with what's smart not what "feels good".

Item 10: Lastly, I leave you with this. It's a difficult lesson to be a man. It's a painful, self-sacrificing labor and part of the human condition to be a man. You must accept that much of your life and your ties to women rely on your honor and your good nature. Sadly, most of us choose our mates based on nothing more than a tiny dab of sexual experience and a lot of ignorance about human nature. The women you meet, fall in love with, screw, and hurt, are all human beings with complex pasts, desires and dreams.

Treat each woman, no matter who she is, as if she is your best friend's girl. Give her respect, even if you don't choose to engage her in a meaningful way. Understand that she is a daughter, a sister and someone's baby and if she's not good enough to be kind to, then leave her alone. Your dealings with the chicks will come back to haunt you, and each shitty act will be revisited on you, or your children, or your future women. Trust me really happens. Be a good man, a smart man and an observant man, and women will not be a source of pain in your life. Take my word on it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We knew it to be true

Now we have proof:

Link to article: Gun crimes in VA have dropped since concealed carry was legalized in establishments serving alcohol.

Triangle choke

The triangle choke - Sankaku Jime in Japanese - is a fundamental technique in Judo and Jiu-Jitsu. There are three main variations on the Triangle choke:

1. Mae Sankaku or front triangle.

The front triangle is the most commonly seen. Often applied from the guard, sometimes applied from the mount.

2. Yoko Sankaku or side triangle.
This triangle is rarely seen, and I believe that's because few people take the time to study it. The side triangle can be applied from side control, opponent's turtle, failed arm bars, and even when pinned under side control.

3. Ushiro Sankaku or rear triangle.
One of the rarest of the triangle chokes, this one is almost always applied from the back mount position.

This video by Stephan Kesting covers "5" triangles you should know. Great video. For the sake of clarity, he uses a side triangle for two of the five - the only difference being the setup. In order, triangles three and four in the video are side triangles. The final one is applied with the arms, so it is not exactly the same technique.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Class Dynamic

I had a student come to me recently, and express a desire to train at another dojo. I invited the student to do so, and said they would always be welcome back with me.

In speaking of this later with a different student, the comment was made: "that would really be a blow! Class would never be the same without XYZ."

While that statement is correct on the surface, it is fraught with potential traps as well. Good martial arts practice goes beyond a student, a classmate, or even an instructor. A good martial art goes beyond the dojo or even the style. Good martial arts are defined in what they bring to your life.

Back to the question at hand: would it be a blow to lose a particular student? Yes. However, all the loss would do is change the class dynamic just a bit. I have taught martial arts since 1987. I've seen students come and go. I've seen instructors come and go. One person coming or going from a dojo will make a difference, but it is not life-altering.

Just like at a job, the movement of one individual is not as damaging as some close to the situation will always believe. It is, in fact, a natural part of the change that we know as life. At a job, you will have coworkers come and go, and supervisors come and go. Rarely does that signify drastic enough change so as to cause the entire industry to go under.

Funny thing: few students ever give much thought of the white belt or yellow belt that leaves. They are always worried though, when a senior student or black belt leaves. Why is that? Really? A black belt (or senior student) is no more a person than a white belt.

For a specific dojo, the loss of the head instructor can be fatal - especially if the dojo only has that one instructor. However, the loss of a single student is never the death knell. Even in combative situations where the student leaves, and others follow, it is not fatal - even for a small dojo.

Surely, if a small dojo falls because of the loss of a student, then there was a flaw in that dojo to begin with.

Conversely, most of the time when I have seen a student leave, even in a combative situation (other students left, too, because of some dispute), the dojo winds up being even stronger. Usually, when the point of contention is no more, then other students are actually strengthened by it.

Now my situation was not one where the student would leave due to any sort of dispute. The student that would (and eventually did) leave was a top student at the time. This person simply wanted to branch out.

Post Edit: One year later, I have learned that this top student is no longer practicing the martial arts.

In either event, the old Kosen Judo maxim is this:
We do not refuse people who come to us.     
We do not chase people who leave from us. 
                                               - Hirata Sensei
Important to remember both sides of that coin.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

A new take on some of my favorite music

Never thought I'd say this: these guys are pretty good on the Cello.

Too close for comfort

As you might imagine, I am in favor of people legally carrying for self defense. I have named on this blog so many reasons why. Well, add another to the list.

Last night, a man tried to abduct a 14-year-old girl. Here in my town. At the same shopping center my children and I had just eaten supper at!

My town is one of the nicest, quietest places you can imagine. Things like this simply don't happen here very often.

Yet I still carry.

Only takes that one time to ruin your life.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Playing the AQT Game

So you want to go to Appleseed and get the coveted Rifleman patch?

Fine goal. To do so, there are a couple of methods that can give you better than average odds:
A) Be an accomplished NRA highpower shooter.
B) Prepare properly.

Since NRA highpower is a relatively unique discipline, and since not that many shooters ever really compete in it, much less get pretty good at it, I'll assume you found this blog post because you intend to do (B) from above and prepare properly.

There are a couple of things you need to know before we begin.
First - the AQT is a game. To win the prize, it is best to play the game well.
Second - Playing the game well means proper equipment, proper preparation, and proper motivation. If you cannot commit to any of these, you cannot get a patch, plain and simple.


There are several things you will need. Some are not mandatory, but strongly encouraged. If you go without too many of the strongly encouraged items, expect your scores to suffer.

1. Rifle

Ideal rifle for shooting the AQT is a Ruger 10/22, properly modified.
- Trigger modification - mandatory
- Automatic bolt-release - mandatory
- Sling (USGI style sling) and swivel studs - mandatory
- Tech-Sights or scope - mandatory
- 4 Magazines (10-round rotary) - mandatory

- Scope strongly suggested over Tech-Sights

Alternate .22LR caliber rifles:
- Marlin 795 (with Tech-Sights/scope, sling, extra mags, and a trigger job)
- Marlin 60 (with Tech-Sights/scope, sling, and a trigger job)
- Remington 597 (with Tech-Sights/scope, sling, and extra magazines)

Ideal centerfire rifle for shooting the AQT is an AR15:
- Match trigger - strongly suggested
- 20" Heavy barrel - strongly suggested
- Free-floated barrel - strongly suggested
- Scope - strongly suggested
- USGI sling - mandatory
- 4 Extra magazines - mandatory

Alternate Centerfire rifles:
- AR15 not matching the above description
- M1A
- M1 (Garand)

 It goes without saying that bringing decent ammo is as essential as bringing the correct rifle.

It also goes without saying that you should sight your rifle in at 25 yards prior to the event. Sight in with the same ammo you intend to use. 

Because Appleseed teaches sport-shooting with a sling, it goes without saying that a USGI or leather sling is mandatory equipment for the rifle.  

2. Shooting Jacket

A good shooting jacket is essential. You can "make do" with elbow pads and long sleeves, but why handicap yourself? Get a good shooting jacket from Mark and Mary at Made by Mcron.

3. Shooting Mat

Essential, and cheap. A simply foam exercise mat from Wal Mart will do just fine here for well under $10.

4. Notebook

You must take notes to be serious about improvement.

5. Sight adjustment tools.


Let's go into detail here. You will have an opportunity to learn how to shoot from "field positions" at an Appleseed, but a wise man takes his own education into his own hands. In other words, learn beforehand, fine tune with a coach present.

As an alternate way to look at it, I must point out that at my first Appleseed, an instructor actually gave me and others some very incorrect advice with regards to the building of a proper prone position. In other words - Appleseed instructors are human, too, and can (and do) make mistakes.

1. Positions
Look here at some proper shooting positions. These will differ slightly from orthodox Appleseed instruction, but in the end, these positions are more correct for precision shooting.
Prone - from the USAMU (US Army Marksmanship Unit) 
Sitting - from the CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program)
Standing - from the CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program)

Practice getting into and out of each position.

Practice staying in each position for extended periods of time.

2. Magazine changes
Also, practice mag changes. On stage 2, the sitting stage, a mag change is had after 2 rounds are fired. Same in stage 3, except the shooting and mag change is from prone position.

3. Sling
Suggestions for sling use:
Since Appleseed allows sling use in all three positions (CMP and NRA highpower shooting only allow sling use in sitting and prone), use a loop sling for all positions if possible. If loop sling is not helping your standing position, change to a hasty sling.

Practice putting on the sling over and over. 

Here is a tutorial on putting on a USGI web sling.

Here is a tutorial on putting on a leather (1907) sling. 

4. Shooting. 
When you can shoot these goals, you are going to easily take home a Rifleman patch:
Standing - when you can consistently put 4 or 5 rounds, out of 5, into a 5" target at 25 yards.
Sitting - when you can consistently put 4 or 5 rounds out of 5 into a 3" target at 25 yards.
Prone - when you can consistently put 4 or 5 rounds out of 5 into a 1" target at 25 yards. 


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Old Times' sake

This past week I reconnected with a good friend from high school. We had been best of friends, but had slowly drifted apart in college.

At one time, he had been my only confidant in the world. These days, I serve as a confidant to others far more often than I myself confide.

When I do confide in someone now, it is usually my wife. This time though, I was struggling with an issue she could not help on. Good to know my old friend was up to the task. Things are much better now due in no small part to his listening ear and good advice.

What's funny is my old friend and I share fewer things in common these days. Politically we are on opposite ends of the spectrum. But, we are still pals. And that is all that matters.