Carl Cooper’s Toxic Fighting System

images Carl Coopers Toxic Fighting System

Carl Cooper’s Toxic Fighting System

The past few weeks I’ve been lucky enough to be working my way through Carl Cooper’s Toxic Fighting System 3 set of DVDs. I’d seen a lot of Carl in publications such as Martial Arts Illustrated, met him a few times and was impressed with the simplicity of the Toxic Fighting System and so couldnt wait to get started with the DVDs. I wasn’t disappointed!

As said, the Toxic Fighting System DVD set is made up of 3 DVDs – Volume 1 The Fortress, Volume 2 Core Striking and Volume 3 Defences against being kicked on the ground. Let’s get started!

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First thing to be said, the logo is f***ing cool! Professional, clean and really stands out! The DVD intro is professional as well with the usual disclaimers then some funky music and a snippet of what will be covered in DVD 1 – The Fortress! As the name suggests, the Fortress is all about protection and positioning in order to counter strike and defend the head. The idea is well explained by Carl and tested with progressively harder punches in order to build confidence in the effectiveness of the Fortress as a principle. The Fortress is then explained in both attack as well as defence, entering in and seeking vulnerable targets to strike with elbows, hammers or headbutts. The first DVD goes through various drills and exercises to build this up and show it’s application and thats the first DVD done!

…But wait! There’s more! Out takes! That’s right, in a very Jackie Chan-esque way, the last 10 minutes or so of teh DVD are out takes which I have to admit are quite amusing and a nice way to round off a DVD dealing with the fairly serious topic of street attacks!

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On to Volume 2 – Core Striking. Again the intro shows what will be covered in a little snippet and the main principles of striking are well explained again by Carl who shows his depth of knowledge. Carl also shows the efficacy of these techniques for everyone in the form of his student Mike, affectionately known as “Wobbly” who has cerebral palsy in his legs. Despite this, Mike is shown demonstrating some pretty impressive hammers and rhinos during this DVD set. The Rhino is looked at first and again, explained technically then put into application from both empty hand and knife. Other strikes such as hammer fists (double and single) are looked at as well as “The Shockwave”, a nifty little strike you’ll have the get the DVDs to see ;). The DVD once again ends with some banter (Carl’s a pussy take 1) and out takes, and that’s DVD 2!

The 3rd and final DVD covers ground work defence from kicks and stomps in kneeling, sitting and lying down positions. Some cheeky rolls to take legs out are also added and multiple attack scenarios covered as, as most of us know, fights are rarely one on one anymore. More out takes and banter and that’s a wrap!

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Overall thoughts? A comprehensive, practical and legally defensible system of self defence with great explanation in the DVDs by Carl. Is it flashy? Not really… Is it functional? Definitely and that ultimately is what is needed for the streets. Carl does well to cover a large amount of info in sizeable chunks with a good teaching style and base of knowledge. The out takes are fun extras and the fact Mike or “Wobbly” features heavily in the 3 DVD set shows the system works for everyone. Some of you may or may not know that Carl has had a big role in the `Warriors Assemble` awards in a few weeks time, the Midge Ure to Tony Pillage’s Bob Geldof. The event celebrates people in the martial arts who have overcome adversity and pushed on and for Carl to be a leading figure in this event (which I can’t wait for) says something about him as a person. I highly recommend these DVDs for anyone really, either to use as system on its own, or to incorporate into another style or system.

To invest in your self defence training and get these DVDs follow the link HERE for DVD 1, HERE for DVD 2 or HERE for DVD 3. Alternatively you can message Carl Cooper on facebook for the DVDs or email toxicfighting@aol.com and a deal can be done for my lovely readers!

To purchase tickets to `Warrior’s Assemble` on 24th October which again I highly recommend with paralympic medalists as guest speakers as well as Alex Reid as host visit a link to the website HERE

Bob Breen Interview Part 1!

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Bob Breen Interview Part 1

Here it is guys and girls! The Bob Breen interview part 1! A legend in the martial arts, and go to guy for self defence, here Bob talks about his early days in martial arts, his own philosophy of self defence, and his cross branding with Andy Norman and Defence Lab, Phil Norman and Ghost, and Eddie Quinn with The Approach. Enjoy and as ever please feel free to comment, subscribe, share and like 🙂

How did you begin your training in the martial arts?

I started Karate at the end of 1966, getting my black belt in 1970. Roundabout then I opened my own school one of the first schools in the  UK to be run by a non-Japanese. I fought for England and captained the England team and things like that. Then in 1971-72 we started doing a bit of grappling, so we were cross training even then really, predominantly Judo stuff. I was always interested in the cross-training approach, it resonated with my personal experience. There was a comic strip in the Evening Standard  called `Modesty Blaise`, books too, and that had the idea of cross training and fighting in it. It was JKD before JKD had even happened! So I was enthralled by this idea of combat as I’d had quite a few fights on the street growing up so knew it didn’t quite go as it did in the dojo! In many ways I was primed up for JKD and Kali. I got into Eskrima in 1978 and met Dan Inosanto when I invited him over the UK in 1979! I became a huge advocate of JKD and Kali after that, and have followed Guru Dan from that time onwards.

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Would you say that your previous experience having fights on the street etc led you into the martial arts?

Not especially, I was just intrigued by it. I’d had fights and I remember having a fight with a guy called Andy who was an amateur boxer. I had loads of spirit but no technique, I was just scrappy! So for me it was just a journey of enquiry, it looked beautiful and it wasn’t just about the fighting it was the discipline and speed. I remember my first teacher Tatsuo Suzuki, just being unbelievably fast! It was of the age as well, there was `Odd Job` around and things were opening up changing, people were getting interested in the martial arts. Nowadays I don’t think people understand how closed everything was then, but times were changing.

In terms of the JKD, what was it that originally drew you to it and made you think this is for me?

Initially I don’t think it was the art of JKD specifically,  I was into Bruce Lee before that had been publicised , I used to go to China Town and watch the films in Chinese and be the only English person in the audience! I was intrigued by the idea of Bruce, Definitely the best and most realistic on the screen. When JKD articles came out showing pictures of his approach I thought ‘Well we do that anyway’ but what set Lee apart was the level of his integration and thinking. He was on a much higher level. What intrigued me about Dan Inosanto was the Filipino arts and what he did with that. His visit with Jeff Imada was amazing. It showed how they could go from empty hand, to knife, to stick, to battle axe, to grappling, back to empty hand. They wouldn’t have a plan; they would just flow and could handle everything. It was amazing and in truth I still think that evening in 79 was one of the best demos of the art I’ve ever seen.

What do you think JKD can offer today?

JKD was the original cross training or MMA as Bruce was into everything. Done well I think it’s what many of the top fighters are using today, at least conceptually. Lee’s influence has been immense. However I think a lot of it has been lost as people are caught up in technique, they know everything but can they do everything? This for me is why I developed 4D. It’s a sort of reference back to the original principles of JKD. 4D is functional, you have to be able to use it practically and apply it. 4D is nearly 50 years of sparring and fighting in every format and thinking how do you take all that knowledge and make it really easy to learn. prioritise it, adding a strategic structure to it, so that whatever happens you’re in charge. All the guys doing 4D now say they feel less fear, are more confident, and get more things to happen due to the simplicity of it. The choices are small, but because of that you get everything. If I’m punching you in the head you can’t have 20 thoughts in your head, its fight or flight. All the decision making is binary like this and natural so it’s quick.

Then we work on the what would be traditional JKD concepts like non telegraphic striking so when we hit you can’t stop it! However in 4D it’s not acceptable just to know it, you have to be able to make it work. It’s almost like a computer game; if you want the next level you need a certain score. If I want to progress I need to land 8 out of10 jabs against a defended target, then I understand and really know the jab and can move on. We do this on everything; everything is tested. It’s an evolution of the JKD idea, Bruce’s ideas were fabulous but it’s been evolved. You’ve interviewed Phil Norman, and I think you’re interviewing Andy Norman too, and all these guys have done the same thing, they’ve evolved and simplified. 4D have taken practicality first and built from there. People seem to like it, I’ve been hitting world champions in the head and they all say it’s like WOW! Mind blown!

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3 steps to being a better training partner

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3 steps to being a better training partner

Having a great training partner can make your training more efficient, effective and fun! However having a sloppy training partner can have the opposite effect and be a real drain both physically and mentally when you’re training. The need to be the best partner you can is needed regardless of whether you are practicing a traditional martial art, a sport martial art, or a reality based martial art, and so is a crucial stage in the development of your martial arts training. There’s a few little tricks and tips below that will make you a better training partner so give them a go and see if they work!

1) Communication in training!

Communication is absolute key when you’re training. Communication with your partner, communication with your instructor and communication with the people training around you. Poor communication can lead to really poor training as well as accidents on the mat. Having good communication with the people you’re training with can not only improve your technique but can also lead to a safer learning environment. So communicate!! Ask questions, asks how techniques feel, ask if you’re holding the pads at the right height or the right angle, see if you can do anything to improve your partners technique. This will not only improve your own technique but also the technique of your partner, leading to a step up in skill for the whole class!

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2) Relax in training!

I’m sure we all know that there’s nothing worse than a partner who acts like a surfboard with arms. Sometimes it makes it easier to do the techniques as they’ve already locked themselves up, but it’s annoying and feels like you’re just partnering a brick! Relaxation is also key to preventing injuries. The injuries I’ve seen happen during martial arts training have been when someone has tensed up during a technique or panicked and locked themselves up, leading to tweeked or broken shoulders, wrists etc. So try and relax for your partner, it makes it easier for them to see where the technique goes when you’re working together and prevents you getting injured. If you’re going to resist, fight back or train in a more realistic scenario, make sure its agreed upon with your partner through the tip above….COMMUNICATION!

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3) Improve your own technique

One of the best ways to be a good partner is to be a good martial artist in general and be able to do the punch, kick, throw, pin etc. competently yourself. If you yourself can do the technique, you know how it is meant to feel and so can receive the punch, kick, throw, pin etc better as well as giving tips and pointers for your partner through COMMUNICATION. If you know how the technique is meant to go, you can RELAX more as there’s no surprises and you know where you are going, leading to a better technique for your partner and less chance of injury for yourself.

Being a good partner is part and parcel of being a good martial artist. It can prevent injuries and through being a good partner you can also improve your own technique. So communicate more, relax when you’re working with your partner and make sure you yourself know the techniques and have a strong foundation of training!! If you enjoyed the article please, as always share, like, comment and subscribe 🙂

Happy Training!

The Role of Atemi (Striking) in Aikido

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The Role of Atemi in Aikido

Atemi can sometimes be forgotten about during our Aikido training. Aikido’s focus on throws, locks, pins and subduing the attacker without hurting them where possible does not often coincide with punching someone, yet the effectiveness of some techniques relies on the proper use of atemi. We don’t look for the knockout blow in Aikido, we strike as a distraction to allow us to perform our technique, or as a way of unbalancing the opponent in order to throw or apply a lock.

Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, said that in a real situation, atemi is 70% of the fight, with 30% being locks and pins. Shioda Gozo, founder of Yoshinkan Aikido, agreed with this analysis from his time spent in street fights during his youth. Shioda sensei argues that although overt punching and kicking training is not done in Aikido, such as through the use of punchbags or makiwara, training is still done. Every movement in Aikido comes from the hips, and every move aims to deliver hip power and movement. Is this not exactly what is needed for effective atemi? A poor punch comes from the arm, using the muscles there to employ power. A more effective punch however, comes from the hips with the arm relaxed until the very moment of impact when the full force of the hips and arms is combined. This allows for more efficient striking, allowing us to perform more strikes with more power.

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Morihei Ueshiba applying a strike to the ribs of Gozo Shioda

If we look at the basic movements of Aikido or the kihon dosa, all focus on projecting the hips and developing hip power. Although we aren’t punching a bag for hours on end, we are still developing hip power, and therefore striking power and as said, this is still a crucial aspect of Aikido training. There are those that argue that we should not need to atemi in Aikido or in a real situation if our technique is correct, yet I would imagine that these people have never been in a real fight and are only used to training in the setting of a dojo. The principle of Aikido to not harm the attacker is good in theory, yet in my limited experience, unrealistic. If you are fighting with someone who really wants to hurt you, whether you hurt them or not is not a consideration, getting out of that situation however you can is the priority. O’Sensei was in his later years when developing Aikido, having been through hard rigorous training in his youth and being in more than one life and death situation. Shioda sensei was similar, training hard in his youth and looking for fights to test his skills and both state that atemi in Aikido has its place and is very important.

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Striking is effective in terms of injuring opponents, but also in terms of breaking balance and developing hip power. Sometimes in training we do a technique and when done with added resistance, wonder why it doesn’t work. Sometimes the technique is done wrong, but other times, the role of atemi has been forgotten and with this added element, the technique can improve dramatically! Atemi is just one aspect of Aikido, but one I feel is sometimes neglected.