`Brutal Bouncer`- The Martial View Interviews Russell Jarmesty!

We’re starting off with a bang for our Martial View videos blogs now. We’ve set up our Martial View YouTube Channel! Have a brand new shiny Facebook page as well as our group and are full steam ahead for some fantastic interviews in the next couple of weeks including Peter Consterdine, Bob Breen, Joe Thambu and Matthew Chapman!

Our first interview since the relaunch is with a man who doesn’t really need an introduction! One of the main men in the self defence scene, a man who honed his skills on the doors of Manchester’s nightclubs. It’s Russell Jarmesty.

Russ began training in Karate when he was younger, before seeking out something that was more functional for him and finding the fantastic Trevor Roberts. After breaking his neck training, his fight career was put to an end, and so he instead tested his skills on Manchester’s doors. 1 year turned to two, which eventually turned into 15 years of experience in real life violence. He now runs Jarmesty Martial Arts Academy, based in Atherton, Manchester, teaching applied martial arts and MMA.

Never one to shy away or speak his mind, Russ is well known in the martial arts industry and in the interview below we discuss the state of martial arts, his history, times on the doors and much much more! When this man speaks on personal safety and self defence, we listen! Enjoy folks and be sure to subscribe to us on YouTube and email as well as giving us a follow on social media!

New Martial Arts YouTube Channel and Interview Time!

I am really excited to be relaunching the martial arts blog in the midst of all this Covid-19 chaos and it’s been great to have support from some fantastic martial artists, instructors and individuals who have agreed to be interviewed by moi! We’ll be posting these interviews on our new YouTube channel – and once things get moving again hopefully doing some home visits, training and video blogs too! So get subscribed to us at The Martial View on YouTube!

This week I’ll be interviewing:

Russell Jarmesty – Jarmesty Martial Arts and Brutal Bouncer
Matthew Chapman – MittMaster
Joe Thambu – Shudokan Aikido Australia.

Their names should be familiar with many, but here is a run down of their martial arts experiences for those that aren’t aware!

Russell Jarmesty

  • Russell was featured on the cover and pages of Martial Arts Illustrated “Self-Defence Special Editions”
  • Winner of numerous awards at the British Martial Arts Awards
  • Interviewed previously for Martial Master Volume 1
  • Inducted into the Martial Arts Illustrated Hall of Fame in 2012, 2013 and 2014 due to his continued work and commitment in the field of martial arts.
  • Worked as a doorman in Greater Manchester for 15 years, which has influenced his training methods incorporating ‘applied’ self-defence into his training syllabus.
  • Has taught in the local area for over 20 years, with over 200 students actively training each week.
  • One of the UK’s most sought after Self-Defence Coaches, looking after many celebrities including the one and only Frank Bruno
  • Holds Dan grades in Karate and Jujutsu
  • Teaches practical applied Jujutsu and street techniques and coaches kickboxing and MMA competitors
  • Teachers include the great Trevor Roberts (8th Dan Hanshi)

Matthew Chapman

  • Training in martial arts over 30 years
  • Undefeated ex-MMA competitor.
  • Experience in JKD, Kickboxing, Muay Thai and Ghost among many other systems
  • Coach and author
  • Owner of MittMaster
  • Owner of Teach your Passion Online

Joe Thambu Shihan

  • Began training in 1972 under his Uncle in Yoshinkan Aikido.
  • Studied Kendo, Jodo and Ju-Jitsu before establishing the first Yoshinkan Aikido dojo in Australia.
  • Tested to 5th Degree black belt in 1993 under Soke Shioda Gozo, the founder of Yoshinkan Aikido, and was the youngest non-Japanese to receive this grade at the time.
  • Worked as a doorman in Melbourne nightclubs for a number of years.
  • In 1997 received the Blitz magazine Hall of Fame Aikido Instructor of the Year award.
  • In 2005 received the award for the best demonstration at the 50th All Japan Yoshinkan Aikido Demonstration.
  • Awarded 8th Degree black belt in November 2015 by Inoue Kyoichi Kancho, 10th Dan and founder of the Aikido Shudokan.

Has Covid-19 changed the Martial Arts forever?

I’ll be honest everyone… I’m a little concerned right now and the reason for this is Covid-19…

I’ll be the first to admit that 5 or 6 weeks ago, I was definitely in the “corona-what” camp. The mindset of it’s no worse than the flu, it will all blow over in a few weeks and we were making a big deal out of nothing. I’ll also be the first to admit that I was proven wrong as time went on…

There is no doubt that the Corona pandemic will go down as a moment in history. This is the biggest world problem since the end of the second world war and those who are not a little concerned, no matter what the reason, must be living a different day to day life than the majority of us.

The health risks are for sure, very real, and potentially very scary, but the economic uncertainty is also at the forefront of people’s mind – and rightly so.

Nearly everyone has been affected by Covid-19 in some way. This could be personally, through contracting the virus, or knowing someone who has, or financially through the furloughing or jobs, or closing of non-essential business. The topics, debate and implications of Covid-19 could easily be a never-ending blog site in itself, but this is a martial arts blog and so the topic must obviously be how this industry has been affected and may even be in 2 parts! Let’s see how badly I word vomit all over this blog post!

Covid-19

On Friday 20th March 2020, the UK government announced the closure of all restaurants, pubs, non-essential shops and gyms in order to try to contain the spread of Coronavirus. For some martial arts instructors, this was a shock, for others, it was only a matter of time.

In my own academy, we had been expecting this and so had made every effort to film our pre-recorded content, establish our online members group and keep all our students in the know about the next steps. Some instructors however, were most definitely caught with their pants down when this happened.

Regardless of this however, as an industry, I feel we should be incredibly proud of ourselves in how we have managed our schools, adapted to the situation and in most cases, made the best out of a really crap situation.

After all, is this not what being a black belt is about? Is this not what we try to teach and instill in our students? Overcoming adversity, adapting to change, staying positive and focusing on solutions rather than problems. Time to practice what we preach perhaps!

In a matter of maybe a few days or a week, the vast majority of professional martial arts academies had moved their schools online. Needs must. We all love being at the academy, we love interacting with the students face to face, and we love the atmosphere of a busy class. This is no longer possible right now though, so what do we do?

There is no other option. Either give up and wait for it all to pass, hoping on the goodwill of the students to keep you afloat. Or up your game and serve your students the best you can – online.

Online training is something I have been looking at, admittedly for a number of years, but have never really prioritized, preferring to build a physical academy before focusing on a virtual one. I also questioned to what efficacy martial arts could really be taught online and I know this was (and for some still is) a major concern.

Before the crisis, virtual/online training and academies were almost sneered at within the martial arts community. Words like “selling out”, “mcdojo” and “lowering of standards” often came up, not all the time, but definitely some of the time. I admit that, I myself even struggled to see how people could effectively learn martial arts online.

Respected martial artists I knew were heading for the online platform model or were already well established – most notably Matthew Chapman, who sold his bricks and mortar school and now runs completely online through his fantastic Mittmaster courses – several of which I have purchased and regularly use (insert shameless backlink to a review I did of his stuff…here). He is now helping other instructors launch their products online with great success through his Teach Your Passion Online page – something I’m sure we are all very grateful for during the Covid-19 pandemic.

And so my question is – will this pandemic change the face of Martial Arts forever?

For some – online training is a tool to be used at the moment when there is no other option. As soon as they get given the go ahead, they’ll be straight back into the dojo/academy and Zoom classes will be a distant and painful memory.

Others however, myself included, are seeing this as a possibly new way of ADDING to our physical locations. I still have reservations that you can learn martial arts from scratch as a white belt – purely online. I think as already experienced instructors/martial artists, online training can supplement our own training. It can give us new concepts or ideas to work with and new material to teach, but to learn purely online, from white to black grade, may be a stretch I personally feel.

Adding an online element to our existing academies however, I feel is a fantastic way to provide value to our students and also show we are moving with the times. The owner of G Force Martial Arts Academy, and business coach Gordon Burcham is world class at picking up on new trends and establishing them in his business to great success. Online training is a great example of this. He has a PHENOMENAL full time academy, which he has now moved online, booking new 1-1 intros online, providing value, and ensuring people still benefit from the many benefits of martial arts.

I think that now is the time when martial arts are needed the most. Kids are at home, bored and perhaps needing some structure, discipline and exercise. Adults are also at home, raiding the fridge, midday drinking because the sun is out and gradually expanding! This is where our online training can help both physically and mentally during Covid-19 and lockdown.

Physically to release some endorphins or feel good hormones, as well as lose some weight and learn some new skills! Mentally, to feel a part of something bigger than just the confines of your own four walls. Connecting with people has never been more important than it is at the moment and this is a great medium for this – even if it is online!

Can we or should we grade online? Personally, I think not. I know my classes have been far more fitness based than technique in our online classes.

Firstly because even though technology is a great thing and the students can see me and I can see them, some aspects of martial arts, you simply need to feel and be there physically for. Secondly, although a purely technical class can be good and is definitely needed, it simply doesn’t release the same feel good vibes as a high intensity class. You don’t leave a technical class sweating but smiling. You may have learned something, but this is more for the further advanced grades. At the moment, I feel people need to sweat, smile and feel they’ve worked hard.

It’s up to each individual school owner to decide the best way forward for their academy in these unprecedented times and no-one can judge I feel. For me though, a grade needs to be earned in person. You need the nerves, the adrenaline, the pressure which I feel may be lacking in your living room while your mum, dad, brother, partner etc is cooking breakfast in the kitchen next door!

Can online martial arts training have a place both now and in the future however? Most definitely and I would argue that online training is not only viable right now, but also completely necessary. In part 2, we’ll question what will happen when this pandemic ends (and it will end people). We’ll ask some leaders in the field their thoughts on the future and what the next few months hold and who knows, maybe we’ll try for some video interviews too if people are up for it!

For my own sanity I’ll be looking to reconnect with some martial artists I know around the world at this time and relaunch this blog which I let drift a little in the past year or so. The Covid-19 crisis seems to be a perfect opportunity for this so here goes! If you have any thoughts, feelings, ideas or things you’d like to discuss, feel free to get in touch.

We don’t know when, but we will be back punching each other and we’ll remember the Covid-19 Spring of 2020 when we all got told to sit indoors and save the world.

Stay safe everyone.

Is hierarchy destroying the Martial Arts?

A system of hierarchy is something that the Martial Arts, and especially traditional Martial Arts, are built upon. While the elusive and often coveted Black Belt (gasp, oooh, ahhh) should not be the main goal of training, it is often a useful motivational tool for those who struggle with self-discipline and attending class, especially after the initial high of learning a new Martial Art has worn off. So while hierarchy, or belts and levels can be a fantastic tool within the Martial Arts, there are also some drawbacks which are often overlooked or not address.

Levels or grades can be intimidating for those just beginning in the arts.

I am sure we all remember our first ever martial arts class – walking in to a sea of white pajamas, feeling completely out of place and wondering why the hell you walked through the front door in the first place. Let’s face it. Walking in to a room full of people willingly kicking, punching and throwing each other about, and agreeing to participate when you have no clue what you’re doing – can be a little scary.

Of course, those of us that teach know this and should instantly make the new person feel super welcome. We should let them know there is nothing to worry about and that we won’t go in to full on sparring until at least week two right…?

It can still be a little scary however, and the presence of colored belts or grades adds to this intensity. The black belts are the ones to be avoided at all costs as they are basically ninjas and you can just stand at the side of the class with the other white belts, desperately trying to remember your left and right as a fully grown man or woman. All while doing your best to ensure you don’t make a nasty stain in your beautiful new white gi bottoms…

At no time is this more prevalent than at major seminars. I have been lucky enough to attend a number of seminars with high ranking instructors in various martial arts and often saw the instructors gathered together. Black and brown belts together, and then lower grades together, both in training and socially after.

In training at these events, if you can pluck up the courage to ask a brown or black belt to train with you as a beginner, this can be a big deal, but I remember seeing the disappointment on their face at being paired with a lower grade. The clock watching from them began and you could tell, they just weren’t feeling it. This obviously left me… and I’m sure other beginners, feeling a little dejected! I seemed to be an annoyance and someone holding them back from really achieving the maximum in their training, and this happened on a number of occasions, not just with myself, but with many other lower grades I talked to. Black belts trained with the black belts and the white belts trained together slowly mastering the art of putting one foot in front of the other without falling over from nerves.

This seemed an unspoken rule but saying this I have been to other seminars where the visiting instructor has actively encouraged the senior grades to train with the lower grades for a while, before then training with someone equal in terms of experience. This does however, seem the minority, not the majority.

This – as stated above, also translated to hierarchy off the mats at the socials afterwards. The post training beer at the local boozer and meal would see a similar situation. Instructors and high ranking students sitting on a table together, laughing, joking and drinking. While lower students would often be on a separate table, missing out on the experiences and stories from the high ranking instructor’s years in the arts. It seemed as though this almost had to be earned in a way – an almost VIP to hang around with the cool kids!

Is this the way it should be?

Levels or grades can lead to some delusions of grandeur.

We have all done it and all been there. The new “black belt dickhead”. You’ve just got your black belt, you think you’re the dog’s danglies. You walk into the dojo, chest out, head high, smiling and nodding to all the stupid lower grades that know jack shit.

This could last a day, a week, a month, but at some point – you will realize. You are not the dog’s danglies, your head will go down, your chest will sink in and you will realize you are that dickhead you took the piss out of when you were a white belt. The guy who thinks he knows it all!

For some this can take quite a long time to realize. For others, they have yet to realize…

But in terms of the arts, this can be an issue. As a black belt, you instantly want to start teaching and imparting the knowledge you have acquired. But here’s the thing. It may not be all that good!

Sure you have a black belt. But that just means you have put the hours in and know the techniques/requirements to pass the grade. Oh my friend, the journey is just beginning ad you have such a long way to go until you are ready to impart the knowledge you think you are capable of!

Sure you can help out with some basics, but trying to teach too much too soon can just be more detrimental than anything. You can teach bad habits which then need to be un-learnt by the student. Or, heaven forbid, you teach something that is completely the opposite or in contradiction to what your instructor is trying to convey, be it in a class or seminar.

For some, black belt means you are ready to teach and nearly at the end of your journey, this is completely the wrong attitude and can be a problem with having this hierarchical nature in the martial arts – especially the traditional ones.

At the end of the day, we are all just students

We are all just students of the martial arts at the end of the day, whether you have been training for one month or for 10 years, you still want to just improve yourself and learn more. The best teachers and martial artists are those that continue to learn even though they are considered by many to be at the very top of their game. An excellent example of this can be Guro Dan Inosanto. In an interview done with one of his top students – the legendary Bob Breen in my book Martial Masters Volume 1 – Bob talks about Dan’s day to day routine and how he is constantly on the go and learning new arts, be it in striking or ground such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu!

Hierarchy can sometimes hinder this when we think we have reached the illustrious black belt, we can rest on our laurels and chill. This should be where the training really ramps up, test what you know, evolve it, develop it and make the style uniquely your own – Bruce Lee Style.

How many of us truly do this however, and how many of us simply think we know what we are doing now all due to the fact we now have a different colored bit of cloth around our waste? We all unfortunately have an ego, and we all like it when that ego is massaged, especially on the mats.

The traditional martial arts can be a great place to have your ego massaged as once you reach black belt you are sometimes placed on a pedestal and thought to have more knowledge than others. This is fine until it’s tested and if you can back up the goods, awesome, if not. Your ego may be a little bruised rather than massaged.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a great example here of an art that has adapted more to this hierarchical system through competition. Any newbie walking into a new BJJ class should know that they will be tapped out… a lot. It is part of the process and keeps your ego in check from the get go.

Even at black belt level, competitors still compete or even just roll with their students, and it takes one mistake to be caught in a submission and realize that you are not invincible and some sort of black belt demi-god! Sure you should be tapped out WAY less than a white belt, but it can still happen! Yet how many traditional martial arts have this same mentality where the instructor is shown to be a mere human?!

For me, martial arts are about ego checking and we often tell our students to leave their ego’s at the door when they train. How many instructors follow through with this too however…?

Always interested to hear your thoughts… Let me know!

Why Aikido has lost its relevance…

It’s been a while guys I know and I apologise for this! It’s been a busy time building my business and just general life along with a lack of inspiration for posts recently, but we’re back and you can start seeing more from The Martial View again.

I was scrolling through Facebook a few days ago as I tend to do along with most of the global population when I saw that Steven Seagal was coming to my hometown of Lincoln for an evening with event…

Intriguing I thought and although I’ve never been a huge fan of his personally I thought I’d read on and see what people thought…

Wow that guy is not popular haha! So many derogatory comments on him as a person, his films and also him as a martial artist. This got me thinking… Why has Aikido become in a way, the laughing stock of the martial arts?

I’m a big fan of the art, having studied it for over 20 years and holding a 3rd Degree black belt in Yoshinkan Aikido but that doesn’t mean that I also can’t see its (eek, many) limitations! But just when did Aikido go from being a well practiced and respected martial art to losing it’s credibility and more importantly, why did this occur?

Did it all go wrong? If so – where?

Steven Seagal Aikido

The founder of Aikido – Morihei Ueshiba was born in 1883 and died in 1969. A passionate martial artist, he mastered the arts of Daito Ryu Aikijiujitsu, as well as Ken Jitsu (Sword) and Jo Jitsu (Staff) as well as being a deeply religious and spiritual man, following the practices of the Omoto Kyu and it’s founder Onisaburo Deguchi. This martial influence, combined with his spiritual beliefs, led to the development of what would become Aikido.

When Aikido was first being developed, it was a highly sought after and popular martial art in Japan. Indeed you had to have two referrals from current students in order to study, and many famous martial artists from other styles regularly came to the Hombu Dojo to train with Ueshiba Sensei.

Morihei Ueshiba Aikido
A young Morihei Ueshiba

To understand what changed, it’s important to look at the roots of Aikido and therefore Daito Ryu Aikijiujitsu. Jiu-Jitsu as an art was originally developed by the Samurai to defend themselves in battle if they lost their weapon and therefore focused on the weak points of the body when armor was being worn. However, when the Samurai class was disbanded in 1868, jiu-jitsu and other martial arts began to be seen as distinctly uncool and irrelevant to society as a whole.

Many martial arts teachers at that time then ceased to practice their art finding it impractical yet there were a few exceptions – one of whom was Jigoro Kano who not only started to practice Jiu-Jitsu but mastered it and developed it to fit a more modern era, and hence Judo was born.

Jigoro Kano – Founder of Judo

Kano competed against many other styles of Jiu-Jitsu, consistently winning and showing its ability as a martial art not to be messed with, so much so that he sent his top students across the seas to the USA where there was no Donald Trump and so the Japanese were free to come and show the martial art of Judo in various competitions.

In 1914, Judo hit Brazil and in 1917, one Carlos Gracie was introduced to Jiu-Jitsu and I’m sure you can see where this is going…

Carlos continued to study Jiu-Jitsu and pass it on to his brothers, one of whom was Helio Gracie, who, as a skinny child, was unable to perform many of the techniques required of him. This led him to adapt the techniques to overcome his physical boundaries and hence the foundations of what we now see as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) emerged. This art was so effective it led the Gracie brothers to start hosting a no holds barred competition, style vs style called Vale Tudo where they cleaned up at competitions! When they went to promote this style in the USA, the name Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu emerged to differentiate between the traditional Japanese style.

Then 1993 happened which I am sure we are all aware was the first Ultimate Fighting Championship event. This aimed to pit style against style, striker vs grappler, striker vs sumo, sumo vs the salad bar etc etc and see which art would come out on top. Guess what – Royce Gracie smashed through the competition and BJJ was crowned victorious.

How fair the contest was is now in debate after the video below from legend Bill Superfoot Wallace aired a few home truths after he commentated on the first UFC, but no-one can doubt that BJJ is a functional martial art for sports and competition and was a main influence on the development of what is now known as MMA combining striking, wrestling and grappling.

Hence function and applicability became the basis of modern MMA and martial arts in today’s society.

And this folks, is where Aikido loses its relevance. The founder O Sensei, as already said was a deeply spiritual man and therefore disapproved of any form of competition, preferring to see Aikido as a way of uniting people together, rather than seeing who is the victor and who is the loser. A lovely sentiment I’m sure we can all agree – but a little tricky to navigate in the martial arts world…

Hence Aikido failed to develop through competition. It failed to be tested and therefore evolve through it’s weak points and even in training, partners work together to make the techniques work with very little if any active sparring or real resistance bar a few schools/instructors that do offer this. Aikido is steeped in tradition and spirituality which is exactly what the founder wanted, but does leave it open to criticism today as it has never truly been tested. Many of the top teachers also failed to develop themselves after the founder’s passing, wanting to respect and preserve the art he had developed. Some went off to study more of the spiritual side such as Koichi Tohei who practiced Ki Aikido otherwise known as Jedi Aikido…

Whereas others looked at more dynamic, precise and arguably more practical Aikido such as Shioda Gozo who developed Yoshinkan Aikido that was taught to the Japanese Riot Police and looked less at spirituality and rather body mechanics of putting yourself in a strong position, while putting your opponent in a weak one.

The problem still remains however that Aikido is steeped in Japanese tradition, even down to the way the techniques are practiced. As you can see from the video above, strikes are given willingly and usually pre-arranged as well as being traditional sword strikes e.g. Shomen Uchi (front strike), Yokomen Uchi (side strike) etc. Do they have power? Most certainly and just one look at Yoshinkan Aikido and the video above and I’m sure anyone can see the power as well as the evidence from knockouts in videos. Yet rarely do we see these techniques being applied in a real context to any great effect without the use of Hollywood effects and a certain Aikido practitioner with a pony tail, inflated ego and delusions of grandeur.

So

There are of course exceptions to the rule and I have been fortunate enough to train with some fantastic Aikido Sensei’s, most of whom also have experience of other martial arts however or at least train with others who also study other arts. These are the guys that are able to make Aikido work for them and adapt it to a real situation in terms of self defence. They arent stuck in tradition, but respect the art. They also understand however, that Aikido needs to evolve with the times if it is to stay relevant or risk becoming simply a way of staying healthy, much like Tai Chi has become to many, rather than a martial system.

Maybe it is time to see the roots of Aikido i.e. Jiu-Jitsu applied in a more realistic setting? Do wrist locks, shoulder locks etc work in the street? Arguably yes. But how? How many people grab your wrist in a street? How can you apply a wrist lock against a fully resisting opponent really wanting to hurt you?

Maybe this is what we need to see more of if Aikido is to be relevant…

Watch this space…

Review! The Mittmaster Vault!

Hey everyone!!

I know it’s been a while since last posting and for that I apologise! It’s been super busy building my own martial arts school, training up some assistant instructors and of course getting my own training in too!

It’s calmed down a little now so what better way to kick off another post in The Martial View than with a article on Matthew Chapman’s Mittmaster Vault!

I’ve previously written articles on Matt’s products before, specifically his 99 ways to get a student book – a review of which you can find here.

I’ve trained with Matt on a number of occasions and know he has a wealth of knowledge to transmit both in terms of martial arts and also business knowledge! As a result I was super excited to get stuck into his Mittmaster vault and I wasn’t left disappointed!

The first thing that really stands out about the vault is the ease of use and professionalism of the videos. The layout is simple and easy to use and you can immediately see what video you are going to watch and what the topic will be on! This is different to other online platforms I have seen which have many different folders, meaning it takes time to navigate to the particular section you want.

Not the case with The Vault! You can just click on the month, then see the videos available and what art they relate to, be it MMA, Muay Thai, Filipino Boxing or Boxing! Click away and the video plays…

Now on to the videos! All in all – AWESOME! Many of you have seen Matt’s approach to teaching before in his previous MittMaster videos or even in person and his relaxed yet informative tone means you get a lot out of the videos in a relaxed and fun way. The videos are show in HD and special attention is paid to certain areas of the drill or common mistakes that people make, meaning you can get some great knowledge from Matt to improve your own training or introduce into classes you run.

With this all in mind I would recommend the MittMaster vault to anyone seriously into martial arts as either an instructor or just a student. The videos can really add to your own knowledge and ability to both pad feed and perform the drills from Boxing, MMA, Muay Thai and Filipino arts and there really is a wealth of information in the vault easily broken down and able to digest in small and easy amounts.

The Vault is available here and would be a great addition for any martial artists resources out there!

 

 

 

3 Tips (and a bonus one) For Teaching and Learning!

Teach me, master!

Master?

Where art thou, master?

That is the question!

Who do you learn from when you “move out” of your home dojo and open up your own school? Do you have to quit training in order to become a teacher? Say it ain’t so!

Well, good. Because it ain’t so.

Aside from the typical get up early/stay up late and make time to train, there are plenty of ways for you to improve your martial skills. And just as many, if not more, reasons for you to do so.

Let’s cover some of the important reasons for you to keep up with your training:

  • Your students get to improve more due to your increased ability and capabilities
  • You can teach better because your understanding of what you teach improves further
  • You can better relate to the students because you remain a student yourself

With all these great reasons under our black belt, let’s dive into how we go about it.

1) Train WITH your students!

I’ll be the first to admit that this isn’t always possible. It is an excellent option if possible though.

If you are doing a drill where they are partnered together, you can grab a partner as well.

If they are doing something on your count, face them (or the mirrors if you have them) and do it too. Especially if it is an exercise or warm up drill.

Again, depending on the difficulty of what you are working, the skill level of your students, and the size of the class, you might not be able to do this. It’s easier for the students to make mistakes that slip by unnoticed if you aren’t able to be walking around the mat.

A major benefit about doing this is that it shows the students how the exercise or movement should be performed though.

Thing is…it forces you to be honest. As honest as a ganguro girl without any makeup. Your students get to see your skills, the good ones and the bad ones.

They get to see you sweat and realize that you aren’t a god.

If you are a good teacher, hopefully you will realize that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

2) Activate “Challenge Mode”!

Let’s use sparring as an example.

Maybe you are a tournament sparring competitor and you don’t want to get rusty.

You can always work with some of the students afterwards if you couldn’t train during class without losing focus on the student’s learning and safety. There are often students that don’t mind sticking around a little longer (sometimes even a lot longer) after class has finished, especially if it means working directly with the sensei and getting the chance to further improve.

Now the question is how can you seriously improve your sparring (or any other skill) when paired with a beginner student or someone else below your skill level?

Easy! Do you play video games?

When you complete a video game, are you done? Not really. Y’see, good games have something called replay value. Even when you “finish”, there is still lots more to learn, er, I mean do! Everything from a harder difficulty setting to knocking out that high score or best time.

In sparring, you can do the same. I’m not saying you use this as the time to turn part-shark and chow down on fresh meat. Rather, I recommend you use this time to train smarter, rather than harder. Focus on technical improvements.

  • You can try to primarily use one hand for offense and defense
  • Use evasion and footwork instead of blocks and redirections
  • Use blocks and redirections instead of evasion and footwork
  • Work in a different range than you are used to
  • Force yourself to be unorthodox and fight with your bad leg forward
  • Use the round to explore how to utilize new tactics
  • Use only your worst techniques and try to refine them

It is important to remember your goal is not to win the match but rather to learn.

3) Get to know your local martial artists!

Listen to your mom and “go out and makes some friends!”

If the problem is that it is no longer feasible to consistently train with your teacher because of distance, then look to the people near you. If there is a Muay Thai gym nearby, converse with the Kru. If it is a Kung Fu school, speak to the Sifu.

Get together with the other local martial artists to talk about tactics and training. Give a little, get a little.

There are too many times where teachers will ignore or even diss other schools. That is called having an ego, one of the most detrimental things to your growth as a martial artist and a living and learning human being.

To grow and learn something new means admitting you didn’t know something previously.

Ego has no place in a martial artist, especially not within a teacher.

3.5) Stick with it!

This. Is. Important! I can’t stress this enough.

You are blessed with one of humanities greatest professions: teaching.

And the fact that it is not just about surviving skills, but also life skills…

The fact that it can extend to all ages and ethnicities, that it can be taught to either gender…

The fact that it is sharing your passion and what you have dedicated a good portion of your life to

That is something to never to forget.

Teaching martial arts will help your own personal improvements and the longer you stick with it, the further those improvements extend. It’s taking the things the martial arts naturally taught you when you were only a student (discipline, courage, self defense, confidence, interpersonal skills, philosophy, body movements, control over yourself, etc.) and makes you learn them all over again, this time from the other side of the mat.

At least, as long as you sincerely keep up with it. If you give up, obviously you lose those benefits. Not cool.

Golden rule to avoid teacher burnout? Have a passion and remember why you have it.

Enjoy what you do and never regret it! There will be days where you are dead tired and maybe class didn’t go as you hoped and planned it would. That’s ok. You’re ok.

The journey to where you are right now was never easy. If it were, everybody would have a black belt  and teach classes (McDojo’s excluded) 

Why expect things to get easy now? Always remember that just because it’s tough, doesn’t mean it’s impossible though.

Now you need to know EVERY technique, movement, and concept inside and out, because not everybody’s going to be able to learn or use them the same as you.

Now you need to be ready to answer questions you never even thought about before.

But now you get to fulfill the role your teacher had and experience what they did.

Enjoy it and learn from it as they did.

About the author…

Hi! My name is Cup of Kick!
I know what you are thinking and no, that’s not the name that you’ll find in my school yearbook. It is the name I go by for the purpose of martial arts blogging though. I am simply a martial artist. Now, if you are thinking “That’s it? Why should I trust this dude/dudette?” then that is good! Excellent even. The answer is…you shouldn’t trust me. I could say I’m a master martial artist with black belts in five different arts and 1st place trophies from many world tournaments who has been at it for fifty plus
years. But I’m not. Don’t just instantly take my words in as the gospel. Do your research. Do your OWN thinking. I’m just Cup of Kick

Distance, Timing and all that jazz…

I’ll start by saying what follows is my opinion, my way of looking at things, my way of training and my way of fighting. It works for me, works for most of my students, but not all, and works in every context I found myself in so far. If you disagree , that’s good, as we need multiple paths to multiple destinations within martial arts. I am going to be talking about Timing and Distance , there are other elements just as important but if I bring in too much I will ramble on for  pages, so I’ll try to confine myself to these parameters.  It must also be noted that how important any element to martial arts is for you is very much dictated by your aims and your reason for doing martial arts in the first place. Anyway, let’s begin.

For me, the key to any fighting art is Timing and Distance. These two elements are the keys that unlock everything no matter the art, the weapon (extra or the ones you are born with), or the context. I tell my students a simple truth. If my timing and distance are perfect then any technique I try will work, if they are poor then no technique will work no matter how good I think it is. You could say get timing and distance correct and you can ignore everything else.  While this is not totally true it is a truism that imparts how important these concepts are.

This is one of the reasons why, for me, technique is way down the list of priorities when it comes to fighting and training for fighting. My aim is twofold (I teach HEMA so weapons are a HUGE part of what I do)…

Don’t get hit

Hit the other person,

As you can see if these are my goals for fighting then Timing and Distance are key and technique almost become inconsequential.  Now before the shouting begins notice I say almost, because, in reality, technique is important and is vital to keeping classes and fighting in general, interesting and fun. Plus if I have good technique on top of good timing and distance then my fighting becomes better and my options within a fight open up. There are other elements I concentrate on before technique like Body Mechanics, strategy, tactics etc , but we can discuss them another day.  Every time I teach and train technique it has two elements to it…

How to do the technique correctly to make it effective

How can I build the training of principles like timing and distance into my technique training.

The training of principles such as timing and distance can be repetitive and let’s face it dull, but it needs to be done and repeated over and over to enable it to be used well and in context, so keeping it front and centre of everything I do, makes the training more relevant, more fun, and much more useful. This does lead to another question though, even for us old hands….

What is Timing and what is Distance?

We all think we know the answer, even beginners do, and on the most part we do, but what it means , how we use it, and most importantly how we think about it are key to making it work. Like everything else within martial arts our thoughts on this subject will of course change over time, which is as it should be.

I was recently introduced to a different way of looking at all this and it has almost immediately changed how I train and how I fight.. It’s nothing new; it’s nothing magical, just a different way to think about it from what I had been using.  As always within martial arts it is much easier to impart ideas and information face to face but I’ll give it a go, I hope you can follow my train of thought but if not, please send me questions and I will try to answer them.

The concept of timing and distance is on the surface quite simple. If I control distance I keep myself from getting hit, if I control my timing I can hit my opponent at any time. While this is correct it’s not very useful and does not explain a great deal. I’ll take it almost everyone reading this will be a martial artist of some sort so I don’t think I need to go into great detail about how we use timing and distance and what it is for, but I will mention that it almost always involves more than we think if we only stopped to think about it a little more.

I was recently re-introduced to the works of a 16th Century military gentleman and commentator on the arts of personal combat,  ‘George Silver’ by a good friend Martin ‘Oz’ Austwick  from English Martial Arts who I must thank for working with me on understanding these principles and how to use them. (I’ll link to his YouTube channel and Facebook page at the bottom of the article). Within his works George talks about the…

‘The four grounds or principals of that true fight at all manner of weapons’.

It was here that I found a much better way of thinking about and executing the principles of timing and distance. His four grounds are as follows…

  1. Judgment,
  2. Distance,
  3. Time,
  4. Place.

George goes on to explain these ideas and their importance…..

‘The reason whereof these 4 grounds or principals be the first and chief, are the following, because through judgment, you keep your distance, through distance you take your time, through time you safely win or gain the place of your adversary, the place being won or gained you have time safely either to strike, thrust, ward, close, grip, slip or go back, in which time your enemy is disappointed to hurt you, or to defend himself, by reason that he has lost his place, the reason that he has lost his true place is by the length of time through the numbering of his feet, to which he is out of necessity driven to that will be agent.’

The language and use of words is a little odd to our modern eyes, but not too much so we can’t gain their meaning with some work and effort. I say this as on first reading and through our modern brain filters you could be fooled into thinking you understand all he says here and it’s quite clear and simple. You could be correct of course but for many that is a trap that can lead you down a very different road of understanding from the intended one. But to keep it simple let’s look at his four grounds.

It must be said that although George Silvers works primarily deal with weapons of all types I will add that his basic principles hold true for unarmed as well as armed combat. We can look at his ‘Grounds’ in turn and I’ll try to explain my understanding of them. George begins with Judgment as it underpins the other three but I will take my lead from Mr Austwick and start with Distance.

  1. Distance

When looking into the works of George Silver it becomes apparent that when he talks about Distance he is actually talking about two concepts not one. Being IN Distance and being OUT of Distance. Using this idea you can see that at any point in time during an engagement  you and your opponent will be either in distance or out of distance. For George being in Distance is when your opponent can strike you without taking a step.

This concept is key and if you watch enough fight/ comp videos you will see people utilise this concept time and again, often without really breaking it down or fully understanding it.  Distance keeps us safe (Don’t get Hit), controlling distance allows us to control how your opponent strikes and when. This can confer a great advantage to you if you learn how to use it. Your hand can and does move faster than a brain and muscles can respond, this makes this concept deadly when mastered. This may seem like a bold claim but it is not. Go experiment with it, you will soon see what I mean.

To a fighter it means if you are caught in distance you can be hit faster than you can defend, but if you can control the distance then you can hit faster than they can respond. You can use your movement, your opponents movement or a combination of the two to make sure you are only IN Distance when you want to be, and ONLY when you want to be.

  1. Timing

Timing is simply performing the required action at the correct time, with enough speed to make it work. Another definition that sounds good but is not of much practical use. So I will go back to Mr George Silver to try to break it down and be a little more useful.

George first breaks timing down into two categories. True Time and False Time.

True Time is basically actions performed at the correct speed to make them work (mostly without the need to step).

False Time is actions that are slower and so are inherently flawed and mostly doomed to failure. (Mostly they need a step to work).

A little better but still not much practical use is it. George knows this and so he breaks it down further.

So George breaks it down further in 4 ‘Times’ for each, here are the True Times….

The time of the hand.
The time of the hand and body.
The time of the hand, body, and foot.
The time of the hand, body, and feet.

And here are the False Times….

The time of the foot.
the time of the foot and body.
the time of the foot, body, and hand.
the time of the feet, body, and hand.

You may have spotted that the Tue Times involve the feet as well as the hand. Surely this goes against Georges teachings???  Well. No it doesn’t.  He advocates a false time is when the action RELIES on the movement of the foot or feet. His True times can involve a movement of the foot or feet AS LONG AS the action does not rely on that movement to be successful. Go experiment with it, you’ll find he is correct.

So we now have some definitions for Timing and Distance with some practical advice from someone much more qualified than me to speak on such matters. I simply take his words and try to interpret them into something that makes sense. You should try it to.

BUT what of his other two Grounds that make up this topic, Place and Judgment?  These can be a topic on their own but it would be remiss of me not to at least address them, so I will…

  1. Place

When talking about Place George has this to say….

“Keep your distance & suffer not your adversary to win or gain the place(3) of you, for if he shall so do, he may endanger to hurt or kill you.

Know what the place is, when one may strike or thrust home without putting in of his foot.

It may be objected against this last ground, that men do often strike & thrust at the half sword & the same is perfectly defended, where to I answer that the defence is perfectly made by reason that the warder has true space before the striker or thruster is in force or entered into his action.”

There is more but this gets the basic idea across. Being in the correct place can be thought of as target specific.. While being the correct distance to strike is very important, you  need ask “Strike What”?  What is your target, what is your goal? Being in the correct Place allows you to complete your desired action while not allowing your opponent to complete his. This can be a large and important area of discussion but let me give a small and pretty silly example to try to explain.

Stand at the correct distance from another person so you can hit their head without moving your feet. This is the ideal distance and Place to complete that action. Now turn around and face away from your opponent. You are still in the correct distance but boy are you now totally in the wrong place.. Play with it, have fun, go study Mr Silver for more insights into how to train and use it.

4. Judgment

Let’s go straight to what the great man has to say about this….

“The first governor is judgment which is to know when your adversary can reach you, and when not, and when you can do the like to him, and to know by the goodness or badness of his lying, what he can do, and when and how he can perform it.

He goes on to say…

“First when you come into the field to encounter with your enemy, observe well the scope, evenness and unevenness of your ground, put yourself in readiness with your weapon, before your enemy comes within distance, set the sun in his face traverse if possible you can, still remembering your governors.

Let all your lying be such as shall best like yourself, ever considering out what fight your enemy charges you, but be sure to keep your distance, so that neither head, arms, hands, body, nor legs be within his reach, but that he must first of necessity put in his foot(1) or feet, at which time you have the choice of 3 actions by which you may endanger him & go free yourself.”

Judgment gathers in all we have discussed plus your awareness of surroundings, environment, your opponent, their movement, demeanor etc. It is to remind you to use all available information to gain you the advantage, constantly assessing and reassessing at every moment. This may be obvious but sometimes the obvious gets over looked or not studied correctly.

I hope you have enjoyed  reading my thoughts and ideas on these matters and I hope they will be a some use. I assume some will agree and some will disagree, all ideas and comments are welcome. Thank you for reading and keep up the good work folks.

Links ….

Duncan McEvoy

mcevodf@yahoo.com

https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=324942460949021&ref=content_filter

Martin Austwick

https://www.youtube.com/user/EnglishMartialArts

https://www.facebook.com/EnglishMartialArtsAcademy/?fref=ts

Duncan has been studying and teaching HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) for 17 years. He started at the Royal Armouries in Leeds in 2000 and after a few years training created his own group in Liverpool. Duncan has spent many years training with as many different martial arts groups as possible to gain a wide knowledge of fighting arts including spending time with groups in Israel and the USA.
This included spending time with the teachers of arts such as Krav Maga, Escrima, Boxing, Aikido, Sambo, Fencing, Tae Kwon Do, Wrestling, Pugilism and many more. He continues to cross train as much as possible. This is to aid his study of the Historical European fighting arts.
In his own group Duncan teaches all manner of weapons including Longsword, Arming Sword, Staff, Sword and Buckler, knife etc. At the moment he is studying the works of George Silver in particular. His Group now trains regular on the outskirts of St Helens, a town near Liverpool.

It’s good to talk…Communication in Martial Arts.

It’s good to talk right? Throughout our daily lives we are constantly in communication with people through both verbal and non-verbal means. With the growing emergence of the internet, more and more people are communicating via the means of social media and email and while this is obviously a positive thing, it can lead to a decrease in actually communicating with each other face to face.

Communication is of vital importance – especially in the martial arts.

During class we train with our partner and communication is a must! Is the technique feeling effective? Are you going too hard on them? Are they uncomfortable. Being a good training partner is all about effective communication and knowing how far you can push each other. You wouldn’t train with the same intensity with someone who had only been training a couple of weeks, compared to a long standing training partner you’ve trained with for years would you?

The same can be said for communicating with your instructor. Especially in the traditional martial arts, there is sometimes an unwritten or unspoken rule that what the instructor says…goes. While in many instances, this can be the case as they have more experience or training that you do, communication is still vital with your instructor.

It can be too easy sometimes to perhaps have a bad lesson, or series of lessons, and instead of communicating honestly and openly with your instructor, turn to other martial artists perhaps in the forms of social media or email, asking for their advice.

Your instructor is your instructor for a reason and you need to be honest with them if you feel you aren’t getting what you need from training. This can only be done through effective communication. Speak to your instructor, air your concerns and let them respond accordingly.

It may be that you feel you aren’t being pushed enough physically in class and finding the material too easy. A simple conversation with your instructor could mean that you then understand that that current lesson or week was focused more on technique or mechanics, and the following week was going to be a beasting session during the class once you had the technique. At that point you’d know there was a reason for your slower techniques and that it would pick up.

Communication is key.

Your instructor should be approachable, easy to speak to and discuss topics with. If they aren’t you perhaps need to reevaluate who you are training under and why they are so unwilling to share ideas or discuss topics – a my way or the high way scenario.

Failing to be able to provide a valid explanation as to drill or reasons for the way an instructor takes a class, on the most part shows perhaps an lack of confidence in themselves, the same way insecure instructors will only allow you to train at one club – theirs, and refuse to let you broaden your martial arts horizons.

Take all you can from the martial arts, learn everything you can and then make it your own. Your martial arts instructor or instructors are there to guide you on that path, not make you follow theirs.

Communicate with your instructor, speak to them face to face. Ask questions, understand how they work and in turn this will lead to a better relationship between the both of you. Be respectful, be open minded, but think for yourself.

Communication is key!

RELAUNCH!

Okay everyone! So apologies for letting the blog slide a little as of late! Between running a full time martial arts school, getting in as much training as I can, training people up for instructors and getting the book Martial Masters Vol. 1 up and running at the beginning of the year, it’s been busy!

I am now back on track however and ready for a relaunch of the blog. However….

I need your help! What do you guys and girls want to see more of?

  • Videos
  • Interviews
  • Techniques
  • General blogging
  • Experiences running a martial arts school?

Let me know and I shall do my best to provide!

We are also expanding the team and looking for some writers! So if you feel you have a knack for writing and have some stuff to say on anything martial arts, fitness or training related. Get in touch through here, or through Facebook! We’ll get you up and running on a successful(ish) blog!!

Look out for the next post and a little relaunch coming very soon!