Tuesday, January 31, 2012

01/28 Mikey Swafford Seminar

On the 28th, I got the opportunity to join the Triton MMA gym here in Woodstock for a seminar given by Mikey Swafford, a BJJ black belt with extensive time on the mat with the Gracie family. The gym's owner, Mike Budnik kindly extended the invitation and it was well worth the time. 

One of the things that constantly blows me away about BJJ is the technical detail.  One of the hallmarks of a good instructor is his ability to show you details of moves you've used for years and make them better.  Mikey defiantly did this with a huge emphasis on being comfortable on the mat no matter your position.

The list of things we went over sounds simple: defending the side mount, defending the back mount, escaping from scarf, but the idea behind each was broken down into such functional components it was hard not to be impressed.  Also, he took on the concept of "connection" as Rickson Grace talks about it.  It was an eye opener to say the least.

Thanks again, guys.  Here are some stills from the seminar:


Here's me, Mikey Swafford (left) and Mike Budnik (right):

I've been focusing on the material this week during open mat and it's been very beneficial.  On the docket for later this week is doing a video of the notes I took after the seminar.  I'll get it up for everyone later in the week.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Day Off

Back to training today after a day off yesterday.  I can't tell you how good it felt to NOT get on a mat for the day, or push weights, or get on the treadmill.  But more importantly, getting some food with a bit of grease and to many carbs was equally as important.

Be sure with the run up to the tournament that you're not pushing too hard for too long each week. Get some down time, get some bad food here and there while cutting down.  On a last note for our crew, based on what I've found while working up for tournaments before, make sure you're getting  plenty of rest.  Like good night's sleeps, not the rushed few hours you're used to after staying up on a game console for too long.

Rest is just as important function of training up as adding training days. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

2011 Robson Seminar

For those not on the list, here is the group photo from December's Robson seminar:

Now, given the amount of information amassed during that I ran home and after scribbling notes, I got he chance to shoot this bit of video that is essentially my notes.  It's far from textbook, but for those there maybe it will jog your own memory.  It's been helpful for me:


Those you you there will note I do not even attempt to show the mechanics of the arm bar.  There's a reason for that.  I'm far too incompetent to even pretend to pull that off.  For those down south, particularly Bryan, this is the series I was working over the holidays.  

Lastly, here's us having fun with the final pic from the seminar:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Rules Update Delayed

The rumors of rules changes abound for the IBJJF:


However, as of this morning, there is still no official word on the IBJJF website.  I know that this does not shock anyone.  If we're lucky, they'll get around to posting the 2012 changes about the time the Mayan calendar expires.  The persistent think I kept hearing was that the organization was going to mandate membership down to brown and perhaps purple this year.   If you've looked into this process, you know it's a train wreck.  Still, I can't imagine that they've waited this long with tournaments coming up to alter the process that much, so in this let's work under the "no news is good news" paradigm.

On another note, the Tuesday nite extracurricular session at my place is a go.  Sounds like it Ron and Alan so far.  Everyone feel free despite the distance.     

Weight Check

Okay, so after two weeks of slowing starting the diet work up to the IBJJF, I checked in yesterday at 174 with training gear on.  Not bad considering how badly I behaved over the holidays and tipped up to 182.  So, as for now I'll be shooting for the lightweight division.  Once registration opens I'll do a check to confirm that that's going to work before signing on the dotted line.

So, how is everyone else?  Where are you now and what's the target?

Here's a couple of articles I found out of my near obsessive need to read and research that might be helpful.
Weight cutting:


And general tournament strategy prep:



Friday, January 13, 2012

Back to BJJ

Not a training related note here, at least not for the IBJJF, but this is a great clip to debrief:

More than any other real world video I've seen, this sets the stage for my argument about why anyone out of a pure striking art should also train in grappling.  This might be the worst side control ever established by mankind, yet he manages to hold a cop down who continues to throw ineffective strikes to his attacker.

There's a lot to take out of this video if you're a cop.  If you're a martial artist that also holds true.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

More History

So, mother nature has conspired to keep me from training tonight out of the house.  Great, now I can set here and thing about all the great fried food I'm not eating.  While so confined, I took the time to dig out the final addition I was tasked with in regards to a Bujin handbook.  I present it here for you guys from Newton to whom it might have some use.

For everyone else who is not interested in such martial ramblings, the navigation bar to the right can get you to the IBJJF short cuts and video evaluation bits.  There is also an internet rumor floating around that the IBJJF has altered rules for signing up in 2012.  I will be digging into the truth of this tonight and might have some more solid information soon. 

For those looking thru the next passage, I never did get around to shooting photos for this, they are indicated by inserts into the text.  Feel free to cut, paste, add, and even take those pics or others if you think it would be good material for the newer guys down there.

White Belt: The Beginning Student

Level Introduction-
            White belt level in Bujin Bugei Jutsu is the start of a student’s journey of discovery.  It is the level where the basics of the system, both physical and principle, are taught and the knowledge combative martial arts is cultivated.
            It can be an intimidating time for the new student, aside from participating in drills designed to teach people to cause harm to another, the simple trappings of the dojo can seem overwhelming.  Bujin, like almost every other school of combat that traces its roots to the feudal orient, pays certain homage to those ancient practices.  From the training uniform, or gi, to the bowing on and off the training floor, the practices that fill the dojo are foreign to a large portion of potential students.  It is helpful to orient the student before their first class to the specifics of these traditions to relieve some of the anxiety they may have about getting it right.
            However, this has never been the primary focus of training in Bujin.  Practitioners with experience in other oriental arts will find that the art is much more devoid of traditional trappings than other karate based arts.  For now, we will proceed with the function, rather than the form of Bujin Bugei Jutsu.

The Primary Principle: Evade, Stun, Unbalance, and Control-
            Many potential students ask what the philosophy of Bujin is.  What is its essence?  It is, simply put, efficient combat and at the heart of this goal is Bujin’s overriding principle: to evade, stun, unbalance, and control.  All of Bujin can be boiled down to this progression through a conflict; and all of the drills and movements from here on out will reflect, in some way, this principle.  Due to this fact, a quick survey of these four elements is helpful to see where we are going.
This is the initial movement, whether by body motion, blocking, or redirection, that removes you from your opponent’s line of attack.  To put it simply, it is not getting hit and examples of it can take many forms.
**photo series**
1-   slip and parry outside of attack with safety hand
2-   block hook with boxing elbow guard high
3-   fading away from attack
4-   aiki slide to the outside of attack

This is the initial counter attack of a fighter.  It occurs after, or as a simultaneous event with, an evasion.  It should be impressed on the student, and sometimes even veteran practitioners, that stunning an opponent may consist of one, or multiple strikes of varying natures before the aggressor is sufficiently affected.  The process of stunning an opposing fighter should continue until he can be more easily unbalanced and controlled.
Examples of the stun phase.
**photo series**
1-   outside with parry, side stomp to knee
2-   deep trapping counter with upper cut to chin
3-   inside the house, parry, elbow to head
4-   eye gouge

            This phase of Bujin Bugei Jutsu’s mainstay principle deals with taking the center of one’s foe.  By unbalancing the attacker, the Bujin practitioner takes the center of his opponent’s power, limiting his ability to counter attack.  It is a prequel to control, although the line between the two may sometimes be a fine one.  The methods of unbalancing an enemy are quite varied and a few examples follow.
**photo series**
1-   head control and circle back and over with chin twist
2-   reaping movement
3-   judo throw
4-   fig 4 arm lock take down.


            This is the final step in the Bujin student’s defense.  Here, it is up to the student to decide, based on the situation and its severity, how far to take the concept of control.  This can take the form of a pinning movement, joint dislocation, choke, or, if needs be, the taking of the opponents life.
**photo series**
1-   choke from behind
2-   wrist lock with opponent face down on mat
3-   chicken wing arm bar, standing over
4-   knee in chest, cross to supine foe’s throat

A few points about the Evade, Stun, Unbalance and Control principle; this is a flowing principle, not a rigid set of laws or linked waza.  It is very possible, even probable, that things on the street or any combative situation will not go as planned. 
Therefore, it is required of the advanced student to be able to move in and out of the phases of a conflict (evade, stun, unbalance, and control) as needed.  If an opponent begins to retaliate, or refuses to give up his base, more methods of stunning must be applied.  Or, in turn, it may be more advantageous to forgo a serious stun if the opportunity presents itself for a quick resolution.  In some cases, such as a knockout situation, the stun may even serve to unbalance the individual as well as control him.
“Unbalancing and controlling is fine, but I always figured if I hit them hard enough they’d do that all by themselves.”- Tim Walk
            Obviously, this is a great deal of information for the beginning student to process, and he should not be asked to do so.  Due to the advanced nature of several of the drills required to become proficient with this entire process, they should not be taught to the novice.  So here at the white belt level the principles of evade and stun are focused on as well as the fundamentals of conflict.
            The basic stance of Bujin is based on the ancient Okinawain seanchin posture, where the legs are approximately shoulder width apart with one in a distinct forward position, weight should be distributed evenly over both feet.  On the front leg, the foot is turned slightly in across the center-line. 
**photo series of seanchin **
1-   front
2-   side
As one can see, there is a bend in the knees and the weight is balanced over the balls of the feet, to facilitate movement.  However, for more functional use, Bujin modifies the stance somewhat, and these can be see below.
**photo series- modified seanchin or fighting stance**
1-   front
2-   side
Notice, the rear leg is back just slightly further and raised on the ball of the foot.  This modification is useful in maximizing the big muscles of the calf in entry movements.  Also, the torso has shifted somewhat to the inside of the stance and become less square.  This presents less target area for an opponent to take advantage of.  It also moves the lead hand closer to any aggressor, therefore, putting a potential weapon that much closer to an effective range.
One must be careful to not turn to far sideways, thus giving the enemy an easy shot at an unprotected back and kidneys.  Also, notice the hands, they are up in a ready defensive posture and relaxed.  This will become important later.  For purposes of keeping names straight in this handbook, we will refer to this modification of the seanchin stance as the fighting stance from here on out.
**photo series- examples of the fighting stance at work.**
1-   “closer jab hand”
2-   “closing the gap”
3-   low center line coverage” as the lead leg blocks a groin kick
4-   “evasion” springing off line to the outside of an attack
Moving in the fighting stance is critical not only the practice of Bujin but in the execution of effective self defense.  The following movements should be practiced until they are second nature.
**photo series**
1-   straight motion “up the middle”
2-   backing away straight
3-   slipping to the outside
4-   switching stances with a semi-circular step
       5-  straight to lead side/ straight to back side
6    turning away from attack

At first, these motions should be practiced stationary, and then progress to movement up and down the floor with a single action.  After the beginning student has grasped this, a sufficient amount, the stance drills should be varied to simulate more realistic movements combinations.  Some examples would be:
1-   straight in/ turn away
2-   back away straight/ slip to lead side
3-   forward slip and to the side/ switch step to other lead
4-   sideways to back side/ straight forward
Once the student has the concept of moving form stance to stance, imagination should provide and endless supply of more and more complex movement drills to practice.  These can be predetermined ahead of time and performed to a count, or in a more advanced drill, the student should be able to move through the fighting postures above on the call of the instructor.

At the white belt level of Bujin, we introduce only the simplest of weapons used in stunning one’s enemy, once competence here has been attained then we begin to move into more complex attacks and combinations.
The basic hand attacks that a beginning practitioner should be proficient with are the jab, cross (or reverse) punch, backfist, and elbows.
**photo series (all front and side shots, varying target arrangements)**
1-   jab with horizontal fist
2-   with vertical fist
3-   cross horizontal
4-   cross vertical
5-   backfist from lead hand
6-   reverse elbow
7-   lead elbow
For attacks with the legs and feet only simple kicks should be stressed, such as the front, side, round kicks, plus the use of the knees as weapons.  This slower kicking progression will allow the new student, who may not yet have developed good balance skills, to learn at an easier pace. This focus also keeps the younger students from giving up their base too easily, even though we have not brought this concept up yet, we are already training them to it.
**photo series (front and side, varying target arrangements)**
1-   front kick with ball of foot
2-   side kick to bladder area
3-   round kick to midsection (break down to two pictures both front and side)
4-   front knee to groin
5-   back knee to target, grip top of target
These attacks should be practiced in the air, with a focus on learning the proper form and on focus mitts and kicking shields, to emphasis penetration and power.  With all attacks, it is important to stress that we are always attacking through the target, not just striking its surface.
**photo series**
1-   cross to an opponents head, no body reaction
2-   cross through his head, creating a rotation of the body.

As with footwork, it is helpful to set up these attacks in combinations with one another in a premeditated fashion and have the students perform them, then progress to the students doing them at the instructors command while he varies the attacks and the tempo.
It is often useful with the new student to practice kicks with a 4-count kicking drill designed to work on balance and form.  This drill has the student either standing or supporting himself on a wall while in the fighting stance.  On the count of one, he lifts his kicking leg to a chambered position.  Two is the kick and hold in extended position and three is the return to a chambered position.  The instructor’s fourth count indicates a return to the fighting posture.
**photo series (each with pics for each count)**
1-   front
2-   side
3-   round

Defense in Bujin can be carried out in many different ways.  One can block, parry, trap, or use body motion to confound an aggressor’s attack.  All of these amount to evasion, one of the primary principles of Bujin.
Despite the many methods of defending one’s self in Bujin, they all work off of the basic fighting posture, with the hands up and a second principle, that of centerline, as illustrated below.
1-   front view, man in guard, hands up.  line drawn directly though him labeled center line.
This principle shows us that the line, drawn vertically through he body, creates a centerline.  The relationship between a person’s hand and foot placement and this centerline, define what area he is susceptible to being struck in.
**photo series (with centerline drawn and opening labeled)**
2-   jab hand across to rear side of body
3-   cross hand across to jab side
4-   lead hand down in karate block
5-   both hands down as if shooting for takedown
So as we can see, defense in Bujin will revolve around protecting our own centerline, while creating openings around our opponents. 
Before beginning the actual defensive maneuvers used by Bujin practitioners at white belt level, it is helpful to make a few comments on the general hands up posture of the system’s fighting stance.
**photo (front and side waist up posture, centerline drawn on both)**
There are several important things to point out in the above photographs.  First is the placement of the student’s hands, loose and relaxed, each on its own side of the centerline.  For speed in retaliation, it is important to start with loose muscles rather than tightly flexed ones.  The posture of each hand on its own side of the centerline ensures that one does not needlessly leave an avenue of attack open.
From the side shot, we can see that the student is centered over his centerline, not unduly leaning forward or backward, which can lead to being taken off balance.
**photo series**
1-   a) leaning forward while faced off, b)being pulled down forward
2-   a) leaning back, b) being pushed back to a fall
Also from the side, we see the lead hand extending forward a bit.  This gets the jab closer to a potential attacker and serves to disrupt the adversary’s depth perception. 
Now, working with these concepts as our core of action, we can move on to the specific the specific movements of defense.
 The kake-uke parry, or “hooking block” is an easy and effective way to aid in evasion of an attack.  Later, this parry will also be the cornerstone of entering into the unbalancing and control phases of conflict.
This parry is taught with a fluid, semi-circular motion.
**photos (front and side)**
1-   chamber and block lead
2-   chamber and block reverse hand
The second defense worked at this level out of the fighting stance is a low line defense against a kick to the groin or legs.  This block is done by simply lifting the front leg to cover the low centerline.
**photo series**
1-   against front kick to groin
2-   against round kick to leg
Wrist Locks-
            As explained before, getting out of the way of an attack (evasion) and hitting an adversary back (stunning), is only half of Bujin’s driving principle.  Unbalancing and control also play an integral role in any conflict.  One of the tactics used by practitioners of Bujin for these purposes is joint locking techniques.  These movements can be applied to the wrist, elbow, shoulder, knee, or ankles.  For the purposed of white belt learning, they are confined to the wrist.
            It is important here, before discussing the actual forces applied to the wrist joint, to make a note of the word “locking”.  This is a term used for convenience by students of Bujin.  Locking would seem to indicate the immobilization of a joint by outward influence, but this is only part of the story.  These movements, while useful for pain compliance, are meant to destroy joints, rendering them useless.  They are designed to tear ligaments and tendons, while destroying bony articulations.  This should always be borne in mind while practicing these movements. 
We train them by going to a “tap out” level of force and great care should be utilized while students are learning the necessary mount of force to apply to achieve this effect.  There are four basic wrist locks taught in Bujin Bugei Jutsu they are: forward (maya-takube), reverse (yushiro-takube), twisting (koda-gaieshi), and inverted (tate-takube).
**photo series joint locks being applied to self)**
            For training these movements, progression should be started from a simple “handshake” posture.
**photo series**
2- into reverse wrist lock
            Then progress on to various grabs and pushes.
**photo series**
1-wrist grab high
2-into forward **caption- note the defenders use of his forearm bones to increase the leverage and pain on the nerves of the opponent’s wrist, we call this tactic “wheedling”**
3-small insert of forearm position.

1-cross arm grab
2-into inverted **caption- note the use of the back hand to trap the opponent’s hand to the arm, thus ensuring the proper alignment of the wrist is maintained.  Also, the parallel to the ground nature of the opponent’s arm.**

2-into twisting lock. **caption- notice the defender pressuring the opponent’s elbow across his centerline to minimize the chances of counter attack.**

            Any system that concerns itself with unbalancing a foe will inevitably put its students to the mat.  This has become especially important since several high profile mixed-martial arts competitions have shown the world the values of cross-training in ground arts. 
            In Bujin, with a structure that is designed to control an attacker, students will spend a great deal of time taking opponents down and finishing them on the mat.  To safely be able to train for this, the students must first learn how to fall without hurting themselves.
            Break falls are started at the white belt level with basic rolls and falling from a kneeling position.  This decreases the intimidation factor for new students and begins to familiarize them with mat work.
            The first rolls we do are simple forward rolls, these will be useful later in rolling out of throws and joint locks, as well as for several counters while ground fighting.  The students begin by tucking the chin, and raising the arm of their led leg, then tuck and push forward over the extended shoulder.  The body should make a diagonal contact with the ground, minimizing the time the spinal column is in contact with the floor.  Momentum should carry the student back to his feet.
**photo series**
1-ready position
2-tuck and entry to roll
3-mid roll
4-return to feet **caption- notice how the student regains the balls of his feet**
4a-inset on foot plant
5-ready again
            Rolls should be practice initially in a straight forward fashion.  Once this is easily accomplished, back and side rolls should be added to the progression, as well as rolls in a zig-zag pattern across the mats.
**photo series (four or five pics)**
1-zig-zag rolls
            This part of the training can be made fun by having students roll over bo staffs or under shini strikes.  An opponent with focus mitts for the student to strike at the end of each roll can also add an extra cardiovascular component to the exercise.
            The next phase in white belt mat work, break falls, should be thoroughly described and demonstrated before the students try their hand at it.  There are four basic falling postures covered at this level: the front, both sides, and to the back.  In each the principles of the fall is the same, to dissipate the force of the fall over a great surface of the body, and to minimized the force transfer by the use of counter force on the ground.  Breathing plays a particularly important role as well, and students should always practice while forcefully exhaling at the point of contact.
            The fallers head is protected by turning the face to the side in the front fall, the shoulders during side falls, and by tucking the chin to the chest during back falls.  This is a critical point that should not be overlooked.
**photo series (heading: the kneeling front fall)**
1-kneeling posture, arms to the side
2-falling, head turned arms coming forward
3-impact, arms slapping first
**photo series (heading: the side fall)**
1-kneeling posture
2-turn to the side, foot kick out
3-mid fall with arm posture
5-guard position
**photo series (heading: the back fall)**
1-kneeling posture, arms folded
2-fall back
3-impct with slaps
4- recovery to guard
            It should always be stressed to students that these falls and rolls are not ends unto themselves, but are preparation for further steps in Bujin’s progression.  These are building blocks, not techniques, which later on will be cultivated into a toolbox of information and knowledge that will aid in defensive situations.

            Sparring at the white belt level should be a very controlled process, with emphasis on skills and movement rather on free fighting.  However, early sparring is essential to cultivating a “real-world” feel, as well as developing a certain “fighting spirit” mandatory in the advanced student of Bujin.
            Sparring should be an exercise in movement and breath control at this point.  Some types of sparring would be:
1-hand attacks against evasive footwork
2-foot attacks against footwork
3-hand and foot attacks against parries from the fighting stance
4-sparring against someone wearing focus mitts
            The sparring at this level should rely on limited contact, however students should be encouraged to wear hand, groin, and head protection.  Most Bujin students prefer kempo gloves for their versatility, and caged face headgear for its ability to protect against knees and elbows.  Some will also wear simple shin pads, which extend over the top of the foot, this tends to be less cumbersome than traditional karate foot gear.
Examples of sparring drills for white belts:
**photo series (header- hands against evasive footwork)**
2-stance movement out of the way
3-repeat with different combinations

**photo series (header- attacks to parry from stance)**
2-step and parry
4-repeat differently
**photo series (header- sparring against focus mitts)**
1-attack with mitt
2-mv. back
3-attack again
7-repeat differently
            As one can see, sparring, even at this level, should be spontaneous.  This allows for the development of a mind that is not rigidly fixed in technical jargon and movements, but one that understands and comprehends the flow of combat.

Angle Drills-

            Kata, or prearranged forms, holds a much smaller place in Bujin than it does in other systems of martial arts.  Still, it can be a useful tool.  In Bujin Bugei Jutsu, kata is used to teach movements, both of footwork and hand or foot combinations. 
We make no claim of ancient origins of these forms and therefore the bunaki, or application, is often very apparent.  In other instances, movements that would appear to have no useful merit are included to teach a principle of body mechanics or to set a foundation for a different, practical skill.
For the adult white belt student of Bujin, there is no prescribed kata.