Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Training Without a Sifu

This week's training schedule was a little screwy thanks to all of our work schedules and this left us on two of our scheduled training days without a Sifu  (and without two of our other members, as well). David and I decided not to let this hinder our training and got together anyway.

We started out by working on the Around the World drill, where you move around your opponent's body, striking as you move. It's just plain fun but we quickly realized that neither of us is familiar enough with the drill to continue without supervision.

One of the biggest issues we identified was the possibility of reinforcing bad habits by repeatedly performing the wrong footwork and strike placement/techniques without someone there to correct our mistakes. Because of this we agreed to limit our training to working on the basics we're more familiar with and trying to refine those techniques.

Since David just earned his yellow belt and I'm still a white belt we focused on the yellow belt techniques; Trick 1, Trick 2, Trick 2a, Trick 3, Grab Art 1, Grab Art 2, and Grab Art 3.

We took turns running through these in order, each of us performing all seven techniques before switching. We ran through this pattern four times each before taking a "break" by doing the Scarecrow drill twice each. We then returned to the previous pattern and repeated this until we ran out of time. By doing these back to back with no real breaks, we were able to turn this into a bit of a cardio workout as well.

Just for fun, we also decided to work on our Kiais by taking turns punching each other in the stomach HARD a few times. What a great stress reducer that is! We both had big grins on our faces by the time we were done.

Of course, this week would have been better with Sifu Grant there, but all said, I think we made good use of our time and were able to get some valuable training time in anyway. It's something to keep in mind the next time unforeseen circumstances mess with your regular schedule. Just don't make the mistake of working on techniques you're not familiar with and reinforcing bad habits.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Leg Workout

We did a horrendous leg workout yesterday. I don't know what it was called but it involved a bunch of up and down movement and kicks. Here's a video of the technique. Maybe you can help identify it.

 




* Thanks for finding this video, Peter. It made me laugh until my side hurt (Or is that just residuals from the roundhouse I took yesterday?)

Stick Fighting

Getting hit by a stick sucks.
That is all. Carry on.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fanning the Flames

Today we did some great work using the fan block as a base. I really like the fan block for a few reasons.

First, it forces you to get both your hands up to a defensive/offensive position. For a beginner like me, this is extremely helpful as I have a tendency to drop the off hand. Other blocks that utilize a single arm require you to bring your off hand up on your own and that's easy (for me, at least) to forget. I'm sure with practice this becomes second-nature, but the fan block -because it incorporates both hands- makes this automatic. When the fan block is employed properly, both hands are up near your face ready to either strike or block a followup strike from your attacker.

Second, when accompanied with movement on one of the eight basic directions, the fan block sets up some amazing follow up strikes. Move sideways or to a rear 45, and you've placed yourself at range to deliver a kick to several targets; groin, abdomen, inside of thigh, and knee. Move to the inside on a 45 and you're in range and perfectly setup to deliver blindingly fast and devastating hand strikes to the jaw, chin, and throat.

One thing to watch out for is locking yourself into a static stance like the horse. This reduces your ability to follow up and flow with the attacker. I did this several times, primarily because I was moving in on a substantially shorter attacker (Sorry, Tim, but you're short) and the horse got me low enough for an uppercut. Unfortunately, it also kept me from properly shifting my hips/weight into the followup strikes making them far less effective. Instead, stick to a comfortable fighting stance or cat depending on the situation and you'll be able to react quickly and deliver effective strikes.

The next time you need to move in close OR need to get a little distance, try fanning the strike and look at the myriad targets you just made available.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Kajukembo Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my Sifu gave to me a stiff punch in the kidney.

On the second day of Christmas my Sifu gave to me two for flinching and a stiff punch in the kidney.

On the third day of Christmas my Sifu gave to me three wrist locks, two for flinching, and a stiff punch in the kidney.

On the fourth day of Christmas my Sifu gave to me four hip throws, three wrist locks, two for flinching and a stiff punch in the kidney.

On the fifth day of Christmas my Sifu gave to me FIVE KICKS IN THE GROIN, four hip throws, three wrist locks, two for flinching and a stiff punch in the kidney.

On the sixth day of Christmas my Sifu gave to me six backfists, FIVE KICKS IN THE GROIN, four hip throws, three wrist locks, two for flinching and a stiff punch in the kidney.

On the seventh day of Christmas my Sifu gave to me seven painful nerve strikes, six backfists, FIVE KICKS IN THE GROIN, four hip throws, three wrist locks, two for flinching and a stiff punch in the kidney.

On the eighth day of Christmas my Sifu gave to me eight mule kicks, seven painful nerve strikes, six backfists, FIVE KICKS IN THE GROIN, four hip throws, three wrist locks, two for flinching and a stiff punch in the kidney.

On the ninth day of Christmas my Sifu gave to me nine vicious throat grabs, eight mule kicks, seven painful nerve strikes, six backfists, FIVE KICKS IN THE GROIN, four hip throws, three wrist locks, two for flinching and a stiff punch in the kidney.

On the tenth day of Christmas my Sifu gave to me ten assorted bruises, nine vicious throat grabs, eight mule kicks, seven painful nerve strikes, six backfists, FIVE KICKS IN THE GROIN, four hip throws, three wrist locks, two for flinching and a stiff punch in the kidney.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my Sifu gave to me eleven uppercuts, ten assorted bruises, nine vicious throat grabs, eight mule kicks, seven painful nerve strikes, six backfists, FIVE KICKS IN THE GROIN, four hip throws, three wrist locks, two for flinching and a stiff punch in the kidney.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my Sifu gave to me twelve roundhouses, eleven uppercuts, ten assorted bruises, nine vicious throat grabs, eight mule kicks, seven painful nerve strikes, six backfists, FIVE KICKS IN THE GROIN, four hip throws, three wrist locks, two for flinching and a stiff punch in the kidney.


Still want to try Kajukembo?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Ground Game

We did some ground fighting today and despite what your lovely lady has told you, size matters. I was paired up with my buddy, David who is much smaller than me. I'm 6'3" and 230 pounds. He's 5'8" and 200 pounds (he should be 160 - 170 but he's working on that). Today, David learned why there are such things as weight divisions in the sporting arts. He physically couldn't get his legs around me to get into the guard position. I don't have a huge waist or anything, but his legs simply weren't long enough to lock his ankles behind my back. I, on the other hand, was able to do so with ease. Couple that with the fact that me just laying on him was making it extremely difficult to breathe and he learned that the ground is the last place he wants to be with someone my size.

Lucky for him, we're doing Kajukembo not Jujitsu or a sport version of MMA.

In Kajukembo, we're not training for an extended ground game with attempts to submit the opponent as you would in Jujitsu. That sort of ground fighting is great for the ring where there are rules and a referee to keep the opponent's buddies from jumping in. In the real world, however, while you're rolling around on the ground, your attacker's friends are grabbing a stool or just plain stomping on you to smash your head in.

Our intent is to know enough ground fighting to get out of the situation and back to our feet as quickly as possible. Since we're not restricted by any rules of engagement in a true self-defense situation, David was able to soften me up with a few groin strikes (we wear cups but it still isn't pleasant) enough to reverse the mount and get out. As they say, "it's not dirty fighting, it's effective self-defense."

All in all, it was a fun workout. I look forward to some more ground training in the future.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Beginnings

I started Kajukembo about three months ago, training under Sifu Jeff Grant.

As a White Belt, I'm focused mainly on learning technique, building muscle memory* and strength, and the fundamentals of the art. In Kajukembo, as in all martial arts, the fundamentals can seem boring and pointless until you learn how they fit into the grand scheme (see The Karate Kid; "Show me paint the fence."). For example, the Palama sets (also known as Forms or Pinions and similar to Kata in other martial arts) seem like a dance of sorts until you see how they form the foundation of advanced techniques later. You would never perform Palama 1 (http://www.youtube.com/user/burtvickers#p/u/52/T8BCsZnvzbM) in a real self-defense situation but by performing these motions repeatedly and fluidly, they become second nature and just seem to happen when the situation arises.

I look forward to sharing my journey in Kajukembo with anyone who cares to listen, but mostly this blog is for me to work through thoughts on the techniques and value of Kajukembo. If I can actually bring myself to keep up this blog, I hope it will serve as a guided tour through my learning of a practical martial art for the modern age.


* For all you pedants out there, I realize that muscles don't have memory; the brain does. I'm using a commonly used term that works as short hand for the process of ingraining certain actions into the subconscious so they can be performed without thinking. You can go back to arguing over whether "invaluable" or "valuable" is more correct now.