ALS Ice Bucket Challenge & Russian Warriors

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge & Russian Warriors

You might have noticed that your entire Facebook news feed, YouTube, and every other website is full of videos of your mates.

There are random screams to be heard across neighbourhood gardens.

This isn’t a zombie invasion, or the Police running Crime Watch appeals – it’s the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

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You pour a bucket of ice water over your noggin, then nominate more people to do the same, and then donate some of your dosh to the ALS charity.

Now, first off, the ALS can bugger off.  You’ll see articles creeping in about how only 20% of donated money gets to ‘the cause’ and the rest pretty much goes on paying the wages of fat con men (aka Directors etc).

Luckily, many are already giving to the charity of THEIR choice – which can only be a good thing.

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I’m not going to get into the whole issue of whether you need to throw a bucket of ice over yourself on video to be able to donate.  There are a million charities out there, and many people who would do better to keep the money themselves.  I don’t care who you give to or your reasons for giving.  You’ll have to justify your choices to yourself, ultimately.

What most people don’t know is that dousing yourself in ice water isn’t a new thing to some of us martial artists!

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In ‘Systema’ – The Russian System – it is an integral part of the whole Russian health system.

Renowned Master of the art, Vladimir Vasiliev, recommends tipping a bucket of ice water over yourself twice a day!

This builds character and willpower, and has many health benefits.

Some people are scared that this Ice Bucket Challenge stuff will give them a cold.

You can’t ‘catch a cold’ from being cold!  It irritates me how this kind of wives tale still lives strong these days!  FFS did none of you do science at school?

Anyway, in Systema, if you are ill, then rather than having a whine and chickening out, those crazy Ruskies will actually go stand outside and tip a bucket of water over themselves EVERY HOUR!

Seriously.

The theory here (aside from psychic/natural reasons) is that your core body temperature is raised momentarily as it fights the sudden icy drop in temperature.  This will kill most bad things in your body, and have you back on your feet in no time.

I haven’t tried this myself, yet, but when you jump on the bandwagon and ‘brave’ a bit of cold water, you should maybe think about the practitioners of Systema who do this all the time.

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Moves That Don’t Work In A Fight

Moves That Don’t Work In A Fight

You may have read the story about my school fight with Tompy – in this, I tell of a move I’d learned and perfected that would pretty much end any fight in a shower of blood and snot.

In this fight, I had my first opportunity to use it.  I grabbed a handful of his hair, so I could pull back his head and deliver a hammer fist/forearm strike downwards on his face with all my body weight.  Except I couldn’t pull his head back!

That was probably my first experience that almost every martial artist will have at some point:

Most of what they teach you does not work in a real fight.

Having a fully compliant training partner is a lot different from facing down some adrenaline jacked psychopath.

Most martial arts will teach you to throw a punch, then as you for some weird reason leave your arm out there, fully extended, your partner will smoothly dodge around your extended arm and trip you to the mat.

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What actually happens in your average pub brawl, is this:

You either turn around just as a punch connects with your face, or your opponent talks some shit to scare you, and smacks you in the face while you’re suffering from adrenaline dump.

That’s a real opening.  You’re stood there with a silly look on your face as they hoof you into unconsciousness.

In the extremely unlikely even that you’re switched on enough to actually dodge their first haymaker, you’ll notice that they pull their arm back in almost instantly.  

As a slight aside, this is even more true of someone with a knife – so don’t even start to think about being the hero with that one!

The ONLY chance you have to use that arm is to dodge in such a way that you can hook your arm around theirs as they throw the strike, intercept their strike, or move inside it with a block.

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The first one I have tested successfully.  Basically, as they punch you move to their outside, sliding your hand over the top of their arm and the up under their armpit.  From there, and all in one fluid move, you can push the side of your hand into their shoulder-blade before they recover their balance, and take them face first into the floor or a wall, or apply a suppression hold as needed.  Even with this, I found I had to wait for them to throw a straightish punch – and most untrained people simply won’t do this.  And also remember to think ‘Trap And Snap’, rather then wrestling on the floor where their 4 mates can stamp on your head.

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Intercepting their strike I’ve already covered as being the best move you can ever learn, which will enable you to beat any opponent.  That is simply to get your elbow up exactly how your body wants to react.  They punch the point of your elbow, they shatter their hand, and the fight goes right out of them.  Job jobbed, and so easy I can train a 5 year old to do it.

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Moving inside with a block is one we all like to think we can do, but in reality I doubt it.  You can combine it with the elbow interception, but the idea of actually stepping TOWARDS someone who is punching you isn’t natural, and you can ony overcome your instincts with A LOT of pressure training or real fight experience.

People will tell you to “never kick above the waist in a streetfight”.  I would disagree with that.  Booting someone in the head is something they won’t be expecting, and even if they do grab your leg you can close in and reign elbows down on them before they can do much of use with it.  The main reason I think this would fail is because most people can’t kick to head hight from cold.  If you can’t – don’t.

And do you know what other moves aren’t a good idea to try in a fight?

Anything that doesn’t assume the opponents first strike will be a punch to your head or a headbutt.  Or anything that assumes an attacker will throw one attack at a time, rather than launch an assault like a frenzied windmill, or an Ameri-Do-Te Hurticane.

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If you survive their first assault, THEN you might get a chance to take control and show off your martial arts moves for your mates.

Just don’t expect them to let you do it to them!

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School Fights Part 3: Behind The Bike Sheds

School Fights Part 3: Behind The Bike Sheds

This was probably the biggest fight I ever had with anyone at school.

It was rather different to fighting Chompy The School Bully.

I think this one was a direct result of people knowing that I was fighting in tournaments and stuff, because the only reason he’s given to this day as to why he wanted to fight was: “I dunno, I just wanted a fight.”

Let’s call this one ‘Tompy’.  He was one of those ‘almost a friend’ type people – in the same class, we got on pretty well – but were never best friends or anything, nor had the will to be.  He was a known ruffian and fighter, and I guess considered one of The Hardest in the school.  He certainly was in his High School the year after we fought, anyway!

So I got the message sometime during the school day that “Tompy wants to fight you behind the bike sheds after school!”.

“Umm… why?”  I asked, thinking how I didn’t particularly want to have my brains bashed in.

“Dunno.”

“Err… OK then…”  Well, I could hardly find fault with his reasoning, could I?

People spent the rest of the day helpfully informing me how hard he was, and started to avoid the Dead Man Walking again.

After school I went to the bike sheds and he was there already, with an even bigger crowd than when I fought Chompy the year before.

“Are you ready?”  He asked me, as I put my bag down on the floor.

“Well… yeah…”  I told him, getting ready to get into all the “COME ON THEN!!” stuff again…

*WHACK*

What the fuck was that?

It was him, smacking me with a right hook before I’d even finished speaking!

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Ok then.  We got straight into it – both dancing about, much to the joy of the crowd.  I didn’t really want to be fighting still, but that first punch told me I either had to fight, let him kick the shit out of me, or cry like a baby and call it off and never live it down.

I was a hell of a lot better fighting by this stage, and was getting much nastier, having got into some more brutal styles of martial art.

Unfortunately, I was still shitting myself about fighting him, so I was holding back, and more fighting just to stay even and stop him killing me.  I don’t know why – guess it was just our good buddies Fear and Adrenaline Dump.  Street fighting is a whole new world away from organised competitions, and I was still pretty inexperienced about dealing with my own fear in a ‘real’ fight.

It was an impressive fight – we were using punches and kicks and everything else, and unlike Chompy, Tompy was hitting me hard and I was feeling it.

The fight is still a bit hazy to me, but I remember certain parts of it, either because I’d done something awesome, he’d hurt me, or something surreal was happening.

Now, in competitions, I was a kick specialist, and even to this day I’m an excellent kicker – even though, as back then, I prefer to use hand techniques.  He made the mistake of trying to take me on with kicks early on in the fight.  I remember after fielding a few of these (and this was probably the first time my sixth sense had kicked in during a fight), he tried a kick, but somehow I not only saw it coming, I actually jumped in the air over his leg and kicked down on top of his kick.  He never attempted another kick, and my confidence soared from that point.

A few times, we had to stop fighting because a Teacher was walking past on their way home, and we’d all wander off slowly then leg it back when they’d gone, and it was straight back to the fight.

I managed to grab his hair, intending to pull his head back and drop a hammer fist on his face (my current favourite Nasty Move), but couldn’t quite get his head back so the move failed.

He got me in a head lock, and was smacking me right in my mush with his other hand – fuck knows how he didn’t have my teeth out or break my nose!

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Then he tried to throw me on the floor, and I got a hold and took him down with me, but landed hard on my shoulder.  We both jumped up and carried on the bashings.

Then, I remember clearly that I was stepping back for a bit of a breather, and threw out two super-fast left jabs.  Both connected with his nose, which spread out all over his face and gushed blood.  A few punches that I thought were gentle taps and all that damage from them!

He was still fighting, and seeing the damage to him, I’d gained total confidence in myself.  This was MY fight.  I was in control.  The fear had gone.

I asked him if he wanted to stop, to which he quickly said (just like Chompy had) “He wanted to stop – you all heard that!”

Fine by me – but I really was going to go for it after that!

For some fucked up reason, most people said he’d won that fight, and it wasn’t until a few years later when I spoke to those same people that they admitted I absolutely battered him!  I guess they were his mates, or wanted to stay on his good side as they went to his High School, and I went to mine.

All I know is that I was the one cleaning his blood off me that night, and I’d found out this time that I really could fight – and I was good!  Although that fall totally fucked up my shoulder, so it was probably good that the fight ended there, rather than not long after when I found I couldn’t raise my arm!!!

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The Rush

The Rush

Anyone who knows me will say that I’m a pretty laid-back person.  Some would say I’m so laid-back you can actually see the soles of my shoes as I’m walking.

In direct contrast to this, my interests (and some of my jobs!) have always involved extreme levels of intensity.

For the most part, I get involved in an activity and it totally consumes me.  I don’t mind not being the best at what I do – but I will put every part of my soul into finding out just how well I can do something!  Then, I’ll move onto the next thing…

Even from when I was an early teen, I found that I got a very intense rush from writing poems and stories.  The experience was almost like being sick – scribbling out the words all at once and then sitting back feeling relief.  Calm.

The band came next.  Playing the bass or taking on vocal duties for a band is pretty extreme – but the buzz you get from stepping onto a stage in front of people can completely overwhelm some people.  I found I thrived on it!

And not just folk music, of course – my choice was thrash, death metal, grindcore – anything fast and loud!

I never had a massive interest in sports at school until I got to do things my way.

None of the pansy-assed school soccer or rugby – I got out there and joined a full kit US Football team, and let my psychosis carry me through!

People say US Football is all stop-starty – but I bet they’ve never played it.  In the time the ball isn’t actually moving, before that whistle blows, the anticipation is immense.

You’re about to smash your way through people who will try to seriously injure you – and everyone is wearing bloody armour so they can hit each other even harder!  If you think THAT is ‘a bit boring’ then you’re a -ing idiot!

Next came the clubbing days.  Not seals – the music type.  Hard as bastardy techno and trance… Dancing like a loon through the night to it…

Each thing seeemd to be getting more extreme – more intense.

Then I bought a motorbike – not for a rush, but just to get me to work.

If only I would have known years before… I still say my bike is the best thing I’ve ever bought in my life.

I guess looking back it’s no surprise I’d get into sportsbikes, where I can experience 1000hp per tonne blasting me to 60mph in under 3 seconds, and stupid lean angles as I scrape my knees on the tarmac at over 100mph!

Not many would have pegged me for getting a cruiser motorcycle and plodding around on it just for the image!  Give me the foetal position at 190mph any day!

Most of these previous things apart from bikes have fallen by the wayside now.  I do still demonstrate martial arts in almost every aspect of my life (and a lot of those activities above!), but I think even that peaked a few years back when I was sparring with friends for hours every single night preparing for a no holds barred tournament.  Now I still learn new techniques, but hardly do any proper training – so you can bet I’m weak and slow compared to how I was.

The bike thing is still going strong, and earlier this week I had this arrive on my doorstep:

MSA ARDS National B Racing License

That’s my car racing license!

For the last few months I’ve been totally immersing myself in the Skip Barber race manual learning ungodly amounts of stuff about race car physics and techniques, so the intensity for driving racing cars has already hit me.

Just wait until I slide myself into that single seater for the first time, and we’ll see what kind of rush I get from this one.

The way I see it – if you’re not constantly chasing that rush, you’re doing it wrong!

 

Martial Arts: How Not To Get In A Fight

Martial Arts: How Not To Get In A Fight

It’s all well and good knowing how to strangle someone with their own tongue once things kick off, but the simple fact is this:

Most people DO NOT want to get into a fight.

Most people have a brain in their heads, and realise that if they get into a fight the chances are they’ll get hit and it will hurt.  Or even if they win the fight, the other person will bash their back doors in in the middle of the night and stab them to death in retaliation.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the really helpful advice that to ensure you don’t get attacked you should ‘not look like a victim’.

What does that even mean?

Well, walking with confidence is a good thing.  Someone blithering about with their nose stuck to their £500 Apple Twatphone 48 R Turbo will certianly look like a good victim to an opportunist mugger.

And don’t think you’ll be able to say ‘no’ assertively and deter them.  What will happen is you’ll get smacked in the head.  If you’re lucky it will be just their bear hands, and you’ll eventually wake up phoneless.

Unless the attacker is out for a fight – in which case acting confidently might attract his attention.

There are a million scenarios and YOU have to be able to assess your surroundings and potential threat levels.  There is no easy way, unfortunately.

You can use a bit of common sense and don’t go traipsing around deserted alleyways wearing more gold than Mr T, and try and stick with a group of people you know – or at least use the busier routes rather than quiet short cuts.

And then there’s the biggest thing that gets people into fights: Pride.

If someone is staring at you in a pub as if they want to swing you around by your eyelids, put your pint down, and go find somewhere else to have a quiet pint!  It really is that simple!

Don’t try and stare them down, don’t give a damn that they might think you look like a scared sissy girl – don’t even look at them and just leave the area.  Job jobbed.

If someone is starting to act like a prick – go somewhere else as quietly as possible.  Leave them to it.

If you’re in your car and you have a shout at someone with a bit of gesticulation to show your displeasure, don’t be surprised if they stop, get out, and drag you through your window to stomp on your big stupid mouth.  YOU caused it, because you could have just shrugged and let it go.

Considering we’re lead to believe todays society is so randomly violent, how many people do you actually know who have got into a fight recently that they didn’t contribute to?

It’s not as scary out there as you think, as long as you stay a little bit switched on to your surroundings…

Or alternatively, take a look at some of my other martial arts blogs, and learn how to take them out before they even know they’re in a fight.

MARTIAL ARTS: Only ’Girls’ Get Strangled Or Bear-Hugged!

MARTIAL ARTS: Only ’Girls’ Get Strangled Or Bear-Hugged!

Over my 26 years of study, I’ve been told a fair few times that I should teach women’s self defence or something.  Not because I fight like a girl.  I hope.

I’ve taught many friends (and some enemies, I guess) a few techniques to get them out of nasty situations.  In fact if anyone ever thinks they’ve found the ultimate hold or anything, I’m happy to let them do it on me so that I can show them how to get out of it.  I love doing this, because it brings out the core values of Ninjitsu – i.e. being able to adapt to any situation and win.

It’s always confused me when I see ’real self defence’ classes (especially ones aimed at women) who always and without fail will teach their students how to deal with two types of attack:

’Bear Hugs’ and ’Being Strangled From The Front’.

Now, maybe this is just me, but not a single one of the people I’ve taught has requested defences for these things.

Do you even know anyone who’s ever been attacked on the street by a bear hug or a front strangle???  Who the hell is going to attack anyone like that???

Yet these moves are always the core of their self defence systems.  Go figure.

Bear Hugs

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For those who don’t know what it is (and this is nothing to do with Plushies, you perves!!!), it’s where your attacker will wrap his arms around your upper body, most often pinning your arms to your sides, and is then able to crush you or carry you away.

Oooh!  Scary!

If they do this from a face-to-face position, the chances are that on pure instinct you will drop your head forwards and smash their teeth out.  Not to mention your legs are free to give short, sharp hoofers to their shins or knee them in the bollocks.  In the unlikely event that this natural flailing won’t make them let you go, have a good old chomp on their neck and face.

If they haven’t pinned your arms to your sides, no doubt before you have time to think you’ll be beating away at the sides of their head.  I’d recommend clawing their eyes out and shoving your thumbs as deep into their sockets as you can.  If you have some strength it’s even possible to snap their neck by lifting slightly below their jaw both sides and then twisting their head.

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If they’re bear-hugging you from behind it could make you panic more – but you’re far from helpless!

If your arms are pinned, it’s always worth a go at throwing your head back into their face.  If they’re a lot bigger or they’re a zombie whose head has fallen off backwards, you may not be able to make contact this way.  Or they may have tucked their head in tight to yours so you can’t get a good smack in.

Don’t panic!  It’s not over yet!  You should also bear in mind that whenever you’re using your head as a weapon there’s always a chance that you’ll knock yourself out.  You don’t want to do this, so if possible only nut someone as a last resort!

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Anyway, so in this case you can’t use your head.  What you want to be doing is simply smacking your heels backwards into their legs.  All these shin-kicking type moves I’m advising here are assuming you’re wearing shoes – and the harder they are the better.  It will work barefoot, but not half as well!  It should still be enough to get you out of the hold either way.

Also, if your arms are pinned you’ll usually be able to work your hands between you and the attacker and crush the fuck out of a big handful of testicle.  Do it.

If they’ve grabbed you from behind but left your arms free, they’ve made a big boo-boo!

Lift both of your arms up to shoulder height, bent at the elbows like a chicken getting ready to fly, and then twist your whole upper body left and right in turn rapidly.

After a few tries you’re bound to find your elbows will smack into your attackers head, and when this happens it will bounce their head to the other side, so that when you twist the other way you make even harder contact with their noggin.  This will knock them right the fuck out VERY quickly.  It might hurt your elbows or the backs of your arms a bit, but the rapid twisting will also be great for slimming fat from your sides and hips – so it’s worth a bit of pain!

Strangles

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If anyone has ever successfully strangled someone whilst stood up, it would have relied almost totally on the victim freezing up.  “Oh God!  He’s got my neck and I can’t breath!  What can I do???”

Well, I’ll tell you what you can do:

If they’re stood facing you, and have simply reached their arms out and wrapped their big sweaty palms around your throat, you’d have to be a bit simple to get choked unconscious.

There are loads of techniques taught to get you out of this, and sadly, a lot of them will fail against a stronger attacker, causing you to panic even more and quit.  QUITTER!!!!

First off, when trying to break any hold, one technique might fail.  It’s no biggy – just try something else!  Just don’t keep on trying something that doesn’t work – for the main reason that they’ll know what you’re trying to do and will just make damn sure it won’t work!

Of all the escapes that I know, there are two which will work 99.9% of the time for everyone.

The first is to simply put your hands together, and then raise them hard and fast inbetween the arms of your Strangler.  This should bring your shoulders up between his hands, twisting his grip off your neck.  Easy-peasy lemon-squeazy!  Run free, slightly-red-necked unstrangled person!

The other is to twist your whole body sideways.  This may work alone, but I’d also recommend that as you turn to the side, raise one of your arms and put it over the top of both of their arms (go on, give their face a quick hook on your way!).  This creates a huge amount of leverage as your armpit forces their hands off your neck.  You’re also in a great position to leg it as soon as you’re free.

Of course, if you’re pressed with your back against a wall or something, yo may not be able to do this one, but the first should still work as long as you can get your arms up between theirs.

If they both fail, or you just want to make sure they won’t be strangling anyone again for a while, use both hands to grab hold of the fleshy part of their thumb (or their thumb itself, or even their little finger) and rotate their hand away from your neck, whilst twisting your body, until you hear their wrist snap.  It will put them right off.

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This is also the best technique for someone strangling you from behind, although the second ’twisting away’ technique should work too, obviously with you throwing your arm backwards over theirs as you twist.

There, now!  You’ve got no excuses for getting yourself twatted, have you?

Now go and try it out with someone – but go easy and do it half speed at first so you can feel how it’s all working.  This is stuff that WORKS and doesn’t need you to train for 60 years daily.

You Got Knocked The F**k Out!

You Got Knocked The Fuck Out!

The aim of most fights is to knock your opponent out.  Actually, the aim of most of the Scrotes around these day is to knock you out and then tapdance on your head for 15 minutes, but that’s another story…

People always ask me (well, one person back in 1989 hinted he’d like to know) what is the best way to knock someone out.  What’s the best way?

The simple answer is that it’s actually not that easy.

We see it in films all the time, where someone will belt someone on the jaw and they go straight down, out cold.  In reality, most times they will just look at you, all angry and stuff, and then hit you back, right in the face.  If you’ve ever watched ‘Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels’ then you’ll remember the scene where they’re trying to knock the traffic warden out…  That’s how it usually goes…

Of course there are several ‘knock out points’ on the body – boxers will be well versed in these basic ones that you can whack, and there are also loads of pressure points that require more finesse.  The real joy is that all of these is that anybody can catch them completely by accident.  Or the flip-side is that some people are seemingly immune (especially after alcohol or drugs).

The basic ones are on the temple, the point of the chin (towards the back of the head), the side of the jaw, and between the top lip and the bottom of the nose.

Most people will swing punches at their opponents head to get the knock out, but there are some great ones lower down, too.

Another major one from boxing is the liver.  As you look at your opponent, the place to hit will be just where their elbow falls below their rib cage on the right hand side of their body.  This will send a jolt through their whole body and produce a knockout that’s delayed by a fair few seconds.  If you’ve ever been hit here you’ll know what a pisser it is – and also that you can literally tap someone here and they’ll still go down.

It’s also really easy to use a quick deception such as raising one hand slightly then twatting them to the body where they won’t be expecting it.

There are lots of pressure points even in the legs which can cause a knockout – would I recommend chancing them in a life or death situation?  Hell no.  Stick with the proven stuff.

The humble slap is often very underrated.  Not only does it make your opponent look like a bitch, but I can tell you first hand that you can easily cause a knockout.  In fact, it’s far preferable to punching, as you have less chance of breaking your knuckles or hurtig yourself – and you cause a lot of blunt trauma and shock damage with the added bonus that you can burst their eardrum.  Ok, so you might look like a bit of a sissy who slaps like a girl, but the chances are nobody will call you on it if someone is lay at your feet snoring in a puddle of blood and snot.

The neck is also a great target for knockouts – but be aware you’re quite likely to kill them and spend the rest of your days in jail muttering about only wanting to knock them out and not murder them…

For this reason I’m not going to give you these here.  Please bear in mind that even the cleanest knock out still carries the risk of killing them, if not from the blow then from smacking their noggin on a table or whatever as they fall into their little slumber.  If you don’t want to kill someone – don’t fight them!

If you can’t knock them out, or are just feeling nasty – cause as much damage to them in as many ways as possible – and that’s something we’ll cover in another blog…