May 31, 2009

NWJJA Kicking Ass at Can Ams!

Big props to both Mike "The Shadow" Robinson, and Brian "Mr. BJJ" Johnson of the NW Jiu Jitsu Academy of Seattle, WA. for their victories today at the Western Can Am Championships in Vancouver, BC.

Mike finished all three of his opponents to go on to win the white belt 180# division. Two victories came via point decision, and his third fight ended with an arm bar! Mike was setting up the Americana from mount, his opponent turned, and Mike snatched the arm for the armbar. Textbook Basic 24 right there! Congrats to Mike on his first BJJ championship!

Brian fought the advanced no gi 150# division and swept the competition with three submissions in three fights! A Darce choke, a crazy arm bar, and a triangle are what Brian packed for this trip and finished his opponents with!

According to rumor the tournament was run poorly. I was not there so I cannot comment much further, but I was at last years tournament and it was a cluster fuck to say the least! Poorly ran and organized.

I will get video and pics up as soon as I receive them. When you see Brian and Mike make sure to congratulate them this week! Also look for a review of the Roy Harris seminar I went to over the weekend in Bend, OR.


May 28, 2009

Fare thee well....

Well it is with bittersweet resolve that I write this post today. My Hawks officially went on their summer golf tour last night getting beat in OT by the Red Wings in Detroit. The irony of repeating almost EXACTLY what happened 15 years ago when we last made the conference finals was a bit of a hard pill to swallow. 4-1 was the series, against Detroit. Same as it was in 94! Frustrating. But on the flip side of the coin I would rather lose to an Original Six team like Detroit then some other wanna be team! This only strengthens the already deep rivalry between Chicago and Detroit.

I am proud of the team this season, as no one even expected us to get to the playoffs let alone the conference championship! The Hawks have a young team that has proven it will be formidable in the upcoming seasons. Finally some of the grit and hard nose work ethic, that the Hawks were always known for, has returned to the Chi! I have followed the Hawks since I was a kid and this has been hands down the most exciting season yet. Thanks guys! See you in October.


May 27, 2009

International Taiji Data Base

List your school in the international data base for Taiji instruction and instructors worldwide. It is quick, easy, and best of all FREE!

Thanks to Dave Chesser at Formosa Neijia for the link!

We want our HD NET!!

While back home (Ohio) visiting fam, I got the chance to peruse my parents satellite listings to happily find HD Net. Not found on Comcast here in Washington state, HD Net hosts some of the best MMA and martial arts based shows, fights, and documentaries out there! Fans of Pride FC and Japanese MMA fights will find exclusive coverage of K-1's Fields and Dreams tournaments. Sengoku as well! Some great fights are happening across the globe and because of Comcast's evil monopoly in the Pacific NW they do not carry HD Net.

Those of us who find Bas Rutten hilarious and entertaining are also missing THE best (only) show on MMA from around the world with MMA Insider, again available exclusively on HD Net! Not only do they have fighter panels each show, but they also cover smaller, more local fights as well as the major fights like Sengoku, UFC, WEC etc.

Hopefully if we flood Comcast with requests for HD Net they will listen to the masses and include it in their coverage! Below is a copy of the letter you can send to Comcast, or simply click here for a direct link to the letter page to send to Comcast.

PO BOX 97007



I am writing to recommend that you add HDNet & HDNet Movies to your line-up.

They offer exclusive programming that is important to me and it is important that HDNet & HDNet Movies are a part of my television viewing options.

Please let me know if you plan to add HDNet & HDNet Movies to your channel line-up soon so that I may plan accordingly with my selection of cable or satellite service provider.

May 26, 2009

Private Lessons Pt.II - A Teachers Perspective

I assume you have read the post just below (if not skip this post and read Private Lessons part 1 below). So now I will offer my perspective on private lessons from a teachers standpoint.

At the Three Harmonies Martial Arts Center I offer group classes that are geared towards self defense / combatives training. These group classes are not stylistically based, but rather draw from my past 18 years of martial arts knowledge in stand up situations (striking, kicking, locking, throwing).

For those students who are interested in learning a certain style such as Mantis, Xing Yi, Taiji, Bagua, weapons, or qi gong training then private instruction is the only place I offer such lessons. My reasoning for this is multifaceted.

First of all I find the attention to detail in private instruction is second to none. ALL the attention is on you (or you and a training partner if it is a small group private lesson)! The teacher can watch every subtle nuance of your movement and technique. These aspects can be lost in a group setting, especially if you are learning a form (kata) or specific movement.

People from different backgrounds have different ways of learning. Not necessarily a learning disability, but perhaps just a hard time understanding a movement kinesthetically. In these situations a patient, understanding instructor is needed, and in group situations the class and/or the student can get neglected and lost in the shuffle.

Forms and styles are easiest to teach and learn in private format. Again the one on one factor is huge, but also take it from a marketing perspective; I do not have the space / money / time to offer a class on combatives, Taiji, Xing Yi, Mantis, weapons, qi gong, etc. etc. etc. One day when I own my own building and have free range over a schedule I will re-evaluate this situation, but until then this is the best way for me to teach as many different demographics while not affecting the quality of my instruction which is always my most important goal, quality over quantity.

I always found it a bit silly to walk into a group setting, warm up as a group, and then have the teacher break us up individually to work on solo forms for X amount of time! We come together as a group to work on our solo routines!?!?!?! What a waste! Form work is your homework for when you do not have a training partner. When I am amongst a group I want to work applications, partner drills, and some uncooperative sparring of some sorts. Things I cannot replicate when practicing by myself.

In this format my students can refine their technique / form in private instruction, and then step onto the mat (classroom vs. lab) and test out what they learn in group combatives class if they so choose to train in both!

I have noticed with students who train consistently in group class, and take regular or even occasional private instruction improve drastically! My student Terry is a classic example of this. He has been a very devote student of mine for over 2 years now studying combatives in my group class, as well as training Sun Taiji with me privately. Every aspect of his training has improved. His form work is getting better by the day. He is a better partner, student and demo dummy since training in my group class. He comes to private instruction on time and prepared with notes and questions. His hard work and effort has paid dividends!

Here are a few pointers for teachers to live by in regards to private instruction:

1- The student (regardless of whether this is their first lesson, or 100th) is paying you for your time and knowledge; impart it upon them! I cannot stand teachers who milk their students of money! If I go into your mechanic shop for brake service I expect all 4 brakes to be worked on and fixed, not 2 1/2! So if a student comes to you for X you should do everything in your ability to provide X. Obviously their are many factors in this situation, but overall the student is paying you their hard earned money and time to learn something from you, be honest and forth right in your passing of that knowledge.

2- Try to get an idea of what the student NEEDS from you. Notice I did not say wants from you! They may have an idea of what they WANT, but a coach is there for what the student NEEDS. Sometimes this is a bitter pill to swallow, but hey, that is the nature of a coach. They are not paying you to be a friend.

3- Be professional! Do not come to a lesson late. Be prepared with material (again try to get an idea of what the student wants to cover prior to the lesson so you can prepare notes and what not). And if you need to cancel or adjust a lesson try and give at least 24 hours notice so the student can adjust their life accordingly.

4- Be honest! Across the board of life I find this to be a rare virtue anymore. Sometimes we save certain words/thoughts in an effort not to hurt someones' feelings. That is tact more than anything. I try to offer three things they are doing well, and one or two than need improvement. You do not want to overwhelm your student with negative aspects of their game, but at the same time you want to be honest and tell them where they need to improve. This may be hard, but your students will appreciate it in the long run!

I encourage you to seek out private instruction with your teacher, visiting professors, or with another local teacher. Even in negative situations you will learn something valuable!

Train hard,

Private Lessons - great training, or waste of time & money?? A students perspective

It was a solid 9-10 years into my martial career before I took my first private lesson. Until then I had always trained in a group (large or small) for my lessons and never thought much of private instruction. My first private lesson was with a Xing Yi cat in Santa Fe, NM. by the name of Kit. He was not offering group lessons that I could make, so I thought I would try out a one on one session. Overall it was an okay experience. Nothing earth shattering / ground breaking by any means.

Shortly there after I met, and took a private lesson with my current teacher Tim Cartmell, and needless to say I realized what I had been missing out on! The details and attention to those details that Tim offers in his sessions are second to none. I have heard martial artists of 30+ years state the following after training with Tim; "I learned more in 15 minutes with Tim, then in years with my previous teacher(s)!" And I would have to concur with such a statement. I learned more in my one hour Xing Yi private lesson then I had in over 2 years of training from my first Xing Yi teacher!

So what is all the hoopla about taking private lessons with teachers, and is it really worth it? First of all "worth" is subjective, and I really cannot comment on such a thing for you. For me, one on one instruction has been unequivocally worth every penny and minute. I admit I have been very lucky in that I have sought out top notch instructors to train with, but that does not mean there are not jokers out there who will waste your time and money. Remember money can be earned back, but time is forever.

We need to make a distinction or two before delving further into such a broad subject. First of all one needs a good teacher. If someone is not a solid teacher then it does not matter what you learn from him/her, if they suck as a teacher it will not matter if there are 30 people in the room or 1. That is just fact.

Also it depends on what you (the student) are trying to gain from the lesson. Are you learning a form that requires lots of attention to minute detail? Are you working on conditioning and just need a "personal trainer" type workout / motivator? Or are you working some technique and trying to refine it so that you become more successful at executing said technique?

These are three of the most common (in general) reasons people train privately in my experience. All are valid reasons for seeking out private instruction, though in cases such as motivation private instruction can get quite expensive! Getting details of a technique is certainly invaluable, but be honest with yourself... is it you doing something wrong with that given technique, or is it you just have not drilled it enough to make it work? A private lesson does not guarantee you will be "better" at something.

For example I will take a private lesson with my BJJ coach Brian J. Johnson at NW Jiu Jitsu Academy to get details of a certain position or technique that I am working, and then I will go into regular group class and work it in drills, and try it out in sparring to see if I can start to get it on different body types and levels of experience. This is the "lab" for me. The private lesson was the "classroom" if you will.

As a student you have several responsibilities prior to scheduling a private lesson with any teacher:

1- Make sure the teacher you are wanting a lesson with has a solid reputation (I cannot tell you how many people I know who have shelled out $200-300- even 400 for an hour private lesson with some famous BJJ cat, only to cover a basic arm bar and triangle setup!). Remember, just because someone is good at what they DO does not mean they are a good TEACHER of what they do!

2- Organize yourself. Have a list of questions - goals - needs that you want to be met with your lesson, and if at all possible give your instructor a heads up on the material you want to cover. This will ensure more bang for your buck so to speak. The teacher can organize the lesson better and you will retain more as well.

3- Ensure that you (the student) are professional. Show up early ("on time" has taken a connotation of meaning RIGHT at 2pm if our appointment is at 2pm. "On time" to me is at least 5 minutes early!), show up ready to train (if you need to change do it promptly and factor that into your time management), and work hard!

4- And finally (pet peeve of mine) if you need to cancel, do so with at least 24 hours notice! I have a 24 hour cancellation policy, and I use it! Barring emergencies and accidents, their is no reason to call (or not call at all) at the last minute . Give the instructor notice so they can adjust their life and work schedule.

Stay tuned for the teachers perspective next!
Train hard,

Marc Macyoung Seminar Seattle, in September

My friend and fellow martial artist Kris Wilder will be hosting Marc MacYoung for a one day seminar on knife defense in west Seattle, in September. Register quick as they are capping this seminar to 30 people and it will most likely sell out fast!
Train Hard,

May 25, 2009

Xing Yi Seminar June 09

You are most welcome to attend my first workshop of 09, a study of the Horse & Tuo animals from Xing Yi Quan. I will teach the form and function both of these animals, along with variations that I have learned. Feel free to contact me with any further questions or to register.


May 21, 2009

My 15 minutes.....

Does Warhol's "15 minutes of fame" count if you do it in small segments? If so I guess this is my 3 second (if that) start! As some of you know I am the head (only) kickboxing instructor at All Star Fitness Executive Club (5th and Olive Way). I teach the same curriculum as in all my group classes with the exception of throws, and take downs. Also in litigation heavy Seattle they will not allow me to spar with the students nor allow them to spar with each other. Otherwise I pride myself on teaching good, solid technique, not the bullshit "Cardio" Kickboxing seen in pretty much EVERY other gym in the US (thanks a ton Billy Blanks!)!

I teach a lot of women which is nice because they drop their ego at the door and listen WAY better then men do! And I actually have some of them kicking serious ass! I would put several of my girls up against any of my guys in any of my classes with full confidence they would give the guys a run for their money!

Anyways... All Star filmed a commercial for Comcast (local cable monopoly) and yours truly has some face time in it! I just walked in one day and there they were filming away, and they wanted to get my class since it is one of the most popular ones at the gym (their words, not mine), and naturally wanted to get me on film since I am the best looking (straight) male there. My street cred will most likely go down, but I am hoping my agent (an agent, any agent) will negotiate some better rates for me since I am blowing up now! The commercial will run locally on 30 different cable stations.



May 18, 2009

Cartmell Seminars are a hit!

This past weekend we were once again visited by Tim Cartmell for some great BJJ and sword play training. Tim offered, what I think, was one of his best training sessions... a comprehensive workshop on the dynamics of leg attacks for grapplers.

In true Shen Wu fashion Tim classified leg attacks via the method of application that force is issued. Basically all attacks fall into three separate categories (and we focused on the first two categories this weekend):
-Straight Attacks (knee bars & ankle locks)
-Twisting Attacks (toe holds & heel hooks)
-Compression Attacks (various calf slicers & knee separations

Over the span of 6 hours we covered a myriad of different leg attacks and submissions. First Tim would explain how the lock worked, why it worked physiologically, and finally positional entries into each submission.

Though the number of variations was dizzying, Tim kept bringing us back to the principles of each attack so that even if we did not remember the exact technique, we at least would be drilling the dynamic principle of the attack. For instance wherever you have a straight ankle lock you also have a heel hook!

All in all this was, in my humble opinion, one of the best training sessions I have ever had with Tim. I have been working on leg attacks quite a bit over the past 5 months or so with my training partner and friend "The Mike" so none of the actual locks were new to me. Yet the details of tightening up those locks was certainly missing from my game and the intricacies of maintaining position and controlling the appendage we were attacking was invaluable!

Despite several other area schools putting on leg attack themed seminars of their own (rumor has it one group did a last minute seminar this very weekend once they got word that many of their students were planning on participating in our seminar. Another school is offering a leg locks seminar in a couple weeks for a low dose price of $20) this seminar was one of the best attended seminars (over 20) we have had for BJJ since Tim started offering seminars here in Seattle! Big thanks to all who attended especially all the students at Three Harmonies, and Brian Johnson at the NW Jiu Jitsu Academy! We also had a group up from Portland (minus Kit, where were you bro?????). Thanks so much for making this successful guys! You just ensured Tim will be back with more BJJ this September!

For the Chinese geeks (such as myself) Tim offered to teach the Sun Bagua Jian (straight sword) this weekend as well. I thought for sure we would attract a lot of interest with this workshop since Tim has not taught this information in over a decade, but we ended up with a small dedicated group of under 10 people which was awesome for all attendees because they got all sorts of personal attention!

As always Tim made the training fun and easy to retain. We covered the basic manipulations of the Jian, reviewed basic circle walking, and then dove right into the form. Sun Lu Tang (creator of Sun Bagua & Sun Bagua Jian) was renown for his no nonsense straight forward approach to combat and training, so the form has no fluff or flowery movements. Just straight forward combat applicable technique that was easy to do and easy to learn applications.

Once again thanks so much to all of you who helped make this possible! I cannot say it enough, it takes two to tango and I cannot bring in quality instructors like Tim without the participation and support of people like you! I am glad everyone had such a great time, and I look forward to seeing you in September when Tim comes back to offer more BJJ and CMA training.


May 14, 2009

Gratuitous Use of Blog

If you are in the market for something new to liven up your house, or just enjoy excellent photography and mediocre company, then please join us Saturday evening on June 13th, 6-10pm for Dana Benjamin's first fine art show in Seattle!

To get an idea of Dana's talent and taste please visit
There will be photographs for all budget's and taste's.

May 13, 2009

Training at Three Harmonies

I have had a lot of friends, students, and mentors give me a hard time lately about not having much about the Chinese martial arts (CMA) on my blog. It is true, there has been little. The reasoning is simple.... there has not been much in general to talk about, and what little there is, is not positive in my humble opinion.

So I decided to change all of that by offering a glimpse at what makes training at Three Harmonies different than what other CMA schools may offer. This is certainly not an attempt to say we are the sole _________, nor did we create anything. Unfortunately there seems to be a general lacking of skill and realistic based training within the greater CMA community, as the student base seems to be attracting individuals who are not so interested in the 'martial' aspects of the martial arts. This is discerning on a number of different levels, but the one pet peeve that really irks me to no end is the lack of responsibility many instructors take in regards to their students well being and abilities (or lack thereof) to defend themselves. I have literally heard instructors tell their students to execute the techniques from the form if they are ever in a real fight and they will sufficiently ward off any aggressive attacks! JESUS!! ARE YOU [email protected]#KING KIDDING ME!?!?!?!?

Here are just a couple things that I feel set us apart from the general CMA kung fu community both here in Seattle, WA. and generally around the world.


This is not to say you need to throw on pads and kill each other, which is actually counterproductive, but uncooperative drills such as grappling, sparring, etc. with resisting opponents is absolute key to martial skill retention and development. In general I have seen two models within the CMA community:
  1. Over aggressive "kill 'em all" type attitudes which are both intimidating to newbies, and dangerous to everyone including the"killer."
  2. Complete lack of any type of resistance training. And though push hands is better than nothing, the silly restrictions many schools put on their practice of push hands pretty much nullifies anything productive coming from it.
Every class I teach we are doing some sort of resistance training, testing what I just taught out on some one giving at least 60-75% resistance. This does not mean we spar every class, (sometimes yes, sometimes no) but their is practice and drills where our partners gradually give more and more resistance.

Many of the techniques in traditional CMA have become antiquated, yet some schools have no interest in improving and updating their fighting repertoire and stick strictly to outdated dogma that is often rooted in Asian culture. Sports science and sports medicine have developed so much in the last 20 years, let alone the last 150, there is really no reason not to incorporate some of it into ones teachings! Some traditional exercises such as iron palm training, hard conditioning, and esoteric energy practice have proven to be quite harmful and detrimental to ones body. To cling to ancient beliefs is not always the best nor healthiest ideas.

Actual techniques need to evolve too. CMA are still very dependent on blocking which will get you hit with someone that has any fighting experience. We teach to cover and slip, much in the same way boxers move and defend themselves. This has proven (for me) to be much more effective in combat. It also nullifies my opponents attack since we keep our arms in tighter and do not allow many techniques to be used simply by not allowing our arms to leave our body.

The anti-grappling attitude needs to be addressed as well. The CMA NEVER have had an organized ground combat curriculum. EVER! With the popularity of MMA and BJJ in the 21st century one needs to be prepared for any and all scenarios, and threat includes the ground. If I hear one more CMA practitioner / teacher tell me "I cannot be taken down." I am going to choke a fool! ANYONE at ANYTIME can potentially find themselves on the ground be it from a fall, a hit, a trip, a throw, a slip etc. So a base knowledge of how to defend oneself and get back to their feet safely is fundamental in my opinion. All students at Three Harmonies are taught Tim Cartmells Ground Proofing curriculum and I incorporate certain aspects of ground fighting into my teachings as well. Not much, but enough to provide a sound base knowledge on survival and escape.

I guess now that I think about it this is pretty much a continuation of what I wrote above, and honestly is the CMA biggest problem. Whether we are speaking of sparring, ground grappling, or using modern methods and equipment, the CMA in general are very opposed, almost xenophobic, to incorporating aspects from other martial styles into their training regime. A couple years ago I was berated on some CMA forums because of my use of boxing defense and focus mitt work, as well as using the clinch and Thai pads from Muay Thai. Now I see those very same people who criticized me are using the same methods and equipment! It's funny!

I had a girl stop in to watch my class a year or two ago, and her comment was; "It does not look like kung fu. It looks like kickboxing." To which I replied "Thanks!" I would rather be compared to the kickboxing gyms I have seen, than the majority of CMA schools I have seen! We use pads. I bring to my class any and all advancements I have made on my own, or were taught by my teachers to me. I harbor no secrets! Secrets are bullshit! The only secret you ever have to remember is this.... train hard! I have been on the receiving end of this crap and it usually means the teacher is either: 1. milking you of all your money, or 2. does not know that much so draws out the training by leading on that the student needs to practice to get the "secrets." Of course the secrets never come, or worse yet the student is left to figure them out for themselves which can be very frustrating.

Being as immersed in the Chinese culture as I have been for the past 10 years or more, I can honestly say I believe a lot of this xenophobic attitude stems from seriously deep racist roots amongst the Chinese. And keep in mind it is not exclusively Chinese, most Asian cultures are known to be extremely racist especially to other Asian ethnicity's! It is a shame because one of the most beautiful aspects of Chinese culture are ruined by one of the ugliest aspects of any culture; racism!

Training at Three Harmonies is not like any experience you have had at any other CMA school. I maintain the tradition of the arts I have learned, but I also approach those traditions with a questioning persona and a modern mind in an effort to provide the very best I can offer to my students. For if they ever get in an altercation on the street, I am the one responsible for their preparation in terms of knowledge base and skill acquisition (whether or not they do what I tell them is a whole other story!). I take that responsibility very seriously and continue to learn and grow myself as a martial artist in hopes of passing on those new skills and knowledge to those who want to learn.

Train Hard,

May 10, 2009

Winning never gets old....

NW Jiu Jitsu's own Brian "Mr. BJJ" Johnson won his 3rd straight Grapplers Quest Lightweight BB Adult division in Las Vegas, NV.

Defeating his first opponent via arm bar from the mount, Brian went on to his toughest match of the day against a Jean Jacques Machado black belt from Montana. Brian did not get the submission, but beat his opponent 6-0 on points. Keep in mind this is about 12 straight matches that Brian has gone without a point scored on him!
Onto his third match Brian's opponent took him down and basically threw himself into a triangle, so Brian was forced to put it out and put him out! 3x Grapplers Quest Champion!

Check back by Wed and I should have some pics and video up on the blog.

Congrats Brian!


May 5, 2009

Marcello Garcia Tapped!

Marcello Garcia was tapped in the World Pro Jiu Jitsu tourney this weekend in Abu Dhabi, by Gracie Barra BB Braulio Estima. A few minutes into the match Garcia was uncharacteristically caught in a triangle! Goes to show you that on any given Sunday......


Seminar Review - Demian Maia

On Sunday May 3rd I had the pleasure to train with one of the worlds best grapplers, as well as one of the most exciting up and coming 185 pounder's in the UFC Demian Maia at his seminar in Toledo, OH.

For those of you living in a hole in the ground Maia is a 5x time world BJJ champ, winner of the 07 Abu Dhabi Championships, and is currently 10-0 in MMA competition. It was just announced that Demian's next opponent will be Nate Marquardt at UFC 102 in Portland, OR. on August 29th 2009.

Demian's seminar was attended by over 50 grapplers and fighters from all over the Midwest. Demian covered both gi and no gi techniques and strategies and entertained questions on all aspects of training. One of the best things about the techniques shown was the lack of concern if one was wearing a gi or not. None of the techniques were gi dependant in other words.

Demian has a, well deserved, reputation for being very technical (his teacher is none other than the great Fabio Gurgel, Marcello Garcia's teacher. See a pattern here?) instructor, and he certainly did not disappoint at this seminar! We did not cover a huge number of techniques, but rather did a flow from take down, to 1/2 guard pass, to positional dominance, to submission. We basically covered a Up and Crush setup into an arm bar. This was cherry for me as I have been working the Up & Crush a lot lately and though I was doing it basically the same way Demian taught, he added lots of little details to tighten up my technique.

Another little gem for me was some detail on the kimura for when your opponent locks his arm out. Again one of my go to moves is the kimura and I find myself struggling with strong opponents who defend their arm quite well. I am not going to divulge the details here, but those who roll with me in the next couple of weeks will see what I do and I am happy to show you what he offered.

From their we took a little break and came back to work some no gi techniques. It was a little uncanny that Maia covered some techniques from my opponent doing an "S" pass (my terminology, not Maia's) to my butterfly guard. Those who follow my blog will note a few weeks ago Luis Heredia shared some of his thoughts on the exact same position, so it was a continuation from a totally different perspective. Pushing the head to the opposite side of my body prevents his pass, and from their I under hook his inside arm, kicking my leg free, and getting to my opponents back. Nothing revolutionary but Maia's details were very, very helpful. We also went over a few details of maintaining the back as well as transitioning to other places from the back.

Overall the seminar was very, very good. If you get the chance to train with Maia do it! He is very humble, genuine, and technically wise a great instructor. His English was very good so their was little trouble understanding plus he had a student their fluent in both English and Portuguese so any words he struggled with were quickly clarified. Unfortunately he could not grapple with us (he said he normally does) because he had hurt his foot at Royler's house the day before, so that was a bit of a bummer though understandable. Also no video taping was allowed which I am not a fan of usually, but his teaching method ensured that we remembered the flow very well and I have had no problem retaining all of what he taught since the focus was on detail, not volume!

One of the best aspects of the seminar was his Q&A session where he shared his thoughts and ideas about training. One thing Maia stressed was training smartly. When asked about levels of contact in preparation for MMA fights his response was; "You never want to hit full contact in training due to risk of injuring your partner or yourself. Of course you put on head gear and boxing gloves and go harder than with 4oz MMA gloves, but you never want to be at 100% striking power against your partners." These words were well needed in a room full of potential / wanna be MMA fighters, as it was scary how many white belts had terrible, TERRIBLE cauliflower ears! In my opinion there is no reason someone with under 2 years experience should have such chewed up ears if you are training intelligently and with good teachers and partners.

Overall a good seminar and one hell of a nice teacher. I hope to have more opportunities to train with Maia in the future, and I wish him all the luck in his future in the UFC!

Train hard,

May 4, 2009

Monthly Quote

May's quote comes from Sharon Wood who happens to be the first woman from North America to scale Everest! I stumbled across this quote in my erratic driving in the electronic universe and I felt it was very appropriate for the martial student.

In the past 18 years of practice it has been my experience that we are our own worst enemies. Sure I have had many struggles, challenges, failures due to my opponents who were very talented and certainly deserved their due. But the true barriers I had to break down were mental / emotional imposed onto myself. Our bodies are much stronger than we give them credit for. Yet we often underestimate the tricks our minds can play on us.

Anyone who has ever competed knows the fleeting thoughts I speak of. You fight these feelings / thoughts, yet they penetrate your efforts to thwart them and linger. Thoughts of failure, defeat, embarrassment, etc. they vary from person to person. How do the pros deal with such thoughts?

Some visualize movements, techniques, counters, counters to the counters. Others channel the butterflies into positive thoughts and focus their breathing to ensure heart rates stay within controlled levels. Regardless of your method try to focus on the task at hand. Win, lose is out of your control but your training and preparation are not. Ensure your training is solid up until the moment of competition. Cardio, endurance, strength, technique, and will power all need to be peaking just prior to competition. By focusing on these aspects of your game there will be no time to focus on the "what ifs" of the situation.

And always remember that just stepping on the mat take tremendous courage in itself! Being willing to take a challenge and push yourself is the first step to success in the competition arena.

Train hard,