“Traditional Sun Style Taijiquan Course” – Book Review

“Traditional Sun Style Taijiquan Course” by Tim Cartmell and Troyce Thome is quite possibly the greatest treatise on Taijiquan ever, and most certainly the best text on Sun Family Taijiquan yet written to date!  Certainly this is a biased opinion, but one steeped in logic.  I have never settled nor compromised when it has come to my martial arts instruction.  I am not that good, so I figure by surrounding myself with the best teachers and training partners I would be able to gleam at least a notion of an idea of solid martial prowess.  When I met Tim 8 years ago I knew I had found one of the most clear, concise teachers of anything throughout my life.  The fact that he could not only teach what he knew, but apply it in just the manner he described… that was golden!

Tim has broken new ground with a very old martial art.  Co Authored with Troyce Thome (one of Tim’s Sun Taiji students) who helped develop this book in a textbook type format for her students at local community colleges in southern California.  Whereas many Taiji texts have taken a very metaphysical approach to their writing, “Traditional Sun Style..” is much more pragmatic in its language and platform.  Broken into seven chapters the practitioner familiar with Sun Taiji will be giddy with the wealth of information that has never been shared, as Sun Taiji is probably the least known and certainly the least covered in terms of material available especially here in the west.  Those not familiar with Sun Taiji will still get more than their monies worth with the chapters on history, principles of practice, and posture testing.  Again many Taiji books on the market have taken liberties with some of their approach to history, and though principles are universal many authors cannot articulate these principles in a coherent manner.  Cartmell and Thome have really set a precedent with this invaluable addition to the Chinese martial art pantheon.

imagePreceded by a basic intro and acknowledgements, the book starts with Dan Millers invaluable biography on Sun Lu Tang.  To date I know of no other more thorough and accurate account of Sun Lu Tang’s fabled life.  Those familiar with Cartmell’s work will recognize that this is the same text found in previous writings on Sun Family Martial arts.

Chapter two is arguably the most eloquently written; most important chapters in all the book.  In a clear concise manner the author lays out the foundations and development of Sun Style Taijiquan.  The history of Taijiquan can be a confusing nebula of myth and fact, and this chapter helps to consolidate and make understanding the many influences in the development of what Sun considered his “crowning achievement.”

Thome offers her expertise in the health field with the third chapter on the various health benefits of Taijiquan.  Troyce has again consolidated much of the information we practitioners have had to scour the internet for.  Speaking of the mind – body connection, the importance of balance and strength building from Taijiquan for seniors, Thome really encapsulates the many benefits gained from diligent practice of Taijiquan.

Chapters 5 and 6 (we will return to 4 in a moment) are the body of the text outlining the basic stances, footwork, and movements in the form, followed by step by step instruction in the movements of the traditional Sun Taiji form.  Pictures of each ending posture are provided along with the most detailed and clear instructions for each movement.  One could literally learn step by step how to perform the form via this text, if they were so inclined.

Chapter 4 is one of the best written chunks of information ever put out regarding Taijiquan practice I have seen!  Principles of using ones intent, proper structural alignment, relaxation, and coordinated movement are all topics that have been discussed ad-naseum by authors over the past 50 years.  Yet all too often these authors fall into strange thinking models, or do not fully understand the art / language / culture they are writing about.  Those gaps in understanding are sometimes filled with metaphysical terms foreign to the bulk of the readers, whom in turn begin to use these terms in their own teachings, and before you know it we have a generation or two whom no one truly understands what the message is they are trying to convey.

This is not the case with Tim!  Laid out over 5 super sized pages Tim makes understanding these principles almost too easy.  And these principles are universal to all martial arts because all martial arts are practiced by humans who are by and large built with the same physical structure.  So practitioners of all martial arts would be wise to read Tim’s words in regards to intent, structure, relaxation, and coordinated movement.  Hell, dancers would find this information invaluable as well.

Chapter 7 is the gem of the book though.  Posture testing is something I think of as being integral to ones martial practice, yet Tim is one of the only teachers I have ever had (outside of the late, great Mike Martello.  Actually Tim and Mike shared many similar views, opinions, and approaches to the arts.  It is the greatest shame they never met.) who posture tested my movements in the various I have trained.  I know of no other text that speaks about posture testing, let alone one that lays out the basic guidelines for proper testing.  Again practitioners of all systems will find this information of the greatest benefit to their training of forms, combat and health.

In the end “Traditional Sun Style Taijiquan” is breaking new ground and setting a precedence for future Taijiquan writings.  In terms of Sun Taiji their is next to nothing on the market, and what little is on the market is garbage comparatively.  If you practice Sun Taijiquan you are foolish not to spend the measly $30 on this important text.


Joe Louis needs no introduction here.  One of the most amazing fighters ever to live, his knockout ability and power is second to none even today!   Here is another gem I borrowed from Ross Boxing where we watch old footage of Louis and breakdown his amazing skills.

Study, learn, and enjoy!

Here is a fun clip Mike Ancheta made along with his brother Meynard.  Meynard is my Kali teacher and a brother under Tim.  Enjoy!G4 is starting to offer some interesting martial arts programming.  Tonight at 8est the Kings Cup will be highlighted.  This is the first time I have seen traditional Muay Thai in the mainstream media here in America in a long, long time.  Check it out tonight!GREAT article written by Martin Rooney about some commonly believed myths about training for any combat sport.  He obviously uses MMA as his focus, but these are true for any participant in combat sports, BJJ, boxing etc.

Martin Rooney wants to change how you think about mixed martial arts (MMA) training.Considered to be the pioneer of physical training for MMA, Martin has 13 years’ experience getting fighters ready for action. He’s trained and cornered hundreds of fighters, including several UFC champions.He’s knowledgeable and opinionated, but he isn’t above admitting when he’s made a mistake. Fact is, Rooney says it’s his mistakes — and learning from them — that’s had the biggest impact on his development as one of the most sought after coaches in the sport.Rooney’s indoctrination into MMA began in the late 90’s in the decidedly non-Brazilian city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Rooney was a member of the US Bobsled team and his roommate was Olympic silver medalist Todd Hays, who also happened to be a pro fighter.Hays started teaching Rooney a few things on the side and soon Rooney was hooked. Upon returning to the U.S., he quickly joined a nearby Gracie school. Rooney eventually began training the fighters he rubbed shoulders with and the rest as they say, is history.But not a long history. Although the various fighting disciplines of MMA have been around for centuries, the actual sport of MMA is just a kid; even worse, it’s a teenager.”At 16 or 17 years old, MMA and its training is in adolescence,” says Rooney, “and like adolescent teenagers, they think they know everything, they don’t listen, and they make a lot of mistakes.”Rooney says that one of the biggest mistakes is the “evolution” of MMA training. Trainers and coaches are continually looking for the latest and greatest ways to improve their fighters, but Rooney says it’s bordering on ridiculous.”I’ve travelled the world, to places where the martial arts began, and none of the trainers are doing any of this nonsense,” says Rooney.”It’s like sushi: You go to Japan and sushi is beautiful simplicity, fish and rice. And it’s incredible.Head down to the local sushi shop in the US and you can get the Hackensack roll, which has 10 ingredients and 15 sauces. It’s more complicated, but it sure isn’t better.With MMA training, I see the same thing, and the same myths being put out there…”
Myth #1: Training for MMA should be all circuit-style high-volume training.If you’re going to train to be an MMA fighter, you have to perform a bunch of high volume circuits as they test your will, not to mention leave you crazy sore, right?Not so, says Rooney.”I was circuit crazy for years. I’d destroy my athletes with them,” says Rooney. “And guess what? My guys would still get gassed in the ring. Circuit training does not build a better fighter; training like an athlete does.I get guys telling me all the time that they love circuits cause they get so crazy sore. Great, but what’s the result? You do these circuits enough and you’ll get better at them and won’t be as sore, but you’re still weak.You’re now a weak fighter who’s good at circuits.”Rooney says that the circuit craze in MMA is a byproduct of the whole macho tough guy attitude that surrounds MMA training. It may look cool and sell magazines, but it isn’t effective.”It’s pursuing fatigue and not improvement, all part of the idea that you’re not a man unless you’re getting your ass kicked in the gym as well as in the ring.”So what’s the right way?”Squats, deadlifts, bench presses, power cleans; the basics, combined with some sprinting and some stretching. It may not be glamorous, but it makes you stronger and faster.”For Regular Dudes: If you want to burn fat and improve your conditioning, use circuits sparingly. Think one, maybe two sessions a week, with the remaining time spent on basic heavy lifting.”You have to think of longevity,” says Rooney. “Performing five days of circuits a week doesn’t make you tough, it just makes you injured. You can lift weights forever, but good luck hitting those circuits in 20 years.”
Myth #2: Fighters need a minimum of 8 weeks to get ready for a fight.       “Nonsense,” says Rooney. “If you’re a fighter, you should be ready to fight all the time. This whole 8-week camp standard just gives guys an excuse to get out of shape.”Rooney says the “8-weeks out” thing all started with boxing, where old school boxers used to go to training camps 2 or 3 months before a fight to get into shape. But Rooney says MMA is not boxing, and current MMA fighters are fighting all the time, sometimes 7 or 8 times a year. Getting out of shape just isn’t an option.”If you get out of shape, you have to kill yourself for 8 weeks and will show up wiped out,” says Rooney. “But if you stay in shape year round, you show up fresh.Frankie Edgar is known for his incredible motor and he stays in shape and trains hard year-round. For him, a fight is just another day at the office.”For Regular Dudes: Don’t take unnecessary breaks. Do something, anything, to keep you in the game. Sure, life gets busy and priorities sometimes need to change (“I can’t change Junior’s diaper honey, I gotta train legs tonight.”), but you should never have to quit training completely. Have periods where you train less and periods where you train more. But never just do nothing.
Myth #3: If I follow fighter X’s program, I will be fit like him.Here’s the pitch: Follow Georges St. Pierre’s (circuit based) workout for three months and you’ll be mistaken for GSP at your favorite nightclub.Fiction.”It’s like the Schwarzenegger arm routines we all used to follow. Five sets of barbell curls, 4 sets of preacher curls, a couple sets of 21’s. It’s lunacy; why do we expect it to work with fighters?”It’s a good segue to one of Rooney’s biggest peeves, and biggest sources of amusement.”I don’t watch the Ultimate Fighter but I always know when it airs — the next day at the gym, there will be guys doing stuff like running backwards on a treadmill with a snorkel on.The training programs have all been sensationalized to get ratings. I know the top trainers and what they really do, and it’s what you’d expect — basic, smart training. But that doesn’t get ratings.”Rooney says the goofball training also plays an important psychological role.”Think about it — if I’m training Jim Miller for a fight in two months, when the cameras arrive do I show how we really train, or do I try to psyche out my opponent’s camp by having Jim swim in shark infested waters while I shoot flaming arrows at him?”For Regular Dudes: Try new things: basic, intelligent training that’s tailored to your specific needs — not some celebrity’s. That’s the smartest option. “I give seminars all over the world, and I always ask the room who has flexibility issues,” says Rooney. “Virtually everyone will raise their hand. Next, I ask whoever’s working on it (flexibility) to keep your hands up. Maybe one or two are.”Only you know what you need. Do that, not the latest thing.
Myth #4: MMA is tough, so the training needs to be even more strenuous.This one frustrates the hell out of Rooney.”We destroy guys with these grueling camps and endless death circuits to ‘mimic’ what supposedly happens in a fight, and then we wonder why they show up absolutely bagged.”Rooney says the logic behind it is simple: if a fight is 15 minutes and the fighter gets his or her heart rate up to 160 BPM, why not push the fighter to 30 minutes and 200 BPM?”It’s a neat theory, but physiologically, all that’s accomplished is the nervous system and the adrenals get cooked. No wonder the poor athlete shows up wiped!”As for mimicking the conditions of a fight?”Look at how NFL players train: they lift, sprint, and stretch. They don’t run into walls, train for three hours, or have guys smash them in the legs with bats because it ‘mimics’ a game situation.When I train a fighter, he’s never gassed on the mat. I train them to feel the opposite, and after every round of training or circuit work I tell them to raise their hands in victory.Not only does this send a signal to the opponent, it conditions them to be champions. Lying on your back in the middle of the gym is not champion behavior.”For Regular Dudes: We’re not saying never perform hard work, but don’t make training an ego-driven process. Destroying yourself day after day makes you weak, not strong.
Myth # 5: MMA fighters are supposed to be injured and beat up all the time.       “More macho nonsense,” says Rooney. “All athletes must compete through aches and pains and a certain amount of discomfort, but if an NFL player is legitimately injured, he’s not playing — he’s on the treatment table.But I forgot, MMA fighters are supposed to be too tough for that.”Rooney says a fighter should feel amazing coming into a fight, not smashed, injured, and looking like he’s on death’s door.”Inexperienced trainers smash athletes, plain and simple. It’s that adolescence thing rearing its ugly head again, the whole I’m bulletproof and will live forever attitude.I bought into it too, and trust me, my hindsight is your foresight.”For Regular Dudes: Recoveryis the most underappreciated variable in training, whether among professional athletes or weekend warriors juggling 60-hour workweeks with family and hitting the gym four days a week.If you feel run down when you show up at the gym, don’t train! If your shoulder aches when benching, don’t bench! Regular guys need rehab too — rest, ice, nutrition, and sleep.
Myth #6: Throwing up during a workout means the trainer is tough.            This is the epitome of macho meathead training, says Rooney.”Throwing up is a nervous system defense mechanism that something very wrong has happened — why you would want to associate that with training is beyond me.”For Regular Dudes: It all boils down to pursuing positive indicators of training, not fatigue.
Myth #7: Strength work shouldn’t be done too often, especially for fighters trying to cut weight.This stems form the old school myth that lifting weights and building strength will make you gain significant amounts of bodyweight. Rooney blames that on muscle-head marketing and small-minded folks who confuse getting fat with building muscle.”People forget that lifting weights helps you burn fat,” says Rooney.”Jim Miller is 7 & 1 in the UFC, and two years ago he never used to lift weights. He also never used to knock anyone down. Now he has a 455-pound deadlift at 155 pounds and is knocking guys down left and right. And he still makes weight.”For Regular Dudes: Kettlebells, battling ropes, and sledgehammers are effective tools, but they should be used accordingly. The point is, getting stronger in the basics is the foundation of any smart program.
Myth #8: Fighters can eat what they want since they train so much.Often the fighters with the best genetics eat the worst, something Martin finds frustrating. He also knows just who to blame:”I blame Michael Phelps for this myth. When that stupid article came out showing all the crap he supposedly ate every day, I was inundated with fighters thinking this somehow validates their junk food habit.Look, a guy like that is the exception, not the rule. If you truly believe that you’re a genetic superfreak and can reach the top eating garbage, good luck to you.My experience suggests guys like that are few and far between.”Rooney says that to have a superior body, you have to feed it the best possible fuel. “I’m huge on whole foods, lots of fresh produce, and plenty of water,” he says. “Supplement wise, I’m big on protein powders, vitamin D, fish oil, vitamin C, glutamine, and Biotest Superfood.”For Regular Dudes: Although it’s as outdated as your dad’s 8-Track cassette player, a lot of guys still think you can out train a lame diet. ‘I did a grueling circuit today and threw up all over the floor so I can have this Big Mac on the way to work.’Nonsense. “Elite athletes can’t do that, and you can’t do that,” says Rooney.
Myth #9: Wrestlers make the best MMA fighters.               “Surprise, this one isn’t a myth,” says Rooney. “If you could only learn one discipline before stepping into the octagon, wrestling should be your discipline of choice.Just look at the top guys. Brock Lesnar, Shane Carwin, Frankie Edgar, GSP, Josh Koscheck; they all had outstanding wrestling careers before MMA.”Rooney says that wrestlers are not only very strong, they can also decide where the fight goes. “If I’m good at striking and I know it’s a weakness for you, I can use my wrestling takedown defence to keep the match off the ground to where I can use my striking advantage. Obviously, the opposite is true as well.”Rooney describes the process of coming up the wrestling ranks as a giant meat grinder. “Ten thousand guys in various programs competing week after week, until a handful of men emerge as champions.””These champions are basically unbreakable. You can’t injure them, can’t break them, can’t defeat them.”Rooney adds that wrestlers are also the best weight cutters of them all. “For a wrestler, dropping 25 pounds in a few days is just par for the course. Other fighters can find that really challenging.”For Regular Dudes: Not much to say here, other than if you’re thinking of being a great MMA fighter, conjure up the spirit of Albert Einstein, build a time machine, and persuade your folks to enroll you in wrestling as a kid.
Myth #10: The best way to train for endurance is with endurance work.   This is a popular myth that’s desperate for debunking.Rooney says everyone assumes that fighters and wrestlers have outstanding V02 max scores, but they really don’t, at least not in comparison to cross country skiers or the like.”What they do have is incredible strength and as we all know, maximal strength work will also work the aerobic energy system.Between rounds, I’ve never had a fighter say, ‘Wow, he’s got really good endurance.’ But I do hear, ‘Man he’s so much stronger than me’ all the time,” says Rooney.Overwhelming strength can wear you out fast. If two fighters clinch in an isometric hold but one fighter is three times stronger than the other, obviously the weaker fighter will tire first, because at 100% exertion his opponent would only need to be exerting 30%.”Circuits won’t develop significant maximal strength,” says Rooney, “so you get guys who gas in the middle of a guillotine lock.Frankie Edgar is known for his incredible motor. His secret — tons of strength work.”For Regular Dudes: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, heavy basic lifting combined with some sprinting and stretching is a near perfect combination for the average guy looking for an above average physique.
Myth #11: You can train MMA and still have your high powerlifting numbers.“I hear this all the time,” says Rooney. “Coach, my bench is going down! Look, you can’t ride two horses with one ass. Although I know some strong MMA fighters, none of them are watching their bench or deadlift go up as a fight approaches.”Rooney says it boils down to deciding what you want. If you want to have an elite total, great! Go for it. If you want to have veins and abs and bring up your brachialis, more power to you. Just don’t think you can excel at those things and excel at fighting.”No boxer has ever been famous for his bench press,” says Rooney.”Deciding to be an MMA fighter could and should be one of the most serious, life-changing decisions you ever make. Respect it as such.”For Regular Dudes: As the old saying goes, pick a goal and work backwards. It’s highly unlikely that if your goal is, “Compete in bodybuilding in 3 years” that, “Submit Ricky from accounting” is one of the targets along the way.Pick a goal, own it, and become it.
So enough myths, how about some tips? Here are some tips for aspiring MMA fighters and regular guys trying to look like an ass-kicking man:• Schedule recovery first. Recovery is priority number one. Always build your schedule around it, not training.• Clean up the diet. Everyone thinks they eat better than they really do. Peri-workout nutrition is top priority.• Get 8 hours of sleep a night. Humans are the only species that get up when they aren’t supposed to and go to bed when they aren’t supposed to. You can’t perform if you’re tired.• Drink a gallon of water a day. You hear this a hundred times a day, but how many actually do it? Double your water intake and you’ll feel better, perform better, and get leaner.• Add strength training into the program. Circuit training is useless if you’re weak. You must develop strength first.• Sprint three to four days a week. Sprints not only lean you out, they build significant hamstring mass and power. Plus, look at sprinters — who wouldn’t want to look like those guys?• Fit circuits in only around the other MMA training. With circuits, a little goes a long way. As the technical demands of MMA training go up, things like circuits need to be scaled back.
The Heavy Stuff — Weight training exercises every MMA fighter and average dude should be doing and why.• Deadlifts: “These could be the best exercise going, and definitely the most misunderstood. For fighters and weekend warriors alike, it’s extremely functional. What’s more functional than picking up a heavy object — like a gassed opponent?”• Single-arm farmer’s walks: “Most sports are unilateral. This exercise transfers well to the kicks and takedowns exhibited in MMA.”• One-arm dumbbell row: “Vertical pulls like chin-ups are important, but for MMA, the horizontal pull is crucial. You need to pull your opponent towards you to control him.” • Floor press: “This is an exercise that’s crucial for MMA. If you’re on your back, you need good pushing power to get an opponent off you and pass guard.”• Jump squats: “Great exercise for developing lower body power. Sets of six reps are ideal.”• Hamstring curl or glute-ham raise: “To control an opponent, you have to be able to recruit the hamstring by flexing at the knee. Hip extension movements like deadlift variations are not sufficient.”• Sit ups: “Trading spinal flexion for anti-rotation and plank variations is the trendy thing to do, but most submissions in MMA require some degree of spinal flexion. It’s a mistake for fighters to leave them out completely.”• Neck harness: “The neck is the pillar of the body, but nobody trains the neck at all these days. The top guys all have extremely strong necks; to compete with the big boys, neck training is essential.”imageCongrats to the huge group here at NWJJA that were promoted last week:
Justin got his purple, and we had what seemed like dozens get their blue; congrats to Carliss, Mike Adams, Nick, Greg W., Craig Leung, Dr. Ray-Ray, Doug, and Bob C!

Remember guys a black belt is simply a white belt who never gave up!


imageBrian did NWJJA proud by taking all three of his opponents in the black belt absolute division, followed by an awesome performance Sunday where he beat 3 of his 5 opponents to wrangle up the bronze at one of the toughest tournaments in North America.  The 2010 US Open brought many of BJJ’s top fighters out for competition and Brian was the talk of the town after all 147 pounds of fury dominated the absolute division that was stacked with 200 pound gorillas!

Video and pic’s to come, stay tuned to The Ground Never Misses for all your NWJJA updates!

Congrats coach, we are proud!

The Burn Machine is one of the latest home exercise crazes to hit the market, and at first glance you may just shrug this off as being another gimmick that is going to dry out your checking account and sit in your closet.  While I cannot comment on the latter portion of that statement, The Burn Machine (TBM) is an versatile workout tool that is comparatively affordable, excellent for all ages & body types, and best yet … TBM is compact enough to travel with!

imageThe version submitted to me was the chrome 12 pound Professional Speed Bag (picture to the right), along with several DVDs.    Firstly I must say that in a time of lousy customer service, the people working for the Detroit, MI. based company are exceptionally polite and eager to help their current and prospective clients with any aspect of the product (not going to rant, but the rest of the country can learn something from these Midwest based companies in regards to customer service!).

$149 and affordable shipping included a secure box, 12 Pound Pro. Speed Bag Burn Machine, an exercise reference DVD and wall poster.  The poster and DVD are basic exercises one can perform with TBM, and they highlight certain posture and alignment tips for safe training.  This DVD comes with all versions and offers a total body workout utilizing all major muscle groups.  And that is one of the great aspects of TBM; versatility!

The 360 degree rotating grips make this Asymmetrical Barbell System ergonomically sound, and you have all the advantages of barbell’s with a 1/10th of the space being taken up at home.  You have half a dozen options when personalizing your Burn Machine:

– Several colors are available including red, pink, chrome, and others.
– Everything from the Novice which is 4lbs. to the Ultimate Burn Machine which is 48lbs.
– Extra crescent weights can be added to certain models.
– MMA & 10 Round Exercise Routine DVDs are also available for those needing a workout regime.

Cardio, strength, endurance, flexibility… in all honesty TBM offers a little bit of every type of training for the martial artist, amateur athlete, and just those looking to change up their workout routine at home or the gym.  As a martial artist I see lots of potential with having something this small, yet versatile in your academy.  I am able to do any and all basic free weight exercises.  80% of my medicine ball workout can be used with TBM.  Obviously leg workouts are rather limited to squats and variations there-of, and to be honest strength building in the legs is limited because of the lack of considerable weight.  But again for those who are just getting back into shape this is a great way to get the feet wet.

Core conditioning is great with TBM as the added weight and ergonomic design essentially make TBM similar to using a medicine ball or barbell for added weight doing crunches, Russian twists etc.

Upper body and arm workouts are really where TBM shines!  The smooth ball bearing design offers some crazy exercises that challenge both your strength, dexterity, and ability to maintain rhythm.  The smooth flow make repetitive actions easy on your joints while exhausting your muscles throughout the arm and shoulder girdle.

This is a perfect addition for martial artists of all ilk.  Whether you are swinging a stick in Kali, or throwing right cross in boxing TBM will help improve both strength and speed.  With speed drills especially you will see marked improvements with your strike retention rate.  I also believe that TBM helped rehab my shoulder and elbow injuries with just enough weight to make it challenging without the risk of re-injuring my arm or aggravating the existing injury.

TBM has just finished production (I may be one of the first people reviewing this DVD) on a brand new DVD for the Speed Bag.  A 10 round, 32 minute conditioning routine using TBM giving the whole body a challenging workout which incorporates aerobic and strength training.  Led by Laura this is an easy to follow workout much like you would find in a group class at the gym.

Their is only one camera angle, but Laura does a good job being clear with her movements and explanations.  The main menu also has the option of skipping to certain rounds if their is something you want to repeat or focus on.

This DVD will retail for $19.99 when it becomes available in the coming weeks.  Overall it is a simple no frills DVD of a workout routine.  For those new to this type of training a DVD like this is essential.

“MMA Training” is the second DVD submitted for review.  This is obviously geared towards the martial arts crowd where we have Mike “Rage” Miller, and Fred “The Detroit Diesel” George (no, I have not heard about them either and I am from the area) lead us through various workout regime’s incorporating TBM.  Offering two, 5 minute rounds, and one 6 minute round the viewer is led through a series of drills working all ranges of combat (striking, clinch, ground) incorporating short bursts with TBM.

Their is less instruction here with more focus on a grueling workout.  Again no frills and nothing revolutionary here but a good routine put together by George who is the fitness editor for MMA Worldwide magazine.  It should be noted you will need a partner for all of the drills on this exercise with the exception of just the striking combined with TBM which could be done on a heavy bag.

A single camera angle shows all the rounds, and in the extras section they have local guest instructors Shannon Pawless and Chris Malgeri do some quick workouts.  The host’s are a bit goofy and certainly not as easy on the eyes as Laura in the Speed Bag DVD, but overall this is a solid DVD for the beginner.  “MMA Training” retails for $19.

Overall TBM Speed Bag is an excellent training aid for people of all fitness levels, and a wonderful tool for rehabbing injuries.  The beauty of TBM is versatility and portability.  Easy to pack, this is the perfect workout answer for the on the go traveller or businesswoman.  Check out Nick Scott below demonstrating various exercises with the Speed Bag:

The Speed Bag is an excellent piece of equipment that will find a home in gyms, dojos, and apartments everywhere.  Easy to use with no impact on the joints The Speed Bag brings together all the positives of free weights, kettle bells, and medicine balls without the expense and space needed for all those pieces of equipment.  Order your Speed Bag today by clicking here.

imageHuge congrats to Brian “Mr. BJJ” Johnson for winning the Senior Black Belt Absolute division at the 15th Annual US Open on Friday!

Brian’s first match was text book Johnson with his now infamous entangled arm set up right into a triangle. Something so simple, yet so effective!

Second match Brian was setting up a single wing choke but his opponent rolled allowing B to set in the hooks on the guys back and finish with a wrap choke.

Stay tuned to The Ground Never Misses for more updates on Brian’s division Sunday.


Genki rocks!  “Boy Meets Girl” the latest video from World Order, Genki Sudo’s band.

And “Mind Shift” thanks to Bonzai!

I usually do not enter into political, religious, or pop culture rants on my blog, trying my best to keep it martially oriented.  And if you give me a moment I will link this to martial arts one way or another…

I read one of the best books available on the market over the past couple weeks, “My Stroke Of Insight” by Jill Bolte Taylor PHD.  One of the “best” books not because of her eloquent writing style, nor for character development.  But rather for the eye opening perspective I was offered to the nations number 3 killer, stroke.

imageJill Bolte Taylor was one of the leading scientists on the study and function of the human brain when she suffered a severe stroke at 37 years old (no, that is not a typo)!  She lost pretty much all of her cognitive functioning and took the following 8 years to get back to what she considers “normal.”  Her story and inspiration is second to none, and I am not going to wow or woo you with the incredible aspects of her life… you will have to buy the book and read it!
This text is SO important to not only those who have been struck with a stroke, but also their friends and loved ones, therapists, doctors, nurses…. really everyone should read this!  It is an easy afternoon read (even has pictures!), and despite the levity of the subject matter it is actually quite positive and light.

Which leads me to your brain.  Most of us are sitting in front of the talking magic box, mindlessly clicking a plastic gizmo anthropomorphically called a mouse.  If you could, please take a couple minutes out of this precious routine and consider the following links to donate your brain (after you are done using it of course) to the Harvard Brain Research Center (I know, I know, even though it is in Mass. the doctors their are good and certainly not Redsox fans;).  When you die your brain tissue is invaluable and quite frankly researchers do not get access to enough of it!  And considering how little we use it in our living days, I have to believe we will not use much afterwards.

Harvard Brain Research Center

How to make a donation!

Registration paperwork and address!

Seriously though I think we all know at least one person affected by a stroke and it is the third largest killer behind heart attacks and cancer.  So could you imagine if scientists had access to more brain tissue to study both the sick and the “normal?”  Think of the breakthroughs we could perpetuate if only we had more access to something that is not going to be any use to us after we pass on to the next plane.  I implore you to discuss this with your family and friends and to donate.  Please do not allow silly religious dogma and antiquated logic to interfere with our growth and potential as human beings.  At the very least read the book and recognize the signs of stroke and gain insight into one of the least known and understood organs in our body!

I am donating today, though I am not sure how much help my brain will be.  Been beat up a few times too many, and it is a little smoky in there;)

Train Hard.  Train SMART!!

imageHere is a great breakdown of Ezzard Charles’ (the only man ever to go 15 rounds with the great Rocky Marciano) technique and approach to the sweet science.  Thanks so much to Ross Boxing for sharing this clip.  A true gem!  I love watching these types of films as it shows me just how little I know in the grand scheme of things.  Much to learn!

Highlight of Charles career:

Guro Nate Defensor is the creator of the Defnsor Method Kali System, and he has been busy putting out his extensive curriculum on DVD with the assistance of his student Jason Brigham.  From Jason about Nate Defensor:

Mahaguro Nate Defensor has been teaching for 28 years and he has studied with Legends in FMA, including Manong Floro Villabrille, winner of 22 death matches, Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje, Grand master Angel Cabales, Mangisusuro Mike Inay, The Canete brothers, Tuhon Dan Inosanto, and many others.

As one can see the Defensor Method Kali system has quite the extensive curriculum hence the motivation for DVD documentation.  As of this review over 16 titles are available from their online store.  The titles submitted to me for review are as follows:

Prof. Nate Defensor

– 64 Attacks of Pikiti Tirsia
– Knife Tapping
– Defensor Method (DM) Stick Dumog
– Espada y Daga

For students of DM Kali these DVDs will prove invaluable I would have to think.  It is obvious Prof. Defensor is not shy about sharing his knowledge and techniques as these DVDs zip through technique after technique.  For those not students under the DM banner, many subjects are covered in this library of DVDs, and again if it is certain techniques, disarms, locks, or blade drills you are looking for… look no further!

For the most part the content of the DVDs was drawn from various seminars Nate Defensor offered over the years throughout the Midwest (he is centered in Chicago).  Again this is an invaluable resource for those in attendance.  I sometimes felt that perhaps some of the principles were glossed over (or simply not recorded) so a couple of times I was left wondering what was going on and where the info presented was taking us.  Be forewarned if you are trying to learn something off of these DVDs there are no repeated lessons, or various angles on the lesson.  To be honest Nate often does not even “teach” the technique, he simply shows it several times and has people drill what he showed.

I cannot comment, nor is it the purpose of a review to comment, on the techniques presented.  I am not familiar with 90% of what is shown on these DVDs so I cannot offer commentary on the authenticity of various methods nor techniques, though the titles are very accurate with what they offer.  I also cannot comment on Nate Defensor’s “flavor” and how he has adapted the numerous styles he has learned into his system.

The 64 Attacks of PTK for instance, offers all 64 Attacks.  This DVD is one of the few where Prof. Defensor actually teaches to the camera.  I believe it was still a seminar format, but he is facing the camera and addressing “us” the viewer.  In some instances (Stick Dumog) the cameraman and presenter need to coordinate as I found many of the techniques in the Dumog series being shown with his back to the camera and the viewer unable to view what was going on.  Some techniques were repeated with Defensor turning around, some were not.

Stick Dumog offered a ton of various locks and take downs with single stick mostly.  This is one of the most popular titles Jason said, I am assuming because it is not a popular subject to be taught.  Actually this DVD is one of the only ones I am aware of offering such lessons!

Espada y Daga (sword and knife) again shows numerous entries and techniques for disarms and counter blows.  This is one of the newest titles and it shows as Jason is getting better at camera work as well as becoming much more familiar with the editing software he is using.

Knife Tapping is probably one of my favorites just because that is the head space I am in at the moment; lots of knife work!  Chock full o’ disarms and entries.  I was left wanting more detail on footwork and angles, as my limited understanding has told me these are arguably two of the most important aspects in all of Kali!

One negative aspect of the DVDs is that some of the footage is filmed in what appears to be an indoor soccer facility chock full of kids yelling, screaming, running all over making a terrible distraction for the video footage!  I understand the headaches of logistics trying to find places to teach, train, and film.  But there has to be a better alternative to the soccer facility at peak times!

Overall the production quality is amateur and basic, but Jason does not try to deny that!  He is a working class guy training and teaching as his passion, so these DVDs are simply an attempt to document and record his teachers legacy on earth, and for that I cannot criticize.

All DVDs are $20 + S&H and can be ordered by clicking here!  Or you can contact Jason Brigham directly at [email protected] (my personal vote for email of the year!).

To check out some clips and video footage click on this link.

Train hard.  Train Smart.

A nice standing rear naked (rarely seen) in Shooto from Andy Souwer on Hinata.  Souwer had just recently been given news he would not be invited to K-1 Max.  I guess they pissed him off!

Lesson today kids…. never, ever turn your back!  One of the dangers of getting your leg caught kicking too high.


My friend Phil and his merry gang of pranksters has opened a brand new gym here in Seattle, WA. called OGER Training (Optimal Gene Expression Reformatting).  Essentially what Phil has done is combine his extensive knowledge of nutrition, fitness, Crossfit, weight lifting etc. into a great little package where he assists those in most need of getting in shape.  Phil is a beast, but a gentle giant constantly offering positive reinforcement and a smile.  I have seen him truly do some amazing things with people so overweight and out of shape everyone else has given up on them.

Phil and his crew are good people (hard to come by in this town) and I will do anything in my power to help them out.  Check out OGER Training right now!

Train Hard.  Train Smart.

Arvin Logarta runs Philipino Martial Arts Supplies over on the islands, and is producing some excellent quality Kamagong Iron wood training weapons!  I have one of his Ginunting’s and the quality is top notch!

I was severely impressed with the weight, design, and computability of the hardwood Ginunting!  The design of the weapon is spot on in regards to the blade and handle.  Often trainer Ginunting’s have an overemphasized curve to them which is not at all accurate.  But if you check out the picture below you will see a beautiful piece for training or decoration.   I look forward to checking out some of his other designs.

imageHis rattan seems strong and sturdy.  I have banged them up a bit and they are holding well, but the true test will be time.

The only negative aspect to ordering with PMAS is the shipping!  Arvin prefers to use UPS for tracking purposes and quite frankly the shipping is going to run you about as much as your order!  Too much IMO! But on the flip side I have yet to find this type of quality wood with training weapons.

If you order up some weapons let Arvin know Jake sent you!  Super nice guy with great products that are hard to find in the US.


I’m back kids!  Sorry for the delay (actually, no I am not!  I needed the break!).  Once again the boys over at Scramble have put together an AWESOME interview with one of my favorite fighters Shinya Aoki!  This starts as a rather typical Japanese interview (reserved and hesitant) but quickly Aoki drops his guard and talks about some great topics.  Check it out!
The Grappling Dummy: Shinya Aoki, September 2010 from martial farts on Vimeo.