SW Portland Martial Arts Blog


January 18th, 2017

Functional movements.  Yes.  Most of the time in CrossFit we do big movements like the clean and the burpee – movements that translate to real life motions.  That’s good.  Let’s keep doing that.

But sometimes it is valuable to break things down into simplier movements.  Sometimes it is valuable to target an area.  The reason could be to prevent an injury or to shore up a weakness.  It’s okay.  If you’ve got crappy elbows try doing some bicep curls.  You can do those and still be a CrossFitter… they aren’t against the law.

The video shows a couple accessory movements – the one legged KB deadlift and the Cuban press.  Try them.  If they help you, great.  If they don’t, no worries.

Tight Hips?

January 17th, 2017

What to do about tight hips?  Well, probably lots of things but here are a coutlet things that have helped me and I’ve seen work for other people as well.  These two moves, the boxed pigeon and the death stretch, work particularly well together.  They create some sort of double whammy loosening on rusty hip joints.

My advice is to do 2 minutes on each side for both these moves.  Do some squats before and after and see if it makes any difference in terms of your ease of movement.  If it does, maybe stick with these two moves for a while.  If it doesn’t… don’t.  Mobility work is all about finding out what works for you.  Steal from others but only keep what gives yo7 positive results.

January Martial Arts Deal!

December 31st, 2016

Fist to faceTo ring in the new year we are offering a month of adult Martial Arts for only $25 for new students.  This means anyone ages 13 and up can sign up for a month of classes and save $55.

Here’s how it works: fill out your name below and then click on the PayPal button below to pay $25.  Once you’ve done that, you can come in anytime and start your month of training.  You don’t have to print anything out, as we will be sent an email with your name on it when you pay.  If you love the training, we will tell you about how to sign up.  If you don’t, there is no obligation to continue.

If you want to purchase this deal for a friend, you’re welcome to – simply enter their name in the field below and then use your information to pay.  This offer will only be available in January for purchase but you may redeem the offer anytime in 2017.

One Month of Martial Arts only $25!
Enter your first and last name below:

As Above, So Below (Part 1)

December 23rd, 2016

What concepts transfer easily from standup striking to ground grappling?  If you understand one game but not the other and you decide to learn the other game, can you scaffold off your old knowledge or do you have to start all over again?

I think that someone who is a good striker who wants a ground game will have an easier time that someone with no striking experience that wants to learn to be a ground fighting.  I also think the opposite situation is true: someone who is a good grappler who wants to learn to do standup striking will have an easier time than someone with no fighting experience.  I think the reason the person with some fighting experience will have an easier time is because they already have a conceptual framework to build off of.  I think this process will be made even easier if these connections are made explicit – meaning if the person thinks and talks about the similarities.

With all that in mind, I want to write a series of posts that attempt to conceptually connect the standup striking game to the ground game.  Here is post number one.  (How many posts will there be?  More than one and less than one hundred.)   I want to look at this comparison through the eyes of a decent striker who is clueless on the ground but wants to learn.

I think the easiest concept that translates beautifully between the two games is the value of getting off line against a bigger, stronger and more aggressive partner.  A good striker knows the risk of standing toe to toe and exchanging strikes with someone who is bigger than you.  It can work but given the challenge of a bigger, stronger and more aggressive partner, it is a situation in which the bigger person has a huge (literally) advantage.

One solution is to get off line: the knowledgeable striker moves their feet so they aren’t standing right in front of their partner.  Using footwork, the smaller more strategic striker would ideally be standing behind the bigger person, looking at their back.  The bigger partner’s arms and legs would be facing away from the smaller striker, making it very hard for them to strike effectively while the masterful tactician’s arms and legs would be positioned to strike a very poorly defended backside.  Realistically, since no one wants their back taken, the bigger guy is going to move their feet so they can use all their striking tools and getting a slight angle is a big win.  Sometimes it is enough to create these angles with footwork alone.  Often, the good striker knows they need to throw some strikes to occupy their partner so that while they are busy fending off those attacks, they can get offline.

So most strikers with some experience are going to have a decent grasp of this concept of getting off line.  How does it apply to grappling?  Exactly the same way.  Most of the time, you’ll want to get off line of a bigger, stronger and more aggressive partner.

In the standup example, we talked about not standing in front of a bigger partner because trading strikes with them works more in their favor than yours.  It is equally true that if you have been thrown onto your back into the guard position (when you have your legs wrapped around your partner’s torso) by a bigger partner, you don’t want to fight for a submission with them straight on.

Assuming we are dealing with a sport grappling situation with no strikes, staying flat on your back and trying to get submissions isn’t a great idea against a bigger opponent.  Despite the control advantage of guard, if they are bigger, they are likely to just use their size and strength to bull their way out of your attacks.  One strategic solution is to get off line.  Instead of laying flat on your back, you should move so that both their arms face the floor, both of your arms face one of their arms (your at a 45 or 90 degree angle to them).

On the ground, once you cut the angle against a bigger, forward driving partner, you should strive to position your body to control their position so they can’t turn to face you.  Hopefully, you’ll establish a good enough control that they have to work very hard to regain their position.  Ideally, you will use your controlling position to find a submission and finish the game right there.  Realistically, you’ll probably have to repeat the angling off procedure several times but it will be easier each time as they get progressively more tired and with each iteration, you will find it easier to close a submission.

To summarize, one thematic connection between standup striking and submission ground fighting is getting off line.  In both cases, you don’t want to square up and go toe to toe against a bigger, stronger, more aggressive opponent.  They have the advantage in a contest of straight on strength.  Instead, you want to change your position by getting off line, allowing you to leverage your maximum power (striking or submissions) while they are forced to operate from a weak position.

Animating the Clean

December 3rd, 2016

Imagine you want to make a cartoon character doing the clean.  You might start by drawing the character holding onto the bar in a good setup position and then for your next frame, draw them picking up the bar one inch off the ground.  Step by step.

It would work – particularly if you had a very clear idea of what the clean is supposed to look like.  Another way would be to have a model hold three positions – floor, hang and high hang.  Then you could draw each of these three positions.  Working backwards, you could then fill in the gaps between the three positions.  You wouldn’t have any reference for what the actual throwing of the bar looks like, so you’d want to watch your model doing tons of the barbell warmup drill.  With that info you could fill in the frames that covered how the barbell gets from the high hang to the catch position.

You could learn to animate the clean!  Neat!  Or you could do the three pause clean to burn the three positions into your muscles, do the grease the groove drill to understand the transition between hang and high hang and do the barbell warmup drill to understand how to throw and catch the bar.

Our goal in this block has been, like an animator drawing key frames (those vital points of movement that make drawing the transitions easy), to memorize key positions so that our body (like the outsourced animators in far away lands who draw all the non-key frames) can simply fill in the gaps and make the move beautiful and functional.  I hope these three drills have helped.