SW Portland Martial Arts Blog

New BJJ coach!

January 17th, 2020

We’re thrilled to announce the addition of a new no-Gi BJJ coach to our roster. Quinten Wyland will be taking over the 7pm class, starting 1/23.

I met Quinten almost a decade ago, training BJJ. Since I’ve known him, he’s become a professional MMA fighter. I am positive he will add amazing things to our gym and I am looking forward to seeing how much of his skills and knowledge we can glean.

2 FREE Months Tuition Raffle

December 31st, 2019

Heart starting goodnessWe’re trying to get an AED installed in the gym and (surprise) they are expensive little machines! Help us raise some $$ to make the gym a heart happy place, and at the same time, enter to win the chance to get 2 months of free tuition.

If you’re already a member and you win, we’ll pause your payments for 2 months. If you aren’t already a member and you win, you’ll get 2 free months of training. If you just want to give us money for an AED and you win, we’ll let you give the 2 months to someone else or we’ll pick the next name in the hat.

$10 gets you one ticket and one chance to win. $18 gets you two tickets and two chances to win. $25 gets you three tickets and three chances to win… you don’t have to stop at three. Buy as many as you like!

Punch Cards and Raffles
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Grappling Tournament!

November 29th, 2019

Ready to roll? We are. Come join us on Saturday, January 18th from 9:30am-1pm for a grappling tournament!

Kids? Yes! 9:30-11am. Ages 5 and up are welcome. Don’t know submissions? We’ve got a positional division just for you. Know submissions? Yeah, we got a submission division too.

Adults? Yes! 11am-1pm. Since the highest rank BJJ students we’ve got are blue belts, we’re making it a tournament for white and blue belts.

Go to the events page for more info!

Brown/Black – Gear Switching

October 28th, 2019

Doing some writing to communicate some ideas that I think will help MDP students specifically, but hopefully martial artists more generally, in their training. This piece is about the value of being able to switch gears which is an incredibly important concept in martial arts (if what you’re doing isn’t working, do something else) and I think is particularly important for MDP students going for the rank of brown/black.

Switching gears quickly is a skill that is expected of higher ranks. The capacity to go from a Sparring round to cogently answering a question about ethics is a huge part of the challenge you will encounter during your brown/black test.

How does one build such an abstract skill as “switching gears”? Through practice and graduated resistance. The most amusing and clear example of gear switching in sport is the game of chess boxing, in which athletes alternate between boxing and chess in two minute rounds. Either game, boxing or chess, is a deep well of skill and strategy. To have the capacity to go from knight forking to uppercutting is truly an impressive display of gear switching.

While you’re welcome to do some chess boxing, the ways to build your dynamic gear switching toolbox are unlimited. The classic approach is to do partner work hard (sparring, reps, pad work, grappling, throwing, etc) and then with no break, do all the forms you know. In a similar vein, you could play Randori for 5 minutes then give yourself 5 minutes to write a Haiku. You could stick spar for 10 minutes then practice hand balancing for 2 minutes. You could do 10 minutes of alternate 30 seconds of heavy bag work with 30 seconds of holding the bottom of a squat.

Why is gear switching important at brown/black? Because problems change and we want MDP black belts that can adapt to that change. In boxing, you may have to change from outside fighting to working from the clinch. In self defense, you may have to change from trying to de-escalate, to striking, and then back to de-escalating. Hopefully, by working on your gear switching toolbox, you’ll find your capacity to change in the face of dynamic problems greatly increased.


Multiple Opponents?

September 7th, 2019

“It is better to avoid than to run, better to run than to de-escalate, better to de-escalate than to fight, better to fight than to die.” – Rory Miller.

If it is possible for something to be “more” true, then Miller’s pithy statement is even more true when you find yourself alone, unarmed, and facing more than one opponent.

Avoid first: if you are informed, you will tend to never even be in a scenario where a group of people is trying to beat you senseless. Miller recommends avoiding places where young males consume alcohol because those are the locations where fights tend to break out. The best way to “win” a fight is to not to be there in the first place.

Run next: maybe you like going to places where young men drink alcohol. Awesome. Fun things happen in bars and at parties and the majority of the time no fights break out (although there are some places where fights are pretty much guaranteed on a nightly basis and if you like to go to those places, your choices are your business). Maybe a conflict breaks out in a normally calm space, or you are simply accosted. The “run” step means staying aware so that if you see a confrontation brewing, you leave. Do you know where the exits are? Are you watching the room? Are people getting rowdy or just having fun? Are you staying within the social norms of the groups around you or are you (purposefully or accidentally) upsetting people’s sense of what is acceptable behavior?

De-escalate before engaging: if the conflict falls in your lap, or you missed the cues, try and talk your way out of things. It is helpful to have some understanding of why people want to fight. Much of the time, people use aggression to enforce social dominance. Swallow your ego and apologize. Listen to the grievance and let it go. Certainly, there are arguments worth having, philosophy worth discussing, and ideals worth upholding. Is this grievance worth a fight? I have no place telling you which fights are worth blood and bruises and which should be walked away from but I do know that people’s mind’s are rarely changed by bashing their faces in. There is also a small percentage of every population who are predators – people who simply engage in violence to be violent. Reacting to and dealing with predators is a whole different mess that we won’t get into here (although it is an excellent subject to research).

Fight last: maybe you tried to run and/or de-escalate and it failed. Maybe you never got a chance because you were jumped. Whatever the case, now you can fight or die. A friend of mine told me a wonderful story in which he stood there and let an angry young man punch him in the gut. My friend pretended to double over in pain and roll on the floor and the angry young man walked away, satisfied enough with the results to call the fight over. Maybe my friend was lying and he really got punched hard in the breadbasket. Maybe taking the punch was a super clever form of de-escalating. Maybe you think my friend was weak for letting the young man gut punch him. There may be some opportunity to still de-escalate even when the punches start flying but, like all strategies in fighting, there is risk.

Strategies for fighting multiple opponents: so if all other options fail, or were never present to begin with, what is the most important strategy for surviving against multiple opponents? Constant forward pressure. Strategy wise, it is really no different than fighting one opponent. To win, you must present your opponent with multiple problems to solve so that they are mentally (and perhaps physically) on their heels and reacting to what you are doing rather than formulating their own plan.

Specific tactics against multiple opponents: lots of footwork, striking, and using physical barriers so that you are fighting one person at a time. Can you move into a position such that one person is blocking the other(s) from getting at you? Are there physical barriers like a table, door, tree, or car that you can manuever around such that the opponent(s) you aren’t currently engaged with are chasing you rather than attacking you? Can you mostly avoid clinching and grappling, as it anchors you to one spot and makes you an easier target? If you do end up in a clinch or grapple, do you have the skills to quickly disengage?

Conclusion: fighting is a mess. Training certainly matters and we have all seen how a highly trained fighter can easily handle an untrained amateur in a controlled sport situation. Many of us in the martial arts community have seen the youtube videos of highly trained fighters handling an amateur in a self defense scenario… and also seen the trained fighter fail against an amateur. Many of us have probably seen fist fights, pushing matches, and perhaps even genuine knock down drag out violence in person. More people means a bigger mess. Crazy things happen. Training matters but as the numbers stack (2 on 1, 3 on 1, 4 on 1), the odds get longer and longer. Avoid it by knowing where violence happens. Run when you see it coming. De-escalate when you’re caught in it. Fight when you have to. Always be training.