How To Escape A Shirt Grab

We have a video explaining this self defense move, of how to get out of a single handed, standard shirt grab:

With a single handed shirt grab, the intent is to display dominance. It can also be to control and restrict the movements of the victim. It is imperative to know how to escape this situation with the correct martial arts movements.

I've broken this down into 3 steps:
1. Create the Opening
2. Back Foot Thru, Turn Around, Butt Out, Head Out
3. The Crank

After you understand the basic steps, try connecting them in a fluid manner, but slowly. Once you become more comfortable with that, take it a little faster.

This movement has more of its philosophy roots in Jiu Jitsu, where the purpose and objective is to blend with the attacker's energy, and utilizing leverage and timing as a way to neutralize and counter the attack. 

But it is the forward intent of Kung-Fu that you need to commit fully to the move, and make it flow seamlessly, literally turning 3 steps into 1. 

See the video here:

Can Senior Citizens Start Jiu Jitsu?

Absolutely, if the instructor has the right mindset! Here's the problem, though - most instructors cater their Jiu Jitsu training to younger folks. 

When I was searching this topic, I saw the most asinine response to a similar question. The question was, "Can old people do Jiu Jitsu?", and the responses were typically along the lines of yes, just look at Helio Gracie or Rickson Gracie. These gentlemen have been doing Jiu Jitsu since they were children. Their entire life and livelihood is Jiu Jitsu! Hardly a fair comparison to, say, my Dad, who is 80 and has not done martial arts ever in his life.

Could my 80 year old Dad start Jiu Jitsu? Well, it depends on the teacher. Sport school? Not on your life. How about a Gracie school, like Humaita? NOPE, I would like to see my Dad live some more years! 

The training regimen and methodology tends to favor the younger. However, Rener Gracie says, "Jiu Jitsu can be adapted to anyone." 

And I fully agree! Methodology is important. Today, there is so much emphasis on Randori, that it is weeding out the people who need Jiu Jitsu the most - the weaker of society. 

The Japanese created a brilliant concept of Kata, or prechoreographed routines, as a way to develop the fundamental ideas of the techniques, in a safe and predictable manner. Once someone showed proficiency in the Kata, then they moved onto Randori. 

So If the Jiu Jitsu school made their beginner class very focused on Kata, that is, prechoreographed drills, it definitely would make their programs a lot more accessible. 

Kata and forms have gotten a really bad rap, not because of the fact that it is not directly organic combat, but for people making their combat ability more than what it actually is by doing very good Kata. So I think the concept of Kata is not necessarily refuted, as much as the notion that someone deems themselves a high level master having focused more on Kata than Randori.

For a senior citizen starting out in Jiu Jitsu, I would say start with focusing on Kata first, to get your mind and body connected with the structure and geometries of the motions. Then work on timing and energy of the Kata.

Hopefully, after that, you will have developed some sound foundational attributes, and begin a very light and limited Randori. Over time, you can increase the scope of the Randori very progressively.

When people talk about particular Jiu Jitsu moves, I always think, yeah, that's cool, but could your mother or grandmother do that move to protect herself? If not, then what would you do or tell your mother or grandmother if she wanted to learn to protect herself? 

The beauty is, there is a curriculum in place that is meant to be the most scalable Jiu Jitsu program out there, and it can be adapted to anyone. Will it make you a Jiu Jitsu master? No. Will it give you a foundation of Self Defense oriented Jiu Jitsu that you could potentially build off of? Yes.



The Hardest Part About Doing an Armbar!

The Armbar or Straight Arm Lock from on top of your opponent (which is called the "Mount"), can be tricky to do.

The trick is to:
-put your weight on your hand on a part of their body (sometimes chest, or, if they are turned sideways, on their head.

-lean to the side of rear leg. Really open up your hip of your rear leg, like a butterfly stretch, and lean.

This way, when you swing your other leg around, your hips won't come upwards, off of your opponent. You want to avoid that, because if you create space, you lose a bit of control. In that moment of lost control, they could get up, or slip their arm out. 

So, stay in close. Keeping that closeness is probably the most challenging part, so you'll have to drill it for awhile. Try doing it with your opponent turned on their side, first. That way is actually easier, because their position already has you elevated, so you mainly just need to lean to the side to bring your leg over. Get comfortable with this version, first.

Then, try it when they are flat on their back. This is a bit harder, because you have to elevate yourself a little, and that part comes from putting your weight on your hands, on their chest. 

This technique is kind of like a yo-yo, in it's process for learning. You can have the theoretical concepts in your head, and visualize it, but you won't actually own the skill until you actually do it, drill it, and readjust your execution each time. 

And, of course, once you have mastered it on one side, get it on the other. Sometimes people might be a little too eager to try it on both sides without mastery of one. That is not the most efficient way to learn. It is much better to master it on one side, to the point where you no longer have to think about it, and it becomes a reflex. After that, generally speaking, you''ll be able to make the transference to the other side much easier. 


I Don't Know if I Agree With This...

When it comes to dealing with bullies, it can be tricky, especially if you know martial arts. Let me just say that the anti-bullying techniques and concepts we teach come mainly from the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Torrance, CA. I think their philosophy and methodology is on point, and thus have adopted a good chunk of it.

That being said, I'm not sure I agree with their latest video on dealing with bullies. It is one of their 10-year-old students talking about how he dealt with bullies at school. The Gracies thought they should showcase this incident as proof that their program works.

Here's the video, and then my analysis to follow:

Overall, I'm sure the boy won't get bullied again, and to that end, he is successful.
However, I feel the need to share the 3 things I find somewhat problematic with how he handled the situation:
1. The Gracie Bullyproof method is, "Talk, Tell, Tackle." For those that don't know, "Talk" is letting the bully(ies) know that you don't appreciate what they did/said, and to stop, and never do/say that again. "Tell" is if the bully continues, you must tell grown ups - teachers, parents, counselor, principal, so they can intervene with the situation. "Tackle" comes in two parts - verbal and physical. After you've done the Talk and Tell, you then corner them into a decision, "Are you challenging me to a fight? If yes, I'm not afraid of you. If no, then leave me alone". So if they say yes, then, you proceed with the physical altercation.
So, in this case, he did not "Tell". He did not get grown-ups involved. The Gracie Academy kind of dismissively treats that as, "Whoops, he skipped a step." But in my experience, when kids skip that step, they end up getting into trouble. Why? Because they instantly went from verbal warning, to taking matters into their own hands. And in this case, it was over a skateboard. And it was at school, where there were grown-ups. I think omission of this step is a big deal. He was lucky that he didn't get into trouble, because if he had done "Tell", and then had to deal with the bullies physically, he would have been able to build an alibi to say that he covered all his basis before he got physical with them. I think for the Gracies is to dismiss the importance of the "Tell" phase is a little short-sighted.

2. The Gracie have an important philosophy when it comes to dealing with multiple bullies or attacker - don't stay there, get out! Run away any way you can! That is the only reliable strategy on how to deal with multiple attackers. They even play dodgeball in their Bullyproof classes to emphasize this principle. This boy was lucky that the three boys didn't all gang up on him and attack him at once, because if they did, he'd have been beaten up. This concept on getting away from multiple opponents is such a major principle with the Gracies, that they made a whole video on the topic:

So to see a direct violation of this principle also made me raise an eyebrow on why they chose to feature this story.

3. Rener Gracie said that the student handled this peacefully, without becoming a bully. Although I don't think that the student is a bully per se, he did throw the first attack. The student became physical by doing a "Power Push". Granted, that's not a strike, but it is provocation. And this method is provoking a physical attack. So, in essence the student started a physical fight with 3 other kids. While I do understand the importance of drawing a line in the sand, I'm not sure if I am completely on board with physical provocations. Aren't bullies the one who start out with pushing people around?

At the end of the day, I'm glad the student is safe, and probably won't get bullied again, and I guess since he followed some of the steps outlined in the program, they deemed it worthy for exposure. But someone like me, who teaches the concepts of this program, I was a little uneasy about this being a perfect example of their system applied in a real life setting. But, no situation is perfect, I get it. This one, though, seems to have some major violations.

Testing Video for Quarter 4

The test for Quarter 4 will be SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9th.

Please save the date, and plan accordingly, as THERE WILL BE NO MAKE-UP TESTS!

If you miss this test, then you'll have to plan for the next one on March 24, 2018. 

Here is the video of the material that will be on the test:

Remember, the whole point of testing is to get the experience of performing in front of a large audience. With this in mind, the preparation will be much more focused. 

And finally, please be sure to consult the Members Only Video Blog (click on the "Members" tab) to get logistical information about testing, before consulting us.

Testing Video for Quarter 3

The test for Quarter 3 will be SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9th.

Please save the date, and plan accordingly, as THERE WILL BE NO MAKE-UP TESTS!

If you miss this test, then you'll have to plan for the next one on Dec 9. 

Here is the video of the material that will be on the test:

Remember, the whole point of testing is to get the experience of performing in front of a large audience. With this in mind, the preparation will be much more focused. 

And finally, please be sure to consult the Members Only Video Blog (click on the "Members" tab) to get logistical information about testing, before consulting us.

Testing Material for Quarter 2

The test for Quarter 2 will be SATURDAY, JUNE 17th.

Please save the date, and plan accordingly, as THERE WILL BE NO MAKE-UP TESTS!

If you miss this test, then you'll have to plan for the next one on Sept 9. 

Here is the video of the material that will be on the test:

Remember, the whole point of testing is to get the experience of performing in front of a large audience. With this in mind, the preparation will be much more focused. 

If you are a Youth Black Belt (no degrees), here is your material for the next pin:

If you are a Youth 1st Degree Black Belt here is your material for your next pin:

Good luck, and have fun! 

Testing Material (Q4 2016)

5-6 Year Olds:
Yum Chop, Jaap, Snap Kick

Form Combination:
Fu Jow, Kick, Punch-Punch, Jang

Ground Techniques:
Stage 1
Double Ankle Sweep
Scoot Back, Get Up in Base

7-8 Year Olds:
Gwa, Chuin, Side Kick

Form Combinations:
Gwa, Kam, Chin Ji, Biu, Chuin
Fu Jow, Kick, Punch-Punch

Ground Techniques:

Stage 1
Double Ankle Sweep
Scoot Back, Get Up in Base

9-12 Year Olds:
Pek, Kam, Ax Kick

Form Combinations:
Gwa, Kam, Kick, Pek, Cheong Nan, Chop
Fu Jow, Kick, Punch-Punch, Jang
Gwa, Kam, Chin Ji, Biu, Chuin

Ground Techniques:

Stage 1
Double Ankle Sweep
Scoot Back, Get Up in Base


Myths About Women's Self Defense Tactics

When it comes to women's self defense tactics and strategies, here are the common ones you tend to hear about:

1. Kick him in the groin!

2. Poke him in the eyes!

3. Scratch him!

4. Bite him!

5. Punch him in the throat!

Well, these MIGHT work. But really, it's not likely. What is more likely is that it will make the attacker more angry, and want him to further impose his will on her. What is more likely is that she will miss, or not generate enough power to do damage, thus further aggravating the attacker.

Instead, the following concepts are far more reliable:

1. Manage the distance to manage the damage. Either be all the way out of striking range (2 arms length distance away), or all the way in, clinching (like a hug), because strikes have very little effectiveness there.

2. Use leverage-based submissions to subdue them. This means techniques such as breaking the arm or shoulder (e.g. armbars, figure four locks, shoulder cranks) or chokes (e.g. rear naked choke, guillotine choke, & triangle choke). These submissions don't really look like they are attacks, but they wind up severely damaging the opponent. Breaking the arm/shoulder and chokes are universal ideas that apply to all human bodies. In other words, a punch or a kick's effectiveness depends on how much power is behind it and how much force the opponent can absorb. An arm break or choke will happen, regardless of how much punishment the attacker can take -  a break is a break and no oxygen to the brain is no oxygen to the brain!

These ideas are much more accessible to practice. The more you practice this in a simulated experience, the more natural these movements become. Here is an example of one of these practice sessions. Keep in mind, she has been training with private lessons for several months:

Women's Self Defense Video

Our Podcast Episode 1 Is Up!

Austin Kung Fu Academy now has an official podcast!  We call it Kung Fu Konversations.  Check out our first episode, titled "Successful Martial Arts Teaching Methods" where we discuss student engagement, important details about teaching martial arts classes, teaching philosophy, and more!

Click the link below:

Look, You Must Get Comfortable With the Closeness

We get it - getting in close to your attacker is not very comfortable. But, it is THE BEST strategy! 

Our personal space is very important to us. But when someone is violating your personal space in an effort to dominate you, get in even closer, and get control of the situation!

You are very hard to hit and attack when you are in close. You can escape/defeat opponents twice your size without being a "martial arts master", by simply getting in really close, and knowing a few techniques. 

If you develop comfort with the closeness, it gives you the ability to stay calm in worst case scenarios. Read that sentence again and again. 

Watch this video of one of our female students using highly effective self defense techniques, simply because she is comfortable with being close to her opponents. It offers her greater protection, leverage, control, and ultimately, dominance!

A Little About Combat Strategy

When we watch martial arts in movies or TV shows or YouTube clips, we tend to see a lot of kicking and punching. That is kind of the hallmark of the visual representation of martial arts.

In a real self defense situation, while punching and kicking do have their place, and can serve you, it is best and safest to neutralize any type of striking exchange with a clinch. A clinch is basically a hug! 

When you have clinched the opponent, you have dramatically decreased their striking arsenal. They cannot effectively punch or kick at you when you are hugged on to them tightly. You have essentially taken their fight away from them. It is an incredible technical concept!

Now, once you have them in the clinch, their behaviors are quite predictable. And with each predictable behavior comes an effective response. Let's go through some, shall we?

1. If they decide to try to punch you while you are clinched onto them, they will have to lean back a little bit. In that lean, you drop your shoulder into their chest and pull their hips in, and that is called a "Body Fold Takedown".

2. If they decide to try to push on you, they have to stabilize their stance, so that means their stance is wider. In that case, hook their leg, dip your shoulder into them, and turn, and that is called the "Leg Hook Takedown".

3. If they decide to bring their hips away in an attempt to escape out of the clinch, walk your hands up to the back of their shoulders, bring both of your feet up next to theirs, then squat, shoot back, and wrap your legs around them, and then one at a time, wrap one arm around the back of their neck, and another on one of their arms. This is called "Pulling Guard".

4. If they decide to try to wrap your head/neck out of desperation, you pop your head up like a turtle, turn around, get to their back, then bring one foot up next to theirs, and straighten the other leg out, while blocking their other foot and pull them down. This is called the "Rear Takedown".

5. If they break out of the clinch somehow, and it is hard to get back into the clinch, drop down, grab and pull behind their knees, put your foot in between theirs, and drive your shoulder into their midsection. This is called the "Double Leg Takedown".

These are all extremely effective strategies. They are not the flashiest moves, but they work very reliably well. These are all concepts that come from Gracie Jiu Jitsu. We teach and practice these concepts at Austin Kung-Fu Academy. In addition to the great training you get in traditional Kung-Fu, we want everyone to have a very reliable self defense strategy that doesn't involve too much of the kicking and punching, but rather work more towards neutralizing, controlling, and exhausting aggressive energy, rather than over-power it.

The Spirit of Partnerships

One of the things that creates the most productive learning atmosphere is working with excellent partners. It is this spirit of partnership that can take students to the next level. 

In martial arts, this can be a tricky concept. I say tricky because martial arts, Kung-Fu, Jiu Jitsu, you name it, has an image of you fighting or working AGAINST another person.

But the truth of the matter is, most of the learning and foundational development happens when you work WITH your partner. 

There's also an unseen benefit - the better of a partner you become, the better your own skill gets! It takes a good amount of strength, control, and mindfulness to be an effective partner. 

The actual self defense techniques are great, and there are a lot of sources where you can learn that information. What isn't so readily accessible are the perfect training partners. 

Creating perfect training partners is our goal. When you have the perfect training partner, and you are working together at a very proficient level, aesthetically, it looks amazing. Functionally, you are developing some very real skills.

So as we start this 4th Quarter at Austin Kung-Fu Academy, we will be discussing what it takes to become a Perfect Partner. We will be practicing a lot of these ideas in class, and we will also have an achievement and reward system in place, to help set some concrete goals. 

A Perfect Partner is genuinely concerned with making you successful. So the focus becomes on this idea:
What can I do to help you reach your best?

With that in mind, let's get started! 

How Can I Help My Child To Focus?

It is not uncommon to hear parents ask us how to help their child improve his or her focus. There's no one magic sliver bullet for this, as there are many factors to consider.

But what we can tell you is that giving them structure tends to help. Having a specific schedule of activities (they don't necessarily need to be too complicated), but just a schedule and adhering to it tends to help. 

We recommend taking some time and doing structured activities with them, such as building something, practicing Kung-Fu moves together with a designated amount of repetitions, or reading to each other.

It takes more effort and time, but you are instilling a sense of orientation towards a goal. And when that becomes the culture of your household, it does tend to rub off on the child.

A couple of cautionary notes. It could very well be that your child has a neurological condition that inhibits his or her ability to focus. If you have suspicions, by all means, get your child evaluated. Not to say a structured environment won't help, it probably will, but there may be deeper issues that need to be dealt with.

Another cautionary note is to keep as cool and as positive as possible when creating a highly structured world. If you keep yelling at them, and/or berating them for losing focus and not adhering to the structured task at hand, then resentment will form. Instead, tell them how much you love seeing them do xyz. 

Sometimes you might get some resistance and attitude. Again, try your best to keep your cool and be positive, and talk to them about how to express their frustration without being too negative. Maybe it is something you can work a compromise with. Or, maybe it is a non-negotiable, that you acknowledge their feelings, but it is extremely important to you that they do xyz. Use bribery rewards sparingly. 

An over reliance on rewards has them focusing just long enough to get the prize, but then it's all over after that. They might just do the bare minimum, just to get the reward. So, like I said, use rewards sparingly. 

In another post, I'll talk about strategic games you can play with your child to help them prepare for more structured activities like going to our Kids Kung-Fu class! =)

Timing is Everything, with Children

When teaching and raising children, one of the most challenging things is to figure out which approach to use, and at what moment. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that too much of one has the possibility of creating longer term issues. For example:

--Too much freedom could lead to not respecting boundaries.

--Too much control could lead to a lack of self confidence.

--Too little consequences could lead to lack of awareness of what their actions means for others or themselves.

--Too many consequences could lead to someone who does just enough to not get punished. 

--Too much criticism with not enough praise can lead to a lot of self doubt.

--Too much praise with not enough constructive feedback can lead to a false confidence.

Bribery, humiliation, being hands-off, and endless positive praise have their moments of short term results, but might not be the best strategy for the long term.

So what is the right answer? Well, in martial arts, you have many techniques to deal with situations. But using a certain technique at the wrong time is the wrong technique. For example, if I try to do the technique for escaping a wrist grab against someone who is choking my neck, that's the wrong technique!! 

There are some moments when you need to be hands off, let them make their own mistakes. There are other moments when you need to be hands on, and teach/remind. There will be some moments where in order to get a task done where bribery could be effective. There will be other moments where you have to have them understand that getting the task done is a non-negotiable, and failure to do so will result in a consequence. There will be some moments where you want pump the praise, and not give much attention to what needs fixing. There will be other moments where you need to give more attention to what needs fixing than the praise.

It's all a balancing act. We want children who can take their own initiative, make good choices, learn from the mistakes, but have the confidence to keep moving forward. We want positive children who are able to deal with and learn from negative situations.

But don't stay too much in one place. Sometimes, it is tempting to stay with one main default way because it is the most comfortable. This calls for more mindfulness, and be open to sometimes changing the way you respond to your child. Yin and Yang! 

The most skilled martial arts teachers can meet you where you're at, and give you the perfect exercise to get you to the incremental next step. What that requires is an acute awareness, sensitivity, and deep understanding of where the student is, as far as techniques, ability, mindset, and belief in one's self. 

As a teacher, one might tend to develop this ability with students. But it is much harder to do as a parent. Chances are, we've not received training for this, and even if we have, it is more difficult with our own children because we might not always be "on" for our kids as we might be for students, employees, clients, etc.

So there is always movement, it is always shifting. And that is what we provide at Austin Kung-Fu Academy for our Adults Flow class, where you are being given situation after situation after situation to respond to, and your job is to work at bringing the correct response to the situation.

As parents, I feel like you could benefit tremendously from our Adults classes. Not only is it a great stress reliever, but you start realizing and developing your ability shift from technique to technique based on whatever I give you.