Saturday, August 30, 2008

Some Notes on Come-along Techniques

The come-along techniques of Jiu-Jitsu form part of the Restraint and Control syllabus. The come-alongs allow you to not only restrain and control an attacker, but also to escort him out the door: "come-along", "come-along".

A certain amount of pain leads to compliance, but part of the beauty of these techniques is that the pain goes away once they are released: We take the recipient into the region of pain that precedes injury, but work towards a level of skill where effectiveness does not require damage.

The various come-along techniques have different characteristics, leading to their suitability in different situations.

A come-along armbar

For example: The come-along armbar (pictured) targets the elbow joint, requires two hands to apply, and obliges you to stand to the side of the recipient. As well as subduing in place and leading the recipient along, this technique leads nicely into throws and takedowns.

As another example: The pistol grip technique (not pictured) allows you to not only compel the recipient to go to the ground, but also to stand up again.

Comparing the 14 come-alongs (not all of which are labeled explicitly) of the restraint-and-control syllabus I noticed certain patterns emerging:
  • 3 primarily target the elbow joint, 7 the wrist, 3 the shoulder, 1 pure pressure point
  • 11 comealongs are applied from the side; 3 from behind
  • Although "two-hands for beginners" is sound advice, several of the come-alongs can be sustained with one hand
Having learned the basis of a family of techniques, a good way to deepen your knowledge is to then make both an in-depth study of each technique and also examine commonalities and differences. For each technique:
  • How can it be effectively modified for use against attackers of different shapes and sizes?
  • Against which common attacks can it be used as part of a realistic self-defense response?
  • If I fail on an attempt to apply it, what back-up techniques can I easily flow into?
  • How does the technique interfere with my partner's balance and alignment?
  • What are the particular advantages and disadvantages of this technique?
I could list some more of my findings, but you will learn far far more if you make your own notes.

Later this year I plan to explore some of these questions with my students, and together devise a kata of come-alongs.

Introductory Self-Defence Class: September 10 2008

I have been invited to conduct an introductory self-defence class at Monash Caulfield on Wednesday, September 10. I have accepted the invitation.
  • If you are a Federation coloured belt and are available in the early evening and are interested in acting as an assistant, please send me an email.
  • This event is already over-subscribed, so if it sounds great, why not come along to one of my weekly classes instead?
Here is an edited version of the draft promotional material:

[Host Organization] and
Monash University Jiu-Jitsu Club


Self-Defence Night

Come along and learn the basics of self-defence in a safe, friendly and fun class.

Where and when:
[Time and location]

What to wear

Loose comfortable clothing: T-shirt and tracksuit pants are ideal.

What to expect
The class will consist of:
* A short talk about basic self-defence
* Warm exercises (including games)
* Instruction and practice in some escapes from simple holds and grabs
* Q&A and demonstration of some more advanced Jiu-Jitsu techniques
* Cool-down

About Jiu-Jitsu
Jiu-jitsu was the unarmed fighting art of the Japanese Samurai -- the warriors of medieval Japan. If a Samurai lost or broke his sword in battle, he resorted to the striking and grappling techniques of Jiu-jitsu to defeat his enemy.

The term Jiu-jitsu literally means 'gentle art'. Jiu-jitsu emphasizes the efficient use of one's body. Good technique rather than brute strength is used to deliver effective self-defence.

About the Monash University Jiu-jitsu Club
The Jiu-Jitsu club offers weekly classes at both Caulfield and Clayton emphasising:
  • Acquisition and perfection of martial art technique
  • Realistic self-defence skills
  • Development of all-round fitness
  • Personal and social development
in a safe and supportive environment. It is open to the Monash and local communities.

About the instructor
Sensei Dan Prager is a 2nd degree black belt with over 15 years experience in Jiu-Jitsu
as well as other martial arts. Dan is the founding instructor of the Caulfield branch of the Monash University Jiu-Jitsu Club. He blogs about Martial Arts and Modern Life.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

They come; they go

One of the distinctive things about teaching at a university martial arts club is that there are students who -- having completed their studies -- move away to continue onto the next phase of their lives.

Many of the members of the Monash Jiu-jitsu Club stay with the club following graduation, but a significant proportion of oversea students choose (or are obliged) to return home. One of the nice aspects of this is that one gains friends in other countries. On the other hand I miss seeing them in class.

Here is a message of appeciation from Leonard, who will be returning to his native Singapore in a few weeks:
Hello Sensei,

... I have been very fortunate to have stumbled upon a federation with such good methods of instruction and active participants. It will be hard to find another association that can compare, it has definitely enlightened me on the journey that is martial arts, and given me a finer appreciation of finding a discipline that one can relate to.
Best of luck to Leonard on his journey in the martial arts and in life.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Creating a Kata: Part I

At the end of each year the Australian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo and Chinese Boxing Federation of Instructors holds a Presentation Day which traditionally includes a kata competition.

A kata -- sometimes referred to as a form or set -- consists of one or more participants performing a pre-arranged of movements drawn from a martial art. Kata is:
  • An instructional method
  • A training and practice method
  • A repository and source of techniques
  • A performing art
and more besides. On Presentation Day katas are performed and judged, so they should be comprehensible and entertaining for the audience. But that does not mean that they are purely about entertainment value. They should at the same time showcase technique, spirit and cooperation.

This is the first year that I will be entering a student kata from my club at Monash Caulfield, and I am looking forward to the process of getting it ready.

My first choice is whether to prepare a traditional kata, or choreograph an original one. As the title of this article suggests, I will be opting for the latter option. While traditional kata are wonderful, their level of difficulty makes them better suited to a more experienced group. I look forward to training my students in traditional kata in the future.

My second choice is how to go about creating this new kata and preparing my students. My approach will be to first introduce a particular theme into training in the coming weeks, and then work with the students to create our own kata around this theme. I expect that:
  • My beginning students will focus primarily on learning the techniques,
  • The more experienced ones will gain from the exploration of connections and have some scope to contribute creatively
  • This will allow me to
    • take a themed slice through our curriculum
    • set the scene for piecing together the actual kata.
Working title for the kata? The Kata of Come-Alongs (arresting techniques)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Monash Open Day

Yesterday the Caulfield branch of the Monash Jiu-Jitsu club put in a few hours to help promote Monash University to prospective students in 2009, and at the same time raise awareness about our club.

Leonard, Riandy, Lisa, Prateek and David

The weather was kind, and we set up some mats on the outdoor stage. When we did our break-falls, it sounded like a drum, which was good for attracting attention. Such was our power, we were able to drive the stage a couple of inches into the Earth!

Thanks to David, Lisa, Leonard, Riandy, Prateek, for a fun demonstration, and to all of the above plus Michael (not pictured) for handing out fliers and talking about the club, not to mention set-up, pack-up, photos and video.