Sunday, March 9, 2008

Discover Your Animal

In Shuri-Ryu Karate, after attaining the rank of black belt, karateka are traditionally awarded a animal spirit. This animal spirit is based on character traits displayed by the karateka both before and after their promotion. There are many different animals used, but for this article we will limit them to the original Shaolin five. These animals include the snake, tiger, crane, leopard, and dragon.

Identifying a karateka's animal is not just a trivial pursuit. The use of animal characteristics is an additional tool for identifying the strengths and weaknesses of both ourselves and others. Constant evaluation of ourselves and possible threats surrounding us is a key skill in being a thorough and effective martial artist.

Master Robert Trias, the founder of Shuri-Ryu Karate, identifies certain characteristics and abilities associated with these animals.

  • The snake possesses breath strength, and is characterized as a serpent waiting for its prey. An exceptionally short and quick style patterned after the snakes forked tongue that strikes at the opponent's eyes and throat.
  • The tiger possesses bone strength characterized by the strength and swiftness of its ripping movements. A strong style that uses short and powerful thrusts and lunges.
  • The crane possesses spiritual and muscle strength and is characterized as a graceful bird standing calmly and patiently on one leg waiting to take off or strike. A soft and fluid style that is patterned and imitates the wings of a bird.
  • The leopard possesses inner and outer strength and is characterized by the abilities of its powerful claws to penetrate in and around small openings. A very explosive style patterned after the flat paw of the leopard.
  • The Dragon possesses body strength and is characterized as a powerful yet flexible serpent that floats and emerges from the sea. A strong floating and sweeping style. 1

However intriguing theses descriptions are, alone they are rarely enough of a clue to identify the animal type a karateka most closely resembles. This is where Chinese five element theory becomes helpful. Each of these five animals are associated with the five elements that the Chinese use to help define the physical and spiritual world. That is why this article is limited to these animals because they are the most easily identified.

Chinese doctors have long used five element theory to characterize individuals by one or more of these elements to assist in diagnosis and treatment. By using the more extensive five element characteristics of traditional Chinese medicine we can more accurately identify a karateka's animal spirit by identifying the animal associated with the most pronounced element displayed in the individual's body type and characteristics.

Below are some physical characteristics associated with the five elements used to identify the element an individual tends toward:

  • Wood - Darkish or swarthy complexion. Tall and sinewy body type, tends to look as if carrying no fat, can be quite muscular.
  • Fire - Red complexion. Head often smallish and pointed, or may have a pointed chin. Hair is often curly, in men a tendency to baldness. Hands and feet tend to be small and graceful. Walks quickly.
  • Metal - Pale complexion with smooth and clear skin. Angular, well-defined features. Broad chest and shoulders. Abundant body hair. Tends to walk slowly.
  • Water - High forehead and abundant head hair. Long, strong bone structure with spine proportionately longer than normal. Fluid movement. Flexible, well-motivated, ambitious. Can also tend to be lazy and "go with the flow" too much.
  • Earth - Brownish or sallow complexion with a large head. Tends to be pear-shaped, carrying weight in the hips. Muscular or fat with heavy legs. Does not lift feet high when walking.

Got yourself figured out yet? If you're still not sure, consider the behavior patterns below for additional clues.

  • Wood - Creative, hard working, decisive, and directing. Likes to be in control and to keep busy.
  • Fire - Emotional, communicative, and articulate. Tends to be very sociable, loving, and can be quite spiritual in outlook.
  • Metal - Well-organized, neat, methodical, and meticulous. Tends to be very self-contained and does not express emotion much.
  • Water - Flexible, well-motivated, ambitious. Can also tend to be lazy and "go with the flow" too much.
  • Earth - Sympathetic, considerate, and supportive. Tends to be an "Earth Mother" type, with focus on caring for others. 2

If you're still not completely sure, don't worry. These elements are not mutually exclusive and most people are associated with more than one element. Even so, try to pick the one that seems most dominant. Once you've narrowed that down, just match the element to the animal to determine yours. The five elements and their associated animal are snake/wood, tiger/fire, crane/metal, leopard/water, dragon/earth. 3

Now that you've identified your probable animal, the real work begins. Learn all you can about that animal and its characteristics. You can use Master Trias' words above to begin with. Then find out what our forbearers learned from that animal and see what you can learn. We have the advantage of television and the internet. We don't have to hide in trees, scrub and caves to observe them.

Keep in mind these are only the five traditional animals. There are many more used in the martial arts. Even so, you probably have a much better idea of what type of person you are, and that's the whole point. Being associated with a really cool animal is fun, but the real benefit is understanding yourself better. Now begin applying this analysis to those around you and you'll really begin seeing the use of this exercise. Identify your fellow students, and see if it affects how you spar them. Then apply this skill to people on the street. As Sun Tzu said, "he who knows neither himself nor his enemy can never win, he who knows himself but does not know his enemy will sometimes win and sometimes lose, but he who knows himself and his enemy will never lose."

1 Pinnacle of Karate: Okinawan Methods or Shuri-ryu (1980) Grand Master Robert A. Trias

2 The Complete Illustrated Guide to Shiatsu (1998) Elaine Liechti

3 Five Elements - Five Ancestors - Five Animals Shihan Gary Wayne

Bart Scovill trains in Shuri-ryu Karate-do. You can visit him at Warrior Pages, to see videos, reviews, articles and terminology. He is a lawyer by trade, but a martial artist at heart. Bart has been training in the martial arts since 1978. He currently trains and teaches under the legendary Shihan Donna Judge at the Suncoast Karate Dojo in Sarasota, Florida. One of the best things about training with a legend is you are surrounded by other legends and legends to be. He has previously trained in Shorin-ryu, Wado-ryu, and Matsubayashi Shorin-ryu. In addition to Shuri-ryu, he also participates in jiu-jitsu (both Japanese and Brazilian), bagua-zhang, xing-yi quan, qigong, aikido, kali, kobudo and yoga.

Pressure Points - In A Real Fight

You are out in public ... maybe at an outdoor concert, or shopping downtown. All of a sudden, you are attacked. You have to defend yourself. If your mind isn't frozen in fear, then you may have time for a few brief thoughts as you respond (and react) to the attack.

Hits, strikes, kicks, wrist locks, and maybe even pressure points. But would a pressure point work in a fight with punches flying?

And that's a key criterion -- would pressure on a nerve work while punches are being thrown at you and by you?

Well ...

Pressure Point Timing
Will you have a time with the flurry of punches to press on someone's sensitive spot, close to a nerve? Remember, all the action happens very fast.

We aren't talking about nerve strikes, but rather pressure points. You apply pressure to a spot, say an inch or two above the elbow, on the triceps, in order to cause pain.

In the middle of punches, you won't have time to slowly find the exact spot and then apply pressure. I am not saying pressure points are useless. Just better to link a pressure point to the "control" phase of a fight, rather than trying to find a pressure-sensitive spot in the middle of speed hits.

Pressure Point Precision in the Fight
Pressure points really do require some precision. You have to press the right spot, with the right amount of pressure, in the right manner.

Could you do this in the middle of a fight? While dealing with a barrage of punches and kicks?

While nervous beyond belief ... with adrenaline coursing through your body?

It may be more prudent for you to hit and kick, until you already have the control.

Do Pressure Points Work On a Berserker?
Let's forget about your adrenaline -- what about the adrenaline racing through your attacker's body? Will he (or she) even feel a pressure point?

My answer is that it depends on which pressure point you are talking about, and also how much "red" your attacker is seeing.

For example, the nose control from Wrist Locks: From Protecting Yourself to Becoming an Expert will work no matter how mad your attacker is. Your opponent will feel the pain -- it's a sensitive and controlling spot.

On the other hand, the wrist-bending pressure point on the inside of the wrist never seems to work "for me," when I "really" have to use it.

Pressure points are great, when they are used appropriately. I worry when a novice thinks that it's easy to shut down an attack of punches with a little pressure to one point.

If you like efficient martial-arts strikes and counters, then read my new, Free ebooklet:

Download this Free ebooklet: Elbow Strikes and Counters

For an article on martial arts solo training, read Training By Yourself.

Here's a site about punching harder and faster ... Free Punch ebook.

Keith Pascal is a martial-arts writer and has taught martial arts for 25 years.

Why People Learn Martial Arts


There are many reasons why a person might decide to turn up at your dojo and have a go at the martial arts, and it is important that we try and identify these in order to establish exactly what the potential student is looking for, and whether or not your art is going to give it to them.


So, why has that particular person just come into the Dojo? What is it that makes them come to you? What is their particular motivation?

These are all very good questions to be asking your self, but it is even more important to actually ask the learners themselves rather than allowing yourself to make any "knee-jerk" judgments or decisions for them, and jumping to any conclusions.

Indeed, having preconceptions about learners can be extremely misleading indeed, and can cause no end of problems later on. I remember one particular instructor boasting proudly that one of his students happened to be an officer in the Royal Marines Reserve. "That's good" I said, "Why is he here?" At this question, my colleague looked both shocked and amused "He's here to learn how to fight, off course!" he said, rather indignantly.

Now, without wanting to "burst any ones bubble", I think its fair to say that an officer in the Royal Marines might already know something about fighting, and certainly wouldn't need any advice from the local martial arts club down the road! ("I'm off to a war zone next month, and was wondering if you could help me out.....," NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!!!) On closer examination, it turned out that this individual was researching certain aspects of Japanese culture as part of his Masters degree! He had come to the class in order to learn something about classical martial arts, and the instructor (thanks to him jumping to conclusions) had him in a corner doing pistol disarming! (Good differentiation, but completely inappropriate)

The fellow was far too polite to say anything, and was just persevering patiently in the hope that they would eventually get to practice some more traditional techniques as the class progressed! This happens all the time within the martial arts fraternity, simply because we don't bother to find out what the prospective learner is looking for in the first place! As instructors, we should never take anything for granted: Simply because a person happens to wonder in to your club on a training night doesn't necessarily mean that they know anything about what your doing, or even have an actual interest in martial arts. (That reminds me of another story, when a young lady entered a dojo and was immediately told by the instructor to get on the mat and warm up. She took part in the whole lesson (it was a beginners class) and, when asked at the end what she thought of it she said she had enjoyed it quite a lot, but actually only came in because she thought the aerobics class took place on that particular night!)

Take some time out to talk to them, put one of your senior students in charge for a few moments, walk over, and introduce yourself! This will help to make both you (as one of those creatures of legend "The Black Belt") and your club far more approachable and accommodating, and will immediately impress upon the visitor that you DO consider them to be important and DO care about them.

Usually, they will volunteer a certain amount of information regarding their background and expectations such as: "I used to do karate when I was younger, and just thought I would pop in an have a look" etc.

But, you should also ask them some questions as well in order to clarify any important points, and enable you to get some idea of what they are after and build up a picture of their expectations. Some of the possible reasons for people wanting to learn the martial arts are as follows:

- Self Defense.
With crime on the increase, this is probably the most common reason for most people considering taking up the martial arts, as they feel it will at least give them a "fighting chance" if they are ever unfortunate enough to be attacked.

- Physical Fitness
People are being encouraged to take more of an interest in their well-being these days, and the martial arts provide them with the opportunity of building up their levels of stamina, strength, and suppleness by providing a good "all round" workout.

- Sport
Many martial arts such as Judo, Kickboxing and Kendo are very lively and established sports offering participants the chance of competing at club, local, national and international levels. And this supplies a very healthy outlet for the competitive spirit.

- Philosophical
The martial arts have, over the period of centuries been influenced by a great many different religions and philosophies, and all have left their particular mark. This is particularly the case with the softer, Japanese arts of Aikido, Iaido and Kyudo, and the internal Chinese martial arts of Tai Chi, Pa Kua and Hsing-Yi.

- Cultural
Martial arts are extremely rich in history, tradition and customs. As such, they will tend to appeal to people who are interested in these particular aspects of human behaviour, be that just a casual curiosity or even an academic study.

Again, martial arts are superb tools for building up a person's confidence and self-esteem, and are also brilliant at controlling stress levels. Some schools even include relaxation and meditation techniques, and both of these have become quite fashionable in recent times.

- Social
Martial artists tend to train hard and play hard, and some clubs have a very lively social scene whereby they organize trips and outings. This helps to build up the "camaraderie" amongst the students, as well as helping to break down the barriers that can sometimes exist between junior and senior grades.

There are, off course, many more reasons why a person chooses to commence training in the martial arts, but the above are the main ones. And it will, more often than not, be one or more of these that is the "prime motivator" for the majority of people. As well as having an initial chat with these prospective students, you could also employ other strategies to help you clarify their ideas and needs, such as giving them a short questionnaire which they could take away, fill in and bring back when they officially enroll.


Identifying student's needs and expectations as quickly and efficiently as possible enables the instructor to:
1- Ensure that what he/she is teaching IS actually what the prospective student is looking for (You will need to be brutally honest here. For example, it would be completely inappropriate for someone wanting to learn self defense to enroll in an Iaido class, just as a person wanting to experience meditation might be a bit disappointed if they ended up a student in a kick boxing class, etc. It is the instructor's responsibility to consider the welfare of this person, and to guide them in their choice. Rather than simply regarding them as yet another training fee!)
2- It will enable the instructor to gain valuable insight into the background and aspirations of the individual and, (if and when appropriate) to modify their syllabus, resources and teaching methodology to accommodate these efficiently.
Jumping to conclusions about what your students want, on the other hand, is both patronizing and condescending and can be an extremely effective method of putting people of studying martial arts for good!

"Most people know what they want, but few know what they need" (Ancient proverb)

Prof. J R Lee-Barron PhD FIMAS

Professor Lee-Barron is the Director of the Institute of Martial Arts and Sciences, UK, and Dean of the Faculty of Martial Arts, Knightsbridge University. These bodies are dedicated to affording martial arts instructors with the opportunity of gaining recognized university degrees in martial arts. He is an experienced educator, researcher and academic, as well as being a senior black belt instructor in several martial arts. He can be contacted at:

How Do You Understand Martial Arts Techniques

How do you understand martial arts techniques? Before you look at any techniques/methods from a martial arts system, it is important to first know yourself. It is important to have a clear goal about what you are trying to achieve with your research. Often, when people research without a clear objective, they become a "technique collector". They become a master of all trades and a master of none. This is not a functional approach. The reason is because knowing a lot of moves does not win fights. It's about how good you are when you move.

Can you move with speed, power, accuracy, timing, co-ordination, sensitivity, non-telegraphic ability? Training time is limited; therefore it is unrealistic to try to master too many techniques at once.

If you look at top fighters in any system, you will see that they only use a few well developed moves. The key is not to learn many things for many situations but rather to learn how to adapt a few things to various circumstances. The ability to do that is very difficult for some people because due to the martial arts media, a lot of beginners like to put things in black and white categories. The truth is, fighting by its very nature is chaotic and therefore things are not so black and white.

One example is the popular concept of non powerful "set up" moves such as the straight blast follow by powerful "finishing" moves such as elbows and knees. This separate category of setup vs. finishing techniques is a concept that has sold many DVDS and magazines. However, I question if a straight blast is actually just a "set up" technique that requires a "finisher". What would happen if a fast straight blast also has functional finishing power? I guess if that was possible, things would get a lot simpler and you would not have to collect more stuff to do the job.

But how do you get the example of the straight blast to become a finisher? Is it simply a matter of more practice? In some cases, yes. But in most cases, it requires research into how to put the whole body mass into the blast. Something that is rarely seen. This idea of modifying techniques to make it work instead of collecting more of them is true for a lot of things in martial arts. By modifying, it will allow more practice time and repetitions in each move and therefore a higher development of physical attributes - things that win fights.

For me the objective of research is to be as direct as possible. Therefore when I look at any technique I simply ask if what I see would help me become more direct. If not, how can I modify it to make it more direct? If I can't do that, then I ask, what is the most direct way that I can defeat what I see?

Looking at things in slow motion allows you to see the finer detail. From a martial arts point of view, it means the ability to see the motions in beats and eventually quarter beats and finally, the intent of movement. Looking at things fast means that you have to take into consideration force and speed.

Many things demonstrated in MA demos work well in mild speed but you have to take into account human reaction time limitations. You must take each and every technique that you practice and test it under real speed and power to see if it is actually workable.

Sometimes, what is direct physically may actually be slow mentally and therefore not direct at all for a fight. For example, no matter how fast a technique is physically in a drill, it may be too complicated for the mind to pull off in a fight causing you to freeze under stress.

You have to take into account the natural variables such as limited perception, reaction time and the motor-set commitment of motions in combat.This is a very basic look at how to understand techniques, I hope it helps.

My name is Adam Chan and I started martial arts in 1986 training in classical Wing Chun under sifu Joseph Boychuck. In 1993 I learned a hybrid version of kung-fu from sifu Mike Smith which contained elements of Tai-Chi, Ba Gua, Hsing Yi, Shaolin, natural gate boxing.

In the end, names and styles do not matter but or convenience sake, my system is called Modified Wing Chun.Tracing back what I learned, I realized that it contains elements of fencing, boxing, savate and karate. Some of my own influences are Aikido and Yi-Quan.

Martial arts training can lead one to confidence, creativity, compassion and many other qualities. This led me to research Taoism, motivational psychology and Zen studies. Little by little, I realized that using martial arts as a medium is a great way to help people.

For questions, discussion and more information about this article and related topics please visit my website

UFC 77 Middleweight Championship - Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin

I for one was very excited about this much anticipated rematch between current middleweight champion Anderson "The Spider" Silva and former middleweight champion Rich "Ace" Franklin, whom Silva had won the championship from almost a year ago by knocking him out in the first round. Would this be a repeat of the first fight with Silva retaining the title, or would Franklin avenge his previous loss to Silva and get the title back? As the old saying goes, "Only time will tell" and on this night it did.


What will follow is a detailed professional analysis of the fight from start to finish, concluding with some final thoughts concerning both fighters. Please keep in mind that these are my views from my own perspective of the events that transpired. They are by no means intended to shed any kind of negative or disparaging thoughts, words, etc. on either one of the fighters involved. I have a great deal of respect for anyone, and I do mean anyone, who steps onto the mat. So, with further ado let's get started.

Round One:

The first round started out with both fighters meeting in the center of the ring where they circled each other for a few seconds trying to get a read on each other. Franklin threw the first blow of the fight with a right leg roundhouse kick to the inside of Silva's right thigh that unfortunately missed. Franklin followed up his initial attack with a right hand jab to the head (that missed) and another right leg roundhouse kick to the inside of Silva's thigh that landed, although with not much force.

Franklin kept up the pressure on Silva by once again launching another attack with a two punch combination to the head followed by yet another right leg roundhouse kick to the inside of Silva's right thigh that landed again, but with little force and no effect on Silva. Silva countered this attack with a right hand jab to the face of Franklin that failed to reach its intended target. Although Silva's punch did not land, he did show an advanced knowledge of footwork that is truly indicative of not only his current abilities, but also his future potential.

Franklin steps forward and throws a right hand jab to the head that falls short and the follows up with a four punch combination to the head of Silva, none of which find their target. Franklin finishes up this attack with another right leg roundhouse kick to the inside of Silva's thigh that once again lands, but not with much force on it. Silva proceeds to counter this attack with a knee strike to the midsection while holding onto Franklin's neck with his left hand. This would later prove to be a very effective tactic.

Both men proceeded to execute a standing clinch with each other and moved each other around the ring until they both ended up against the fence. Silva initially had Franklin against the fence where both men exchanged knee strikes to each others bodies. Franklin ends up pivoting off the fence and forces Silva back against it for several seconds before eventually forcing Silva down to the ground. Once down on the ground, Franklin attempts to pass Silva's guard but is unable to do to Silva launching a kicking defense from the ground in order to keep Franklin back.

This tactic proves effective and allows Silva the opportunity to regain his feet. Although Franklin still attempts to get Silva back down on the ground by wrapping both arms around Silva's left leg. Silva manages to maintain his balance while standing on his left leg for several seconds, until Franklin lets go of Silva's leg and forces him back against the fence. Both fighters exchange knee strikes to the midsection before eventually breaking free of their mutual standing clinch.

Franklin attempts a kick with his right leg but Silva counters with a beautifully executed left leg turning back kick to the midsection of Franklin that landed solidly and momentarily stopped Franklin in his tracks. Both men exchange punches in the center of the octagon only a few of which land for either fighter, and none of which land with any real effect. At the end of this exchange, Franklin did land another right leg roundhouse kick to the inside of Silva's right thigh.

Franklin continues to press the attack by launching a three punch combination with the last punch, a right hook to the jaw, landing solidly but with no visible effect to Silva. Silva comes back from this attack by stepping forward and throwing a punch that fails to land, but does set up a left leg roundhouse kick which lands solidly to the upper body underneath Franklin's right arm.

Silva continues to press the advantage by forcing Franklin against the fence where he grabs Franklin's neck with his left hand while throwing (and landing) several punches to the head. Silva even manages to throw and land a knee strike to the midsection of Franklin. Franklin counters this attack with a couple of well thrown punches of his own followed by a knee strike to the midsection of Silva.

Franklin, who appears dazed, hangs onto Silva and forces him back against the fence and remains in a standing clinching position while delivering a single knee strike to Silva's midsection. Silva reverses position with Franklin and delivers his own knee strike to Franklin's midsection.

Both fighters separate and move about the ring with Franklin stepping forward and throwing a couple of punches to the head followed by a left leg roundhouse to the ribcage of Silva. Although there didn't appear to be much force on the kick. Silva fires back with a left leg front kick to the face of Franklin which ended up falling short.

Both men exchange punches with Franklin landing solidly with two of his punches thrown. However, Silva gave a very impressive display of "bobbing and weaving" while standing in one spot avoiding several more punches and even a kick thrown by Franklin. Silva continued to stalk Franklin and landed a spinning back fist which landed on the side of Franklin's head. It would have been very effective, except it landed at the end of the blow and with the forearm rather than the back of the fist.

Silva followed up the spinning back fist with a flying knee strike to the head followed by an uppercut punch to the head, both of which land with some authority. Silva continues throwing punches and ends up getting Franklin in a Muay Thai clinch where he lands a beautiful knee strike to the midsection. Both men exchange punches with Silva landing a right hook to the jaw of Franklin with approximately 2 seconds left in the round. This punch dropped Franklin and allowed Silva to press the attack until the buzzer sounded signifying the end of the round in which referee John McCarthy stepped in to stop the round. In my opinion, Franklin was literally saved by the buzzer and continued to show signs of being stunned as he made it back to his corner.

Round Two:

Franklin continued to look dazed as he opened up the second round with a left leg roundhouse kick to the outside of Silva's right thigh. Although the kick landed, it didn't appear to have any affect whatsoever on Silva. Franklin followed this up with a three punch combination to the head, none of which landed, and another left leg roundhouse kick to the hip of Silva.

Franklin continued to press the attack with several more punch attempts to the head, none of which landed with any affect. Silva countered this attack with a left leg roundhouse kick to the right calf of Franklin and a straight right hand punch that forced Franklin momentarily backwards. Franklin once again stepped forward and launched a punching attack to the head which was basically ineffective.

Silva on the other hand, countered this attack with a left hand clinch around Franklin's neck combined with a knee attack to the body and a punching attack to the head. Silva landed several blows before grabbing Franklin's head and neck with both hands and delivering a knee strike to the head with his left knee, and then following up immediately with another knee strike to the head with his right knee. This final counterattack by Silva resulted in the fight being stopped as the double knee strike combination ended up putting Franklin on the canvas with just under four minutes left in the second round.


Now there were several contributing factors that were directly responsible for the knockout which ended the fight. Some were provided by Silva, while others were provided by Franklin himself. I have broken those factors down by fighter and they are as follows:

Anderson Silva:

1. Exquisite technique of holding and hitting as demonstrated throughout the fight by holding with the left hand and delivering punches with the right.
2. Your ability to utilize the Muay Thai clinch and knee strikes to the body and head is textbook perfect and is very effective.
3. Your ability to remain calm throughout the fight is one of your best weapons, as it allows you to clearly see all possibilities and act accordingly.
4. Your "smoothness" of technique is another terrific asset and shows a high level of skill.
5. Your pinpoint accuracy with your knee strikes and punches shows terrific skill and discipline.
6. Your hand and foot combinations were fantastic. Keep up the good work!

Rich Franklin:

1. You let your guard down, literally!
2. You appeared to be really apprehensive as you stepped into the octagon.
3. You allowed Silva to get in close and clinch and strike which is what caused you to lose against Silva the first time.
4. You fought Silva's fight instead of your fight.
5. You seemed to be holding back somewhat on your punches and kicks.


Here are my thoughts on how each fighter could improve upon their respective abilities concerning this particular fight.

Anderson Silva:

His strategy for this particular fight was almost flawless. However, here is the one thing that really stood out for me.

1. You need to work on your kicks to make them more efficient and therefore more effective. Your roundhouse kicks were delivered at an upward angle rather than at the correct angle for maximum effect.

Rich Franklin:

Physically you could plainly see that he was in a lot better shape for this fight than his previous fight with Silva. However, mentally it appeared that he was very apprehensive once the fight got started. Here are a couple of other things that I noticed.

1. You need to work on your kicks to make them more efficient and therefore more effective. Your roundhouse kicks were delivered at an upward angle rather than at the correct angle for maximum effect.
2. Your roundhouse kicks appeared to lack any real power. Work on developing more powerful kicks.
3. Physically you were ready for this fight. However, mentally I feel that you weren't quite prepared for this fight and need to consider this in the future.


The professionalism and respect that these two fighters showed each other and the sport are truly an inspiration to all who not only watch, train, and participate in the MMA community, but also those who participate in any and all martial arts.



Anderson Silva is going to retain the middleweight championship for years to come. The only way I see him being beat is if he goes the way of other notable champions and gets caught up in the "Hollywood" type atmosphere and attitude and then carries that over into the octagon. Barring that, he should do well and I don't foresee anyone in the immediate future who will give him a run for his money.


Rich Franklin needs to go back to the drawing board and forget about Silva and the title until after he has had at least 5 or 6 more substantial fights against quality opponents in order to get his mind right for the octagon and a possible rematch with Silva. His career is far from over if he takes his time to regain the Rich Franklin of old.

Shawn Kovacich has been practicing the martial arts for over 25 years and currently holds the rank of 4th degree (Yodan) black belt in both Karate and Tae Kwon Do. Shawn has also competed in such prestigious full-contact bare knuckle karate competitions as the Shidokan Open and the Sabaki Challenge, among others.

In addition to his many accomplishments, Shawn is also a two time world record holder for endurance high kicking as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. Shawn is the author of the highly acclaimed Achieving Kicking Excellence™ series and can be reached via his web site at:

Shawn is currently working on an additional series of books that focuses on the combat applications of kicking as well as how to defend against those very same kicks if they are used against you.

80 Percent of Martial Arts Doesn't Work

A very bold statement and one that is designed to get a reaction. A reaction from the many so called teachers, Instructors and masters here in the West!

I've studied Martial Arts for more than 30 years here in the UK. Many forms with many teachers...each giving their interpretation on the style they teach. Some look good with fancy kicks high in the air, others are very robotic and too inflexible but very few are USABLE.

At rick of sounding like I'm going back on the statements I just made, I still respect anyone who makes the time to study any form of Martial Arts. For the serious student it will change your life in many positive ways, some you will not expect but will be welcome all the same.

Almost as a side note: One health benefit apart from the obvious one of exercise is..your Lymphatic System. Let me explain. If you imagine your Lymphatic System is the bodies sewage works i.e. it help remove toxic waste from the body BUT this circulatory system does not come with a pump as with your Heart forcing blood round. To get this system working takes specific body movements that gently work your muscle and then this helps in removal of the Lymphatic toxins. This has been know for thousands of years...the proof, look how long people have been practicing Yoga or Ti Che and look at the life benefits these practitioners have obtained. These same benefits are gained from conducting Kata's or Form or Patterns which are a fundamental part of most Martial arts.

So why is it then that 80% of the information taught Won't work in a street situation. Well first lets look at how most lessons in most club are conducted. first you have a partner, you stand far enough away from them that you can safely practise the moves you have just been taught by one of your instructors and you repeat this over and over again so the physical memory is lock in. Keep in mind that when training in this manner your are about 2-4 feet away from each other depending whether your are using your hands or your feet. a street situation, looks and threats normally start at a distance(to far away for your to do anything apart from walk away...the smart move!) if and when things escalate your adversary stands toe to toe nose to nose, pushing and more. So at this distance where are the flying, spinning, all wonderful kicks that you can do in the can't use them because there's not enough room. there goes 50% of what you can do!

Because this person is so close it makes things hard to determine where the attacking blow is going to come from after all they are in your face and that's all your aware of so all the blocking moves your practice so well are now dormant for now. That's another 10-20% of your skill not helping you. Somewhere in the for-front of your mind you know things are going to kick off and punches exchanged, but you have been told to use it (Martial Arts) just to defend yourself and never strike first! This will place you into a VICTIM mentality so you'll be loosing before you start so emotionally your another 10% down.

So what is the point in studying for years if it is not going to help!

Well, keep going because in reality you never know which skill will help you in what situation. But here is my advice to you.

Find a instructor how is or has been in the armed forces and seen active duty. one how has worked as a Doorman/woman or in close perfection situation. These are the instructors who have been in the real life situations and HAD TO use their skills and are always the BEST teachers...not theorist as most tend to be. I have had fights against some world class fighters in competitions and they are great, but change the rules to anything goes as on the street and most crumble because their security blanket just got removed and now they could get hurt!

So in closing do your home work when it come to quality instructors, learn about their background it could save your life. I don't prefer any one style above any other, I just prefer Instructors.

For those of you who would like to learn from one I consider to be the BEST, email me and I will point you in the right direction. P.S. I am in no way Affiliated to this Instructor only My martial Arts world has changed dramatically since learning from him.

I wish you all the best and a safe life.

Andrew Danyadi Twice English Senior Karate Champion British Senior Champion North West Senior Grand Champion All Styles

Advanced Shadow Boxing

Even if you don't like doing forms, I strongly suggest you read this newsletter. It could change the way you workout.

The reason I said "Even if . . ." is because I know many martial artists think form is a waste of time.

Do they think practicing punching is a waste of time?


Do they think practicing kicking is a waste of time?


How about shadow boxing? Do they think that's a waste of time?

Of course not.

But if you put those three things together in a routine and call it a form . . . suddenly you're wasting your time. Hmmmmm.

When I practice form I sweat and breath hard and end up with sore muscles. My balance, flexibility, agility and timing improve. Now keep in mind, I'm not doing beginner level forms for preschool tots. I'm doing traditional, hardcore Tien Shan Pai empty hand and weapons forms like you can learn on my DVD 8 Tien Shan Pai forms at

Form doesn't just get you in shape either. I've had people join my school or get my DVD specifically because they felt they had two left feet, and wanted to gain coordination.

Now then, could you get all the benefits of form just by doing some bag work, taking a break to do some kick combinations across the floor, adding in some punch combinations, throwing in a few jumps and deep stances for leg strength, maybe some floor sweeps for flexibility, and finishing with some hard fast shadow boxing?

Yes, you could. And if you put the routine together just right . . . it would be a form.

So what I do is, instead of adding punch/kick drills to bag work, I add bag work to my forms. Do a form, hit the bag for 30 seconds. Do a form, kick the bag for 30 seconds. Do a form, knee and elbow the bag for 30 seconds. Do a form, work combinations on the bag for 30 seconds.

Do five forms that way. I mean hard and fast, with furious bag work in the intervals. Do it at least 3 days a week for two weeks and then see how much your combinations, agility, flex, and stamina have improved.

For people who enjoy it and work it, form isn't a waste of time, it's a highly structured skill and conditioning drill. And it has many uses. You can do a form very slowly and call it a great warm up. You can do it hard a fast and call it the best shadow boxing you've ever done. You can do it super slow with each move synchronized with your breathing and call it tai chi.

However you do it, the rewards are yours for the taking.

Sparring and Pushing Hands Gold Medalist Rob LaPointe has been practicing martial arts since 1973. He holds black belts in Kenpo Karate and Tien Shan Pai Kung Fu.

Being located inside the Washington Beltway has given Rob some unique opportunities. In addition to teaching martial arts and presenting workshops to members of all the Armed Services, including special forces members, as well as CIA, DEA, FBI, Department of State Foreign Service Officers, U.S. Customs Officers, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Exxon-Mobile Corporation, Rob has presented numerous health and fitness demonstrations and workshops to Washington, D.C. area businesses and agencies, including Georgetown University Hospital, Northern Virginia Hospital Center, Alexandria Hospital, Arlington Public Schools, USA Today, and Intelsat.

In 1999 he received an invitation from the American Physical Therapy Association, and was a featured speaker at their Annual Convention, which took place that year in Washington, D.C.

Rob's main websites are and

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Benefits Of Focus Pad Training

In my years as a self-defense instructor, I have tried and tested many training methods to find out the fastest, most effective way to produce the best results in the shortest time possible.

I don't run a self-defense club or ongoing long-term classes. My "specialty" is short-term courses and seminars. I need to share knowledge and teach physical skills in the shortest time possible. And that training has to "stick."

I don't "train" people. I teach them how to train themselves. I encourage my clients to take full responsibility for their own learning process and the results that they produce. There are many excellent resources out there, but that's all they are…

Information is inert until you apply it to accomplish something. Its up to you, study and apply them.

One of the most powerful methods I've found to teach proper punching and striking skills in the fastest, most efficient way is FOCUS PAD training.


Focus pads (also called focus mitts, coaching pads, punch mitts and target pads) are flat, hand-held pads that are about 12 inches in diameter.

They are made of dense foam covered in leather or vinyl. They have been used in boxing, kickboxing and martial arts training for ages.


The pads are held by a coach or training partner at different ranges, positions and levels. The puncher and pad holder work together to build offensive and defensive skills, sharpen reflexes and condition the body.


Focus pads are cheap, portable and easy to find. They are an excellent training investment that allow you to conduct a wide variety of drills for the development of several combative qualities.

If you're still undecided about whether or not focus pad training is right for you, here are some of the benefits.


Focus pad training is a blast. Partner training with focus pads allows you to perform a wide variety of drills and "fighting games."

Because there are so many ways to use focus pads, it's easy to keep your training fun and interesting. And most importantly… if you enjoy doing something, you'll do it more often.


You can pick up a pair of focus pads at a good sporting goods or martial art supply store. A decent pair will set you back about 50 to 70 bucks.

You'll also need a good pair of bag gloves or boxing gloves to protect your knuckles. They'll cost you about the same. $100 bucks for a full-blown training system seems like a pretty decent investment to me!


Unlike equipment such as heavy bags, focus pads are small, light and extremely portable. You can throw them in a sport bag or knapsack and take them pretty much anywhere.

Because they don't have to be installed or mounted, they are excellent where room is limited or its impractical to install more cumbersome equipment.


If I had to teach you how to hit properly, in the shortest time possible, I'd use focus pads. If you already knew how to punch but you wanted to improve and refine you hitting skills, again I'd recommend focus pad work.

Because the pads are relatively small, they develop accuracy.

Because they can be moved quickly into different positions and at different angles, they are one of the best methods available for working punches in combination.

Because they can be moved dynamically and even pulled out of the way, they can be used to develop quick thinking and "non-telegraphic" delivery.


All impact training stresses the body. If you hit too hard or too often you're going to get injured. The problem is that punching power increases faster than the body can adapt and become resilient enough to withstand that impact energy.

There is a period of "adaptation" required before for tendons and ligaments become stronger and more resilient.

It takes about 6 to 10 weeks of more moderate training before all out, full power hitting efforts can be performed safely. That's where focus pads come in.

For starters, there is far less resistance to hitting a focus pad than a 60 to 100 lb heavy bag. That allows you to work on your punching power with less strain on your joints and connective tissues. This allows you to work your way up to more demanding heavy bag training which is undeniably harder on the body.

If you already do heavy bag work, you can do your focus pad work on days in between your heavy bag sessions. That will afford you some "active recovery" and the ability to continue working on your hitting skills while giving your body a time to recover.


If you ever watch a good fighter sparring, you'll notice that he begins to react to being punched at BEFORE the punch is even thrown.

Its almost as if he is reading their opponent's mind and anticipating what is about to happen before it does.

What is actually happening is that by being punched (or kicked) at over and over again, the brain begins to interpret the meaning of certain positions, weight distributions and body signals.

When holding the pads and watching various punches travelling in your direction, you begin to establish "pattern recognition" which will enhance your ability to anticipate and defend yourself from attack.


Many people are terrified with the idea of being hit in a fight. Just as many are uncomfortable with the idea of punching another human being. (I'm not sure why because I kinda like it! ;-)

In fact, because it is an "unknown" people are far more concerned about being hit than they should be. Speaking from the perspective of someone who has been punched, hit and kicked thousands and thousands of time; its not so bad! You do not want to be terrified by the idea of being hit or overwhelmed if it happens.

I refer to your comfort level with the idea of hitting and being hit as "Hit Psychology." People with weak hit psychology are more prone to panic or "freeze up" in a combative situation. They can become overwhelmed by an exaggerated and unnecessary fear of the encounter and perform poorly.

We have a term for that in the self-defense field… Its called, "NOT GOOD!"

Stress inoculation is a process of de-sensitizing someone to the fear of combat by exposing them to controlled amounts of impact in a low stress, non- threatening environment.

In a short period of time, the student finds that situations that formerly terrified her are far more manageable and even enjoyable!


Did you know that conditioning is "exercise specific?" If you are a runner, your body will become fit and accustom to running but not nearly as much for swimming or cycling.

If you work out on an elliptical machine, your body gets more efficient at working out on an elliptical machine. Your body adapts and improves specific to the activity that you are participating in. So what you ask?

I'll tell you what… the best way to condition your body for fighting is by mimicking movements and actions that are like fighting. It's as simple as that.

I have trained with people who would be considered extremely fit athletically but tire very quickly when introduced to combative training drills.

The good news is that there are a wide variety of combative drills that you can do with focus pads that will tone the muscles, build your stamina and endurance and enhance your self-defense performance.

SO… what I'm saying is this. Not only is combative training such as pad work an excellent, whole body form of exercise. The conditioning provides fitness qualities directly relevant to self-defense and fighting.


Many people undertake ongoing martial arts and self-defense training to get into shape… and more specifically to lose weight (excess body fat) and regain a lean and mean physique. Focus pad training is excellent for fat loss. Here's why…

Not that long ago, the belief was that the best way to lose body fat was through LSD (long slow distance) aerobic exercise. In other words, low intensity exercise that was sustained for at least 20 to 30 minutes. The theory was that during exercise your body uses fat as a fuel source at lower intensity and it burns glucose instead of fat at higher intensity levels.

That might be true, but the assumption was that fat loss is based on the amount of calories you burned during your workout. That's not the case. The amount of calories you burn during your exercises session is minimal.

What does matter is the extra calories you burn BETWEEN your workouts.

Fat burning is accomplished more effectively by interval training. Interval training involves periods of moderate to high intensity exertion intersperse with low intensity periods to catch your breath and recover your energy in between.

This type of training will increase your metabolism for hours after your workout and you will burn more overall calories and body fat.

Focus pads are excellent for interval training.


There have been very few evolutionary changes in the human body in millions of years. One thing that has not changed is our survival mechanism. The body is predisposed to "fighting or fleeing" from a threatening situation.

What HAS changed however is the fact that in modern day life, most of the "threats" we perceive are not actual, physical threats and do not merit kicking butt or running off. So what happens is that we activate this "fight or flight response" but do neither.

A host of chemical and physical changes occur that, if left unchecked become toxic and unhealthy. That is why exercise is so healthy and such a great way to manage stress.

I suggest that cardiovascular exercise satisfies the body's need for flight. I believe that impact training such as hitting a pair of focus pads or a heavy bag satisfies the bodies evolutionary need to fight.


Mental Toughness is the ability to be effective, healthy and happy regardless of the challenges and stressors in your life. It involves building your ability to cope with stress by repeatedly exposing yourself to stress and then recovering from it.

The more you do this the tougher you get on a physical, mental and emotional level. Focus pad training can be used to improve your mental toughness in two ways.

Physiologically, The interval training that I've already mentioned builds mental toughness. Doing "round training." (intervals of exertion interspersed with short periods of recovery) teaches your body to expend energy and then recover. This expend, recover, expend, recover process makes you tougher and more emotionally resilient.

Another opportunity that focus pads provide is the ability to design "never give up drills." I've referred to this in my Power Punching Guide as "blitz" training.

Blitz training is an advance training method that involves going "all out" for a predetermined period of time. You push yourself through the pain of lactic acid in your muscles and the discomfort of being winded and push, push push yourself until you reach the end of the drill.

This is not only a terrific conditioner for your body but it is also an excellent mental exercise to teach you on of the most important traits that you can have for self-defense: "NEVER GIVE UP."


Bottom line… if want to develop and refine your punching skills quickly, condition your body with fight-related exercise and design challenging and versatile training sessions then take a serious look at focus pad training.

Randy LaHaie

Randy LaHaie is the president of Protective Strategies and has been teaching reality-based self-defense for over 30 years. He is the author of several "Toughen Up Combative Training Guides" (

Subscribe to his Free Self-Defense Newsletter at

Developing a Heavy Bag Workout

Many people over look the power of simply hitting a punching bag for a highly effective workout. You can purchase an inexpensive punching bag at your local sporting good store. If you've never seen one they are supported by floor stands or more commonly hung from a frame that attaches to your ceiling.

Exercising vigorously causes small injuries to your muscle fibers which is why you generally feel sore the day following a really hard workout. When you exercise with sore muscles then you are greatly increasing your odds of serious injury. You should let your body have a day in between vigorous workouts to allow it time to heal properly, try taking a nice walk or swim.

Cross training requires you to alternate sports on different days to efficiently work out different muscle groups. Cross training is great because it allows your muscles at least two days to recover, greatly decreasing your chances of injury. Spending some time hitting a punching bag with your favorite CD blasting is a perfect way to exercise your upper body then the following day you can change it up with a lower body kick boxing or running exercise.

Hitting a punching bag does a lot more than improve stamina and provide a great cardio workout. It can help improve your overall coordination. If you punch the bag it swings back and comes back toward you. You want to practice hitting the bag at the time it is coming back toward you. You will soon find that if you hit it too early or too late it will not stay in rhythm and you will more than likely miss the bag.

Begin your heavy bag workout by hitting the bag lightly until your arms feel sore and tired. Gradually increase the intensity and time of the workout as you feel stronger, make sure you give yourself a break every other day.

If you find that you are falling asleep on the treadmill or finding it hard to stay on that last twenty minutes that you know will feel like two hours you should defiantly try mixing it up with a heavy bag workout or try some high intensity workout DVDs.

Heavy bag training isn't just for boxers or only men. In addition to the amazing cardio you are doing, your heavy bag training sessions will also improve your self defense skills, perfect for women who are looking for that extra boost of confidence! Heavy bag training also has been known to reduce stress.

Heavy bag workouts are a great alternative to dull cardio fitness routines that aren't motivating anymore. With a workout that you enjoy you will be more likely to workout longer and harder and see results faster than you ever imagined.

Article by Sven Ullmann, who runs Deserved Health - information on health for you and your family. Read more about Heavy Bag Workouts.

3 Ways To Crank Up Your Heavy Bag Training For A Fat Scorching, Lean Body Workout

1. Wear Heavier Gloves. Simply put on a pair of 16 or 18 ounce gloves... Doing this will cause your hands to drop as you fatigue, so you have to work just as hard to keep them up.

Your shoulders will burn like hell, but the improved conditioning and definition of your body will be well worth it. * Note* If the heavier gloves impede good technique....put the lighter gloves back on.

2. Add Intervals Of Fast Punching. This is butt kicking way to up the intensity. Simply add 15-30 second intervals of fast, hard punching to the round. You punch at a moderate tempo for 30 seconds... Then for 15...or if you really want to be hard core... 30 second intervals.. you punch as fast and hard as you can.

Go back to 30 seconds moderate then repeat the interval punching. Try using 2 minute rounds at first. Then as your conditioning improves move up to three minute rounds... Warning though... it's not for the faint of heart. Performing these intervals will make your heart feel like it's going to beat right out your chest.

3. Use Shorter Rest Periods Between Rounds. Try adding 30 second rest periods between rounds of your heavy bag work. You may be thinking this doesn't sound like much but I guarantee you this will kick your butt!

So now that I have given you three options to add to your heavy bag training, get your ass in the gym and put them to use. Try adding one, or depending on your current condition, all three.

Grab a free killer boxing training fat loss special report at Boxing Training Workouts Rob Pilger of is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Level II USA Boxing Coach. He has successfully trained people using the boxing workout for improved fitness levels, and improved performance in their chosen athletic endeavor. Rob is also creator of The Ultimate Boxing Workout DVD. Please visit to begin your quest for an improved physique.

Anderson Silva Beats Dan Henderson

By Ryan Mink
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, March 2, 2008; Page D05

There may not be anyone left for Anderson Silva to fight.

After Silva beat everyone in the middleweight division, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White had to recruit former PRIDE middleweight champion Dan Henderson from the light heavyweight class to fight Silva.

It seemed Henderson would be the one man who could challenge Silva considering Henderson has one of the best wrestling pedigrees in mixed martial arts.

But not even Henderson lasted long.

Once again, Silva's challenger didn't make it past the second round. This time Silva, the ever dangerous striker, showed off his jiu-jitsu, submitting Henderson with a rear naked choke with eight seconds left in the second round yesterday at UFC 82 in Columbus, Ohio.

Silva (21-4) has now successfully defended his UFC middleweight belt for the third time. He hasn't seen the third round since a Dec. 31, 2004, bout against Ryo Chonan, which was his last loss not counting a disqualification against Yushin Okami in 2006.

"Nice job, Anderson," Henderson told Silva after the decision was made. "You're the true champion."

Silva won the middleweight belt from Rich Franklin on Oct. 14, 2006, and defended it against Nate Marquardt and Franklin before being pitted against Henderson (22-7). He now had the unified Pride and UFC middleweight belt.

Henderson likely won the first round after picking up Silva and taking him down to the mat about two minutes into the bout. From there, Henderson, a two-time Olympic wrestler, controlled the rest of the round and landed numerous hammer fists to the side of Silva's head.

Silva started mounting his Muay Thai attack midway through the second round, landing a flurry of kicks and knees that made Henderson fall forward. The dazed Henderson was able to recover but Silva quickly mounted him and started landing blows to Henderson's head and body.

It was only a few seconds after Silva started choking Henderson when Henderson's eyes grew bloodshot and he was forced to tap before passing out.

"My hat's off to Anderson Silva," Henderson said in a television interview. "He was definitely the better fighter tonight. I controlled him and beat him up the first round. He came out and took control in the second."

Like Silva, heavyweight Heath Herring had to use his ground game to beat his opponent. At the start of the first round, Herring sprinted out of his corner and immediately knocked Cheick Kongo on his back. But what was expected to be a slugfest turned into a wrestling match that Herring won via a split decision.

"I thought he was going to stand up with me," the usually heavy-handed Herring said to his corner men as he awaited the judges' decision.

Herring (28-13-1) had lost four of his past seven bouts but rededicated himself after nearly beating Antonio Nogueira in his last bout. Kongo (21-4-1) was coming off an impressive win over one of the best stand-up fighters in the UFC, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic.

In the other bouts, bloodied middleweight Chris Leban (18-4) outslugged Alessio Sakara (16-7-1), winning by technical knockout 3 minutes 16 seconds into the first round. Leban caught Sakara with two big left-hand punches.

Grappling middleweight Yushin Okami (23-4) landed a knee to former middleweight champion Evan Tanner (34-7) with two minutes left in the second round and won via technical knockout.

Welterweight Jon Fitch (21-2-1) extended his UFC winning streak to eight with a unanimous decision victory over Chris Wilson (12-4-1), possibly putting him in contention for a title fight against the winner of Georges St. Pierre and Matt Serra in UFC 83.


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