Posts Tagged ‘self defense’

It’s around 10:30 am.  The tournament starts at 2:oo pm.  I admit I have some butterflies, that is normal.  At this point, I am trying not to think about all the moves which could cause panic.  I’m trying to relax and be flexible. I ate a big breakfast.  I’m feeling good.  I hope I can maintain a positive attitude.

Upon signing up, I learned that there are 10 self defenses moves taught only in the advanced class which I hadn’t been attending.  There isn’t enough time to learn them.   I got off track on my training ambitions.  I had thought all the moves were taught in the fundamentals classes; however, I do know 80% of the moves which is enough to get me through the first round.  I am trying to look at this as a self evaluation.   If I make it to the second round, great, if I don’t, great.  It is a good experience.

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Gracie Jiu Jitsu doesn’t like direct fist strikes.  A jab is okay, but not really what jiu jitsu is about.   Basically, direct knuckle fist strikes, are something you only see in boxing and cowboy movies.  In reality, a fist strike is an easy way to break your own hand.   Bare knuckle boxing has a  lot of hand injuries that is a reason boxers wear gloves.

A better alternative to the front knuckle fist strike is the slap.  This week we relearned the violent hand strike to the ear.   If the hand slap to the ear is done correctly, it will rupture the ear drum.   The attacker would require surgery and be unable to walk very well because the sense of balance is part of the inner ear.  I wouldn’t want to carry around the guilty of causing such an injury to someone like that.  I didn’t like learning this and would avoid it all together in a conflict. It is too severe, causing someone a life long disability.

There are tough people all over the world.  I especially like the Maori people of New Zealand for their toughness.  I believe they are descendants of the Polynesians.  In Star Wars, Polynesians are the elite human fighters of the future.  In the movie, Once Were Warriors, there is a bar fight scene which is fresh in my mind.  Jake, an ex street fighter, knocks out a muscle bound ex convict in seconds.  For Jake’s attack to work, the attack is dependent upon speed and power with an element of surprise.  See link. When I first saw this at the movies, I found the fight scene shocking, the violence of it. I want everyone to be aware of this kind of attack.

Once Were Warriors – Jake The Mus


I like Jake’s comment at the end, ” Too much weights and not enough speed work.”  Once jake connected, he had already won the fight.   I didn’t see any bouncers in the bar.  Seems what happens in the bar, stays in the bar.  I wonder if that is how it really is or part of the script.

I like the following video where the New Zealand Rugby team ties their warrior past with the present in a pre fight battle ritual called Haka. Note, rugby is much tougher than American football, which is my opinion.

All Black’s Haka, Battle Ritual


I think this is intimidating.    The adrenaline is free flowing after watching this video. Super cool pre battle ritual.

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Everytime I get ready to open the door to Valente Brother’s studio, I think of a comment Professor Pedro made , ” Would you rather vacation for two weeks in Fuji or come to Jiu Jitsu for two weeks of your vacation?   Professor Pedro’s answer, ” I would rather spend two-weeks studying Jiu Jitsu.  a beach is boring.”   I feel the same way.

There is no guarantee of victory even with all of our Gracie  jiu jitsu training.    I admit that I used to go around thinking I was invincible and overly assertive, not at all a smart way to be.  There are a lot of tough people walking about  that can fight.  I have a wild side, so  I am not someone who tests half way. I would challenge the worst that I could find to test my knowledge.  Bikers..boxers.. I now realise that a fight could result in serious injury to myself even if I won.   What was I thinking???  I have come to my senses.  I happily don’t seek trouble.  If trouble unfortunately finds me,  then I will deal with it.  I bet a lot of white belts think they are invincible when they are absolutely not.   By studying Gracie Jiu Jitsu, it has brought me a lot of peace for which I am very grateful.

A strong man could dead lift a smaller opponent  from the guard position and body slam them.  I have been dead lift from the guard position.  It is possible.   Don’t think a triangle move is a safety net.  Every move has a counter move.  How alert to the counter is up to you?  Note, I find the following video disturbing.  I don’t like watching this video.  Note, this move has been banned in the MMA but is perfectly legal in a street fight.

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs Ricardo Arona insane knockout

What is the point of practicing without a finishing move???   I do this for myself but I think the new white belt also appreciate it.  Whenever I review, I try to do a side mount to the full with a finishing move.  I am trying to simulate a real life fight.  Same with a throw, I do the take down, or throw,  then I do a finishing move.  I am trying to set up my opponent for the finishing move, always.  A finishing move is the last technique to end the fight.

To master any technique, you have practice it 10,000 times.

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It’s review time, Wednesday. I’m working on closing the distance, getting safely from a boxing match to clinching my opponent, except I’m the attacker, a boxer.  I slowly circled the opponent with my fists up.    After a few warm ups,  I warned my practice partner that I was really attempting a strike.  He said, ” Do it.”  I saw his chin up.  With my right arm and fist, I lunged forward while throwing the punch at his chin.  I completely missed him.  In a second, I felt my opponent crash into me.   Next, I’m falling to the mat.  We drilled closing the distance, me, as the attacker, ten more times.  All the same result. I asked my opponent, ” How do you know I’m getting ready to throw the punch?”  He responded, ” First, empty your mind.  Then, look at everything, don’t focus on one area.”   He then showed me that I was slightly moving my right shoulder just before I threw the punch.

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˝In the East it is said, when the student is ready, the teacher will present himself.” 1950s documentary video about the Japanese judo master Masahiko Kimora. Before I found Valente, I had two odd experiences with two judo clubs.

I wanted to return to my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, so I choose a college there and moved back after graduating high school. I had the hope of returning to my old dojo under Norm Miller. Unfortuntely, it had moved locations or was out of business. So, in the Fall of 1989, I found a club two blocks from the university from the yellow pages. It was only twenty dollars a month and at the Ymca on the 15th floor. I arrived on time and met a heavy weight
black belt by the name of Ken. He was obsessed with trying out for the Olympic team. I told him I was a student of Norm Miller. I clearly asked if he knew of him or his where abouts. He completely ignored my question. Ken’s behavior was strange. A few minutes later, the rest of the group arrived, five guys and Ken. They changed in another room when they came out, all of them were wearing black belts. I thought to myself this can’t be real. I asked where are the other students, Ken, looked at me and said your it, your the only student. Ken showed a throw and then said lets practice. They lined up then one of the black belt said white belts get to throw once while black get 10. Ken didn’t throw me, but all the others did. I hadn’t practiced a fall slap in many years and I was just thrown 50 times. I injuried myself when my knees hit each other as I hit the mat. It was one of those injuries you don’t realize right away. It was not fun. From there, we went into randori. One black belt was eager to go at me. Even though I didn’t do judo in a while, I had wrestled in a tough conference in high school so I was prepared for the ground attack. He didn’t throw me so well. We went to the floor. I escaped. He threw me. Some how he hit me with a loose elbow to my nose. Blood started slowly dripping. We stopped. The black belt ran to the bathroom for tissue. I plugged my nose and we started sparring again. I was very disappointed by that club. My knee was throbbing. I decided that it was to risky to purse my judo training with that group. I focused on my studies and gave up martial arts until 1998.

In 1998, I went through a bad divorce, no kids, and had a smoking habit. I needed to get my face out of my hands and get moving. I knew if I played a sport, it would motivate me to quit smoking. I found a judo course at Miami Dade Community College Northh Campus. It was a reasonable cost. I didn’t think that I would compete again, but maybe I could become a judo referee. Jack, a mid sixty year old, sensei, was some sort of judo guru that was training the police there. The North Campus has a law enforcement school. Part of the class was in a classroom. He would write the Japanses words for the throws. He had some good floor drills. Face of a clock warmup, pinning moves. One day he explained what happens medically to an elbow that is broken from an arm look, and what happens when a person is killed from a choke hold. I thought it to be gruesome. I guess police should know.

Jack had some remembeable sayings. His catch phase, ” You want to be a bad ass like me, you have to do what I say?” He drove a fast corevette convertible and wore reflective sun glasses. Another one, ” When you grab someone, its like taking out the garbage.” I didn’t like that one either. What that does is dehumanize your opponent. He was someone that I would consider dangerous, even at his age.

Things were going well until he realized I was training to kick someone’s ass. He did not like that. He was correct. It is a violation of the judo code. So, that’s when he made it so unbareable, anyone would leave on their own. He beat me up for six weeks. The day before I threw in the white towel, he put me in the mata leon. As he choked me, i paniked. Take it easy, he whispered in my ear. I think he debated in his mind about knoçking me out to test my dedication like they would do to you at the Kodokan. He said something like that. Miami Dade Community College ain’t kodakan. Kodakan is the best judo school in the world, located in Tokyo, Japan. The Japanese did not like foreign students. As a test, they would test a foreigners worthiness by knocking the prospective student out with a chokehold. To purposefully use a choke hold to cause a non struggling person to unconsciousness ,without sparring, is like a simulation of an execution without dying. Then, they would do it the next day. If you kept coming back, you would past their test and they would teach you. I didn’t like the idea. I decided Jack was insane. I wasn’t coming back. I gave up my grudge too. Instead of judo, I played lacrosse, mid field, with the Miami Makos, for the next five years and I completely quit smoking.

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Mata Leon. In Portuguese and Spanish, it means lion kill.  This is a very powerful choke.   I don’t know the japanese word for it.   The Mata Leon is when you get your arm in a vice grip around the throat and squeeze until unconsciousness.  The other arm blocks the opponent from escaping.   How romantic.   During this weeks fundamental class while relearning this move, Lesson 6, I had a flashback.   When I was a kid, Norm Miller,  http://www.judoinc.com/main/ji/Judo7.htm, invited another Judo club to our dojo for an in-house tournament.   This was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1978.   In the tournament, I defeated my opponent with the mata leon.   I wasn’t able to win with a throw.   The referee stopped the match.  The other kid was holding his throat and crying.  I felt bad about the crying.  They gave me a trophy.

A week later, at school, St. Mary’s, Elm Grove, Wisconsin, I had told someone about my judo win.  On the playground, my friends were asking me to try the mata leon out on them.  “Please..please..try it out on me,” they asked me.  I totally didn’t want to do it.   After a lot of nagging by this kid named, Danny Lipscome,  I gave in.  I put the choke on him.   He turned red, started choking, tears came running down his face.  I let him go.  He ran off as soon as I let him go.     A few minutes later, two nuns marched from across the parking lot and stopped right in front of me.  They were not pleased.  ” To the Office. Right Now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  one screamed at me.   They wanted to expel me.   My mother was a teacher at St. Mary’s.  I told them I would NEVER do that again.   I was let off with a very stern warning.


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This week, I partnered up with an enormous guy.   When I was in high school, I didn’t have the experience of wrestling with a heavy weight, so this was virgin territory.   I estimated him to be at least 6-3. and possibly 260 lbs or more.  I’m 6-0 ft and 168 lbs.   I could barely put my feet together around his waist when I had him in the guard position.   All he had to do was move around which would cause my legs to immediately open.   That class we practiced the amass pan and the amass pan defense.  The Amass Pan is a kimono choke where the  pinky knuckle and knuckle next to it are pressed deeply into the side of the neck next to adams apple, which painfully cuts off blood flow to the brain. When I was defending against the amass pan, that is when you grab the top of the knuckles and pull back on the opponents choke hand, he put his full body weight on his arm.  It was a lot of weight, a lot of pressure.  If I didn’t bridge and pull back with a lot of effort, he would have choked me out just from his body weight.  It was an enlightening experience to say the least.

From an earlier post you know that I was knife attacked when I was an exchange student in Madrid, Spain.  I escaped with no harm.   Professor Pedro is considering including some weapons defense techniques in the fundamental classes since people are attacked with more than just fists.  It could be a knife, bat, stick, gun, etc.  Today was special, we studied a knife attack defense.  Normally, weapons self-defense is a separate class that you pay extra for. So, if someone tries a stab attack to the heart, my arm should raise to defend automatically.     As a blue belt, we are focused on learning reflex action. For the record, I don’t recommend anyone taking on an opponent with a knife or a gun just because you took a self-defense class,  but if you don’t have a choice,  you should know how to defend  yourself.  This reflex defense could save your life.

On Friday, Valente Brothers Headquarters had a seminar taught by Professor Ryron Gracie, truly a great teacher and the grandson of Master Helio.  Also, I want to give the BBJ view on the Trayvon Martin case.  I will write two separate post on each.


 — “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”       Buddha  500 b.c.


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This week I had a great class under the instruction of Joaquin, the youngest of the Valente Brothers.  The class was a realistic fight sequence leading into the pedalada, a foot strike from the guard position.  The sequences were clearly explained and easy to follow.  Also, there were a lot of new white belts that recently joined.

How many years of study does it take to become a black belt?   From what I have learned, it will take up to nine years of regular practice.   In today’s world, businesses come and go in that time frame.   I think that the Valente Brother’s Studio, dojo,  will be here nine years from now since there are at least four capable people to do it.  I definitely believe it will be around in 2021; hopefully, so will I.

Since I have started training, I have become more peaceful.  In an interview on Youtube.com, Grand Master Helio mentioned that this would occur with the study of Jiu Jitsu.


He who formerly was reckless and afterwards become SOBER, brightens up this world, like the moon when freed from clouds.”

Buddha, Bhammapada, 2500 years ago.

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Valente Brothers had a weapons self-defense seminar last week. I couldn’t attend; however, it did bring up a bad memory.  At the start of the first Gulf War, I was living as an exchange student in Madrid, Spain.  Every Friday at the University, after the last class, the communist party along with the socialists, would have a parade in protest against capitalism and the US.   It really got heated up when we declared war on Iraq in 1991.  Very very anti American.  One weekend, my friend and I were attacked by a Moroccan guy with a knife in an old part of Madrid, Spain. My friend and I were American exchange students going to the bars. That night, it was the wrong time, wrong place. A guy approached us, I didn’t understand him. We began yelling at each other.  I heard a click, then I saw a six-inch knife blade.  I saw the knife blade coming towards my face in a slashing motion. I pulled my head back. It barely missed me.  I knew this guy didn’t speak English so I told my friend to run in the opposite direction when I tried to draw him towards me.  It worked.

As the knife attacker and I circled each other, my mind was racing.  What should i do? I was thinking about all the possible outcomes. I came to a quick conclusion, there was no up side.  The best decision was to run away.  Could I out run this guy? I took off.  He followed not far behind.  A block later, the attacker was still close. I thought to myself, ” Great, I’m going to be knifed in the back.  Then I heard shouting from the attacker.  The guy had stopped running after me. His hands were on his knees. He was out of breath.  I kept running. I watched him from across the street while I was hidden in the shadow of a building.    It looked to me that this guy was either ill or out of shape. Once everything was clear, I went to bar.  There was my friend.  He was all shaken up and so was I.  We ordered a drink then called it a night.  We didn’t go to the police because nobody was injured, we couldn’t speak the language very well, and we didn’t want other problems.

This week we learned a self-defence attack that may render the aggressor permanently disabled.  I had some ethical questions about learning this.  It is a strike to the ear. When done properly, the ear slap would cause a rupture to the eardrum. Your ear is where balance is stored. I believe it would be very difficult surgery to fix. If the eardrum is ruptured, it would be difficult for that person to maintain balance.

When should you even consider using the ear slap attack?  First, I would quickly analyze the pre fight situation.  Do I feel confident to take the aggressor without this move? Are their multiple opponents?  Second, escalation of violence. Does the aggressor have a weapon? A knife? A gun?  If the aggressor flashes a hidden weapon or I believe he has one then this attack would be certainly justified. If you choice to fight someone with a weapon, you need to take them out.  I maybe able to handle a knife. I may not be able to handle a gun.  Third, if the attacker has a knife, could I avoid the attacker all together by an escape? Could I escape an attacker with a gun?

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Great jiu jitsu movie, RED BELT.  I highly recommend it.  See the trailer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LlkIRIQeuc&ob=av3e   The conclusion, you could interpret in different ways.   For me, the message is that there are things more important than money.  Learning and teaching Jiu Jitsu is important that it is done in a traditional way even if it causes a personal sacrifice.  RED BELTs are preservers of the tradition. Hopefully, seven generations from now, if you went to a jiu jitsu school, it should be similar to what we learn today.

This week, I watched The Valente Brother’s,  Pedro Jr. and Joaquin, on Desperita America!  See  link is http://www.graciemiami.com/media_center/featured_news/valente_brothers_on_telemundo_and_univison_.  Professor Pedro Jr. and Joaquin were great. I was proud of the professors and for our school.  The thing that I found most impressive was our female student.  Her technique and execution was truly amazing.  Size and strength can be over come.  Note, men and women classes are separate.

This week we had the pre fight fundamental lesson, my favorite lesson.  As black belt Phillipe said, ” There are a lot of ding dongs out there.”  You have gotta be ready.  I like this lesson because it has a throw in it,  and more importantly,  it’s the events that lead up to a fight.  If you handle yourself well, it can result in a non fight.  Most of the time, a few choice words and standing your ground, can make people wake up to the fact that a physical assault isn’t the way to go; especially, if it is over something minor like a parking spot, a non life threatening issue.  A good way to be is to try to treat every person that approaches aggressively as a capable fighter so that you don’t get surprised attacked.

Since my first lesson, I had two incidents, a huge over weight guy in a park that thought he was going to give me a beat down and a super fit guy that was tail gating me.  I was confident I would have prevailed in both but as a friend of mine told me, Kevin, a blue belt,  ” There was not going to be any real winners. no prize. no trophy.  You could have been injured.  Someone could have died.  You could die.  If you can’t prove your side, maybe jail time for you.”

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