Learn to Fight – The Clinch for Beginners

One of the best things you can do if you’re just starting out training or if you’re looking for a way to integrate your martial arts with self defense is to learn or improve your clinch. There are some distinct advantages to learning the clinch first, before sparring with strikes or when first learning grappling.

Training the clinch teaches you about balance, space, and pressure. It teaches you to use leverage, timing, and precision. And most important of all, working on the clinch gets you comfortable with working at a very uncomfortable range. If a smaller person can use position and leverage to make himself “heavier” or harder to deal with, that person can use his strikes, weapons, or make decisions during a fight about what to do next while operating confidently in a range that most people ignore. Most fight training consists of either striking or grappling with the idea that you can only devote significant attention to one or the other. Starting with the clinch forces you to learn range and position that allows you to expand outward into effective striking and grappling easier than if you were to start with either one individually. If you’re serious about learning to fight, you’ll have to learn all ranges and the best place to start is in the clinch. A guy with a good clinch can learn to strike fairly easily and a guy with a good clinch can be taught takedowns and groundfighting much easier since the context is already ingrained.

For self defense purposes, fights are won and lost in the clinch. If you are attacked and you successfully defend the ambush, you will be in a clinch situation. Nobody attacks another individual and then runs away after a single successful defense by the person being attacked. A clinch fight should be assumed and prepared for. This is especially important if you carry weapons since attempting to access a weapon at the wrong time could lead to it being used on you. You will also recognize your opponent accessing a weapon earlier and you may be able to prevent your opponent’s access.

In this series of videos, I take you through a progression to get you started with some fundamental Greco-Roman wrestling techniques that should form the basis of your clinch. They can be learned and then used as a warmup for training session, as a starting point for stand-up sparring or for practicing entangled weapons access, or as a base for learning takedowns. Grab a partner and give these a shot.

How to Do Conditioning: It Depends

Strength programs that are set up for individuals who are much further along the strength performance curve are inappropriate for individuals who are starting out. A properly designed program that any advanced lifter is doing will be different from the properly designed program that any other advanced lifter will be doing. Conversely, nearly every novice lifter will be doing the same properly designed program as other novices.

This is because programming and training variables move along a continuum from general, basic, and simple to specific, individual, and complex. Your ability to make strength increases is subject to the law of diminishing returns. When you’re a novice, a simple, basic, and general program works to provide substantial gains. The stronger you get, the more expensive additional gains become and more complexity, individualization, and attention to specificity is required in designing your program.

The thing that everyone forgets is that this concept – the law of diminishing returns coupled with the stress, recovery, adaptation cycle, and the need for complexity, individualization, and specific programming at any given time – applies to conditioning as well. In fact, the concept applies to both factors in the Two Factor Model of Sports Performance – training (the accumulation of physiologic adaptation) and practice (the improvement of skill).

Now, don’t get crazy and start thinking that you should jump right into a conditioning program today. Let’s think about this for a minute.

Remember that strength affects all other physical performance attributes positively. And the weaker you are, the greater the effect. So, if you’re a novice, getting stronger is quite literally the best thing you can do to improve your conditioning. Your hobbies and competitive aspirations will determine your conditioning needs but starting out training for strength and then practicing your hobby or sport provides the necessary conditioning for that activity. So the point is that you should move your strength performance along as a priority because If you don’t, you’re leaving all of the benefits of increased force production on the table, plus the ability to stress the organism that is you to a higher degree when you do your sport. If you are stronger, you can go harder in your sport and in your conditioning training when it’s appropriate.

Consider the following: If you squat 200 lbs, how much weight can you use on the prowler? When you get your squat up to 500, how much weight will you be able to put on the prowler? Would being able to put twice as much weight on the prowler for a 15 minute conditioning session positively affect your “cardio” and to a greater extent than using less weight? Would being able to hit the heavy bag harder, use a heavier kettlebell, RX your WOD, etc., etc., etc. positively affect your “cardio”? Of course, it would. Because you have increased your work capacity – to use a fun buzzword.

As strength increases, things become easier. As you gain more skill in your sport, your movement becomes more efficient and energy expenditure decreases. If you’ve gotten strong and practiced your sport long enough, there will come a time when more complex, more individualized, and more specific conditioning training becomes appropriate because your strength gains have slowed down significantly, your skill is such that just doing your sport is no longer sufficiently stressful, and you’ve adapted to the metabolic demands of your sport. At that point, you will assess your conditioning needs and find the tool and protocol that will give you the most bang for your buck and that does not negatively impact your overall performance.

You’ll follow the same progression that you did way back at the beginning of your strength training using a simple protocol and moving to more complex protocols depending on your individual needs. For example, you may start with a prowler doing a simple 30 seconds on, 90 seconds off program for 5 rounds. You can adjust weight, bout or rest time, number of rounds, or total time as you improve your conditioning. Depending on the demands of your sport and your individual deficiencies, you’ll move into more individualized and specific conditioning programming.

And so, we arrive at the same place we started in terms of advanced versus novice programming. Appropriately designed conditioning programs that are designed for high level athletes will be specific to a given athlete. Appropriately designed conditioning programs for conditioning novices will be the same.

You will do your sport, then eventually do some low impact, high intensity anaerobic work on the prowler, rower, or Echo bike, then eventually modify and specialize based on your needs and how you respond to the basic program.

Ray Williams’ strength training program isn’t appropriate for you and never will be. Neither is Connor McGregor’s conditioning program. The conditioning program that is appropriate for you will depend on your individual situation, your training history, and your experience with high cardiorespiratory demand activity, and the only way to figure out what that looks like is to properly apply the process as follows:

1. Train for strength and practice your sport. Then,
2. When your strength training has slowed significantly, continue training for strength while practicing your sport and start training intelligently for conditioning. Then,
3. Adjust and periodize your strength and conditioning training based on your season or competition schedule.

If you’re weak, you don’t need conditioning regardless of your sport. You need to get strong. This represents the most common situation for most people.

If you’re strong and unskilled, you don’t need conditioning regardless of your sport. You need to practice your sport. This represents the second most common situation and those of you who fall in this category run the risk of wasting training time chasing conditioning when you just need to stay in the gym staying strong and practice more.

If you’re strong and skilled, your conditioning will depend on your specific needs as determined by the application of the process I’ve outlined. The folks in this category are rare, competing seriously, and very likely not you. And most importantly, the conditioning protocols used by an individual in this category do not apply to anyone but the individual doing them.

So let’s be smart. Don’t use conditioning as a way to avoid training for strength. And if you’re doing conditioning because you like doing conditioning, don’t make up a bizarre justification involving cardio, your heart, or your hobby. Instead realize that you’re trading getting stronger and getting better at your sport for penance, getting sweaty, and getting tired.

If conditioning is appropriate for you, make sure that it comports with your level of training advancement and that you don’t just copy/paste someone else’s conditioning program.

Shooting Training Log – Runenation Session 2

I’ve been working with Ian Strimbeck for online pistol coaching off and on for a while now. He’s an excellent coach and remote coaching for shooting works surprisingly well. You can check out Ian, his remote coaching, and in-person classes around the country at http://www.runenationllc.com.

This is my first range session for this cycle. Simple drills, but my presentation from low ready needs some serious work. My focus going into the session was to not lock out my grip so aggressively. I have a tendency to push out too far, lock elbows, and get too tense.

The main takeaways for me from this session are:

  • Maintain target focus rather than searching for the dot.
  • Reset the trigger faster so that my shot strings are more consistent.
  • Come out of the holster a little flatter faster so that I get a cleaner presentation.

Balancing BJJ and Starting Strength

We’ve spent a bunch of time and typed many words talking about why getting stronger is important for grapplers. I won’t rehash the arguments much here, but BJJ is no different than any other sport. Unless your sport is strictly endurance based (and BJJ is not, I promise), then dedicating time throughout the year to getting stronger should always be part of your life. After achieving even a base level of skill and experience, there is nothing you can do during a given period of time that will improve your performance more than getting stronger during that same time period. 

According to the Two Factor Model of Sports Performance, the skill curve goes to the “intermediate” level much quicker than the strength curve does, especially if you’ve never gone through the process of getting strong. Since strength affects all of the relevant performance characteristics positively, even if skill remains the same, strength training has the potential to increase performance faster than more mat time. A stronger you is better able to hold positions, more efficiently move yourself and move others, and get less tired doing it. A less tired you is a more technical you. And a more technical you is a better BJJ player than a less technical you. 

Brazilian JiuJitsu has gotten very popular over the last five years and we’ve got a handful of BJJ folks at every seminar now. One of the more common questions, and the point of this article, is “How do you balance BJJ and strength training?” Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, folks, but the answer is that you don’t. People are always looking for a way to optimize a suboptimal situation and that is the underlying gist of every programming question, and most of the Q&A questions that we get. You want to know how to not do The Program and still do The Program. It’s very simple. If you’re doing BJJ and The Starting Strength Linear Progression at the same time, You are Not Doing The Program. And that may be okay for you. It’s cool with me. Maybe even Rippetoe’s okay with it. 

To clarify, If we were to take the argument to its logical conclusion: you could spend all of your training time getting strong and you would be optimizing your strength. Alternatively, you can spend all of your training time on the mats, doing two-a-days and gaining as much BJJ skill as you can. The fact that you’re doing both at the same time creates a suboptimal situation for both activities and there are always tradeoffs to take into account. These are extremes, though, and not realistic since there are other factors to consider including recovery, work, kids, sleep, and other life stuff. 

So let’s talk about the tradeoffs for a moment. Since we already agree that strength improves your grappling, makes you more resistant to injury, and makes things easier, you already agree that the tradeoff of giving up some time that could have been spent on the mat rolling and instead getting under a bar is worthwhile. But there is no way to run The Program optimally while you’re spending 2,3, or 5 days rolling. You cannot balance the two because they’re not parts of the same equation, they are separate equations that compliment each other. Two Factors, not one. So it’s a matter of priority. Just like in any other sport, there will be times during the year in which you are going to be focused on getting strong as your priority and there will be times during the year in which you will be focused on your skill as your priority. The two things become more and more delineated the longer you’ve been doing them, mostly when you start competing in either a strength sport or in BJJ tournaments. 

So, how about some practical advice that takes my argument into account? If you’re a novice lifter and new at BJJ, do both. You need to be in the weight room 3 days per week and you need to make sure you’re recovering adequately by eating and sleeping enough to support your training and your BJJ practice. You will make programming changes sooner than you would if you were only lifting, but remember that you’ve already decided that this tradeoff is worthwhile. Keep the focus on adding weight to the bar in an appropriate timeframe and recovering while getting better and less spazzy at Jiu Jitsu. 

If you’re an intermediate or advanced lifter getting into BJJ for the first time, modify your training to account for the added stress. Usually less sets and higher intensities are the first changes to make. Lift heavy, for lower volume. Squat twice a week, one heavy, one light, pull heavy once a week, and generally follow your pressing programming without much modification. Starting Jiu Jitsu will make you sore and tired in a different way than lifting, so frequency may be reduced at first. Once you’re no longer sore, get back into training normally. As your skill improves, you will periodize your training, planning backwards from competition, PRs, or whatever else you have going on. 

If you’re an experienced grappler starting strength training for the first time, you will just start doing The Program. You are already adapted to the stresses inherent to grappling, and are able to adjust the “intensity” of your roles on the mat to account for the extra stress you’re exposed to from lifting. As a novice lifter who’s trying to get stronger, doing the program and adequate food and sleep are your priorities. The experienced grappler will notice the most gain on the mat from strength training since he’s already developed the skill and he can appreciate the obvious and inevitable performance improvement in day to day rolling. 

If you’re going to do athletic things, you need to consider the Two Factor Model of Sports Performance. Athletes train for strength and practice their sport and things will always be unbalanced in one direction or the other. Get through the novice phase of your strength training and figure out when you should be prioritizing training and when you should be prioritizing practice. You’ll always do both for the rest of your life, so your job is to figure out what and when you should be training and when you should be practicing and adjust accordingly. 

Choke Defense!

Here’s our approach to dealing with a choke.  The defense is simple and works from any direction.  The key thing to understand, though, is that learning self defense is not about acquiring a collection of techniques. It’s about managing the threat you’re presented with.  The threat isn’t the choke (you can break a choke fairly easily), the threat is the person choking you.  Our focus is on dealing with the fight after defense.  The ATTACK part of “Defend + Attack”.

Defense Krav Maga | 4036 Kemp Blvd | Wichita Falls, TX

Critical Incident First Aid Workshop November 4th, 2017

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We’re excited to be able to offer a one-day training course on first aid after a serious injury when help may be delayed in getting to you.  You’ll learn how to use commercially available first aid supplies and what you need to start your own individual first aid kit.

This is a unique opportunity to take a class taught by an Air Force Special Operations medic.  Don’t miss it.  Click here for more information and to sign up: Critical Incident First Aid Workshop Signup

Space is very limited. Sign up soon!

 

New schedule starting Monday, September 11.

We’re excited to offer a ground fighting class starting Monday at Defense Krav Maga. The class is open to everyone and will teach you basic position, submissions, and grappling strategy. We’ll use elements of wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA, and Krav Maga to put together a simple, but brutally effective ground fighting program.

Contact us using the form below to schedule a trial Krav Maga class!

Defense Krav Maga is open!

Krav Maga has finally arrived in Wichita Falls.  We’re officially in our new location at 4030 Kemp Blvd.  This week, class will run on Wednesday at 5:30 pm and starting next week, the schedule will be as follows:

Krav Maga – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 5:30 pm

Precision Striking – Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30 pm

In Precision Striking class, you’ll work on the art and skill of punch, knee, and kick combinations from boxing and Muay Thai.  This will be a fast paced, 30 minute class where you’ll learn to hit, move, and defend.

Fill out the form below if you have questions or would like to set up a trial class.

Defend + Attack

Wichita Falls Krav Mata

Defending yourself requires that you are able to make an aggressive and violent counterattack.  This is one of the ugly realities of self-defense and this is the truly hard part for nice, normal people living in the real world.  Come train with us and we’ll teach you how to make an ugly face, hit hard, and go home safe.

Krav Maga classes run on Monday and Wednesday at 5:30 PM at Wichita Falls Athletic Club.  Contact us below for more information.  We look forward to seeing you!