Fighting Evolution

by Jinryu

Time: 1:59AM
Batteries: 60% (Not great)
Morale: 🙂

Thankfully, it’s a quiet night at work tonight.

Friday was Numac and I’ve received the unfortunate news that Louis, who owns the gym that we’re renting, isn’t really too keen on renewing his contract with us because it doesn’t really add anything to his school.  I find it kind of silly as a reason and I wonder what the agenda is behind this, because regardless of what it adds or doesn’t add as far as his classes go, it’s extra income for him to rent out to us at at time when his school isn’t open anyhow.  In my head, everybody wins.  So, he’s going to keep us for about another 3 weeks and then we’ll see if he decides to continue supporting us.

And that’s really unfortunate because as far as our training goes, this is probably the best that we’ve ever gotten as far as technical and physical effectiveness pound-for-pound. It’s only in the past few weeks that Terminator and I started really experimenting with an expanded repetoire of mixed martial arts techniques– you can kind of see the progression of our styles throughout the years I suppose, but most of the differences have come in the past 3-4 months when Numac revamped the MAC ideas.

Initially, I was doing ‘basic’ kickboxing at Numac.  This meant a few basics– jab, cross, hook, roundhouses, sidekicks and a few front kicks.  I didn’t really involve myself in clinch-fighting but I did end up getting taken to the ground so I’d learned a fair deal of how to put up some good resistance on the ground.  I’d seldom win groundfights, but at least I could make it pretty difficult for them.

Since then, the toolset has grown with every passing week.

I think it’s important to note that my progression is directly related to the opponents I faced at Numac.  It was a feedback loop between my friends and I that allowed us to really get better overal, because with every new technique or tactic I tried, they came up with a counter, and then I’d need a counter for their counter, and the cycle continues.

There was the formal addition of side control, north-south guard at first, which helped me last longer on the ground.  With that, Terminator started putting more work on position control and energy sapping techniques to make the differences in our strength differences more apparent.

As a result, I started to disfavor getting taken down.  That meant taking more time to avoid especially his single and double leg takedowns.  There were two ways of getting this done as far as I saw– one was to get better at sprawling, and the other was to use raw stopping power of well timed strikes to discourage takedowns. 

Sprawling wasn’t something I really wanted to get into because it meant that I’d probably still go to the ground, and even from a dominant position, Terminator tends to turn things around and turn it into his game.  So, I opted for stopping power to intercept his takedowns.  Since this is friendly stuff, there was no really crazy brutal stuff like knees or elbows to the face.  In fact, before this point, we’d never used knees or elbows before except as check-blocks.  So, the stopping came mostly from push kicks, uppercuts and overhead punches.  The punches never seemed to work all that well, but the kicking did.  He stopped using takedowns so much after he got nailed with two particularly good kicks that slammed him in the liver once and another time on the collarbone. 

He adjusted his techniques in the following week by opening up a lot more with handwork that led to a rush and clinch range.  That allowed him to get his hands on me without requiring him to lean so much during entry (during takedowns, the first things that come to me are essentially his arms and face, so those are also my first targets).  So, he started doing standing grappling– that meant shoulder to shoulder tie ups, wizzers, underhooks, transitioning to underarm slips to suplexes or body slams, or to hip throws and grand reaping wheels.

I once again started eating a lot of turf.  In retaliation to his experiments with standup clinchfighting, I started using counters to high clinch tieups.  This was about the same time that Rod was coming to Numac frequently.  Then there was the Andy Hugg video which inspired me to start doing experiements with the application of axe kicks in sparring– I’d never used them previous to taekwondo training in Korea last year, and even in tkd, I’d never used them in sparring, but watching Hugg knock people out was really damn impressive.  I did some experiments and found that that was one of my solutions– it was easy to do and I found quickly that the damage output was massive, because the heel of my foot isn’t in any way padded.  That prevented a lot of rushes out of intimidation once I landed a few on people.

In retaliation, Terminator started using more footwork to try and get me an angle where I couldn’t use stopping kicks anymore, and plus, he started working a lot on his boxing to keep a very tight guard while being able to distract me with his hands.  With that, that once again allowed him to force his way into clinch range.

So, it seemed that clinchfighting was inevitable.  We took to fighting from the clinch then– that meant digging body shots in with hooks, uppers, and, something new, knees.

We’d never really used knees in a sparring situation before so this was really an interesting time for us.  It took a few weeks for us to get used to how to throw them out, what to try and hit, and just as importantly, how to block them or prevent the opponent’s knees from doing too much fatal damage to you.  All the while, you start getting in the habit of using a ‘thai clinch’ instead of a boxing clinch, because the former favors the angle and leverage necessary to really landing a solid knee to the opponent’s midsection or solar plexus.

When the knees started coming in, that opened up a lot of doors as far as the grappling went as well– for me, it opened up the whole world of grappling counters.

Previously, I’d always been a very direct ABC kind of grappler.  It meant that I wanted to do something, so I attempted to do so.  But with the introduction of knees at close range, that meant that at any time an opponent who went on the offense with a knee would also have a moment of weakness in their balance– using an opponent’s incoming momentum, it was suddenly much easier to attempt throws.

So from clinch range, it was now possible to attempt to counter knees with throws.  This was very different for me, because previously, throws were always against an opponent who, once we began to tie up, was also in a ‘grappling’ mindset.  Now, with the mixed mindset, deception and leaving openeings as bait really came into the equation.

With the introduction of clinchfighting grappling counters (standing) that also gave me the inspiration to use the same balance shifting while on the ground, or while getting taken down.

That meant that sometimes if one of Terminator’s takedowns was inevitable, or if I knew he was attempting to secure a particular position on the ground, I would allow him to go for it but by aiding him along I could throw him off of me and get back to my feet.

As a result, Terminator’s come to rely less on pure positioning and now implements a lot of “ground and pound” to soften up a target prior to attempting position changes or a submission.

I’d attach videos to illustrate but it seems that Xanga’s rejecting them for some reason. Maybe the files are too large…?