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Robb Wolf
11-11-2006, 07:08 AM
This is a talk Matt Thornton of Straight Blast Gym gave while in Iceland. Not action packed but I think it important for anyone interested in Martial Arts and or Coaching.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8307376475130093551&pr=goog-sl

Greg Everett
11-12-2006, 10:19 AM
that is a great video.

Brad Hirakawa
11-13-2006, 02:53 PM
Excellent.
Brad

Yael Grauer
11-15-2006, 04:10 PM
So is he talking about all drills being dead, or just the way they are drilled? What about learning drills with progressive resistance so you'll be able to have more tools in your toolbox for when you take away the drills and just flat-out spar?

I'm hoping it's the latter, because I really do think training drills like hubud or largo or whatever, deflections, even energy drills (my apologies for namedropping FMA and JKD terms) can be extremely helpful if you practice them and practice them and then drill them force-on-force against skilled fully resisting opponents at real speeds. They teach timing, sectoring, mechanics, recovery, footwork, etc. Maybe not necessary, but I have a friend who's a boxer (a very good one) and he said that he can certainly manage to pull off a lot of moves (foot sweeps, arm wrenches from the clinch, and other unconventional things) that are a DIRECT result of energy drills he's done. They definitely give him options others may not have, opening them up in ways they don't know how to defend. I think it's good for options

Obviously some drills suck and are developed for the attack instead of the other way around, but I think this can be true in ANY art... and that it's hard to tell what you'll end up using once you step out of the box and freeflow, or spar, or whatever you call it.

I thought it was interesting that he said weapons are what people should be using for self-defense. I'm a huge fan of weapons, but they're kind of hard to use when you slip or are tackled or somehow find them out of reach (which happens all the time even to the best fighters when their real-life situation doesn't fit into their neat little plan). There's the whole thing about ACCESSING your weapon. And I think if one's goal is self-defense they really do need a core of basics from a variety of arts so that they will be able to "pass" in ALL ranges, and of course an emphasis on PREVENTION.

And the dude in that video who said that being able to fight will give you more confidence, which will deter your attacker in the first place--that sounds right on to me. They showed pictures of women to guys behind bars and asked them who they would attack and the common denominator was posture. There was another study done using inmates convicted of violent crimes and they all individually picked out the same "victims" in a video--they all picked the white bread, people not paying attention, people with submissive body language, etc.

So if somebody told me they trained for self-defense, I wouldn't tell them the weapon is the ultimate solution, I would tell them to frickin' work on pre-fight strategies. Awareness, avoidance, de-escalation, escape, what crimes are common in the area, what the assailants usually look like, etc. Next to nobody ever drills this, incorporates thinking under pressure in their drills, but they should. Next I would say to develop some level of comfort in all ranges, which unfortunately usually means training in different arts and trying to integrate it on your own. And then combatives on top of that, of course.

Greg Everett
11-15-2006, 07:10 PM
sgbi's aproach is the 3Is: introduce, isolate, integrate. so during the intro and isolate phases of learning, there IS a lot of repetitive drilling--that's not what he was saying is the problem. he's talking about MA forms that have devolved from legit fighting to Ernie Reyes West Coast Tae Kwan Do, in which the elements of reality and variation are removed and skills are learned and practiced essentially in a vacuum--in other words, they never progress from intro and isolate to integrate--never roll or play or really have to employ their skills in realistic situations in which they're unaware of what their opponent is going to do, when, how, how hard, etc.

Yael Grauer
11-17-2006, 09:08 AM
Fair enough, and I learned the hard way after years and years of karate that not only did I not know how to fight, but I didn't know how to punch or kick either, and I'm still unlearning that damn stance. My favorite way of testing newfound skills from a seminar or whatnot is to take it to a completely different place. Last time I did a WSD course (it was actually a good one and we did drill and then practice against progressive resistance, esp. me because I told all the guys to go really really hard so I could make sure I got it :rolleyes: and wondered the next morning whether that was really necessary) I learned four techniques that I thought were questionable and took 'em to some guys I train with, without telling them what the technique was. Two of the four worked, one required some modification for my body type, and one will never ever work.

BUT if the whole point of training is for fun, or "an intense form of yoga" or whatever you want to call it, why does it matter whether it's realistic or not?
What if someone gets more pleasure from practicing skills in a vaccuum at Ernie Reyes West Coast Tae Kwon Do than, say, MMA? Training might be more fun than dead forms once you actually get down to sparring, but there's probably more drama, ego, politics, bullshit, game playing, etc. than just about any other activity I can think of. If I wasn't getting tangible self-defense skills out of it, I would have quit a long time ago and switched to, like, qi gong or something as it took me close to four years to find a tolerable "realistic" training situation.

Also I'm not so sure that all people go as hard as they can in all MMA classes, or at least, that hasn't been my experience. What about people who freeze up or won't use much force at all, or people who have little technique and use a ton of force to prove themselves--e.g. their training partner already tapped out so why not quit cranking when they don't have the choke on right anyway--I bet everyone has seen this or something like it...

Ryan Atkins
11-17-2006, 01:08 PM
Fair enough, and I learned the hard way after years and years of karate that not only did I not know how to fight, but I didn't know how to punch or kick either, and I'm still unlearning that damn stance. My favorite way of testing newfound skills from a seminar or whatnot is to take it to a completely different place. Last time I did a WSD course (it was actually a good one and we did drill and then practice against progressive resistance, esp. me because I told all the guys to go really really hard so I could make sure I got it :rolleyes: and wondered the next morning whether that was really necessary) I learned four techniques that I thought were questionable and took 'em to some guys I train with, without telling them what the technique was. Two of the four worked, one required some modification for my body type, and one will never ever work.

BUT if the whole point of training is for fun, or "an intense form of yoga" or whatever you want to call it, why does it matter whether it's realistic or not?
What if someone gets more pleasure from practicing skills in a vaccuum at Ernie Reyes West Coast Tae Kwon Do than, say, MMA? Training might be more fun than dead forms once you actually get down to sparring, but there's probably more drama, ego, politics, bullshit, game playing, etc. than just about any other activity I can think of.

Here's some possible explanations: http://www.crossfitracine.com/THE_DISTINGUISHED_SPORT.pdf
Check out the second page (Psycho-Social Differences)


Thanks for posting the video, Robb - awesome stuff!!

Yael Grauer
11-18-2006, 01:41 PM
Okay. I'm not dissing SBGi, the articles on that site totally blow me away.

If good, talented fighters who have a lot of heart want to hone their instinctual, natural, genetic urge to "tussle" because it's "fun" and a "more intense form of yoga," rather than learning to be protectors, I guess that's their decision! Hopefully one they've thought out.

Should they change their minds and decide that they want to use their hard-earned ability (to fight with skill under stress and against resistance) to protect themselves and others instead of just for fun yoga, at least they are training in a way that could be transferable to real-life situations if they do a bit of scenario training and learn what modifications to make.

"Of every hundred men, ten shouldn't even be there. Eighty are nothing but targets. Nine are the real fighters. We are lucky to have them, they make the battle. Ah, but the One! One of them is a Warrior...and he will bring the others back." -Hericletus

Derek Simonds
11-24-2006, 04:41 AM
I find it interesting when you come on the same information in different ways.

When Robb posted the video I sent it to a friend of mine who is a 2nd degree black in Uechi Ryu Karate (SP) and we discussed what Matt was talking about. I have started to train in BJJ and have been reading posts from Aesopian on the MMA forum and he started his own blog. Interestingly enough there are a couple of articles on the front page from Matt.

http://www.aesopian.com/69/why-aliveness-by-matt-thornton/

I really found Matt's opinions to be refreshing and when I add in the website that Yael posted with all of the MA quotes. It sums up my experience with Aikido and Karate.

Thanks for the great post and information.

Yael Grauer
11-24-2006, 09:15 AM
I don't think I posted that link on this forum, so here it is:

http://www.webguys.com/pdavis/karate/doublespeak.html

Yael Grauer
11-24-2006, 09:14 PM
The part that has me stumped is that I know a small handful of people who have really proven themselves as fighters both in the ring and on the street, who either still practice "dead drills" (hubud, JKD energy drills, etc.) or will teach them, and even many who don't teach or play said drills often give them all the credit for helping develop their skill and making them better as fighters. So I would hate to throw something out that people who do train alive have found helpful.

Speaking for myself (as a relatively inexperienced hobbyist), I don't know for sure about hubud or lop sao, pak sao, etc. or even the teeny bit of Silat I know, I haven't found the practical application yet, but I am totally completely 100% sold on box pattern sumbrada...

I've been looking for old Matt Thornton posts on different martial arts boards to see him go at it with JKD guys and get a better sense of everyone's position... I definitely agree that training a certain way because "it's always been done" is a poor reason, I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I'd be interested in knowing what the SBGi weapons curriculum is, if anyone knows. Is it a lot like Burt Richardson's?

Robb Wolf
11-25-2006, 12:15 PM
Yael-

You asked a question about what’s wrong with training patterns like hubud and things like that. My take on this from listening to folks like Matt and John Frankl is when we see patterns and over emphasis on pre-scripted interactions the POTENTIAL for self (and other) deception is very high. When performance is not used as the definitive standard the Road to Cult-dom is laid.

You asked another question about is there ANY efficacy in these patterns and of course the answer is yes...but how much? Matt makes an analogy here using two people playing chess. Patterns like hubud are like people "rehearsing" the same say 6-10 moves and counter moves in chess. Again and again and again. Contrast that scenario with one in which you teach someone what the chess pieces do, give them some controlled scenarios in which to establish some familiarity...but then PLAY for real. This is not and need not bee a brutal process but it is real and honest and you know Exactly where you stand and there are no illusions, unless someone is being dishonest.

Similarly if someone walks into a boxing, thai boxing or similar gym and takes a first lesson that person will learn stances, basic movement...perhaps some pad work, but from day one a good boxing coach will make the person move, provide some "attacks" that must be dealt with (cover to avoid a punch) and the foundations are laid. From here training progresses to partner work with isolated elements that (hopefully) are incorporated into the individuals game.

I think it is particularly interesting that we do not see anything like kata or hubud in wrestling, boxing muay thai. Bag work and shadow boxing are encouraged to be spontaneous and alive above all else.

I think this is just one level of this openness and honesty that is necessary for these activities to be healthy and promote some self growth. Another element to this is freedom to train with other people and have an open door policy, allowing people to come in and see what the gym is like.

Yael Grauer
11-25-2006, 10:13 PM
I asked my coach about this, and he said that he teaches some drills as a foundation (mostly to teach angle recognition and engrained responses) and then, after his students learn it, they can test it out in an alive format to see whether it works for them or not. Some can pull off the techniques, and some can't. Then they can keep or discard the technique based on whether it actually works, or even tweak it to make it work, without having to refer back to him. Teach a man to fish, and all that.

I don't think cultlike behavior is limited to, say, TKD. I've seen a lot of the same attitudes in boxing gyms, too. It's everywhere. There's a BJJ gym I know of that doesn't allow students to train elsewhere, and a local boxing gym where nobody ever spars (and I do mean ever). I know a Thai boxing instructor that doesn't allow his students to teach, even if they aren't teaching Muay Thai. I've also seen extremely healthy dojos (taijutsu, aiki, etc.) with people whose self-growth is evident, and I think they only spar during belt tests.

Jeremy Jones
12-07-2006, 03:26 PM
I have been meaning to comment on this thread for a while, but didn’t have time to watch the videos (this one and the ones posted on Yael’s other thread). This is going to be long winded so go to the restroom now . . .


I have not done all the research that Yael has, to truly understand the argument that Matt is putting forward. I have read stuff over the years, but these videos are really the most exposure to this ‘concept’ that I have had (although I greatly enjoy SBG’s video with Rodney King).

I feel that he is wrong. He has taken the pendulum too far to the other side. “Dead” drills are how you teach the body to act reflexively, without thought, regardless of surroundings.

I have been brought up in what many people might call a “Traditional” Martial art (Kenpo Jujitsu aka Tracy’s Kenpo – to clarify NOT American Kenpo). We train directly under Al Tracy on a regular basis, as well as teach the way that he tells us to, i.e. Private Lessons. There is a lot of repetition, a lot of what Matt would call “Dead” training. There is also a good portion of Alive training and practice. But we do have forms/katas. We do have repetitive drills.

My problem is that he presents the fact that all Dead training is useless. People can’t learn quickly and efficiently to act under duress without repetition. The more I read about the subconscious reactions under stress (‘The Gift of Fear’, ‘On Killing’, ‘Blink’, ‘On Combat’, etc.) the more convinced I am that the training I am doing falls into line with these findings.

The chess example is extremely flawed in that it is talking about a mental game. It is talking about a competition of thinking, planning and foresight. Once the physical confrontation has begun, a life and death fight has nothing to do with these skills. When changing magazines on the battlefield or clearing a jam, we can’t have people figuring this stuff out as it happens. There must be repetition. We can’t have our law enforcement playing with simunitions for a hundred hours and expect them to perform flawlessly when they have to really draw down on someone. We can’t expect pilots to spend some time in the simulator doing random problems without practicing the procedures required to adequately solve those problems. In all these cases (and many more), the best results happen without thought. “. . . you will sink to your training.” Right?

Now if the game of chess required you to move the pieces as quickly as possible otherwise you would get hit or shot. If the game of chess forced you to recognize an attack, neutralize it, and destroy the attacker in fractions of a second, while experiencing tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, and loss of fine motor skills. . . then you would definitely be going through 1000s of repetitions of those patterns.

Another good example is CrossFit. What is Fran? Diane? Helen? They are workouts right?

They are forms. Aka Kata. They are a pattern of movements completed for exercise or to practice a movement. They usually consist of basics done in a predefined order and direction.

The Snatch, the Clean and Jerk. . . are techniques, combos, sets, basics, use what name you like, they are a movement that must be performed thousands of times to begin to be understood. Not only completed at max weight in complete movements. They must be practiced with no weight, little weight, moderate weight, with chains, with bands, one piece at a time, connected movements at a time, etc etc.

Unlike Fran and the Snatch, a real fight can’t be tested regularly (for most people). That means that there is no quantitative measuring stick that is consistent. There is no way to measure time or weight. The only thing to do in a controlled environment is go against another opponent on the mat, which is far from consistent. Sometimes you can eliminate variables (specific attacks, directions, weapons, etc). Sometimes you want to include as many variables as possible (multiple attackers, situation play, obstacles, etc). The bottom line is that testing for life and death struggles without risking bodily harm is difficult, if not impossible.

So, if you were told you were going to have to a workout some day in the future. This workout could happen at any time, any place, and include any number of stations (or even just one rep). And all you knew is that you would probably use some of the movements that you have been practicing, and possibly something you have never seen before. What would you do?

This is the epitome of the CrossFit “Hopper.” Does that mean that you never practice form for pull-ups? Does that mean that you only do max singles for the Clean and Jerk? No, it means that you do snatch balances; learn kipping pull-ups, do front squats with bands, the practice Burgner warm up, etc.


All that being said, Dead training must not be the only training method. But ONLY Alive training is not the answer either. There must be a continuum (what Greg mentioned I guess, but not what was presented in the videos). All methods must be used (Dead, Alive, Without an opponent, With an opponent, hitting pads, etc). I also shouldn’t have to say that improper training will give improper results. Perfect practice makes . . .you get the worm or something like that.

Now some of this changes in relation to sport fighting (which is the kind of perspective he might be coming from).

A fight in the ring is similar to chess with the exception that you have to be able to perform each movement precisely in order to get the most out of it. If you perform the movement incorrectly your chances of failing, injuring yourself, or getting beat down go up drastically. The movements need repetition to be understood, repetition to keep them sharp, and “Live” repetition to make the application complete. Sometimes will still take 1000s of good repetitions to make movement really smooth. To make it flow without thought.

I fully agree that Aliveness needs to be part of every fighting art where the outcome could eventually be a physical confrontation. I also think that too much Aliveness is a fast way to develop bad habits, and a hard way to re-invent the wheel.

Yael Grauer
12-07-2006, 04:26 PM
There's an old thread about this on another forum I hang out on where Thornton discusses the difference between reaction drills (which create reflexive actions) and conditioning drills. He posited that you would want your reaction drills to look and feel like they would when you are playing against a resisting opponent. Perfecting them in real time against resistance would more likely transfer over to a real fight as opposed to perfecting them in the air (though you would do both.)

Pull-ups, c+j, front squats, etc. are conditioning drills. I suppose hitting a heavybag would also be a conditioning drill, but when you're playing against a training partner and they are hitting back (even just tapping back, so you'll learn to slip or parry or whatnot) would help more with reflecive actions.

I don't think he was saying not to do repetitive drills, just that you can do them in a creative/alive way (even shadowboxing) or a repetitive way (like hubud--and if my coach is reading this, I am really sorry we disagree on this one!) (Having said all this I fully intend to continue doing dead stick drills because they are fun.) :)

Any this whole thing seems to fit well into CF methodology in that you are not isolating specific techniques/variables...okay, maybe that's a stretch, but it came to mind.

I totally agree with you on repetition btw!! And this has been proven and is described over and over again in every book from On Combat to Gift of Fear, etc. etc.

Allen Yeh
12-08-2006, 04:41 AM
Great post Jeremy!

Jeremy Jones
12-08-2006, 02:26 PM
After seeing it posted, it reminds me of something Barry Cooper would post.:D