Tag Archives: wrestling

Fighting the Big Guy

Movies often like to show us scenes of the hero defeating a opponent two or three times his size, despite the apparent advantage of the larger man. Dramatically speaking, the reason for this is obvious; it’s symbolic of the notion that good can defeat evil if it is determined enough. When making an action movie the whole point is to create an exciting illusion of conflict so that the audience feels satisfied by the eventual outcome. That’s all fine and good as a metaphor, but the reality of the situation usually differs from this image.

There is a reason boxing, wrestling and MMA are separated into weight divisions – the big guy usually wins and that doesn’t make for a good sporting match. A smaller boxer might be faster or more skilled than a significantly larger opponent, but eventually he is going to catch a punch from the heavier man and it will hurt him quite a bit more than a adversary in his own weight class. It’s simple physics; a man who knows how to throw a punch knows how to put his entire body behind the blow, so a person who weighs more will hit harder. With ground fighting, the dynamic is the same. Given equal skill, a notably larger wrestler will know how to use his weight as an advantage and will most likely be able to smother a smaller fighter.

Now, that is not to say that a smaller person cannot defend themselves adequately against someone who is physically more intimidating. The whole reason humanity created martial arts was to level the playing field in such encounters. However, martial arts is not a magic key to success. Even an untrained man of large stature can often beat a trained martial artist out of sheer tenacity and durability.

Highly Implausible... And kind of silly, really.

I would also like to point out that many ‘pressure points’ and pain submissions simply do not work on people of certain builds. For example, there is a spot between the neck and the shoulder that can cause quite a lot of pain if jabbed sharply downwards with the thumb or fingers. However, I have found that people with a ‘football player’ build, (or those who are of strong Nordic decent) are pretty much immune to this nerve attack. The same goes for many wrist locks and joint manipulations; some people from different backgrounds or ethnic groups simply are not susceptible to them.

The equation is something like this – In order for a person to successfully fight an opponent who has a definite advantage of size or height they have to have about six times the training  or be six times smarter than the larger man. It is possible to be victorious in such a situation, but you had better be sure you are meaner, better trained and much more clever than that big guy with the beer bottle.


A Week in Summation

It appears that it has been over a week since I have actually posted anything on this blog. That is a shame, considering that I originally intended to post something every other day at the least. Shift work is the arch nemesis of health and productivity. It sits on a high-backed swivel chair stroking a white cat and plotting. It probably also has minions with such fashion accessories as scars, eye-patches, mechanical arms and Nehru jackets.

So, to sum up the last nine days;

The Tuesday following the first sabre class was another quiet one. May has proven to be one of our slowest months ever. Between the Hockey play-offs and the students who went on vacation it has been a bit of a desert in regards to attendance. Apart from that, class went as class usually does – we worked out to an impressive degree and then worked further on some of the new ground fighting stuff we have been playing with.

I honestly do not remember what I did on the following Wednesday at all, so either I worked on the computer all day or I lounged around doing very little.

Then came Thursday. Thursday is never good, as it signals the beginning of my non-martial arts work week. The rest of those five days consisted of being at work, working on sabre curriculum, occasionally writing creatively and reading the works of Robert E. Howard. Actually, I am really enjoying the Conan stories, 30’s pulp is some of the most fun reading material there is. You have to love a genre that has no illusions about the fact that is a complete male fantasy. Whether it’s Conan smiting mythical creatures and running off with the women, or the Shadow laughing maniacally while he kills a room full of gangsters, it is endlessly amusing. That and that era of fiction had a certain melodramatic poetry to it. H.P. Lovecraft is a perfect example of the eccentric, colourful, imaginative way authors described their fantasy worlds in the good old Weird Tales days.

Anyhow, and then it was Monday again. Work went by slowly, like dragging a huge heavy stone across a field of superglue. Afterwards I hurried down to Coopers park for Sabre practice. At appears that the other instructors were mistaken, and arrived at six rather than six thirty. I got there as soon as I could, snacked quickly, and prepared to teach more of the Victorian sabre style I have been working through. There were still no actual students, per se, so I skipped the basic warm-up and beginner footwork portion and and jumped to the parry and riposte drills. There were no real hitches in that department, and we covered all riposts from quarte after parrying cut 1. (I don’t expect that last sentence to make sense to most folks.)

Randy and Courtney had to leave shortly thereafter since their early arrival only left them so much parking time. After they departed, Holly and I moved on to the riposts from high prime. Holly had a bit of an issue with that parry, which is understandable since it is one of the more unnatural positions in fencing until you get used to it. After a little time I think she got the hang of it, however. At that point we were both tired and the hour had passed. We made our way home and prepared for…


Class was still fairly quiet, although one of our new students did return for his second time and still seemed keen to continue his participation. After the work-out portion we moved onto some Capoeira-based techniques. Following that was some of the sword drills that Randy developed to build good habits in our students and work the bad habits out of ourselves. Afterwards, well, afterwards I took slight issue with the turn of things. We proceeded to continue cartwheel and gymnastic exercises, somewhat including the sword. I, personally, would like to see the second hour of the evening focus more thoroughly on direct martial applications.

Some of the exercises Randy comes up with are fantastic for building co-ordination and strength, but they do not always deal with actual martial arts techniques. I am going to try and push for such things to always be included within the first hour of class, and have the second hour focus more on direct fighting methods. Partially this is for my own satisfaction, since working out is never enough to satisfy me. On the evenings where we end up working out or practising esoteric maneuverings I always leave feeling unfulfilled – I need something that feels like fighting to gratify my own love of martial arts.

Which brings me to today; Thus far, today has been a good one. After breakfast Holly and I got back into our sweatn’  clothes and prepared for my third day of physical activity on a row (four for her). She donned her roller skates and we went down to the sea wall. We started off along the beach back towards Copper’s park. She skated and I jogged, ran, walked. This, by the way, turned out to be harder than I though, and Holly built up quite a bit of speed at certain junctures and I was hard pressed to keep up. Also, the sea wall route made the journey much longer and less direct that the street path, and it was farther than I had thought to run there.

Yet it was enjoyable nonetheless. Once we arrived (grateful that the water fountains in the park had been turned on since winter) we caught our breath for a few minutes in the refreshingly breezy shade of the park. I then did a few gymnastic moves on the playground equipment, afterwards coaxing Holly to remove her skates and participate in some boxing drills. When we were finished at the park we began a more leisurely stroll back towards our apartment. And thus concluded our enjoyment of this fine, sunny day.

Now I would greatly appreciate a cup of coffee…

This Week at Scatha

Well, this week’s class seemed to be an interesting example of collective consciousness. Apparently the hive brain of our students all unanimously decided to stay home and watch the Hockey game, and I do mean all. Only one person arrived last night. It was a very quiet evening, beginning with a relaxed set of exercises largely done on our own time without the usual structure and motivation. The single occupant is also a student who usually only stays for the warm-up/work out portion of the evening as well, so she left after an hour. Thus remained nobody but us instructors.

As disappointing as this was, it was also a good opportunity. It can be very difficult for us teaching types to actually get together to work on the new ideas we have, so a solid hour and a half without students was not wasted. We took the opportunity to work on some ground fighting techniques that turned out to be remarkable easy and effective. No doubt we will be teaching them to the rest of the students next week.

Normally I don’t care for wrestling and ground fighting that much (Given the choice, I much prefer to hit, stab and cut people. Not to mention all that rolling around in other people’s sweat that goes with grappling) but I do my best to enjoy it and gain skills with it since obviously I can’t neglect a whole aspect of combat just because it isn’t my forte. The stuff we were working on last night was different though; If wrestling usually feels like fast paced weight lifting, these techniques felt more like short bursts of sprinting. Never have I found it so easy to escape mounts and change positions. Brazilian jujitsu usually frustrates the hell out of me, but this style felt more like stand up jujitsu and came very naturally.

Hooray, for the first time ever I genuinely enjoyed ground fighting.

The last dredges of the irritating cold I have had for the last few days are MOSTLY gone, and the weather is a pleasant overcast that is perfect for outdoorsy-ness. My plan is to have a hearty breakfast, and then make my way down to the park along the seawall that actually has gymnastic rings. It is very rare to still find these apparatus in public parks anymore, though they used to be everywhere. I guess you wouldn’t want to encourage kids to actually get exercise when they could just sit in those horrible plastic buckets that make you dizzy instead.

The gymnastic training we have been doing at SCG is something I haven’t spoken much about yet, partially due to the fact that we were keeping it under out belt for the time being as our little secret. however, since George St. Pierre’s recent lauding of the same kind of training we have been doing, there seems little point in being discreet. It is true, by the way, basic gymnastics is THE best physical  conditioning there is. If you look at the physique of any professional gymnast, I guarantee you that they got that way without ever touching weights. I have done many different conditioning programs in my day, but the results I’ve had from just doing simple gymnastic exercises have by far outdone everything else. I have put on more useful muscle and gained more strength much faster than I ever have before.

If you were to take a weight lifter and a gymnast of similar build, the gymnast would most likely be twice as strong as the lifter. The kind of deep, raw power you get from gymnastics is far above the general strength that weights can build. Some people argue that you can develop the same muscles using more modern approaches, but that simply isn’t true. You might be able to bench press 400 pounds but you wouldn’t be able to do a proper planche push-up – It is a completely different kind of strength.


There is also the flexibility, agility and general ability to move more efficiently that also comes from this kind of conditioning. A martial artist who also has a gymnastic background will be capable of a much wider range of techniques than one who only does general exercises.

On a different note, today I will also begin working on my new sabre curriculum. This Monday will mark the first unofficial sabre class that SCG will offer, and hopefully this will garner enough students to make the classes official early in June. By August I hope to have a small but successful practice for classic duelling sabre running at least one day day a week. The specific time and place has yet to be announced, but shall be before the end of the weekend.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The day began unceremoniously after a terrible night’s sleep. I rose and ate and washed clothes and wrote for an hour. At that point it was already time to hurry and get ready to leave for class. One should not have to hurry to be awake and groomed by four thirty in the afternoon. I need to figure out why my sleep is so tumultuous lately. Food? Too much coffee? Leprechauns?

I traversed the distance to Sapperton feeling like I had been dragged behind a boat for an hour while being harassed by a sharktopus. Coffee and food helped a fair bit, though I was still feeling pretty lethargic. Yet things began to look up, and we garnered a new student. I gradually forced my energy level up despite my body’s protests. And lo, did class turn out to be smashingly good! By the time I had forced myself through the gymnastic portion of the evening I was alert enough to stay in good form for the 5×5 drills, knife sparring and longsword. After which followed a little Rapier and wrestling.

Our new student seemed quite friendly, and appeared impressed with our approach to training. It’s always nice to be impressive, regardless of how philosophical one is supposed to be. A little verification that what you do is worthwhile always helps to boost the confidence a bit. For a night where two of our students were in Thailand and a few others were watching the Hockey game, it went very well indeed.

And what it truly astounding is that, a day later, I’m not sore or stiff at all. Of course, it may still catch up with me tomorrow.

Thus far the deadline for beginning a regular sabre class is set for the first week of June. Over the course of the next month I will be trying to gather  as many people as I can for fencing practice, so that there will be at least a few people in attendance when the class becomes official. The specific location is as yet undisclosed, and I will post updates as to where these sabre classes will be taking place. But do not fear, by the time the weather turns favourable there will be regular duelling once more.

A Mostly Lovely Day

Assuming you ignore the mundane waking up, eating and checking of one’s messages, today began with some rapier in the park. Holly, my girlfriend, and I crossed swords adjacent to Vancouver’s mighty wall against the sea. Actually I have my doubts about that wall, I’m not sure exactly what it’s supposed to be keeping out. I’m sure Dagon and his sqwibbly  hordes could clamber up those steps in no time.

But I digress…

Celebrating one of the first truly nice days of the year is always done best with swordplay. It is true however that the enthusiastic inquiries of children is always a bit of a distraction. Still, one must encourage them and answer their queries in order to ensure that future generations still think swords are cool. Imagine the horror of a world where the young don’t find the sporting applications of violence inspirational. It would be like some dystopian science fiction where everything was so peaceful that nobody could have any creative thought. That’s right, I’m saying that fencing is necessary for prevent humans from becoming automatons. That’s my argument and I’m sticking to it.

When you think about it, though, what would literature be without physical conflict? Imagine classics like Peter Pan or Treasure Island without fencing scenes in them. Like it or not, heroes and villains trying to kill each other is part of culture all over the planet. This is why, hundreds of years after respectable people stopped carrying swords in the streets, there are still large groups of people devoted to fencing, boxing, wrestling, MMA and football. Even in peaceful times we have to make controlled expressions of our need for conflict. Provided a person is conscious of what they are doing, I don’t think this is a bad thing at all – It’s part of what makes us human.

Back to the present;

When I tried to change over to boxing there were a few hitches. We couldn’t manage to keep the pace up to the level I wanted, which was not helped by the group of people watching and talking about us. So we nipped back home to drop off the weapons, after which I talked Holly into joining me in a quick set of jogging and sprinting.

I was determined to get a decent amount of sweating in today, and I have resolved to cure my recent malaise with copious amounts exercise and writing. I’m finding that balance rather difficult actually, juggling the sedentary act of sitting at a computer or typewriter with getting up and pushing myself through quick and challenging workouts. My desire to write has peaked again, but at the same time I feel lethargic and fat if I spend too much time sitting still and typing. The trick, I think, is to create intense, short bursts of exercise that I can do before and after a few hours of stationary work. Routines that are vicious enough to work all my muscles and burn a good chunk of calories while not taking up my whole day.

Another little snag I’ve run into is the fact that my current fitness regimes are building a lot of muscle very quickly. In practice this is a good thing, except that I’m not burning off quite as much fat as I’d like just from fighting and sparring for two hours a week. This has resulted in the muscles growing under my extra inch of body and fat and making me look a little…rounder. Therefore I have added more pure calorie burning elements to my scheme. I think I am going to try swimming tomorrow; that’s supposed to be a good way of working your whole body at once.

I often find that the more physical energy I expend, the more emotional energy I gain. Well, provided I don’t push too far and damage myself of course. And on that note, it was a pretty successful and scenic afternoon.