Monday, January 9, 2017

Tips On Knee Strikes

This post will be the first of a series of fight tips my Me. This first video is on the clinch and knee. You will see the basics of Muay Thai. I look to secure the head and neck clinch. I use my opponents wide attacks to reach inside for the clinch. I use my forearms and elbows against the neck and collar bones and use the hands to control the top of the head. This nullifies my opponent's punch attempts. The clinch takes aways his posture to land effective blows. Even when my grips are on the outside, I lower my center of gravity and throw knees. Look for more fight tip videos from me in the near future.

Shidokan Atlanta Fight Tip 1

Thursday, January 5, 2017

True Fighter Or Prize Fighter?

For those who compete, what kind of fighter are you? Many get into competing chasing the dream of fame and fortune. The few that make it to that level are able to train full time and fight for their livelihood. I have competed in combat sports for over 30 years. In the traditional arts (karate and taekwondo) of course there was no money to be made. You compete to simply challenge yourself. I got into kickboxing and boxing and I've known athletes who were able to do these as professions. I know of a few MMA fighter who are full time fighters. Out of all of the combat athletes who fight full time, I know of more boxers who were able to commit more time to their craft (they made more money). For me, I've always enjoyed competing just for the sheer fun of it. It is the ultimate way for me to challenge myself. I never competed for the sole purpose of making money. I've always worked a regular job and competition was my outlet. I would do it for free. Even though I was not fighting as a full time athlete, I was still fortunate to win national and international titles.

At 50 years of age, I still get physical by competing in Judo. Last summer I did a kickboxing bout against in an international competition against a young opponent (mind you it was a modified kickboxing bout with less impact and shorter rounds) and look pretty sharp. I even entered an international Kata competition in Hungary. For the most part I am all fighter and never placed above 3rd in Kata (forms) competition. Being primarily a fighter, I am still chasing a 1st place in Kata!

So, why do you compete? If it's for money, that's cool, but do it because you enjoy it and have fun doing it. Train for the sake of training and you will stay with it longer. I am still finding ways to challenge myself and I'm still motivated and exciting every time I train.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

No Gi Grappling

Can you do Judo without a Gi? Sure thing? Without a GI one thing for certain is that you will have close body contact (especially when hitting is involved). When strikes are included your opponent will either want to stay out of range or in close. When you are fighting a striker, you want to be in either of these 2 ranges. You can force the clinch once the commit to hitting you. Of course you have to risk getting hit.

Without clothing you have the sweat factor. The easiest thing to hold is your opponent's body.  I like to get a double under hook or over under body lock. This way I control their center of gravity and I can keep them from getting underneath me.

In this clip from the 2002 Shidokan World Open, I used the body lock and foot sweeps to get my opponent down to the mat. The submission attempts shown will be a neck crank (which he escapes) and later on in the clip an arm lock. Going from the Kimura to a straight arm lock. I will stay with the 2 on 1 grip on his arm.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Combination Punching

When you see fighters train you will see them working on all kinds of combinations. When hitting the pads, trainers will have fighters memorize certain sequences. The reality of combos in real fights are that they will come when an opponent is tired, hurt or out matched. They don't work as you see them on the pads and bags or when fighters flurry in shadow boxing. When guys get in a dangerous position they clinch. So, to land shots it's the basics (simple combinations and movement) that work best. In this clip you won't see a long combination until after my opponent is hurt. In the last round you will a left kick to the liver followed by a 9 punch combination. Timing is everything so learn when to lay it on.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Rhonda Balsamello, Shidokan's Queen Of Combat

Last week we lost one of our warriors. Shidokan Atlanta Queen of Combat, Rhonda Balsamello passed away suddenly. I know that we all will transition some day, but it is so sad when we lose someone young and without warning. Rhonda was the toughest fighter we've ever had. She had no fear and was always ready to compete. Rhonda was a private person and wouldn't say a lot. She could be shy at times. But through the martial arts, her personality would show. She would was happy when engaged in one on one combat. Karate was truly her way of expressing herself. To those who knew her well, she showed a sense of humor and always went out of her way to help. As a creative person, she designed much of the Shidokan apparel we wear at our gym.

Within a year of training, she was competing in full contact bare knuckle karate tournaments. In keeping the Shidokan Karate concept of being a well rounded martial artist, she also competed in grappling and kickboxing. She found her forte to be Knockdown (bare knuckle) Karate, one of the most difficult forms of competition out there.

She represented our Dojo locally, nationally and internationally. A couple of months ago, she won the Shidokan Japan Cup. Last year she was on her way to this tournament and the night before leaving, her back went out and she couldn't walk. She had back surgery and came back to achieve what most can only dream of, winning a full contact Karate championship in the land of Karate, Japan. She has gained the love and respect of an international Karate organization. She is better well known in other countries than in the U.S.

Here is some footage of Rhonda competing a few years back. I never mined losing my voice yelling and cheering her on. Win, lose, or draw she pushed herself to the limit. She would fight until the end. She could endure the fatigue and pain better than anyone. Fighting is what gave her peace. This is one of my favorites because it shows her dig deep. She may not be with us physically, but her Samurai spirit does.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fight Officials

What makes one qualified to officiate a fight. There are judges, referees, or commission officials present. They have to certified by the state to officiate. Sometimes we see fights and at the end we see judgements that we may not agree with. Sometimes a ref stops or doesn't stop a fight that before or after we think they should. In my opinion, I don't think one should be allowed to officiate if they've never competed in the sport that they are overseeing. Would you let a doctor who has never performed surgery operate on you? No. In the court room, judges oversee lawyers. In the most fields the experts overseeing have experience. Sure one can be a fan and know a lot, but I would prefer to see ex-fighters officiate fights.

Monday, November 28, 2016

IJF Veterans World Championship

A week ago I had the pleasure of competing in the International Judo Federation Veterans World Championships in Ft Lauderdale, FL. It was an incredible experience. I competed in my first IFJ Worlds back in 2012, in Miami. In both instances it was in the next state, so, I had to go (whereas in between they were held in other countries).

What makes this tournament so cool, is that it is truly an international event. This years tournament had about 1000 competitors and 83 countries represented. It was a four day tournament. On Friday, competitors in their 60s and up competed (some guys up to the 80s). Saturday, the young guys competed 30-39, and Sunday, we middle aged guys (40s and 50s) competed. Monday was all about the ladies.

These veterans are amazing. I saw some old guys (I say that jokingly) in better shape that guys half their age. These guys would take of their Gi tops and they were chiseled and ripped.

When I go to national tournaments, there is a smaller group where one or two guys are really good. At the Worlds, everybody is good (about 30). I finished 7th this year and felt more competitive than I did in 2012. I have been successful in other combat sports (Taekwondo, Kickboxing, and Shidokan). I have been training in Judo sine the 90s and after retiring from the striking sports I have been working on my grappling game in Judo. This allows a competitive outlet for me and keeps me humble. In addition, I have competed in Karate Kata, and I even did an international kickboxing team event this past summer with a young opponent). I am 50 years old and feel like I'm 18 (sometimes LOL). I don't put the same pressure on myself like I did when I was younger. I still hate to lose, but I've learned to have fun and not dwell on it. At least I won't have the delusion of, "The older I get, the better I was". So always find a way to challenge yourself and make it fun and remember, you're a winner for getting out there in the first place.