Thursday, August 6, 2009

It's what YOU can do

Last nite was my birthday and my coach & old buddy Vince together with his beautiful wife Kate and couple of my gym mates took me out to dinner at Chilli's in BSC.

As we were enjoying the Tex Mex meals and bottomless drinks, I told Vince that I found few of our old Karate friends who used to train with us through Facebook. I spoke about about the changes we went through and the different paths we took: they're still in Karate and me doing MMA via the CMD Program now.

Vince shared that as a professional coach who own and run a training academy on a full time basis, he has a duty to offer the best to the gym members and the CMD Program is the best at the moment. While we chatted about the usual combat sport stuffs, a realisation dawn on me: it doesn't matter what ranks you hold in any martial arts, it's what you can do when you need to do it!

You may train under the greatest sensei with a long respectable lineage from a well known dojo and has even beaten many top fighters before. But he cannot fight your fights for you, whether in a competition or in real life. YOU need to do it. It doesn't matter what your sensei can do. At the end of the day, it boils down to what YOU can do.

This is the best thing about combat sports like Boxing, Muay Thai, BJJ, Judo, Wrestling etc: they train the individual to perform. But I don't mean to start any style vs style debate here, I'm just sharing my personal journey. If you manage to make your style (whatever it may be) works for you, then I'm happy for you. If you are interested to understand why I believed those combat sports above really enable the individual to perform, just do some reading on the Net.

On a related note, check out this awesome entry.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Marcos Escobar BJJ Self Defense Workshop

Just came back from an awesome self defense workshop by Marcos Escobar, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with many championship titles from prestigious BJJ/grappling competitions.

Although I already had some training and exposure to self defense from my Karate and Boxing background, I was keen to see it from the BJJ perspective. I also took this as the opportunity to meet up with few friends like Aaron and Eugene.

The seminar started with Marcos introducing himself and asking the participants to do the same. Marcos is a real friendly guy and the informal atmosphere in the gym made this seminar fun and interesting.

Marcos started by explaining that self defense begins with awareness: why prevention is better than any fighting techniques. Some of the key points from this seminar are:

1. Don't give chance for people to approach you within reaching/grabbing distance.

2. Listen to your instincts, if you see a person coming towards you and you feel something is not right, quickly move away.

3. Avoid deserted or dark areas. Let people know your whereabouts.

4. Don't clench your fists. Open your palms to face the aggressor/s and ask what do you want? This is ironical because after a period of training like a boxer, I tend to keep a boxing guard but this might be interpreted by the assailant as you wanting to fight him/them. So it's back to Kissaki Kai open palms and use them as a fence against your aggressor. The Crazy Monkey Defense hands posture on the forehead  should be seen as compliance in a self defense situation.

5. If he only wants your possessions, surrender it. Avoid a physical altercation whenever possible.

6. Keep fit so that you are able to run or fight if you have to.

Marcos taught escapes and counters from the common wrist grabs, holds, bear hugs, chokes and from the ground. Lastly, he demonstrated how the BJJ guard can be used against rapist or those who have pin us on the ground. It's refreshing to see how the armbar can be used against someone who's trying to choke you on the ground. Very smoothly done. The seminar ended with Marcos asking everyone to find some time to practice what they have learned or pick up some sports or martial arts. Marcos presented his workshop is a simple and easy-to-understand manner without all the martial art terms or hype. He's also a very approachable and down to earth person without any of those macho posturing you typically see in many martial arts gurus.

Marcos guys then put on their BJJ gi and started rolling - open mat time! They all can't seem to get enough of BJJ and every single roll is fun and exciting.

PS. It's great to know you Alex Padilla and happy to finally meet you in person Jason. :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Clinch Boxing

Been working on CM3 and CM4 range last couple of weeks. The clinch is one of the infighting tool I've managed to use successfully in many sparring sessions ever since I first learned it. One of my personal favorite is the Muay Thai neck tie or plum position. I slapped it on with devastating effect during many sparrings last year but sad to say it's no longer working as well as I wanted it to now. Not because it's no longer effective but rather Vince has taught us a whole series of counters and escapes to this often used clinch: with pummeling, shrugging, underhooking, slipping, takedown and etc.

I was taught to slap it on tight, control the opponent neck and spine then transition from double collar tie to single collar back to double to disorientate, unbalance and lock-up the opponent as you put in your strikes during all the phases. Recently I've learned a better approach than moving from side to side with the opponent in my clinch. Happened when Vince sparred with me last month and played a pressurer/angler game. It's the first time I experienced the Crazy Monkey Straight Jacket Clinch in action. Vince moved in fast to close the distance between us while hitting me with his tricky combos. Once he caught me in a Muay Thai clinch, he started pushing me backward to the wall. I tried to stay calm and work my escapes but my limbs are trapped against the wall. Then he overhook one of my right arm and while hitting me continuously, grabbed and overhook my left arm too, using just one of his arm. With both my arms trapped, Vince unleashed a punishing combos of hooks & uppercuts to my body and head with his other free hand. When I tried to put my shin into his abdomen to push him away, he grabbed my leg and did a single leg takedown then moved in to some final ground and pound. Whew, talk about textbook MMA.

Imagine all these started from the clinch. As Patrick later taught me, it's better to push the opponent into the wall than jerking or swinging him around. Use the wall to trap him or limit his movement while striking him continuously. This is the beauty of clinch boxing - once you have someone in a Muay Thai clinch, Straight Jacket Clinch, Greco Roman double or single collar tie, you can choose to KO him, submit him, slam or throw him, take him down or just lock him up. More to come...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Intense workout cure gastric pain

Recently I realised I have gastric and indigestion, probably due to stress and overworking. Sometimes the pain made it very hard for me to drive to my gym for training. But I persevered and then I made a pleasant, albeit strange discovery - intense workout cure gastric pain.

At first I thought it was a fluke when my gastric pain disappeared after the intense workout in my gym. In fact, it slowly ease off after a warm up session and then almost completely disappeared once I started to spar with my fellow gym mates. I made a mental note to observe if this phenomenon will happen again.

It wasn't too long that I had gastric pain again before training and just like before, the pain disappeared after some intense sparring sessions - 2nd time, 3rd time, on and on... Wow! What an amazing discovery, intense workout actually cure gastric, at least for me it works.

Fortunately, my gastric pain don't come often but I'm glad that my hobby also cure one of most irritating & disabling discomfort. Hope this discovery will help others with similar condition.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Crazy Monkey experience

My buddy from the gym, Thong Weng Hong aka Thongo, wrote an excellent testimony of the Crazy Monkey Defense program in KDTA to our new members. Read about it below:

I just want to share here my positive experiences with the CMD Programme.

We all have our different motivations and reasons for starting with the CM Programme. Some want to lose weight, some want to have a fun activity... Mine was to learn a real, functional martial arts which would work for me, if the situation called for it. Learning a functional martial art in today's society is no longer a luxury (IMHO), it is a necessity. After hearing and seeing all the violent crime happening to friends and loved ones (and sometimes, almost happened to me), I decided that I could no longer afford to take not learning martial arts lightly. If pushed to a corner, I needed to know for myself I could do something.

So where do you begin? And how much time would you have to invest and in how long a period would you be able to learn to defend yourself? Fortunately for me, I was already acquainted with Vince and the CM Programme when I was doing the Fizfit Programme. Here was a world class functional (and fun-tional!) programme right at my doorstep (of the gym) and with an excellent and dedicated instructor that I told myself, I would be stupid and doing myself a great disservice for not doing it.

And so I made it my 2009 resolution to do.. and stick with the CM Programme. Time is a big factor and consideration for me because of my work and family commitments. However, here in the CM Programme was something I could commit myself too. Make it at least 2 days a week for it. Very workable for me for reaping tremendous benefits and getting what I wanted (in terms of functional martial arts).

CM is great for me because it works for me, because it works for really talented martial artists like Vince, Mike and Charles (who have all nearly spent a lifetime pursuing and honing their martial arts skills). And now here is a programme which is so well structured and designed for the everyday joe (with little time, busy work, wife and kids) with zero martial arts knowledge like me.

I have been to other traditional boxing gyms with scary sounding names and regretted it. It's hard to learn anything of real, and lasting benefit without getting your head taken off in such gyms. Once was more than enought to convince me I didn't need such kind of alpha-male aggression which was not conducive to learning martial arts. With CM, I could learn at my own (slow) pace without getting my head blown off and going to work the next day without any broken teeth, nose or headache... and still really learn something.

At the same time, it is not watered down with just mere drills with no real application because it has the element of sparring, which is essential to hone your timing, distance, balance and judgement. Sparring here is different from other martial arts centres because it too is structured, balanced and grows progressively with your own growth in the programme. Having the element of sparring is good for me, because it gives me a feel of what might happen in a real life situation. Remember that Rodney King developed this programme with his input as a boxer, bouncer and martial artist.

Having a good lecture/teaching material is only as good as the person presenting it. All I can say here is, there is no one teacher who is more dedicated to our martial arts education and journey than Vince, who has put in more hours, dedication and heart into his craft and passion... and we're all reaping the benefits. I would like to say a big thank you to Vince for all your dedication to your work and to us, week after week, month after month, year after year.

I am more convinced that I am right after reading all the positive emails and seeing the enthusiasm on everyone's faces as the come for the CM classes every week.

Did I also mention the great sparring partners we have? There is no ego or danger of escalating egos in the CM Classes (unless you want to go toe-to-toe with Vince!) and all your sparring partners are intuitive and respond appropriately to your level of boxing. While they may be better than you, they don't need to prove it to you, although they can.. and that's where we all learn to improve, safely. Your Journeymen mentors are all dedicated to the programme and experienced. Learn from them and tap into their knowledge of which they're all to willing to share.

Hence to me, anything you guys want to work on is all fine by me because it is all good.

Congratulations on your choice. Your search stops here. CMDP @ KDTA.

Safe training,

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Tennis Match MMA sparring

Last Wed night I had one of the best training session for a long time. We've been doing some MMA training since last year but when Vince introduced "tennis match MMA sparring", I realised that I could actually see how some of the techniques work in slow motion and this helps me to understand the intricacies of a particular technique so that I can apply it better. For those curious, tennis match sparring means each person take turns as attacker-defender so that both can drill a certain technique.

By limiting the sparring to a certain technique like the Single Leg Takedown only, it allows us to drill and practice this often-used technique with more focus and intensity.

By the time we were allow to spar like normal, most of us were able to apply those MMA moves smoothly. And I managed to do a few single and double leg takedowns, something that I've not been able to do whenever I spar in the past. By understanding the mechanics and flows of a particular technique through tennis match sparring, we improve our timing and execution of that technique. Tennis match sparring allows you to break down a technique and help you to understand why you fail to execute it earlier. Of course, there are other factors like physical attributes and fight plan but that's for another entry.

Note to self: remember to check distance, setup or distract, level change then lift up.

MMA training in Kuala Lumpur

Haven't been blogging awhile but looking back, this year signaled a surge of interest in the Crazy Monkey Defense (CMD) class at our gym, KDT Academy.

From around 10-12 people training since 2007, the class has dwindled down to around 5-6 people by the end of 2008. Many stopped due to work commitments, traveling, relocation and etc. One of the highlight of 2008 was my fellow gym-mate Albert Lim graduating as Certified Trainer and opening his own gym called Studio 23 in Kuching, Sarawak. Congrats Bert and hope I'll have the chance to visit you in Kuching soon.

But come 2009, boom!! An explosion of interest and all of sudden, we have a big batch of newcomers to the Crazy Monkey Defense class till Vince have to allocate a separate session for them. This will help them pick up the basics faster and get them up to speed with us "old-timers". One of the best thing from this is now I get to train 2 hours a night instead of the normal 1 hour session we used to do last year. And so far, it has been most satisfying because not only do I get to train longer, I managed to refresh myself on the fundamentals again by joining the CMD beginners class. I began to notice a significant improvement to my game by going back to the basics which I've been neglecting in favour of a more flamboyant game.

Why the sudden increase in MMA (mixed martial arts) training, esp. in program with a questionable name like "Crazy Monkey Defense" in a country where traditional martial arts such as Tae Kwon Do, Aikido or Karate dominate the scene? Well, the answers could be many, but I suspect this is due to fast growing popularity of UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) reality shows or fights.

While originally MMA is meant for professional fighters, in the sense that it has a much more demanding training regimen than most typical martial arts, the Crazy Monkey Defense training is specifically catered for people who want learn MMA as a fun and exciting pastime, perfect for people like me who enjoys combat sports minus the killer regimen (or risk of injuries) of a pro-fighter.

With so many new people in the gym, I look forward to some really interesting and exciting training sessions with lotsa good stuffs to learn. If you are interested to train MMA in Kuala Lumpur, please visit for more info.