Archive for April, 2011

10 Questions with Debi Purcell

Posted in 10 Questions, Fighters with tags , , , , , , on April 30, 2011 by Combative Corner

Debi is a highly successful athlete, MMA fighter, and business woman.  She runs the biggest Women’s MMA website on the planet at FighterGirls.Com and has her own clothing line.  She was trained by the one-and-only UFC great, Marco Ruas (Ruas Vale Tudo).  The Combative Corner is privileged that Debi would take time out of her busy schedule to give us this exclusive interview.  Thanks Debi! To learn more, visit Debi at here website by clicking the image above.  Now for 10 Questions…

How did you know you wanted to compete professionally?

I was just happy to compete at all!  (lol)  In my time in the beginning, there was not a lot of opportunities… so we needed to create the opportunities.  I believe once  I decided I wanted to be a part of that creation the decision was made to fight professionally.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle standing in the way of more women competing in MMA?

Dana White.  J/… I think the biggest obstacles are ourselves. (like in anything) In one way every girl wants a fight/ in another way she will take any fight and any pay just to get experience.

In another way the pay is not enough to be able to train.  So just like the men, women get into it only to realize they can not train full-time to reach their maximum potential.  Unlike, say, a baseball athlete who gets paid to train and  reach his full potential.  That can’t be said about MMA – especially with the women.

What, in your opinion, was your toughest match? 

I’d have to say the match that you train for that never happens. That disappointment is beyond words.  (lol)  And I am fighting against myself really anyway so if I do not perform to maxim potential, that’s a hard pill to swallow.  Every match is tough though.  Usually the one you think wouldn’t be the toughest.

In your professional life, what has been your “crowning achievement”?

In MMA I think it has been pounding the pavement to get promoters to put women on cards when they didn’t want us there.  That, and training to have the skill-level to earn the respect of the promoters to show it was worth it to them!  I am also proud of and for keeping it going despite the many times of financial and emotional losses.

What is it about yourself that has helped you become the champion you are?

Thank you for calling me a champion! (smiles) – “narcism at its finest” – Honestly I’d say my “drive to be the best I can be” and also, other people believing in & putting time into me when sometimes I may have not deserved it or believed in myself.  I am truly lucky with that and have been blessed with having the most amazing people in my life who believe in me.

What is your favorite thing to do when you are not training?

I absolutely LOVE to backpack. oh read. I read all the time!

What is the most important thing a woman needs to know if they are thinking about becoming a fighter?  

First off – do it because you LOVE it!  Find the strength within yourself to be the best you can be and don’t worry what anyone else thinks about it after that.

MMA is one of the toughest sports on the planet, how do you stay in tip-top shape?

Training, focus, determination and did I say TRAINING

Out of all the ladies you’ve fought, which one posed the most problems for you and why?

My toughest fight was Akano in Japan.  One, because she tossed me on my ass with a sweet throw (hahaha)… and two, because the rules of Smack Girl is 30 seconds on the ground then stand up, no punching to the  face, no knees,  etc.  This did not adhere to my style of mma fighting at all.   I felt not at home and I also knew in Japan I had to EARN the win and not let it go to a decision.  I let it go to the decision and well… once again disappointing myself.  UGH!

Out of all the martial art movie stars & athletes (alive or dead), who would you like to “Have a go” at?

I’d fight Gina Carrano.   I’d have loved to have had-a-go at Bruce Lee also, but more to learn then to “have a go” at it. lol.

Thank you Debi, we’ll forever be in your corner!

Hear what Debi had to say about “Bullying” as our Special Guest to our Roundtable Discussion – HERE


Posted in Discussion Question with tags , , , , , , on April 28, 2011 by Combative Corner

Greetings everyone, we have several upcoming interviews and we, the CombativeCorner, want to ask THE questions that YOU want to hear!

In the comment space below, please write the name of the person(s) your question is direct to, followed by your question.  Please do this for us ASAP. (That way, we can proceed on schedule)


Paula was born in Salvador, Bahi, Brazil and began her training under world-renowned capoeira teacher Mestre Sabia.  She won “Best Female Overall” at the World Capoeira Games and nowadays, she runs Ginga Mundo New York.



Dr. Yang is the owner of Yang’s Martial Arts Association in Jamaica Plains, Mass and is one of the most prolific writers on the Chinese Martial Arts.  An expert in Shaolin White Crane and Yang Style Taijiquan (to name a few).  Learn more on him by going to YMAA.Com.


A New Passion : Gracie JiuJitsu

Posted in Jiujitsu, Martial Arts, Styles with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2011 by chencenter

Fellow writer and martial artist Brad Vaughn and I recently returned from Norfolk, Virginia – where we were able to meet and train with Jiu-Jitsu extraordinaire and master-teacher, Ryron Gracie.

Needless-to-say, we learned a lot – but what I didn’t really count on was just how attached I would grow to this art – specifically, the way that Ryron presented it.

Being a “Taiji man” myself, I’m always eager to find strength through any means other than pure, physical force.  It became clear, after watching Ryron roll with several of the students that Gracie Jiu-jitsu is very much, a form of “Taijiquan for the ground.”

Many times throughout the lecture, Ryron would mention the word “Flow.”  Gracie Jujitsu is about efficiency and being able to both read your opponent and adapt to the changes, in a natural way.

In college, I was able to learn from a guy who knew Sambo, and after wrestling with him for several semesters, I felt very strong on the ground.  Little did I know that when I would start to grapple with someone with more “technical” skills (namely, someone well-versed in the basics of the Gracie system), I would find holes in my game.

With Ryron, there was a deep sense of “playful practice” – that your opponent is there – not to be necessarily, an “obstacle to overcome” (and possibly become discouraged by), but a partner eager to make you a better practitioner.  [Isn’t that what it’s all about?]

Many schools are filled with students (and I’ve scrapped with a few in my young life) who are bent on “besting” you in each and every encounter.

Ryron’s suggestion to us-

“Get tapped out 10 times every day.”  

It’s not just about staying humble, it’s about becoming sensitive to every situation and bringing something into your practice that causes you to learn – to better yourself.

Brandon Vaughn (his profile) is currently a blue belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and is helping to me (my profile) to reach a blue belt of my very own through the Gracie’s, Gracie University.  I only wish there was more time in a day!  Because I would fill it with many hours of exultant practice.

Michael Joyce & Brandon Vaughn

10 Questions with Oleg Spector

Posted in 10 Questions, Systema with tags , , , , , , , on April 24, 2011 by Combative Corner

The Combative Corner is pleased to present Systema Spetsnaz teacher, Oleg Spector.  (Be sure to watch his video at the bottom of this article).  We first became aware of Oleg through his YouTube channel SystemaSpetsnaz.  “Oleg”, as he prefers to be called (a man against titles) has been teaching professionally for 23 years (as of 2011) and works out of NorthHollywood, California.  For more information on Oleg and this system of martial art, please visit Oleg’s homepage by clicking his image above.

When did you first begin to study the martial arts and what drew you to that particular discipline?

When my parents moved from Ukraine, Odessa to the United States in 1979 – I was thirteen years old. The first time when I saw martial arts films on TV – I decided to study the Arts.

Wing Chung Kung Fu –(2 years),  Shotokan Karate ——–(14 years),  Daito-Ryu Jujutsu——-(6 years),  Tae-Kwon-Do————-(4 years),  Systema SpetsNaz——-(5 years)

If your path in Life had never included the martial arts, what do you think you’d be doing today?

My path in Life included various work – from animal technician, air-conditioning technician, optician – but Martial  Arts were always part of my life and will remain so.

As a teacher, what would be the one principle/theory/or idea that hope your students grow to understand? 

As a teacher I wish for my students to cultivate balance and peace in life.

In your opinion, what sets SpetsNaz apart from other styles?

Systema SpetsNaz teaches the student to develop individual or personal style of combat based on principles – verses learning a specific style of Martial Art created by someone else.

As in many martial arts, (as a general rule) depth of study comes closest from the source.  To a student that becomes devoted to learning Systema SpetsNaz, would you recommend them study in Russia? (if so, why?)

It is up to individual if they wish to train in Russia – any new experience transforms into knowledge.

Working in security and bodyguard profession for 10 years (as you have) requires a great deal of awareness.  How does one go about training awareness?

Mental awareness is a state of mind – developed through various exercises and meditation.

I haven’t seen many mixed martial artists who enter sport competitions under the discipline of SpetsNaz.  What are your thoughts on the popular sport of MMA/Cagefighting and do you encourage this sort of training/conditioning to your students?

Systema SpetsNaz “Russian Style” Combat – is not a sport – it is a system of “Reality Based Self-Defense. MMA fighters train specifically for the cage and against one opponent. On the street could be several attackers, whose intent is not to win a title – but to take your life.

Since you began teaching in Los Angeles in 1987, how has your teaching changed?  And/Or have you seen more change in your students?

Change takes place in every one’s Life every moment of their existence – every day brings something new and challenging – by keeping an open mind, allows me to grow and learn, passing the knowledge to my students.

How frequently do you train (outside of teaching) and how strongly do you emphasize “mental training”?  (Do you train physical techniques separately from “meditative ones”?)

I train every day – body is an extension of the mind.

Lastly, what are your future plans regarding your work?  What will Mr. Oleg Spector be doing a decade from now?

My future plans is to live each day to the fullest – making this world a better place.

Respectfully, Oleg Spector

Roundtable Discussion 010: Bullying

Posted in Discussion Question, Roundtable Discussion, Self-Defense, Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2011 by Combative Corner

The CombativeCorner authors toss this one out there:

     “Have you ever been the victim of bullying & how did you deal with it?”

We ask:  If you have a story that you’d like to tell, please let us know in the comment section at the bottom of the article.  If you have a question for us, or any particular author of The CombativeCorner, please send us an email at CombativeCorner@Gmail.Com.

George “Rush” St-Pierre on Bullying:

“I was bullied,” says St-Pierre, once a nerdy, studious boy who competed in chess tournaments. “I was not very popular.”
To protect himself, he learned Kyokushin karate from his father. That gave him the striking base he still uses today, he says. He discovered the importance of looking up to other experts when at 15 he watched Royce Gracie, a skinny Brazilian jujitsu master, tap out oversize foes in the early days of the UFC. “I asked myself, ‘How can this happen? How can this small guy beat all these monsters?’ ” he says.  And now St-Pierre has the answer.

“Because of the knowledge,” he says, “that every war is won by the strongest weapon.”

[O’Brien, Luke.  Men’s Health Magazine, April 2011. original article]


[Professional MMA Fighter]

I think every person has been a victim of bulling in some form or another – even the bullies – especially the bullies;  and I am no different.  I once had a fighter set out  to try and hurt my fight career in a very manipulative, vengeful way, because of their fear at the time.  At first I was shattered and kind of let it ruin me for a bit.  I then came to realize that the only person she hurt was herself, because although things happened that did indeed hurt my career, and life for a bit, it was ME that caused it for allowing someone to have that much power.  As soon as I stopped feeling sorry for myself  I was able to heal, & feel more compassion for the girl.

This ultimately led to me doing some different things and finding true happiness, and I would say to  anyone out there getting bullied physically or emotionally. Stand up for yourself… do NOT  be a victim in any way, including and most importantly feeling bad for yourself, or reducing yourself to their behavior.

If you can understand – they must be in a ton of pain for bulling you and try to have some understanding.  They are in such a bad place in life, and in the long-term it sucks more for them then for you.  As cheesy as this may sound, it’s true!  Debi Purcell, FighterGirls.Com

I did get bullied a little as a kid since I had two things working against me: I was one of the few Asians in the area, and I was most definitely one of the nerds. Now that I look back on it though, I realize that I had a few strategies that kept the bullying to a minimum. First, I avoided situations that would allow bullying to arise. Bullies like easy targets. Take away the easy bullying opportunities, and the bullies aren’t likely to go out of their way to harass you.

Then there’s safety in numbers. If you have friends across different social groups, you are more likely to have backup close by.  At the time, I was on good terms with a number of people, both students and teachers. I used my social circle for protection.

Of course, sometimes push comes to shove, and you have to shove back. I did once or twice have to push back just to establish that I wasn’t going to be an easy target. That took care of most of the bullies looking for easy pickings, but that didn’t take care of everyone. I was not the model of size and strength in school, so big bullies might still target me. My last defense was pure good luck. I just happened to be friends with a future football lineman. He was a big boy even when we were kids. I didn’t get bothered that much all through middle school just from that.

I’ve been a victim of bullying in the professional field, and this happened (recently) in the field of law enforcement. I tried to utilize the workplace discrimination, harrassment, and retaliation procedures but it only made things worse for my working environment. I was unaware of the EEOC laws at the time and did not find out about the laws until it had already gotten out of hand. What I advise for everyone is to be aware of the EEOC (more info can be located at the websie But either way – I have experienced bullying even when there are laws in place to try to stop such behavior.  The behavior still goes on. It’s a very difficult struggle.  I advise people to be aware of the laws, to stay informed of resources for help, such as the EEOC, and try to seek out individuals who have experienced similar incidents and seek help on how to deal with such situations. Sometimes it may be best to accept the way things are; other times it may be best to fight back the best you can with the laws that are in place. You can take action like Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi and fight back peacefully or you can be like Lao-tzu or Chaung tzu and just go with the flow and allow things to take their natural course.

As someone who was a victim of bullying through most of his school years, the topic of bullying is one of my hot buttons. Just the idea of someone being picked on because of something as stupid as their appearance, how they speak or where they’re from makes me angry. Being bullied was the reason I started martial arts in the first place. I wanted to be able to stand up against anyone who would ever try to mess with me. Little did I know that along with learning how to do roundhouse kicks and punches I would also gain the confidence to walk down the hall with my head held high and the self-control and self-discipline to know that they’re other ways to deal with bullies then with physical force. I still got picked on, some confrontations I chose to walk away from, and others I faced head on. Sometimes I look back and think “Man I should have just fought all those guys that used to mess with me.” but I know that would have gotten me into some serious trouble not only in school but at home as well. Besides all it takes is standing up to one bully to show the others that you’re no longer a target. As a martial arts instructor I see a lot of my students dealing with the same bullying issues that I faced when I was younger and I feel an overpowering urge to help them stand up for themselves like I learned to. No one deserves to be picked on, no one deserves to be demeaned.

I was a victim of bullying a few times in my life. I have always been very tall and I think that had a lot to do with why I was not picked on by others much at all when I was little.

When I was in the 6th grade I was attacked on the bus by 4 kids (all much older and bigger then me – at the time 10th graders) at once. I did what I needed to do and got kicked off of the school bus 6.5 miles from my home. This was also during a very strong snow storm we were having. I was called a dirty, wild Indian by the school bus driver as he pulled away. So I am standing on the side of a dirt road on the Reservation in sub-zero temps and I started walking. Just when I did not think I could make it another step. A car rolls up and it is my uncle who said “Get in here!!”

From that point I was bullied at that school. I was told I attacked the 4 attackers and I would be put out of school for 3 weeks. So my mother pulled me from that school and I went to a private Native-run School. That was what I needed.  I never treated anyone mean because of their race or anything like that but many are stuck in the past and still think that way.  I would not changed how I responded to bullying looking back on it. I take no pride in having to hurt others to stay safe but you do what you have to do to make it out alive.

I was very fortunate growing up.  Loving, somewhat “normal” family, and lived an a very safe area of a friendly, mid-sized city.  I was also fortunate that I sprouted quickly, being either the tallest or second-tallest person in my grade-school classes.  I was also very athletic and played a wide variety of sports (as I still do).  But with all this on my side, I was not immune to bullying in middle school.  For some reason it seemed that noone was immune.  There was one memory that sticks into my mind quite vividly:

I lept off the school bus on what I remember as being a beautiful day.  As I made my way to my driveway, a low-riding car drove slowly past and the driver “shot me the bird”, laughed and drove off.  Without a drop of venom, I spun around and gave him a view of my middle finger as well.  It wasn’t that I was “feeling tough,” I just thought we were exchanging a high-five (or sorts).  I walked to the back of my house, to find that I was locked out.  No big deal, my mom was probably just on her way back from the store.  I sat out my homework and started on my math assignment when 4 teenagers, led by a white, tough guy with a faint moustache and sideways baseball cap came stomping up to me.  “WHY DID YOU GIVE ME THE FINGER, PUNK?” he asked me.  (He was nearly chest-to-chest with me) and I firmly explained, “I did it because you did it to me, sir!” (I was maybe too polite)  He came back with “YOU CALLING ME OLD?”  To which I stupidly said, “No, Sir.”  After some pretty harsh taunts and me just standing there and taking it…. he grabbed my favorite Pittsburgh Penguins hat (right off my head), ripped the bill off of it and tossed it in my yard.  They left without throwing a punch.  But they scared me emotionally.  As soon as I was able to get inside, I remember shaking, crying and then getting really mad.

Many years later, I look back on this situation and marvel at how great I handled it.  I stood up to them without looking weak.  I was mentally prepared to act, if needed… but no such boundary was crossed.  I took with this an understanding that strength comes in different forms.  And just because someone appears strong, doesn’t mean that they ARE strong.

I have always been smaller than the average bear. When I was 9 years old, I tipped the scales at a mere 45 lbs.  I had one or two physical altercations with bullies in grade school, but it didn`t get really bad until grade 5. I was the new kid in school, and I was frequently (maybe twice a week) ambushed by a group of 4 kids 1 year older than me on the way home from school.  I never fought back, I just took it. My older sister at the time was friends with one of the bullies older sister`s, and when my sister found out about the bullying, word spread to the other sister – and then to their father. The bullying stopped immediately after that.

In high school I started taking Tae Kwon Do, and that is when my confidence started to grow, and my transformation started.

After that, I was never the victim of bullying again – mostly because of the way I carried myself and wouldn`t let people treat me poorly (without consequence that is).  If I were to go back in time, I would have made sure to hit hard and fast when being bullied, and then have told the authorities (teachers, parents, etc.) rather than keep it to myself.

If it worked for George McFly, it could work for me 🙂

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