Archive for the REVIEWS Category

Gracie Survival Tactics – The Inside Scoop

Posted in Jiujitsu, Martial Arts, REVIEWS, Safety, Self-Defense, Teaching Topic, Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2016 by bradvaughn

The Non-Lethal Techniques Every Law Enforcement Officer Should Know

by Brandon T. Vaughn  01/06/16

GST - Group Pic GJJ

Over the years my position/role/career as a martial arts instructor has offered many opportunities and experiences that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. The most recent of which took place last month, November 16th through the 20th, and took me back to California, a place I first had the pleasure of visiting two years ago when I participated in the Gracie Academy Instructor Certification Program in 2013.

My second visit to California would also be connected to the [Gracie] Academy, only instead of Torrance, this time I would be going to Pleasanton, a suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area approximately 25 miles east of Oakland, CA. I decided to take advantage of a formal invitation to all CTC Certified Instructors to assist and participate in any upcoming Gracie Survival Tactics (GST) Instructor Certification Courses. Eager to get an inside look at this program only available to active or retired law enforcement and military personnel, and in desperate need of a vacation (even if it would be a working one) I jumped at the opportunity. I’m glad I did. It was an incredible opportunity to learn the GST curriculum first hand, meet some of my fellow CTC Instructors, and get some “mat time” with Ryron Gracie himself.

 

Adapting To Meet A Changing Climate

GST - Vaughn teaching 2For those of you who aren’t familiar with the program, Gracie Survival Tactics (GST) is the Gracie Academy’s Defensive Tactics Program for Military & Law Enforcement Personnel. Created by the Gracie Academy to meet the ever changing needs of their clients, the GST program is itself an amalgamation of two earlier combative/defensive tactics programs. Gracie Combatives, an intensive course based on the most effective techniques of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu developed for the United States Army, and G.R.A.P.P.L.E (Gracie Resisting Attack Procedures for Law Enforcement), a non-violent and court defensible program developed for police officers. Both of the aforementioned programs were originally developed by Rorion Gracie, eldest son of Gracie Jiu-jitsu founder Helio Gracie, and creative mind behind the UFC.

Since it’s inception Gracie Survival Tactics (GST) has been taught to countless Federal, State and International military and law enforcement agencies including the FBI, the Secret Service and the US Border Patrol. During my five days assisting with the GST Instructor Certification Program I was able to meet men and women from a wide range of agencies and hear many of their first hand accounts of situations that they have found themselves in while on duty. As well as some of their concerns with the level of self-defense training that their agencies currently have in place.

 

The Road To Certified GST Instructor

For law enforcement or military personnel (active or retired) wishing to learn Gracie Survival Tactics (GST) for their own continuing education, the complete 23 lesson course is available on www.GracieUniversity.com via online streaming video. However, if you are an officer wishing to implement the GST program at your department or agency the only way to do so is by completing the GST Instructor Certification (Level 1).

The Gracie Academy teaches anywhere from 5 to 10 of these instructor certification courses a year varying by location. Some are hosted by the Academy itself  at their main location in Torrance, CA while others are hosted by various agencies around the world or by individuals within those organizations. The particular course I volunteered to assist in was hosted by a member of the Pleasanton Police Department with the actual training sessions taking place in the gym of a local high school.

The week long course began at 8am Monday morning and started with Ryron Gracie giving a brief history of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, including its creation, their work with the US Army and the development of Gracie Combatives and how working with the military and law enforcement over the last 20 years led to the creation of the techniques that we would be learning over the next five days. He then moved seamlessly into the first of eight techniques that we would cover that day, setting the pace for the rest of the week. Ryron would teach a technique, using either myself or one of the other four instructors that were there to assist in the course, then when he was sure that everyone understood the technique he would release them to practice the technique with their partner. At this time the assistant instructors would walk around and observe the participants doing the techniques, offering feedback and making any necessary corrections.

Day two and three began with the class reviewing all the techniques that they had learned the day before while. After the review period, which lasted anywhere from 10-15 minutes, we would move on the block of techniques that would be taught that day. The training sessions ended with a series of fight simulation drills in which the participants would combine several techniques from previous sessions with the ones that they had just learned, thus building their muscle memory and making them more familiar with how the individual techniques can be used in any possible combination.

While the first three days were dedicated to the learning of the GST techniques, day four was dedicated to instructor training, where the participants learned the most effective ways to teach the GST techniques to their colleagues when they return to their individual agencies/departments. The fifth and final day of the course consisted of a final evaluation to test the participants overall comprehension of all the material covered during the previous four days.

The GST Advantage

GST - Vaughn teachingWhat sets Gracie Survival Tactics apart from other defense tactic programs currently being taught to law enforcement and military personnel is it’s lack of reliance on striking techniques (ie. punches and kicks) which may not be effective against an assailant who may be physically larger or stronger or who may be under the influence of a substance that dampens their ability to feel pain. Instead, all the techniques in the GST program are based on leverage, timing, and efficient use of energy. This means the techniques can be employed effectively regardless of gender, size or athletic ability.

With the number of fatal police shootings reported to be nearing 400 nationwide in 2015, and allegations of excessive force at an all time high, GST provides law enforcement officers with a much needed alternative to relying solely on their firearm or secondary tools (ie. baton, stun gun, pepper spray) in situations where the use of deadly force could have possibly been avoided. The GST curriculum also address the high rate of instance where law enforcement officers are shot in the line of duty by an assailant using the officer’s own firearm by including weapon retention techniques in the curriculum as well as a variety of effective techniques that allow an officer to get back to their feet and create distance in the event that they end up on the ground underneath an assailant.

 

A Fear Of Change

With a seemingly endless list of benefits and advantages, it’s hard to imagine that all law enforcement agencies aren’t already taking part in the Gracie Survival Tactics program.

From conversations I had with some of the men and women participating in the GST Level 1 Instructor Certification Course, I learned that one obstacle the newly certified instructors will encounter when trying to implement the program in their own department may be the very officers that they are trying to help.

Whether it stems from an over reliance on the tools they have at their disposal or the lack of continued fitness requirements after they graduate from the academy, some officers seem resistant to any self-defense training outside what is mandated annually by their state. When you consider that 40% of officers that are shot in the line of duty are done so with their own weapon, it would seem that all law enforcement officers would be eager to learn any technique that, would not only teach them how to retain their weapon, but also how to subdue a suspect without the use of their firearm or auxiliary weapons.

Another obstacle that new GST Instructors may have to deal with is a natural resistance to change. Either from the administration or from their department’s defensive tactics instructor, in the event that the GST Instructor doesn’t also serve that role. Strategies on how to address these and other common concerns are included in the support materials that each course participant receives on the final day of training.

GST - Group Pic Sm

 

Final Thoughts

Gracie Survival Tactics is quickly proving itself to be not only a valuable resource for law enforcement officers, but to military personnel as well. As I am writing this article, the United Nations Security Service has become the most recent agency to adopt Gracie Survival Tactics.

My experience at the GST Level 1 Instructor Certification Course in Pleasanton, CA was like nothing I have experienced before and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to not only assist, but to participate in the training as well. As a martial arts instructor I’ve had the opportunity to teach students of all ages how to defend themselves. Even if learning self-defense was not their primary reason for enrolling, it was still a skill they acquired while working towards whatever their personal goals were. Having said that, I have to admit that there was something exceedly rewarding about working with individuals that will most likely be using the techniques you are teaching them a regular basis.

Brandon Vaughn

Certified GJJ CTC Instructor

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Ip Man 3 : Short Movie Review

Posted in Kungfu, Martial Arts, REVIEWS, Wing Chun with tags , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2016 by wingchunamerica

William Kwok Ip Man 3Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to watch Ip Man 3 the movie with my family, Sifu and students in Hong Kong. We enjoyed it!

OPENS IN THE U.S.  01.22.16

THE PLOT (courtesy of IMDB.com)

When a band of brutal gangsters led by a crooked property developer make a play to take over the city, Master Ip (played by Donnie Yen) is forced to take a stand.

THE IP MAN SAGA

Ip Man 1 is about surviving; Ip Man 2 is about living; Ip Man 3 is about love, passion and life. As a martial arts teacher, I am able to closely relate to the main character this time, from finding balance between martial arts and family to teacher/student relationships and accepting social responsibilities, etc. Students should know that their teachers are also human beings. They have emotions and problems like any other people.

CHOREOGRAPHY

The action choreography of Ip Man 3 is great!  It is as good as the first two if not better.  It demonstrates the main features of Wing Chun (forms, chi sau and weapons) to the mainstream audiences. The demonstrations of Wing Chun kicks in different scenes are unexpectedly good. Still, a movie is a movie. It is unfair to criticize the Wing Chun techniques as it is a not a documentary.

SPECIAL BONUS

Ip Man 3 Mike TysonIp Man features former heavyweight boxing champion “Iron” Mike Tyson in the role of “Frank.”

Bruce Lee and Ip ManKwok-Kwan Chan is CG-enhanced to play the role of Bruce Lee.  And as many of you know, Bruce Lee was once the student of the real Ip Man (pictured on the left).

THE MESSAGE
In addition to the action scenes, we can also pay attention to the messages in Ip Man 3. In addition to the unfairness in the society and the unfortunate events in the main character’s family, the fight between the Wing Chun masters is sad. We may say that it is just a plot of a movie that leads to the Wing Chun fight scenes, but it somewhat reflects the reality. A fight or argument due to one’s envy and pride is meaningless, especially among people in the same martial art family. Like the main character says at the end of the movie,

“Nothing is more important than the people close to us.”

As I said before, battles inside the family will become jokes to others. In our long martial arts journey, there is always someone better than us. As long as we can be better than our old selves, we are already a winner!

THE RATING

Overall, the crew of Ip Man 3 has done an excellent job although the story line is predictable. As a fan of martial arts movies, I rate this sequel

8 out of 10.

Enjoy the show!

William Kwok

Gotham Martial Arts

ADDITIONAL MOVIE DETAILS (courtesy of IMDB.com)

Director:

Wilson Yip

Stars:

Donnie YenJin ZhangPatrick Tam, Mike Tyson, Lynn Hung

OFFICIAL TRAILER

The Evolution of Metamoris

Posted in Discussion Question, Fighters, Jiujitsu, News, REVIEWS with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2013 by Combative Corner

Metamoris-II-Gracie-vs-AokiJune 9th

Metamoris II, wrapped up over the weekend and although an amazing and prestigious venue with incredibly talented athletes, many viewers (and certainly many tournament-goers) were left in a state of melancholy.  While I believe most people felt this, I believe that even those people that held the greatest of sadness still feel the same;

The no points, “submission-or-decision” version is a platform to showcase jiu-jitsu skill at the highest level – and we are all glad to have the opportunity to experience it.

Does the ‘Bad’ Overshadow the ‘Good’?

There were some great jiu-jitsu matches: Rafeal Lovato Jr vs. Andre Galvao, Brualio Estima vs. Rodolfo Vieira, and Kron Gracie vs. Shinya Aoki (despite a prolonged “feeling out” process in the beginning).  Things took a turn for the worst in the highly-talked-about match between Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu and Brendan Schaub (video).

Schaub vs. Abreu Metamoris 2Abeu, who did just about everything he could to engage in the fight, was highly disappointed afterwards (despite winning by decision).  Athletes come to an event like this to both test and showcase their skill in grappling.  Abreu wasn’t truly given the opportunity, and Schaub’s “nullification” of Abreu’s jiu-jitsu was borderline disrespectful and his strategy, confusing.

The Will To Survive

Ralek Gracie said, “I founded Metamoris to create a tournament where submissions are the only goal, not points.  With the introduction of judges, we will avoid judges… Someone in a fight is always sharper (link).”

As a student of Gracie Jiujitsu (Joyce) and who has had the opportunity to speak and train with both Ryron & Rener Gracie (Schaub’s jiujitsu trainers), I can say I understand what the Gracie system is all about.  Obviously Gracie Jiujitsu works and is a highly-refined martial art, however when you put a brown belt (Schaub) up against a 12-time Grappler’s quest, 3-time World Nogi Champion (and many more accolades) back belt (Abreu), you can only hope for one thing in my opinion, to survive.

In addition, the thought somewhere in Schaub’s brain, were UFC President Dana White’s one condition for taking this contest, “Don’t get hurt.”  Fortunately or unfortunately for Schaub, it was just his reputation that got hurt.

What Needs To Be Done

The only problem that I see in the Metamoris Tournament is in casting.  I believe that the matches should only be performed by players of black belt level or higher.  Furthermore, the black belt must be in a grappling-based system of martial art.  Metamoris does not need to be in the game to bring in “big names” (such as those in the UFC).  Audiences around the world wish to be riveted by high-level, submission-only grappling and while some competitors can be found in the UFC, Pride, etc, the focus should remain on those whose grappling game holds a high degree of depth and intelligence.

In that light, I am very pleased of the announcement of:

Royler Gracie vs. Eddie Bravo for Metamoris III

Eddie Bravo: “..they want to find out if I got lucky that time.” (Full 1st Fight video)

Royler Gracie: “He got lucky.”

Combative Corner: “We shall see won’t we? Either way, it should be a best outta 3, don’tcha think?”

MICHAEL JOYCE

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“Fight Science” : A No-Holds-Barred Review

Posted in Martial Arts, MMA, REVIEWS with tags , , , , , , , on December 14, 2011 by chencenter

Before I begin this review of Fight Science: Mixed Martial Arts, which was aired in January 2008 on the National Geographic Channel, I’d like to state for the record that I’m a fan, teacher and (naturally) a critic of the martial sciences.  It’s this last characteristic that I’d like to clarify.  I’m not the type of critic that gets pleasure from casting shadows on people, styles, or anything of the kind.  Personally (and the teacher in me) sincerely hopes that it’s moreso seen as “casting a light” than anything else.  There is a creed that every teacher should follow:  teach from the heart [with love]…teach the truth [without ego, without secrets, with honesty]…and become an example of what you teach.  Now, with that said…

Fight Science is a television program in which scientists and martial artists work together to discover the mysteries of the artform, the capabilities of the human body and the damage that the human body can cause with various striking techniques.  The latest episode of Fight Science featured four of the most prominent fighters of the Ultimate Fighting Championships: Randy Couture, Bas Rutton, Tito Ortiz and Dean Lister.  The questions were the obvious ones: how do these Mixed Martial Art (MMA) athletes compare to the average person, traditional martial artists, how much force/damage are they able to inflict and how is it possible that the human body can produce such results.

I’m not going to spoil the results for you.  You can watch and enjoy the program on your own.  However, I wouldn’t have decided to make this a blog entry unless I had something to say….

MICHAEL’S POINTS

NO STYLE, OR STYLE: We, the masses, obviously know that MMA is now a pop culture phenomenon.  It is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and clearly gives society a clear view of “what works” in an actual, real-to-life hand-to-hand combat (ok. minus the gloves + several rules governing safety).  Fight Science clearly made MMA fighters out to be the pinnacle of athletic excellence and implied MMA as the most effective “style” (if you call it a style).  Can MMA be a “style” when it’s just a combination of effective, battle-hardened techniques?  Isn’t this just what Bruce Lee did with Jeet Kune Do, but vowed never to refer to as a “style?”

Who,… What…umm…Who again?:  Exercise scientists tested these MMA stars on crash test dummies rigged with state-of-the-art, pressure measuring sensors.  When these researchers spoke to us (the audience) in terms like pounds per square inch (for the knowledgeable) and “concusionable” (for the less knowledgeable…[and ok, “concusionable” isn’t a word.] ), they neglected to give actual results.  How did these traditionalists (i.e. boxer, muay thai boxer, taekwondo “so-called experts”) fare result-wise?  Who were these so-called traditionalists and how close did they actually come to these MMA phenoms?  Not revealing this information only softens the argument that these MMA athletes are superior.

The Remark:  There was a remark regarding fighting as “a game of chess” in which a fighter uses strategy to plan several moves ahead.  I’ve heard this analogy before and think it’s utter nonsense.  Fighting is nothing like chess… it’s actually more like ping-pong.  Fighters simply react.  They react with a conditioned response forged by countless hours of training.  Fighting is not a sport that requires a great deal of intelligence (as the show implies).  Intelligence helps (don’t get me wrong)… but genetics, training, desire and the dent of hard work makes a much greater impression!  It’s like in the movie Top Gun when Maverick says (regarding an aerial dogfight), “You don’t have time to think up there…if you think, you’re dead.”  The instructor follows up by adding, “That’s one hell of a gamble with a 30 million dollar aircraft.”  My advice… don’t think like chess…. otherwise, “Yeeha, Jester’s dead.’

MMA less dangerous than boxing?  Hmmm…. okay, I see the logic.  The higher-ups are trying to justify MMA as being a less risky hobby/sport/profession than boxing due to lack of repetitive head trauma.  Avid fan of both here…. university graduate…umm…still not buying it.  Let’s look at these fighters at the end of their careers and count their aches, pains and nervous disorders shall we?  I’ll bet my pinky-toe that more MMA fighters are carried away on stretchers, visited the hospital more times and much more likely to become paralyzed when compared to the sport of boxing.

MMA fighters are saints… yeah…. I said it.  Ok, that’s a lie.  Ok, I’m going to do what a teacher should do and tell the truth.  There are some gentlemen in the sport.  “some”… not many.  The ones that spring to mind are George St. Pierre, Carlos Newton, Cung Le, Rich Franklin and (my favorite) Kazushi Sakuraba.  Apart from these examples…examples of stellar sportsmen… there are nearly twice as many ego-driven, barbarous “thugs.”  I understand the mindset of fighting “in the zone”… but a true martial art professional knows when his opponent is “out of commission.”  Hint… if you are a fighter and you see your opponent’s skull ricochet off the campus and limbs stiffen straight, don’t hit him again. He’s not faking!

Brain over Brawn: “MMA fighters are brain over brawn,” says the legendary Randy Couture.  (I roll my eyes sarcastically)  Well,… yes Mr. Heavyweight Champion.  My opinion is… in the UFC, don’t always bet your money on the bigger guy, however, it hasn’t been a true “David vs. Goliath” since the early days of UFC when they threw in a sumo wrestler.  But let’s face it…  Royce did a great job fighting at a natural weight of 170 lbs (give or take),  but he’s been doing jujitsu since he came out of the womb.  The reality is this…if you are under 200 lbs, plan on making the opponent miss… a lot.

Final Note:  Martial arts are more than mere strikes and arm-bars.  There is often neglected a spiritual side to the martial arts… and it is this side that I hope all martial artists are able to find.  Our goal as teachers is to help guide our students towards self-knowledge.  Our goal as students is to find meaning and bliss behind what we do.  I said once (3 years ago), that if I had it to do all over again… I would have become a fighter.  I wanted to fight in order to promote taijiquan as a legitimate fighting art and thereby draw more students into my studio (we all must make a living).  But that was all a fleeting thought.  My heart is in teaching and in spreading the art of Chen Style Taijiquan (among other things).  And although I think I can handle myself with a few of those guys, I’m not a big fan of being bruised…or bleeding for that matter.   And also…look at the statistics, even the “champion” and “hall-of’-fame” fighters lose one-out-of-four fights.  I’m content with my record of 0-0-0.  That’s undefeated, baby!

Final words,… Much respect to all martial artists, Mixed Martial Artists and Traditionalists alike.  Gracious bows to those masters that choose to fight honorably.

Overall review of this particular episode:  2 and a half stars (out of 5).  “I wish they didn’t sugar-coat the fighters and the UFC as much as they did.  The show and the athletes can stand on their own merit.  The animated skeletons, Bas Rutton’s comical remarks and the desire to write this review (having watched the entire show) were the only things that kept me from flipping the channel.  I can still hear Bas saying (about his biceps), ‘they’re not marshmellows.’  Did I mention he makes me laugh?”

Extended Question to Readers:

What was your take on the show?  Did I miss anything?  Do you disagree with anything any this review?  Anything you’d like to add?  (Don’t forget to mention if you’re a student, teacher, fan, fighter, or all-the above)

Michael Joyce

Article originally posted on Feb. 1 st, 2008

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The Gracie’s “Women Empowered” Course

Posted in Products, REVIEWS, Self-Defense, Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2011 by chencenter

It arrived the Summer of 2011… and finally the world has a women’s self-defense curriculum that not only is presented in a fun and energetic manner, but one that covers the wide array of violent situations with quality instruction and the attention-to-detail that the Gracies give time-and-time-again.  This review is intended to be “no-holds-barred” and will give the reader not only the strengths but weaknesses of this dvd series from both the viewpoint of a professional self-defense coach and from a beginning student. 

{Michael in off-white, Jenny’s comments in green}

Δ

Before I dive into the meat of the series – and what a succulent morsel it is – let me begin by saying that the roster is beyond exceptional in that they include two wonderful examples of “Women Empowered” in Eve Marie Torres and Sage Gracie.  Their comments are invaluable in both helping the beginner understand the pitfalls and difficulties common when anyone begins a training program and the fact they they are women helps to reinforce the female viewers that the techniques can be done effectively with the natural, inherent strength that all women possess.  Ryron & Rener (and later, Ralek) provide most of the technical advice as well as providing answers to common mistakes & questions from students they’ve had in previous classes.

After popping in the first disc and hearing them welcome you with such openness and sincerity… it’s easy to not only get excited about learning, but excited about DOING… which is (or should be) the most important characteristic of ANY learning series.

Rener Gracie is like the self-defense version of Tony Robbins.  He is so motivating and as he moves and makes some of the most interesting facial expressions, you can’t help but to have more focused energy on the task at-hand –  learning self-defense!

Δ

DISC ONE (BASE, RELEASES, TRAP & ROLL)

DISC ONE really gets the ball rolling by discussing the enemy (strangers/non-strangers) and the “Triangle of Victimization.”  What was a pleasant surprise to me and something I deem a necessity (in teaching self-defense) a strong emphasis on what the Gracies call the “Base Get-Up.”  Balance is crucial in self-defense and nothing rattles/confounds a woman more (initially) knocking her off balance.  (Regarding the “Base Get-Up) In the words of Eve, “It is not the most lady-like, but it IS the safest.”  The most important thing to take (after viewing) is that you shouldn’t expect to have the technique when you need it most if you don’t use it in everyday life.  Learn the “Base Get-Up”, train it and make it an organic part of your movement.

Having the women perform the techniques gives the viewer relatibility and identification in the movements.  In terms of video, every so often the camera would zoom in on a specific body part during the techniques which is extremely helpful for the student viewer.

DISC TWO (CHOKE, SUPER SLAP, GUARD GET-UP)

Again, the Gracies begin at the beginning, and add what many instructionals (books, dvds, etc.) leave out; how to prepare your body for an attack.  In this case, tensing your neck muscles in order to resist the pressure on your windpipe.  There are some pros and cons when it comes to the “Super Slap” (endnote 2.1), however, (as someone who has taught women’s self-defense for over a decade) I can see why they choose this approach.  Regarding the remainder of the disc, you receive what Rener & Ryron consider one of the most important (if not THE most important) technique of the entire series… the Guard Get-Up.  A great deal of fear comes when your assailant has you on the ground.  In this gem of a technique, the Gracie brothers show the viewer not only show an effective and energy efficient escape, but distraction techniques (i.e. Super Slap) and distance builders (as pictured to the left).

The front choke defense and guard get-up feel very practical.  The guard get-up is my favorite because it provides hope when you are in a panic-causing position whereby the predator is between your legs.  When this happens, this technique is very useful.

DISC THREE (FRAME, T & R EXTRAS, GET-UP EXTRAS, TRIANGLE CHOKE)

In this disc, the viewer/practitioner (having 6 lessons under their belt) really begins to learn that what might have worked in one scenario, might not work in another.  In self-protection, variables change and it’s very important that the student knows not only how to remain relaxed/confident in their actions but also how to recognize when something doesn’t work.  Beginning with the Stop-Block-Frame, this disc offers the viewer a sturdy support system for any attacker that encroaches within your personal boundary.    In three distinct “slices”, the Gracies effectively show the student, first, personal defense with the attacker outside of arm’s length.  “Slice 2” covers how to “Brace & Base” when the attacker makes contact, and finally (slice 3) shows “The Frame” technique (for those persistent buggers who won’t take a hint).  *It should be noted (in my opinion) that the Stop-Block-Frame is somewhat flawed (see End Notes).

Lesson 8 & 9, however, is endorsed with the highest enthusiasm.  There are many variations of techniques in the self-defense world, but when an attacker (for example) mounts his victim but is supporting his weight strongly with his arms or (possibly a scarier & more common scenario)… he’s pinned your wrists!  What do you do?  Again, these “Extras” are perfectly placed to optimize peak performance and diminish the “quicksand” that many self-defense professionals call “The Fear Loop.”  The disc ends with a popular jiu-jitsu technique known as the Triangle Choke, which utilizes the strongest asset a woman has (her legs) against the attacker’s neck.  The ability to render your attacker unconscious is bound to empower the female viewer to new heights.


Lessons 7-10 are fun techniques.  What makes this dvd set so thrilling to own is that it provides tools for almost any situation.  (If not exactly, there is something adaptable).  Whether you are in a tight space or in the middle of a parking lot, the teachers will instruct you on how to use the technique according to the scenario and what techniques to use for the different types of attacks.  Once you are successfully “proficient” on all the moves, you will be much more confident about yourself and your ability to defend against an attacker.  (Then, it’s off to Disc 5 where you can earn a Gracie Pink Belt!)

DISC FOUR (HAIR GRAB, GUILLOTINE, ELBOW ESCAPE, REAR ATTACK DEFENSE, WEAPONS)

Just when you though things couldn’t get more interesting, more empowering, the Gracies give you lessons 11-15.  As viewers… we are introduced to another Gracie, Ralek.  In this disk, the student is introduced to many of the “more challenging” situations; specifically the hair grab, attacks from behind, and attacks involving weapons.  In the world of self-protection there are numerous techniques, many of which are too difficult/complex to pull off in a high-pressure situation – NOT SO in the Gracie curriculum.  First and foremost, they present two important statements that every woman must take to heart:

  1. Those who use a weapon, normally will use as intimidation. (Usually to move you to a secondary/more isolated location)
  2. Don’t ever let them take you to a secondary/more isolated location!  (weapon or no weapon)

An important aspect however, that is rarely touched upon in weapon defense is what we should do (or expect to do) if we manage to disarm our opponent [see endnotes].

The guillotine chock happens to be one of my favorite moves.  Perhaps because I am always able to use it when my husband and I practice self-defense and other times when we are play-wrestling.  For some reason, he loves to go head first into me and then that’s when I pull the choke.  All the other moves are also fun, but are not quite as easy to perfect as this one.

DISC FIVE (PINK BELT QUALIFICATION TEST)

In this disc, the Gracies explain that (if you so choose) after reaching a solid foundation regarding the mastery of these techniques, you may want to make a qualifying video of yourself to be evaluated by one of the Gracie instructors themselves.  Not only will you be rewarded a pink belt if pass the test, but (pass or fail) you will be given a review sheet of comments and areas that need more work.  With or without this step, the Gracie family sincerely wants to help keep women safe; and to be evaluated on your performance of the techniques is just one of the ways in which you’ll feel more empowered and capable of handling any future situation that you may (but hopefully may not) confront.

DISC SIX (TOTAL EMPOWERMENT TALKS)

One of the most beneficial aspects of any program resides in connectivity.  The message and depth of knowledge aside, our ability to “connect,” relate and understand what women go through and may have to go through at some point in their life is (not to overuse the word) Empowering – but also comforting and reassuring.  You may listen to these talks at any point in your training and segments of these are offered for free on the Gracie’s YouTube channel.

Links :

Get the Women Empowerment Dvd Course and you’ll also receive two additional talks not found on YouTube entitled, Street Smarts and The College Talk; two very important additions.

DVD SERIES CONCLUSION

There is absolutely nothing like this on the market today (in my opinion).  The presenters are not only young and fun, but have a deep knowledge-base and can communicate their thoughts brilliantly.  Speaking from personal experience as a self-defense coach (and primarily a “Women’s Self-Defense” coach at that), I can say with 100% certainty that the lessons in this dvd series will not only empower you, but will serve as a wonderful foundation for future study in jiu-jitsu or any other martial art you undertake.  Also, and most importantly, the techniques (if you diligently practice them) could one day save your life!

 Buy your copy today by clicking on the picture to the left or below.

The Gracie self defense program, Women Empowered, is a good foundation for learning self defense. The teaching is enthusiastic and easy to follow with funny metaphors and clear imagery to help learn the step-by-step techniques. The program not only teaches you how to do a move for escape, but also demonstrates common moves that are incorrect and weak.

Δ

END NOTES:  WEAKNESSES IN THE PROGRAM

We’ve discussed the Pros of the program, which are almost too numerous to mention in one review.  Here are the Cons:

CALLING FOR HELP

The dvd is technique oriented and will surely empower any woman who decides to actively participate in the drills.  And although the Gracies discuss the emotional and psychological aspects of attack, they forget to mention that while these techniques are being applied, you can (and likely, should) be screaming for help!  While you should never rely on help, you can always improve your chance for survival (and of scaring your attacker) by vocalizing and making both your location and distress heard.

TAKING A HIT

Men are fairly comfortable with physicality.  Women are not.  I’ve always believed that it is valuable (at least) to mention of the inevitability of physical (and/or emotional) pain.  Perhaps this is not what the Gracies had in mind in this “Essential” DVD set, but (in my opinion & Jenny’s) training drills involving more realistic physicality will enable the student to be better prepared for the violence that could come their way.  [Obviously this can and should be done safely with the use of pads (at least at first)]

I feel the Gracies should’ve emphasized the times where it is inevitable that you will get punched, feel pressure, and such. To complement that discussion should be a lesson or a reminder through every move taught to do movements that include protecting the face and center-line.

HIGH-HEELED SHOES

Rener and his brother discuss high-heeled shoes when standing. They explain that high-heeled shoes will hinder the stand-up techniques because they hinder balance and should therefore not be used during training. I would question this because women are usually taught to wear a new pair of high-heeled shoes, especially tall ones, around the house to get used to it. Soon enough, a girl could even run in those shoes, even though it’s not good for you. So if a girl can turn a pair of heels into an extension of their feet, why not train a little bit in heels for the stand-up techniques instead of not at all? At least then the training would be realistic in the situation a women might be in for attacks. The reality is, a lot, if not all, women wear heels. Why not avoid going to the ground with the attacker by not letting the heels prevent you from escape?

HAIR-PULL TECHNIQUES

Also, the hair pulling techniques seem like only a way to prolong the process.  Why not strike, claw and dig if both hands are free?  Also, the head tends to rear back when hair is pulled (this is obvious).   The video should (in my opinion) adjust the training to deal with more naturalistic human responses.

WEAPONS

The question is left open and would be helpful if it were answered, and that is: “What do we do (or expect to do) if the technique works [we disarm the gun/knife].”  I know as a self-defense coach myself, there is all sorts of liability issues with giving advice on these highly-dangerous scenarios, however, these aspects (especially in your basic course) should be touched on.  If weapons are involved, when do we run?  At what range or in what situation is it best to run?  If we get the gun/knife, do we simply threaten to shoot & call the cops or do we place a round in his kneecap?  If the need arises, where is the best place to shoot?  Do you advocate that your Women Empowered ladies learn or take a separate course on gun training and safety?  With this being said, I must commend Sage Gracie as she states plainly after executing an example of the “Armbar” (Arm break/lock), “Make sure you break the arm.”  This is a saving grace to the lesson as it had appeared (to both Jenny and myself) that the student would simply hold/ask them to drop the weapon.  In self-defense, do not give the attacker that level of mercy.

Emphasis is placed on technique, which is only one (albeit large) piece of the puzzle.  Rener says several times in the last lesson, “(When/If you gain control of the weapon) The choice is YOURS.”  And it is!  But what ARE your choices?  In the Mindset Minute, he leaves you with only a partial answer to this question.  He says, “Know one thing, break distances or do something to ensure he doesn’t take it (the weapon) back and use it on you.”  This is true.  But as a coach wishing to give my students ALL available information, I’d want to make sure they know all the available options.

Coach Michael Joyce

Assisted by beginning student and wife, Jennifer Pruna Joyce

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*Michael Joyce is the owner and head instructor of the ChenCenter & the Golden Thread Workshops in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where he has lived and taught for over a decade.  Jennifer Pruna Joyce is Coach Joyce’s wife and is an aspiring writer & photographer who has recently graduated from Appalachian State University  and is just now learning the skills necessary to be proficient in self-protection. 

The Birth Of A New Self-Defense Tool

Posted in Products, REVIEWS, Training Equipment, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2011 by Combative Corner

T.J. Kennedy of the Hybrid Fighting Method™ gives his review of the Isurus™ Keychain [get one here].

It’s only been a year, but positive reviews & testimonials have been pouring in for this keychain.  The fact of the matter is this – Yes! You’ve seen it before (kubotans) – but not quite like this!  Watch the video above to hear what Mr. Kennedy has to say about these highly-effective and confidence-inspiring tools.

The CombativeCorner is never going to become the website directed at pushing products.  We will never sell-out, give ad-space or accept payment for issuing any sort of review or endorsement.  However, we have a lot of talented people here in our CC family and we want to keep our readers informed with some (if not, ALL) of their great work  (for example, HFM Dvd, Sifu Lee’s books, etc.).

BELOW, THE OFFICIAL ISURUS™ VIDEO

Click Here to Download

Please do not forget that you can download a free, basic manual here at The CombativeCorner (or by the following link : here :).  The Isurus™ was created to help people not only feel safe, but stay safe and afford them better leverage when encountering a violent attack.  Practical, lightweight and affordable, the Isurus™ (in my opinion) is a no-brainer (especially for those in college).  Please use the comment field below if you have any questions for us! Thank you & Stay Safe!

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*The Isurus Self-Defense Keychain is to be used for Self-Protection Purposes Only.

Las Vegas Martial Arts Supershow 2010

Posted in Martial Arts, News, REVIEWS with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2011 by bradvaughn

Bill "Superfoot" Wallace

After wanting to attend the Martial Arts SuperShow for the last couple of years I finally stopped talking about it, bought the tickets, booked the hotel and got some guest instructors to cover classes while my wife and I were gone. For those of you who don’t know what the Martial Arts SuperShow is, it is the world’s largest martial art educational trade show and is hosted by the Martial Arts Industry Association (MAIA) and its parent company Century Martial Arts Supply.

This year’s Martial Arts SuperShow, which was held July 21 -23rd at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, was actually the 10th year anniversary of the event that has been held every year in Las Vegas since 2001. In celebration of this milestone MAIA decided to make the theme of this year’s SuperShow “Legacy” and posed the question to all those who attended, What will you leave behind?

Matt Hughes

From the incredible seminars to the amazing opening ceremony the MA SuperShow did a great job of helping all the attendants, must of which were fellow school owners and instructors, answer the above question and understand just how important the impact that we leave on our students is.

As part of the Opening Ceremony MAIA invited Aron Ralston, inspiration for the movie 127 Hours, to be keynote speaker and share his remarkable story of survival. They also invited Shannon Lee, daughter of martial arts legend Bruce Lee and and CEO of Bruce Lee Enterprises to accept the Martial Arts Industry Association’s 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award. The first time that the award has been given posthumously.

Ernie Reyes Sr. doing 100 push-ups at 54.5 yrs old.

Benny "The Jet"

As part of the seminar series MAIA enlisted such well known names as Bill Wallace, Stephen K. Hayes and Joe Lewis just to name a few. The seminars covered a wide range of topics to help owners and instructors alike that included: how to increase retail sales, how to teach preschool age children, and how to be a legendary teacher. No matter who you were or what type of style you taught the SuperShow had something for you to take away from it.

I could spend days going over everything that I learned at the SuperShow but honestly I think everyone, whether you’re a school owner, instructor or just an avid martial artist sign up to attend next year’s Martial Arts SuperShow yourselves. Who knows, maybe we’ll see each other there.

 Sensei Brandon Vaughn

website:  Martial Arts Supershow

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