Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chi Sao DVD Now Available!

Well Woo Hoo! For some years now, people have asked when my Chi Sao (Sticky/Clinging Hands) VHS would be put into DVD format (with the addition of a navigation menu!), and finally it's here. Click the link to buy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Knife Information

In previous posts I have mentioned "available equalizers," anything that one could put one's hands on in a moment of need to give you an advantage that you would not otherwise have. A knife is something commonly carried and of course a very powerful equalizer (not trying to euphemistic here). In the future I may go more into the issues of whether to carry or not carry a knife, but for those curious about some base legal issues, Bernard Levine has a site you may want to check out. http://www.knife-expert.com/ is the place to go. I haven't looked thoroughly at the site yet, but it looks interesting.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What If It Doesn't Work?

One of the interesting things that Dan Inosanto spoke about was developing the “educated eye.” That is, he would say, whether you prefer one system or another, you still want to know the strengths and weaknesses of what you might encounter. For example, a grappling oriented person would be a fool to ignore learning enough about good boxing to learn how to get inside its efficient range. Related to this is a question too often ignored in martial training. A technique is presented, and it's a given that it will work if practiced enough. But what if it doesn't work, what position does that leave you in? For example, a large blocking motion could work, but what if the first motion of the opponent was a fake? It's possible that the wide-blocking person could adjust, but there is no question that the larger the defensive motions, the harder it is to flow with and adjust to the unexpected things that happen. So a question/filter we should always be putting our material through is "What if...?"

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Daily Weapons

One of the things that Dan Inosanto taught was to classify weapons according to characteristics: long (i.e. staff-like, a broom or pool stick for examples), short, pointed, blunt, edged, flexible (e.g. a belt), throwable (sand, coins, rocks) and so on. Most of us on any given day hold car keys, pens and silverware as common objects that can be very effective "equalizers." Relating back to an earlier post about balancing awareness and paranoia, it's a good idea to remind ourselves as we come into contact with these various implements that they can be multi-purpose tools. I periodically play with smoothly switching a fork (a great nasty weapon) from eating hold to fighting hold, if that doesn't sound too soldier-of-fortune weird. In my often deserted neighborhood, when I walk out the door into the street at night, I may have my most solid car key in an appropriate grip for unlikely just-in-case possibilities. The odds are that if we are not engaged in regular knuckle-head behavior, that we will not need to face serious confrontation, but using a little energy for the insurance that we would be prepared for unwanted situations is a good idea.

New DVD

Hello All,

Just letting you know my "Training Progressions Overview" show, previously available only on VHS is now in DVD with nifty new navigation buttons. Woo and Hoo! You can get it through my e-store. "Modified Chi Sao" will also be available in the near future, again with the very nifty navigation menu, so I will let you know when that is dropping.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bruce Lee's Favorite Color

Interesting that to this day, martial artists still have no shortage of opinions about Bruce Lee and his methods (Jeet Kune Do). Without going into a critique of the various sides of the debate, an interesting related issue is that people would decide what to train or not train according to what Lee did. It's certainly not a bad starting point, but doesn't take into account individual abilities or preferences. To be more specific, my understanding is that at his furthest stage of development before he died, he had thrown out trapping and most defenses other than close evasion such as slipping, and only wanted to jab or cross or possibly kick his opponent and then be back out. His goal was that the only thing that would be touching between him and his opponent would be Lee's strike or kick. Ok, good for Lee, he had the development to be able to pull that off. Dan Inosanto told me that the last time he saw Bruce, he had become so fast that the only way he knew he was striking at him was because he could feel the wind in front of his face. As for the rest of us, how many of us are anywhere near that level? So for myself, there are many things that Bruce Lee didn't find useful that I find useful. I do know of JKD practitioners that are trying to emulate Bruce's final stage, and I have to wonder if they knew what Bruce Lee's favorite color was, would they now decide that their favorite color was the same?

Monday, September 21, 2009

JKD Trapping

While my posts up to this point have been primarily about self-defense in general, this will be a reprint from a very technically oriented book I have finished the rough draft for. The first section will still be relevant to martial arts in general.

The following is from my book in progress on "Jeet Kune Do Trapping Hands."

Before talking about jeet kune do, we need to acknowledge that all martial arts derive their viewpoint from, and represent a model of combat. This model includes beliefs about: 1) what we are likely to encounter, combatively, 2) what would constitute efficient responses, and 3) theories of training methods. A model is something that is either arrived at through experience and thought, or passed down through tradition. Since most of us are not self-taught from scratch (and are unlikely to have experienced all of the possibilities presented in any given tradition under actual fighting conditions), it is usually a combination of both, to varying degrees. Bruce Lee was aware that all models have limitations, which is why he never believed in a "final understanding". Clearly, much of the evolution of martial arts is the result of people's personal conscious or unconscious re-interpretation of tradition. Most commonly, a given model is based on many specifics of what ideally should be an expression of that system, but to a much lesser degree on a clear presentation of what we are likely to encounter, other than actions that support that system's assumptions. That is, rarely is there an examination, except in the sketchiest terms, of just what comprises the most deeply ingrained human combative instincts (1). Instead, the natural human tendency is to project the concepts of one's system onto the outside world without empirically examining whether or not there may be a gap between a particular system's point of view (represented by its training) and how untrained people might react.

For example, some of those involved in mixed martial arts (essentially kickboxing combined with grappling, the "No Holds Barred" view) assume that because mixed martial arts are popular, that the average person is now a skilled mixed martial arts fighter. This is a faulty model however, because to this day, the odds are that the great majority of people we are likely to be confronted by are untrained in martial arts (unless we are challenging other martial artists). The odds are that those that have trained at all have generally trained in garden variety strip-mall black belt factories and not for very long. The most common offensive and defensive performance instincts now in one-to-one fights are the same instincts as ages ago: wild telegraphed punches (usually hooking), hands dropping after and between strikes, relatively few kicks, grabbing and pushing (in offense and defense), inefficient defense when any, no sense of distance or footwork, and an inability to keep defense and offense in the same mental frame (2). Here, the mixed martial artist's perspective has legitimacy; fights easily get messy, close, and go to the ground. But this perspective is also geared towards people with similar skill levels (none, to very good) wherein people tend to neutralize each other or don't have any efficiency at kicking, punching and close ranges. However, in general street context where it's instinctive for adversaries (trained or untrained) to try to obstruct strikes, "stand-up" tactics, including trapping, can indeed be very workable for those that put in the development time. To say, as some have critiqued, that something is intrinsically wrong with trapping because it may not work every time in all situations is like saying a screwdriver isn't useful because you can't saw wood with it. It is a very good idea to be prepared for a skilled fighter, but if one only works within a martial arts class context (even contact sparring oriented), and doesn't examine the most common human combative instincts then they will be training to overlook many workable possibilities. The same idea applies regarding our defense: some think that if we can deal with a training partner's clean, quick movement, then we will easily be able to deal with an opponent's sloppy "improper" movement, but the principle of specificity holds that the way we train and what we train for will dominate our reactions. One of the oft repeated stories from Bruce Lee's Los Angeles Chinatown school involves a sloppy beginner giving a much more experienced fighter a hard time because of the beginner's unpredictable form.

This raises the issue of models of training methods. Various schools of thought regarding training methods run the gamut from emphasizing solo forms (kata, kune), to pre-set technique, to response drills, to sparring with narrow or broad limits. Extremes at either end of the spectrum are problematic; a curriculum with all pre-set technique will not develop our ability to make choices with timing and distance spontaneously, and a curriculum that only emphasizes all-out sparring will develop a lack in important areas outside of combat-sport-oriented kickboxing and grappling skills. That is, in circles that feel most training must be as non-cooperative and aggressive as possible, the problem is, besides the fact that training partners familiarity with each other greatly changes the range of reactions, that while important and useful, it is still not entirely realistic; realistic would mean actually attacking the eyes and throat, breaking limbs, and doing as much damage as necessary to stop an attack. Since this is an obviously absurd way to practice, there clearly has to be a balance between the degree of cooperation and non-cooperation in training (3). This easily leads to the conclusion that it is important that a significant part of training is spent with one of the partners semi-cooperatively playing the "slob," someone with committed aggression but poor technique (4).

Two additional issues arise when considering what approach to martial art to take: 1) how labor intensive different skills are to develop, and 2) how that relates to a continuum of probability regarding the likely severity of combat. The first issue simply put, is that some skills require much more effort to make functional than others. We have to ask ourselves if the effort required is worth the payoff, or if there may be easier ways to get the desired result. Methods such as trapping, joint locking and grappling require much more work to functionalize than basic kickboxing tools. Developing a decent non-telegraphic finger jab is more important than developing a complex wrestling hold or trapping skill. This is why JKD trapping is considered to be a skill learned after the development of kicking and striking foundation skills. Not everyone is interested in martial arts being a major part of their lifestyle, and yet they may want to have an idea as to how to deal with confrontation realistically. A desire to have some essential understanding of fighting with limited time expended is neither naïve nor uncommon, although devoted martial artists often insist that "if you are not constantly preparing for life-or-death conflict, then you are not preparing realistically". The truth is that many civilian confrontations are stopped simply with the proper attitude, and situations that require contact can often be stopped with a simple jab to let an opponent know that we are willing to engage him, and with authority (5). There are indeed people that may try to seriously harm or kill you for any variety of reasons, but that is not the average case. The average burglar is not looking for a difficult house to break into, and the average mugger or jerk looking to victimize someone is not looking for a difficult subject. In any event, in all-out confrontations, the will to survive often matters more than technique.

As to the odds within trapping itself, given average human reactions, a scenario where a simple trap could be successfully executed is common. A second trap, whether immediately or after several strikes, could happen just as easily as needing to go to a defense or some other tactic. As should be emphasized, the skill of trapping lies in how to set it up and flow with what comes. Within the trapping curriculum, there is trapping to deal with unskilled brawlers and there is trapping to deal with martial artists. At each step of the way there has to be a drilling process to get a reflexive feel for the time and place for any given technique, otherwise it is dead memorization. And while some of the trapping material may at first glance seem complex, it should be a central part of understanding that any complexity arises out of the needs of the moment and not out of an attempt to execute a predetermined sequence in the hopes that an opponent will give us all the "right" responses. For example, often when sparring or drilling, we may respond in some appropriate way that involved a complex set of responses, but if we taught what we just did as a pre-set technique, it could be difficult to execute because it would be out of context, out of the flow which includes not just physical position, but momentum, pressure and where the attention is, among other elements. However, we would not have been able to respond as we did had we not practiced the various possibilities and then worked towards the free but precise use of those possibilities. To put it another way, if we were to go to art school and start to study color theory as part of the curriculum, we would be presented with the color spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet), and someone in the class might ask the instructor why he's showing all these bright colors when he wants to paint "realistic" scenes and he doesn't see any of those bright colors out in the dingy city, not realizing that he needs to understand all of those colors before being able to artfully express the full range of possibilities from the bright to the bleak. Any curriculum starts with a formal arrangement. It is up to the instructor to guide the students towards an intuitive functional understanding of that material beyond the curriculum. And as well, ultimately the student has to "own" the material and be responsible for what he or she can make work. We could own a Ferrari, but that doesn't mean we know how to drive like a pro.

1) Hoplology, the study of human combative behavior is greatly recommended in regard to investigating what comprises instinctive human fighting. Visit the hoplology.com web site.
2) Although culture influences combative behavior (e.g. kicking in a one-to-one fight back in the 1960's would have been considered cowardly or cheating), human emotion, bio-mechanics and cognition are the dominant factors in how fighting plays out. Even world class athletes don't generally translate their skill into fighting ability; when basketball player Kobe Bryant reacted to getting jabbed during a confrontation at a game, he put his hands up and then telegraphed his strike so obviously that his cooler opponent jabbed him again! Sports brawls among professional athletes look like any other kind of brawl. It is a challenge to keep form under pressure, whatever system we study.
3) For that matter, if we are to train "realistically", then since according to a number of sources the majority of street attacks involve weapons (knives, clubs etc.), then the primary emphasis in training would rightly be weapons training, and against more than one opponent.
4) There is a tendency to train only against one's own system rather than be able to fit in with a broad variety of possible fighting styles.
5) I have had a number of students stop potential fights by putting their hand out to stop the aggressor from chest bumping. This simple act of generalship, who controls the basic nature of the fight, interrupted the expectations of the aggressors enough to make them think twice and back off.


Copyright 2009 Steve Grody

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Downtown Site

Just came across the blog site Central City East: Downtown Los Angeles. If you're a DT resident or skulker, check it out.

Friday, July 3, 2009

What Works For You?

Experts and wonks of all stripes... whataya gonna do? Whether it's in regard to exercise and nutrition, politics, religion, pick a subject, there are always those that preach THEE One True perspective. No relativity or context or considered possibilities, just the proper conclusion that any right-thinking individual would come to. Of course, I wouldn't claim I'm entirely immune from that syndrome any more than I would claim I can, or would want to, transcend my humanity. So bringing this back to the issue of self defense/combatives training, everyone's system is Thee system that is efficient, unbeatable and so on. But while there is overlap regarding issues of sport combat (Mixed Martial Arts, boxing, hockey) and street-oriented self-defense, individual needs and capabilities are part of what should define one's approach to training and tactics: Not everyone is a big burly guy always going up against another BBG (new acronym for you all). It is not feasible, or necessary for many folks to do hours of ground training or physically tough/abusive training. But again there is always some good news here as well, in the same way that it was finally generally acknowledged some time ago that you don't have to do grueling physical training to be in good physical (just regular "good enough" physical work), neither do you have to be in "caged fighting shape" to help your odds to a good degree regarding self defense. A small body of technique, some cognitive training to recognize offensive opportunity and defensive need, and an attitude of being able to do what needs to be done are the most essential requirements.

Desert Island Repertory

It's a natural thing that martial artists would be interested in acquiring more and more knowledge and skills. That's not problematic as long as one doesn't loose sight of what's essential.

The concept of "Desert Island Books" or "Desert Island Records" is interesting: If you were to be stranded on a desert island, but could take ten books, and to be generous, also ten records, which would you choose? It's a good idea to do the same thing with our martial arts training, as it's much easier to talk about many things than to narrow it down. So that's always what I suggest to students at a certain point of training; what offensive and defensive maneuvers and tactics do you feel most important to cultivate and maintain? Jab variations are essential, but a spinning back-fist is not (to me), for example. A car will function just fine without cladding, but not without all four wheels. If you are an experienced martial artist, see what you would choose to put on a single sheet of paper that would be your Desert Island Repertory.

Superior Laziness

Many people, if not of the Young Dude species, when entertaining the thought of doing martial art training, may be put off by the assumption of extreme physical demands relative to flexibility, endurance, strength and so on. They may also be put off by the thought of hard contact sparring. The good news is that, while any of the aforementioned kinds of training can be beneficial when properly done, they are not all usually needed at anywhere near maximal development. Endurance is important, but not "combat sport" endurance: most street fights are short, and while the adrenaline dump involved in a fight can be exhausting, there is not going to be a "round two" to worry about. As for flexibility, if you can get your foot up to average knee or thigh height comfortably, that's quite good enough. And strength, sure it's valuable, but if someone wanted to just be in decent to good general shape, that's fine as long as they understand that they need to be smarter and more efficient (read "nastier," e.g., jab the throat if possible rather than the nose) than the opponent. This is not just an optimistic theory, as it has actually panned out that way for a number of guys I know that did not have to endure hard contact sparring and are not exactly the greatest of physical specimens. The main point of all of this is that whatever shape someone is in, self-defense is a feasible possibility within their limitations.

Progressive Flow

It seems to me that the best martial training progressions are based around what could be called “progressive flow.” What I mean by that is that as soon as a thing is learned, another thing to contrast or compliment it is learned and then put into a drill format so that cognition is developed to distinguish between them. For example, if a parry is learned as a jab counter, then a parry (or any appropriate defense) against a cross should be learned soon after that, so that the trainer can feed a random series of jabs and crosses to the trainee who learns to see what’s coming. At the point that defending against jabs and crosses doesn’t seem overwhelming to the defender, then we might add defenses against the lead or rear hook which would make at least sixteen two-count combinations to learn to perceive (e.g. jab, cross; jab, lead hook; jab, rear hook etc.). Then we might add kick or take-down defenses and so on. So the point is that a body of responses is progressively broadened so that the trainee is able to handle more and more possibilities. This (and here comes the trash-talk/critique) is in contrast to some systems that teach technique or pattern memorization and no flow or sparring training, or technique memorization and then sparring with no progressive bridge, which would be the equivalent of learning to memorize some phrases in a language and then be expected to speak that language functionally. And under stressful conditions. Some people might make that work, but it is not an efficient way to go about learning.

Self-Defense or Self-Development?

On occasion when talking with someone, usually a person outside of martial arts, I get the question regarding martial training, “What is more important to you, self-development or self-defense?” To me, it’s the same as asking “What’s more important to health; inhaling or exhaling?” After all, the self-development value of self-defense training is in what you learn about yourself, and if the combative training isn’t realistic, then the issues that follow from it are questionable. If the training brings up issues to deal with (emotional fear, physical fear, determination, anger) and demands problem solving (e.g. why isn’t this tactic working for me; is there a more efficient way to accomplish a goal), then there is a good chance for personal growth unless one is just too plugged up to be open to it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Students

It's an idiosyncratic little list of people that have trained with me. It includes blue-collar workers (construction worker, fireman), digital professionals, therapists, some lawyers, students and so on. One thing that they have in common is that they are just here for the training. What I mean by that is that all of them are doing the training because they enjoy it and find it useful, not because they are working towards any kind of certification to hang on their wall, or to be part of a social group or hierarchy (there is none to be part of as I just teach privately). Nobody is too concerned about the Jeet Kune Do lineage. What has been a pleasant and consistent surprise over the years is how the training has affected them personally; I seem to get reports of noticing how much less anxious they are in personal interactions where power dynamics may be at play. And of course it's been important that on those occasions when necessary, the model of how confrontation works and how to deal with it has been born out.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Even Simple Is Complex

When you think about it, executing even the simplest technique in context is a complex task. Take a jab, for example. Even doing a proper power jab, with no telegraphic movement, coordination of the turning of the waist timed with an advancing step, the final jab extension coming just before the lead foot touches down, well, that's something that takes cultivation. And that's just the solo part of it. Then to develop the sense of timing and distance relative to an opponent is another cognitive skill set. And then on top of that, to be ready for all of the possible things that can happen as you fire the jab is a boatload of complexity; being ready to counter the opponent's simultaneous counter-strikes, or to shift smoothly to another line of attack as the jab is being defended against, you get the idea. And yet many/most traditional martial arts emphasize the practice of pre-set techniques with long chains of movements. Now certainly, the more honest of the instructors using that kind of training method would say that those sequences are just to teach coordination and possibilities of attack and defense, but if the techniques (and let's assume here for the moment that they are workable) are not ultimately practiced in a loose freelance way, the chances developing their spontaneous use is highly unlikely.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Balancing Awareness and Paranoia

For many people involved in martial arts, the decision to cultivate those skills is a way of taking responsibility for their own safety. It's a given that even in the safest of societies or areas of town, that there may be the possibility of incidents involving anything from road-rage to attempted mugging. As mentioned in a previous post, awareness may preempt an unwanted situation. The challenge is having awareness without paranoia. So while walking somewhere, for example, it's a good habit to notice things in our immediate environment that could be used for defense, such as club-like objects in a street dumpster, or having a pen within reach, but not letting that awareness translate into an assumption that a boogie-man is going to jump out at you if you are not hyper-vigilant. Not always an easy thing if we watch too much tabloid news, but something worth striving for.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"What's The Best Technique?"

"What's The Best Technique?" is a really common question that martial trained people get from well-intentioned people curious about self defense. To put the answer in immediate perspective, we should ask them first "What's the best driving technique? Is turning right best or turning left best? Should I speed up, stop or go into reverse?" They will say "Well of course it all depends where you are IN CONTEXT, in the flow of traffic and so on, so I can't really answer that question!" And so it is in self defense. Also, your car does not drive itself; it requires your learned cognition specific to that skill, even if it now seems automatic. A Ferrari may be an amazing car, but it can be driven badly, so one can't say they practice some "proven and effective" system and assume that makes them somehow safe by association. Any system of self defense still requires that we do enough work to "own" the skills and not just know about them. A saying in Jeet Kune Do is "It's not what you know that counts, it's what you can do."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Basis Of Martial Systems

One of the problems of traditional martial systems is that they generally don't start from scratch. That is, they start by teaching the proper movements of their tradition rather than presenting any kind of view of what natural human combative instincts involve. The first two common scenarios I'm referring to are mugging and "regular guy" types of confrontations. In "regular guy" confrontations, some of the most consistent things that can be observed are:
- No sense of distance or range; rather you see the hands-down chest bumping I'm-not-ascared-of-you distance, or two guys trash-talking from a mile away because they clearly do not really want to fight.
- Wide looping strikes; because our arms are on the outside of an axis, natural punches are curved swings.
- Stems (reaching out) in offense (grabbing) and defense (straight-arming and blocking).
- Separation of offensive and defensive actions.
- Telegraphing; huge obvious preparation of strikes.
So really, what we want to do first is ask "What are common human combative instincts?," followed by the question "What are the least labor-intensive potentially effective offensive and defensive actions we would want to functionalize?"

More about this in the next post...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Some Youtube Clips

Just letting you all know that if you go to this link to Youtube, you can see some clip bits from some of my DVDs/tapes. Most of the material is more advanced, which is to say not as important as the basics, but you may find it interesting.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ideal In A Nutshell

Along with politics and religion (and I suppose any human discussion), martial arts is fraught with controversy. In martial arts, arguments over what's workable or necessary or what is a likely street scenario splinter into various camps. We'll examine some of these points of view, but my instructor, Dan Inosanto, put the ideal general skill set in clear perspective. He said to be well-rounded combatively, you would want to have some understanding of offense and defense at the kicking ranges, punching ranges, some grappling skills, know a bit about edged weapons, something stick length, and in terms of physical qualities, appropriate strength, some endurance, some pain tolerance, and the final thing he said it was good to have was luck! That being said, the good news is that you don't need to be tremendously skilled or well rounded to improve your odds in many combative scenarios. The most important tools, i.e. anything you use, are not acrobatic or exotic, just efficient. A kick to the knee is not something that takes years to make effective or maintain. This is not to say that high kicks can't be effective, but clearly they are more labor intensive to develop and I would rather use that time to cultivate more important skills. Or read a book for that matter.
To be continued...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Awareness and Fear Of Looking Afraid

So many potential confrontations may be avoided, first by awareness (relevant to both men and women), and second by not worrying about looking afraid (more relevant to men). In the first case, just paying attention to our environment, (who is around us, if someone seems to be following us and so on) can preempt finding ourselves in an unwanted scenario. Of course the awareness is useless unless we act on it. For example, if it seems you are being followed, then rather than just dismissing it as being paranoid, going into the nearest business and seeing if the person/s in question keep on moving down the street or not, and if there's a bouncer or doorman at a bar or restaurant, then actually letting them know your concerns is not a bad idea.

In the second case, if some knucklehead on the street is acting like an ass towards you, rather than responding in kind, responding to it in the most neutral way possible can often lead to nothing more than being annoyed. As one of my instructors said, "Someone can call me anything they want, as long as they aren't trying to get physical with me." The problem is that guys don't want to appear cowardly and that can lead to unnecessary trouble.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Links

I'll be listing various martial and L.A. related links that I find useful. The first I'll post for those looking for general martial arts information is Martial Arts Exchange. The site has quite a bit of information on a variety of martial arts. Check it out.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Three Elements of Self Defense

People interested in martial arts often focus on technique. "What would you do if...?" kinds of questions are very common. This is understandable, if missing the point. Before discussing technique (either a specific technique or technique in general, as in a particular approach to combative scenarios), we have to consider cognition, the ability to recognize in a timely fashion either the offensive opportunity or the defensive need. And before we talk about developing cognition, we have to acknowledge that cognition won't be functional if we don't have an appropriate state of mind, something other than deer-in-the-headlights-this-can't-be-happening. That does not mean having to have complete confidence, as some fear can be very inspirational, but an attitude that at least allows us to respond. To sum up, technique may matter, but fighting is first and foremost an emotional challenge.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Welcome!

Welcome to my new site! I'll be posting regularly about issues relating to various points of view regarding self defense. These issues will include ideas on technique, strategic principles and, very importantly, the training process. I'll be back later today, but will just say for now that there's very good news and bad news relative to self defense. The good news is that with a few essential skills (physical and cognitive), you can make a very big difference in your odds for a positive outcome in a physical confrontation. It does not take years to achieve this, but weeks or months because the most essential tools are not exotic, but direct and efficient using a natural range of motion. The bad news is that you could study for many years and be very good, and still get sucker-punched or surprised somehow or just overwhelmed. There will never be a point at which someone is magically undefeatable, regardless of the comic book-worthy martial arts adds that claim otherwise. But we wear seatbelts to increase the odds of our safety, not for a guarantee of safety. Same thing with self defense training.

Contact

Sessions may be arranged Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m to early evening.

Email: sgrody@earthlink.net
Phone: 213-625-0516

Now located in Lincoln Heights at The Brewery Arts Complex, 1984 N. Main St. 90031


Monday, March 23, 2009

Training Overview

I offer information and training on a range of Jeet Kune Do and Filipino martial arts related subjects. My training is based on a street-oriented perspective. That is, from a perspective based on the most direct defensive and offensive skills that are most likely to be effective in probable scenarios.

Training is based on response drilling, very physical but somewhat game-like, rather than memorization of patterns. Sessions at my studio are for individual and private groups only. Specialized programs available include: women's self-defense; improvised weapons training; Taoist Qi Gong (breathing exercises).

Sessions may be arranged Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m to early evening.
Located at The Brewery Arts Complex, 1984 N. Main St. 90031.

Testimonals

Steve's training is "non-sport" oriented, though what is taught would be relevant, even novel, in any combative context. Steve goes to lengths to consider self and situational awareness, as well as issues that ought to be "common sense" when looking at being prepared for most likely, to least likely combative eventualities.

The training is of equal utility for men, women, older and younger persons. The material is organized in a more clear-sighted and useable way than I've ever seen. Intensity of training is based solely on the abilities of the student. Training is always comfortable but challenging, and always fun.

A rarity in the millennium- I can wholly recommend Steve's instruction.
-Petar S.

Steve Grody is one of the best instructors I've ever trained with. His knowledge of JKD is both encyclopedic and functional! His eskrima/stick material is truly unique. No one is teaching material this pragmatic, this relevant and this useful.

The time I spent with Steve ranks as some of the best training I've ever done. Recommended without reservation at twice the price.
- Jay H.



Steve teaches practical, effective self defense. He discards complex, unrealistic dogma and replaces it with effective real world technique.

As a police officer, my training with Steve gives me confidence in my ability to protect myself in a real world encounter. Steve trains realistically and with one singular goal - win the fight."
- Matt K.

I wish I had studied with Steve 15 years ago. I am a very new student of his, but even after 15 years of martial arts training, I walk away from every class with a ton of new ideas and material. I consider his instruction to be truly top-shelf stuff. He's very down-to-earth, and really wants to make sure that you're learning the material.

Although LA is an incredible place to study a wide variety of arts, good martial arts teachers are very few and far-between. Steve's a great one. That's pretty rare."
- John S.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bio

Here is a brief background of my involvement with the systems I am authorized to teach.

· My training began in 1973 with Dao Dan Pai, a traditional southern Chinese Daoist system which I learned under Share K. Lew from China. The training included not just the traditional Gung-Fu, but a very potent series of "internal exercises" for health, which also served as the basis for the healing system Master Lew taught.

· Jun Fan - Jeet Kune Do. I studied under Dan Inosanto for thirteen non-stop years (1979 to 1992) and became the primary substitute at his academy from '85 to '90 when he had to be away. To say it is fascinating to study Jeet Kune Do and other systems under Sifu Inosanto would be an understatement; he constantly experiments with various curriculums, bringing in new material, editing out material, showing constant curiosity and openness. He is truly inspirational in the way he always pushes his knowledge forward. During the time I was helping with the Academy teaching, he would train with as many as seven different teachers a week to expand his knowledge, but always with an eye towards "absorbing what is useful and rejecting what is useless".

· Inosanto Kali, a combination of twenty five Filipino systems including the highly effective LaCoste-Inosanto empty hand methods which was taught at Guro Inosanto's academies. I assisted and was substitute instructor for these classes as well.

· Lameco Eskrima. I was extremely fortunate to study privately with the founder of the system, Punong Guro Edgar Sulite from 1990 until his untimely death in 1997. Although I had enjoyed taking his seminars when at the Inosanto Academy, I didn't start training one-to-one until Guro Inosanto treated me to a private lesson from Punong Guro Sulite at Dan's house, and at that point realized what fine personal teaching technique he had. I was flattered that he felt I eventually understood his system well enough to have me direct a number of his videos. Master Sulite and I developed a friendship over those years and besides his extreme skills, his warm open-heartedness and humor are greatly missed.


In September 2000, I was honored to have been inducted as a Master Instructor of the Year for the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame, sponsored by the World Head of Family Sokeship Council.

Notes on Training

People are interested in the sequencing and relationship of the many areas of technique and training method in Jun Fan - Jeet Kune Do, FMA (Filipino martial arts) and various adjunct areas such as Muay Thai and Silat. In response to questions in this regard, I'm presenting a general progression overview.


EMPTY HAND TRAINING

There are various options for sequencing progressions of material. While an approach that integrates jeet kune do and kali curriculum is recommended because they complement each other so efficiently, skills may be separated according to needs and interests (studying straight jeet kune do trapping for example). The following is a general progression that is very beneficial for a development from foundation to more advanced skills.

Each body of material includes technical principles, training methods to functionalize the material, integration with the other skill areas, and working on gaining a sense of strategy and priority as to what's most effective at a given moment. That is, in addition to obvious physical work, we do progressive cognitive drills so that we can smoothly handle more and more choice reactions as we learn. This applies whether talking about Jeet Kune Do, or Filipino martial arts.

Each technical area should be sequenced so we're not putting the cart in front of the horse. For example, it would be a bad idea to teach jeet kune do trapping or kali joint locking before working with the kickboxing skills that allow us to set up trapping and joint locking

Here is a general curriculum progression.

1) Footwork drills to develop distance sensitivity and timing when to go in or not, when to angle or circle right or left. These skills are the first step to developing "generalship", or being the one that controls the nature of the confrontation. These drills are drawn from jeet kune do, and personal research.

The next three areas could be in any order;

2) Hand attack, with an emphasis on non-sportive tools and targeting, including finger jabs and elbowing, drawn primarily from jeet kune do.

3) Kick attack, with an emphasis on low-maintenance kicks from the groin down, but working some mid and high-line kicks for the sake of being well rounded and being able to help our training partners work on defenses for those kicks. This material is initially drawn primarily from jeet kune do.

4) Hand defense including parries, covers, gate blocks, bob and weave and drills for choice reaction. That is, against a left hook, for example, we might evade, cover, simultaneous block/hit, bob and weave or stop hit, and some choices are more efficient at a given moment than others; how do we learn to spontaneously choose? This material is primarily an integration of Jun Fan and jeet kune do western boxing and Wing Chun methods.

5) Kick defense, including footwork (of course), parries, shields and covers and the stop-kick. This material is drawn mostly from jeet kune do, with Kali as an adjunct.

6) Close quarter stop-gap tactics (AKA "foul tactics," AKA "my favorite things"). It's a given that any method can fail; all it takes is a fraction of a second of distraction or brain-freeze and whammo!, things get messy. But even though it would be relevant to talk about grappling at this point, there are things that are very effective and take less skill. Again, the less skill something takes, the less likely it is to screw up. Things like thumbing the eye, finger grabs, head-butting, shouldering, pinching, biting, and a few selective nerve tweaks. It always amuses me when an instructor says in response to this " well anybody could do that!…" as though it's lack of needed technical sophistication is a negative. When I grapple with my students (standing or on the ground), we always go for these targets first if available. Jeet kune do and kali share these methods.

7) Jeet Kune Do - Jun Fan trapping. When we get to the point where we function at least fairly well with the relationships of the above material, then we can take a step up in skill level either offensively or defensively. Jeet kune do trapping can be done defensively, but the progression makes the most sense starting in offensive mode. At every step of the way, it's important to relate back to the previous material so it's not an isolated skill. It is part of the base understanding that we don't trap because it's cool, but because the context presents itself.

7) Sectoring. Up to this point in the progression, we have done some simultaneous defense and counter-attack, primarily against hooking lines or as a stop-hit. But doing this against straight line strikes requires a better eye and timing, so we don't do it at an earlier stage. These variations and relationships (actually termed "time-hits" in jeet kune do via fencing terminology) can be efficient entries, or used as back-up counter-attack for other tactics like trapping or locking. This material also serves as a beginning to specific kali empty-hand skills. This is also numbered "7" because it would make just as much sense to work with sectoring at this point as it would to work with trapping.

8) At this stage, we have broader options. Going into grappling and groundfighting, joint locking, or sensitivity training would add important pieces to the puzzle.

9) Kali empty hand. The Inosanto-LaCoste system, emphasizing the limb counter-attacks and it's follow-ups with percussion, joint locks and take-downs. This material blends beautifully with jeet kune do, but can be learned as a separate area.

10) Anything that takes extreme precision, such as silat, or other specialized jeet kune do training.

As always, the challenge in jeet kune do is to integrate the skills so that at any appropriate point, we can flow to one efficient response or another, otherwise we might as well be learning card tricks to show at the family picnic.

WEAPONS TRAINING

As with the empty-hand training, there are many possible Kali/Eskrima progressions that would make sense. Here is one general progression that I use.

I think it's beneficial to be exposed to Dan Inosanto's system and Edgar Sulite's Lameco system at the same time, but it's certainly legitimate to focus on one or the other for the sake of interest even if both men's systems shared important material and both men were always changing their drills and training structures as a reflection of their continuing research and growth.

1) Single stick with emphasis on using the motions at long range and follow-ups at middle range as our "home" to use Edgar Sulite's term. Developing an eye for "before, during, and after" variations of timing is central.

2) Double stick with emphasis on developing the motions with offsetting combat syncopation and in relationship to other patterns. For example, once we've learned a "heaven 6" pattern (Inosanto system) in matched coordination, then we not only learn variations, but variations randomly fed and matched. Then syncopated applications, and then how six-count might interact with a four-count pattern. In other words, some of my friends think that the more counts there are (e.g. Villabrille 24 count), the more "advanced" the essence of the drill is. More complex is not the same as more advanced; advanced has to do with how something is used. As Dan Inosanto would tell you, the crudest pattern in the Inosanto system, "caveman" Kobb Kobb is more advanced, if used in syncopated form, than the so-and-so 84 count, and the simplest free-lance drill will generally be more beneficial than the most complicated set pattern.

3) Single stick at intermediate range. There are many interesting drills at this range, including the use of checking, counter-checking and the principles of disarms. Shortly after gaining some understanding of the checking hand with these drills, we would move in to close range, and then work on flow between the three primary ranges.

4) Available weapons. If someone wants to carry a knife, it would be a good idea to start the whole weapons progression with that. But for the majority of people that don't carry a knife, understanding available weapons is important. The reason that I'm mentioning this in relations to knives is because the most common available/improvised weapons are short; pens, forks, hairbrushes, car keys.

5) Knife, starting at long range and working timing, distance and rhythm in attack and counter-attack variations, and eventually working in closer. I recommend drills that work at real time with broken rhythm rather than traditional flow drills.

6) Staff. Staff-like implements are not unusual in our surroundings, so learning staff is not just an "art" part of the FMA, but very practical.

7) Stick and dagger. While it is true that it's unlikely that any of us carry a stick and dagger or sword and dagger around with us, and even more unlikely that someone carrying stick and dagger would have to spontaneously fight someone else carrying stick and dagger, it's a fascinating discipline because of all of the intricacies involved and attention that must be paid. It's like four people doing counter-for-counter drills all at the same time, two with daggers and two with sticks.

Instructional DVD/Video

All of these videos are packed with information. I don't show twenty repetitions of the same technique so I can extend the tape series. I don't include filler material or "teases," but give an in-depth look at these subjects.

GOOD NEWS! "THE FLOW OF FILIPINO KALI EMPTY HANDS 1-3" is back in stock!

The Jun Fan/ JKD Trapping Series vol 1 - 4, Jun Fan/JKD/Kali Sectoring, Siko Ordibas/Tapi Tapi Drills and Hubud Lubud Drills are now available on DVD:

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Jun Fan / Jeet Kune Do Trapping Skills Part 1 - DVD
The first tape in this series presents primary traps to initial strike obstructions and the all-important functionalizing process, and begins the progression dealing with secondary obstructions after the initial trap.
Approximately 58 minutes. $39.95

Jun Fan / Jeet Kune Do Trapping Skills Part 2 - DVD
Volume 2 completes the double trap (first and second obstruction) series, and presents drills to develop the speeds of perception and reaction in trapping.
Approximately 58 minutes. $39.95

Jun Fan / Jeet Kune Do Trapping Skills Part 3 - DVD
The tape presents the skills necessary to defend your trapping against counter-puncher during trapping, and begins the counter-trap series.
Approximately 45 minutes. $39.95

Jun Fan / Jeet Kune Do Trapping Skills Part 4 - DVD
In Vol. 4, the counter-trap series is completed, entries are looked at in detail, trapping from defense is dealt with, and finally, how trapping is used against boxing completes this series.
Approximately 60 minutes. $39.95

Kali/Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do Sectoring - DVD
There are many systems that use elements of what we are calling "sectoring," also known in JKD as "time-hits," (simultaneous counter-strikes). For the first time, sectoring is being presented here as autonomous body of knowledge beyond mere "entry" moves. This includes the inter-relationships of possible time-hits and how those choices are made moment to moment. Sectors are also shown as a back-up for other tactics such as trapping and joint locking. These skills cross the boundaries of JKD and Kali.
Approximately 55 minutes. $39.95


Modified Chi Sao - DVD
The thrust of this DVD is less about how to play the game of chi sao (sticky hands) with another chi sao adept, and more about how it fits into useful fighting skill in the naturally sloppy world of combative instincts. This DVD includes; individual hand roles/applications; outside/inside defensive, outside/inside offensive, luk sao, drills from the roll, active/passive changes, non-standard additions, five ways of attack within chi sao, gua chuie cycle, single hand patterns, entry (clean and messy), loose boxing to chi sao and back, adding kicks.
Approximately 55 minutes. $24.95

Hubud Lubud Drills - DVD
This DVD goes into this Filipino empty-hand drill in detail. Contents include; Defining the Kali lubud/hubud drill, hammer/overhand cycle breakdown, active/passive beats, stealing beats, switches (double tap, outside pass, backhand, circle hand), vertical gunting cycle variations and switches, horizontal gunting variation, elbow variations (da kop, wave, lift), boxing into lubud, lubud to boxing, the loose drill principle, low pass and meet, elbow check series, taking the whole line, numerado principle and interruption, downward rolling elbow, underclip elbow, backhand cycle, honesty factor, integrating kicks, locks, and other sensitivity drills.
Approximately 56 minutes. $24.95

Siko-Ordibas/Tapi Tapi Drills - DVD
This DVD works through the Siko Ordibas (elbow and backhand) drill, and the Tap and Wipe drill. I also show how these drills are countered at each step, how they offset and blend with each other, and how these drills can move back and forth between who is feeding, and how to mix these drills with other sensitivity drills such as chi sao, lubud, elbow control and boxing drills.
Approximately 55 min. $24.95

Training Progressions Overview - DVD
This DVD deals with the overall arrangement of training progressions including technical levels and necessary drills. Areas covered: the concept of pre-requisite skills, mobility drilling, sticky evasion vs entry or stop hit, principles of body mechanics and power, drills for hand and elbow combination recognition, foul tactics, defense drill, kick ranging, kick defense drill, principle of progressive integration, relative value of choices, sectors (time-hits V jab/cross variations), trapping vs alternative lines, pros/cons of locks, sensitivity value, Kali based on sectors.
Approximately 28 minutes. $19.95



The Flow of Filipino Kali Empty Hands Volume 1 - DVD
In this DVD, we work through a comprehensive series of counter-attacks directed at the opponent's punches and kicks, and done in the distinctive way of Inosanto-La Coste Kali.
Approximately 45 minutes $29.95








The Flow of Filipino Kali Empty Hands Volume 2 - DVD
In this DVD, we work with Kali kicking methods, Kali trapping attack, primary gunting (nerve hit) combinations and gunting follow-ups.
Approximately 55 minutes. $29.95









The Flow of Filipino Kali Empty Hands Volume 3 - DVD
In this DVD, we go into the details of Kali's distinctive hand and elbow follow-ups to the opponents limbs and body, wrenches, joint locks and take-downs. Also for the first time on tape, we take a thorough look at foot trapping and crucial training methods to develop technical flow.
Approximately 56 minutes. $29.95







Street-Tweaked Boxing - DVD (MPEG4)
This show includes; boxing's street value, alternative tools and targets, street-alternate cover, foul tactics, high and low cover to elbow and hammer follow-ups, head butting, foot stomps, jamming. MPEG4 means it will play fine on a computer but not a standard DVD-to-TV player.

Approximately 28 minutes. $19.95