28 Aug 2007

An interesting couple of incidents occurred to two of Meerkat’s friends.

First was one by BJJ pal Mark. You can read the full details here:
But in short – he was practising BJJ in the dojo on Sunday when a Pencak Silat class was going on on the other side. The instructor, totally out of the blue, came up to Mark and challenged him to a fight. It was clearly a stunt designed to impress the Pencak instructor’s students, but he was wrong. Within seconds, Mark was able to armbar him to within a millimetre of breaking his elbow, there was no tap so Mark released but immediately manipulated him into a rear naked and sank in for the choke. Class witnesses say the instructor went limp, but when he came to, he carried on fighting, so Mark duly caught his back again and sank in even harder – to which he DID tap out this time. The instructor got up, refused to shake hands and waltzed off back to his students with nary a look back. He was later overheard dissing BJJ - clearly trying to cover up for his foolish inadequacies.

The other incident that happened is the menacing approach by a certain martial arts governing body to stop Meerkat friends Cobra Martial Arts Ltd (makers of the excellent Martial arts multi-weapon) to trade under this name. It seems they have a similar variant to the name and have threatened legal action. Now let me see, if you own the name as a registered company and own the trademark to the name, does this not give you the right to trade under this name too? As far as I see the two organisations do not compete with each other in any way (one is an associating body, the other a seller of equipment), so there is more to this story than meets the eye, and word on the street is, it ain’t pretty. More on this as I hear about it.

Martial arts is a fun and empowering hobby. Sometimes though, bad things happen by people who take things just WAY too seriously. It is up to us as well-rounded MA citizens to do what we think is right at the time.

Power to the people, the real people

An interesting couple of incidents occurred to two of Meerkat’s friends. First was one by BJJ pal Mark. You can read the full details here ...

23 Aug 2007

As a club owner, one of my responsibilities is to ensure I get full coaching qualification renewed every 3 years. In the past, all you did was to attend a one day seminar given by the BJJA-GB (the governing body) and you got a tick in your book to say you are now a coach.
Today, things have changed. In order to keep in line with what the national sporting body (quango or whatever it is), that is Sport UK, instructors must now have the following:

  • Enhanced CRB (criminal records bureau) check
  • Current first aid certificate
  • Personal indemnity insurance
  • Membership to Sport Coach UK
  • Complete a distance learning package
  • Pass a written exam (series of short essays)
  • Attend a one or two day seminar
  • Complete specified number of monitored hours actually coaching

What you end up with is a NVQ or equivalent certificate, endorsed by Sport Coach UK. All in all it costs about £250-£300 every three years.
Apart from the expense, the whole process is pretty complicated and being an admin-phobic something I would rather avoid. But I think these days, there are some bare essentials that every martial arts club must have - mainly; first aid, basic safety of equipment and dojo, and insurance. And you wold be surprised how few clubs actually have even that!
MA is a contact sport that involve a diverse array of people. Things happen occasionally that are bad and unavoidable. The whole coaching certificate and mandatory requirements should go some way to helping manage such situations a bit better. Like it or lump it, coaching qualifications are here to stay.

Sports Coach - UK stylee

A s a club owner, one of my responsibilities is to ensure I get full coaching qualification renewed every 3 years. In the past, all you did...

18 Aug 2007

Meerkat has just spent a day renewing his First Aid certificate. I have to be honest, the thought of a whole day in Canvey Island was not the most attractive concept for me and with the morning beginning with drizzly rain, it didn't bear good omens. But the training session really surprised me, it was a really well taught by a very experienced paramedic who not only ran through the usual slings, wounds, rescue breaths and CPR - he added hundreds of truly interesting personal anecdotes about his life rescuing people. Most surprising, and saddening, were the stories where an accident victim tries suing the first aider for alleged assault/sexual contact/etc when his or her life was being saved. Really sad.
Of course we had fun mucking up our attempts at CPR on the dummy, I truly hope I never have to use these skills, but it is better to know and try, than live life in ignorance.
So my thanks to the modest and out of the way Thames Ambulance training centre, I got a hell of a lot more out of this session than a dozen slick and corporate 'well known' first aid centres.

Dummy Aid

Meerkat has just spent a day renewing his First Aid certificate. I have to be honest, the thought of a whole day in Canvey Island was not th...

15 Aug 2007

I just want to say how much I am enjoying the sci-fi TV series Heroes. Season 1 has just finished on cable in the UK. But the good old Beeb have just begun to show it and word is spreading. I’m risking my neck here, but I have a theory that people, like me, who choose martial arts as a hobby have at one time or another, secretly harboured desires to be superheroes themselves. Maybe not now, but in the beginning, when they were first starting out, they dreamt of gaining amazing new powers to defeat all the bullies and enemies that every slighted them in the past. Yep, silly I know and I suspect I will be getting a kicking from my sparring partners for revealing such limp thoughts. But TV programs like Heroes reminds me of how, a shy, unconfident, awkward, teenage version of Me would begin his martial art journey thinking it would change the world. OK, so 20 years later, I don’t have superpowers, and despite gaining a lot of knowledge, I still get choked and tapped out like everyone else on the mat. And you know what? It’s great not having to dream anymore. I love the humble, normal, everyday things that martial arts (and in particular BJJ) training gives you. It helps keep my superhero wannabe feet on the ground and ego in check. So let the Heroes of TV fiction stay on the screen…for now.

Monday’s BJJ training was pants for me. After the exhilarating high of last week’s show-off spar against Brian, I failed to roll with any conviction this week. I soon found out why as the moment I got home from training, my guts exploded and I came down with a moderate case of food poisoning.

I’ve noticed a number of newbies turn up at BJJ. They stick around for about a couple of months and you see them get better and better, but then, never show up again. These guys are more than the try it a couple of times people. These are ones who are at first really really enthusiastic. But clearly, round after round of ego-sapping, and humbling tapping out to more established members eventually takes their toll and they decide that enough is enough. I know it is hard. We’ve all been there (some would argue I am still there!) But rolling and sparring against better practitioners is the only way to learn. Although it is admittedly the hardest route. But there lies the genius of ground fighting. In the first 6-9 months, I absolutely NEVER EVER thought I could even escape from a position, let alone attempt a submission. I blamed my diminuative size, I blamed my gi, I blamed the mats, it was truly crushing to think I was not making progress. But slowly, very slowly, one or two successes came my way. Now, after almost 3 years, I realise that there is never this massive epiphany where you discover you can sub allcomers. It is more subtle. You spar, you try things out, sometimes you lose, sometimes you force a tap, but most times, you kind of just ‘play’ with techniques. Against a good partner, it ceased a long time ago to be about winning or losing, just learning.

Still, imagine if you really could bend time and space, how awesome if you could spar and use that eh?

...and tonight, on Heroes in the Eyes, I'm gonna be...

I just want to say how much I am enjoying the sci-fi TV series Heroes. Season 1 has just finished on cable in the UK. But the good old Beeb...

8 Aug 2007

Gadzukes, what is happening at my JJ club? First Daniel breaks arm last week and this week, JJ members Holly twists her knee and Anthony lands badly on his shoulder. Both will be out of action for several weeks. Incidents at my club are thankfully rare, but they are a bit like buses, nothing happens for ages then 3-4 come at once. Let's hope that is the end of the hoodoo for now.

At BJJ training, I sparred with a Brazilian purple belt. He looks not too dissimilar to Royce Gracie - tall, thin, constant smile, very good jujitsu. Although he was twice my height and weight, he sparred very fairly with me and I enjoyed our roll very much. I even managed half a cheeky sweep which he acknowledged. Buoyed by this, I next sparred with Eddie, who this time was playing Poker Face Eddie - ie he kept me guessing every twist an turn and frankly, I ain;t much of a poker player! So, finally, after my slightly humbling experience I decided to challenge Big man Brian to a roll. Everyone was sitting down watching and poor Brian did not know how pumped up I was for this roll. I really love it when I get an audience too, so for an exhilarating 60 seconds or so, I was aggressively trying every trick I have learned on Brian and he was clearly taken aback. It's probably the best I have ever done against a much larger uke. I half suspect Brian will not take it so easy next time we roll.

Just got an email circular from JJ headquarters and looks like Head of JJ is penciling in a BJJ seminar very soon. Personally I would prefer an established BJJ instructor to lead the seminar but the boss wants to keep it low key and within the orgsanisation for now, perhaps expanding it if we decide to continue with the concept further on down the line. So I guess I will have to dust down the rule book and actually learn the points system in detail, which to be honest I have never really taken much notice of (and not many others do either). According to the CBJJ you get 2 points for a takedown, 3 points for passing the guard, 4 points taking the mount, various points for an advantage or points deducted for an infringement.
I think practising BJJ just to win points is not really encouraged in most clubs. Usually, students are encouraged to experiment, try new things out, take risks, look for submissions or sweeps etc. If you only play for points then everyone would be looking to mount, and hold the pin and it would all be very boring.

Jinxed

Gadzukes, what is happening at my JJ club? First Daniel breaks arm last week and this week, JJ members Holly twists her knee and Anthony lan...

1 Aug 2007

A nasty injury occurred at my JJ class last night. Daniel and Johan were sparring on the ground together and during the ensuing battle for position, Dan seemed to let go of his arm from Johan’s grip and back elbowed the matted floor. It seemed like such a minor knock, the kind that happens week in week out without any problems, but the look of pain in Dan’s face told everyone it was a lot more serious than it first seemed. The arm lay forlornly and Dan was unable to move his fingers or feel much – my first immediate thought was a broken bone. After waiting an eternity for an ambulance, which never showed, he was eventually persuaded to stand up and, gingerly clutching his arm, taken by car to hospital.
Judging from his comments, it took hours and hours to be seen to, only to be told that he would have to wait until the next morning for surgery. Daniel suffered 3 breaks to his forearm bones just below the elbow. A complicated break requiring metal pins, plates and realigning of nerves. So Dan stayed overnight in hospital only to be told that the surgery was cancelled and he would have to come back in two days. Poor Daniel, as if the pain and trauma of a bone breaking was not enough, he had to endure the farce that is accident and emergency in the UK. Meerkat and everyone at JJ wishes him the best of luck for speedy recovery.

In 20 years of training various martial arts, I have seen a few eye-watering injuries. Daniel is the first to have broken a bone at my JJ class, although it would probably be true to say many have suffered damaged tendons, ligaments and various bits and pieces as part of their training. As a contact sport, sadly, there is the risk of injury. We try our best to minimise this, but accidents do happen.

In my first BJJ club, I sparred with an uke and somehow rendered that person unable to walk with an ill-judged spine lock. It was a bad move from an inexperienced Meerkat and one that still haunts me today (the person was able to walk in the end but it was a sickeningly long wait). I have also witnessed a very senior JJ expert dislocate his uke’s shoulder - his scream of pain brought a packed sports hall to shuddering silence. There was also the infamous episode where a new BJJ student suddenly suffered an epileptic fit. He had unwisely not informed anyone of his condition (for fear of prejudice) and it freaked a lot of people out. I have also seen what happens to a person who does not tap out when choked. The eyes roll back to only reveal the whites and the tongue flops out. It is a horrific sight, but, thankfully, only temporary. Actually now my memory banks are working, here are some more injuries I have seen at first hand in martial arts: an Achilles tendon popping, fingers being dislocated, elbows hyper extended, necks whiplashed, noses bloodied, corneas scratched, ooh and many more nasty things. Nothing of course compares to the sad story of a JJ student who dropped dead during his brown belt grading. I never saw this myself, but many were there and they recall that it was an awful scene. Sorry guys, but martial arts is quite dangerous, stick to knitting – although even here I am sure there are numerous knitting related injuries which don’t bear thinking about.

Injuries

A nasty injury occurred at my JJ class last night. Daniel and Johan were sparring on the ground together and during the ensuing battle for p...

 

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