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Thread: Training Priorities for H2H Integration - one perspective

  1. #1

    Training Priorities for H2H Integration - one perspective

    To fulfill my promise to post some more and hopefully help some readers out with some ideas, I offer this mini-article. If I have gone overboard with the post, then any of the mods can delete it. I hope it is helpful.

    A couple of years ago, I wrote a post TPI about what I thought was a good approach to trying to establish a solid and functional H2H self-defense game for the regular guy, who only had a small and finite amount of time to train. I then turned it into a post on my website, but I know not everyone has gone there, so I will post a slight update of it here. I wrote the following to give my perspective on how to make the right decisions.

    I offer this up only as MY take on priorities in allocating training time for Practical Unarmed Combat , no one else’s. This is how I categorize it in my head to help with my own structuring. Take it for what it’s worth.

    In order of importance, I would list the main skill sets as:

    Area 1) Keeping from getting KTFO and efficient movement while vertical
    Area 2) Dictating range, position, and attachment or un-attachment
    Area 3) Groundwork
    Area 4) Basic high percentage offensive moves
    Area 5) Staying on your feet
    Area 6) IFWA (in-fight weapons access) at contact distances

    So where to train these and where do we get the material from?

    For Area 1) Boxing/MT/Savate/MMA – these arts have methods/techniques that work under stress. They all have developed high percentage defenses and ways of moving. I have found most TMAs actually pay mostly lip service to defense. They all are much more focused on the cool offensive moves. And here lies my biggest issue with most combatives guys. They give almost no thought to defense, either in the technique or in flight time training. It’s why I give the thumbs up to very few combatives instructors.

    For Area 2) Folk/freestyle wrestling, Greco, Judo, and MMA are the predominant arts here, but any art that has any legit grappling will have some validity. This is essentially clinch work, but unfortunately since so few people actually train it, few understand what it entails. Clinch DOES NOT always mean you are attached. It simple refers to the general range where each participant can easily attach. The person who controls this aspect can also control the range, the relative positioning, and when the space can open up to longer range. In doing so, you can go a long way towards controlling the fight and winning (surviving).

    For Area 3) I think BJJ is the highest expression of groundwork in that it works for everyone regardless of physical attributes, but judo, sambo, western wrestling, and MMA are terrific as well (with the understanding that there are some weakness’ with those arts).

    For Area 4) This should be good solid material that can be relied on over and over again. There are a lot of arts you can choose from here but the best are: boxing/MT/savate/MMA/combatives. The general thought behind this choice should be what are the highest percentage, most robust, and easily maintained functional techniques?

    For Area 5) There are a myriad of reasons a fight might go to the ground, many of which you have no control over. It is a good idea to try to ensure you are as well versed as possible in those areas where you do have control. So it makes sense that the arts that have the highest level of functional takedown ability have the highest development of countering those takedowns. It is hilarious to me to see someone showing how to defend a takedown by demo-ing against someone who has never taken someone down in their lives. Not exactly the best way to ensure your stuff actually works. Try against someone who spends a lot of time training it for real. So we are back to folk/freestyle wrestling, judo, sambo, and MMA.

    For Area 6) I placed IFWA here because good IFWA is so dependent on the prior skills. While you do have to put in dedicated training time to this area, IMO it should only be done after you have a reasonable grasp of 1-5. Otherwise, you will find you have a lot of holes, and you will waste time trying to reinvent the wheel , i.e. you won’t know what you don’t know.

    Caveats and considerations in training:

    Just because these components are listed in this order of importance does not necessarily mean that is the order you should train them in. There are many factors to consider.

    First, what is available to you? It would be stupid of me to tell someone to go do BJJ if all they had around them was a guy who got his blue belt online and has never trained with a high level instructor. Or if that gym by your office advertising MMA was actually run by a guy whose background was only kenpo and another guy who was a joke as a blue belt (a real gym BTW. They actually thought they knew what they were talking about). If the choice is between a top judo program and someone teaching Muay Thai who has never really sparred, then go with the legit program.

    Second, some things are much harder to come by. Finding a real wrestling program is like winning the lottery. And arguably the majority of MMA gyms have a low level of clinch work, and often really crappy BJJ. If you find something that is harder to come across, like a legitimate wrestling gym that is willing to work with a adult who has no experience and no desire to compete, you should most likely jump at that before it is gone.

    Third, some of these things are easier to develop a decent level in than others. For example, it takes only a few months to get good at DEFENSIVE clinch work. It takes years and years and thousands of hours of flight time to get decent at OFFENSIVE clinch work, but defensively it is quick to learn to negate what the other guy is attempting. So if you are looking for a functional level, you might only need say six months of focus in this area (you still need maintenance and understand you only have a piece of the overall clinch game). I would say the same thing in regards to learning to not get KOed. Six months of implementing those defensive skills against resisting opponents who are actually trying to hit you will go a long way towards internalizing that skill set. Other skills take much longer. Groundwork for example is the most complicated and chaotic part of H2H.

    And finally, some things have a better bang for the buck. If you are studying a system that covers a bunch of things, you are being more efficient. As an example, most people don’t realize it, but BJJ trains your clinch extremely well. A closed guard or butterfly guard game requires the same general techniques that a standing clinch game does. But because BJJ is generally done in a horizontal manner, people fail to mentally translate that to the vertical plane. And if you are lucky enough to train at a BJJ school that has a strong stand up/judo game, it is even better. It is nice to have one thing that can do all that, PLUS make a big impact on your strength and conditioning.

    So, taking these things into consideration, you can decide how to prioritize it for yourself. Do you want to focus on the things that require less time, get solid at those, and then tackle the longer harder skills (BJJ, IFWA, counter takedowns), or do you want to get a jump on the more difficult aspects ASAP since they do take such a long time to functionalize? Only each individual can answer what is the best path.

    Again, this is my own take, and I offer it only as a guideline for someone trying to figure out how to add H2H to the total self-protection package, without losing any skill at what you have already achieved.
    Last edited by LittleLebowski; 09-22-2015 at 12:48 PM.
    For info about training or to contact me:
    Immediate Action Combatives

  2. #2
    This seems like a good summary, thanks for putting it together and posting it.

  3. #3
    Very thought provoking info for me. I've got limited time, existing injuries, low self awareness and bad judgment. The only gym available geographically offers BJJ and boxing.

    Not sure if should start with boxing or BJJ. Would a 3 month on 3 month off schedule alternating make any sense? Or just talk to the instructors, get there input, make a decision and stick with it for at least a year?

  4. #4
    Thanks for posting this. Quick question, in Area 1, what does MT and TMA stand for?

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by 351322 View Post
    Thanks for posting this. Quick question, in Area 1, what does MT and TMA stand for?
    Not Cecil, but pretty sure that means Muay Thai and Traditional Martial Arts (karate, tae kwon do, etc).

  6. #6
    Cecil, I'd like to ask about IFWA, do you have any general thoughts you'd like to share on the subject?
    Last edited by Mitch; 09-22-2015 at 10:34 PM.

  7. #7
    Site Supporter StraitR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Central Florida
    Great info, thank you for taking the time Cecil. The other H2H thread has enlightened me to the fact that a clear lack of training/knowledge in this area is definitely a hole in my defense game, and I want to change that. Part of your post here touched on some of my concerns regarding selecting a gym and it's associated instructor. While far from an expert, I do have some movement and striking experience from a few years of instruction in MT. That said, I have ZERO knowledge base when it comes to ground fighting, so I thought to look there first.

    So my question, how does someone with very little experience in these matters qualify a gym and/or it's instructors to be of good quality?

    Specific example, a quick search of my AO shows the following BJJ gym...

    Under instructors, they list Master David Iturrino (BIO) with the lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Carlson Gracie > Francisco Albuquerque > Roberto Abreu > Todd Cutler > David Iturrino

    Aside from the name Gracie, I have no idea who any of those guys are or if I should or shouldn't be impressed. So, worth my time, or should I keep shopping?


  8. #8
    happy sharps enabler Totem Polar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Quote Originally Posted by 125 mph View Post
    Not Cecil, but pretty sure that means Muay Thai and Traditional Martial Arts (karate, tae kwon do, etc).

    I'm digging Cecil's whole post.

  9. #9
    Member Hatchetman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Up the Blue Ridge a Ways.
    Quote Originally Posted by StraitR View Post

    Specific example, a quick search of my AO shows the following BJJ gym...

    Under instructors, they list Master David Iturrino (BIO) with the lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Carlson Gracie > Francisco Albuquerque > Roberto Abreu > Todd Cutler > David Iturrino

    Aside from the name Gracie, I have no idea who any of those guys are or if I should or shouldn't be impressed. So, worth my time, or should I keep shopping?

    Not Cecil either, but good things rarely flow from answering questions like this directly as saying a program/lineage sucks gets you into butthurt flamewars (the MA world is rife with them), while saying a program is adequate can lead the same direction, and extolling a program leaves one sounding like a shill and if the student ends up not liking it they blame you.

    There's no accounting for tastes and much like in the automobile or pistol worlds one man's dream machine is another's ostentatious piece of crap. I think you need to answer questions like this for yourself and most good schools will allow you to do so by either letting you watch several classes or by offering a trial period of some sort. I'm all sorts of utilitarian so my grail when answering questions like this is "does this school allow me to practice realistic skills in context under gradually increasing pressure?" If so it's likely worth devoting a year of your life to see where the program can take you before reevaluating.

    Warning signs you should eject from a program include:

    • The old guys beat the crap out of the new guys. You are paying to be cannon fodder/fresh meat. I've heard of some boxing gyms where this occurs. Don't be an unwitting heavy bag.

    • Lots of mystic horsefeces gets spread. I like focusing my chi as much as the next fellow, but if you are expected to spend a lot of time trying to move small objects by force of will, training death punches, learning esoteric moves from unlikely stances said to be undefendable, making your gi snap just so when throwing a punch, or learning how to deal with situations you'd have to be a fool to let yourself get into in the first place ("here's how you defend against a guy on a unicycle juggling chain saws in a closet. . . .") et al, eject.

    • There's a bunch of feel good testing and bits of filigree you can hang on your belt for a "small fee." Playing dojo ballerina in front of a room full of people resulting in some bragging bauble you have to pay for is the Florida swampland of the MA world.

    • If you ever hear a fellow student say something like "it only took me a year to get my black belt," the school likely has the same sort of quality control as a little league where all players get a trophy.

    I'm sure I'm missing some. . . .
    "I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Lets start with typewriters."

    Frank Lloyd Wright

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    JHB, SA
    Great post!

    Thanks Cecil, some thought provoking information.

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