Stand up!

September 06, 2006

We all hope that we never have to use our martial arts skills in a real situation. If a situation does occur, we want to be well prepared to defend ourselves properly. Proper practice is the only way. With that in mind, let me ask you a question. If you were attacked and fighting for your life, would you rather fight standing up or would you rather be on your back? Not a difficult question, is it? Few people will choose to fight from their backs, not even jiu jitsu fighters. I have a good friend named Baret Yoshida here in Hawaii who is known as having one of the best guards, if not the best, in the entire grappling world. Ask the most famous Brazilian jiu jitsu fighters who they think has the most dangerous guard and Baret’s name will always come up. Does Baret want to fight from his back in a real fight? Not at all. As great as Baret’s guard is, he spends a lot of time practicing standing up from the ground to get back to his feet. Think of the advantage you would have if you knew that even if a grappler did take you to the ground, you could stand back up and start striking again. The key is to actually practice this essential skill properly. It is easy to say “If someone takes me to the ground, I will just stand back up.” It is much harder to do against someone who is skilled at keeping you down. One of the JKD Unlimited Performance Games (isolated sparring drills) that we practice is the “Stand Up from the Ground” game. One person starts on their back, the other person starts on top in any number of positions. The top person can be standing, throwing kicks at the downed fighter. The top person can also be on the ground in the guard, half guard, side control, etc. The person on the bottom must try to get back to his feet while the person on top tries to keep that from happening. We vary the level of resistance so that the bottom person gets to work on their escapes without being overwhelmed. What everyone learns is that there are specific techniques and tactics to escape from your back and get to your feet. The person on top learns how to use their own technique to counter all of the escape attempts. The result of playing this Performance Game is that the person on the bottom becomes very skillful at escaping while the fighter on top becomes skillful at keeping an opponent on their back.Another good friend of mine is Robert Follis, a Head Trainer for the Team Quest Fight Club near Portland, Oregon. This is UFC legend Randy Couture’s team, one of the very best in the Mixed Martial Arts world. Follis visited Hawaii recently and trained my class. We worked on standing up from the ground, and he emphasized a few very important points. When people try to stand up, they usually try to push the other person away to make space. This is not the best idea, especially against a strong opponent. They will lean forward and strike down at you. Instead, we always need to push ourselves away. It is like if you are too close to a giant rock. Instead of pushing the rock away, push yourself back from the rock. As you push away from your opponent, try to do so at an angle by getting to the side and pushing on his ear. If you push straight back, you may still get hit hard. Pushing to the side not only gets you out at an angle away from the striking, it may also set you up for arm locks and chokes if you can’t get all the way to your feet. Just like when you are sparring on your feet, you want to try to get to the side and attack from various angles instead of coming straightforward. Another important point is to make sure the opponent does not sit up while you stay flat on your back. If he gets elevation, he will drop those punches and elbows down hard! If he sits up, you must sit up with him. If he starts to push you back down, try to use his movement to push and angle to the side to start your escape. These few concepts can be translated into many different techniques, but as long as you are not getting hit and you can get back to your feet you are doing a good job. Of course, knowing the technique is just the beginning. Take the techniques and play with them in the Performance Games. Playing the “Stand Up” game is especially important for all of you who specialize in striking arts such as kickboxing, Tae Kwon Do, and Karate. You can set and throw your punches and kicks with all your power, knowing that if you end up on the ground, you will be back on your feet in no time. Spend time doing this drill in each practice session and your confidence will soar. The same goes for your life. Develop the mindset that no matter how hard life throws you to the ground, you will always get back to your feet and hold your head high!

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