Category Archives: Tools and Resources

Hooks, Training, Filming


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The Power in a Hook Comes from Body Rotation & Leg Drive… the Fist is Just What Happens to Hit


If you haven’t developed power in your hooking punches yet, try thinking of it as being all about body rotation and leg drive, with the arm (fist) just happening to be what makes contact.

That will put your focus on the major muscles driving the punch, rather simply contracting your pectoral muscles for an arm punch.


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The Way You Train is The Way You’ll Fight


It’s so important to realize that there is NO thinking during a fight. You won’t suddenly change what you do, or “remember” to do things differently in the heat of battle. Simply put, whatever you’ve done the most repetition during training is what you’ll do when you fight.

And possibly just as important as applying this to your physical skills, is applying it to your mind. You need to repeatedly practice the “mindset” you want to have in a fight, otherwise it just won’t be there when you need it. 

And, once you’ve found your ultimate “mindset”, don’t try to suddenly adapt a new “wild-eyed intensity” when you fight. If it wasn’t optimal for training, it won’t be optimal for fighting, either. 


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Film Yourself for Fast Improvement


Think about how easy it is to critique someone’s fighting when you’re watching them from the sidelines. 

Now, imagine how great it would be if you did that for yourself, too. If you’ve never filmed yourself grappling or striking, do it. You’ll see lots of things about your abilities (good and bad) that you didn’t realize.

The bad things will give you things to work on, the good ones will build your confidence. It’s a great tool for improvement.


Keep training! 

For Self Defense, Trust Your Instincts “Big Time”

Your instincts are MUCH more powerful and “tuned in” than you have any idea.

One of the jobs of your subconscious is to help you survive. It “patrols” your environment constantly, behind the scenes, for dangers that you aren’t consciously aware of. It compares what it sees or senses with it’s database of “dangerous” situations it’s learned in the past, then alerts you when it finds a match.

It knows dark alleys are “bad”.  It knows that aggressive male behavior leads to danger.  It’s already determined that certain “personality types” aren’t to be trusted.

When it spots something it believes is dangerous, it gives you an “uncomfortable” feeling. You sense something’s wrong, but often can’t put your finger on it.

Ever walk into a restaurant or bar and just get a bad feeling about someone there… even though they really haven’t given you reason to (yet)? That’s your subconscious at work, trying to alert you to possible danger.

Unfortunately, that can also lead to inappropriate profiling, distrust or stereotyping of people based on past experiences you’ve had with similar looking or acting people. Unless you want to engage in racism, xenophobia and other unacceptable behavior, it requires you to filter out some inappropriate signals it’s giving you.

Your subconscious Usually Knows Better Than You Do

But, many times, it’s dead on, and there is real, potential danger. Your subconscious very often knows much better than you do, and it wants you to survive and is screaming at you in the only way it can to get out of that situation.

If you’re hoping an overly aggressive person in the area doesn’t turn their attention toward you, that’s your intuition telling you to remove yourself from that situation asap.

If you walk into room, or a group of people, and don’t like the feeling your getting, that’s your subconscious saying to get out. It knows something you don’t.

If you want your built in self-protection mechanisms to do their job, you’ve got to listen to your intuition. If you sense someone is a bad person, there’s a pretty good chance they are. Just get away and defuse it before the problems start.

Keep training!

Starting Point, Don’t Fight, 80/20


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The Culmination of Someone Else’s Lifetime of Work is Only Your Starting Point


Once you’ve really learned a new move or skill, don’t stop there… try to improve it. Don’t fall into the trap of “it’s been done this way for 100 years…”

The way it’s been taught to you may be the culmination of someone else’s lifetime of work, but it’s your starting point. See it as you’re “standing on the shoulders of giants”… you should be able to see further than them BECAUSE of all their hard work!


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Fighting is Not Self Defense


Sorry to have to tell you this, but actually using your fighting skills is the LAST thing you want to do to protect yourself. 

The goal of self-defense is to return home safely to your loved ones at the end of the day. If you fight with someone who’s threatening you, here’s some of the likely outcomes: 

– You risk going to the hospital, living with chronic injuries, or dying
– You get sued by this jerk for hurting him
– You go to jail, possibly for years

Nursing your bruised ego is a far better choice than risking the above.

Realize now, rather than in the heat of the moment, that you have to do what might feel very unnatural… that is, just let him say what he wants while you simply try to defuse the situation.  


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Apply the 80/20 Rule to Training


Ever heard of the 80/20 rule? For you, that means only 20% of what you’re practicing gives you 80% of your results.

If you want to get the most bang for your buck when training, find out what that 20% is, and spend most of your time doing that. You’ll not only improve skills A LOT… you can do it in a lot less time!


Keep training! 

Write it down, Details, Getting Tough


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Write It Down… or Forget it!


When you learn new techniques or concepts, you MUST write them down in a notebook for later review… otherwise, I guarantee you’ll eventually forget 90% of what you are taught.

Conversely, if you write it down, you’ll eventually surpass all your training partners who don’t.

Even if you never go back and review it, the simple act of writing down techniques and concepts causes you to focus on the details of the technique, which solidifies it in your memory (see below). 


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Focusing  on the Details Commits It to Memory


One way to improve your memory of techniques is to focus on DETAILS. Heres’ why:

Details tell your mind that whatever you’re focusing on is IMPORTANT. And, when your mind sees something as important, it becomes more AWARE. And, (here’s the really important part)…

…when you’re highly aware, you soak up information like a sponge and create a STRONGER MEMORY.

Here’s the process:

Details → Importance → Awareness → STRONGER


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Spend Time in a Boxing Ring to “Toughen Up”


If you train for self-defense purposes, and are overly timid about being hit, spend some time doing some sparring in the boxing ring. You can start slow and easy and wear head protection.

Doing this will quickly desensitize you to being hit, make you less afraid and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, will give you some confidence that you can survive a confrontation against an attacker who is probably less trained than your sparring partner. 


Keep training! 

Parkinson’s Law, The Less You Know, Training Partners


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Want to accomplish more? Allow Less Time for Training


Ever heard of Parkinsons Law? It’s a principle that states “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”

In other words, we drag out whatever we’re doing to fill up the time we give ourselves to do it.

So, if your goal is to do X number of techniques today, you’ll take up all the time you’ve scheduled to accomplish it.

So, if you want to be more efficient and effective when training….

…simply allow LESS time for training. You’ll still accomplish your goal for the training session, and you’ll cut out all the wasted “talk time” and get down to business quicker and train more efficiently.


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Choosing Your Training Partners Is One Of The Most Important Decisions You’ll Make


A training partner should be TRAINING you, not simply trying to defeat you. 

Ever been badly injured? An injury will most likely be what causes you to eventually STOP training.

I suggest you train only with people who can control their egos, who respect your body and who are able to practice with control and let you work your submissions & strikes without needing to fight you.


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The Better You Become, the Less You’ll Feel You Know


This is a phenomenon that every truly skilled person is familiar with.

The better you become as a fighter, the less you’ll feel like you know. The reason that this happens is because you’ve internalized your skills so much that you don’t carry them around consciously any more. Rather, you carry them in your subconscious and in your muscle memory.


Keep training! 

Barriers, Being Vague, Reps Not Techniques


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Start By Removing All Barriers To Your Success


A simple secret to success is to simply remove barriers to succeeding.

Here’s some examples:

If the gym is next door, are you more likely to go every day than if it’s 20 miles away? 10 miles away? 1 mile away? 

If you dislike an instructor’s personality, are you more or less likely to attend class?

If you don’t have the right equipment, are you going to progress slower or faster?

Those are all barriers to your goal. It’s simple… barriers are barriers. Get rid of them and goals become easier to reach,

Many grapplers have removed barriers to training (distance and lack of training partners) simply by getting a Submission Master grappling dummy and a couple mats for their home. 


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“I want to grapple better” is way too vague of a goal. Be specific.


Since goals are the engine that drives our accomplishments, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of being ULTRA SPECIFIC about what you want to accomplish. For example…

…if your goal is vague, such as “I want to grapple better” you could learn only 1 new technique in the next 12 months and you would have accomplished your goal. But you certainly wouldn’t be happy about it or feel motivated to continue. 

Conversely, if you said “I want to learn 5 techniques from the butterfly guard in the next 10 days” AND you accomplish that, you’d have made real progress and be driven to continue by the motivation of your success. 


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Rather than “more techniques”… think “more reps of techniques”. 


Technique overload kills your progress. You’re only going to internalize your techniques after you’ve done so many repetitions that you could never forget them even if you tried.

If you’re constantly in search of new moves, you are already suffering from technique overload.

The best instructor I ever had insisted I had no business coming back to class to learn something new until I had done at least 500 reps of whatever he had already shown me. It was good advice.


Keep training! 

Training Hard, Curriculum, In The Moment


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Every time you train hard, you’re not just training your body. You are strengthening your mind, your discipline and your resolve.


The benefits of pushing yourself past your comfort zone go way beyond just improving your physical attributes.

So many times I’ve seen people failing in martial arts (and life) because of their lack of self-discipline and mental strength. They wish they had the discipline to follow through with what they start, but they quit… and it frustrates them.

What they don’t realize is that, if they just show up and go through the training for long enough, they will develop that self-discipline they need and desire. It’s literally built into the training. The mere act of pushing yourself past your comfort zone repeatedly develops your discipline & resolve.

However, there is a tipping point… if you give up before the self-discipline sets in, it won’t happen.


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Practicing moves in a “curriculum” is effective for acquiring fundamentals. However, curriculum’s are not tailored to your specific & changing needs.



A teaching curriculum is both a blessing and a curse. When you’re first learning, it’s necessary to give you a foundation to build on.  Sort of like a sculptor needs a big rock or piece of clay to start with. 

After that point, we have to focus on our own unique strengths, weaknesses and needs (rather than on a generic curriculum) if we want optimize our training time.

There may be one or two specific techniques or concepts that will catapult your abilities once you know them. However, those 1 or 2 specific skills may not be “in the curriculum” for months or years, wasting your precious time. Go after what you need… not what’s “on the schedule”. 


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Don’t think about winning or losing during a battle… that detracts from doing what you need to do when you need to do it.


This applies to both a competition and a street survival situation. You’ve got to train yourself to instantly be “in the moment”, rather than  having thoughts about your own ego, fear, what other’s will think of you… or anything at all, really. 

Anything less than having your mind 100% in the fight only detracts from doing your best.  


Keep training! 

Better Weapons, Conditioning, 50 Reps


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You’re almost always surrounded by objects that are more lethal than you


At any given moment, you’re surrounded by weapons that are easier or more effective to use than your fists, feet or submissions.  Where I’m sitting right now, I’ve got access to kitchen knives, salt & pepper shakers, chairs, cooking pots, rocks, a glass blender and tons of other objects that would be easier to stop someone with than my striking or grappling skills. If nothing else, just throwing them will cause damage or make an attacker run for cover. 

Most of us assume we’d punch (or submit) an attacker, but our hands and fists break very easily on someone’s skull. And, they’re not really even that powerful of a weapon. If you start seeing objects around you as weapons, you’ll realize you are always armed and will be even more prepared for a confrontation than you are now.


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The fight often goes to the person who simply has better endurance and can “turn it on” as the opponent’s getting tired.


My experience has always been that if I could outlast an opponent, I could pretty easily beat them.  It was most evident in the boxing ring, where an opponent would become noticeably slower, weaker, drop his hands and be unable to defend himself.

Also, part of being able to “turn it on” is mental. You might feel just as fatigued as your opponent, but if you’ve mentally trained yourself to push harder when you’re tired, you can do it. A great exercise for this is using a boxing timer for training and “turning it on” for the last 15 – 30 seconds of every round. 


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If it’s worth doing once, it’s worth doing 50 times!


It takes at least 50 repetitions of an action to make any inroads into building muscle memory, which is key to skill building.  Practicing something a few times does very little for you.

In that case, you are pretty much wasting time if you don’t do enough reps. It’s a good idea just to commit yourself to doing 50 reps of your techniques anytime you train… that both gives you a goal (50) and ensures you’re going to make some decent progress with building muscle memory.



Keep training! 

Adrenaline, Goals, Constant Improvement

Hey guys – below are 3 quick ideas for you that you may not have considered before. 

I’ve got plenty more insights I’ve gathered from my nearly 43 years of training, so let me know if you find any helpful and I’ll continue to share them!

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Do you train controlling your “adrenaline” response?

Many people find their “adrenaline response” overwhelms them during a real fight, and they can barely move. Its dangerous to assume you’ll be able to respond appropriately simply practicing your grappling or striking[/feature_box]

Think about this – the instinct to survive is the strongest instinct we’ve got, so your body has a very powerful response to a threat to your life. Unfortunately, it’s based on primal needs, and that means it can sometimes force you to “freeze” so you aren’t seen by a predator.

This can happen regardless of how brave you might ordinarily be. You’ll literally feel like you can’t move, and if you do, you’ll be in slow motion… the exact opposite of what you need for self defense. It really sucks when it happens!

I suggest you do some research on training methods to be able to handle that adrenaline response. If you’re one of the unlucky ones who easily freezes, your training’s not going to help you if you can’t move.


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A strange phenemenom…

…I’ve know several martial artists who’ve had a strong passion to train UNTIL they attained their black belt. They quit training soon after reaching black belt. 


This shows the importance of ALWAYS having a goal. For those black belts, once they reached their goal, they no longer had something to work towards and lost all their motivation and drive. 

If you don’t want to dedicate years of hard work towards accomplishing your goal only to have any desire to maintain your accomplishments slip away after you achieve them, you need to continue to set higher and higher goals. 


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Each time you get caught in a submission or position where you DON’T know what to do, write it down…

…then insist to yourself that you learn the solution BEFORE your next training session. 


So many times I’ve seen guys get in situations where they don’t know an effective response, then simply go home and return to training a few days later and it happens all over again. It’s like they are hoping the knowledge will magically come to them without even trying. What a waste of time!

In my opinion, we have no business getting on the mat without doing our homework from the LAST TIME we were on the mat. We’d never do this in school and hope to succeed… why do it anywhere else?


Keep training! 

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