Whether you call it "cross-training," a "hybrid approach" or "mixed martial arts," your goal is clear: to diversify your skills by adopting techniques from other styles of fighting. And to anyone with experience in the martial arts, your reasoning is equally clear: Because nothing is perfect, all systems of combat can be improved. Throughout the history of the martial arts, many masters have recognized this. Bruce Lee was one of them. Sensing the shortcomings of his original art, he studied other styles from the East and a few from the West. He learned new theories and techniques and tested them before creating what's now regarded as one of the premier fighting systems on the planet: jeet kune do. Another pioneer was Imi Lichtenfeld, founder of the Israeli art of krav maga. He developed his system for survival on the battlefield. Like Lee, Lichtenfeld researched various fighting arts and extracted what he believed would be the most relevant for his soldiers. Over time, krav maga developed further, making it functional for police officers and civilians. The newest pioneers in the martial arts are Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners. Using the methods the Gracie family learned from a Japanese judo champion, they created what's arguably the most effective grappling system in the world. Can these three successful hybrid arts be improved? Of course. While you're reading this, experts in each art are probably analyzing and fine-tuning their methods. Because my expertise is in wrestling, I'll leave the analysis of JKD and krav maga to others and concentrate on what I know — specifically, on how American wrestling can be used to augment Brazilian jiu-jitsu. [ti_billboard name="The Switch"]

Cousin Arts

Although Brazilian jiu-jitsu and wrestling are both systems of hand-to-hand combat that are effective on the ground, they use very different approaches. Jiu-jitsu uses fluidity and suppleness, whereas wrestling often relies on direct aggression. Wrestling has a multitude of attacks executed from the standing position, while jiu-jitsu is less well-versed there. Jiu-jitsu exponents strive to master the science of submission and strangulation, while wrestlers focus on subjugation techniques and, if they're into MMA, the ground-and-pound method. There's an ideological divide between the two systems, but are they really at the opposite ends of the spectrum? No. A review of the techniques of both arts reveals how easily they can supplement each other in combat. This article will teach three wrestling techniques that can boost the effectiveness of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. They pertain to common positions in which the jiu-jitsu exponent can find himself. Although the Brazilian art teaches methods of escape and reversal for each position, I'll present new options drawn from wrestling.

The Switch

The switch is a reversal that starts from one of the least desirable positions in grappling: when your attacker has taken your back. Start on your hands and knees in a base position, and expect that your opponent will have his hands wrapped around your waist in some sort of lock. Your goal is to effect two actions simultaneously: Clear your near hand over your far hand, placing your arms in a position that resembles an "X." Then raise your far knee and pass your near leg under your far leg. Your near hand is now planted on the ground, creating a "post." Your far arm leaves the ground and moves close to your body. Raise your butt off the ground, balancing on your feet and your post (near hand). This motion will allow you to turn your hips 180 degrees and begin the reversal. Note that at the beginning of the switch, your pelvis is facing the ground. If you execute the two aforementioned steps correctly, your pelvis will face upward. The second phase of the switch involves using your far arm to apply pressure to the attacker's far shoulder. This action also creates a fulcrum, allowing you to take his back. To do it, bend the arm you cleared and use it to smash his far shoulder. Quickly extend your arm, reaching your hand deep between his legs to increase your leverage on his shoulder. Your goal isn't to break the lock but to lock his shoulder into a secure position. When you reach into his crotch area, secure your hand on the thigh closest to you with your palm facing up. To create a fulcrum at your attacker's shoulder, continue to place your weight on it. Simultaneously attempt to curl your arm as it's planted on his inner thigh. Your butt is still raised, which allows you to place your weight on his shoulder. The final phase is accomplished by swinging your far leg over your opponent's back in a high arcing motion. The fulcrum you create will facilitate your taking his back. Once you're on top, the reversal is compete. [ti_billboard name="The Inside –Leg Stand-Up "]

The Inside-Leg Stand-Up

Brazilian jiu-jitsu embraces the strategy of keeping your opponent on the ground and finishing him there with chokes and submissions. However, many hand-to-hand combat instructors advocate getting off the ground as soon as possible, arguing that it's especially important if you're the one on the bottom. They teach that the optimal position of control occurs when your attacker is on the ground and you're on your feet. One technique that can help you get off the deck and into a better position is the inside-leg stand-up. Consider it a worst-case-scenario technique for use when the fight has gone to the ground and your attacker has your back. You're in a base position, and your opponent has a lock around your waist. You must immediately explode upward. This process, called "building up," may require tenacious second and third efforts. To build up, you need to execute two independent but related actions. For the first, power up by raising your near leg and planting your foot on the ground a little more than 45 degrees to the side. Look up, then raise your torso so your back and head are vertical. You should be pushing slightly into your attacker, not pulling away from him. As you began to rise, you should have covered his hand with your hands. As your inside leg carries you upward, rise to your feet by "rolling" your far foot. Accomplish that by using an outward rolling motion from your current position of full outside-leg flexion. As you roll your foot and knee, extend your leg and plant your far foot on the ground. Then rise while continuing to push backward into your attacker. The only thing holding you at this point is his hands locked around you. You need to exploit his grip — which you do by pushing back into him while keeping your knees slightly bent and pressing your hips forward. This action puts pressure on his lock and extends his arms. You're now up but not out because your adversary's lock on your waist is preventing you from escaping. To get back into the fight, you have to break free and face him. When you came up on your inside leg, you covered his hands with your own; you must now break his grip. First, move either leg slightly forward while maintaining your balance. Second, move his grip toward the hip that just moved forward. Next, dig your thumbs between your stomach and his inner wrists while thrusting your hips forward. As his arms straighten, his grip will weaken. Cover his top hand and use your same-side hand to pry up his four fingers. Recruit your free hand to lift his other hand. To minimize the chance of being counterattacked, keep hold of his digits as you pull his lock apart and move your hips forward. Place his far hand against your far hip — it's called "putting his hand in your back pocket" — and turn toward it to face him.

The Short Sit-Out and Roll

This basic technique exists in the arsenal of the jiu-jitsu practitioner, but wrestling teaches a variation called the short sit-out. It starts with your opponent at your back with a lock around your waist. You must initiate two actions simultaneously: Cover his lock with your far hand and execute the short sit-out. That entails starting in the base position and sitting on your butt while keeping your head and spine upright. Keep your back toward your opponent's chest. Dig your heels into the ground and push backward to maximize his discomfort. To compensate, he'll attempt to reposition himself by moving forward — which is your cue to roll. As he pushes forward, quickly return to a base position at a 90-degree angle in front of him. Maintain your far-side grip on his locked hand. Some wrestlers execute this move by grabbing their opponent's wrist or forearm so they can create a hook with their elbow when they roll; however, that can telegraph your intentions. The preferred method is to cover the four fingers of his hand and squeeze hard, then use your hips to create a fulcrum under his torso. Your next task is to load him onto your hips. He's pinned there because of your grip on his hand and the outside position of his arm. Holding his hand tight, roll onto your outside hip and shoulder. He'll be forced to roll, as well, and land on his back, leaving you in a more advantageous position from which you can easily dominate him.

About the Author:

Mark Mireles is a freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience in the martial arts. He works as a police officer in Southern California.

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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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