Tag Archives: Brazilian jiu-jitsu

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 14 • Yin ☯ Yang of Fighting 360°

Consider for a moment that expertise is represented by a wheel. In combat training, when a student learns a new martial art, they are adding new spokes to their wheel with each one representing a collection of techniques and their investment. Each spoke further strengthens the wheel.

The wheel is also a representation of expertise. Each spoke reflects the knowledge accumulated in a given style. The thickness of each spoke is represented by the time invested in that style, as a representation of the 100-1000-10000 rule.

This analogy can be translated to any academic discipline, trade, or sport – to explain an individual’s breadth and depth of knowledge. This can explain expertise in medicine, information technology, law, engineering, etc. It also helps to identify weaknesses that should be addressed to strengthen an individual’s wheel of expertise.

To round out this analogy, it’s important to mention the center of the wheel. This hub represents talent or natural instincts. A strong hub sets the groundwork for strong beginnings, but spokes are still needed to grow the wheel.

When applied to MMA spokes represent different martial arts. The main pillars of MMA are boxing, Muay Thai, wrestling and Brazilian jiu jitsu. The thickness shows the investment in perfecting the style’s techniques. The length of each spoke is the number of techniques acquired, otherwise known as degrees of freedom. The goal is to grow the wheel in equal measure, so that it’s balanced and strong. For example, if too many techniques are learned without traversing the 100-1000-10000 rule, then the spoke will be long yet thin. Investment in repetition will thicken the spoke. Likewise, focusing on only a few spokes (only one or two martial arts) will result in an uneven and unbalanced wheel.

Mixed Martial Arts is about building a strong wheel. If a spoke is missing then the strength of the wheel is compromised – meaning that there is a vulnerability in the student’s portfolio that needs to be addressed because a future opponent could exploit such weaknesses.

A master of the arts can be represented by many thick spokes and a large wheel – reflecting years of experience. When a student asks a question it’s up to the teacher to understand the student’s perspective and answer from that point of view. A master can see the wheel from the inside-out as well as outside-in, and reflect on the wheel in its entirety. A master can take a question from any perspective, and guide the student to an answer they are most likely to understand and absorb. A master has the ability to answer the student’s question from any vantage point.

Missing spokes are only weaknesses when exposed to an external force that identifies the vulnerability.

The wheel of expertise gives students
a 360° perspective

For example, wrestlers in their domain have weaknesses specific to their style, but this is only one spoke of the wheel. If a wrestler encounters a boxer, then their missing spokes will be revealed. Seen from a different angle – if a wrestler doesn’t even know the existence of boxing as an alternative fighting style, they will be oblivious to the strengths of that style, or the contrasting weaknesses of their own style. This awareness also allows the wrestler to “fight their fight”, meaning that in the absence of a boxing spoke they need to avoid strikes and manipulate the fight into a wrestling match. Mixed Martial Arts looks at combat in its entirety, and strengthen their wheel spoke by spoke.

Each spoke add to a teacher’s arsenal of knowledge. More importantly, it brings a more colorful range of perspectives to their students. The visibility of inter-comparison between styles helps to explain why one technique is inferior or superior to another.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°
• 15 • Yin Yang of Teachers vs. Students
• 16 • Yin Yang of Physics vs. Physiology
• 17 • Yin Yang of Vulnerability vs. Opportunity
• 18 • Yin Yang of Martial Arts vs. Combat
• 19 • Yin Yang of Sport vs. Violence
• 20 • Yin Yang of Rhythm vs. Random
• 21 • Yin Yang of Stability
• 22 • Yin Yang of Strategy vs. Tactics
• 23 • Yin Yang of Instinct vs. Reason
• 24 • Yin Yang of Unstoppable vs. Immovable

• Fighting Science • Fighter’s Curve
• Fighting Science • Fighting Zones

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 13 • Yin ☯ Yang of Attacking vs. Defending

Fighters need to understand the interconnected relationship between attacking and defending. Beginners assume that they need to split their resources between the two. For instance, when they are 100% attacking then they feel there is no room to defend. Likewise, when they are defending 100% they think there is no room to attack. In fact, there are two distinctive and parallel resources: One for attacking and one for defending. It is entirely possible to be attacking 100% and defending 100% at the same time. So what does this mean in practice?

When executing an attack – a punch for example – beginners are typically unaware of their defenses. They unconsciously feel that since they are attacking, they are no remaining reserves, other than their attack. Essentially they are blind until their attack is finished. An advanced fighter will defend throughout the execution of their punch – from the time it is extending until it returns to their guard. In practice, this means they are attacking 100% and defending 100% of the time. This approach allows for a split-second change in plans in the event that their opponent reacts unexpectedly in the midst of the attack.

Let’s say that a punching attack begins at 0% – at 50% completion the strike meets its opponent – at 100% the fist is back in the fighter’s guard. An advanced fighter may decide 30% into an attack to change plans because the opponent makes an unexpected movement. These are the intricacies of combinations. It’s not enough to have five or seven moves that are executed in succession, but rather how those moves need to be modified, and combined with defensive moves throughout the engagement.

Fighting is a chess match,
but decisions play out in real-time.

Fighting is often compared to chess. As in chess, both players plan many moves ahead. The more moves a player can plan into the future, to fulfill their plan, the wider their strategic advantage. Fighting is similar. Each move results in a counter-reaction. These reactions may require a split-second change as they play out in real-time. This essentially separates chess from fighting: In chess competition, a clock allows for players time to think. But fighters need to react on-the-fly and in real time.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°
• 15 • Yin Yang of Teachers vs. Students
• 16 • Yin Yang of Physics vs. Physiology
• 17 • Yin Yang of Vulnerability vs. Opportunity
• 18 • Yin Yang of Martial Arts vs. Combat
• 19 • Yin Yang of Sport vs. Violence
• 20 • Yin Yang of Rhythm vs. Random
• 21 • Yin Yang of Stability
• 22 • Yin Yang of Strategy vs. Tactics
• 23 • Yin Yang of Instinct vs. Reason
• 24 • Yin Yang of Unstoppable vs. Immovable

• Fighting Science • Fighter’s Curve
• Fighting Science • Fighting Zones

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 12 • Yin ☯ Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance

Throughout this “Martial Arts • Fighting Science” series, we delve into various dualities of combat sports. They are presented opposing views, in the Yin Yang spirit of the ancient Chinese philosophy. It is important to note that throughout this series, there are no binary rules. A technique that applies today may be proven inefficient or ineffective tomorrow. This is the beauty of combat sports and ultimately the evolution of humanity. We may be limited by the constructs of our physiology and the laws of physics – but as humans evolve so does combat sports.

Humans are the only species on earth who
incrementally evolve each generation.

The introduction of MMA demonstrates this evolution. MMA focuses on the most effective combination of movements for a given scenario. This methodology can be extrapolated to many facets of society. Opposing forces may include countries, companies, clubs, or individuals. Tactics and strategies always come down to humans, regardless of its scale. Sun Tzu’s, “Art of War” is often cited in business as a means to understand an opponent.

The perspectives laid out in this series are meant to expand the horizons of a fighter – to look at their discipline from a different perspective. Although intermediate and advanced fighters may gain insight in these posts, a counter-argument may be, “I know a better way of doing that”, or “my style disagrees with your approach”. For this reason, it’s important to understand that the perspectives chosen in this series are to expand the horizons of a fighter. We want to give students a foundation of knowledge, and solidify that knowledge through dedication and discipline. Only once this foundation is established then latitude can be given to breaking rules:

You need to live the rule before you can break it.

For example, one mistake beginners tend to make is to mimic the movements of professionals. They learn to maintain their guard by covering their face with their fists when fighting. But they watch a professional bout and see that a fighter  “show-boating” with their hands down. A beginner may interpret that approach as the proper fighting tactic. But that pro-fighter will have spent years honing their basics. Their hands may be down for tactical reasons to draw-in their opponent for a counter-attack. In other words, they are breaking the high-guard rule on purpose. Before a rule can be broken a fighter needs to live the rule until it becomes apart of them.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°
• 15 • Yin Yang of Teachers vs. Students
• 16 • Yin Yang of Physics vs. Physiology
• 17 • Yin Yang of Vulnerability vs. Opportunity
• 18 • Yin Yang of Martial Arts vs. Combat
• 19 • Yin Yang of Sport vs. Violence
• 20 • Yin Yang of Rhythm vs. Random
• 21 • Yin Yang of Stability
• 22 • Yin Yang of Strategy vs. Tactics
• 23 • Yin Yang of Instinct vs. Reason
• 24 • Yin Yang of Unstoppable vs. Immovable

• Fighting Science • Fighter’s Curve
• Fighting Science • Fighting Zones

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 11 • Yin ☯ Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise

Before an attack, any motion will signal an anticipated action. Each twitch, shuffle, dance, inhale, or blink, will give away a fighter’s intentions. This is called telegraphing – when a pre-action gives away an anticipated action. Throughout combat training student’s are taught to remove any evidence of telegraphing.

One technique to achieve a successful attack is to maintain eye level with your opponent. For example, if the fighter’s eye level suddenly elevates, then it may look like they are hopping into the attack. If eye-level dips, then it will look like they are is preparing to leap forward.

Less telegraphing means more surprise. Some students confuse this with faster motion since the fighter is unable to anticipate the move. They interpret the strike as being fast when in reality, the opponent’s latency is decreased because all signals that an attack is about to happen were removed. The attack’s execution is restricted to core movements only. Nothing more.

Not every student may have talent and speed,
but every fighter can learn to
Reduce any technique to its essential elements.

The goal is to surprise the opponent by your attack. This is sometimes referred to as learning to be “explosive”. In the case of punching, by maintain eye level, and focus on swiveling the hips for a jab or cross then the physiology of the body is optimized for maximum power.

Furthermore, it’s important to realize that power originates from the floor. Beginners often punch from their shoulder, which significantly restricts its effectiveness. Punching power originates from the foot’s anchor point, and this force travels through the hips, into the shoulder, and then to the fist. In many punches, the shoulder’s role is merely 20% of the striking power. 80% of the power comes from the anchor (foot) and the hips.

Putting this into practice, boxers will lunge forward with their front foot off the ground, and back foot digging into the floor (see the “Boxing Power” figure above). This turns them into a rocket, by using the ground as leverage. It’s a hard technique to master because beginners have a tendency to move forward putting weight on their front foot, turning their attack into a human teeter-totter. This stems from the fact that walking uses the same technique, but it doesn’t work for fighting. There is no power in this attack, although it’s often used in point-fighting tournaments because it’s faster. A boxing strike requires leverage that is more like skating, which requires digging into the ice with your back foot to move forward. Except, in this case, the fighter digs into the tatami with the front foot to move forward. In boxing this is called “shuffling”, and it’s how the strongest punches are achieved.
Kicking is a different beast altogether. Beginners have a tendency to lean back when they kick because they don’t have the muscles to raise their leg without bending their torso. Nor do they have the elasticity to stretch their muscles for a high kick. The best kickboxers are able to keep eye-level with their opponent when striking with their foot. Only their hips and legs are used to delivering the kick, and they don’t allow their upper torso to telegraph the attack. This also prepares them for counter attacks after kicking. The best kickboxers can separate their upper body from their lower body.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°
• 15 • Yin Yang of Teachers vs. Students
• 16 • Yin Yang of Physics vs. Physiology
• 17 • Yin Yang of Vulnerability vs. Opportunity
• 18 • Yin Yang of Martial Arts vs. Combat
• 19 • Yin Yang of Sport vs. Violence
• 20 • Yin Yang of Rhythm vs. Random
• 21 • Yin Yang of Stability
• 22 • Yin Yang of Strategy vs. Tactics
• 23 • Yin Yang of Instinct vs. Reason
• 24 • Yin Yang of Unstoppable vs. Immovable

• Fighting Science • Fighter’s Curve
• Fighting Science • Fighting Zones

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 10 • Yin ☯ Yang of Burden vs. Privilege

Exercising is hard. Different sports introduce their own challenges and levels of difficulty while balancing strength and conditioning. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is unique in that the whole body needs to be developed from head to toe. MMA not only requires physical strength but also aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

I tell a new student at the beginning of their first workout:

“One of two things will happen at the end of this workout.
You will say to yourself;
‘That was incredibly hard, and I never want to do that again”, or;
“That was incredibly hard but for some reason, I want to do that again'”.

Over the years I’ve found that very few students say the latter. I believe it’s due to the secretion of dopamine from exercise that brings a feeling of fulfillment, rather than suffering. Training at Ferus Fitness Fight Club is quite unique compared to other clubs in Prague. Attention is given to focusing on strength, conditioning, and fighting basics. Proper technique is taught from day-one to minimize bad habits that are hard to break. Students need a foundation from which to build their skills.

In today’s internet age, patience and time are in short supply.

Today’s millennials have a tough time learning the basics because it takes a lot of patience and time. Younger generations typically see exercise as a chore – a duty requested by parents, teachers, or coaches. They don’t realize they are investing in their well-being. In contrast, teachers have a difficult task to convert burden into joy. Competition plays a strong role in a student’s fulfillment because winning brings a sense of achievement and satisfaction. Pain from training is masked by the theater of competition. But it also causes some students to bypass training altogether, solely in favor of the competitive adrenaline. If that happens, their longevity is shortlived by others willing to invest the time to hone their skills.

When you’re a child, exercise is a burden.
When you’re an adult, training is a privilege.

As we get older, time seems to shorten. Work, family, and obligations take time and energy. Allocating resources to exercise is challenging. I often hear, “I don’t have time to exercise”. When I hear this, then I ask, “What is your entertainment? Do you watch television, for example?” Are the hours spent on various forms of entertainment the best allocation of time? One person’s entertainment is another person’s waste of time. One could argue that any form of entertainment is a waste of time. Any uni-directional flow of information is passive, whereby learning is interactive. Exercise, reading, and training are bi-directional interactions. Certainly, there needs to be a balance, and finding it may be difficult. Awareness and recognition are the first steps in the journey of finding this balance.

There are no shortcuts to getting in shape. “No Pain, No Gain” may be old school, but shortcuts are typically scams or don’t return the outrageous results advertised. Sure, we should train smart. But no matter how you cut it, there will always be pain.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°
• 15 • Yin Yang of Teachers vs. Students
• 16 • Yin Yang of Physics vs. Physiology
• 17 • Yin Yang of Vulnerability vs. Opportunity
• 18 • Yin Yang of Martial Arts vs. Combat
• 19 • Yin Yang of Sport vs. Violence
• 20 • Yin Yang of Rhythm vs. Random
• 21 • Yin Yang of Stability
• 22 • Yin Yang of Strategy vs. Tactics
• 23 • Yin Yang of Instinct vs. Reason
• 24 • Yin Yang of Unstoppable vs. Immovable

• Fighting Science • Fighter’s Curve
• Fighting Science • Fighting Zones

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 9 • Yin ☯ Yang of Threes

3 weeks without food
3 days without water
3 minutes without air
3 seconds without blood

I often quote these rules as a preamble to teaching Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) moves. The first two are not particularly relevant to an MMA lesson. The main focus is on the last two whereby its context lies in the effectiveness of BJJ chokes.

When performing a choke, if the esophagus is cut-off then an opponent has up to three minutes of air before they pass out. These are generalizations, and in heightened stress and panic, then blackout may occur earlier. A fighter’s pain threshold also plays a big role. But if the choke cuts off the carotid artery of the opponent, then blood to the brain is severed and the opponent will blackout in as little as three seconds.

Important Note:
This is particularly dangerous to practice, because it may result in an unintentional fatality. Such techniques should only be practiced with an experienced BJJ instructor.

Fighting is about survival. Tactics and strategies in fighting can translate to business meetings, contract disputes, or competitive sports. No matter the value of a business deal, negotiations always comes down to people. Understanding your opponent’s motivations, strengths, and weaknesses are essential in gaining the upper hand. But just as important is understanding your own strengths and weaknesses in these same situations.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°
• 15 • Yin Yang of Teachers vs. Students
• 16 • Yin Yang of Physics vs. Physiology
• 17 • Yin Yang of Vulnerability vs. Opportunity
• 18 • Yin Yang of Martial Arts vs. Combat
• 19 • Yin Yang of Sport vs. Violence
• 20 • Yin Yang of Rhythm vs. Random
• 21 • Yin Yang of Stability
• 22 • Yin Yang of Strategy vs. Tactics
• 23 • Yin Yang of Instinct vs. Reason
• 24 • Yin Yang of Unstoppable vs. Immovable

• Fighting Science • Fighter’s Curve
• Fighting Science • Fighting Zones

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 8 • Yin ☯ Yang of Fear vs. Confidence

Aside from technique, one of the most difficult aspects to combat is overcoming fear. Fear is incredibly debilitating because it limits the student from achieving their maximum potential. A lot of positives can be derived from the human survival instinct, but in combat sports, the following reactions create weaknesses:

Fear in a combat situation results in:
Closing eyes,
Holding breath,
and Tensing muscles.

Recognizing these three manifestations is the first step in mitigating them:

  • A fighter’s instinctive reaction to an attack is to close their eyes. But this means they can’t see where the attack is originating. When their eyes are open, at a minimum they have a better chance of reacting to an attack and protecting themselves. The most damage typically occurs when an attack is unexpected.
  • Students also have a bad habit of holding their breath at the intersection of an attack. This has a compounding effect if the student also holds their breath when they are attacking. This occurs because the body is instinctively reacting to a physically stressful situation. But the result is debilitating. I tell students that they will exhaust themselves four times faster by holding their breath because muscles are being deprived of oxygen. By remaining calm, breathing can be controlled, and a steady flow of oxygen can be maintained throughout a match.
  • The third problem is what I call the “balloon effect”. This happens when a student tenses their muscles and holds their breath when getting hit. By freezing their body the student is unable to react to an opponent’s attack, nor execute an effective counter-attack. Tensing is also painful because the body is forced to absorb the force of the punch into surrounding muscles, organs, and bones. Fighters need to learn to breathe out when they get hit. This helps by releasing some of the attack’s energy.

The fighter who blinks less sees more.

Proper technique requires confidence. This means opened eyes to see and react to all the nuances of an opponent. Controlled breathing is needed, both when being attacked and when attacking. Finally, fighters are most effective when they are relaxed. This doesn’t mean being relaxed 100% of the time. Rather to tense muscles only when called for – such as in the last milliseconds of an explosive attack.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°
• 15 • Yin Yang of Teachers vs. Students
• 16 • Yin Yang of Physics vs. Physiology
• 17 • Yin Yang of Vulnerability vs. Opportunity
• 18 • Yin Yang of Martial Arts vs. Combat
• 19 • Yin Yang of Sport vs. Violence
• 20 • Yin Yang of Rhythm vs. Random
• 21 • Yin Yang of Stability
• 22 • Yin Yang of Strategy vs. Tactics
• 23 • Yin Yang of Instinct vs. Reason
• 24 • Yin Yang of Unstoppable vs. Immovable

• Fighting Science • Fighter’s Curve
• Fighting Science • Fighting Zones

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 7 • Yin ☯ Yang of Perception vs. Reality

Fighting is a balance of reality versus perception. A fighter’s reality evolves around their skills, experience, and mental strength – often called a fighter’s “heart”. Where does perception play a role?

It’s often said that “fights are lost before they begin”. This is because the fighter’s perception of the opponent overshadows the reality of their fighting abilities. For example, a fighter may have a muscular frame but may have never fought in their life. If a fighter is intimidated by such an opponent they won’t perform at their full potential.

Students typically misinterpret the “size” of an attack as being much larger than its reality. For example, they try to avoid a fist by slipping or ducking, with a movement that far exceeds the dimensions of the attack. For example, they treat a 10cm fist as 50cm so their countermeasure wastes a lot of energy to avoid a perceived 50cm attack.

Why is this happening? This extravagant countermeasure comes down to fear. The student is fearful of the attack, thus takes unnecessary measures to avoid it. The focus in class is to teach students to first be aware of their own fear, and then to suppress it. If they are successful then their technique is reduced to the most basic movements.

Minimizing movement is part of a fighter’s portfolio.
The efficient output of energy results in faster countermeasures.

Fighting is about confidence.  An inexperienced fighter may be manipulated by their opponent into believing they are weaker or less skilled. Confidence brings out the best in the fighter’s skills. In contrast, insecurity suppresses a fighter’s skill. An opponent may use psychological tactics by trying to inflate their opponent’s fear, to win a fight, even before it begins.

Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Sometimes an unassuming opponent is an experienced fighter.

A similar dynamic of perception and reality plays out in training. Students sparring with their trainer will initially be intimidated by their instructor. But sometimes the reverse happens, where the trainer may take it easy on the student. Suddenly the student feels the two are more closely matched. The reality is that the trainer may be fighting at 20% their potential but the student is fighting at 80%. I call this scenario “a false sense of dominance” when a teacher spars with teaching in mind, but the student is fighting to win.

Trainers should never view their students as opponents.
Students should never view their trainers as rivals.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°
• 15 • Yin Yang of Teachers vs. Students
• 16 • Yin Yang of Physics vs. Physiology
• 17 • Yin Yang of Vulnerability vs. Opportunity
• 18 • Yin Yang of Martial Arts vs. Combat
• 19 • Yin Yang of Sport vs. Violence
• 20 • Yin Yang of Rhythm vs. Random
• 21 • Yin Yang of Stability
• 22 • Yin Yang of Strategy vs. Tactics
• 23 • Yin Yang of Instinct vs. Reason
• 24 • Yin Yang of Unstoppable vs. Immovable

• Fighting Science • Fighter’s Curve
• Fighting Science • Fighting Zones

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 6 • Yin ☯ Yang of Slow vs. Fast

Students initially associate light sparring to mean “slow-motion”, and hard sparring to mean “fast”. But that’s should not be the case. Slow motion striking is not effective, because it’s not reflective of a real combat situation. Student’s need to learn “fast-and-light” sparring. This means learning how to “pull punches” – a technique where speed can be at an optimal level but before connecting to the opponent, the attack is dissipated (or attenuated) at the last millisecond. With this approach, realistic reactionary measures can be practiced, without hurting your opponent.

Fighting has the rhythm of dancing,
yet requires the absence of rhythm.

Students also make the mistake of taking turns when sparring, meaning that when one attacks the other defends – then they switch. Rhythm is an asset and a threat. A sparring match has a tendency takes on a predictive ping-pong of attack/defend and defend/attack. But this is also not realistic. Taking turns is a form of rhythm that a good fighter will seek to break. A good fighter will break the rhythm of an opponent to confuse them. In contrast, a fighter is at a big disadvantage if they don’t understand the rhythm of their opponent.

Often the best opportunity to counter-attack is when an opponent is attacking. This is an “attack when being attacked” approach, and is effective because at the moment they are attacking, the opponent is most exposed. For instance, a left jab from an opponent means their left side of their head is no longer being protected. Only their right hand is available to block a counter-attack. When a fighter is committing to an attack, it leaves them vulnerable. With the right timing and anticipation, the exposed side of the opponent can be exploited.

When facing an opponent with a strong guard (i.e. their head is well protected with a stable stance), fakes and faints can be used to create openings. This causes the opponent to defend, move or strike, which creates new opportunities and vulnerabilities.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°
• 15 • Yin Yang of Teachers vs. Students
• 16 • Yin Yang of Physics vs. Physiology
• 17 • Yin Yang of Vulnerability vs. Opportunity
• 18 • Yin Yang of Martial Arts vs. Combat
• 19 • Yin Yang of Sport vs. Violence
• 20 • Yin Yang of Rhythm vs. Random
• 21 • Yin Yang of Stability
• 22 • Yin Yang of Strategy vs. Tactics
• 23 • Yin Yang of Instinct vs. Reason
• 24 • Yin Yang of Unstoppable vs. Immovable

• Fighting Science • Fighter’s Curve
• Fighting Science • Fighting Zones

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 5 • Yin ☯ Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups

Entering a new dojo or training facility requires humility and respect. Maybe the instructor is young or small in stature – don’t judge a book by its cover. You are a guest in their gym. Respecting a new gym requires courage and confidence. You are admitting to everyone that you don’t know something, but are willing to spend the time and effort to listen and learn.

Learning is about checking your ego at the door.
What kind of student are you?

There are three types of students:

  • Empty-Cups • These are students who have the complete courage to enter a new facility and learn a new craft. They want to learn new techniques and new degrees of freedom. They ware willing to have the instructor fill their cup with knowledge and experience. These students are the easiest to teach because they absorb information like a sponge. Techniques they learn are not only be adopted for that session but will be treated as their personal “laws” to be adopted as part of their training repertoire  – from that point onward.
  • Full-Cups • At the opposite end of the spectrum are students who enter a new gym with big egos, or their personality is overshadowed by insecurity. They don’t have the courage or willingness to lower their guard and learn something new. Their cup may be full from another discipline or gym. So what is their motivation? Maybe they want to “fight-out” their daily frustrations on unsuspecting students, or prove their toughness in a new gym. Maybe they have low self-esteem and don’t have the confidence to lower their guard and admit they don’t know something. These students are the most challenging to teach because the artificial barriers they have created must be broken down first before teaching can begin.
  • Cups-with-Holes • These are students who listen to the instructor for a brief moment and forget or discount what you told them, once you leave. They don’t have the patience or interest to adopt a new technique for longer than the teacher is giving them attention. They treat the instructor’s guidance as temporary. This may be due to a lack of respect for the gym or instructor. Other times it may be due to not realizing that what they are being told is “law” that needs to be adopted from that day forward.

The best students are Empty-Cups – it is enough to tell them once, and the instructor’s mission is accomplished.

As an instructor, I try to understand the type of student standing across from me. If they are a Full-Cup student, my time is ill spent. If they are a Cup-with-Holes then I try to explain that what I am teaching is not temporary – it’s “law”. They should adopt that law from that point onward – at least until something better comes along. Cup-with-Holes students require a lot of patience because they need to be told repetitively what is correct before they finally realize the importance of what you are teaching them.

About the Author

Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°
• 15 • Yin Yang of Teachers vs. Students
• 16 • Yin Yang of Physics vs. Physiology
• 17 • Yin Yang of Vulnerability vs. Opportunity
• 18 • Yin Yang of Martial Arts vs. Combat
• 19 • Yin Yang of Sport vs. Violence
• 20 • Yin Yang of Rhythm vs. Random
• 21 • Yin Yang of Stability
• 22 • Yin Yang of Strategy vs. Tactics
• 23 • Yin Yang of Instinct vs. Reason
• 24 • Yin Yang of Unstoppable vs. Immovable

• Fighting Science • Fighter’s Curve
• Fighting Science • Fighting Zones