How to turn the tables on your attacker – 3 components of effectively counter attacking

One of the main components that Choi Kwang Do teaches its students to help them defend themselves is to counter attack.  This is officially introduced at gold belt level in our defence drill, 1 attack 5 counters, although if you have experience in another martial art the practices in this article are transferable.  Over the years I have seen countless students make some basic mistakes which can lead to their defence being messy and lead to their chances of effective self defence being reduced.  With some practice these mistakes can be rectified quite quickly and make you far better at counter attacking.  Here are 3 common sense tips to help improve your chances of counter attacking effectively.

Prepare your counter attack:  If you are attacked do you have a plan on how you are going to counter attack?  A lot of students when they first start practising counter attacks, block and then pause for a brief second, before launching into a counter attack.  The whole point of counter attacking is to catch your opponent by surprise especially when out on the street and not matched up in a sporting competition.  They are usually expecting an easy opponent and not someone who knows how to defend themselves, so the element of surprise is an important ally to us and so we need to learn to attack quickly.  We also need to ensure that the counter attack comes from the right place.  Say you are blocking , generally you are going to want to counter off of your opposite hand, which is best set up for a swift and powerful hand strike, or your front leg.  The rear leg has to travel further and therefore takes longer to reach its destination, giving your opponent some extra time to react.  Also, if someone is close enough for you to block, the chances are that they are also too close for your rear kicks to be effective.  Obviously there are exceptions to that rule, depending on your size but I feel your initial counter attack should not be a rear leg kick due to the slower speed.

If you look at the Choi Kwang Do patterns you will see that they follow the principles above.  The majority of them start with a block and either a punch off of the other hand or kick off of the front leg followed up by more techniques. The only real exception to this rule is where you use an inward block or back forearm inward block and counter attack with a strike such as side fist or knife hand.

So how can you plan what counter attacks you are going to use?  If you are by yourself then imagine you have an opponent in front of you and they are punching or kicking to a certain area.  You chose the appropriate block and then chose a rear hand technique, or front leg kick to counter attack.  Start off slow and get a feel for it and then start practising faster until you minimise the time between your block and attack.  This is obviously easier to practice with a real life partner so when you get a chance in class have them start off slow and light and throw a single technique, block it and start to counter with one or two techniques.  Pretty soon you will start to get a good feel for what techniques work best for you and will be blocking and countering quicker.  You will be training your nervous system to pick effective counter attacks when under pressure.  Which leads me on to the second tip.

Learn to counter attack openings:  You can be blindingly fast at counter attacking, however if you throw every single punch and kick at your opponents guard then its not going to be effective.  I have done this myself in classes in the past and I have seen many students do it over the years.  You want to make each one of your attacks count otherwise you are in a world of trouble.  The biggest problem for a lot of us is that we get so excited and enthusiastic about our training that we rush it.  Slow it down, and start off methodically.  Have your partner come in slowly with an attack and block it and then both pause.  Where is your opponents hands now?  Is there anywhere on their body that you can see open to a counter attack.  There is almost always one.  So pick that spot and counter attack with one technique.  Then build it up some more.  Have your partner attack you slowly, pause, look for the opening and use a suitable counter attack.  Have your partner react the way they think they would if the attack had landed with power and venom.  Where would their hands be now?  Coming up? Down?  This is going to create an opening for your second attack so go for it.

When you have started getting a feel for it then start picking up the speed and intensity.  You will now start blocking and counter attacking not only with speed, but your brain will be looking for openings for the counter attacks.  With practice you should easily be able to land 2-4 unanswered counter attacks.  You can also practice this at home by yourself without a partner, just use your imagination, start off slow and imagine the attacker and how they will react and where the openings will be.   Visualising is a powerful tool that can help you improve your performance if used correctly.  There are numerous studies on its effect.  One of the ones that sticks out in my mind is where a basketball coach broke his class into 3 groups.  1 group practised 3 point throws one hour a day for 30 days.  One group would visualise themselves throwing 3 pointers and the third group did nothing.  The group that did nothing didn’t improve at all.  The group that practised an hour a day improved by about 24%.  The group that visualised themselves throwing successful 3 pointers improved around 23% without touching a ball.  I have seen quite a lot of similar research on the effect of visualisation so don’t be afraid to incorporate it into your own personal training.

Which leaves me with the third tip to counter attacking

Angle Off:  Angling off is a very simple technique which when practiced correctly leaves your opponent exposed to your counter attacks and takes you out of danger.  Rather than staying square on to your attacking opponent try and move across away from them and block so that after throwing their attack you are now no longer in front of them and you have their side and back to hit.  This also means they have to re adjust and turn around to face you before they can use their full range of attacks, limiting them to only a few possible techniques to attack you with.

Again the key is to start slow, with or without a partner.  Have your partner come forward attacking you with one technique and for them to put their body weight behind it or imagine an attacker doing so.  It is important if you are partnered up with someone that they don’t suddenly develop heat seeking hands or feet that veer off to where they know you will be moving while you practice.  They should be aiming for where you are before you move not where you will be. As they step into you with a punch or a kick sidestep and block.  You should now find that they are side on to you or even turned around with their back to you depending on how you deflected them and the momentum that carried them.  Look to counter with one or two appropriate attacks and then reset.  When countering to the back, bear in mind not to train yourself to punch to the back of the head as you are likely to injure your hand in a fighting situation.  I tend to aim my counters for the ribs, kidneys or use low side kicks or swing kicks to the knees and back of the legs to take my opponent out.  Never underestimate the effectiveness of a powerful low kick the the legs.  It can take your opponent down with one shot.  Even if they are in full Redman body armour.

One little thing to bear in mind with angling off though is to make sure that your movement isn’t too large.  You don’t want to take such a big sidestep that you are out of range for counter attacking your opponent.  This gives them time to recover and lets them know that you know how to block and move and therefore you lose your element of surprise for the next time they come at you.

I hope you enjoy this article.  If you are interested in Choi Kwang Do self defence classes for your child, family member or yourself and are in the Bristol or Trowbridge area then please go to my web site at http://www.CKDBristol.co.uk for more information on our Choi Kwang Do classes that are great for teaching you self defence, self-confidence and also keeping you fit and healthy no matter your age.  We offer 2 FREE lessons to all who sign up via the web site.

If you don’t live in my area and are interested in Choi Kwang Do then please visit http://choikwangdo.com/locations.html where you can find the nearest location to you.  Most of the classes offer some sort of free lessons so please take a look.

If you are already an instructor in another Martial Art and you would be interested in converting to Choi Kwang Do please go to http://choikwangdo.com/school-conversion.html or contact them by email at ckd@choikwangdo.com and let them know you found them through Master Millers blog.

Regards

Dale Miller

Master Instructor of Choi Kwang Do.

 

 

 

 

Are you training self defence or voluntarily suffering?

I was listening to a podcast where the speaker said games and sports are voluntary suffering. She said that we put ourselves through a form of suffering for each sport. The example she gave was golf. If the aim is to get the ball in the hole then our most efficient way of doing so is to pick up the ball and drop it in the hole. Instead we make it harder by standing hundreds of yards away and use a weird shaped stick to try and guide it in the hole.

That description hit a chord with me as it perfectly describes what some martial arts teach, sometimes inadvertently when they are trying to teach you a form of self defence. This can apply to karate, tkd, mma, Kickboxing and many more. And this voluntarily suffering can lead to dangerous situations should you ever be confronted in a real life situation. By placing certain rules and tactics that work for the sport side of the art, you put people at risk as we will likely do what we are trained to do when under pressure of a real self defence situation. At this point anything goes. There is no referee, weapons can be brought into a fight and you can suddenly find yourself going from winning the fight to being beaten badly as others join in.

A few examples of what i mean. I have had the pleasure of trying a tae kwon do class where the instructor taught during sparring to turn my back on an opponent as according to the rules you couldn’t get hit in the back. A sneaky tactic in a tournament, but a death wish in real life situations. I had a discussion with another martial artist who went to a tkd tournament and the rule was you couldn’t attack a person on the ground. So one competitor kept jump kicking and falling to the ground. He would get a point and be safe from counter attack.

The author Tim Ferriss, whose podcast I heard the term on, tells a story in his book the four hour work week (which i highly recommended along with his book the four hour body) about how he used the rules to become a world champion in Chinese kickboxing in China. The rule was that you win by tko if you knock your opponent off of the mats three times. Tim Ferris is known for hacking the body and managed to lose significant amounts of weight by dehydration before the weigh in and super hydrated and put all the weight back on for his fight. All of a sudden he was significantly bigger and stronger, and much heavier than his opponents and won simply by knocking others out of the ring 3 times.

Mma and Brazilian ju jitsu can also fall foul of this form of voluntary suffering. Taking an opponent to the ground, going for locks is fine in a cage or ring. Doing it in reality can be fatal if your opponent had friends nearby to kick you on the ground.  I have a student who trains in gracie ju jitsu and I’ve been lucky enough to train with Royce Gracie myself, so I’m not purposely trying to knock the art. It’s a great martial art but if you are training for competition there are rules you must adhere to that limit your effectiveness in self defence.

While rolling on the matt with this student after class he couldn’t pin me down and I managed to get him off despite him being heavier, stronger and better at grappling than I am. How? I’m by no means an expert at grappling, but I’m flexible in awkward places, and naturally wiggly which helps, but one large advantage I had was that in my self defence training, my instructor ALWAYS emphasised that there are no rules when defending yourself. You bite, gouge, rip, pull, strike to the groin and eyes and no area is off limits. My art Choi Kwang Do teaches headbutts, knees, elbows, eye strikes and to hit whatever you can when you see an opening. So I’ve trained all my life for self defence and NOT to voluntarily suffer in my training by constraining what i can and cannot do when i defend myself. And that was my advantage when I was grappling. As my opponent went for a lock my fist would be tapping his groin making him realise a vulnerability.  As he went for another thing I would bite just enough for him to realise he would be in quite a bit of pain if I choose to go harder, his eyes and even lips were fair game for me, but not a thing he was even considering as vulnerable as up until that point the rules in his classes didn’t deem them as fair places to attack.

So if you train in any kind of self defence take a good look at the rules and restrictions it may be imposing on you and consider that how you train is very likely how you will react under pressure. And it might also limit you from using tactics like biting, headbutting or poking your fingers in the eyes which could be the difference, literally in some cases between life and death and you successfully defending yourself or your loved ones. Is it worth carrying on with those limitations or do you need to change how you train?

I hope you enjoy this article.  If you are interested in Choi Kwang Do self defence classes for your child, family member or yourself and are in the Bristol or Trowbridge area then please go to my web site at http://www.CKDBristol.co.uk for more information on our Choi Kwang Do classes that are great for teaching you self defence, self confidence and also keeping you fit and healthy no matter your age.  We offer 2 FREE lessons to all who sign up via the web site.

If you don’t live in my area and are interested in Choi Kwang Do then please visit http://choikwangdo.com/locations.html where you can find the nearest location to you.  Most of the classes offer some sort of free lessons so please take a look.

If you are already an instructor in another Martial Art and you would be interested in converting to Choi Kwang Do please go to http://choikwangdo.com/school-conversion.html or contact them by email at ckd@choikwangdo.com and let them know you found them through Master Millers blog.

Regards

Dale Miller

Master Instructor of Choi Kwang Do.

 

 

I got stabbed 7-8 times tonight….

It’s true.  Over the course of about 5 minutes I got stabbed that many times.(just a quick disclaimer. Knife defences aren’t part of the official CKD syllabus it is something i teach that I’ve learned from my CKD instructors and other non ckd people)

Now I have to admit.  It was with a rubber knife.  I was pretty tired after a reasonably hard training session and my partner knew what I was going to do and was anticipating a little and was resisting a bit too much in places where he wouldn’t be resisting after a few of the strikes I hit him with.  The end result is the same.  I got stabbed a few times.

I have almost 24 years of martial arts experience.  I have been doing knife defenses for over 20 years.  I would have to say on the scheme of things i’m usually very good at them.  I have had many a class where I would have walked away from 5 minutes of knife attacks with a strong resisting opponent without a scratch.  Yet tonight’s class where I got stabbed a few times was important.

Knife drills aren’t easy, they aren’t meant to be.  When we do defend against a knife in a controlled environment without your partner trying to resist you when appropriate it is very easy to get overconfident about knife defenses.  Overconfidence in a real life situation can have devastating results if we make a mistake.  No matter how hard we train in class, there is nothing that will prepare you for the adrenaline dump that will go through your body if someone pulls a knife on you in real life.  Your brain will go foggy, your thinking will slow as the blood runs from your brain to your limbs preparing you to fight, flight or freeze.  This is where hopefully our training kicks in and we will to the best of our abilities defend ourselves and survive as muscle memory and instinct kick in.

The chances are though if you make a few mistakes in the controlled environment of class you will make more under pressure with a real knife.  My instructor always taught me that if you have to defend against a knife you should anticipate that you WILL get cut.  Your job is to minimize the damage and survive.

So it’s an important lesson for ALL of us martial artists to learn.  No matter how good we are at knife defenses ALL it takes is 1 mistake and it can have potentially deadly consequences.  We need to bear that in mind when we judge a real life situation.  If someone is asking for your wallet, sure you might well be excellent and can defend yourself, but one slip, one mistake and your dead.  Better to give up the wallet no matter how good you are.  If someone is threatening you with a knife for something it needs to be something worth more than your life for you to take that risk.  For me it would be my family, friends and students.  They are the only ones I would consider putting myself in between them and a knife attacker.  There isn’t really a possession in the world I would be willing to risk that for.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I think knife defenses are crucial to learn.  I think more so in this day and age and they wil become more and more important in the future.  At the same time, we need to teach our students to evaluate the situation well and NOT to let the get overconfident with them.  After all, if someone with 20 years of experience can get stabbed 7-8 times on an off night it could just as easily happen to them.

As for some of the knife defenses i have learned over the years I plan to video some of them and put them on the blog very soon.  So please keep an eye out for new articles.

I hope you enjoy this article.  If you are interested in Choi Kwang Do classes for your child, family member or yourself and are in the Bristol or Trowbridge area then please go to my web site at http://www.CKDBristol.co.uk for more information on our Choi Kwang Do classes that are great for teaching you self defence, self confidence and also keeping you fit and healthy no matter your age.  We offer 2 FREE lessons to all who sign up via the web site.

If you don’t live in my area and are interested in Choi Kwang Do then please visit http://choikwangdo.com/locations.html where you can find the nearest location to you.  Most of the classes offer some sort of free lessons so please take a look.

If you are already an instructor in another Martial Art and you would be interested in converting to Choi Kwang Do please go to http://choikwangdo.com/school-conversion.html or contact them by email at ckd@choikwangdo.com and let them know you found them through Master Millers blog.

Regards

Dale Miller

Master Instructor of Choi Kwang Do.

 

 

Why I’m proud to have 99.9% belt pass rate.

Some martial arts classes pride themselves on having a high failure rate in their belt tests. The thinking is that if enough people fail the tests then it will keep standards high. I’ve also heard people, both instructors and students of other classes say that maybe we should fail more people in choi kwang do and everyone seems to pass.

My pass rate for my students is exceptionally high. It would be 99.9% or there abouts. Yet i do this and keep fairly high standards for my students. I would say that overall the standards in my classes are higher than average.

How do i manage this? It’s really very simple. I do not put a student in for a test unless i know they are ready for it. If any of my students aren’t good enough to pass i hold them back until the next test our do a catch up test later on when they are ready.

I think if you are consistently putting your students in to test and have a high failure rate then you are doing your students a great disservice and you are failing them as an instructor. If you are doing it and are pleased that your failure rate is high then you are  also a bit of an ass.

One of the main benefits, in fact I would say,  the most important benefit of martial arts training for children AND adults is to develop self confidence. Self confidence takes time and effort to build up, yet can easily shatter if it takes a hard blow of failure too often and too soon. Our job is to build our students up, guide them and nurture their confidence, not take a perverse pleasure in seeing some fail like it’s a badge of honour for us as instructors.

Don’t get me wrong. There has to be a standard. Your students HAVE to be good enough to pass the test and every belt should be fully earned and not given out no matter what. By not doing that you devalue the belt and their achievements.

Why though, put your student into a test unless you know almost 100% they will pass? It is far easier on their ego and confidence to have a quiet word,  tell them they are not quite ready yet, but you will put a training plan in to get them ready within the month to pass their test, than it is to put them in with false hope only to see them crash and burn at the testing.

As an examiner. Failing a student is one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had in my life. Especially if it’s for a major belt test such as black belt. It really should not happen and neither the student or examiner should be put in that position.

I’m not however saying that if a student fails it is the instructors fault all the time. Students can have off days and perform particularly badly. It does happen but it should be the exception and not the rule.

If you are an instructor you should be looking to have a high pass rate for your students  belt tests. You should be proud to have a low failure rate as long as you are only putting in those students who are good enough to pass.

If you have high failure rates and are proud then maybe you should free evaluate your choice of profession.

I hope you enjoy this article. If you are interested in Choi Kwang Do classes for your child, family member or yourself and are in the Bristol or Trowbridge area then please go to my web site at http://www.CKDBristol.co.uk for more information on our Choi Kwang Do classes that are great for teaching you self defence, self confidence and also keeping you fit and healthy no matter your age. We offer 2 FREE lessons to all who sign up via the web site.

If you don’t live in my area and are interested in Choi Kwang Do then please visit http://choikwangdo.com/locations.html where you can find the nearest location to you. Most of the classes offer some sort of free lessons so please take a look.

If you are already an instructor in another Martial Art and you would be interested in converting to Choi Kwang Do please go to http://choikwangdo.com/school-conversion.html or contact them by email at ckd@choikwangdo.com and let them know you found them through Master Millers blog.

Regards

Dale Miller

Master Instructor of Choi Kwang Do.

Would your child walk off with a stranger?

You may have seen this video on Facebook. It’s an experiment done on camera at a children’s play park with the parents permission where a man approaches a young child with a puppy, makes quick rapport and asks them if they want to see his other puppies at home.

This isn’t a new approach. It’s one i remember my parents warning me about. What’s shocking about it is how effective it still is and a great example of how easy it is for adults to break barriers with children and have them voluntarily walk away with them. 

It is an approach I’ve role played in the past with my stranger awareness lessons for children although haven’t touched on for a while in my main classes. I plan on changing that over the next few classes.

Please show any of your children or young students this video and start a conversation about not talking to strangers. Also highlight how easy it is to find out a child’s name. Kids shout their friends names out all of the time when playing. Some of us self defence instructors put posts of our young students and use their name or write their names on their uniforms. Its my policy to not name any of my students on a public web site or even in any news articles.

A stranger knowing our name disarms us. You have experienced it as an adult when someone starts asking you how you are, you cant remember them but you act like you do not to be rude. Children are just as susceptible to this, or more so than adults. They are naive which is great, yet terrifying at the same time. I was reminded of this when my wife asked my oldest daughter who is 8 what she thought if a strange adult speed and offered her or her friends a lift. Her response was “that would be very kind she thoughtful mummy”

I’ve only given you two examples of how an adult can break a child’s mental awareness of starangers through distraction,  gain a child’s trust and build rapport. There are many more. Have a think and conversation with your children and students about it.

Here is that video. It’s actually pretty scary for a parent or instructor to watch.

If you are an instructor and haven’t got a stranger awareness lesson plan for your school and would like one for free then please email me at dale@ckdbristol.co.uk

I hopeyou enjoy this post. Please consider reading my 10 steps to keep your child safe post on this blog and if you want to know more about my classes go to http://www.ckdbristol.co.uk.

 

Why are our doboks white, blue and black?

Back in the year 2000 I was very fortunate to not only be able to arrange for Sahjonim to come to Wales to do a seminar for the Welsh choi kwang do students, but also got to spend a few days sightseeing with him and also to ask him many different questions.

Back then we hadn’t long changed our dobok colours so an assistant instructor was all in blue and chief instructor was in black.

It was while having an Indian meal with Sahjonim that i was able to ask him why we had the the colours of dobok for each level.

His answer was one i didn’t expect. And it really hit home for me just how much thought had gone into every little detail of choi kwang do without us even realising it.

I honestly expected his reply to be along the lines of, we needed to make instructors stand out more (as back then all instructors wore white dobok tops) and that he liked those colours.

I was wrong. And i got a pretty detailed explanation of why we have the three colours.

White was pretty self explanatory. It represents a blank canvas, ready to learn, ready to start on the journey of growing and experiencing the art of choi kwang do.

Blue, he explained was chosen for assistant instructors as by taking that first step to being an instructor, you start to have more depth to your knowledge from teaching , similar to the ocean, it starts off clear but when it gets deeper the sea turns darker blue.

Black was the perfect colour for chief instructors when i learned what it represented. In Korean culture, black is a colour to represent humbleness and humility. I think all potential chief instructors should know the significance of this.

When you become an instructor and put on the black dobok you have a large responsibility to your class and students. Unfortunately a black suit can lead to some falling into a spiral of ego. They can start to think as they teach, they no longer have anything to learn and that is so far from the truth.

I’ve learned more about Choi Kwang Do and myself the longer I’ve been in black and I’m still learning and still improving after almost a quarter of a century of being in this art.

It’s very easy to succumb to ego when you don the black suit or get a black belt and unfortunately I’ve seen it happen many a time. And its not unique to choi kwang do. Having large groups of other adults and instructors calling you sir, listening to your every word can make the ego grow if you let it.

So if you are one of the privileged few lucky enough to wear a black dobok, do so with a humble attitude. Serve your students the best you can and always remember you can improve, you can grow more. Your students deserve it and so do you . Stay humble and you will always be on the right path, where you can continuously strive to improve.

I hope you enjoy this article. If you are interested in Choi Kwang Do classes for your child, family member or yourself and are in the Bristol or Trowbridge area then please go to my web site at http://www.CKDBristol.co.uk for more information on our Choi Kwang Do classes that are great for teaching you self defence, self confidence and also keeping you fit and healthy no matter your age. We offer 2 FREE lessons to all who sign up via the web site.

If you don’t live in my area and are interested in Choi Kwang Do then please visit http://choikwangdo.com/locations.html where you can find the nearest location to you. Most of the classes offer some sort of free lessons so please take a look.

If you are already an instructor in another Martial Art and you would be interested in converting to Choi Kwang Do please go to http://choikwangdo.com/school-conversion.html or contact them by email at ckd@choikwangdo.com and let them know you found them through Master Millers blog.

Regards

Dale Miller

Master Instructor of Choi Kwang Do.

London Readers – Get Sharper with Harper

Hi

Just a quick post to promote my good friend, Master Instructor Hugh Harpers new website at http://www.getsharperwithharper.com/

If you live in the London area and either want a great martial arts class with his Choi Kwang Do lessons, some brilliant boxcercise type classes with his Fight Klub class, or want to get insanely fit with his Insanity classes then give Hugh a call.

This guy is one of the TOP instructors in the UK and the World for Choi Kwang Do. He is one of the few people I will go to for my own personal training and improvement. Check his classes out, you wont be dissapointed.

Regards

Dale