Inside and Outside Fighters

Martial arts, like all areas of human endeavor, has specialized vocabulary that helps practitioners and observers alike understand the mechanics and strategies that are at play. This vocabulary, unfortunately, is sometimes used simply to keep outsiders out and keep insiders puffed up about their superior knowledge.

Luckily, the terms “inside” and “outside” fighter are pretty simple. An inside fighter is someone who likes to get in close and do things like clinch, grapple, throw, and/or strike while being nose to nose with their partner. An outside fighter is someone who likes to move and strike (and maybe sweep) from a distance.

The terms are simple to understand but for martial artists, the question of what to do with these words is less obvious. I think first, it is important to understand your preferences regarding being inside or outside, if you have any. Do you like to play inside or outside? Second, I think it’s relevant to notice your physical stature compared to your opponent. Are you taller or shorter than your partner?

Given preference and reach, you can start to formulate a plan. If you love being outside and are taller, then it’s a win/win. Stay away and jab all day. If you’re shorter and dream of knees and elbows, it’s easy peasy. Get in close and stay close.

As with most things in MDP, it would be to our advantage to have some capacity to both inside and outside fight, and yet we have to be realistic in our assessment of our preferences and physicality as well as realistic in our assessment of our partner. If you don’t have any idea if you like being inside or outside, start with your height. If you’re taller than most folks, try being an outside fighter. If you’re shorter than most folks, try being an inside fighter. You can adjust and change as you gain experience.

With all this in mind, this month for the all system advanced class, we focused on outside fighting. First, we drilled footwork. If you want to stay on the outside, you’ve got to know how to keep moving. Second, we worked on striking while staying mobile. If you get to preoccupied with throwing power shots, your feet become tree roots, and it’s hard to stay an outside fighter. Third, we drilled a couple ideas from boxing about what to do if your partner does get inside. Even though you may know your preference and your physicality, it is important to train for those moments when things go wrong – when the inside fighter breeches your defenses and gets in close.

What To Say Before Forms?

The most common question the teachers get around tournament time about forms is: “what do I say before I do my form?” The answer is: “Hello judges, my name is ___. My martial arts teacher’s name is ___. I study martial arts at ___. The form I will be doing today is called ___. May I please begin?” Keep in mind this is a rough template. You can change the order (although it would be odd to ask for permission to start you form and then say your name) of the statements. You can change the words themselves (I train at ___ rather than I study martial arts at ___). The basic idea is to communicate a level of formality to the judges and some basic pieces of information: who are you, who is your teacher, where do you train, and what is the name of the form you’re doing. Watch the video below for an example of this opening bit and also a couple more tips about how to do well in the Forms division.

Kid’s Tournament: Grappling & Standing Up

In this post on the grappling rules of the kid’s tournament, we’re going to talk about when students can stand up on their feet, and when they can’t. Students will be asked, before the match begins, if they want to start from standing or sitting. If they both choose to start from standing, so it shall be. If one or both choose to start from sitting, then they will start the match from kneeling. That part is pretty simple but there is one additional hitch. If the students chose to start from sitting and at some point during the match, both students stand up, then the judge will stop the match and reset them back to sitting. If one of them stands up, usually to pass guard, that’s fine – the match will keep going. If the students chose to start from standing then the rules are pretty simple: the match keeps going if one or both of them stand up at any time during the match.

What Submissions are Legal?

In this post, we will look at which submissions are legal in the upcoming kid’s tournament in respect to arm locks and chokes. The included video shows some of these submissions. Let’s start with the stuff that isn’t legal on the arms – finger and wrist submissions aren’t legal. The reasoning here is mostly about safety. Fingers and wrists break easier and quicker than shoulders and elbows. It is easier to feel when you should tap on an armbar than a finger lock. In addition, it is easier to go slow and ease into a shoulder lock than it is to ease into a wrist lock. Next, let’s talk about what is legal on the arms: armbars and shoulder locks. An armbar is any movement that threatens to bend the elbow the wrong way. A shoulder lock is anything that threatens to move the shoulder beyond its standard range of motion – the Armericana and Kimura are the standard ones that come up most often and are in the video below. Given these perameters, students who choose to do submission grappling during the tournament should be familiar with the feeling of both these movements – they should know when and how to tap. In addition, when applying these submissions, students are expected to secure the lock and apply the submission slowly NOT explosively. Moving on to chokes, students are encouraged to try to find blood chokes and not wind chokes. This sounds super scary to parents but blood chokes are actually safer than wind chokes. Wind chokes are when pressure is applied to the wind pipe – these kinds of moves can be quite painful and dangerous. Blood chokes, on the other hand, temporarily stop the flow of blood in the carotids and are easier to know when to tap to. If students are wearing a Gi, they are welcome to use the Gi to choke their partners with. In addition, if their partner is wearing a Gi, they can use that as a tool as well to submit with. Safety will be he judges primary concern but it should also be on the minds of students and parents. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you don’t understand what is going on.

How do you score in positional grappling?

This is the second post in a series in which we are going over rules for the upcoming kid’s tournament. In the first video, we talked about how students might be either grappling for position or submission. If the students are both orange/purple or below, they get to choose if they are going to grapple for position or submission. If they are both purple or above, they must grapple for submission. If one student is orange/purple or lower, and the other is purple or higher, the lower ranking student gets to choose. If one student chooses position and the other chooses submission, the match will be for position. In this video, we will talk about some of the positions students can score with if they are grappling for position. In the video, we show mount, crossbody, rear mount, and kesa getami as scoring positions. Note that if the match is to submission, there are no points (but we will go over that in a later entry). To score, one student must hold a dominant position while the judge  counts to three. Please excuse the shaky camera work, I like having the kids help me with these videos so they feel like they are part of the process.