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Posts Tagged ‘schau’

Wrestling for San Da

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2014 at 3:03 pm

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By Antonio Graceffo
It’s no secret that MMA in the US is dominated by former wrestlers. In fact, 8 of the 10 current UFC champions are former collegiate or high school wrestlers. In China, MMA is dominated by san da fighters. MMA in China pays a lot better than san da, which attracts a lot of fighters, even if they lack the ground skills. One reason there haven’t been a lot of Chinese fighters in MMA outside of China is because China MMA pays better than anywhere else in Asia, at least for beginners and journeymen.
Before coming to China to study san da and wrestling, my thought was that, if you stay on your feet with a san da fighter in an MMA fight, they will head-kick you and knock you out. They have very tricky kicks. They are lightning fast and incredibly strong. Also, the pros have serious experience. China is a bit like Thailand, where you have guys in their early twenties who have already had 40 fights. There are san da fighters who grew up in Tagou, Shaolin Temple school or in one of the many sports schools, who have been training over ten years by the time they turn eighteen.
Before coming to China I believed the way to win against a san da fighter in MMA was to take him to the ground. The problem I identified, however, was that san da also includes throws, so the experienced san da fighters have good takedown defense. Now that I have been training in China for nearly a year, and had a chance to fight, spar, and wrestle with a lot of san da guys (although, admittedly, not the top tier guys) I still agreed that the way to beat them in MMA is to take them down. As for the second part, about them having good takedown defense, that is true, but only in san da rules.
In san da, you can only clinch or attempt a throw for about three seconds before the referee will separate you. So, in my first many months here, I found that if I just hung on the guys, and hung on them, forcing them to carry my weight and defend the takedown for ten, twenty or thirty seconds, I could eventually wear them down. At some point, you will feel their strength leave them, and you can complete the throw. In MMA, however, you need to be careful when employing this strategy, because they could be hitting you with knees and elbows while you are waiting for them to fall.
What I have decided in the last few months, since my wrestling has improved, is that the san da fighters only have takedown defense against san da throws. While san da does allow body lock throws, throws from the clinch and throws employed as part of an attack, 80% or more of throws in a san da fight come from catching the opponent’s kick and then sweeping or tripping him. One of the things that made Cung Le such a unique and successful san da fighter was that he fully utilized his collegiate wrestling skills in the san da ring. Cung Le was famous for using body locks, as well as suplex wrestling throws. These are techniques that most san da fighters have no answer for. Because 80% of san da throws are related to catching kicks, 80% of the san da takedown training is also dedicated to the kic- catching throws.
At Shanghai University of Sport where I train, we have never worked on any of the san da throws that are unrelated to kick catching. When I trained at Shaolin Temple, we learned a double-leg takedown and a body lock, lift and toss throw. But that was it. And we didn’t practice them that much. Most of our time was spent doing catch and throw drills.
Once again, my experience may not be typical of everyone who studies san da, but even if we allow an error margin of 20%, we can still see that most of san da grappling training is related to catching kicks.
Someone once said rules made styles. And now that I am constantly switching codes of fighting, I can agree. Last year, for example, not counting matches that were part of our university wrestling training, I had 7 amateur fights: 3 san da, 2 MMA, one boxing, and one wrestling. My wrestling team at the university specializes in Chinese traditional wrestling but we also cross train in freestyle wrestling, including doing internal matches in both styles. With the exception of boxing, all of the fights involved some wrestling, but they all had different rules. Different rules will force you to employ different techniques.
The first difference between san da wrestling and freestyle or MMA is, as stated above, the time difference. In a san da fight, a san da fighter only has to defend the takedown for about 3 seconds. That is a lot different than having to defend for ten or more seconds in wrestling and virtually unlimited in MMA. Even with the kick-catching throws, the ones where the san da fighters have the most experience and skill to avoid the takedown, they are only used to hoping around on one leg for three seconds. Try hoping around on one leg for twenty seconds while someone your same weight is trying to pull you down. The time factor is a game changer.
Another important factor is what I like to call the do-or-die factor. In san da, if you throw your opponent you can get one, two, or three points. And points are nice, but they aren’t worth dying for. In MMA, if you are a grappler, getting your opponent to the ground may be the difference between winning or losing the fight. So, when you go for the take down, you are fighting with do-or die ferocity. Once again, the san da fighter may not be used to this. When a san da fighter agrees to fight MMA obviously he will change his training. He may have an MMA coach and a Brazilian Jujitsu coach. He may train hard. But the reflexes and skills that helped him win in san da are second nature to him. They are ingrained behaviors and tendencies that may be hard to untrain. If he is a veteran of 50 fights where giving up a takedown was only a 2 point loss, maybe he would let it go more easily than if winning or losing depended on the takedown, like it does in MMA.
Some of the san da fighters who wish to fight MMA have asked me to help them with their training. And no matter how much we drill, they are so used to breaking off the engagement once they take someone to the ground. There is always a slight moment’s hesitation that could cost them the fight. The same thing happens to the wrestlers on my team who are trying t learn some MMA. When they get the opponent on his back, they are so used to pinning him, they forget that he will keep fighting from the bottom position and either get a reversal or a win. A momentary loss of focus is all it takes for the tide to turn.
Another rule that is different from san da to wrestling is that san da does not allow you to drop your knee on the ground while going for the takedown. San da also doesn’t allow sacrifice throws. Therefore, at least in my experience, the san da guys are not prepared to defend against these techniques. Once I realized that, I was able to complete the throw most of the time against my sparring partners. If I catch a kick, I instantly drop my whole body weight on the leg, dragging him to the ground. In the clinch, I utilize the Chinese leg-hooking techniques from traditional wrestling, but as soon as I hook, I drop my whole body on the leg I am attacking. I practice a lot of saltos and throws that I can do from the clinch, with either one or two underhooks, whereby, I go down with, and land on top of my opponent.
The trick seems to be to always use throws that san da doesn’t have. For example, if a san da fighter takes someone’s back in standing, he may do a lift and toss or a front trip, but he won’t do a BJJ sit-through, because that would be zero points in san da. But in an MMA fight, it would b a perfect way to take the san da fighter down and get on top of him.
Sometimes a san da fighter will go for a high single or double-leg takedown. When he does, you can sprawl and use a guillotine or front headlock to drag him to the ground by simply kicking your legs out behind you and dropping to the ground. The san da fighters I have trained with had incredible neck and back strength. If we fought san da rules and I tried a front headlock throw, they could simply support my body weight, no matter how hard I tried to lean on them and drive them down. But when we fought MMA rules, the second I kicked my feet back, I became really heavy, and they couldn’t remain standing.
Having said all of the above, there is still one huge problem to fighting a san da guy in MMA. Namely, you have to get past his kicks before you can even think of taking him down. If someone has a good way to do that, without getting kicked unconscious, please let me know.

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a PhD candidate at Shanghai University of sport, writing his dissertation on comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. He is martial arts and adventure author living in Asia, the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.
Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey
See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on http://www.blackbeltmag.com
Twitter
http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk
facebook
Brooklyn Monk fan page
Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE
http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1
Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)
http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

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This Week in Wrestling April 11, 2014

In Uncategorized on April 11, 2014 at 2:23 pm

By Antonio Graceffo (The Brooklyn Monk)
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“You too many mind. Mind the sword, mind the people watching, mind the enemy…too many mind. No mind!” The Last Samurai
I have been feeling very over tired, over trained and just exhausted with school, training, working, and trying to get Fred Schroeder to fight me. I was suffering from “too many mind.” I had to bodily drag myself to wrestling practice tonight, and as always, it turned out to be a brilliant evening of training.
Originally, Fred said he would fight me tonight, but then backed out again. So, just before I went to wrestling training, I did a final check. I sent him a message, asking, “Are you and your friend coming to fight me?” Because first, he said he was fighting me. Then he was fighting me and my huge kyokushin friend, Albert Tan. Then he said he was bringing a friend to beat me up, and he was going to watch…. So, I asked if they were coming, or that was another of his huge lies. His reply was “Suck my —.” So I assumed he wasn’t coming, and I went to practice.
My team has been training like mad recently, preparing for the national championships and everyone is injured and over trained. Tonight, the coach wasn’t there, so they were playing soccer and for the first time, I didn’t blame them. Instead of soccer, Zheng Tong trained with me, because he is one of the most solid friends I have ever met. He reminds me of a loyal Rottweiler of a devoted wolfdog that if anyone ever even looked like they would hurt me, Zheng Tong would rip their throat out with his teeth. I hope I never say anything self-deprecating, or he might attack me.
After a lifetime of wresting, which he began at age 9, Zheng Tong is getting bored. He keeps pushing me to get him some MMA fights. In the mean time, he has joined the university’s professional san da team. So now, he trains san da, twice a day, and STILL comes to all the wrestling practices. Tonight, I worked with him on san da throws. Although his wrestling is much better than mine, I am better at integrating wrestling into san da or MMA, because I have more experience. A lot of the wrestlers, and even pro san da guys, have started coming to me to teach them more about using Chinese wrestling in san da. Zheng Tong said, “Nǐ de zhōngguó ge do hen lihai.” I often here the Chinese teammates and fighter friends referring to what I do as “ge do” rather than MMA. Ge do is the old Chinese MMA. It was like san da, but with ground fighting. Our ge do teacher, Zhang Lǎoshī used to let me teach the last 30 minutes of each ge do session because he recognized the fact that ge do wasn’t nearly as developed as modern MMA. So, I would teach the students how to move from takedown, to side control, to some basic submissions and chokes.
My friend Kirk, a good Canadian, who was a national Greco Roman competitor, came to the university to train with us tonight. He and Zheng Tong started wrestling and everyone stopped what they were doing, to go watch. Kirk’s techniques were really amazing. And my teammates were all so excited and inspired by this 45 year-old man that had such great wrestling skills. I was also amazed at how Zheng Tong was wrestling with Kirk. After a lifetime, he has nothing to prove. So, when he wrestles me or some of our teammates, he wrestles at a certain level. But the level I saw him wrestling with Kirk was much higher. I was amazed at how well Zheng Tong could wrestle when he wanted to. The team captain, Wang Ye Chao had once told me that in his opinion, Zheng Tong was the best wrestler on the team. And now I see why.
After the two of them took a break, the team left, and Kirk stayed, to teach me and Zheng Tong some wrestling. Zheng Tong and I repaid him by showing him some of our san da ge do, which I think he hadn’t seen much of before. It was a great evening. Kirk worked with us on completing a single or double when the opponent has you in a choke. This was something I started learning in Cambodia. And now, Kirk took it a bit further. We also worked on, the throw I learned from Casey Barnet in Cambodia, where your opponent has one underhook, and you more or less fall in the direction of his underhook and it takes him to the ground, and you land in side control. I actually managed to pull that one off in sparring earlier this week, and again tonight (Fred said it wouldn’t work him because his zero years of wrestling have prepared him to beat any wrestler.) Then Kirk showed me how to refine the technique by popping your hips. Both he and Zheng Tong said it was a difficult throw to get against a good wrestler. But both agreed that from the clinch, most MMA guys wouldn’t even know about it and couldn’t defend against it. (Damn! Now I went and told everyone.)
After Kirk taught us. Zheng Tong and I demonstrated our ge do. Then we sparred wrestling. each time he took me down, we continued fighting on the ground. I am working a lot on rolling straight into a basic submission or a reversal, if I get taken down first. I am also working a lot on catching the opponent’s legs and using the momentum of his throw, to pull him down, roll, and get dominant position. It wasn’t the single most intensive training session of my life. But I learned a lot. So, it was good to have a physically lighter training session, where I learned so much. Afterwards, Kirk went home and Zheng Tong and I went to the weight room and completed our strength training.
Tomorrow, Saturday, I am supposed to do strength and conditioning training, but I will be teaching a full day at the Japanese school. So, I will just take off from training, and hopefully, that will help me recover. Sunday, my team is going to train with the wrestling team at the football stadium. I am waiting for word from our teacher to see if I can go with them. I think it would be a great opportunity for me, because I heard there are all kinds teams, wrestling, BJJ, San Da, Ge Do, and others that train there. So, maybe I will find some new opportunities for cross-training and for Martial Arts Odyssey.
Other than being a bit tired. I am mostly happy with my life right now.
Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a PhD candidate at Shanghai University of sport, writing his dissertation on comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. He is martial arts and adventure author living in Asia, the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.
Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey
See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on http://www.blackbeltmag.com
Twitter
http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk
facebook
Brooklyn Monk fan page
Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE
http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1
Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)
http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Chinese Presentation: Chinese and Khmer Martial Arts (Chinese language) (Parts 1 and 2)

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2014 at 1:35 am

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A PhD research presentation (in Chinese), from Shanghai University of Sport, comparing Cambodian and Chinese martial arts. Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is writing his doctoral dissertation on comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. Along the 3 year road to his dissertation, he is also writing shorter papers on various forms of comparative martial arts.

Watch: Chinese and Khmer Martial Arts (Chinese language) (Part 1)

Watch: Chinese and Khmer Martial Arts (Chinese language) (Part 2)

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. He is the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.
Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey
See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on http://www.blackbeltmag.com
Email Antonio
Antonio@speakingadventure.com
website
http://www.speakingadventure.com
Twitter
http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk
facebook: Brooklyn Monk fan page
Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE
http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)
http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com