Tag Archives: mixed martial arts

Mixed Martial Arts? Or, Mixed-Up Martial Arts?

MMA – Mixed Martial Arts? Or MMA – Mixed-up Martial Arts?

 

The tabulators tell me that 2022 this will be my 50th year doing martial arts – having started in Parker Kenpo in 1972. I’ve always been looking for the best most realistic arts and systems through those decades, hunting for the next best thing, but for the first half of those 50 years, for about 25 years, I’ve done so rather poorly and confused. Mixed up.

From the 70s on I was working out with what was available, old school jujitsu, boxing, karate, police judo-defensive-tactics. Then in 1986 I starting with the Inosanto Family systems (Thai-JKD-Silat-FMA-Shoot fighting) and Presas Arnis. In 1990 I started Aiki-Jujitsu with a professor in Oklahoma. I guess I was spinning a whole lot of plates? But on some level, despite the differing outfits, patches and the nomenclatures, many times I noted I was often doing the same basic, good moves in different systems, despite the change of systems with a tweak here and there. Sort of a name-game change.

Makes me think of the Bogey movie song, You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is…” But you really must remember that a “punch is just a “punch,” a “kick is just a kick? I recall Bruce Lee doing some Zen paraphrasing from the famous Zen Buddhist – “ Qingyuan declared that there were three stages in his understanding of the dharma. The first stage, seeing mountain as mountain and water as water.  The second stage, seeing mountain not as mountain and water not as water. And the third stage, seeing mountain still as mountain and water still as water. Bruce modernized the phrase a bit, then replaced the nouns with “punch” and “kick.” He did this name-game switch often from Buddhist sayings.

I see my martial life that same 1, 2, 3 way that Mr. Qingyuan suggests, which leads me to my mixed-up-martial arts phrase and phase. Bear with me. You might see yourself in this dharma-dilemma-development?

For quite some time I played a name-game switcheroo. I changed clothes and mindset with various martial art class scheduling. Often in the same night! I can best describe this with two quick stories.

  • Parable 1: Years ago in the late 1980s and early 90s, one of my favorite instructors was Terry Gibson, headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I would host him in Texas, attend his seminars up there and also visit him for multiple day private lessons. At the time Terry was considered one of Inosanto’s top five instructors (Terry has since passed). He was terrific. When there for privates in the daytime, one could attend all the night classes for free. There was a battery of them, an hour of this or that, JKD, FMA, Thai, Silat, etc. And I stayed for all of them from about 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. each night. Different students came in and out for their flavors and I recall the change of mindset and clothes for each one, even with the folks attending two or more of them each night. Me? FIVE of them. All the classes were mixed with careful instruction and some fighting. The Thai Boxing (in traditional shorts, etc.) was particularly rough and it was suggested that Thai sparring be limited in class to prevent statistical injuries and therefore it was mixed with lots of choregraphed Thai drills on pads. Yet two hours later, the Jeet Kune Do class (this one in gym clothes) sparring was wide-open, and anything goes. Same kicks, elbows, strikes, just not “Thai” in Thai clothes and no “shwoshing” mouth sounds, stance, etc. 
Terry Gibson and Hock Hochheim
       Terry Gibson and Hock Hochheim, Tulsa,                                          Oklahoma, 1990.

Each of the classes definitely had a different mission, feel and goals. I’d got the vague idea back then that these things could be blended, especially via the Bruce Lee ideology I was trying to grasp, but they were not. I was also a PFS Paul Vunak instructor back in that day and Paul was very much on mission for the one blend idea. He only used FMA for skill developing methods, but he was trying to blend everything into one thing, one approach. Vu was a pioneer in his own way, a real shock treatment to late 1980s martial arts. I was all in.

By the way, this division of subjects is a martial arts school business model. More classes. More themes. More students. More outfits. More testing. More money. Nothing wrong with that – just saying. With many other instructors and schools in this business model, we studied to become one system-artist when doing that one system-art. MMA, the evolved business model became closed studies to learn different things – yes – but, inadvertently, keep them separate. Divided. Which, whether I fully realized it at the time, was NOT what I wanted, but I wasn’t quite “martial-mature” enough to realize it. I had no “eye” for it. (More on “eyes” later…)

  • Parable 2: I was kind of trying to blend, but I was really off-mission. Mixed-up. Not clear. In my Texas classes that I taught from 1989 to 1994, I started out running the same multi-theme format on weeknights. Man, it was fun! People had fun! I had fun doing such a variety of martial arts too. Playing around with all kinds of stuff. I continued to see more of the basic similarities when organizing the class outlines. So much good stuff was the same wrapped in a different packages and lingo. Parts of the karate class looked like parts of the JKD class. What? As they say, you don’t really know something until you teach it. Some customers were in and out doing the mixed subjects, some stayed for all theme classes. Some customers got confused back then too. One lifelong karate student who sought me out only for self defense survival, asked me why did I show a complicated, Judo Gene LaBelle wrestling move for a sport tap-out. These little situations were popping up, jacking with my mission statement, things that belonged in one umbrella were popping up under another umbrella. And not the umbrella I really wanted.                                                                                                                                   So, I wasn’t doing mixed martial arts really. I was doing…all mixed-up, martial arts. I was all mixed up (All this while I was a cop making arrests and realizing that fighting was more like checkers and way less like chess). In late 1993 I started organizing my mission better. I really started to recognize the off-mission sport material, the off-mission art material, the hypocrisies between the arts, and unnecessary, artsy editions. I’d been right on target with FMA since 1992 thanks to Presas Arnis, but these other topics? No. So, I worked on the blend. The REAL mix. (Oh, and by the way, this work is a never-ending assessment of search and destroy.)

I used the Who, What, When, Where, How and Why questions.

  • Who was I? Who is the student? 
  • What was I really teaching? What did they really want? Really need?  What is the generic, simple good in all of them? 
  • Where should I teach and what? Because differing places want or need different things.
  • When should I teach and what? When do they understand what I am saying?
  • How will I best organize all this? How will I teach it?
  • Why am I teaching what I teach? Why are they here?

While turning the all-mixed-up to the mixed-blended, I have a lot of teaching stories for each “W and H” question from these last 26 years, the second half of the 50. I believe these to be informational, entertaining and educational stories, but book-length, and not good here for a short blog.

It should come as no surprise that in the big training picture, modern MMA (as in a blended “UFC style” With ground n’ pound, and I repeat WITH ground n’ pound), Combatives or Krav Maga formats evolved to fill in that anxious, wandering market place of folks like my early self, seeking the stripped-down blend, the best mix. It’s just business and filling the gaps. “Nature abhors a vacuum,” as they say.

Something much bigger is going on though. In the history of mankind, its overall DNA, a small group of people – us – struggle to keep fighting skills perpetuating, alive, for the drastic times that come and go, and keep us all alive. This genetic drive manifests in many different ways, like karate or combatives. It’s that big picture, so big we don’t see it, down to the smallest of pictures. You. You and the quizzical questions and choices in your head. Why do you do this stuff? Well, I just gave you one big DNA reason you might not have thought of. For some of us? It’s our inherent duty to mankind. We are the odd, weird ones, keeping this alive.

I certainly don’t regret all the mixed-up, past exposure, the blood, sweat and cussing since 1972, even though I wanted simple, generic hand, stick, knife and gun. But still, the background-depth, time and grade, experience is irreplaceable. Mike Gillette said once, “you are really paying Hock…for his eye.”

His eye? Eye? Look for a moment at my Australian friend Nick Hughes, currently in North Carolina, USA. Yeah, he teaches Krav Maga, and yeah, so does every Tom, Dick and Henrietta these days, every six city blocks, some at worst from just very quick certification courses. But Nick Hughes is a lifelong, skilled, multi-system trained, articulate, former military Legionnaire, international body guard, very smart, talented and also a champ kick boxer and boxer. He can teach any martial subject very, very well. All this wisdom and experience is the real deep foundation of his version of…Krav Maga. All this time and grade makes him irreplaceable. Depth. He has…an expert’s “eye.” and is several cuts above almost all the rest. I have often said, “If I ever had to build a Dirty Dozen? Nick Hughes would take up two slots.” There is indeed a savvy-wisdom you attain by toiling in the trenches for decades. But I worry that most people be around that long, they won’t dedicate decades of obsessive interest. How to we reach the most with the most? The needy with the needed?

I often peruse the internet martial arts pages and I read stories of 25, 30 to 45 year old martialists and martial artists and their compulsion to publicly write – as one might in a personal journey or diary –  about this or that small martial epiphany.  Been there, done that, kid, and I quickly get impatient and bored which is my flaw, because I have to remember everyone is on their own splayed and fileted journey. Their mission, however on or off it might be.

What is your mission in this dharma-dilemma? Are you…”martial-mature?” How’s your “eye?” Look, I want people to be happy. Do what makes you happy, sports, art, combatives. Mixed? Mixed-up? Fun? Comradery? Whatever. People even like all kinds of mixed-up, martial arts to fool around with! Just know where it all fits in a big picture. Your big picture.

The teacher’s curse, “Survival? Or addictive hobby?” “In the martial arts world – There is so, so much to do and so, so much of it is addictive, but so much of all that addiction is extraneous, superfluous, abstract, distracting and unnecessary. Yet still this curse – the mandatory basics become boring, no matter how utterly important it is to utterly master them and them alone. It seems we will never stop wrestling with this fight against boredom. The “art” of the survival teacher is to find the best, reduce the abstract and somehow trick-hypnotize-engrain the student into doing it…first, foremost and forever.

You can use your mature eye to take the “mixed-up” out, and to leave “mix” in. You can take things from a martial art that has a high percentage of success and NOT take the whole damn system. Or not? Just don’t be…off-mission, off your personal mission. In the mixed up, forked roads of martial dharma  – the “eyes” have it.

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Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

Get these books here! Training Mission Three will be out  Winter 2023.

 

 
 
 

Boxing Glove Cancers, Your Fists On Your Face

I will start this essay off with the proclamation that I am an exponent and a proponent of boxing/kickboxing, all to the extent that or can be used in bareknuckle, non-sport self defense. When you fight you will not have boxing gloves, nor a mouthpiece. But, do these photos disturb you? They should.

They represents a GIGANTIC transition, mistake in “real fighting,” or…or…”non-sport, fighting.” Whatever you want to call it. This photo is representative of years of what I’ve seen. Decades even, and still do see it. That is placing your bare fists tight up against your face as some sort of standard fighting stance, misapplied from the Boxing “peek-a-boo.”

When teaching in the late 80s and 90s in my regular school, I taught in a city with two major colleges. The volume of people I saw come and go was remarkable. I never taught kids, Always adults. Many were students of other systems and I saw quite a number of folks whose definition of a fighting stance was to place their bare fists right on the their faces, or just barely off their faces, as in the photos above. Plenty also placed their finger knuckles right on their upper gum line or maybe their cheekbones. I interviewed them and
this hand-face positioning was leftover from boxing or kick boxing. Leftover big glove arts.

In boxing, everything is based around the big glove/ Every aggressive and defensive movement is centered around them. This does not automatically transfer over to bare hands.

Let’s jump right to my point. If you see this before you? Try and strike the bare fist glued on the face. Any strike you like. Hit it or them. It’s lunch. Lunch served up for you from yesterday’s leftovers. The original meal from yesterday? Sport, big-gloved boxing. It’s an odd leftover from that. It does not transition well. Hit the face via the fists.

Palms, hammers, and, we are going to discuss punching here. This is NOT an essay about fist-punching versus palm strikes. Lots of folks hurt their bare hands punching and remember…LOTS DON’T! Lots of people DO NOT break their hands punching. That’s another subject for another Training Mission book. Let’s take one thing at a time. This is not that time.

I would instead like to address the many “reality” training operations that way overuse big, boxing gloves in their classes, or some big glove boxing theories, ignorantly and innocently passing them off as self defense training. And the one major leftover – fists glued on face as some sort of fighting stance.

You see a lot of POSED photos with fighters and martial artists with their hands up and on, or almost on, their faces.

(note also the flagging thumb sticking up in this photo, another boxing glove leftover cancer.) Photographers try to get the hands and/or gloves up in the picture frame. These same people might not fight or use a stance like this, but the distribution of these photos help create the “fist on face” copy-cat motif. People will mindlessly replicate this. Even Instructors will mindlessly replicate this. And whole systems will too. Should folks without big gloves stand like this as some sort of official fighting stance? As a matter of system doctrine? I say no.

I have boxed and kick boxed since the 1970s. I still make my students kick box for various skills. And so many wonderful, important, simple things come from boxing. Examine it and experiment. Not everything transitions over to a crime or war survival struggle. Like gloves. Everyone knows, takes for granted, that you won’t be wearing big-ass, boxing gloves when ambushed, fighting wars, or arresting people, or as they say, “street fighting,” but I ask you to think this through, fully realize that some sport, boxing-big-glove, associated movements have some leftover cancers. Make the training mission connection.

If you are indeed a boxer, then you must wear boxing gloves. Same with Thai. You are a boxer! In western boxing, everything is about the big glove. Every aggressive and defensive movement is centered around those big gloves. If you are not a sport boxer? Don’t wear them, or at least limit them for very special purposes (more on that later.) The MMA glove is superior tool for MMA, and/or that real, street fight prep. Best? No gloves at all for prep, but with extended time periods on mitts and bags , MMA gloves can be a skin and bone saver and your training can endure longer periods.

I first saw these bare-hand, “strike-the-cover-hand” methods in JKD, FMA and Silat back in the 1980s. We did material about palm striking, hammer fisting and punching the opponent’s bare hands when they were on the face, or very, very close to the face, and “trapping/delaying” their bare hands when on their chest area, if they seemed pin-able. But for me and I know others, the training was so segmented, we never grasped the big picture. We would put our Thai clothes on and change mentalities and methods and then do that. Change clothes again and do something else. Rules. Segmented. We would box and just do that. Rules. Segmentation. Karate and do that. These rules and segmentations are not good. No blend. No evolution. Sometime, somehow, in the 1990s, the light switch came on for me to truly blend.

I want to make some quick points about this mistake.

  • Point 1: Getting hit like this is not good. I mean…think about it!
  • Point 2: Distance? If you are unlucky enough to be in some kind of fight, will there be a stand-off, “duel,” square-off situation? It’s possible. Maybe. Yes. If so, if you plant your hands on your face you are letting your opponent get closer in to you than if your hands were out, toward him more. JKD’s Larry Harstell once said in a seminar, “Make him earn that space, don’t just give it to him.” Your reaction time sucks enough already without allowing him to get closer in to you, shaving even more time off.
  • Point 3: He’s covered? If you are a regimented, segmented, programmed boxer wearing gloves and you see your opponent boxer lift his or her big, padded, boxing gloves up to their face, this is some proper, padded protection. You think…”oh well, darn, he’s covered right now.” To some extent with big gloves this is true. But when an un-gloved person follows this same gloved habit with bare fists, the regimented boxer might see this also, as “cover,” and still hesitate to strike because he thinks…“Oh well, darn, he’s covered right now.” Leftover thinking from gloved boxing habits. The bare-hand guy is not “covered/protected.” No big gloves! You have no padded gives. He has no padded gloves. If you have an open path to the head and hands on his face? Travel it. Hit them. Hit these bare fists on his face.
  • So, in bare knuckle fight theory, not big glove theory – and well, maybe in big glove theory sometimes too – hands always on your face like this is a problem.  Again, “Make him earn that space, don’t just give it to him.” People like to argue about fists-on-face as being fine, but they cannot win an argument on this distance issue. The “earn-the-space” distance issue alone wins the argument. Think about how many self defense people put up the classic “fence-thingy” – hands up, hands out, palms out to keep people away. Distance theory. Your hands can sometimes keep people away. Find your comfortable, performance spot.

Sometimes, this cover doesn’t work even when wearing gloves

Hand are fast, Your hands. His hands. Fast. And structural mistakes can be overcome by moving your hands around quickly as needed. Lots of people quickly and smartly use their forearms for sudden protection. Fast hands might save the bare-fists-glued-on-face guys, but, fast hands are no excuse to justify stupid doctrine. Most “fighters” retreat to forearm covers and hands way back in the instant that they need them, nicknamed “doomsday blocks.” They don’t use this position as a fighting stance standard. Once escaped, they return to “normal, up-front” hand positions.

I am writing here about maximizing potential strategies and doctrine. Know your goal. Know the best way to achieve it. Remove abstracts, or at very least reduce the abstract. In training, it is almost impossible to completely remove the abstract…because…it’s training. So, reduce the abstract where you can. This is a constant challenge.

Bare fists on face? I once again must resort to one of my hero’s remarks, champ Bas Rutten when he said on this subject “Ah, the meat-helmet defense. Would you put a focus mitt up to your cheek and let me punch it? No, because it’ll still KTFO. (knock you the fuck out)”

Several traveling seminar instructors these days, I think are running out of ideas, and have started to add/teach pure, BIG-GLOVED boxing.

Self Defense/Combatives Seminar: Learn to Box!”

I think this is a misleading mistake, unless they openly advertise –

“Self Defense Weekend! Plus – 2 hours of Sheer Sport Boxing.”

Okay then, mission properly advertised honestly and well stated. You’ll do self defense stuff and pure sport boxing. Or, how about –

“Self Defense Weekend! Plus 2 hours of Applying Boxing
Methods to Street Fighting.”

The word “applying” is key. There will be changes! Nicely advertised. But maybe with MMA gloves, we hope?

“BOXING! The Best Self Defense!”

No. Not alone. No. Every week the UFC is on TV, this mixed martial arts message is sent out to the world. Even neophytes can see that gloved boxing is not the ultimate solution to hand, stick, knife and gun fighting.

But this is not just a mistake of a traveling seminar person. This mistake appears in regular “self defense” classes in schools. If you do pure, big glove boxing as part and parcel of your self defense class you are off-mission. Not good. Not smart – especially when you could so easily fix that with no gloves or MMA gloves and a few short explanations. Many Krav schools have also added/introduced big glove boxing drills on mitts, bags, etc. to fill class time? Exercise? And appear to be more combative? Is this the best use of self defense class time?


Let’s not forget the mechanics of hitting. Hitting mitts and bags with big round, padded gloves is different than with MMA gloves or bare handed. It…feels…different. It feels different on your hands and in your wrists. Also, using your knuckles as striking point tools are easily lost inside the bulbous, boxing glove. Spending a whole lot of your self defense time hitting gear with big boxing gloves is just “off-mission.”

The MMA glove is better because in fights you need to hit AND grab and grapple. And for so-called “reality fighting,” on the “doctrine chalkboard,” MMA today is superior to “BJJ” and “Boxing,” because it already includes both as a mission. But if you just want to wrestle, or box? Fine! You do what you want and like. It’s your choice, your hobby, your fun, your exercise. Even your addiction. But addictions don’t always allow you to think straight. Just know what you are doing. Who, what, where, when, how and why. Know where it fits in the big picture.

Glove on a stick! An example of a training
use of a boxing glove. Stand behind a
trainer and poke it into openings.

I mentioned “special purposes use” earlier. I do love to see the boxing gloves on the walls where I teach. I need them sometimes as a progressive, handy tool. When do I slip big boxing gloves in when teaching? I do still use them when I think its appropriate. One example would be some ground fighting. Hero on the ground, trainer on top of him punching down. We are trying to get the bottom guy to do a move or maybe draw a knife or gun under some stress. I will ask the topside guy to wear one or two boxing gloves and give the bottom guy some safer, distracting flak. And, there are indeed times, when I think its appropriate, people need to just flat-out box for a host of skill developing reasons I seeking to work on, and the big gloves are a safer device in a progression to a bare knuckle goal.

So the “stance?” When I warn people about the fist-on-the-face-thing, they ask, “well, where should your hands be?” For a quick response? “Not there!” A vast, and I mean vast, majority of boxers, MMA and otherwise systems have their hands up but forward and off from their faces, in the upper window of combat. I’d say, a vast majority. And most keep them moving a bit anyway. A so-called fighting stance is about balance and power in motion, not a still photo, position. I could probably show 8 different photos here representing tons of boxing and non-boxing fighters with their dukes up in varying heights somewhat away from their faces.
For me, for my “business” (and yours?) I am not developing boxing-boxers. I am trying to study and utilize Boxing and Thai. I am trying to help the spread of “self defense” survival in a bare hand, stick, knife, gun world. Are you? What…is…your…mission? If you don’t already, please consider the necessary changes from sport boxing to the “hitting below the belt,” no rules fighting you claim to teach. One such examination involves the use of, or limited use of, or non-use of, the big boxing glove.

Are you killing time in your Krav classes? Making self defense people punch with big boxing gloves?

The main theme in the ballpark here? Let’s hyper jump right to it now. If you are solder-ing, LEO-ing, krav maga-ing, citizen-ing, or combatives-ing your way to real world, self defense? Your core punching research and study must prioritize BARE-KNUCKLE BOXING! Not just sport, big glove boxing of “western” and Thai. (And even in Bare Knuckle fights, they still wrap parts of their hands and their wrists. At any rate when the fight starts in the supermarket, or the factory floor, or the family picnic, you will not be wearing boxing gloves and your hands and wrists won’t be wrapped. And don’t put your bare hands on your face thinking your safe!

(Update: This essay was shared and re-shared from here over 150 times on the internet years ago, with a couple of thousand comments. People are still finding it and commenting. ALL positive but for TWO! Only two separate, Panantukan instructors claim that it is smart to start all fights from their face cheeks. They believe that their hands are faster if fired from the face cheeks. I couldn’t help but look up a video or two that one of them made and sure enough, it seems like one guy’s fashioned his entire system, for years, based on the fist on cheek fighting stance. This is a serious mistake. It would seem when overwhelming comments from veteran experts – oh, like Bas? – and some science and common sense comes along, the one or two, might change/evolve.)

More! Click here and watch Bas Rutten video test! Bare knuckle vs. MMA glove vs. boxing glove

More! Slightly off topic, but interesting – The Paradox of Boxing Gloves

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Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

See more on this subject here, in one of our bestseller videos, click here Boxing Outside the Think : The Other Hand