The first Mid-Michigan Martial Arts Summit was a resounding success! Thirty-six students from three different schools attended this exciting seminar on self defense.
The event was hosted by Master Dan Vigil on May 23rd at his dojang, Dan Vigil's Academy of Taewkondo, in Northville, Michigan. Master Vigil instructed the first session of the Summit, which focused on kicking. I must say I was very impressed with Taekwondo-style kicks, specifically the front kick, the side kick, and the back kick. The speed and power that result from the mechanics of the technique are incredible.
What is most interesting, and admittedly difficult to coordinate, is that the heel of the base leg has to point at the target. This means that when kicking, the base leg has to pivot via a rotation of the hips. The other requirement is that the knee of the base leg has to fully extend upon impact, maximizing the extension of the kick. I was very fortunate to attend this session, because I never would have thought to throw a kick this way — and without seeing it done, would never have understood why it was technically sound.
The second section of the summit was instructed by Sam Larioza Sensei, whose heads Ohana Karate in Fowlerville, Michigan. Larioza Sensei is a practitioner of Goju-Ryu Karate and Krav Maga. His session covered Krav Maga defenses against a choke from the side, an attack from a wide swing with a stick or knife, and when held at gunpoint from behind.
Despite my many years of training, I have never participated in Krav Maga. It is quite direct, although this should not be surprising due to the fact that it is a modern military combative system. We practiced techniques that involved "grabbing the head like a bowling ball," as Larioza Sensei put it — the thumb is shoved beneath the chin, and the fingers dig into the opponent's eyes. I personally find bowling uninteresting, but I got in this. It was really great instruction, and the session ended like so: We stood with our eyes closed while the instructors moved around the room making loud noises. At one point they even turned off the lights! Then someone would launch a random attack with little warning, and based on the lesson, we had to respond accordingly.
After breaking for lunch, we returned to training with Nicklaus Suino Sensei of the Japanese Martial Arts Center located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Sunio Sensei demonstrated the methods of executing and preventing throws and takedowns in a very intuitive way. The gist of the session was understanding the Strong Line and the Weak Line.
The Strong Line is a basically an imaginary line you can envision running from one foot to the other. It is strong because you can send and absorb a reasonable amount of force in the direction of the line. The Weak Line can be envisioned by running an imaginary line between your feet. It is weak because you can send and absorb very little force along the line.
So, in order to effect an efficient throw or takedown, the general goal is to place your Strong into your opponent's Weak Line. The idea is the same to thwart the opponent's attack. The advantage of thinking this way is that you can take this very simple concept immediately into application. Sunio Sensei's session ended with a bit of randori — free practice — and everyone, even those not used to throwing and takedowns, did really well!
I taught the final session of the day. My lesson focused on ground grappling. In such a situation, the first necessity is to establish position. Only after your position has been secured can you work for a submission.
We covered two very common holds — the mount (tate-shiho-gatame) and the side control (yoko-gatame). Following Suino Sensei's lesson in throws and takedowns, these two pins were natural progressions.
From the mount we worked the Arm Triangle and transitioned it into kata-gatame, the Shoulder Hold. What better time to work a choke when you've been training and sweating all day! From the side control we moved on to a top-side and bottom-side ude-garami, also known as the Kimura and the Americana in Brazillian Jujutsu. We ended the day with ude-hishigi-ude-gatame — the Straight Arm Bar.
All in all, it was a really great day. We trained from 10am to almost 5:30pm with a half-hour lunch break in the middle. The cost of the seminar was only $89 per person — which is a steal. I look eagerly forward to the next Mid Michigan Martial Arts Summit!