Self Defense – Deepen Your Core Art

Recently Ronda Rousey, a world class judo practitioner, fought Holy Holm, a world class boxer/kickboxer. Ronda was defending her belt.  She lost decisively.  Both are true competitors, but with very different world class core skills.

I want to share some thoughts with you on why it is very important to (whatever else you wish to learn) work on deepening your core art skills.

Let us say your core art is judo. For many years you have been at a world class level. You have worked out with very good coaches and training partners. Through the years you have made sacrifices so you could put in an accumulation of quality training. Your mind and body are built into a powerful and skillful machine for judo throws and judo type ground grappling (hold downs, chokes/strangles and arm locks). Your reflexes are highly tuned to subtle balance shifts in your opponent and yourself. You have earned by constant practice the title world class.

It isn’t just the power in your moves, it is as well your deep sensitivity to the shifts in balance and leverage between you and your opponent that you have slaved on to obtain. It is one thing to have a powerful throw, it is quite another to have that world class timing WHEN to execute.

You at some point decide to enter MMA (mixed martial arts) or perhaps you wish to strip down your judo for basic self-defense purposes. Let’s speak about MMA here. You are aware that in MMA the rules are very different from judo competition. For example you can be kicked and punched standing. On the ground you can be leg locked and ground and pounded.

Immediately you can see that in order to get into position for your world class judo throwing game on the opponent you have to get by their strikes. Also the chances are very slim you or your opponent will be wearing a gi to use for the throw (and judo grappling on the ground).

So you and your coach/training partners start with modifying your core art skills. How can you adapt your throwing expertise to a no-gi situation? How do you get by the problem of strikes so you can set up your throws? How do you deal with such things as ground and pound and leg locks?

Because for many years you have worked very hard (and smart) learning your throws and judo grappling you certainly have a deep core of skills to work with. No gi throws you will pick up relatively easily. Yes, you still have to work on it but you already have years of judo to greatly help you.

The main problem will probably come from dealing with skilled strikers. To do your judo throw you need to grab long enough to execute your throw.

Now let us say you learned some boxing, enough for the level of boxing/kickboxing you have been facing. In other words you were close enough in power/skill to weather any storm until you forced a clinch to then work your judo throw and then judo grappling. You have been rather successful because you are so good at your judo (in relation to your opponents) and good enough with your boxing (again, in relation to your opponents) that you are now a champion in your weight division.

Now say you are in 6 or 9 months going to fight a world class champion boxer/kickboxer.  The boxer/kickboxer has some takedown and ground skills but no way close to your judo skills.

Now before I continue I want to define how I am using 2 terms. One is the word possibility and the other is probability. Probability means here what likely will happen more times than not. Possibility means what “could” happen somehow, even if not probable.

When you train with each other it is better to stay with what is probable than what is possible. If you are going to fight a world class boxer/kickboxer within a year, you would do much better stripping down how fast you can get the opponent to the ground and kept there. This means you need to strip down your judo throws. Below is a video with further views on this subject.

Thank you for reading this and always train safe.

Fred Crivello
Jujutsu 101

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Balance Disruption

The theme of good jujutsu is balance disruption. When you are coaching your training partner, ensure you coach your partner toward the habit of off-balancing you prior to setting in with their main control hold.

Watch the following video and please let me know if you have any questions or thoughts on this subject.

Take care. Fred Crivello
Jujutsu 101

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Jujutsu 101 – Don’t Just Squeeze Neck While Choking. Disrupt The Balance!!!

One of the keys of jujutsu, as well as fighting in general, is getting and THEN KEEPING your opponent OFF balance. This, in the heat of battle can often be forgotten.

In a fight between 2 great MMA fighters, Kazushi Sakuraba and Wanderlei Silva in 2001, Sakuraba was working a “guillotine” (a type of front choke) on Silva. Sakuraba certainly SQUEEZED, but he did NOT from the start and during the hold, DISRUPT his opponent. Silva, eventually regained his posture and smashed Sakuraba to the mat very hard. Sakuraba seemed to injure his collarbone, probably from the powerful smash (which was a very good move by Silva). Of course the fight ended and Silva won.

Imagine if, at the start of the guillotine movement, Sakuraba started, as well as then continued to, jerk Silva’s neck/head. I don’t believe Silva would have been able to remain standing and then smash Sakuraba into the mat.

Sakuraba looked like he was going for the “home run” by squeezing very hard on Silva’s neck. Unfortunately (for Sakuraba) Silva’s balance was not broken.

Imagine if Sakuraba had, while very tightly squeezing Silva’s neck, started and then continued to jerk violently, like a wet dog shaking off water from a bath. Perhaps Silva’s neck may have even gotten sprained. Also Silva probably would have been flat on the mat as well.

DRILLING NOTES: Do NOT go crazy on your training partner. You can go violent on something like a rolled up rug. Not your partner’s neck! Of course (with care) you can build up the intensity. In practice keep to safe intensity levels.

After you both have (by practicing the move many times) gotten the mechanics down at some level, then you both might wish to take turns (carefully) resisting the hold. How to do this is beyond the purpose of this post.

Just remember you are NOT competing with your partner; you are training with him. Don’t RUSH through intensity levels. Remember, you are dealing with someone’s neck! Use CARE. You will get there; and you still will have functional necks!

Fred Crivello
Jujutsu 101

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Jujutsu 101 Coaching Tips

If you are serious about taking control of your progress in learning Jujutsu 101, or any practical self-defense, you must invest time and effort learning some good solid coaching habits.

Below I have included a small section from my Jujutsu 101 site about drilling that YOU can apply today!  I urge you to take time and see how you and your friends can use these tips.  They have helped many in law enforcement, as well as men and women in other walks of life.

Notes on Drilling:  In ending, there is quite a bit of knowledge on drilling wisely – self drilling, as well as partner and group drilling. Below are just some Jujutsu 101 views of teaching self-defense, defensive tactics, hand to hand combat, etc.  Take some time and think them over.

  • The more intense the situation, the less you can actually do.
  • Start slow and careful before increasing to greater and more serious self-defense situations.  Use care.  Slowly you will improve.  Train with a sense of reality.  When you and your partner’s skills have improved, then you can increase the intensities.
  • A few simple moves against harder intensities are much better than practicing many moves against many weaker intensities of attack.
  • The human body moves in a limited number of general patterns.
  • Punches, kicks, throws and sophisticated joint locking are specialty skills.  Shoves, stomps, and wrappings of a limb into your torso type holds are generally easier to learn and apply in tough situations.
  • An expert martial artist does not automatically make an expert teacher.
  • It is very difficult to challenge your cherished beliefs.
  • To be a good practitioner become a good and caring coach.
  • It is the science of self-defense, not hero-worshiping.
  • You only have the person’s willingness and understanding to work with.
  • All drills are artificial; don’t be afraid to adjust the drill to the person’s level of skill.
  • You only have so many fights in you; don’t waste them on reckless training!

If you are interested in more information about learning useful coaching habits, go to and spend time really reading the information on my Jujutsu 101 site.

Take your time and really think over what I have written.  It can help put YOU in control of your progress in learning practical self-defense skills.

Take care and always train wise.

Fred Crivello
Jujutsu 101

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Jujutsu 101 – Before You Invest A Lot Of Money And Time Into Learning Self-Defense …

Hi there.  I want to go over something I tell my potential students, as well as remind my current ones (and myself).

When fitting your self-defense training into your schedule you need to think about your current and future concerns, interests and responsibilities.

Some of you have families to support, some have school responsibilities, as well as others have simply other interests.  You have a limited amount of energy, time and funds to spread out over your various areas of your life.  You also are at a current level of fitness, including having perhaps some persistent old injuries.

You certainly need to be consistent when learning useful self-defense skills, but you also do not want to spend your valuable time trying to learn so many different moves that you: (a) have nothing deeply learned in a reasonable period of time, as well as (b) now start to find other parts of your life not moving forward.

Start by concerning yourself with one or two simple, yet realistic, self-defense situations (for your type of life) that you’d like to be better skilled at handling.  Perhaps someone first applying a bearhug and then throwing you to the ground and then kicking you.  That would be plenty to work on for a while.  You might break this down and just work on: (a) pushing the attacker (if you can) before he gets the full bearhug on you, then practice (b) if he has the bearhug on you to some degree, getting into a strong posture to be able to stomp his foot and/or elbow his groin or face or gut.  Of course this depends on body types and levels of intensity of the particular bearhug.

When you coach work towards your partner getting use to dealing with one level of a bearhug before you increase the intensity of the situation.  It is important to train realistically, as well as work towards the partner gaining wins by correct practice.

Note: I will be writing a lot more on coaching (yourself and others).  It is really a key in learning any practical skill.  The more you truly understand (and apply) wise coaching the more your destiny in learning (for example) self-defense will be under your control.

You need to decide on what small amount of moves to understand and practice in order to get good at in a reasonable amount of time.  These moves will need to help you to off-balance, control and then finish (end) the situation with the antagonist.

Note: In self-defense, a “finish” could be as simple as escaping, or injuring the attacker while holding him (or just holding him successfully) so you can dial 911 (police) on your cell phone.

Keep It Simple But Useful
It is much easier for most men and women to learn pushes, stomps, as well as elbow and palm strikes rather than punching with a fist and doing roundhouse kicks (including using your unconditioned shins to kick with).

It is easier to execute an off-balancing push or stomp than trying to set up and execute certain types of throws that require precision timing.

It is also easier to control another by wrapping tightly a limb into your torso and violently twisting or shaking, than trying to disrupt him by mostly using your hands to grab his wrist and elbow.

Note: Wrapping limbs, stomping, pushing, etc. do require understanding the mechanics, as well as practice to get to some reasonable level of skill.

Many Levels Of Bearhugs, Headlocks, Etc.
The truth is there will ALWAYS be levels of intensity of bearhugs, headlocks, chokes, tackles, etc. that will be above you, me and even the world’s greatest  fighters.   Bodies have limitations.  You and your training partners CAN improve by learning good coaching habits.

Note: This is a good reason to carry mace or a loud whistle or perhaps a short stick.  Of course don’t carry (as a self-defense weapon) something against the law in your neck of the woods.  I strongly suggest you always carry a cell phone.

Maintaining Your Skills
Also remember that after your power and timing and coordination are pretty good on a move, you need to ensure you have a way to maintain and (if you have the time and interest) to improve it as well.

You will be able to get up to a useful skill level with such moves as pushes and stomps faster than by trying to learn more technical (and popular) moves.

In ending, keep to simpler moves that you can first learn to some useful level in a reasonable period of time, then practice to maintain them within YOUR lifestyle.

Train wise and keep your life balanced.

Fred Crivello
Jujutsu 101

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Jujutsu 101 – Distance Drilling

Jujutsu 101 is all about YOU being in CONTROL of your self-defense improvement.  It is deeply about improving your skills in applying the science of leverage for self-defense purposes.  It is also about improving your coaching skills.  Whether you work out by yourself or with others it is vital to personally learn excellent coaching skills.

In this video we will be looking at how to work a bit on your distancing skills, which is very important in self-defense.  We are taking a punch as the situation.  Of course you could use another self-defense situation.  Take your time and do all the drills.

There really is a lot of potential gain here, so take your time and start slow before you try going jet fast.  There is no use going crazy fast when you are off-balance and open to a lot of attacks from the opponent.

Think of juggling.  Let’s say your goal was to be pretty good at juggling 3 balls.  You would not start out by juggling as fast as you can.  You would just end up dropping all the balls.  Instead, start slow and build up your control.  Work on improving gradually your balance and timing.  After you felt your control was pretty good at the current slow speed with (for example) 2 balls, then you would do the drill with 3 balls.  Eventually you would be working up to pretty impressive speeds.  In other words you PROGRESSIVELY develop this skill.

As your control improves then increase the drill intensity.  If you get over your head (too much) then cut back the intensity a bit until that lower level of intensity is under YOUR control.  Then, at that point, increase the intensity.

Anyway, take your time and work at this video.  You will be glad you did.  You CAN do it.

Thanks for your time and remember to always train safe.

Fred Crivello
Jujutsu 101

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Jujutsu 101 – Weapons Info

Jujutsu 101 is all about YOU being in CONTROL of your self-defense
improvement.  Whether or not you belong to a dojo or you are doing it on your own with perhaps a few friends, I strongly suggest you always find ways to improve your skills in staying in the driver’s seat when it comes to working at developing your self-defense skills.

There is actually a lot you can do yourself to help your own progress in learning good jujutsu skills for self-defense purposes.  Learning to
be a good coach (to yourself and others) is certainly a key skill to always work on.

I will write about that in a future blog or two.

Today please spent time studying over this Jujutsu 101 video.  It goes over a bit about WHY you should carry a self-defense weapon of some type.  Of course always follow the laws in your area regarding weapons.

In this video I am using a stick.  Besides what I show in this video, you will notice as well that I actually have a (very loud) whistle attached so I can blow it in an attacker’s ears.

Note: You need to use judgement on self-defense moves, especially if you decide to use a weapon for your protection.

Anyway, study the video and practice with great care.  Thanks for your time and remember to always train safe.

Fred Crivello
Jujutsu 101

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