Friday Feature: #FlatMindy

Welcome to my Friday Feature, a weekly post designed to introduce to you some of the best and brightest students at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy (HMAA) and throughout the Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS). I’ll try to illuminate where their success comes from, what brought them to our Academy or into CTS, and discuss some of the challenges they may have faced along the way. If you are training with us, perhaps you will see yourself in one of the upcoming weekly features. If not, get on the mat already…

Today I get to promote someone very close to my heart, #FlatMindy. The Florida State PTA has started a program called the Flat Mindy project. According to the website, “The purpose of the 2016 Flat Mindy Project is to highlight some of the many wonderful Family Engagement and Health & Wellness activities and concepts that are being put into action with children and youth from around our state.” That’s our own, very special person, (only flat when she sings) Mindy Haas, thank you very much…Mindy in Tally

I am so proud of the difference that Mindy has made in the West Boca community, Palm Beach County and the entire state of Florida, as a leading advocate for children, and in particular, health and wellness.

Mindy and I decided a long time ago that we were going to use the lessons we have learned in martial arts to have as big of an impact on our community as possible. It has been very difficult balancing the demands of her various PTA positions that she has held (including President of Whispering Pines Elementary School PTA two times, President of Palm Beach County Council of PTA’s, and President of Florida State PTA) and her martial arts training. She has achieved black belt rank in both American Kenpo Karate and Cacoy Doce Pares systems and is cuurently ranked at 2nd brown in CTS over the past twenty some years. Somehow, she has managed to avoid the controversy of how sexy she is, and has been able to negotiate the inevitable hypocrites as mentioned in the song…

From the Florida State PTA website:

“Florida PTA is looking forward to receiving lots and lots of Flat Mindy photos! Decorate your Flat Mindy, and take a picture of your group – your school/community/family – enjoying a healthy and fun activity with Flat Mindy and send it in! For complete rules, visit our web site! https://floridapta.org/programs/family-community-involvement/flat-mindy-project

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Here are some of the wonderful submissions so far:

#FlatMindy getting her Haastyle on with Sensei Gator here at Fuguitt today. Maybe she can show him some of her moves?”10610846_10154261303699123_6346873718919360480_n

#FlatMindy wanted to help count the girls laps during the skate-a-thon tonight. Gotta support your local team and get out and be active! Way to go Pinellas County Junior Derby”12654359_10154261697934123_936166642997395261_n 12647173_10208343840934528_7961222263428704983_n#FlatMindy (Mindy Braunstein Haas) helping @ #Math after a great #Karate class at Haas Style Karate (sic)

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At HMAA everyone is so proud to have Mindy representing us, and #FlatMindy representing her. As for me, I’m just lucky to have her!


 

I want to see some pics of my martial arts friends and CTS brothers and sisters training with #FlatMindy…

  • please tag #FlatMindy #FlatMrsHaas and #trainingHaastyle
  • Then I’ll update the blog post with you and #FlatMindy

See you and #FlatMindy on the mat! RH

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4 Tips to Bust Out of a Training Rut

Eric Primm has some nice tips on how to break out of a rut. It’s funny, I use all of these ways and more, but I use different ones for my martial arts than I do for, say, my songwriting…

Ever get stuck on a technique or a drill? I do. Ever feel like you’re just not getting better? Well, you might be in a rut. These tips can help you revive your training.

Rut1

1.) Quit multi-tasking

Each art has so many parts to learn, to polish, and to perfect. Often we’re learning more than one thing at a time. For example, we could be learning jab, cross, hook, and upper cut. If we’re struggling with our hooks, we should drop the other three punches and focus on the hooks. Multi-tasking divides our attention and short term memory. It’s possible that the details of each move can blend into the other moves. Take the time to focus on your rut, and when you decide to train it, separate it from your other studies.

2.) Break it down to component parts

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This is where you take the move and subdivide it…

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Friday Feature: Flashback to Pre CTS

Welcome to my Friday Feature, a weekly post designed to introduce to you some of the best and brightest students at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy (HMAA) and throughout the Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS). I’ll try to illuminate where their success comes from, what brought them to our Academy or into CTS, and discuss some of the challenges they may have faced along the way. If you are training with us, perhaps you will see yourself in one of the upcoming weekly features. If not, get on the mat already…a-long-time-ago-in-a-galaxy-far-far-away

Today is for the old school. I’m going back in the archives to share some videos from the days before the birth of CTS. Most of Master Z.’s CTS materials are copy-written in 2007, so I pulled the following from my Haastyle YouTube Channel:

In the days before global warming made the Florida sun so hot that you couldn’t train outside any more, we would set up a little canopy and train in my backyard when Zach came to visit.

Freestyling with the big Pekiti Tirsia sticks.

This is putting together the legendary PTK 64 attacks, for which I was certified in 2005.

When I started with Zach Whitson, it was my intent to learn Pekiti Tirsia kali and Kenpo Counterpoint exclusively. I loved training with Manny Reyes Sr., it just seemed like the next logical step in my progression as a Kenpoist. That was the subject of my latest article.

How Kenpo Karate led me to CTS

These were definitely good times and, if you are wondering, I miss the dreads, but not the extra hundred pounds…

See you on the mat! RH

BTW – If superhero movies interest you, I write for MoviePilot. This post has almost 10,000 views!

4 Characters We Could See in

Captain America: Civil War

4 characters pic

Progress through Resistance by Eric Primm

12491859_1048166891904646_9014650030499049207_oI told you that you should follow Eric Primm! This week he spit out a good one about one of the MOST important aspects of Counterpoint Tactical System training at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy and around the country. We refer to it as the “open training model” using progressive resistance. This sure beats the heck out of trying to learn by training with a partner that is just standing there…

Please read:

Progress through Resistance

 

 

 

How Kenpo Karate led me to CTS

So, when I started this blog I, kinda sorta knew, that I was going to have to share my past a bit. In discussing my journey and in discussing the future, indeed, MY future with regards to both Haastyle Martial Arts Academy (HMAA) and the Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS), I must write about my martial arts upbringing. Over time, I will get to all of it, but today, the focus is on my days as a student of Ed Parker’s American Kenpo Karate.

I had trained before in another style (for another article), and that did not work out at all. Kenpo is what started me on the road to CTS. Kenpo had all the right things, at the time, to set my proverbial ball rolling. As I trained later, in Jeet Kune Do (JKD) and Pekiti Tirsia Kali (PTK) systems, it was with teachers that had a strong Kenpo background. This training completes the grand ‘Spar Wars’ trilogy that has left me on the CTS dark side swinging a (relatively) light saber made of rattan…

spar+wars

click on this it’s cool..

Episode I: “Kenpo Genesis”

One thing that I always loved about EP’s Kenpo was the structure. Most specifically, the depth of the structure. Kenpo is set up with a form/kata (a series of preset movements designed to illuminate and instill certain principles of motion) and/or a set (a series of preset motions design to educate the foundation of basics) and a set number of techniques (a series of preset responses to a specific attack). In addition, the forms had a wonderful progression from linear to circular style that caught my eye right away, and the techniques had a consistent modus operendi that was designed to help you find your place on a six count rotation. All of these things fit my sensibility and a need for order in a world surrounded by three girls (my wife and two daughters).12185499_1078245652215724_8915579881498590691_o (2) Where I trained, there were an unusually small group of requirements for each belt level as compared to the average Kenpo Karate school, probably the smallest curriculum that I have ever seen for an adult program. This never phased me because I was there to learn as much as I could, not just a bit so I could achieve a belt and my instructor never held me back. Soon after I began training in West Boca, my instructor had exhausted what he had to offer me, so I began traveling an hour to Hialeiah, one of the worst parts of Miami, to train with Manny Reyes Sr.; time I will always cherish. He taught from a “street fighting” perspective and I learned a lot. Thus, I fell in love with martial arts thanks to American Kenpo Karate.

“(more like) Jeet Kune Don’t”

Early on in my Kenpo training I was introduced to the art of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do. Long story short (Episode II), my JKD instructor was a former Kenpo guy, so he also had a solid structure to his curriculum and teachings, which makes sense as, Dan Inosanto, the current Senior Instructor/ Practitioner of JKD, ALSO came from a Kenpo background. Forms and techniques were still there, but the introduction of Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) concepts and a less rigid training model began to expand my horizons. The problem was that my JKD instructor wanted me to quit Kenpo, he said “…Kenpo training is wrong…” and, let’s just say, I wasn’t ready to hear that (whether he was right or wrong is a nuanced discussion). So, as a Kenpo guy, having started my FMA training in a JKD school, I find myself in a seminar with a man, that has since become a great friend and mentor, Professor* Zach Whitson. Zach was teaching his earliest innovation Kenpo Counterpoint. I am Jacks Smirking Revenge blendGet this, Kenpo Counterpoint was at it’s essence, Kenpo Karate that uses the FMA training model of countering and re-countering. So, rather than denigrating, discounting or deleting the, somewhat flawed, Kenpo training model, he took strides to upgrade it. Seeing this breakthrough made me understand a couple of simple things.

  1. As Bruce Lee said: “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely you own.” I feel this is one of his most misunderstood quotes. So many discard what, they feel, is not useful BEFORE training it thoroughly. Mr. Whitson showed me there was more to learn inside the context of American Kenpo Karate by adding something that was his own and encouraging me to do the same.
  2.  Martial arts skills were not going to come to me in the mail. I had to go out and find what I needed to grow. So, a short while later, when I opened my first school, I gave Mataas na Guro** Zach Whitson a call.

Pekiti Gone Wild”

For several years thereafter Master Z.*** would come to visit annually, I would visit him in the Tennessee, and sometimes, at other schools with which he became affiliated. We would train Kenpo Counterpoint and the Pekiti Tirsia Kali system which Master Z. acquired from Tuhon Bill McGrath and Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje. PTK had a massive curriculum which I was willing to go through, but the wheels were spinning in the mind of my guide. Over time, Master Whitson was able to accrue considerable ‘hands on’ with Supreme Grandmaster Ciriaco “Cacoy” Canete and, through the revelations attained in that time, COUNTERPOINT TACTICAL SYSTEM WAS BORN! And my transition was complete… imageedit_2_9416829634 (2)Other than the successful development of two strong, independent daughters, and my long, beautiful relationship with my wife of almost 30 years, there is NOTHING that I take more pride in than having been there at the genesis of CTS. Kenpo was good to me, I ultimately made it to 3rd degree black belt. CTS has become the foundation of my days.

See you on the mat. RH

PS – If you want to know that there are other avenues to the same end, please read Eric Primm’s

How Grappling Led Me to CTS


*due to his rank at the time of 6th black in Kenpo, that is how he would be titled.

**I came to find that Master Z. was also a master instructor in Pekiti Tirsia Kali an art that I had asked my JKD instructor to teach me and he chose not to.

*** Zach does not dig on extreme formalities so the familiar Master Z., Mr. Whitson or plain Zach became the preferred titles over Professor or Mataas na Guro.


 

Feature Friday – Follow Eric Primm NOW

Welcome to my Friday Feature, a weekly post designed to introduce to you some of the best and brightest students at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy (HMAA) and throughout the Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS). I’ll try to illuminate where their success comes from, what brought them to our Academy or into CTS, and discuss some of the challenges they may have faced along the way. If you are training with us yet, perhaps you will see yourself in one of the upcoming weekly features. If not, get on the mat already…

In my previous Friday posts, I have focused on a couple of great individual stories at our school, Tyler K. and Ezara S.. Last week, I presented a group of individuals that have had great success at HMAA, the ladies of the “Fight like a Girl” Defensive Tactics and Awareness for Women (FLAG) program. This week I am going to focus on one of our greatest promoters and almost definitely our best and most prolific blogger, Mr. Eric Primm of Saint Louis Counterpoint (maybe I’ll get a T-shirt out of this?).

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Eric Primm (w training knife) with Zach Whitson (w handgun)

I’m motivated to do this by the outstanding output and commitment to writing he has displayed over the years. Just today he re-posted about How to Be a Good Training Partner which he wrote a couple of years ago and it reminded me that he has been doing excellent work for a while now. I also noticed that it is a good companion piece for the article that I wrote last week about Haastyle FMA Training Structure.

 

So, I’ve been talking to Eric, who I like to call Shakespeare, for a several years about wanting to write more, and starting a blog, more specifically. He said “…you should be writing…” Now that I’m doing what I set out to do, he has been incredibly supportive and

Writing Avengers

Steve – Thor – Tony – Bruce

encouraging . His writing is smart and informative. As an Engineer, by trade, he can bring a more technical approach to certain material then you might see from, say, me. I also think it’s great that he kind of put his journey through CTS out there for the world to see. Here is a good primer about whence he came – How Grappling Led Me to CTS by Eric Primm. Eric has become an outstanding martial artist and watching him go through the ranks has been a real treat. To wit:

 

being-a-good-writerI highly recommend that you peruse the Saint Louis Counterpoint archives and FOLLOW Eric Primm’s blog (Facebook, Twitter, et al). Note: I have found that WordPress is a really good tool for learning, it’s a great tool for writers and the thing I love the most is they don’t send ANY spam, so when you subscribe you will only get what you ask for. Oh, and if you don’t follow me yet, you should …

See you on the mat! RH

Your Martial Art Life Plan from The Martial Arts Woman

It’s been a month or so playing on WordPress and I’m discovering that there are many good writers out there. I’ve decided to follow Andrea “The Martial Arts Woman” because she is a smart and concise writer, and it also seems like we have much in common. Despite the female perspective (I hope Mindy is reading her posts), she and I seem to share a similar approach to learning and training .

Do you have a plan today? If not get one, you can start by reading her latest

Your Martial Art Life Plan

peacemaker

You’re welcome.

See you on the mat!

RHFight Like a Girl FEAR

Bowie Style

Alternate title:

How a Gay, Ginger, Bonk-eyed, Snaggle-toothed Freak in a Dress Led Me on a Path to Martial Arts Success

We interrupt this blog that is primarily dedicated to shamelessly promoting Haastyle Martial Arts Academy and the Counterpoint Tactical System (<– please visit the website for more details), to address a gaping hole in the universe; the passing of one Mr. David Robert Jones (January 8, 1947 – January 10, 2016), always known to his fans as David Bowie. I’m aware that most folks reading these words are becoming ever thoroughly dependent upon ingesting my periodic wisdom vis-a-vis martial arts and fight sport, but this day demands another tactic. So, as I have always known since my formative years, and applied for so long now with Master Whitson, you must do what feels right, and the unexpected output may often be the better choice. I know this to be true in martial arts, so let’s see if it carries over to my writing. Master Z is famous for saying “I don’t know, let’s try it and see,” when asked how he would respond to a particular attack. How will this article be received? I don’t know, we’ll see…

My martial arts training has had myriad  influences, probably starting with the G.O.A.T Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee in the early 1970’s, but, around that same time, I was discovering music. The only thing that has impacted my life more than my training is music. David Bowie was one of the musicians that influenced me, beginning as early as I can remember. I don’t know when exactly, I’m thinking it was seeing footage of the screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo singing “Space Oddity” from the documentary, concert film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars which came out in 1973 (I was 9 years old)?

The influence then became unexpectedly reinforced as I sat with my Mom and Dad, thus gaining their approval, for his legendary performance with Bing Crosby in 1977. Here is the Funny or Die version (a fairly reverential take, btw), lest we suffer from Bowie overload this week.

The early influence was solidified with the revolutionary effects in his “Ashes to Ashes” video (from his 1980 disc, Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)) that was touted at the time as one of the first music videos. The song itself,  with it’s ‘death of the zeitgeist’ proclamation:

“Ashes to ashes, funk to funky; We know Major Tom’s a junkie; Strung out in heaven’s high, hitting an all-time low”

This was heavy stuff for a 16 year old who could take or leave the ’70’s. This line alone has had a great impact on my life and, indeed, my martial arts training. Things will not stay what they were yesterday; what you once thought, may not be true; and, with perseverance (and the intrusion of alternative influences), hitting an all-time low need not mean the end of the line.

True influence is only achieved through generations. So as I moved on in my life, I continued to feel the great influence the man, now nattily attired in a white suit, presenting himself as a ‘serious, modern man’, had on me. I’ll never forget putting the record (yes, vinyl) on in my dorm room at Tobey Hall on the first day of my sophomore year. By the time I had to flip the record over, half of the hall was gathered listening to the funk get funky and the great, then pretty much unknown, Stevie Ray Vaughan on guitar for Bowie’sLemmy-Kilmister-RIP-2015 Let’s Dance (1983). Admittedly, an album of it’s time, but I met a lot of good friends that day. To be sure, most of those guys would like to see a tip of the hat to another recently passed legend, one, Lemmy Kilmister, a man who has also been an influence.

Moving on to the next generation, an early recordings of Bowie’s, turned up as a favorite for sing alongs back in the day at the Haasienda. One of his first singles, “Love You ’til Tuesday” was on a compilation we had of early punk rock influences called “Alter-No-Daze” (I can’t find a link online, but if I do I will update). My daughter Marissa (now the lead singer of the great punk rock band out of Greenville, NC called No Brainer) and I, used to listen to this on a loop. The Ramones, Bowie, Siouxsie and the Banshees et al., were punks early influences.  The irony in this song was that, despite what a downer Bowie could be in the ’70’s when I was introduced, this was a very fun, uplifting song, and my kids loved it!

I want to wrap up this incredibly self indulgent post by saying that I continue to update my Bowie collection and have followed Bowie’s ch-ch-ch-changes, literally, until the day he died. ChangesOneBowie, his first greatest hits set, has been on my desert island list for more than 30 years without hesitation, and his new record, Blackstar, came out on his 60th birthday just two days before he passed are the bookends. His previous collection called The Next Day came out in 2013 and started up a bit of a Bowie renaissance for me, as I revisited his entire catalog. Has there ever been someone that has combined music and the visual presentation with such amazing diversity, passion and, don’t be mad bro, success, for so many years like he has?

 “His death was no different from his life — a work of Art,”

Tony Visconti, Bowie’s long-time collaborator

No, Bowie was not my favorite, but he has had a tremendous influence on all of them: Bruce Springsteen, Joan Jett, The Pretenders, Social Distortion, REM, Nirvana and Frank Turner, just to name a few.

I could never do justice to a eulogy, so if you need more, check out this great article from one of my favorites sites, Consequence of Sound, David Bowie Lives! The Cunning Exit of a Post-Modern Lazarus.  It provided the final push, and inspired me to go this route with my writing today.   I also thought this was funny – God Finalizes Supergroup Lineup ; or maybe he had a divine plan, according to this article in The Telegraph (sounds English), David Bowie’s last release, Lazarus, was ‘parting gift’ for fans in carefully planned finale.

David Bowie made me understand that I should think outside the box, that I should question what I have been presented, that I don’t have to (and maybe I shouldn’t) be today, the same as I was yesterday and, in his final movement, the finale, if you will, to show grace Under Pressure. These are well known themes that he first helped me with as a child and stay with me to this day, the light of the universe shines ever brighter now that you are among the stars. Godspeed Starman…

Over here on E Street, we’re feeling the great loss of David Bowie. David was a visionary artist and an early supporter of our music. Always changing and ahead of the curve, he was an artist whose excellence you aspired to. He will be sorely missed. – Bruce

“He was the artist who had the most influence on me, both musically and personally. His courage and fearless creativity was a model to follow. I didn’t know him well, but I will always love him. He was supportive, and lent his help, when it meant the most. There will never be another like him, and the world will not be the same without David Bowie.” – Joan Jett

You were the single flame in the center of it all.
Thank you David
X chrissie

His music got me through a troubled childhood. He provided joy, imagination, and escape. His phrasing when he sings, his poetic and stylish lyrics…this man shaped thousands of boys and girls who went on to be their own rock stars. Thank you, Mr. Bowie, for the special gifts you gave all of us. – Mike Ness

Right now, it feels as if the solar system is off its axis, as if one of our main planetary anchors has lost it’s orbit. That said—I am certain that wherever Bowie is now—I want to be there someday. —Michael Stipe

RIP Bieber

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See you on the mat! RH

 

 

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Friday Feature – “Fight like a Girl”

Welcome to my Friday Feature, a weekly post designed to introduce to you some of our best and brightest students at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy (HMAA) and illuminate where their success comes from, what brought them to our Academy, and discuss some of the challenges they may have faced along the way. If you are not yet a member, perhaps you will see yourself in one of the upcoming weekly features.

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“Fight like a Girl” January 2014

In my previous Friday posts, I have focused on a couple of great individual stories at our school, Tyler K. and Ezara S.. This week I am going to focus on a group of individuals that have had great success at HMAA, the ladies of the “Fight like a Girl” Defensive Tactics and Awareness for Women (FLAG) program.

OUR MISSION:

The Haastyle Martial Arts Academy “Fight like a Girl” – Defensive Tactics and Awareness for Women is designed to empower teen and adult women to understand that they can fight back and “win” specifically in cases of attempted assault or rape. By using the martial arts principles of prevention, awareness and easily learned, natural body movement, we will make students safer. In turn, this will allow them to lead happy, confident and more productive lives with their families and the community at large.

We run FLAG two or three times a year at different times and sometimes at different locations. We have had groups at the local Busy Body Fitness Center and the Jewish Community Center in recent years. The curriculum is culled directly from what I learned training Zach Whitson’s, Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS). CTS is a real world street survival system with it’s roots in Filipino Martial Arts (FMA). As a generally Keep Calmdiminutive people, training in the Filipino way is suited perfectly for women that want to stand up and fight back. The techniques used are not dependent upon muscle and the training does not focus on “killer instinct” (something that would take years and years to develop). Conversely, the abilities stem from use of natural motions and staying calm in difficult, possibly life threatening, situations. On top of the physical training we also include extensive discussions about awareness and prevention throughout the sessions. Any time a specific question comes up, we encourage group discussion. Attendees are also encouraged to speak privately with me, or Mrs. Haas (who has been through the training more than anyone) if they so desire.

I have a few people that I want you to meet:

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Olivia age 11 & Barbara P. age (I’ll never tell)

Olivia started training at HMAA as a Little Dragon (ages 4-6). At age eleven, she has been one of our youngest participants. We use frank language in the program which can be inappropriate for certain age/ maturity levels, but as someone that had been around for many years and, with the trust of her parents (her Mom participated in our PTA one-night course), Olivia was able to gain a new perspective on personal safety going into middle school thanks to the defensive tactics and awareness taught in the FLAG program. In the above photo, Olivia is training with Barbara. I met Barbara in one of my Yoga classes, she has participated in FLAG several times. Given her advanced age, she found some things more challenging than others. I always say, “do what you can and don’t worry about what you can’t.” The system allows for changing your mind if the motion does not come naturally to you at first.

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Samantha S. (age 18) & Josie D. (age 13)

Meet Samantha and Josie (pictured above). As a busy teenager Samantha had to deal with many distractions while participating in FLAG. She attended the workshops with her Mom, and despite her social calendar pulling her this way and that, was able to feel more confident as she was entering her college years. Just two months ago Sam returned to brush up before moving to San Diego to start a new chapter with her boyfriend. Josie was one of my most capable young leaders before moving away to Orlando last year. The two of us put together a nice demonstration using the principles of “Fight like a Girl” back in 2014:

Fight Like a Girl FEAR

I encourage you to keep an eye out for future Haastyle Martial Arts Academy’s “Fight like a Girl” Defensive Tactics and Awareness for Women.  You can register on my website to stay up to date with our next event. Whether it is for you or the women in your life that you love, everyone comes away safer, stronger and more confident after participating.

Until then, I’ll see you on the mat! RH

Don’t Start in the Middle – Haastyle FMA Training Structure

Have you ever walked up in the middle of a conversation and listened just long enough to know you are never gonna figure out what’s going on? I certainly have, and it’s always frustrating, ’cause I likes to know stuff.

Good talk Russ

Fun fact: My Dad used to call me “Rusty”

Does this happen in your training? When I develop my lesson plans for our classes at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy (HMAA) there is a fundamental structure that I like to use to insure that everyone in class, of all skill levels and learning abilities is on board from the start. Everyone may not get everything, but everyone is gonna get SOMETHING.

The majority of my classes at HMAA are open to all skill levels and even though my staff is there to help, it is important to me that they get something out of the class as well. My general class structure begins with basics, moves toward attribute training/ technique, then what I refer to as “theme assault” and finally sparring. Take a look at my class structure and let me know if it can help you with your teaching or training.

Part I: Train the Basics

ba·sic – the essential facts or principles of a subject or skill.

Naturally, I always open class with some form of a warm up. Yes, there will be calisthenics, but this is where I lay the foundation for that days lesson. More often then not, I will hit my trusty Ringside boxing timer and start up some footwork to warm up the legs. For some footwork variations, check out Eric Primm’s Footwork Friday archives. Almost anything we do in the Counterpoint Tactical System  (CTS) is gonna require some understanding of how to move your feet, so I am constantly checking to be sure the students are going somewhere with their footwork, not just stepping. Based on the lesson of the day, we might add sticks and/or knives, or maybe just stay empty handed while we move. I’ll call out basic strikes to go with the footwork to warm up our arms and, more importantly, focus the intention of the students for that days lesson. Many of my students arrive directly from their hectic lives, so basics training serves to get them mentally on the mat. And yes, calisthenics on the breaks between rounds.

Part II: Attribute Training

CTS is a tactical training system that relies on the development of reflex actions or attributes. Master Zach Whitson the founder and senior practitioner of CTS, using a computer analogy, says that we want our skill sets to be hardwired as apposed to software.

at·trib·ute – a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something.

Our attribute training is done mostly through drilling with progressive resistance from a partner. Techniques that can be used to “finish” the progression are often included in this section of class. The focus remains on the attribute though, as the “finishing” technique is of no consequence given the failure of the attribute.

Here’s a brief demo of Bryan and I showing – drill -> attribute -> technique progression.

“True knowledge is a state of being.” – Stephen Covey

(author of “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”)

Cant handle the Truth

Part III: Theme Assault

as·sault – make a physical attack on.

As we progress in class we include “theme assault.” Theme assault is basically combining two or more drills to begin (or hone) the spontaneous movement that allows various attributes to connect. This is the most frustrating transition for my students. In undisciplined practice, theme assault looks like bad sparring.Break Concentration The student that has not used the initial parts of class to focus their intentions, now feel. like they. walked in. the midddddle. of. the. connverrsaaationn.

I am Jack’s… complete lack of surprise… 

I see bad footwork, bad body mechanics and, typically, a frustrated partner. Point being that you can not push your students into the deep end of training. Theme assault should entail just that; whatever the theme is, plus, add a thrust, add a low line, add third hand, whatever it may be, don’t be THAT guy.

Part IV: Sparring

spar – verb – present participle: sparring – make the motions of boxing without landing heavy blows, as a form of training;
engage in argument, typically of a kind that is prolonged or repeated but not violent.

Now we can argue the definition of sparring, but the bottom line is a) it’s not fighting and b) it’s just another platform for learning. So it’s time to play. We no longer say “it’s your turn” or “it’s my turn”, just go. Now, depending upon skill level we can take it as far as we want. We can retain the theme, empty hand, knife, stick, ground et al, or we can go all the way to juego todos as we call it, meaning, “play all.” Hell, I’ve been known to throw sticks and knives out on the floor during empty hand sparring. You can also add take downs and ground tactics to the whole deal. At HMAA we work hard to keep the energy as close to the initial attribute/ technique training as is possible. We train to relax, not kill, kill, KILLLLL, but that is a source for another discussion.

Get on the mat, work your game, and go through the progression. Begin class by getting your mind on your work so you don’t “drop in” on your partner later in the session. You will get better, develop more confidence and learn the truth, Ruth (I get paid extra for each Sam Jackson reference…)

See you on the mat! RH