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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

07 September 2005

Training Log: JKD

Update: Rich is now a BJJ guy, ranked under John Will. He teaches in Coventry at the Canley Sports and Social Club. I trained at his club over August 2009: good stuff, which I can wholeheartedly recommend.

(Finally got back into MA training this month, having been to a JKD place yesterday and a ZSK session today. I’ve being doing weights mainly this month to compensate, but with term starting up again at the end of this month and ZSK holiday sessions open again, my training should be back to normal soon. I did try to go to that muay thai class in Kings Norton I’ve been hinting at for several months now, but irritatingly, it had stopped running. The reason? Ironically, lack of interest! Perhaps I should have gone earlier…)

06/09/2005, Impact Martial Arts Academy (JKD), Coventry, Richard Green

On Monday, I finally met up with Martin from Tung-Fu, who I’ve ‘known’ for a few years now via that forum. He was kind enough to drive my girlfriend and I down to a place he’s been training at for the past month or so in Coventry. This proved to be a JKD club of the more traditional variety (a word which should really be an oxymoron when combined with JKD, but unfortunately all too often isn’t).

At first, the main instructor, Richard, told us to wait until he could get one of his assistant instructors to run us through a brief introduction. We came in the midst of another class, who seemed to be running through their warm-up – jogging on the spot, press-ups and the like, along with a great of chain-punching.

Finally, Richard brought us over to a pleasant individual in a green shirt, who introduced himself as Gordon. He has apparently been training in the system for about two years, having done some boxing in his youth. He ran my gf, myself, and a third newbie through some basic stretching, and then proceeded into the Wing Chun chain-punching. While he was quick to insist that this was not the only style of punching they did, the class did appear rather fond of it. Richard also popped up occasionally to provide some theoretical input, in which he said some promising things, like his mention of ‘BJJ players’. He also mentioned the old myth that Wing Chun was invented by a Buddhist nun (as I’m sure most of you are aware, documented evidence shows that like many MAs today, its less than a century old).

As part of the whole WC influence, there was talk of centreline theory, and their opinion that a particular technique was quicker than its more usual counterpoint – for example, the vertical fist as opposed to a boxing jab/cross, or a flicky upwards toe kick instead of a proper thrusting front kick.

Another big thing for Richard was 'strong side forward', which he argued was a better option than the more common weak side forward of boxing because it ‘presented your strengths and protected your weaknesses’, as well as enabling you to ‘develop your weaker side’ in the process. While I wasn’t entirely convinced, I could see his logic, and as an exercise in developing my weaker left side, no bad thing.

Richard was also keen to run through the three symbols printed on the back of club shirts – the triangle around them represented the footwork and guard structure, there was the Bruce Lee Jun Fan symbol, a silat symbol and some kind of geometric symbol covered in spirals to symbolise the weapons work they did. Apparently, the phase structure of the club included Wing Chun punches, boxing, muay thai, footwork, silat, weapons and even BJJ.

Hence I was excited by the prospect of groundwork when Gordon brought us over to the mats, hoping for some arm-barring triangle-choking action. However, it was not to be BJJ today, but silat groundwork. I found this very reminiscent of the brief bit of breakdancing I did at uni, but it seemed to make a certain amount of sense. Sat on the floor we put up a sort of ‘fence’ with the hand, using the position to kick from the ground, and also for a swift method of standing back up again. Silat isn’t something I’ve tried before (though like I said, I’d covered the exact same moves in breakdancing classes), and this multiplicity of styles within the club was one of its plus points.

As Gordon wrapped up his intro, it was time to ask the usual questions. According to him, there was a team of students who entered competition, included mixed martial arts stuff, and there was also sparring at the club. This was divided into levels, so that people of a similar level would spar each other, which is a relatively common set-up. I’m not certain how heavy contact got, as Gordon also mentioned they liked to use spars for drilling purposes, like ‘left hand only’ etc, but I could imagine they might get up to a proper free spar environment, particularly if they have a squad for MMA.

I asked about BJJ groundwork, which as I mentioned Richard and Gordon had said they do apparently use, but Gordon immediately followed this by showing me a typical Wing Tsun type takedown and chain punch – seemed rather keener on that kind of thing instead of the more tried-and-tested shoot/choke/ground n’ pound etc combination. Also used said that he preferred this WT chain-punching because "an arm-bar meant you’d be waiting there while the blokes friends kicked you head in". Naturally you wouldn't just be lying there if you were going for an armbar, you'd try to break the arm then get up, but its true enough that intentionally going to the ground isn't normally a good idea in self-defence (but then I've never trained for self defence, so certainly not the best person to ask).

While I don't think its for me, they seemed honest, pleasant people. Also didn’t charge anything, and hadn’t charged Martin anything yet, and this was his third/fourth session (unless they’re suddenly going to spring a huge bill on him, but they didn’t seem the kind of people looking to rip you off, as far as I could tell). Also very busy – the room was full, so clearly a popular class.

So generally speaking, not a bad place to train, if you keep a large pinch of salt handy for the Wing Chun side of things, with the usually wary eye when people get too excited about self-defence. I’ve only been to this one intro class, so couldn’t go into too much detail on the fitness side, but I assume it gets considerably tougher than our intro – as I said earlier, we came in during a warm-up which looked like the typical press-ups/sit-ups/jogging on the spot routine.

The club salute looked very bizarre, but was explained as the usual show of respect, which is perfectly understandable. Still, its one of the things that would put me off going again, though my girlfriend like the lack of pressure from the very approachable instructors throughout.

Club Name: Impact Martial Arts Academy
Address: Moor House Nursery, Kingsland Ave, Coventry
Country: United Kingdom

Website: Here

Instructor: Richard Green
Cost: Haven't charged me or Martin yet, so...
Styles Taught: JKD (apparently encompassing muay thai, wing chun, BJJ, boxing, silat etc - they have a 'the arts' section on the site detailing four)

Class times here.

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