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Burger Lite. Weapons Work

Posted November 26, 2017 by John Birmingham

Part of my plan to drop about ten or twelve kilos while the ladies are away is to get more time in at the dojo. Traditional jujitsu is not the calorie furnace you get in the Brazilian offshoot, but it’ll do me. As I get older and the knees get creakier I find the ground-fighting harder.

By happy coincidence, however, I’m working through the second bar of my brown belt grading at the moment. Plenty of opportunity for burning off flab there.

This morning, Saturday, we had the two hour class and I had some weapon defences to demo, responding to attacks with knife, chain, broken bottle, axe and staff or Jō. The staff is a traditional weapon, but the techniques to defend against it also work for pool cues, star pickets and broom handles. The axe has a wooden head, but it'll cave your skull in or break a bone if it connects.

It was a hard morning and I’m now a bit shaky and covered in fresh bruises and scrapes, but MyFitnessPal tells me I burned at least a thousand calories.

The attacks start simple. A straight stab with a knife, a big swinging axe coming to take off your head. Yeah, it’s weird, but that's simpler to deal with than lots of random, short stabby arcs with a broken bottle. As the grading proceeds the attacks escalate.

In the end there’s an exercise where you stand with your back to the attackers—Thanks Chris! Thanks Sensei Gordon!—and at a nod from the examiner they rush you with their choice of weapon and attack. Could be a concealed knife ripping upwards to gut you. Could be a chain swinging in a series of figure eights.

It’s surreal.

You try to empty your mind, and not to anticipate the clap which releases you to turn around and receive your attacker, but it’s like being on the blocks at a swim meet, waiting, waiting, waiting for the starter’s gun. The longer it went on, the harder it was to zone out and simply respond. My legs were shaking. Not with exhaustion or anxiety, but with my having to stop myself turning too early. I really wanted to see that attack coming in as early as I could.

When I did spin around, usually stepping forward and a little to one side or the other to give myself an extra half second, and to force the uke to slightly alter the line of their attack, I mostly perceived them as a blur. If they wielded a smaller, one-handed weapon, it was often impossible to discern what it was before they were on me.

A lot of the time I couldn’t even tell who was attacking, and now a couple of hours later, I couldn’t tell you who picked which weapon. Except for the axe. That was Sensei Gordon.

This part of the grading lasted only ten minutes at most but it felt like at least half my calorie burn was compressed in there. It also gave me the barest insight into what a real attack might feel like. A rushed chaotic blur where there’s no time to think, you are going to get hurt even if you ‘win’ the encounter, and afterwards you’ll struggle to recall the details in any sort of coherent form.

7 Responses to ‘Burger Lite. Weapons Work’

Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted November 26, 2017
It is the weirdest of sensations, when training is so complete that when you face the situation everything slips into automatic. I never did much martial arts training, but the Army did pound basic rifle marksmanship into me. I wasn't the best student by any means yet on Qualification Day it all snapped into place as one target fell after the next yielding the Expert Badge.
The same thing happens when I lifeguard at the Wave Pool, I'm in the air on the way to the guest in distress long before I am fully aware of what or why.
And for better or worse, the same can be said when someone tries to hit me, or part of me thinks that is happening.
Anyway, for my part, I've been trying to get back to the weights and swimming. The downside of the off season here in Missouri is that I am not walking all over a sixty acre amusement park which means I'm packing on the winter fat. Bulleitt's Ten Year selection isn't helping matters.

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insomniac mumbles...

Posted November 26, 2017
I think I'll just stick to the greatest automatic response of all to stop things going nuclear at any moment ... "Yes dear".

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Rob reckons...

Posted November 26, 2017 go go go

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Oldy has opinions thus...

Posted November 27, 2017
"you are going to get hurt even if you ‘win’ the encounter"

Yeah. This is probably the biggest difference between real life and Hollywood. Or as Alan Baxter says, 'when two tigers fight one limps away, sorely wounded. The other is dead'

Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted November 27, 2017
Gotta get them to tap out before it comes to that.

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satrewin mutters...

Posted November 27, 2017
Yes, nothing like scenario/reflex activities to test skills and at same time improve them. Daunting at first, very satisfying afterwards. Video of them and all the participants is useful for teaching points and often a laugh ! Especially for scenarios....

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Brother PorkChop ducks in to say...

Posted December 4, 2017
Hurts me just thinking about it. I believe I'll stick to a .308 at more than 200 metres, make it 400 to be sure.

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