Wednesday, June 17, 2015

FOOSH Revisited

I started off this blog with an article on FOOSH injuries - Fall On OutStretched Hand injuries.

More than 85% of all injuries t the upper limb are the result of a fall onto an outstretched hand.

Ukemi waza (breakfalling techniques) are techniques designed by jujutsu and its derivative arts of judo and aikido to prevent and control injuries arising from a fall, including FOOSH injuries.

The injury to the right was the result of a fall by Sally Pearson, the Australian champion hurdler, during a race recently.

I've seen a FOOSH injury while assisting Shihan Jan de Jong OAM 9th Dan when conducting a seminar in Gottenburg, Sweden. A highly graded student put his hand down while going over his partner's hips who was executing a koshi gaeshi (hip turn) technique. The jujutsuka shattered both his radius and ulna requiring plates in both.

Another interesting, for me, issue associated with the prevalence of FOOSH injuries is that the medical literature is virtually useless in terms of understanding the injuries associated with kansetsu waza (joint techniques) as the forces are applied in different directions with FOOSH injuries and kansetsu waza.

However, I have been able to generate an anatomical explanation of many kansetsu waza and the possible injuries that may arise from their application. The ones I am lacking are the techniques applied to the wrist. If anyone can assist in this regard it would be most appreciated. It would also be a genuine and unique contribution to the general body of knowledge.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Difference Between Throws and Takedowns Part 2

I started to share my journey in developing a definitive distinction between throws and takedowns in the martial arts in my last post.

Does judo teach throwing techniques and takedown techniques?

You'd think judo does teach throwing techniques and takedown techniques given Geoff Thompson's The Throws & Takedowns of Judo. Why then does Thompson not provide an explanation of the difference between the two types of techniques and refers to all the techniques in his book as throws? Are any of the techniques included in Thompson's book on throws and takedowns, takedowns but mistakenly referred to as throws?

Jigoro Kano's classification of judo techniques includes a class for nage waza (throwing techniques) but none for taoshi waza (takedown techniques). Does this mean judo does not teach takedown techniques? Or does it mean that judo does teach takedown techniques but doesn't consider their differences to be so telling as to warrant a separate class of their own? Or, as is more likely, does it mean that they don't understand the differences between throwing techniques and takedown techniques.

Eddie Ferrie, in Ju-Jitsu: Classical and Modern, has an interesting take on this issue. He refers to judo's Gokyo no Kata which includes 40 nage waza and suggests that 'there are many more throws commonly practiced and witnessed in competitions that are not included in go-kyo, many are classified as "takedowns" and do not have a proper name.'

Are those 'throws' not included in go-kyo throws or takedowns? These 'throws' are supposedly classified as takedowns, however, the judo classification does not include a class for takedowns. Why are these techniques not included in go-kyo and not have a proper name? Are takedowns the red-headed stepchild of judo; unacknowledged, unnamed, and not considered alongside the other, legitimate techniques of judo?

It would appear that some in the martial arts have adopted a new term - 'throws and takedowns' - to refer to all techniques designed to cause a person to fall to the ground. The reference to both terms suggests there are two different types of techniques, however, by lumping them all together, it suggests that the similarities are understood but the differences are not.

The journey continues with part 3.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

What's The Difference Between Throws and Takedowns? Part 1

What is the difference between a throw and a takedown in the martial arts? This is the question that was asked on the Martial Arts Planet internet forum in 2007. The following is a summary of the responses received:

  • There is no official distinction.
  • A hard and fast definition is difficult because there is so much overlap between the two.
  • A throw ends a fight and a takedown takes the fight to the ground.
  • Both of the opponent's feet have to leave the ground with a throw and not a takedown.
  • A throw gets one or both feet off the ground and a takedown gets one or no feet off the ground.
  • It is martial art dependent. The same technique may be a throw in one martial art and a takedown in another.
  • In addition to throws and takedowns, there are slams, sweeps, reaps, and trips.
  • You go with the opponent to the ground with a takedown and not with a throw.
  • A distinction between the two techniques cannot be based solely on mechanics.
Despite the quality of the source of the information, the responses are a pretty good depiction of the different conceptions that are held within the martial arts community of the distinction between throws and takedowns. They also reflect the confusion that surrounds the issue.

'There is no offical distinction'
The book I initially proposed to write was a how-to book on the jujutsu taught by Shihan Jan de Jong OAM 9th Dan. It was intended to contain difference chapters for each class of technique taught by Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu jujutsu/Jan de Jong jujutsu (and most other jujutsu systems) which included separate chapters for throws and takedowns. I wanted an authoritative definition(s) that distinguished between throwing techniques and takedown techniques for those chapters so I undertook a comprehensive review of the English-language martial arts and related fields literature. The results of that review was that, as respondent #1 above suggested, there is no official distinction between these two types of techniques within the martial arts literature.

Authoritative Distinction
The how-to book was shelved in favour of a book on the science behind martial arts/fighting techniques and the teaching thereof and a chapter was devoted to my failed search for an authoritative distinction between these two types of techniques. Within that chapter I also present, for the first time in the English-language martail arts and related literature, an authoritative distinction between these two types of techniques. This distinction then forms the basis for classifying all techniques that are designed to cause a person to fall to the ground.

I'm drafting an article about this issue for the Blitz martial arts magazine. Due to the limitations on the size of magazine articles, which I frequently exceed, I cannot detail this most interesting of journey's within the martial arts literature to find an authoritative distinction between these two types of techniques, so I thought I might share some of the journey with the readers of this blog.

The authoritative distinction between these two types of techniques I developed formed the basis of classifying all techniques that cause an opponent to the ground. When I discussed this classification with some senior martial artists I was generally met with bemusement. 'Why classify these or any other techniques?', they would ask. Rather than just assume I'm rightand my work is of importance, I went in search of an explanation of why classification is important. In researching this answer I came across 'the core of all learning.'

The Core of All Learning
The core of all learning is said to be the identification of similarities and differences. There seems to be consent as to the similarities between throws and takedowns - they are both types of techniques that cause a person to fall to the ground - but there is no consensus as to what separates them apart ... not until now.

Research has identified four forms of identifying similarities and differences that are highly effective: comparing, classifying, creating metaphors, and creating analogies. Each of those forms of identifying similarities and differences are seen by cognitive theorists as being more than simply linguistic or literary devices, rather, they are seen as being fundamental ways of thinking.

Rather than asking 'Why classify?', we should instead be asking why we don't classify. In the case of throws and takedowns it is probably because while the similarities between these two types of technique are understood, the differences are not.

We will see that classification can be used, as it is intended to be used, to preview the technique to be taught or learnt. For instance, what do you know if you were told you were going to be taught a throw? You'd know that you are about to be taught a technique were forces are applied to an opponent to cause them to fall to the ground. What would you know if you were told you were about to be
taught a te waza (hand technique) as per Jigoro Kano's classification of judo techniques? You'd know that you are about to learn a technique that is:
  1. a nage waza where forces are applied to an opponent to cause them to fall to the ground;
  2. a tachi waza where the thrower will be standing during and at the completion of the execution of the technique;
  3. a te waza where the thrower’s hand is the main body part that plays a central role in the execution of the technique; and
  4. similar to other te waza and different from all non-te waza techniques.
You'd know all this before you even knew the name of the technique let alone before you'd seen it demonstrated, just because the technique was classified as a te waza. This classification is already suggesting to you what the key elements in the technique are, the important elements to look for. You can call upon your background knowledge of similar techniques to understand and learn the new technique.

Judo and Takedowns
What would you know if you were told you were about to learn a takedown (taoshi waza) with reference to Kano's classification of judo techniques? You'd know you were not learning judo.

The judo classification does not include a class that refers to takedowns (taoshi waza). That means that either judo does not teach takedown techniques or that judo does teach takedown techniques but they are included in another class of technique. The latter explanation means that the similarities between takedown techniques and the other techniques in the class, e.g. nage waza, have been identified but either the differences are considered not material enough to warrant their own class or, as is the case, they are not understood.

Does judo teach takedown techniques? Geoff Thompson's The Throws and Take-Downs of Judo would suggest they do - but then why does Thompson not provide definitions that distinguish between these two similar types of techniques and refers to all the techniques in his book as throws?

 The journey continues in part 2.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Blitz June Edition - What is Jujutsu? - My article published

The front cover of the June Blitz magazine with my article - What is Jujutsu? - included within.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Latest Contribution to Blitz - What is Jujutsu?

It would appear that I am becoming a regular contributor to Australia's premier martial arts magazine, Blitz.

My latest contribution which is to be published in a two part series starting next month is titled: 'What is Jujutsu?'

What is jujutsu? One of the best places to begin any enquiry into the Japanese martial arts is with the works of Donn F. Draeger. He was one of the first to write in any detail on the Japanese martial arts in the English-language literature, and he provided definitions and descriptions that continue to be widely accepted by Western practitioners. Draeger consistently explained jujutsu in terms of:

·       the generic nature of the term;

·       its history;

·       its technical content; and

·       the application of the philosophical concept of ju. 

Each of these elements are essential to any meaningful understanding of jujutsu.

The editor of Blitz has approached me for more articles. I may have access to a photographer and/or a graphic designer (although other offers would be gratefully accepted) which means I can write and share how-to articles and articles that require graphics in order to fully appreciate the message. For instance, articles that for the first time provide a physiological explanation of joint-locking techniques; articles that for the first time provide a definitive distinction between throwing and takedown techniques; articles that provide how-to instruction that was in demand world-wide from Shihan Jan de Jong OAM 9th Dan and which I have provided greater insights into through the application of biomechanics.

Please contact me with any of your questions as it may provide the basis for another article to be published by Australia's premier martial arts magazine - Blitz.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Treating PTSD and the Martial Arts

The following program will be broadcast on ABC RN on 26 April 2015: Trauma Treatment. The website contains the transcript now. The following is the introduction on the website:

When people are deeply traumatised by war, disaster or abuse their reality is distinctly different from those around them and it’s like they live on another planet. We hear from a pioneering researcher who says that the most powerful way to treat psychological trauma is not through the mind, but through the body. His approach may be unconventional—but could it heal ? 

 Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score, and promoter of the idea that PTSD can be treated using the mind-body connection, has this to say about the use of martial arts in this regard:

Well, the whole issue of self-regulation and calming your brain down and helping your brain to be focussed in the present is central. And the key brain area that is necessary to be on line to get over your trauma is your capacity to observe yourself and to notice yourself. And so any intervention that helps you to really know where you are and that you are and what you're feeling would be helpful. That may range as far as martial arts, where you need to know exactly where your body is in order to do it well, to mindfulness meditation, where also you're focussing yourself.

This mind-body connection is best understood through the use of what I call our evolved survival process or mechanism. I have integrated emotion, stress, and fight-or-flight theory to develop a comprehensive understanding of our survival process. Unfortunately I have not had access to a graphic designer to produce a graphic representation of this process/mechanism as yet.

The process involves a stimuli that is appraised through an unconscious appraisal process. Depending on that appraisal, a feeling and physiological response are elicited which motivates and supports an urge to act whose enactment is intended to effect the initiating stimulus. The feeling response motivates the behaviour and the associated physiological response prepares the body to enact the motivated behaviour that is designed to promote an individual's survival.


Fear: Man with knife > appraised as a threat > fear and fear physiological response > urge to flee > flight > puts distance between appraised threat and individual thus reducing the threat posed by the initiating stimulus.

One important aspect of our evolved survival process/mechanism is that each of the elements are interconnected - change one and you can change another or all of them.

'Stress' is an ambiguous concept. If you think you know what stress is, then pay heed to the father of stress research, Hans Selye, when he said that everybody knows what stress is, but nobody really knows.

When we talk of stress we are really talking about our evolved survival process/mechanism. Most times we are in fact talking about anxiety-fear. This root understanding is lost because of the fractured nature of our sciences and the different interests in the base survival process/mechanism of the different disciplines that study the concept.

PTSD refers to our survival process/mechanism being damaged so that it has become dysfunctional and no longer promotes our survival. Stimuli that are not actually a threat to our survival are appraised by a faulty appraisal process in our survival process/mechanism as a threat and elicit a response accordingly.

Van der Kolk's mind-body approach to treating PTSD relies on the interconnectedness of all of the elements in the process/mechanism in order to fix the faulty appraisal process. Intervene in the behavioural response in order to intervene and fix the faulty appraisal process.

The survival process/mechanism theory that I have developed can be used to understand all of the methods that have been developed by all Survival Activities (martial arts, military, law enforcement, etc) because those methods are all interventions in our evolved survival process/mechanism.

My work in this regard makes a unique contribution to the general body of knowledge.
Please contact me for more information on this subject as it regards Survival Activities if you'd like to know more.

Saturday, February 28, 2015


The following is the introduction to my chapter on injury, which also references pain, in my book on the science behind fighting/self-defence techniques:

A distinction is made between offensive and defensive aggression. Offensive aggression is when a person seeks to inflict injury or pain upon a person who is or has not been attempting to inflict injury or pain upon them. Defensive aggression is when a person seeks to inflict injury or pain upon a person who is or has been attempting to inflict injury or pain upon them. Offensive and defensive aggression are at the heart of all activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter (‘Survival Activities’). Injury and pain are at the heart of offensive and defensive aggression, therefore, injury and pain are at the heart of all Survival Activities methods. What are the two subjects that are never explicitly studied in any Survival Activities text? Injury and pain.

My book is unique in explicitly studying pain and injury, both of which are at the heart of martial arts methods.

SBS Insight had a fascinating episode on pain with the forum being comprised of the members of the general public, professional sports people, and experts on pain from various disciplines.

The opening of the topic involves a professional Australian cricketer and a female boxer who won gold at the Olympics. They show vision of her in the ring being repeatedly hit in the face, head, and body, but she informs the audience that she has only ever felt pain twice in the ring in her career. It's not because she has a high pain threshold because she explains how it hurts like hell when she stubs her toe at home.

I was pleased to see that my description of pain was in accord with the pain experts, however, I go further in that it is focused on interpersonal violence.

It is fascinating viewing and I highly recommend it.