I love it when martial artists of different styles come to my practices. I like to compare notes, concepts and body mechanics with other martial artists. It's also fun to see how Taiji, for example, handles someone from other arts.
Yesterday, my friend and former student Chris Lorenzen came to practice with me, Justin and Colin. Chris is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has been training the art with intensity for the past three years, including some success at BJJ tournaments. He was 16 when he was my student (around 2001 and 2022). He was a natural, and won first-place trophies in almost every competition he entered at regional tournaments. And he's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.
Before he arrived, we were working on escapes from joint locks. In a self-defense situation, you don't go in with a plan to use chin-na against an opponent, but you should be ready to apply a joint lock when the opportunity arises.
Equally important is to become "sensitive" enough to realize when an opponent is putting you into a joint lock.
Our philosophy is to "spiral out of that s#!t." It's one of our primary goals of self-defense. When someone is trying to lock you, spiral out of it.
We showed Chris some of this, but when a guest comes to our practices, we also want to "feel" his art.
My favorite thing against a ground-fighter is to see how Taiji concepts can keep him from taking me down. Can I apply the ground, peng and use sensitivity well enough to feel where he's applying pressure? Can I empty at the right time to put him off-balance, and can I feel where his center is moving so I can keep him from taking me down? That's a lot of fun when you try it against someone who is skilled, but who doesn't know what to expect like your own students do. And it's also fun because I don't know what to expect from him like his regular training partners do.
But we also want to experience what it's like to be on the ground with a Jiu Jitsu fighter. Chris showed us one-by-one what happens, and if you aren't a ground-fighter, it's interesting to see how he can use the feet, the legs, and roll into positions that makes his opponent vulnerable to a painful lock or a choke.
I love it. Even at 70, with one lung and a-fib, I enjoyed getting on the ground with Chris even though I don't have the lung capacity to work in that situation for more than two or three minutes. It's still a great education.
You can have a lot of fun and learn interesting things about yourself and your art if you try not to pee on trees when someone from a different
martial art is around. Put the tribalism aside and empty your cup. Some of your assumptions about the effectiveness of your own art can be wrong, or, with a minor adjustment, can be right.
It was the second time Chris has visited our practices. I invite martial artists of all styles to come by. Nothing is ever lost except self-delusion. I think a lot is gained by comparing notes and concepts with good martial artists who can also rise above one-upmanship. We all learn and improve our skills as a result.
--by Ken Gullette