Michael Jai White teaches Kimbo Slice some techniqueBy
Here’s a cool video I just found of Michael Jai White teaching Kimbo Slice some technique. There’s a lot of stuff in there I like but most of all, it’s nice to see Michael just talking and doing his thing without any ego or showing off. Neither does he make Kimbo look bad when he could have. And Kimbo shows a lot of respect so this video is cool on that level as well.
Anyway, watch it first and then I’ll give some of my thoughts on it:
Some random thoughts on all this:
Michael is right. The way you throw a punch and avoid telegraphing it makes a huge difference in it landing or not. Look at how his entire body moves in the first two jabs but only his arm moves in the third one. Even though that third jab is way slower, Kimbo doesn’t react in time against it. It looks like a trick but it isn’t. Loren and I covered the reasons for this in detail in our book Timing in the Fighting Arts. In a nutshell, it’s all about how the brain and eyes process information.
With enough practice, you can get rid of all the tell-tale signs that betray your technique and totally surprise your opponent. It isn’t easy though, it takes long, hard and very specific training. Meaning, you don’t just get that kind of skill as a fortunate side effect of your regular training; you have to go out and get it yourself. But it’s not impossible, it only takes hard work. The biggest effort will go in learning how to stabilize your body so there are no telegraphed movements while at the same time move it in such a way you still generate power in your technique. This is not an easy thing to consistently pull off in every single movement you do. But it’s worth the effort as it makes you extremely effective.
There’s another side to this too, by the way. Yes, non-telegraphed movements going straight forward are hard to spot. But you can counter such a fighter with a strategy of good timing and footwork. The main thing you need to do is stop looking for an indication that he’s about to strike. One way of doing that is having a soft focus in your eyes so you can detect movement in general a bit quicker. The next part is controlling the distance between you and him and force him to use footwork. That way, you know when you have to hit him: as soon as he steps forward, regardless of which attack he throws. There’s more to it than this but it’s a good start.
Just a word of warning: that strategy is not foolproof, nor is it a safe thing. You’re going to get hit when you anticipate his attacks like that. But that was happening anyway so at least now, you’re also getting a few shots of your own in… There’s also another reason for doing it like this:
What Michael shows works great when you’re fresh and sharp. But when you get hit or you get tired, it becomes a lot harder to control your body and avoid those little tells. So when you’re fighting a guy like that, you have to make him tired and break his focus. Which means: land shots on him and make him work harder than he is used to. You have to crowd him, fight on the inside, bump him, basically do everything possible so he never had a good starting position to launch those shots from while at the same time make him waste energy trying to do so anyway.
Again, this isn’t easy but it works. Because very often, fighters who can do techniques like this, aren’t comfortable throwing them in a way that isn’t the perfect, non-telegraphed version and those “lesser”techniques (shades of grey here, I didn’t say “sloppy technique”) work just as well. It’s what us, common mortals throw and we’re not incompetent with them… So in other words, you have to force him to fight the way he doesn’t like to fight.
Once again, the theory isn’t all that hard to explain. Pulling it off in real life, that’s something else. So don’t go thinking you’ll have this down in two sessions at the gym…
The flip side of this coin.
Michael is also wrong. Non-telegraphed movement isn’t limited to straight line techniques and everything moving forward. You can hide circular techniques as well but it just takes a bit more practice. In essence, it boils down to making the circles smaller. Meaning, instead of doing a full hip turn from back to front when you launch a rear leg round kick, you do a half-hip turn. At first, this robs you of some power but when you do the reps, you’ll quickly regain it.
The trick is also to start from a position where you already moved that hip halfway forward. Meaning, you don’t have to do the full hip turn because you already placed the hip slightly forward. For instance, by using the lead leg, with or without a switch step. Take a look at Buakaw’s latest fight. It starts at 15min.
Notice how he explodes form the hips in his left and right middle/high kick without any telegraphing. It makes his kicks so fast and powerful that he can lead with them, no need to set them up with arm techniques. That’s exactly the type of non-telegraphed circular techniques I’m talking about. And it’s not just with kicks though. You can get the same result with all your circular techniques. Like I said, make the circles smaller and especially avoid telegraphing the “engine” of the technique (step, hip turn, etc.) to get that result.
The rest of the story.
Michael also isn’t telling the whole story (though he does show it). Everything going forward works great, but you can also hide your movements with… other movements, especially circular ones.
Try this: Next time you spar, move your hands around in an unpredictable pattern. Don’t open up too much though, or you’ll get tagged, but keep some hand movement going. Then, whenever your left hand is moving towards your opponent, suddenly accelerate it into a punch. Whenever your left hand is moving away from your opponent, try launching your right hand. It takes some practice and also good footwork and distancing, but it works real well.
The key is in the sudden acceleration. You go from moving your hands in an ever changing pattern to all of a sudden firing a punch. This works because your opponent’s brain has no contrast to work with: everything is moving all the time which makes it hard to see when the punch is actually launched. So the parts that would telegraph your intent are hidden in a multitude of other moving parts.
In the non-telegraphed punches from a more stationary base, there is a sharp contrast between stillness before the punch and then the movement of the punch itself. When you fight such a guy, that’s what you look for, that contrast. That’s your cue to act, not trying to figure out which technique he’s throwing.
Like I said, Michael does use this. In fact, he does it in the way I think is ideal: mixing continuous circular movement and non-telegraphed forward pressure. Look at the clip again and see how he sets up his right jab at 4min20. He’s using upper body and arm movement to hide the sudden acceleration of the non-telegraphed jab. A good fighter can do this with all of his movements.
The key issue.
The real issue I wanted to mention is this: I wrote all the previous mainly with combat sports in mind. However, when we’re talking self-defense, non-telegraphed movement is essential, crucial and all the other levels of importance you can think of. Especially if you’re the one who initiates the dance with a pre-emptive strike.
Like I said, getting to where you’re good at this type of movement takes very specific and hard work. It’s a learned skill that doesn’t come along by accident. The importance also lies in how time goes in a real fight: seconds are precious. Three seconds is a really long time when a thug is about to plunge a knife in your gut. In that time he can have it in and out of your body a dozen times, easy. So every fraction of a second you can shave off of your movements counts. But even more, everything you can do to make sure he doesn’t react in time to your movements also helps in keeping your organs inside of your body instead of peeling out of it. Putting it another way:
In a self-defense situation, fractions of seconds make a difference.
In the ring or the cage, you can get by without this mindset because you have long minutes and several rounds to get the job done. You still throw your punches and kicks as fast as you can but the way you set them up, how you approach your opponent, your timing, your strategy, etc. all takes into account the round system. Training for such a fight is radically different than training for a life and death situation that is over in three seconds.Yes, some of the training transfers but other things don’t. And as I’ve stated ad nauseam : the differences between MMA, muay Thai,kickboxing, etc. fighting are just as important as their similarities with self-defense situations.
Anyway, I enjoyed watching this clip and wanted to share it with you all, along with some thoughts on the whole concept.