How to keep your guard up in a fight

It’s been a while since I wrote a “how-to” guide so here is another one: how to keep your guard up in a fight.

First, a quick explanation: The focus of this guide is combat sports like MMA, muay Thai and boxing. That said, to a degree, you can use the same information for self-defense and traditional martial arts as well. In those, you sometimes have to keep your hands in a specific place, for instance on center-line, chambered at the hip, etc.  Some of the ideas I write here will apply there as well, but not all of them. As always, use whatever you can and ignore the rest.

Second, why is it important? Why is there even a need to keep your guard up in a fight? We’ve all seen fighters with low or sloppy guards beat their opponents, right?

True enough, it happens. The most popular example of this is Muhammad Ali, who routinely dropped his hands or just kept them all the way down and still beat his opponents. Here he is in action. Watch the low guard…

Here’s the thing: just because some other fighter can get away with it, doesn’t mean you can.

You’re not Muhammad Ali. Do you have his level of skill? His footwork? His speed? His elusiveness? His experience?

Probably not.

But all these elements are a part of why he didn’t get punished all the time when he didn’t keep his guard up in a fight. However, when he got older and slower, the low guard didn’t work anymore and he started taking beatings in the ring. So no matter how good you are, there comes a time when a sloppy guard will come back to haunt you. The reason why a high guard is important is simple: you get hit more often if you drop your guard, especially if you don’t know you’re dropping it.

As a final point, there are two parts to learning how to keep your guard up in a fight: [Read more…]

Anderson Silva, his leg kick break and how to avoid it

I watched UFC 168 last night and saw Anderson Silva’s leg kick break. Frankly, it didn’t surprise me one bit as he makes a rookie mistake in how he throws it. He isn’t the first, nor the last, not even at that high level of competition. Does that mean he’s a bad fighter? Not at all. But his mistake is a basic one all muay Thai and kickboxing fighters learn in their first couple lessons in the gym:

You do not lead with the leg kick.

There are exceptions to this rule (Gokhan Saki, who’s leg kick is as fast as a jab…) and some people get away with it for a long time but eventually, there is always a price to pay eventually. Anderson Silva paid that price, just like all the others before him have. He now faces surgery and at the very least 3 months of recovery before he can even consider training again. There will be a long rehab process and only then can he resume training. I don’t expect him back in the Octagon in at least 9 months. 12 months is much more likely, if at all.

He’s also 38 right now and coming near the end of his career. There’ a good chance that he just had his last fight. Going out in this way is really sad for a champion of his stature. Even more so because I believe it could have been avoided. I’ll explain why here below, but first the video (not for the faint of heart):

So what went wrong?

Before I answer that, you might want to read up on my “How To do a Leg Kick” guide and a few other articles. I wrote that guide 4 years ago and just spent some time updating the videos because some of them were no longer available. Some of the terminology I use won’t make sense if you skip those posts, so it might be practical to take a look at them first or do so after you finish reading this post. Here they are:

Now let’s get back to the question: What went wrong and lead to Anderson Silva’s leg kick break? [Read more…]

How to use social media for a martial arts blog

A while ago, a young martial arts author hired me to coach him to help kick-start his career. At his request he shall remain anonymous but he’s talented and will definitely make it big in the long run, no doubt about it. One of the things we’ve been working on is blogging and social media. He’s relatively new to both and had to battle a steep learning curve when he started but is getting better with leaps and bounds. However, we hit a snag this week. During our weekly Skype call, he sounded a bit down and I asked what was wrong. Turned out he was not happy with the reactions he got on his social media pages. Precious few people were sharing his posts and updates, or so he claimed. At any rate, he had expected a lot more than what he got.

What followed was a long discussion about social media, how it works and how it doesn’t work. Yet afterwards, he was still doubtful. So I proposed an experiment and with the gracious help of all of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter, we got started. This is what I wrote there.

I have a request for all of you: I’m discussing social media with a beginning martial arts author I’m coaching. He’s disappointed in the results from it, despite going about it in what I think is the right way. I think he overestimates social media. He thinks I’m wrong. So I proposed an experiment and would like to ask for your help. Here’s how it goes: I’m going to put a link to one of my blog posts right after I post this update here. It will have a very specific message in it too. I’ll then do the same on Twitter, first linking to this update here so people know what’s going on and then tweeting the blog post. What I ask of you is this: could you please share the Facebook link and/or retweet it? Once is fine, no need to go overboard. The goal is to be realistic in this experiment. I told this author what I expect as a response and how many shares/RTs I’ll get. He thinks I’m nuts (I am, but I don’t think it’s relevant on this topic). I’m not going to give that number to avoid influencing you all. The experiment ends in 24h. Thanks for helping out!

I immediately posted a link to this update on my Twitter account so followers there knew what was going on. Then I posted this on both my Facebook and Twitter accounts:

8 self-defense tips for men. Please share if you like it.

And then I waited.


I picked this specific post for numerous reasons:

  • It is old. It’s from April of this year and you have to browse through several pages of blog posts until you find it.
  • It is one of my most successful blog posts of this year. When I published it, it went viral for a  and received thousands of hit in a few days. So I know it resonated with people.
  • It received lots of praise. Both in the blog post comments section and on my social media, a lot of people gave positive feedback on it. So I knew it must have some worthwhile information in it and is generally considered as a quality post.

In other words, this post has a proven track record.

I launched the experiment yesterday and tracked the results both during the day and at the end of that 24h period. Here’s what happened: [Read more…]

How to survive a home invasion: a practical guide

A little while ago, the police released this video of a home invasion in Milburn, New Jersey. It shows a man brutally attacking a woman in her home in front of her three year old daughter and with her one-year old daughter upstairs. This footage is explicit and acts as a reminder of something I’ve written about often: only you can protect yourself when violence comes your way. To do that, it is important to have practical information and that’s why I wrote this “How to survive a home invasion” article.

This topic is disturbing for many people because first of all, they rarely (if ever) come into contact with violence. It’s just not a part of their lives and they no longer have the knowledge or skills to handle it. But more importantly, this is a scary topic. Not only does the invader come into your house, he also threatens you or actually does harm you. At worst, he takes your life or that of one of your loved ones.

It’s human nature to want to stick your head in the sand and pretend this problem doesn’t exist. Human nature, yes, but it doesn’t help you survive a home invasion. So the first step in securing your home is accepting that bad things can happen to you there. If you can accept that at a gut level, you’ve taken the first step towards a solution.

Before we go on, take a look at this video so the rest will make more sense. It is explicit and not suitable for work or children.


They caught the bastard, so there is some good news here but even though this is a graphic example of a home invasion, it isn’t the worst one that ever happened. Some are less violent than this one but others are much worse. Please read this last sentence again. It illustrates one of the fundamental aspects of violence:

It’s unpredictable.

Sure, there are patterns to recognize and predictions you can make but when that thug enters your home, you don’t know what he’s going to do to you. Nor do you know how he will react to whatever you decide to do. Or how far he’s willing to go to get what he wants.

You just don’t know.

You can’t know.

If you can’t know how it will play out, then I believe it is only sensible to gather as much information as possible, think it through, talk to experts in various fields and form your own conclusions. You might decide that some of the advice I give here below doesn’t apply to you. Or you might tweak it a bit to fit your specific situation. Either way, you can only get to that conclusion if you do some serious studying of the problem so you can decide on a reasoned and thoughtful course of action.

So by all means, don’t look at what I write here as a definitive guide on to how to survive a home invasion. Instead, consider it more as a source of information to get you started on keeping yourself and your loved ones safe in your own home. [Read more…]

How to have a successful martial arts blog

This post is going to be a little different from what I normally write about but after checking with all of you on my Facebook page, turns out you wanted me to post this so here goes.The biggest part of this post comes from something I wrote in response to a friend of mine (famous author and expert) who has an ongoing argument with his wife: she thinks he’s wasting his time on the internet (primarily on Facebook), he thinks he’s not.

I disagreed in part with both of them and will explain below why.

If this isn’t your thing, don’t bother reading any of it; I’ll resume my normal posting after this one.


Some background

I made my first martial arts website in 1999 with a state-of-the-art piece of crap software called AOL Press. Since then, I’ve made all of my sites, as I’m a bit of an IT geek who enjoys this stuff, and have used a bunch of technologies. I also did lots of research on how to go about it all. Now I have no illusions of grandeur but I do have a bit of experience with both. Also, I started blogging in 2008 and have seen my blog here get an increasingly large audience, for which I’m very grateful. It’s amazing the support I have received from all of you so thank you for that.

Back on track: I started blogging in 2008 after reading this article from Yaro Starak and listening to the podcast. I thought it was a bunch of nonsense. Making thousands of dollars a month by writing about stuff you’re interested in? Without the support of traditional publishing or media? Ha! But for some reason, I decided to investigate some more to see if this was just another of those internet scams or if there was something to it. Turns out the site was legit and the story accurate enough. It also turned out a bunch of other people were doing similar things.

Being interested in on-line ventures by nature, I started doing the research to set up my own blog. A few months later, I did just that and here we are now in December 2012.

I didn’t have any aspirations of becoming a millionaire with my blog for two reasons:

  • I doubted it would be possible in my niche; martial arts and self-defense.
  • I refused to do some of the things needed to gain a lot of traffic fast.

I didn’t spam people. I didn’t infest the forums with my presence, baiting everybody to come check out my blog. Nor did I write typical short “link-bait” posts to make sure I’d get those coveted back links. I also refused to do black hat or use borderline methods to rank well in the search engines.  I think all that stuff is bullshit. [Read more…]