Angles & Armbars

July 21, 2011

Over the next month or so, I’ve scheduled some one-on-one time with Sifu. Come to find out, I get two Sifu’s for that time, so right on for me!  Ok, I guess that makes it two-on-one, but I digress. The point is, I am priviliged to have some time set aside where I will have undivided instruction from two very excellent teachers. At the beginning of my first session, Sifu asked if I had some ideas of what I want to work on, and I went straight to my twin Achilles Heels – Angles & Armbars. I know, it sounds like some kind of nerdy MMA role-playing game, but these two concepts have been among the hardest for me to consistently execute with any degree of skill.

Angles: I get the concept, as it is relevant to most things in Tum Pai. We’re all about protecting the center line and exploiting that of our opponent. It is in the execution where I start to run into problems. Quickly stepping off the line of attack, attacking the opponents weak line, actually seeing these lines in practice and in sparring, has been challenging for me. It is something I need to work on. When we’re sparring, our partners are also looking for these lines as well as protecting their own, and so I imagine it is more difficult to find and exploit against my fellow students, particularly upper belts, than it would be against an untrained or undisciplined combatant, or even against someone who is trained in a more linear art. In any case, it was among the first areas where I feel I need work.

Armbars: Some days, I hate armbars. For instance, the two-hour days where everyone on the mat is slippery with sweat and I can’t keep a grip on my opponent’s wrist to save my life are incredibly frustrating. However, even on the best of days, armbars have been challenging for me. It’s one of those things that hardly ever feels quite right, and so many of our techniques rely on them or finish with them it’s not something that can be ignored. Upper belts seem to make them happen seemingly effortlessly, while I’ve always struggled or had to muscle my opponent just to make them materialize. I know I’ve been doing something wrong, or more likely many things wrong, as I can hardly ever get these techniques to work. So that is the second thing I put out there that I’d like to work on.

Accordingly, Sifu chose tricks that utilize Angles & Armbars, and the three of us drilled them for half an hour, and it was awesome. I walked out of the school that afternoon with a wealth of knowledge that I can now put into practice in class. So many questions answered, so much to bring to the next class and drill, drill, drill. Sifu took the concept of angles and we started putting it into practice. From there he built on that concept within the same trick, more angles and exploiting the weak line, and from there the armbar is introduced. So many things I’ve been doing wrong there, no wonder it felt awkward every time. By the end of that first session, it started to feel right. Needs a lot of work, for sure, but I am on the right path. I’m looking forward to practicing all of the things I brought away from that first session. And I’ve got more two-on-one sessions to come.

There’s nothing like personal instruction. Sifu is a tremendous instructor on the mat, but having these dedicated sessions is, to me, priceless.

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4 Responses to “Angles & Armbars”

  1. Kathy said

    Your post strikes close to home-I too find the need to work on angles and armbars. I’ve been in advanced class for a couple of months now and I also watch the upper belts make armbars seem effortless, only to be frustrated that I still “muscle” through them.
    I try and tell myself it will all come together with time.

  2. kajumaga said

    I’m betting that those guys felt the same way we do at some point 🙂 When in doubt, though, I ask, what am I doing wrong here? I find that the upper belts are ALWAYS happy to share their knowledge, and in the case of armbars, I’ve found that a little knowledge can go a long way towards improving technique. For me, they were able to point out specifically why I could not get them to work (large circles vs. small circles, not pulling the wrist in close but trying to muscle them from way off of the hip). It is something that I will need to work on, but I guess we’re lucky in that our art uses a lot of these techniques, so I should get plenty of practice 🙂 Cheers, Kathy!

  3. Kathy said

    Your right! I just got back from class and what did I work on-armbars. And yes the upper belts are MORE than happy to share their knowledge (which is why my knees/shins are a bruised), anyway, with their help I have begun to see my problem and how to correct it. And I know that just when I “think” I have it figured out-I will find out differently. Whenever I’ve worked with one of the Sifu’s this week it has been “now lets correct this”. Guess I should go practice….

  4. Nick said

    In a self defense you have the basic breakdown of how to do the defense. Starting with that expand with it and find out what makes each of those steps work and not work. This is usaully best done with someone at your level or under belt. I like to call this playing with a technique; find out what the other person is doing and why. I would always ask the instructors these questions too as I am learning them.

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