Friday, 24 July 2015

Takedown #1

In many of the photos accompanying our articles, Sensei Murray Mahoney has always been positioned as the bad guy, Mr. Evil Incarnate. Even so, in all the photos, Murray easy-going smile never leaves his face, even when he’s put under pressure in a painful lock.

So today, I thought it only fair that Sensei Mahoney play the role of the good guy.

It was around 8:30 in the evening when we took these shots on a grassy strip near a fence line where the shadows were beginning to reach out toward night.

The subject of today’s post is a technique we refer to as Takedown #1. That’s our form of Jiu Jitsu talk. You may already practise a similar technique but under another name.

Let’s sidebar here with a bit of humour…

A stereotypical mugger is lying in a hospital bed. He’s hugely massive, still wearing his Mickey Mouse shirt which is cut off at the shoulders. Of course we must have his hair shaven down to less than a buzz. And of course there will be a tattoo displayed in full bloom on his right bicep but instead of a skull and cross bones, we see a polar bear on an ice floe beneath the words “Global Warming is Real.”

The doctor on call enters right, musing over the patient’s chart.

“What happened to you?” he asks. “It looks like a truck ran into you.”

“No truck, Doc,” the patient replies. “Takedown #1.”

We’re going to explain this technique as a part of our Jiu Jitsu repertoire although so many other martial arts share the same technique.  Please understand that we’re showing the takedown from a basic frontal approach with just one particular target – the leg.

In truth, all takedowns are multi-functional, as we will see.

1.   Our current bad guy, Anthony Fritz, assumes a stoic position. Sensei Mahoney will first kick, punch, slap or distract Anthony…before dropping down into the takedown. Otherwise, he’d place himself at a major disadvantage. Anthony could easily strike him on top of the head or bring a knee up into his face.

2.   Next, Mahoney reaches low behind Anthony’s right leg while at the same time placing his forearm across the front of Anthony’s leg.

He pulls Anthony’s leg toward him with his left arm and pushes Anthony’s leg forward with his right hand. Anthony falls.


3.   Now, Mahoney is in position to either put a lock on Anthony’s right leg or strike him anywhere right up to the groin.

Now for the finesse…

a.   The downward motion from where Mahoney stands to where he drops contains some exquisite timing. Mahoney’s entire body slices down on a diagonal. The trick is to grab behind Anthony’s leg just before touching the ground. The experience is literally bone shattering.

Mahoney tends to eschew brute force for subtlety of touch. When  practising, he’ll remain on his one knee and “soften” both of his arms to the point where his touch has a feathery quality to it. Notice as well, that his arms are never far removed from the core of his body. Biomechanically, his entire body is involved in the takedown, though everything remains soft.

Now, he’ll snap very lightly – and quickly – at Anthony’s leg. Just a light touch, and the very inside of the femur feels like its disintegrating.

Who plays out a similar touch among the other systems of martial arts? Many, I believe. Closest, obviously, are the Monkey Kung Fu folks, who perform this quality of touch from a front roll, for example. The lead guard hand that hovers just in front or above their heads as they sit or move on the ground contains this type of light touch ready to be put to use.

Here Mahoney performs the same takedown against the outside of the leg
b.   Speaking of relaxed mode, notice that Mahoney forearm doesn’t adopt a stiff horizontal position across the front of Anthony leg. He relaxes his arm, so that if need be, he can slice with his wrist and hand across the inside of Anthony leg or bullet an elbow from the outside of Anthony’s leg toward the inside.

In other words, his flexible approach allows him to adapt – instantly.

c.   More on the same topic – flexibility, and the means to adapt to anything that occurs.

We begin training in this technique straight on from the front while the uke remains facing us. Obviously, that’s not even close to what real combative experience is all about. Therefore, we learn to adapt the technique to a variety of attacks from all directions and all angles. Indeed, we readily use Takedown #1 as an attack.

In combat, attack and defense are one. A block is an attack…anything from a mode of deflection to pure “limb destruction”; an attack, as it intercepts, is a block, a prevention. Ethically, to decide not to attack is both a block and an attack.

If I demonstrate Takedown #1 to a practitioner of Ba Gua (their curriculum contains this movement anyway), she’ll no doubt understand the idea of side stepping Anthony’s attack and coiling in from the side. In one photo, you can see Mahoney attacking Anthony’s leg from the side. With the knee as the target, this approach is devastating. If Mahoney performs the same movement against the inside of Anthony’s leg, the leg collapses sideways. And if Mahoney moves his leg arm and right arm in tandem, we have a broken leg or a snapped ankle, not counting the very sensitive pressure points aligned along the inside of the leg from the foot to the femoral area.

Monkey, of course, will hold the grip, then roll onto the leg with the entire body. Mahoney can do this too. That’s why there’s an obvious need for total body relaxation since you may be required to do a long roll or perhaps a very short roll with a very small axis of rotation.

We didn’t shoot any photos depicting an approach from the rear end. I don’t expect folks posing for these articles to be required to do that. In a self defense scenario, you may have to attack from the back of the leg, in fact there are some really potent pressure points along that side of the leg that are quite useful. Just be careful if the assailant suffers from a bad bout of gas!

The bigger picture is this…Takedown #1 is without limits. The technique is not limited to the legs. Where else then is it applicable? Neck breaks from the front, side and rear; arms breaks followed by an arm bar; chest attacks; spinal attacks; hip attacks; etcetera. 

And what about the gentleman up in the highlands of Scotland reading this article while tending to his cattle?

“Ach, laddie…he’s just talking Jiu Jitsu today. No Karate. I’m coming back next week.”

That’s exactly what I’m not aiming for! Karate people…please…Takedown # 1, and all the other takedowns, are firmly established inside your Kata, treasures handed down through the lineages. So please practise them.

So how about we ask Sensei Murray Mahoney back to show us some more of those takedowns?

Thank you again Sensei Murray Mahoney and Anthony Fritz. Anthony, by the way, will be testing for his Shodan in Karate in August/2015. Hopefully, he moves on to his Shodan test in Jiu Jitsu in November/2015.

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