Oct 19th 2008

Seminar with Chuck Liddell MMA/UFC Champion


I receive many emails because I manage a martial arts website (www.wadokaikarate.com) and my email address is easily accessible for those who wish to solicit their products, seminars etc. Well, I received an email not too long ago about an up-coming seminar hosted by Xtreme Couture (in Toronto) featuring UFC sensation, Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell. At first I simply passed it along to a couple people who I thought might be interested then deleted it. I didn’t think much more until I got a response back from Sensei Mike Rust who asked if I was going. After contemplating reasons why, I should vs reasons why I shouldn’t I couldn’t come up with any real reasons why I should not. Being a student of Sensei Shintani I have always considered myself to be a traditional martial artist but I have always been open to what others have to offer.


I have to admit I wasn’t 100% sure what I was getting into because when you watch UFC or other mixed martial arts fights you see some pretty nasty stuff. I have nothing against the UFC as a concept but I am not totally impressed with the “hood-like” attitude that is portrayed. As a matter of fact I was a big fan of the concept when it first started by quickly lost interest as the calibre of fighter diminished. Having said that, in essence the sport is young and there have been some growing pains. They have endured and will likely be around for a while as long as they strive to clean up the attitude and allow lesser organizations sort out the good from the bad and make the UFC what it states; the “ultimate” (in MMA).


As the date drew closer I became more and more pumped. I’ve been to dozens of seminars outside our organization and have left with something positive to add to my curriculum from most every one I have attended and couldn’t think of why this would be different.


I enter every workout, be it a weekly workout or an advanced seminar with no expectations. I try to keep an open mind. I am there to learn, not to judge. If I judge I will make excuses not to try things a different way. If I try to adapt I will make myself stronger. A kick is a kick and a punch is a punch but what you have to remember is that there may be a different application and time as to when you might execute a certain technique. The more you put yourself into a competitive situation the more “outs” you may need to succeed. I truly believe that if you understand how a fighter approaches you then you are much more apt to be able to reign victory over that particular opponent.


Simple scenario – if you only punch and only work with people who punch, how are you to learn how to defend yourself against someone who executes their kicking ability? If you only punch but work with people who kick at least you understand the difference in distancing and timing to be able to defend yourself appropriately.


The seminar was set up in true with true embellishment as I guess it should have been. Local talk show celebs from various TV stations with microphones and cameras everywhere and all the glamour and hype of a true shining star. The thing that stuck out very clearly though in my eyes was that none of this phased the man that we were there to see. He simply got up and said “I want to work a few things with you that seem to work pretty well for me”.


And so we began.


Chuck noted right from the start that being loose was of the utmost importance. I believe we would teach the same thing…


Chuck noted that posture and balance were very important and you should move into the direction of your technique to utilize your body weight. Hmmm… I may have heard that somewhere before.


He had us doing a drill that I had never imagined at a MMA seminar in a hundred years. Each pairing was handed an 11” x 14” piece of paper so that we could strike it.


Hit the paper?!?!?!


Absolutely! Hit it because there is entirely no substance behind it to hinder your punch. You can’t break it (we were holding it in our fingertips) so there is no reason to tense up to try to hit hard. Even if you did break it, who’s going to be impressed by that? Simply let your hand fall throw the target while being 100% relaxed and loose. I had never thought of this before but I can insure you that there will be sheets of paper in our dojo as part of the training equipment.


Even Chuck himself laughed and said “who’s going to tell their friends they went to an MMA seminar with Chuck Liddell and got a paper cut?”


We worked overhead punches, front hand hooks (short and long) and rear hand hooks to the body while shifting across your opponents’ firing line.


We continued to work more striking techniques and got into takedowns. Nothing fancy by any means but certainly effective. The concept of his take down (or attempt to take down) is similar to a foot sweep. If you knock your opponent over then that’s great. But if you merely knock them off balance then that’s ok too because all you need to do is give yourself an edge so that you can execute your technique with little chance of recourse.


On the ground we simply worked techniques to help you get back quickly into a strong fighting position, which for Chuck Liddell is standing up. I like that concept.


There was nothing at this seminar that was not practical and there was nothing about Chuck Liddell that wasn’t solid. He is very laid back and a “work it until you get it right” type of instructor. Not too much talking, just work.


If you know me, you have heard this before; do not limit your training to with only the peers in your club. Get out of your comfort zone and try things that may be foreign to you. Eventually they will become a part of your comfort zone too. Unless you are in a very remote area chances are that there are many clubs, even from within our organization that you can workout in to broaden your horizons. Training with only one mentor is very limiting. This does not question the dedication to your “home” club or instructor. You should be allowed to bring in new ideas and concepts into the club if done properly. Reinforce strong basics and strong work ethic and allow yourself and your students to grow to their full potential. This in itself will keep the Shintani Wado Kai Karate Federation strong.