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Wrestling Seminar

Updated: Mar 14, 2019

A huge thank-you to Chris and Aiden Chisholm for the Wrestling seminar last week. Wrestling doesn’t have a belt ranking system, but if it did, Chris would be a master black belt. The seminar was entertaining, engaging, and most importantly, highly educational.

For the kids classes, straight from the warm-up of animal races with bears and gorillas to live-action Donkey Kong, the kids had a blast. Sumo Wrestling was definitely a highlight.

The adult session was desirably more technically focused and equally engaging. Takedowns are a part of karate at the higher ranks and this seminar provided a variety of techniques and counter-techniques that I expect to find their way into our sparring sessions in the near future.

The following section is a brain-dump of my technical takeaways from the seminars. Those who don’t train will probably want to skip this section and just check out the photos here on facebook. My students who were at the seminar may find these interesting to augment their own notes in their karate logbooks (hint, hint).

  • Warm-up including windshield wipers and chin-tucks. Neck strength is key when fighting in the clinch

  • “Where the head goes, the body follows.” I love it when I hear others use the same words I use.

  • ‘Slot machine’ and 'Turn the bus'. Neck and arm. I hadn’t head these term before, but I will use them now when our green belts do the grappling balance exercise.

  • ‘Balance beats strength’. I’m not sure Chris used these words exactly, but it’s a concept he talked about extensively and was highlighted is some of the epic Sumo wrestling matches.

  • ‘Grab the arm and pull’. Chris talked about wrestling in gis vs no-gis, and the ability to pull an opponent in to take his balance. In a karate context, this is simply one of the reasons we chamber in basics.

  • ‘Single leg pull takedown’: taught in kids seminar. Applying this to karate, with a catch of a front kick instead of a wrestling start, this is the bunkai to the second series in Saifa including the step back. ‘Catch the leg and step back - Technique: push head, level change, mirror-side hook leg, transfer leg to other side & lock ankle, step back and turn

  • To effect a safe engagement, prior to a level change, you have to push the head back. Otherwise your head is exposed. (Sometimes it’s important to state the obvious.)

  • Double-leg takedown from orthodox stance, drive in mirror-side

  • Single-leg takedown. The techniques taught by Chris were slight variation to bunkai from Sanseryu. (a) Hook ankle and drive back or (b) Catch rear arm and pull sideways

  • Side-mount, headlock, choke

  • No space. On the ground any space between you and an opponent gives them the opportunity to escape or counter.

  • ‘Squat, lock & toss.’ Can be executed sideways in amateur wrestling, and over backwards in Olympics and MMA. As an aside, Robbie Lawler used this move against Ben Askren in UFC 235 on the weekend.

  • A low center of gravity is critical for throwing an opponent. Again stating the obvious. A note to students from a karate context, this is one of the reasons we practice low horse stances. Yes its good conditioning. Yes it makes for pretty kata. Functionally, it’s effective for taking an opponent!

  • Fireman’s Carry – bunkai from Seiunchin, but turn and face the back

  • Takedown defenses: Sprawl & push head down, and Underhook arm, turn and throw

If you were at the seminar, and you picked up a gem that I missed here, please let me know. If you were not at the seminar, these notes will no doubt read cryptically. No apologies. The martial arts are not something you can learn from a book or read from a blog, especially from someone who writes as poorly as I do. Get out and train!

A special thank-you to Laura our photographer for the great pics. Check out all of the photos here on facebook.



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