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Thoughts on “style” and “tradition”

1 Apr

What was Chan Tai San’s favorite system? What style do you teach? Which style is best? Is it a northern system? Etc etc blah blah…

Before I ever met Chan Tai San, I had done western boxing, had second degree black belts in Taekwondo and Hapkido and had studied Shuai Jiao and Hung Ga.

I learned a lot of things with Chan Tai San, but my primary area of study was “Lama Pai”. What exactly is (was) “Lama Pai”? Western Chinese long arm, Northern Chinese kicking, Mongolian wrestling, Southern Chinese short arm and a good deal of Indian martial art as well. To think of “Lama Pai” as a “pure system” is to miss the point entirely.

I should also note that Chan Tai San studied anywhere from 5 to 9 different versons / traditions / lineages / different teacher’s version of “Lama Pai” so his version was a mix of many things. Of course, Chan Tai San also knew Choy Lay Fut, Village style Hung fist, White Eyebrow, Mok Ga, Hung Fut and bits of a lot of martial arts. Some of them not even Chinese! Chan Tai San was very fond of both Japanese Judo and western boxing.

When we did demonstrations, whether it was Chan Tai San or any of the students, people were always confused. They would see elements of all the systems mentioned on our demonstrations. “Which was it” they wanted to know? It was Chan Tai San’s method, often influenced by what we the students had also done (a lot of my demos were influenced by my Hung Ga background as well)

Was Lama Pai Chan Tai San’s favorite system? NO. I can safely say that Chan Tai San’s favorite system was “take my fist and smash your face”. He was also pretty fond of “Kick you in the nuts”.

Of course, he had a lot of variations upon these systems. I still teach variations of “take my fist and smash your face” and “kick you in the nuts”. I was already teaching my own versions of these systems when Chan Tai San was still alive, and he was pretty supportive of my versions.

People don’t get who I am and why I am the way I am. They wonder (aloud) why I “left Chan Tai San’s teachings” when in fact they have no idea what Chan Tai San’s teachings were about. Only my hing-dai (training class mates) get it, because THEY WERE THERE. Even a lot of them don’t get it, because they were busy drinking the kool-aid….

Lion’s Roar Martial Arts, documenting my version of the Chan Tai-San lineage is available on (click)

Lama Pai Kung Fu classes in New York City

24 Feb

At learn more about the Chan Tai San Lion’s Roar Lama Pai Association secret group on facebook. Unlimited access to instructional videos.

If you are not in the New York Tri-State area and still want to learn the material being offered in the new association program, now is your limited time opportunity! Only $39 per month with no commitment gives you UNLIMITED ACCESS to the material.

Author, educator, combat sports coach and martial arts master; David A Ross has spent three decades helping the public better understand real martial arts. An adopted disciple of the late master Chan Tai-San, one of China’s national treasures. Close to three decades teaching and coaching, both champion fighters and regular people who just want to achieve their goals. The trainer of three world champions, twenty national champions, and many regional and local title holders in several forms of combat sports.

Sifu David Ross has spent decades developing a holistic martial arts education, combining the best martial arts with his own, unique “pillars of truth” world view which has helped thousands of people to achieve their personal goals and live their dreams. The beauty of his vision is that it is NOT just for those who want to compete or be a champion; he has proven time and time again that REAL MARTIAL ARTS are for everyone and everyone benefits.

Is your martial art “shallow”?

3 Jun

Are you my friend on FACEBOOK? Do you follow my fan page “Sifu David Ross”? Perhaps you follow my Youtube channel? You might have noticed I actually have a second Youtube channel with a slightly different focus. Well, people who do often ask me why I give away so much free content?


When I began training, back when I was doing the Korean martial arts of Taekwondo and Hapkido under the late Pong Ki Kim, I often heard that one of the problems with martial arts was that once you got your black belt there wasn’t a lot more to learn? I didn’t believe it back then and rather quickly saw one of the major problems. Pong Ki Kim set up a class for the black belts, but many of them had forgotten the foundation material as they had worked their way from belt to belt, test to test. We ended up spending more time reviewing the requirements from white to black belt than we did learning new material.


Training with the late Chan Tai-San I saw the same problem, perhaps exasperated by the fact there were language barriers. Chan Tai-San was a walking encyclopedia of Chinese martial arts, particularly their training and application. But people frequently lacked the basics and the understanding to progress with him.


So, returning to my initial statement, why do I offer so much free content? The easiest answer is because I have so much material, I never feel I will run out of material to demonstrate or teach. In fact, I frequently worry I will never have enough time to teach it all!

drag three

Four books, and more then ten instructional DVD’s (which you can find at and I have barely scratched the surface. Every day I think of something else I want to film, and I frequently get to it! So my “challenge” to you all is, ask yourself, can you say the same thing? And if not, is it because your training to this point has been shallow?

Lama Pai Kung-Fu’s Fundamentals

1 May

The following is a re-print of an article I wrote which appeared in “Inside Kung Fu” magazine in the 1990’s

Traditionally, there have been many ways of differentiating the many systems of martial arts found in China. Sometimes they are divided into “internal” (Taiji, Ba Gua and Hsing Yi) and “external” (Hung Ga, Choy Lay Fut, Wing Chun, etc.) or classified as either northern or southern systems. Perhaps the most famous differentiation is between the Shaolin (Siu Lam in Cantonese) and Wu Tang (Mo Dang in Cantonese) traditions. The Shaolin tradition, further divided into the northern and southern, is suppossed to represents the martial arts practiced by Chinese Buddhists while the Wu Tang tradition issaid to represent the martial arts practiced by Taoists. However, there exists a third tradition of martial arts most Americans know little to nothing about. That tradition is the Lama school.


There have been numerous debates concerning the exact nature of the Lama school. While it has often been labeled “Tibetan”, it appears in many respects to be very Chinese. Furthermore, the martial arts that exists in what is modern Tibet in most respects do not resemble the Lama school as preserved in China. The truth is that Lama represents the vast tradition of Western Chinese martial arts. It represents the martial arts practiced in Tibet but also the martial arts practiced in Outer Mongolia, inner Mongolia, Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Xinjiang provinces. It also represents the martial arts of Tibetans, Mongolians, Manchurians, Ethnic Han Chinese and a wide variety of minorities. What these very different groups have in common is a common faith, Tibetan Buddhism, better known as Lamaism. Therefore, the Lama school, Lama Pai, is named for its common religious influence, not its ethnic inspiration.


Lama Pai was founded in the Ming Dynasty by an ethnic Chinese who became a Buddhist Monk. He is known either as Ah Dat-Ta or the Dai-Dat Lama. Neither of these are real Chinese names and are Chinese approximations of this person’s Buddhist name. While we know very little about this person, we do know he was ethnically Chinese, a follower of Tibetan Buddhism, lived in Qinghai province and studied a wide variety of martial arts. These martial arts were Chinese, Tibetan, Mongolian and even Indian in origin and a good representation of the martial tradition in Western China.


Ah Dat-Ta’s system was originally known as “Lion’s Roar” and consisted of 8 fist strikes, 8 palm strikes, 8 elbow strikes, 8 finger strikes, 8 kicking techniques, 8 seizing (clawing) techniques, 8 stances and 8 stepping patterns. It included techniques derived from a wide variety of influences including Mongolian and Manchurian wrestling (Shuai Jiao), Northern and Western Chinese long arm and kicking techniques, and Tibetan and Indian close range hand techniques and evasive footwork. However, the more time it spent in China, the more “Chinese” the system became.


Presented here are the eight divisions. In most cases, techniques were never intended to be limited to these fundamentals. Instead, they were designed to preserve various basic principles from which other techniques could be derived. For example, in Lama Pai all straight punches are derived from Chyuhn Choih. However, when Lama Pai came into contact with other Chinese martial arts, straight punching techniques such as Chaap Choih were added to the basic punches within this category. The basic punch Paau Choih represents all techniques that rise up from a lower point, such as uppercuts. The basic punch Kahp Choih was also expanded to include Pek Choih (45 degree hammer fist) and Cham Choih (90 degree hammer fist).

The 8 fists strikes

chan tai san chyuhn choih solo
– Straight punch

chan tai san jyu geng paau choih
– Uppercut

– Overhand punch

– Horizontal backfist, with the thumb toward the sky

– 45 degree backfist strike, with palm toward the sky

jit choih 1
– Forearm strike

guaai mah lahp choih
– Hook punch

th pak yik paau
– Wing Flap

There are also;
The 8 palm strikes
The 8 elbow strikes
The 8 finger strikes
The 8 kicking techniques
The 8 seizing (clawing techniques)
The 8 Stances
The 8 footwork patterns

These eight divisions were then used to create three distinct “forms”, sometimes thought of as different levels or fighting theories. The three forms were “flying crane hands” (Fei Hok Sau), “Maitreya hands” (Neih Lahk Sau), and “Dou Lo hands”. Thus, the system was actually quite complex.

“Flying crane hands”
(Fei Hok Sau)
was devoted to all of the fundamental level fighting techniques of the system and was composed of both fist strikes and open hand techniques aimed at vital points, kicking and sweeping techniques, evasive footwork, and continuous circular striking combinations.

“Maitreya hands”
(Neih Lahk Sau)
was devoted to the advanced fighting techniques and was composed of seizing, holding and twisting techniques and a very specialized skill known as the “vein seizing hand”.

The third and final division was known as “Dou Lo hands” and was named for a plant indigenous to India, whose seeds have a hard outer shell but a soft, cotton like, substance within it. “Dou Lo Sau” was devoted to internal aspects of the system such as vital point striking and the special “vein changing skill”. The needle in cotton hand set is derived from techniques of the “Dou Lo Sau” division.
After several generations, teachers of Lion’s Roar kung-fu created a number of hand sets named after the Lo Han (Buddhist Saints) and the Gam Gong (literally “diamond” but referring to Buddhist Guradians). Furthermore, once Lion’s Roar came to southern China its was renamed Lama Pai kung-fu and incorporated many techniques and ideas from Chinese martial arts. The original eight divisions, eight fundamentals in each division, and the three forms were gradually either forgotten or only explained to advanced students. If it were not for the recorded history left by earlier teachers, we may have never understood how Ah Dat-Ta developed the original Lion’s Roar kung-fu system.

Lama Pai Kung Fu striking techniques

23 Apr

The following is a re-print of an article I wrote which appeared in “Inside Kung Fu” magazine in the 1990’s

Lama Kung-Fu Striking Techniques By David A Ross

Today, some martial artists are also under the false impression that traditional striking techniques are no longer practical for self-defense and leave the attacker open to counter attack. This is unfortunate. The key is to learn the techniques correctly.

chan tai san jyu geng paau choih

The key to learning any technique is to learn its correct execution, its actually application and to undergo the training needed to perfect it. Repetition and making contact with focus mitts, heavy bags, sand bags, wooden dummies, etc. are essential to developing power. Learning when to use a specific technique is just as essential to making it work.


Lama Kung-Fu striking techniques include all those techniques which use parts of the upper body. Included in that arsenal are the fist, the palm, the fingers, the forearm, the elbow, the use of claw techniques, shouldering and the head butt. For this reason, martial artists of all styles could benefit from studying Lama Kung-Fu striking techniques.


Open to counterattack?

One of the most common criticisms of traditional striking techniques is that they leave the attacker open to counterattack. These critics ask why the other hand is often chambered on the waist or, in the case of many Kung-Fu styles, extended behind the body. the answer is that one must understand the true applications of these techniques or they will be unable to use them safely and effectively.
In Lama Kung-Fu, the lead hand often whips out in front of the body and then is extended behind the body while the rear hand strikes. The Lama Kung-Fu stylist appears an open target. However, they do not understand the application of the lead hand technique.

th jyu geng paau

The lead hand technique is used in response to an attack, something you obviously can’t see by simply watching a solo form. It is used to either grab or deflect that oncoming strike and to create an opening. Thus, the lead hand technique is controlling the attacker and the Lama Kung-Fu stylist is safe to launch his rear hand strike. He is striking with purpose and is in complete control of the situation.


Of course, there are times when one must initiate an attack. When the Lama Kung-Fu stylist is initiating an attack he holds his other fist close to his face, just as a Western boxer would. In this way he can attack but is protected from counterattack.

Fist strikes (Kyuhn Faat)

The urge to close the hand into a fist and use it as a weapon is one of man’s most basic instincts. For example, both the Chinese and the Ancient Greeks have independently created, well developed methods of using the closed fist. In China, Lama Kung-Fu is particularly famous for its continuous circular fist strikes and has some of the most powerful strikes found in any system. It is a fighting system well suited to someone wishing to develop stopping power.

gwa kahp

Among the basic fist techniques are a number that would be familiar to Western boxers. the system features straight punches (Chyuhn Choih), hooks (Gok Choih), uppercuts (Paau Choih), and overhand strikes (Kahp Choih). In addition, there are also a great number of fist techniques unique to the Lama Kung-Fu system including Pek Choih (chopping fist), Siu Kau Dah (small trapping strike), Bin Choih (whip strike), Pak Yik Paau (crane wing strike) and Gwa Choih (45 degree backfist).

Another unique aspect of Lama Kung-Fu fist strikes is that they are used to intercept and overcome other punches. For example, a powerful Bin Choih (whip strike) will deflect a jab and simultaneously strike the face.


If you are not in the New York Tri-State area and still want to learn the material being offered in the new Lion’s Roar martial arts association’s program, now is your limited time opportunity! Only $29 per month with no commitment gives you UNLIMITED ACCESS to the material. —>

Lama Pai Kahm Na (Chin Na)

22 Apr

The following is a re-print of an article I wrote which appeared in “Inside Kung Fu” magazine in the 1990’s

Lama Kung-Fu “Kahm-Na” Techniques By David A Ross

A truly complete fighter must understand not only the strengths and applications of his various techniques but their limitations as well. Under certain circumstances, a particular technique can be the key to victory. Under different circumstances, that very same technique can mean certain defeat.
For example, you may have extremely powerful kicks and punches but you should never rely on striking techniques alone. In the average street fight, kicks and punches often don’t land exactly on target and there are always those exceptional individuals who are able to withstand tremendous amounts of punishment. Full body throws and takedowns can also be devastating but have similar limitations. Against a larger, stronger opponent who is struggling it is often difficult, if not impossible, to set up and complete a throw.

inside trip

For all these reasons, Kahm-Na is a necessary addition to any fighter’s arsenal. More commonly known by its Mandarin dialect pronunciation of “Chin-Na”, Kahm-Na is one of the four fundamental skills necessary for complete fighting mastery. It is an extremely broad term encompassing many different skills and techniques including joint manipulation, strangulation and specialized striking techniques aimed at soft targets on the body.


Basic Kahm-Na techniques

1) Fun Gun (joint manipulation)
In Cantonese, “Fun” means to divide and “Gun” refers to connective tissues (i.e. both ligaments and tendons). Fun Gun refers to joint manipulation techniques achieved through twisting, pulling, and pushing. These actions cause the connective tissues to be stretched and/or separated and result in pain which can be used to convince an attacker to discontinue his attack. These are the most commonly seen and taught Kahm-Na techniques and can also be found in non-Chinese systems such as Jujitsu and Hapkido

2) Cho Gwat (bone breaking)
In Cantonese, “Cho” means placed wrongly and “Gwat” refers to bones. Together, “Cho Gwat” means placing the bone in an incorrect position.

3) Jaau Gun (muscle, tendon and/or ligament seizing)
This “Jaau” is pronounced exactly the same as the word for “claw” and is a verb referring to the use of the claw to seize or tear. Jaau Gun is related to Fun Gun because both cause the connective tissues to be stretched and/or separated and result in pain. However, Jaau Gun refers to those techniques in which the separation is accomplished by actually grabbing and using physical strength. For obvious reasons, Jaau Gun requires superior hand strength.

4) Baai Heih (strangulation)
In Cantonese, “Baai” means to seal and “Heih” refers to not only internal energy but the breath and the blood as well. Baai Heih involves depriving the opponent’s brain of blood and oxygen in order to render the opponent unconscious (i.e. strangulation). The simplest way to achieve this is to wrap either your arm or your leg around the opponent’s neck and to squeeze. However, it is also possible to seal the breath by using striking techniques. Strikes can be used to cause muscles in the rib cage to contract and thus prevent the opponent from inhaling. .


Practical application of Kahm-Na techniques

Obviously, you must be relatively close to your opponent in order to apply Kahm-Na techniques. It should also be pretty obvious that your opponent isn’t going to simply give you his arm and allow you to apply your technique. Kahm-Na techniques must be used in combination with kicking, punching, trapping and throwing techniques in order to be effective.

Kicking, punching and trapping allow you to close the distance safely and have the additional benefit of simultaneously “softening” your opponent. Once you are close to your opponent, there are a wide variety of options. First, you can attempt a full body throw. However, as discussed previously, full body throws are often difficult, if not impossible, to set up and complete. Partially completed throws may be followed by a Kahm-Na technique to end the confrontation. For example, a hip throw might be followed by the application of an arm bar or a double knee lift might be followed by a leg lock.


Because the use of Kahm-Na techniques was so common among fighters in traditional China, Lama Kung-Fu developed a wide variety of defenses against Kahm-Na techniques. Of course, one must first learn the many Kahm-Na techniques before one can learn their reversals. For this reason, students of Lama Kung-Fu learn a wide variety Kahm-Na techniques. In this way, they learn to be a complete fighter.


Understanding my method (Lion’s Roar martial arts)

12 Apr

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”
― Gustav Mahler


In order to understand my method, my thinking, I have provided a few statements here. However, as my thinking always evolves, as I am never the same person I was yesterday, of course these thoughts can change. But in a way that is precisely the point; martial arts is like a river, you never step in the same river twice. Martial arts is something living, it must continue to evolve or it becomes meaningless.


My method embraces both “fighting” and “health” or “physical culture”. It has never been, nor will it ever likely ever likely be an exclusive “either/or” proposition. I am identified widely for my success in training fighters, but I began my journey in the martial arts due to being deathly ill as a child (diagnosed with Leukemia at age six). Currently, my focus again in many ways has returned to using martial arts as health and corrective movement.


The essential foundation of my method, which allows for both of these divisions, is a strict adherence to always training with Truth. Truth transcends your style, system, tradition, lineage, teacher or school. You must embrace Truth regardless of the consequences. You must practice with Truth.


Most martial arts traditions have created a cult centering on the teacher. Disregard the teacher. In a minute, I will tell you why the very term is wrong! Disregard me, I am nothing but a clerk, a conduit; I have passed along information to the next generation. The messenger is not the message.


In reality, I can not really “teach” you anything. If I give you a laundry list of techniques, unless you understand them, can break them apart, put them back together and create your own technique, you have not really learned them. You have “borrowed them” from me and will likely soon “return them”. My job is to help you understand concepts, and help you along in the process of learning. I can help you, but ultimately I can not make you understand. I can only put you in front of the Truth.

Straight punching the Chan Tai-San way…. Lion’s Roar Martial Arts

27 Mar

The straight punch, known as “Chyuhn Kyuhn” (穿拳) or the “penetrating punch”, is one of the most fundamental strikes in the late Chan Tai-San’s method. In fact, the very first time I ever saw Chan Tai-San fight, it was the only strike he used! We were in the Chan Family Association on Bayard Street one night when someone came in to challenge Chan Tai-San. With a single “Chyuhn Kyuhn” aimed at the solar plexus, the matter was resolved in Chan Tai-San’s favor.

chan tai san chyuhn choih solo

In the late Chan Tai-San’s method, all the basic techniques were initially learned from a side stance (横弓步) using the “wheel body” (車身). This method teaches the student how to use the hips and shoulders to generate power, teaching the proper coordination and integration of the entire body.


The straight punch, extended from the side stance, is also perhaps the most easily recognizable manifestation of the strategic concept of “stretch the arms out while keeping the body away” (手去身離). That is, the preferred strategy is to strike from a position where it is difficult for my opponent to counter strike.

center line lama pai

For some beginning students, the side stance can be confusing; they throw their punches from the hip and not directly. It is important to learn that even from the side stance, the strike travels on the center line. In fact, it DOMINATES THE CENTER LINE. Chan Tai-San taught to use the punch to “cut the bridge” and “intercept” as a counter strike.



To learn how to use the center line and control it, we say that for punches to the face you begin your strike in front of your nose and for strikes to the body you begin your strike in front of your own solar plexus.

The straight punch from the side stance can also be used to “slip” or evade and counter punch.


We were also taught three essential ideas to keep in mind when using the straight punch. First, you must concentrate your intent (yi) upon the fist and the selected target. The nose, the throat, the solar plexus, the liver and the spleen are all potential targets.

th chyuhn choih

Second, you must focus upon the connection of the entire body, that is total body integration. The line “backward” from the fist, to the elbow, to the shoulder, to the hip, to the knee to the ankle and then to the ground.

guaai mah lahp choih

The third consideration, directly related to the second, is how the power travels through this connection; from the floor, to the ankle, to the knee, to the hip, to the shoulder, through the elbow and into the strike.

Learn more about Chan Tai-San’s Lion’s Roar method in the book “Lion’s Roar Martial Arts” (click)

Isn’t all Chinese Martial Art (CMA) really Mixed Martial Art (MMA)?

20 Mar

Chan Tai San catches a kick and sweeps the supporting leg

Chan Tai San catches a kick and sweeps the supporting leg

One of the best aspects of the internet and especially Facebook is the ability to reconnect with old students. I recently reconnected with a student from the early 1990’s.

Chan Tai-San's public class from early 1990's

Chan Tai-San’s public class from early 1990’s

After twenty plus years, it is easy to lose perspective. People ask me how I got interested in all this “fighting stuff”? As if one day I was just doing pretty kung fu forms and the next day we were fighting professional MMA matches? In one sense, of course, there was evolution. But in quite another sense, what we were doing even when we were Chan Tai-San’s kung fu school was VERY MUCH about fighting! To quote that student in a recent post he put on facebook.

I like to say when I trained With you back in the day we were doing MMA. We just didn’t get deep into the ground game.


I’d argue that all legitimate Chinese martial art (CMA) really is Mixed Martial Art (MMA). Chan Tai-San was having us drill kicks, strikes, clinches, throws and takedowns. We were sparring quite a lot actually.

Sparring in Chan Tai-San's school

Sparring in Chan Tai-San’s school

To quote another classmate who was also there back in those days, the classes were very much about conditioning, followed by technique drills and then partner drills. Forms always came LAST. And there were days it wasn’t there at all.


So when my student, the first one mentioned here, says “All we were missing was some BJJ” they are EXACTLY ON POINT.


I didn’t see the first three UFC events live. I was given them on a video tape as a gift and watched them all in one night. I was fascinated in several ways, watching Royce Gracie win all those matches, wondering why so many so called martial artists seemed so limited in skill. I was definitely interested in this thing called “Gracie Jiujitsu” but I also felt that a major problem was that the other participants really did not have the proper skills for the format.


Not long after I was given the UFC on video tapes, someone also gave me a tape of Japanese shooto. BOOM! There is was. Those guys were doing that ground fighting stuff, they knew submissions. But they also had what I considered the necessary stand up skills of kicking, striking, knees, and stand up wrestling. THIS is what I thought martial art should be. I only had to learn some ground stuff and some more stuff to link it to my existing Chinese martial art based stand up training.


My interest in Shooto subsequently led me to learn about Erik Paulson. Paulson, a walking encyclopedia of martial arts knowledge, challenged me not only to look for “ground fighting” stuff but to expand my knowledge in every area. The rest, as they say, is “history”….

Once the basic defense are learned

14 Mar


Once the basic defenses are learned, it’s an instructor’s responsibility to constantly break down and rearrange the techniques into different combinations. At New York San Da, we usually arrange our drills into either “boxing” drills or “kickboxing” drills. Typical combinations we teach include;

Boxing drills
(a) “four shields” drill (learning to get hit)
(b) parry vs. jab
(c) slip vs. jab
(d) parry vs. jab, parry vs. cross
(e) parry vs. jab, slip vs. cross
(f) parry vs. jab, shield vs. hook (double left)
(g) parry vs. jab, parry vs. cross, shield vs. hook
(h) parry vs. jab, shield vs. hook, parry vs. cross
(i) parry vs. jab, parry vs. cross, duck vs. hook
(j) parry vs. jab, parry vs. cross, shield vs. body hook
(k) parry vs. jab, shield vs. left hook, shield body shot x2


(a) parry vs. jab, leg block vs. right low kick
(b) parry vs. cross, knee block vs. left low kick
(c) parry vs. jab, shield vs. right body kick (single or double elbow)
(d) parry vs. cross, shield vs. left body kick (single or double elbow)
(e) “hard style” cross block vs. round kick (body)
(f) “soft style” cross block vs. round kick (kick catch)
(g) low parry vs. foot jab/thrust kick/side kick
(h) uppercut catch vs. foot jab


Parrying, shielding, slipping and ducking will progressively lead to clinching and/or “shooting” (takedowns involving seizing the legs). In particular, the shielding drills lead well into both neck and body clinching and these methods are extremely functional methods of defending against a better striker.

However, I believe equally in the importance of footwork as a form of defense. Be careful not to stress clinching to the exclusion of evasive footwork. Evasive footwork is also an excellent defense against those trying to clinch.

first knee head 2

– Never move backward in a straight line, use lateral movement
– Do not “run away”, stay in range to counter
– Move to your right against an orthodox fighter
– Move to your left against a “south paw”

my parry

Let’s examine the most basic boxing drill; parry vs. jab.

First, make sure the structure is correct. Both students have to be in the correct stance, the correct execution of the jab, the correct execution of the block, etc.

Second, the drill must be done with movement; you don’t fight standing still so don’t drill that way.

Third, even though this is a partner drill there is impact; the punch is thrown to actually connect and is actually blocked.

Fourth, all the basic drills will eventually be practiced with appropriate counters so that the students are used to the resistance (counter attack) of a real opponent.

Fifth, introduce every drill within context. Explain both why the technique is used and when it is used.


It is important to understand that all drills have “two sides”. Doing parry vs. jab isn’t just about defense. Every jab needs to be thrown correctly, i.e. you are practicing your jab as well. Of course, drills are not sparring and there is NO EGO. Never injure your partner doing drills.


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