Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ancient Gladiator Exercises

Here is an interesting article on the exercises the ancient gladiators used to get conditioned, add them to your training, who knows they just might bring out your inner warrior...

A List of Ancient Exercises from Galen's De Sanitate Tuenda Galen (130 - 200 A.D.)

Hailed from Pergamon, an ancient center of civilization, containing, among other cultural institutions, a library second in importance only to Alexandria itself. Galen's training was eclectic and although his chief work was in biology and medicine, he was also known as a philosopher and philologist.

Training in philosophy is, in Galen's view, not merely a pleasant addition to, but an essential part of the training of a doctor. His treatise entitled That the best Doctor is also a Philosopher gives to us a rather surprising ethical reason for the doctor to study philosophy.

The profit motive, says Galen, is incompatible with a serious devotion to the art. The doctor must learn to despise money. Galen frequently accuses his colleagues of avarice and it is to defend the profession against this charge that he plays down the motive of financial gain in becoming a doctor.

Galen's first professional appointment was as surgeon to the gladiators in Pergamon. In his tenure as surgeon he undoubtedly gained much experience and practical knowledge in anatomy from the combat wounds he was compelled to treat. After four years he immigrated to Rome where he attained a brilliant reputation as a practitioner and a public demonstrator of anatomy. Among his patients were the Emperors Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus, Commodus and Septimius Severus.

Galen divides his exercises into three categories, which we may term "strong", "rapid and "violent", which is a combination of the preceding two. Galen's listing of the exercises gives us a fascinating glimpse into the everyday activities of the Paleastrae, Gymnasia and other more leisurely-areas of the ancient world.

The affinities they have with the various sporting events can be made out: kicking of the legs for Pankration, rope-climbing for wrestling, holding the arms up for boxing.

1) Digging
2) Picking up something heavy
3) Picking up something heavy and walking with it
4) Walking uphill
5) Climbing a rope using the hands and feet: commonly done to train boys in the wrestling schools
6) Hanging onto a rope or beam for as long as possible
7) Holding the arms straight out in front with fists closed
8) Holding the arms straight out to sides with fists closed
9) Holding out the arms while a partner pulls them down
10) The preceding three exercises but while holding something heavy such as jumping-weights
11) Breaking loose from a wrestling waist-lock
12) Holding onto a person trying to escape from a waist-lock
13) Picking up a man who is bending over at the hips and lifting him up and swinging him around
14) Doing the same but bending oneself at the hips also when picking him up
15) Pushing chest to chest trying to force the opponent backwards
16) Hanging from another's neck, attempting to drag him down

Exercises requiring a wrestling pit:
a) Entwine your partner with both your legs around one of his and try to apply a choke or force his head backwardsb) The same but using only one leg to entwine the opponents leg closest to yours
c) The same but using both legs to entwine both of the opponents legs.

1) Running
2) Shadow-boxing
3) Boxing
4) Hitting punching bags
5) Throwing and catching a small ball while running
6) Running back and forth, reducing the length each time until finished
7) Stand on the balls of the feet, put the arms up in the air and rapidly and alternatly bringing them forward and back; stand near a wall if afraid of losing ones's balance
8) Rolling on the wrestling-ground rapidly by oneself or with others9) Rapidly changing places with people next to one in a tightly packed group
10) Jumping up and kicking both legs together backwards
11) Kicking the legs forward alternatly
12) Move the arms up and down rapidly with open or closed fist, increasing in speed

1) Digging rapidly
2) Casting the discus
3) Jumping repeatedly with no rest
4) Throwing heavy spears and moving fast while wearing heavy armour
5) Any of the 'strong' exercises executed rapidly: presumably running uphill, swinging jumping weights forward and back, and lifting them up and down, chin-ups and so on.

Other Exercises:
1) Walking
2) bending up and down repeatedly at the hips

3) Lifting a weight up from the ground
4) Holding up an object for a long time
5) Full and loud breathing
6) Placing two weights on the ground approximately six feet from each other, picking up the one on the left with the right hand and then the one on the right with the left hand, then in turn placing them back where they came from on the ground and doing this many times with the feet stationary

The translation of this Galen text come's from an article at Submission Fighting and the Rules of Ancient Greek Wrestling By Christopher Miller

I hope you enjoyed the article as much as I did, now get out there and start training like a gladiator.

Daniel Sambrano

"Keep It Simple and Savage"

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Muay thai round kick redux

One of the first web videos I did was a demo of the old style muay thai round kick. Since then I've had a couple of people tell me that my technique looks nothing like the muay thai that they're learning." Well, that's because the widely popular modern form of muay thai has become bastardized by martial arts franchises like Master Toddy, Fairtex, and to an extent, the UFC. What's being taught is static-stand up ring style kickboxing. Like modern boxing, muay thai has been watered down over th years for the sake of the fighter's safety. It's the sport version of a nearly forgotten combat system. Yes, there's more than one branch in the muay thai family. Thanks to people like Tony Jaa, old style muay thai is gaining recognition.

I've been lucky enough to train the old combat forms of muay thai: the muay baron, the muay chao churd, the ledrit and boar bando systems for over 13 years. The differences between modern sport muay thai and old (military/combat) style muay thai are numerous. Take the round kick for instance. The video below shows a side by side comparison of the two kicks - modern and old style muay thai.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

People Over 30 Should Be Dead

Here is an article I came across that sums up why this generation is having trouble today.

In this day of political correctness, self esteem issues, I'm offended, lawsuits, and blame the other guy, we need to come back to reality and realize that we are not the center of the universe.

While the article is humorous, sadly it is so very true...

People over 30 should be dead
Here's why.

According to today's regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the 40's, 50's, 60's, or even maybe the early 70's probably shouldn't have survived.

Our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paint. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets, ... and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets. (Not to mention the! risks we took hitchhiking.)

As children, we would ride in cars with no seatbelts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was always a special treat. We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. Horrors!

We ate cupcakes, bread and butter, and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we were never overweight because we were always outside playing. We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and no one actually died from this.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then rode down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem. We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the street lights came on. No one was able to reach us! All day!

NO CELL PHONES!!!!! Unthinkable! We did not have Playstations, Nintendo 64, X-Boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, video tape movies, surround sound, personal cell phones, personal computers, or Internet chat rooms. We had friends! We went outside and found them.

We played dodge ball, and sometimes, the ball would really hurt. We fell out of trees, got cut and broke bones and teeth, and there were! no lawsuits from these accidents. They were accidents. No one was to blame but us. Remember accidents? We had fights and punched each other and got black and blue and learned to get over it.

We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms, and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did the worms live inside us forever.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's home and knocked on the door, or rang the bell or just walked in and talked to them. Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment!

Some students weren't as smart as others, so they failed a grade and were held back to repeat the same grade. Horrors! Tests were not adjusted for any reason. Our actions were our own. Consequences were expected.

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law. Imagine that!

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. And you're one of them! Congratulations!

Please pass this on to others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before lawyers and government regulated our lives, for our own good !!!!!

People under 30 are WIMPS!

Daniel Sambrano
"Keep It Simple and Savage"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Don’t Be a Punching Puppet

When I was a little boy my dad bought me a punching puppet.

You know the kind on a plastic rod that has a handle that you squeeze and it punches at whoever you point its boxing gloves at.

It always looks funny when you punch someone with your puppet, the way it moves its arms straight out when it punches.

Many strikers remind me of punching puppets, the way they move their arms like someone is squeezing their handle when they punch.

They often look very silly as they throw their punches as hard as they can only to come up short of their goal of knocking out or incapacitating their adversary.

The reason being is that they are primarily arm punchers and not body punchers.

You may be saying what’s the difference, well my friend there’s a big difference, it’s like I tell my students all the time when they train their strikes, “Do you wanna knock’em out or piss’em off?”

You see you need to know how to strike with your whole body and not just your arms for true power.

You need to learn how to generate the maximum amount of weight into your strikes, to hit like a jackhammer and cause major trauma and pain to your adversary.

Fist fighting is a lot different than gloved fighting, you do it wrong and
you break your hand, you do it right and you break their jaw.

And finally you need to understand the principles and techniques that truly work on the street that will keep you alive.

Don’t be a punching puppet, having your adversary laughing at you as you fight for your life in some dark alley.

Put fear in their hearts when you hit them and make them regret that they ever messed with you.

And learn to be the puppet master.

Daniel Sambrano
“Keep It Simple and Savage”

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fighting with Flower Power

You know, most martial arts train its practitioners to be reactive. Drills usually consist of one student throwing a technique on another student, whether it be a punch, kick, grab, et al. The receiving student is taught to react with a block, perry, counterstrike, what have you.

What isn't taught is the fact that there may be a time when you'll need to be the one who starts and finishes an altercation. The streets aren't bound to the rules, boundaries, or respect that you'll find in a dojo.

The flower technique is a great fight starter. Based in muay baron and muay chao churd, the technique is a great way to break through an opponent's guard and gain access to his center line.

Watch the video for the nitty gritty.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Great Muay Thai Round kick Drill - The Pyramid

Here's a great drill that will increase the speed and power of your muay thai round kicks, but will it will help you also help you increase your ability to recover quickly between strike combinations. The pyramid is the best kicking drill that you'll hate to do.

With a partner holding thai pads (or a heavy bag - I prefer a partner) 4 sets each leg of the following:

single kick
double kick
triple kick
4 kicks
5 kicks
4 kicks
triple kick
double kick
single kick

If you've trained muay thai for more than 6 months you should be comfortable with at least the double kick... make sure that each strike has equal power. It's only 200 kicks, I promise it's effective.

Try the drill out and let me know how what you think of it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Beware the Shredder Cometh

Hey everybody, just got done participating in a seminar at our gym on Saturday, and let me tell you it was a real eye opener.

The man teaching it was Richard Dimitri of Canada, he is the founder of Senshido,a realistic based self defense system who's primary directive is enhancing your survivability.

He came to teach a "Close Quarter Conceptual Tool" that really works for the street, this tool is called "The Shredder" and let me tell you it will put fear and terror in the hearts of the violent if they encounter it.

Now don't get me wrong, Rich is a very nice person and went above and beyond to teach us this valuable information and he did it without any ego or bravado.

As a matter of fact right up front he told all of us that if we just came here to learn new techniques to fight and kick someones ass, then we were at the wrong seminar.

There were many Law Enforcement Personnel as well as Martial Artists participating at the seminar and they all enjoyed the information that was taught that day.

As for me and my students, we were all impressed with what Rich brought to the table and let me tell you it takes allot to impress them.

After going over the physiological and behavioral concepts of the "Shredder" we got into the physical aspects by learning through progressive drills demonstrated by Rich and his assistant Ted Williams.

Then we would work the drills with at least three different partners and even Rich himself, to get the concepts down.

The great thing about the "Shredder" is that you can add it to your present fighting system no matter what it is immediately and not miss a step.

Rich was constantly working with everyone correcting any mistakes while performing the progressive "Shredder" drills.

He even extended the seminar to make sure everyone got the "Shredder" down and answered every question asked.

For those who have never experienced the "Shredder" get to one of Rich's seminars as fast as you can and learn this life saving tool or get the DVD's and manual.

Don't just learn to survive, learn to prevail.

You can contact Rich at or at

Daniel Sambrano

"Keep It Simple and Savage"

Friday, November 07, 2008

Old Style Muay Thai Clinch, Whoohoo!

The standard muay thai clinch simply isn't effective in a street/combat scenario. Once you grab onto your attacker his natural instinct will be to grab you - now you're wrestling with one (or more) opponents.

The ring style muay thai clinch serves two main purposes: 1. It gets you inside your opponent's strikes, providing an opportunity to score points (take down, or knees), and 2. it gives the winded fighter a short break. But in a street combat situation points don't count and your attackers certainly aren't going to tie up with you to catch a breather.

It's super important that you keep a hand free, and (more importantly) that you don't lose your ability to maintain visibility of your environment. The old style (ledrit, muay chao churt, muay baron) clinch allows you to control your opponent, use him as a shield from other attackers, and enables excellent visibility.

It's difficult to change old habits, and if you've been training to clinch up as soon as you get inside a one handed clinch is going to feel foreign (and maybe a little unrealistic). But if you give this technique a shot, I'm willing to bet, you'll soon realize that it opens up your striking & controlling options. Now you can throw elbows at different angles, knees, and even round kicks to your opponent's front and back. Try it out with a partner, you'll like it!

Watch video below. I provide technique and I touch on just a few of the options that open up. You won't learn this stuff at Fairtex.

Watch out for the man sandwich!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Reality Always Wins!

When we ritualize our training we tend to take the fangs and claws out of the equation.

We have all known or heard the stories of some martial artists with black belts getting their butts handed to them by some street thug who knew the game all too well.

And yet time and time again in dojos and gyms across the country this type of training predominate the martial arts community.

Now I realize that many take up the martial arts to better themselves and to achieve the goal of receiving a black belt.

But somewhere in between the white belt to black belt journey, what is tradition, what is myth and what is reality gets blurred or lost.

All too often what ends up happening is that they are not ready to face reality when it hits them square in the jaw.

It's like somebody training in flag football for years and then trying out for full contact professional football, what do you think is going to happen?

Instant reality check!

It just doesn't make much sense to train this way, your setting yourself up to be victimized due to your own ignorance and training.

Understand the way you train in the gym may not translate well on the streets.

Case in point, I once had a kickboxing student come up and say that while he had kickboxing experience he had never been in a streetfight in his life.

I asked him if he would like to experience a streetfight scenario and he said YES.

So I hit him upside the head twice as I pushed him across the gym floor into the wall, there I tripped him and he hit the floor hard.

Panic was etched across his face as I pinned him to the wall and the floor with my knee in his chest.

I instantly started punching him in the head with one fist as my other hand held me up on the wall.

After 5-6 punches I lifted my knee off of him and started to stomp on his chest and stomach.

As I started to walk away I looked back at him and said "Congratulations you just had your first streetfight and you survived! Now learn from it".

As he sat there on the floor he just shook his head and said "that wasn't fair, I wasn't ready, you didn't tell me you were going to hit me right then and there, and you kinda hit me hard and didn't give me a chance to fight back and you fought dirty".

Exactly! You learned a lot from your ass wiping I told him.

This was one of the many examples that I've had the pleasure, I mean the opportunity to teach a student.

By the way I've taught this lesson to grapplers, boxers, kick-boxers and so called weapons experts and they have all come away with practical information that will one day save their lives.

And now it's your turn are you training as truthfully as you should be or are you hiding behind the skirt of your martial art traditions.

Pressure test what you know as often as you can and find out what works and what doesn't work for you.

And don't just discard what doesn't work but find out why it didn't work and see if you can modify it to work, and if it still doesn't work then discard it.

This will help ensure that your training will be there when you need it most and will not fail you.

And always remember "Reality Always Wins!"

Daniel Sambrano
“Keep It Simple and Savage”