Face Punch anyone?

First off- Welcome to FACEPUNCH, sucker.

The concept has been floating around for sometime and has finally come to fruition: GJS is going to share with all of you what has been learned in over twenty years in martial arts and fist fights and a decade in, out and around prize fighting in Japan and Thailand.

This effort is being made because I’m better than you and I know it.  The English-speaking fight community, so obsessed with boxing and the UFC, have largely missed the stand up boat and I feel that it’s my solemn duty to attempt to un-fuck this situation.

Prepare to receive knowledge.

This new effort also happens to coincide with my return to training, and hopefully, the ring after some time off getting my private life in some sort of manageable order.

Right.  Let’s crack on then…

Technique vs. Techniques

“Man, like, I just want to learn a few techniques that can help me sparring.”

If I had a dollar for every time someone said something like this to me, I would already own an incredible adult goods shop in Karachi and I’d finally be able to stop this hand to mouth lifestyle based around necromancy.

“OK people, next combo on the bag, jab-jab, Right low kick, jab-cross-left to the body, right low kick, spinning left kick. Go!”

I swear to god, that was a combo,  techniques, I witnessed being taught to a group of people so lacking in basic stand up concepts or fighting fitness I thought I was on the set of Golden Girls: Blood and Sand.

For whatever reason, and I have a good idea which reason it is and more on that later, much of the English-speaking fight world, particularly America, are obsessed with techniques.

Go to any gym, look at any website; a techniques festival.

How to counter this, how to respond to that, how to slip here and what to do there.  It’s a Hodge-podge of mismatched maneuvers all sewn into a patch work quilt of excess and non congruence.

"Fucking Karate!"
“Fucking Karate by the catfish restaurant!”

This popular idea that moving from one gym to another or one training camp to another in order to “diversify and expand your game” in reality results in fighters never truly developing meaningful skill sets.  It takes time, lots of time and sweat and pain and patience, in order to truly absorb what a real coach is giving you.  This does not happen quickly and it is often not exciting.  It is however, fighting.  A fighter goes to the gym. He jumps rope or runs.  He shadow boxes (more on this another time; got a bone to pick) and works the bag.  Then he gets in the ring or cage and does mitts with his coach.  He spars.  He goes home and eats and goes to bed. The next day the cycle is done again.

It’s just the same shit over and over.  That is how you develop the tools necessary to win fights.

Winning fights is not about how many leg locks you know or how many ways you can “counter a left hook.”  The reality of the fight game is that you only need one way to counter a left hook, or anything else, you simply must be damned good at that counter.

What would Tyson have accomplished if Cus D’amato had not had exclusive and total training dominion over him?  He was taught that style of “peekaboo” boxing and he mastered it.  When the intensity and exclusivity of his training waned, so did his prowess in the ring.


In today’s modern combat sports climate, and I am referring primarily to MMA and kickboxing, and to an extent boxing, in the West, techniques are king because simply put: it’s good business.  It has been for years.  Strip mall Kenpo Karate schools have been raking in the dow ever since Chuck Norris kicked a drug dealer in his man parts with Taekwondo in ’78, finally ending the conflict in Vietnam.  Karate was big biz in the 80’s and still in the 90’s; I remember slapping the shit out of this kid down the block who had recently gotten his black belt from Master’s Studios of Self Defense. MMA and the connection kickboxing sadly has with it are the new strip mall dork dojos.  But now instead of a black belt in a year, you get a pair of board shorts, and affliction t-shirt and a shitty tribal tattoo.

"Come back once you cut those sleeves off and pay for this little girls sex change."
“Come back once you cut those sleeves off and pay for this little girls sex change.”

Do not get it twisted and somehow walk away from this thinking I dislike traditional martial arts because I do not.  When practiced traditionally these are fine.  What I dislike is the fast food Mc-black belt mentality and the obsession with techniques that comes with it.

So, what is the difference between technique and techniques?

Technique is the total package.  It’s balance, timing, distance, connectedness and flow.  It is something that comes from a lifestyle that revolves around hours, days and years spent in the same gym, working with the same coach moving toward a common finished model.  Technique is constant and never-ending refinement of the same things you learned in your first year of training.  Once you know how to punch, kick, elbow, knee and clench then what is left is for you to hone these things into the finest tools possible.  This is not done by adding more to the package but by stripping away the unnecessary and perfecting the basics.

Names in the fight game that resonate and are synonymous with the having of technique are Fedor Emelinanko, Mutsuki and Rui Ebata, Kikkuchi Gosuke, Buakaw Por Pramuk, Anuwat Kaewsamrit, Shin Nopadetsorn, Mike Tyson, Roy Jones Jr., Roy Nelson, Gohkan Saki, Daniel Ghita, Alexey Ignashoz, Rob Kaman and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Not all these fighters are remembered as being champions, but at some point all of them were just that and all these men have technique. It is not contrived or forced and it has made them dangerous in the ring, even well after their respective primes had come and gone.

An incredible example and contrast which demonstrates technique vs. techniques well, took place during two of the super fights on the GLORY 4 card in Saitama Japan on New Years eve.

Matsumoto Toshio, a kickboxing champion with Shin Nihon Kickboxing, lost a decision win to Jason Wilnis.  Matsumoto came out and threw literally everything and the kitchen sink at Wilnis, but as the fight wore on it was clear that although he had lots of tricks, nothing had enough blast behind it to really phase Wilnis, and ultimately in the third round, Matsumoto was badly punished by very basic power punching and strong kicks from his opponent.

Conversely, Mutsuki Ebata, one of the Champion twins, put on what commentator Stephen Quadros referred to as “an absolute kickboxing clinic” easily defeating Korean Sang Jae Kim in a display of intense technical dominance.

So, why is it that everyone is not taking the technique approach as opposed to simply teaching loads of “moves” to wanna be’s?

"At the end of the day, this is always why."
“At the end of the day, this is always why.”

In the popular seminar style format that most gyms run on, it is very easy to teach techniques to a large group of people, it is not so easy to hone technique.  Honing technique is a one-on-one endeavor and it requires the constant effort of the fighter as well as the supervision of a committed coach.  Gyms are business’s and these are meant to turn a profit.

Just like the Mc-Black-Belt Dojos of old, techniques sell; the arduous task of developing technique does not.

That having been said, those that possess real technique will continue to school those that do not and this really is the difference between a professional fighter or a thug that gets paid to try to beat people up; technique.


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