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On my recent visit this year to Japan I had a nice opportunity to train with my Pancrase “family”. This time I trained at the Pancrase gym, located in Osaka city, named Inagaki Gumi (Ps Lab Osaka).

Ps Lab Osaka

Ps Lab Osaka

This gym is owned by Katsuomi Inagaki, a former pro-MMA fighter who was a participant at the first Pancrase event “Yes, We are Hybrid Wrestlers 1”. He is one of the founding fighters of Pancrase.
Katsuomi Inagaki-san

Katsuomi Inagaki-san

It was going down memory lane as the train I took passed thru Kyoto, where I lived and went to school, on its way to Osaka.
This time around I participated in a striking class. The trainer was Kenji Takeshige , a very humble, and welcoming person.
The training consisted of a warm-up, shadow boxing, then technical work with a partner. It ended with sparring. Every time I go and train at the Pancrase gyms, many people are very eager to spar with me. That means no break time! It’s not that they want to “test” me out, but it’s more out of curiosity and to spar with someone completely new.
Inagaki Gumi Dojo

Inagaki Gumi Dojo

After the training I chatted with Takeshige –san about how things are going and the situation of MMA in Japan now. I was pleased to know that the Pancrase events held in Osaka are still done in the ring. Kansai is awesome!!
Kenji Takeshige

Kenji Takeshige

As for the situation of MMA in Japan presently, thru discussions and my own observation, it seems to be in a recession. There’s not much public interest. Back when I used to live in Japan, in the 90s I could find tons of books and magazines. Magazines on MMA where even available in convenient stores. Three years ago when I went to Japan, I could find some MMA books in bookstores. This year, all I saw was mainly traditional martial arts and yes even Systema!! When I went to visit Nagoya, another city I used to live, I went to check out Koubudo (, a martial arts store. I was surprised to see the books & DVD section shrink. It was the same stock as before, as it seems no one is making new MMA DVDs or books. With the exception of Systema DVDs(!), which I never noticed before. Why has this happened? A lackluster economy in Japan perhaps.
As always, after finishing training with the Pancrase guys, I had Japanese curry at my favourite spot, Coco Ichibanya! Of course with a cold one!(Kirin lager)
Katsu Kare! Japanese curry with pork cutlet.

Katsu Kare! Japanese curry with pork cutlet.

On the topic of beer, I’m still wondering why in Japan they write the ingredients and and even have nutrition fact label, but not here in Canada. Would we to scared to find out what they really put in those beers?
Kirin Lager. Great stuff!!

Kirin Lager. Great stuff!!

Like the majority of MMA gyms in Japan, the Ps Lab Osaka was not that big, almost the size of Club Kozak. There were wrestling mats, a boxing ring , punching bags, a stationary bike and a small weight set. Simple. That’s all that is needed. No oxygen masks, battle ropes, sleds or any other high-tech gadgets. Just hard work. I’m still confused on why people want the new trendy things, when all we need are the basics to train hard.
During the rest of my stay in Japan, I stayed in shape by running stairs at a local park. It is a total of 120 steps. I worked up my way to running it for 10 reps, a real Japanese Pro-Wrestling workout! Stairs are a great workout, because one gets a great workout in a short time.
The Stairs

The Stairs

Another time I was able to maintain my fitness level on the family holiday, was when we went swimming in the ocean.. After a great swim, I noticed my knees with “sting marks”. Didn’t feel a thing, but must have been small jellyfish. Although a great workout, be aware what can be in the waters!!!
Jellyfish stings

Jellyfish stings


Many people, especially in the grappling world, will say that most real fights (even 90%) will go to the ground. I’m not sure if there are ‘real’ stats on this, or is this just a mythical number.
Fights that end on the ground are because people are untrained and get easily taken down, or people training in certain martial arts where they naturally react to go to the ground because most of their techniques are based on ground fighting.

A main important part is that you don’t want drilled into your mindset that you’re going to be taken to the ground. My belief, the ground is the very last place you want to be in the vast majority of real fights. Staying on your feet, one is able to analyze the situation, and have a better ability to escape from the situation. Should one look to ground fighting for all responses to a situation, one will automatically program oneself to naturally go to the ground. The circumstances of the fight dictate the strategy one will use to deal with it.

Assault by multiple attackers

Assault by multiple attackers

One must not forget, the vast majority of confrontations start standing. A one on one confrontation, going to the ground might be an option; but if faced with multiple attackers going to the ground would be a very dangerous option. Even if one on one, if the assailant had a hidden knife, ground fighting would be not a smart option.
Knife in a ground fight

Knife in a ground fight

There would be certain situations where ground fighting would be a natural option. Example would be on ice/snow (slipping), bed(house break-in) were ground fighting may be ones only choice.

Even though there are negatives in ground fighting in a real fight, ground fighting training is an extremely important skill for absolute confidence. Should one be forced to the ground, panic will not set in, because one possess these tools.
Having these skills will aid in getting out of bad positions (ex.mount), able to get up to standing position faster, and have the submissions to control or injure someone if necessary.

Starting sparring from the knees

Starting sparring from the knees

One has to realize the difference between “grappling” and “ground fighting”. In grappling, there are both stand-up and ground fighting techniques. Grappling styles that put a good effort to practice and use stand-up techniques (i.e. take-downs, throws)truly aid in a real fight. Training stand-up techniques help when locked up in a clinch, or when faced against several assailants. Should one start sparring from the ground the majority of the time, or go to the ground immediately in sparring, that could potentially cause a natural instinct to do that in a confrontation.


Krav Maga is another popular martial art that people often come and ask me if it has any similarities with Combat Sambo.
Krav Maga meaning “combat contact”, in Hebrew, is a combat system that is said to used by the Israeli military. It has become very popular and is taught around the world with different Krav Maga organizations.

Krav Maga-Isreali military system

Krav Maga-Isreali military system

Both Combat Sambo and Krav Maga are systems used by the military and police, the former used by ex-USSR republics and the latter by Israel.
Within Combat Sambo there are generally 3 ‘types’ within this system. Sport Combat Sambo (ie.MMA with a jacket), street Combat Sambo (reality self-defense suited for civilians) and military Combat Sambo.
Generally in the majority of Combat Sambo gyms (like Club Kozak) teach the sport and self-defense versions. The military version has added techniques of weapons fighting eg. Knife, bayonet etc… These are considered more “lethal” and not really suited for the general public, in my view. That is where the marketing comes in.
It is of course a great sales point, to attract practitioners by mentioning “this combat system is used by so & so country’s military forces!” People seem to be attracted to these combat systems that are military based. They assume that it will completely useful for the streets. Unarmed hand to hand combat is the last thing a soldier will resort too. More time is spent on armed training (ie. Guns) as in an armed conflict, it is killed or be killed. In a civilian life, this “kill or be killed” can have tremendous legalities if not deemed absolutely necessary in certain self-defense situations.

Most Krav Maga schools (some do though) don’t do freestyle sparring, rather they go thru set drills of certain situations. Combat Sambo, is heavily based on freestyle sparring. Not using sparring holds back the real development of progress in the martial arts and even in self-defense. One has to use real pressure training to get better. This has been discussed in this article. Furthermore, just doing set drills, one can become in auto-pilot mode, and never learn to adapt.


Krav Maga knife defense

Krav Maga, unlike Combat Sambo, uses a belt system , resembling the Japanese colored belt ranking system. This seems strange, as this is to be a military system . Using belts is a great selling point for new students as people want a set goal. Using a belt system has its pros and cons,it all depends on one’s point of view.

Belt system

Belt system

Since Krav Maga is a considered purely a self-defense system it doesn’t work much on ground grappling techniques. Many reality based fighting systems state that going to the ground or ground fighting will get you killed in a real fight. This is also the philosophy of Combat Sambo which is in a real self-defense situation, one does not want to stay on the ground to long.However, if one’s training consists of more ground fighting techniques, escapes from the bottom and getting the top position will become easier to perform, especially if involved in a street self-defense situation.
Just like many other reality based combat systems, Krav Maga does not train with a jacket(gi/kurtka) , but rather with a t-shirt. As most people would say that we don’t wear a gi/kurtka on the street,but as my article mentions, training with a jacket is more practical for realistic street self-defense training, especially in a cold climate country (such as Canada).

As I have never trained in Krav Maga, I cannot give a personal opinion on it. This article was to give some differences that I have gotten from talking with those who trained in the style of Krav Maga or from personal analysis. Like everything in life, the only way to get the best view on something is to try it out, and experience it.


is-running-bad-for-your-bones-and-joints-2699Running..but how?

There have been several debates on the positive and negative effects of running recently. Rather than debate its effectiveness for the general population, this article will cover running for the means of fitness and training for a martial nd combat sports.
Most people will think of running right away as a great way to get in shape. It’s cheap and readily available. Although quite simple, people should though get proper information or training on proper running form to reduce the chance of unnecessary injuries.
As for running for combat sports/ Martial Arts, the way we run is important. Many have seen old boxing movies of long distance running to build one’s “wind”. Honestly, any method of running can get one in better shape. Although for best results ,in my opinion, is running short distance and at a faster pace rather than running long distance.


Faster the better!

Before talking about the negative effects of running long-distance, let us see its major benefits .These benefits are: fat loss, increase endurance and stamina . Because one runs at a slower pace, it can also be a good time for relaxation, like a “meditation in motion”.


So what are the negative effects of long-distance running? It has been proven that long distance running may reduce ones muscle mass. As a combat fighter, one doesn’t want that! Apart from actual scientific data, I tell people look at a marathon runner, then a sprinter; which one has way more muscle mass ?The sprinter of course.


Your choice…

I have seen too many joggers that even thought they jog several times per week, they still have a high body fat percentage. This can show that a slow place,long distance running doesn’t work as efficient in burning fat, as does sprinting or interval running. Too much long distance running, as well as too much intense training can cause negative effects on one’s health. It takes a toll on one’s immune system. I’ve seen a personal friend that does extreme long distance races, and seems to get sick very often. Over-burning the system leaves one open to infections.


Too much can actually do more harm than good.

The method one runs is of a major importance for getting the best benefits. Just going out for a 30 minute jog can help, but a more effective method can be done. Better ways are sprints or interval runs. Access to a track or being able to mark off distances are necessary for a constructive sprinting regime. 50M to 200M sprints are a great way to get in better shape for fighting. Should one have no access to a proper track, interval running which is based on time is an excellent training method. This type of training is of easy/hard running. It is done by jogging, then running hard. It mimics a sport fight where one goes hard, and then pulls back during a fight. Since one does not fight in a steady state, such as jogging, but rather in an full out state (especially in a street fight situation) sprinting or interval training are the best methods of running .Competition fights are a combination of full out action, and with some slow down. Street fights are basically full all out action in a small time frame. High-intensity running is a much more effective way to burn fat and get into better cardio shape in a shorter amount of training time. Because of the intensity, a proper warm-up should be done before sprinting.

Time is an important fact too. As for just running, more can be done in a certain time. Should one run for 45mins or more, one can do more of an overall fitness routine in that time period. In the same amount of time on could be doing a strength, cardio and stretching routine. Martial artist and combat fighters need a greater overall fitness. Variety is the best method for overall fitness.

In conclusion, I am not putting down long distance running nor slow-paced jogging. Some others have attacked it with much zeal to make an anti-running community. Running too me , if enjoyed, is fabulous. It is a great way to get in shape rather than doing nothing. Personally I enjoy running. Sprinting is a fabulous workout, but a slow run lets me “relax” more. I did the 20K race, and still do 10K (without any specific training for it) because I respect the mental toughness needed in running such a long distance.
Rather than debating this subject to death, get out your running shoes and go run, fast or slow!!


Just put ’em on and do something useful!!




Many people  have asked  why   do we spar so much, and is it necessary. To answer the last question first, yes. I don’t teach a cardio MMA class where sparring is non-existent. This is a big “in” thing for other gyms, but here at Club Kozak, we teach real training.

What defines sparring?   Sparring is when two practitioners engage in spontaneous exchanges of techniques, each trying to hit, throw or submit each other. In this method, practitioners display highly controlled attacks and defenses, but draw from their individual resources, from the wealth of knowledge, skills, training and experience. Sparring is done in stages to gradually orient the practitioner to the demands and reality of combat.



Having travelled and lived in Asia for many years, I’ve encountered many styles that proclaim that there style and techniques are way too dangerous to do any type of sparring. I understood that certain styles applied “lethal” techniques, but one could modify the technique for the sake of safe sparring. Safety in sparring is also a key to developing skill, thus some techniques are prohibited during sparring. No matter how deadly your art and style may be, you must control your strikes within the sphere of good motives against the background of peaceful intentions.


Some style or schools use heavy gear to keep their students safe from injury but too much protective gear can cause issues.Many styles wear full protective gear, this tends to completely ignore reality. Rather, practitioners in Club Kozak are required to use minimal protective gear, but still protected!, to encourage the development of defensive skills and not just offensive techniques. Too much gear diminishes the reality of the fight. Participants become reckless, their movements become inhibited, their sense of distance becomes impaired.


So what is the benefits of doing sparring?

Sparring makes one understand the usefulness and practicality of one’s techniques. Without sparring, it’s like learning how to drive using a video game rather than stepping into a car tor learn to drive.

To develop self-confidence is to do the things your fear to do. Always ponder to your experience, for it is the best teacher.
Frequent sparring and application of techniques develop and actualized the art’s strategies. Without sparring, drills remain drills. They will be nothing more than mere exercises and movements that create the illusion without the reality of combat.
It is only through constant and regular sparring that techniques become truly honed, reflexive movements. Without the active participation of the mind, body, and spirit under the stress of sparring or actual engagement, the techniques will remain mere physical exercises without any relationship to combat.

A technique cannot exploit its full potential unless combined with the attributes of balance, power, speed, focus, timing, and attitude. When combined, these elements cause the outcome or whole to be more effective then the sum of the parts. The number of different techniques mastered does not necessarily increase the level of competence. Thus quantity of techniques is not the focus.

Sparring is not a contest, but a process through one begins to understand oneself.


Last years Canada’s new Bill S-209 has been proclaimed as a blessing to legalize pro-MMA in all of Canada. It has been legal in some provinces, such as Quebec, so why now? All this has to go with that MMA has become a real big industry now. Politicians and many citizens have praised this bill, but there is a hidden demon behind it.


The bill passed to legalize pro-MMA. To me that’s fine, but if you look at the law there are texts that affect amateur combat sports. According to the new laws, many combat sport competitions are ILLEGAL, according to the laws. I personally asked the ministry here in Quebec about the new law, I got the full story.

So what the law states is that combat sports outside of Karate, Judo, Wrestling, Tae Kwon Do, Boxing, that are officially sanctioned by the government are illegal. Even GRAPPLING competitions are illegal, because they are not sanctioned by the feds.

So we have stepped back many steps. We can’t have our own amateur MMA, or grappling competitions. Why? Because the government wants the money. They want to have total control of all the combat sports. Yes, you may think they want more safety, but the real deal is, more $$$!

How it works is that with their plan is that all gyms have to register to the official fed =$, all participants in competitions have to register=$, coaches have to register=$, even recreational people=$. If one wants to hold a competition=$$.

Many gyms still think that grappling is still legal. The feds are not after this for now, bu the chopping board is coming soon!

What this law does is take our freedom and rights to choose which organizations we want to belong to, and hold competitions under them. Now, we are beeing forced to comply with government regulated federations that will take money from us, and tell us how to run the show. The martial arts community is at risk now. Time to wake up and see the reality!!


This new law is turning us into a Nanny State! They want to tell us what to do. The state knows better….




The cold grey skies are above us. We bundle up, and cover ourselves with warm clothing, and try to spend as little time outside, especially on those deep arctic days. Wintertime is also the main time when people get sick. We pick up a virus from some Joe who was infected around us. What does this have to do with vitamin D? Well there’s a reason why its called the “Sun Vitamin”

I was talking some years ago to a health practitioner about why we get ill more in the winter time. I answered that:” there are more viruses around?” All he did was point to the sunny sky. It was like that scene in “Enter the Dragon” when Bruce Lee © pointed his finger to the moon with his pupil.

bruce_lee_fingerLook to the sky, there’s your answer!

So what he meant is that, we lack exposure to the sun during the wintertime, therefore we get less vitamin D in our body. We get vitamin D at its best from the sun. We don’t need that much exposure (as we know, too much ain’t too good too!) to get the daily % of vitamin D we need. Yes there are other ways, but best “comsuption” is thru the sun.

I can give myself as some proof. Sorry no research team followed me around for this. Two years ago, I took vitamin D supplements, 1000 UI/ day, during the winter season, starting in October. I noticed I wasn’t getting ill. In illness, I mean the common cold or the flu. Others around me were. This winter season, I got lazy or forgetful( the same!) and didn’t take any. What happened, and happening(!) I’ve been getting sick it seems every 2 weeks. I started back taking the supplements, but a bit too late. The vitamin D has to be in your system already, not when you start feeling sick.

Got sick constantly this year. Keep vit D in your system!

Got sick constantly this year. Keep vit D in your system!

There has been a recent study that says vitamin D  supplements have no real usage  here but that report mentions nothing of what I am talking about. Of course, if someone at age 60 has poor bone health, of course all of a sudden taking vitamin D supplements won’t help now.

My main point, taking from my own personal experience that perhaps taking vitamin D between the months of October to March, may help one stop getting so sick and feeling down. Please remember I am no medical doctor nor a registered dietician……just Coach!

Enjoy it when you can

Enjoy it when you can


Happy 2014! For some out there, you have decided, as part of one’s new year’s resolution,  to take up some type of martial art.

Having been teaching for many years, I have seen many newbies come thru my gym’s doors. As everyone is different, people come in with different expectations. There are those with very little expectations, some with realistic, and of course those who have un-realistic high expectations.

Those with low expectations are the one’s who enter a gym with really no idea why they joined. They perhaps thought that joining up would be “cool” or to “loose some pounds”, but with really no concrete motives. These people, on one hand, unfortunately will interest quickly as it probably wasn’t really meant for them. On the other hand, others may ,thru time, end up creating goals, and stick it out and go far.


Make your goals

The people with realistic expectations, are the ones that have carefully thought over their goals and plans. It could be to learn fighting techniques and to get in shape at the same time. Also perhaps, to try out some competitions.  Of course they might stop their training temporarily or permanently, due to certain things: injuries, illness, work, children etc…. Those are , unfortunately, things that can happen in one’s life.


Real goal setting

The final group of beginners, are the one’s who have way to high, or completely un-realistic goals. I have seen several of these types come thru my door, and then leave some months or even weeks later. They come with dreams of becoming a pro-fighter, not realizing the sacrifices and hard worked needed, and have a hard time keeping up the pace of regular training, or take it extremely personal when they get thrown down, tapped out or hit in the face during sparring.


I’ve had others in this same grouping ask how long will it take to become a fighter or able to defend myself. I respond that I truly can’t answer that, in it depends on the amount of dedication to training time, and that everyone has different learning curves. As for myself, I was no “natural athlete” (as some assume), but rather I was I was extremely persevering in training and perfecting my techniques.


Others might want to lose weight, get ripped or more muscles, but give up because they do to much to soon or eat a very poor diet( which I have no control over). I actually had one person (someone who wanted personal training) tell me that if he doesn’t lose any weight, that it’ll be my fault, no his. I told him that :”I can’t control what you eat on your time, so perhaps you’d have to reconsider what your REAL goals are.”

In conclusion, I recommend anyone wanting to start out martial arts to sit down and truthfully write down one’s goals. Try to make micro( daily or weekly goals) and macro(monthly and long term) goals.



This week the American Medical Association has officially recognized obesity as a disease. Looking around and seeing the increasing number of people getting obese in North America (yes, Canada too!! One in four children and youth are obese in Canada) one would think that this would be a disease that someone caught.

Declaring it a disease, is not something I would agree upon. It is getting out of hand when we have children starting to get illnesses from being obese. I would stop short of calling it a “disease”. Yes, there are some people who would have a higher chance of gaining weight, but that could be muscle, not fat. In the strength world , these  “easygainers” are the epitome of those struggling to put on muscle mass. But with no exercise and poor eating habits, eventually more fat will be put on; but that goes for the general population too.

I listened once, on the radio, to a plastic surgeon being interviewed, and how he was saying that it’s not his patience fault that they got fat, it’s the society we live in. He said if they were born 100 years ago, they wouldn’t be fat. Lifestyles have changed he states. I do agree that, unlike the “old days”, we have become more dependent on vehicles, and that there’s more processed foods then before. But to say that it’s not their fault…I don’t think so. We have simply gotten lazier and making bad choices.

I cannot disagree that they’re is a lot more garbage food out there. The market it like crazy for one goal, money. Even though, I don’t see how we can blame these companies in making us eat it? Nobody has ever forced me to eat that crap.

Blame the parents, not the companies

There is an argument that they prey their products on children who don’t know any better. But who buys it? The parents. I believe it’s a parents obligation to set an example , and teach their children a healthy lifestyle. If you see an obese child, there’s a very good chance that their parents are too.It’s way to easy to blame someone else for one’s situation, than facing the fact that it’s you that has caused this.

So what was the decision behind declaring obesity in the U.S.? They say they want to have more public awareness programs etc. I think there’s plenty of info out there for people to get. It’s sad when the government has to step in and regulate everything. If we all stopped eating garbage, those companies will see the change in their incomes, and have to make drastic changes. We have lost our discipline.

By declaring obesity a disease, the medical field could get more money too. pharmaceutical companies will be research the magic diet pill, and the doctors could push them=$. Plastic surgeons would get government support for doing fat reducing surgeries=$.


Stop the blame. Look in the mirror, and tell yourself that you can make a change.


Bad Habits


Bad habits are like an anaconda, once they enwrap you, your bad habits, like the anaconda’s deadly crush, will destroy you.

It's coming!

It’s coming!

The bad habits I am talking here in this article are not the small petty things like forgetting to put the cap back on the toothpaste, but of bad habits that can destroy us in the long wrong. Habits such as smoking, drug use, excessive alcohol use, eating unhealthily, and not exercising.
We’ve all falling into some sort of bad habits. There are some habits that we might think are harmless now, but can accumulate and cause much harm to oneself. Don’t fool oneself to say it’s too hard to be “good”. It is much easier than we think, moreover to suffer the consequences of our bad habits. It is a little difficult sometimes to resist temptation, because our senses try to entrap us. But once you get into doing good  habits , it will be more difficult  to continue one’s  bad habits, because you shall be aware and conscience of the harm that can be done by continuing one’s bad habits. You will understand the law of Cause and Effect.
There is no fun in having bad habits, its harm destroys all the fun. It satiates the mind so that soon these is no longer any joy for example in over-eating,  or in over-indulgence of any of the senses. If in anything you overdo, remember, you are under the influence and in the grip of bad habits.

An example would be if you are overweight with medical problems, but you continue to eat and drink poorly and never exercise, why continue these bad habits knowing they are doing harm.

Why continue?!

Why continue?!

Just as crime doesn’t pay, so bad habits don’t pay, because they will destroy your health and happiness and peace of mind, and they will also set a bad example for those who depend and care for you. You must strive to conquer harmful habits now. Don’t be afraid,  nor weak, stand up and be proud of oneself. Stay away from the things that stimulate you bad habits and always choose good substitutes that will bring you peace of mind and a sound, healthy body.

Temptations are alluring and mighty, but with stronger will one can overcome them. No matter how many times you fall, you can rise again. But when you admit defeat, then you are lost, and with this loss one will lose one’s health and happiness.


Seek your happiness