Clubkozak-Pancrase Montreal
News and updates

Mar
14

Why did I quit FIAS? (Federation International Amateur de Sambo)

This a question I get from several people in the Sambo world. I was the Canadian representative for FIAS from 2000-2005, by being the president of the National Sambo Association of Canada.

Before creating this association I asked other Sambo gyms in Canada ( at that time there was my gym, Club Kozak  and two in Ontario, which later dissolved several years later) on the idea of creating a national Sambo federation. One of the instructors of a gym in Ontario had his own “universal” Sambo federation and had on his resume that he was the rep for Canada for FIAS, but in reality wasn’t active with FIAS for some time.

I got my curiosity to compete at the Sambo worlds in 2000, which were held in Kyiv, Ukraine. I contacted FIAS and the reps of the American federation of the process to enter. I also contacted another Sambo instructor, whom was located in Ontario and had on his resume that he was the official rep for Canadian FIAS. I mentioned that I wanted to represent Canada at the worlds, but he didn’t seem to enthusiastic about it. I later found out that he wasn’t an active FIAS member for some time. Finally communicating with  FIAS, they  encouraged me to participate.

At the Sambo worlds in Ukraine.   Some members of FIAS urged me to create a Canadian Sambo  federation, even thought I got no response from the other Canadian Sambo gyms. When I returned to Canada I registered a non-profit organization: the National Sambo Association of Canada. I tried to get some sort of sponsorship, but being such a tiny group, no one would pay attention.

For the years as president, apart from minuscule amount from individual memberships, I ended up paying the majority of the yearly fee to FIAS for Canada. I was asking myself really what was the point anymore to have this federation?

FIAS was having their election for a new president. There was much talk going around, positive and of course negative about certain people wanting to run. One of them went to come visit me, and actually managed to bring one of the other Sambo instructors from Ontario ( the other one vanished!) I thought this was interesting, but at the same time wondering why after all these years the other instructor decided to come and talk with me?

We talked about the sad state of Sambo in Canada. They were saying that the is a bright future for the sport here. The upcoming president promised me that he would help and finance a Canadian Sambo championship, should he become president( there’s always a catch!)The other instructor was finally interested in joining my federation, but in the end never did and actually stopped teaching and left Canada.

A new president was voted in. I help to vote for him, believing his promises. After he got in, I contacted them and asked about his plan to make a Sambo championships here in Canada. The response was that I pay my membership fee then we’ll talk. I mentioned to him, why such small member countries, like Canada, pay the same membership fee as the large ones(eg. Russia) whom have government sponsorship and many members. I was given no answer. The question arose again: “What’s the point?” I was not getting new students to my gym by being president nor rep for FIAS. So I decided to tell FIAS that I would not partake anymore. I could not see any reason for staying on as Canadian rep for FIAS.

I got no reply from FIAS, nor any attempt to discuss with  me about my decision. I was shocked that days after, FIAS announced on their website that I “retired” from Sambo. Retired I thought?! Strange.

Since then I disbanded the National Sambo Association of Canada, and created an independent federation, the Canadian Combat Sambo Federation, that has no ties nor affiliations with any international Sambo groups. Strangely, since the creation of this independent federation, there has been more interest throughout Canada for Combat Sambo!

After leaving FIAS there was a empty hole left for representing Canada. Someone started claiming to be the new rep for Canada, because we was asked by FIAS. There were doubts among many people about this , and is claim disappeared.

Recently there are 2 groups within Canada fighting over who is the real rep for Canada. Each on claims they are the real one. One group wanted my aid. I agreed as an adviser, but quickly took away my decision as I saw the foolishness that was happening again. It seems people are one power trips to claim they are the president and rep for FIAS, while in reality , nothing is to be gained and nothing is being done.

Mar
13

gunnews

With the shooting massacre that killed many in Connecticut USA some  months ago, the topic of guns and gun controlled is being discussed again, even here in Canada. It was a shocking event because the vast majority of the victims were young children. So what is my view on guns?

As my students and those that have trained with me, they know I have used handguns and rifles, and occasionally go to the gun range to fire handguns.  Even though this, I do not own a gun. I would us my friend’s or rent one at the gun range. Personally, I don’t have the urge to own one, and if I would, I would to have it locked up in an extremely safe place, so to prevent others access to it.

   Coach at gun range

As the gun debate rages on, people may wonder where I stand. Guns are part of our society and will always be there. They have their usage: hunting, defense and sport. I believe a main concern is what short of guns should be given access to people. I really don’t think one needs a high-powered assault rifle for hunting, nor does one need a sub-machine gun for self-defense. Those types of firearms belong to the military or the police, not for civilians.

Keep high powered guns to those who need it.

Keep high-powered guns to those who need it.

The debate for guns used for self-defense is divided one too. One side believes that guns have no place for self-defense as having them around can give access to criminals to steal them from gun owners, and have them on the streets for malicious intent, or if a loaded gun was accessible to young children, terrible accidents can happen. The other side insists that owning a gun would drop crime and enable people to defend themselves. If it was locked up in a safe place , by the time it is ready the crime is done. But if, one would imaging a horrific crime to unfold, such as rape on a loved one, if a gun was accessible, perhaps the crime would succeed.

Perhaps a good policy would be that certain firearms be permitted but strictly demand potential owners to take proper training courses in the usage and require follow-up training, just as one needs for First- Aid or CPR training. Not just allow anyone to go and purchase a gun at a gun shop. Also limit the types of guns on the market too. Firearms have their place, but they are not a toy.

Another main issue is our society now. Firearms were around before, but why were there less shootings then, people ask. It could be our  upbringing of children.

If there was always people who possessed guns several years ago (eg. ‘50s / 60s) why were there less mass shootings. The types of guns perhaps, lower population or maybe society has changed. People are still people. The upbringing of children and social interactions have changed. There are more split-up(divorced) families, children are put it daycare faster than before, kids spend more time in front of the screen either watching tv or playing video games, rather than moving their bodies and playing. I am not going to dwell on what is the proper way to raise ones children, but just pointing out that the changes in our recent society may lead to some answers on why gun violence is on the rise.

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is a common quote for  gun supporters. Others disagree with this , saying that it is easier to kill more people with guns than others handheld weapons. It is true that using a high-powered automatic gun, one can do more damage and kill more people in a shorter period of time.  There is some truth in the saying as no matter what weapon a killer uses, the intention to kill is still there. Here in Canada, we have more killings by knives, because they are easier to purchase than a gun, but we don’t need a license for knives.

This debate can go on, and will go on in the future. In closing, guns will always be around us, but they should be treated not as something lightly, rather be used and controlled in a proper and safe manner.

Dec
25

bullyB

Bullying is a recent topic that has hit the media by storm. It is the theme of the year for many schools, here in Quebec too.

Due to recent suicides here in North America caused by being bullied, the topic of school bullying is out there.

Bullying isn’t a local problem, its international. Japan, where I live for over 5 years, has a bigger issue of bullying than here. The cases of suicides related to bullying far outnumber the ones happening here. My years in the mid-90s until now, I constantly read of reports of school bullying suicides. It’s sad to always hear about it.

Bullying isn’t something foreign to me. I was a victim of bullying for many years in my years of junior high school. Why me? I would ask myself. I would assume now, that it was my small physical size at that time, and wore glasses. So I would be an easier target. It was frustrating to face this day to day, but I gathered my courage and took a stand.

I began training in martial arts at the age of 12, and it did definitely aid me in gaining courage. Of course, I still got beat up (might of have been a different story if I started Combat Sambo at that age!) but I kept on getting up. I was fortunate also to have some friends that would back me up.  Because of this persistence, the bullying got less and less.

So what has changed from by school days to these days? Technology has some part in it. With community networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, people have become easier targets for bullying. People are bullying in larger groups than before, and there is very little face to face contact. Just as there are several people “trolling” online on martial art forums, it’s easier behind ones computer or cell phone to make fun or put someone down, than to do it in front of their face.

An individual would more unlikely act in bullying, but as a “faceless” group they want to be part of that “group” (which bullies someone) to feel wanted, and hopefully not become a target themselves of bullying. This is has been seen globally , in reference to  Communist Soviet Union or Nazi Germany, where people joined either the Communist party or the Nazis, not so much as a belief in it, but fear for themselves and survival.

Teachers themselves hold responsibility to keep bullying at bay. There have been reports of teachers who knew a child was being bullied, but turned a blind eye to the issue. I guess they thought it’s too much for them to get involved, but that is their job, not just to teach a subject, but to guide their students in a proper way in life.

Many people will acknowledge there is a problem of bullying in our society, but few come up with solving the problem. Honestly I don’t think there is an easy solution to the problem.  First of all, why does one become a bully? Are people born bullies?  I don’t think it’s a genetic factor, but more of a “troubled child” issue. What I mean by “troubled” are children with family issues; meaning abuse, or lack of attention. We can think we are raising our children properly by giving them all the material goods they seem to want, but deep down affection and care is the best gift one can give to one’s children.

Solution? Well, if there’d be better family upbringing, we might have fewer bullies. But the question is what to do when one is bullied. Many people might not agree on my stand, by I favor a “fight back” attitude. Yes, we can dissolve a threat with words, but in a kid’s world, de-escalating with words usually doesn’t work. One could ask or beg to stop, but deaf ears come, even in the adult world.

Fight back now_1

Take in my case in the past. I could ask to stop harassing me, but that didn’t work, because I was outnumbered or less physically superior. So, I took my case to retaliating.  I still remember to this day, fighting it out in the school field. I was fortunate to have some friends to aid me. We kicked back, almost hitting the others head. A teacher saw this and yelled out. I was afraid of getting suspended. The teacher knew I was being bullying and took me aside and said:” next time, hit them lower, so no one would know!” Once I heard that, I understood it was Ok to fight back, within reason.

bully exposed.006

Bullies, in general are weak. They seek attention, because perhaps they lack it at home. Fighting back brings this attention to them, and in most cases stops their bullying. I have noticed that, even to this day and with adults, that if one puts “one foot down”, the aggression ceases.

Hopefully people will understand my stance, and that bullying in decrease in the coming years. If we continue to talk about it, but take no action or ignore this growing problem, it shall continue on.

Nov
18

Systema

This is  one of the most  frequent questions  I get from many  people.   As both are Russian martial arts, what is the difference and are they related?

I am not going to go into the whole history of Combat Sambo or Systema, but rather give a simple and clear  explanation of their differences.

Systema is purely taught as a self-defense system. Systema students  rarely enter competitions, as they are not promoted or much encouraged to compete. Combat Sambo has its own “sport” Combat Sambo competitions, which resemble MMA with a jacket. Of course entering a competition is not for everyone, but it is a way to express oneself and to “see” if ones techniques can handle pressure.

Combat Sambo includes training street self-defense techniques too. There might be some similar techniques between the two styles, but it is in the way the training is done. In Combat Sambo pressure i.e. resistance, is given during training. When we learn , for example a knife defense technique, we would gear up in protective gear and try to apply. The “assailant” would really try to “stab” you, and would continue to apply resistance against you. Therefore, it is like sparring with a weapon. Resistance is applied. In the majority of Systema training, very little or no resistance is given;” going with the flow” is the way of training.

Systema training is done mainly without the jacket, but rather with a t-shirt. As most people would say that we don’t  wear a gi on the street. As my article mentions, training with a jacket is more practical for realistic street self-defense training, especially in   a cold climate country.

 

Systema has, at its higher levels, defending against assailants using no-contact. It is “psychic” techniques, as in other Asian martial arts that use Ki to repel their opponent. I have personally seen this type of training in Japan in some styles of Aikido, as can been seen in this video. Does this work?I cannot say personally as I never trained in it nor been “hit” by psychic/ ki attacks.

Finally, it is said that Systema is the style taught to the Russian Special Forces. I myself do not know anyone there, so I cannot tell. As for relatives of mine who were in the Ukrainian Army, they were taught the basics of Combat Sambo, simple and easy techniques, to be battle ready in no time. Of course firearm training was the main part, as this was the military, not civilian life. I have seen demonstrations of the Ukrainian Special Forces, and did not see any resemblance to Systema, but rather Combat Sambo. As this video will show.

 

Oct
22

                                

This is a less complicated search to see the difference between these two styles. The major and biggest difference is Judo has become purely a combat sport, whereas Combat Sambo has both sportive and personal self-defense training.

Combat Sambo has deep roots with Judo. A vast majority of the throws and submissions are based from Judo. Changes in grips and applications evolved. Throws from other former Soviet republic wrestling styles where added in.

Many of the same submission are seen in both styles. Leg locks where once part of Judo, in the days of its development, but gradually disappeared as Judo become more sportive in its approach.

As Judo is a pure grappling style, strikes are not taught, nor defense against strikes.

As for self-defense, it would be very hard to find a Judo dojo that teaches street self-defense training. There are self-defense techniques, but are usually done only in the Judo Katas to pass the belt tests. There are not many techniques taught for self-defense, nor are there pressure training drills as seen in Combat Sambo. This does not mean that Judo is useless for self-defense. A well trained Judoka, in my view, would do better in a street altercation, than an untrained person.

Judo has become over the years more and more a sport, due to its inclusion into the Olympics. There is very little influence on ground fighting, due to the fact that there is little time given to ground fighting in competition..The majority of Judo matches are won via standing throws. Therefore, during Judo training, little emphasis is done for ground fighting.

Finally, Combat Sambo training is done with shoes, unlike Judo and also BJJ. Why shoes? Well don’t most of us wear shoes outside the majority of the time? Sambo shoes are much lighter and more flexible than wrestling shoes, giving less potential for twisted ankles and knees, but give enough protection for the toes against twisted toes and broken toenails (which I myself got, grappling barefoot). So why do other styles train barefoot? This comes from the Japanese custom of removing ones shoes indoors. One would remove their footwear, and train barefoot. Sambo shoes, as with wrestling shoes are used only during practice, not outdoors, eventhougth I have seen people wrestling shoes on the street(!)

Yes, Sambo shoes do look cool!

Oct
17

There are several common points between both systems. In first, they are both grappling based systems. In the grappling sense, the main difference is that Combat Sambo emphasizes more throwing, and takedown techniques. Many BJJ gyms start their sparring on the ground, and very infrequently teach takedown techniques. The assumption is that that the fight will end up on the ground, so why bother learning several takedowns. In Combat Sambo, takedowns are important, first they can damage your opponent by the fall itself and secondly, a good takedown puts you in the top position, a place a Combat Sambist wants to be.

Combat Sambo is mainly top-position. Meaning, rather than opting to fight from the bottom, one will prefer to get the top position. In competition (Combat Sambo or MMA), one has striking power and, more importantly, in the street, one doesn’t want to get caught in the bottom position, especially if one is faced against several assailants.

Lace ’em up! Leglocks

Combat Sambo is known to apply more leglocks than BJJ. That doesn’t mean that one won’t learn them in BJJ, but rather attacking the leg is seen as a valuable tool. The reason behind it comes from the street Combat Sambo mentality. Injuring the leg of an assailant, creates a better chance to escape the confrontation. Breaking an arm, the assailant can still run after you, a broken leg, much harder to chase you.

Nasty knives!

In Combat Sambo, one learns striking techniques and learn very practical techniques for street self-defense, such as defense vs. weapons (edged (eg.knife), blunt (eg. Baseball bat) and firearms (eg.handgun). Controlling techniques are also an important part of the Combat Sambo curriculum.

In conclusion, Combat Sambo can be seen as a more complete style, covering an all-around fighting system, not mainly for sport grappling purposes.

Enjoy!

Sep
02

Image

 There are many people out there with serious pain. Yet, there are just as many people abusing painkillers, to the point of being addicted to them.

Painkillers are prominent everywhere, from your average person, to the elite athletes. I am writing about this, because a close person has problems with these painkillers.

We all have taken some sort of painkiller. They are readily available at your local pharmacy. From headaches, to body aches, we have all taken them, so have I. For serious injuries, I have taken aspirin with codeine( available here in Canada, behind the counter, no prescription necessary) The codeine dose is quite low, but can be “happy candy” for those needing their next “hit”. I was given morphine pills by a doctor, when I went to the hospital walk-in, when I had severe lower back pain  many years ago. My point is here, they are easily available, and sometimes dispensed like candy.

I always read about elite athletes who ahve gotten hooked on painkillers. I thought to myself: ” how the hell does one get hooked on those?!”. Now, having to deal with someone close to me, who has this problem of being addicted to them.

ImageMany elite athletes use painkillers to continue their pro career. The problem is, that by using them over the years, they actually become addicted to them. I’m not talking about your Tylenol or Aspirin, but the “hardcore” pescription painkillers here.

I did some research on these pescription painkillers, and some are really hardcore. Anti-inflammatories are included, but they  also contain opiates or barbituates to relax and ease the pain. These opiates are the ones that people end up addicted too.

There are poorer areas here in North America, that have people addicted, not to crack or heroin, but to certain painkillers. There are certain painkillers that instantly relieve ones pain, but they are way too good. One can get a “high” with them. That’s the trap.

There are many difficulties with dealing with a painkiller addiction. First off, its legal. If one would try to buy a hit of heroin, one is committing an illegal offense. But if one takes painkillers, thru a prescription, no problems. But this is a problem. There are loopholes. One could have different doctors (best example,walk-in clinics) and get several prescriptions for the same painkiller. From there, one can go to different pharmacies and get the same pills. These pharmacies are companies and act apart from each other, and don’t share info. So, get different prescriptions, go to different pharmacies, space the time out between each doctor and each pharmacy, and one could get painkillers for life..legally.

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Another difficult issue is that  we are dealing with pain. Its difficult to be in pain, and worse to see someone ,especially someone close to you , in pain. Cause and effect. One takes the pill, one feels better. I understand. When I have severe pain, I’m bitter and get angry easily.

So, its easier to get away with it. If one sees someone constantly drinking booze, we think he’s an alcoholic.Its hard to defend it. If one takes painkillers, one can easily defend oneself that they are in constant pain ,and “you wouldn’t understand how much pain I have!”

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Whose to blame? The person, society, the pill makers? First of all, I truly believe we are responsible for our own actions. Stop blaming someone else. Look at oneself. You are taking them. Admit the problem and seek help. There are good people out there to help those who need it.

I also blame the great western medicine (yes, there are great things that come from it) but also bad. We seem to hold to much faith in it. Some of these pills for many illnesses are way too powerful, that they cause other medical problems. As for the pill-making companies, yes, they do make life saving pills, but we must not forget, they are companies and do want to make money.

Alternative medicine might be a nice solution. I love the name “alternative” medicine; this was what people were using for many, many years, before the “science” came in. Many people think its crap. Yes, there is crap on both sides. Just as I’ve been to horrible acupuncturists and chiropractors, I’ve been to terrible medical doctors. It took some time, but I found a great acupuncturist and chiro, as well as a great medical doctor. Just like some natural remedies, some work for me, and some don’t. But please don’t judge it because its not Western medicine.

Jul
31

As the fitness industry grows high, ther are its lows. I get a pain in my neck, everytime I read of an MMA training program from “fitness gurus” who have never competed in anything resembeling MMA.

These experts even offer MMA conditioning instructor certifications to their followers. Their MMA background considers of some early years of Karate, and have watched re-runs of pro MMA matches on TV. This, they assume makes them an expert in the field.
If someone came to me and asked for a hockey(or some other sport) conditioning program, I would say I could aid them, but would try to guide them to a more capable trainer in the field. Just because I played street hockey and watched some games, doesn’t make me an experrt in it.

MMA has hit mainstream. Its a good thing as it gest better coverage. But the flip side is , as I have emntioned in a previous blog, MMA ” experts” are coming out from high and low.

As I tell everyone: be honest with yourself and towards others.

Jun
13

It seems everywhere I look in the fitness and martial art industry; everyone seems to have certifications from A to Z. If there’s something new and fashionable in the industry, people are running out to get certified in it.
I’m not knocking down certificates, I do think they are useful, but I feel some people view them as more important than the actual person teaching. There are trainers out there with certifications coming out of their ears; but when one sees their actual knowledge and skills, one questions all those carts.
Many times a month, I get people wanting to get certified as a Combat Sambo instructor thru me. Yes, I do offer this, but it takes some time, and must go thru two levels, even before one can become an apprentice instructor. Notice the word, apprentice, doesn’t mean a full instructor. Some people are insulted when I tell them that they have to go thru all the steps before getting one. They say they have years of experience in this and that, so why can’t I just get the cert? It would be like me saying the same thing back. No, if I wanted to learn a new style or technique form someone else, I too would go thru the steps..it only makes sense.
It seems everyone wants to become an instructor right away, without going thru the first steps. There are places that feed this need, by offering certs to teach, by making an application, and of course, paying the fee.
Of course there are teachers out there with many certifications, who are highly skilled. My main point is that people try to be impressive with all their certifications, and it all ends up a huge circus act.

 

May
22

I had a great opportunity to be able to train with the pro-fighters of the Pancrase affiliated fighters. These fighters are under the group the name Pancrasism.

Their training started at 12 noon. It started off with light warm up, the 2-3 rounds 3 min shadow boxing. From there, we did takedown entries, back and forth( you go-he goes). Then came the main, sparring. It was 5 min. rounds with 30 sec(!) breaks. You went with as many as possible. The day I was there was grappling( from stand-up…yes!!) those having a match soon did MMA sparring.

From there, we did a circuit training. Circuit was sprawls-jumping lunges with weights-get ups with weights-box jumps(done on ring). This was done 2-3 times. Then was abs. Crunches and hip raises with feet on wall. We finished off with weight on back and doing static push-up holds and modified push-ups.

ImageCircuit training

We cooled down and ended of with meditation.

ImagePancrasism fighters and me

What I like about training here is that the gym is simple, just like Club Kozak. No high-tech ,in-style training facility. Their tools are simple, but the heart and spirit is very strong. I find that people get entranced with in-fashion and intricate gyms, when the simplistic ones can offer the most.