Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

BJJ Promotions

Posted: May 18, 2017 by Donna in Uncategorized
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Promotions are responsibilities, not gifts.

If you really want to own a black belt, you can buy one on Amazon for less than $15. But without it being earned, it is an accessory with no meaning.

It’s also not something you choose for yourself, aside from the effort you put into your own development. Promotions are chosen for you, by a mentor experienced enough to know your progress and put it into context better than you can. That’s the thing about progress – it’s never linear, and is incredibly difficult to see clearly from the inside. Almost no one feels they’re fully at the next level yet, so there’s an adjustment period where you “grow into” your new belt.

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That being said, there are minimums and standards for being promoted. Here’s my take on what the expectations are at each belt level. Technical ability develops throughout, but it’s only one facet of BJJ learning.

White belt: The beginning. The focus is on learning, on developing a new instinct, and on physically learning the motions. This is where the humbling process begins, where we learn strength is not the greatest virtue.

Note: Children have an additional three belts – yellow, orange, and green – which mark their progression before they are at least 16 and eligible for their blue belt.

Blue belt: Students demonstrate proficiency across the basic positions, attacks, and escapes. Students should already be showing mentorship to their training partners and demonstrate a commitment to each other and to the sport.

IBJJF minimum: None

Purple belt: Purple belts demonstrate an understanding of advanced positions, attacks, and escapes, as well as the concepts and body mechanics behind them. Students should be adopting the philosophy of jiu-jitsu in their life, including through strong mentorship and teaching skills, and an eagerness to impart knowledge to others.

IBJJF minimum: 2 years from blue belt

Brown belt: Students are giving back to the BJJ community. At brown belt level, students are continuing to develop a wide array of techniques to a high level of proficiency and regularly engage in teaching/mentoring.

IBJJF minimum: 1.5 years from purple belt

Black belt: Beyond giving back to the BJJ community, black belts demonstrate strong leadership. They show an interest in continued learning and evolving their skills, as well as an eagerness to share with the community.

IBJJF minimum: 1 year from brown belt

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Some students are eager to climb the ranks, and their belt is a huge source of pride. Others try to deliberately avoid promotions, skipping seminars and dodging responsibilities. Here’s the truth: you are where you are, stripes or not. It’s only a matter of whether your rank matches your abilities.

*Note: What specifically is taught in class, how it is taught, and examples used are subject to the instructor, their level and experience. These posts are not an excuse to miss class as they are only a snap view of what skills are covered.

My Wife, Krav Maga, and I: A Love-Hate Relationship

Posted: November 1, 2016 by Forge Fitness + Martial Arts in Uncategorized

A few weeks ago, we published an article from BJJ instructor Donna Marion about the perks of having a partner who trains in the same sport. Krav Maga instructor Josh Hensman decided to share his experience from the perspective of his wife, who does not train, on how Krav Maga impacts their relationship.

JoshAt the time that I first met my partner over 6 years ago, I was not training in any martial arts. Many years before meeting her, I had done karate, had dabbled in Wing Chun Kung Fu, and played with Capoiera. I decided to start training in Krav Maga relatively early in our relationship, so maybe she did not feel like she had much say or impact on what I did in my life at the time.

In hindsight, that was probably lucky. My wife admits to having a love-hate relationship with me… the Krav Maga practitioner me. She loves to see me doing something I enjoy immensely, but she hates to see me come home with bruises, scrapes, strains and sprains. So what does my wife think of her husband training in this intrinsically pragmatic self-defense system? 

My wife’s perspective of Krav Maga

Me: What were your first impressions when you found out I was learning KM?

Her:  There were definitely mixed feelings of excitement and sadness. Excited that you found something you were so interested in partaking and sad that it meant you were going to be even busier than you already were. Keep in mind, at the time I didn’t know what Krav Maga was aside from a style of self defense.

Me: What did you think when I started coming home injured?

Her: I was concerned. It shocked me how bruised you would be sometimes after KM, but more concerned that you didn’t seem bothered by it. I was quite upset at you a couple of times. You had some injuries that were more serious: muscle and ligament injuries, and head and neck injuries. I mean, some of these could impact you for the rest of your life!

Me: What did you think of KM when you tried it?

Her: I thought KM was super cool. I didn’t feel too out of place in class and I learned a couple of self-defense techniques I hadn’t known before. We practiced over and over again the head butt, eye gouge, ear clap and running away. Oh! And let’s not forget the painful 360 block – bruises all along my arms. I definitely felt a tad more confident walking out the doors.

Me: Has your perspective changed as time has gone by? How?

Her: I still think KM is a super cool and useful! I’d say it over and over again – KM is a very unique style of self defense as it’s effective and suitable for anyone to learn.  I personally went back to KM couple more times hoping to continue learning different techniques, but found myself learning the same techniques and that demotivated me to continue.  I do understand that practice makes perfect – I just don’t have the patience for it.  

Me: Does having a husband who knows KM make you feel safer?

Her: I hate to admit it, but yes.  That doesn’t mean I’ve felt unsafe before you started KM, I just feel more safe seeing the techniques KM teaches and watching you practice at home. It also makes me feel safe knowing you are personally safe wherever you are.  

She loves Krav Maga because…happy-wife-happy-life

She loves me. Being such a loving and considerate person, my wife loves to see me happy. She knows that training in Krav Maga makes me happy.

But she hates Krav Maga because…

She loves me. (Editor’s note: Awww!) Since my wife cares for me so tremendously, she intensely hates seeing me get hurt. For example, when I recently did my Green Belt Test, she couldn’t bring herself to come and watch. But, she did look after me in the aftermath!

Where to draw the risk-reward line in Krav Maga?


As one of the lead KM instructors at UTKM says, “Happy Wife, Happy Life.”
I tiptoe the line and try to practice sensibly to avoid major injury. However, if I sustain a major injury, I will always choose to put my wife and family first. This may mean indefinitely hitting pause on higher level Krav Maga training, particularly the high intensity and high risk components. But hey, that means instead of practicing, I can spend more time teaching Krav Maga. There is always a silver lining!

Locked ‘n’ loaded in Tel Aviv

Posted: September 27, 2016 by borhanjiang in Uncategorized
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I have traveled around the world, encountered and observed many places, and from my experience, there is no country like Israel. Once, I was sitting in a cafe in Tel Aviv’s central bus station on a Sunday morning, and looking out I can see uniform-clad young men and women carrying weapons returning to their bases. Tourists watch in awe at the sheer amount of weapons being carried on the streets. Residents pass by without even seeing it.

It is a normal part of their lives.

Taking a closer look, I see that not every weapon is the same, nor are their owners. Each weapon is different. Some have carrying handles, some have flashlights, some are old, some are new, some are made out of plastic and some are made out of metal. Each soldier is also different. Their colorful unit shoulder tags, strings and berets tell people which unit they belong to and what kind of specialty they possess. Some soldiers wear their uniform like pajamas and others iron their shirt straight and tight.

A soldier’s personality is shown through his or her rifle

Throughout history, soldiers everywhere have put effort into decorating their swords, bows, knives and other weapons. It is not just for the sake of art, but to make a statement and show one’s character. However, none of these warriors of the past could have imagined that in today’s Israel, weapons would be part of the youth culture. In Israel, weapons take the place of the backpacks and sneakers worn in North America.

Soldiers with an antique model belong to either an armor or artillery unit, but in battle they use tanks or cannons, not their rifles. They are saying, “I only carry this rifle around because I have to, I do not think I will have to use this old piece of junk.” Soldiers with newer models are saying, “I am a first-line combat soldier and this is my pride and joy. I am cool because my rifle is the newest.” Additional gadgets, such as sights or an extra tactical foregrip, become a statement telling everyone, “Look! I am different from rest of you guys.”

It’s just like taking your phone with you

These young troops don’t just carry their weapons to and from the bases. They also have it on them while performing their ordinary daily routines: shopping, walking on the street, sitting down for lunch, or even kissing loved ones. I once saw a young soldier at a cafe using a laptop – she held her rifle between her legs to protect it, while drinking coffee and surfing the internet. Another intriguing sight was a young male soldier wearing a sleeveless tee, sandals, a backpack, and his rifle. The whole picture was an oxymoron. Is he relaxing? Or is he getting ready to fight? His outfit tells me he could be merely taking a stroll, heading to the beach, or waiting for a train, but his loaded weapon tells me otherwise.

In a country like Israel, carrying a weapon is a statement of youth. Rifles are often a statement of toughness and machismo, but in a place where being dauntless and courageous is everything, the warrior ethos is unisexual. Even before the creation of this nation, both men and women fought side-by-side here, protecting their homeland.

Once, I asked a young Israeli woman who had her rifle slung across one shoulder and her purse on the other, what was inside her purse. She said, “You know, the usual girl stuff: make-up, lipstick, tissues, and my extra M16 magazine.” In that moment, I realized that the Israeli saying was true, “If you are going to break a girl’s heart, make sure to do it when she is not carrying her rifle.”

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Gun culture is a normal part of growing up in Israel

Seeing these young soldiers with their duffle bags, rucksacks and weapons, I was violently awakened from the peaceful illusion of Tel Aviv. This country is at war. After a few days of comfort in their homes, these youth – barely old enough to buy a beer in Canada – are going back to their posts, checkpoints, tank turrets, jeeps, or the streets of Gaza. In contrast, most Canadian youth know nothing about self-sacrifice and giving some of their best years to serving their nation.

I know for sure that these young Israeli soldiers would prefer not to spend those three years of service in khaki uniforms, receiving less than $40 a month, and dealing with dangerous terrorists or boring paper work. They would rather use that time to do whatever they want, like travelling, working, or studying as young Canadians do. However, despite the hardship and dangers, every Israeli I have encountered tells me that he or she would do it again for their country.

Over a period of 4 days, from May 12 – 15, the Canadian National Judo Championships were held in the Olympic Oval in Calgary, Alberta.  Hundreds of athletes from across the country and most provinces traveled to Alberta and converged to compete in the highest level judo tournament of the year to decide who would be the 2016 Canadian National Champion for their respective divisions.  My 14-year old daughter Christine, who only began taking judo just two years ago, came in first place in her division and won a gold medal.  This is how she did it.

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Christine – right

From Krav Maga to Judo

Before Christine started judo, she wasn’t new to martial arts.  She was in the kid’s Krav Maga class for a couple of years so she was already fit and used to having the commitment that martial artists need in order to be successful.  The strong message from her Krav Maga instructor to stay off the ground resonated with her, and one day she asked if she could try judo so she could learn some techniques to use if she should find herself in a ground fight one day.  She discovered that she liked the elegance of judo and immediately wanted to test her skills in a competition when the tournaments started up again in the Fall.  Because Christine is rather light for her age, she has always been in divisions where there aren’t many other girls so her first real tournament had just two other competitors.  She came in first place, was bitten by the competition bug, and has been competing in the local tournaments ever since.

The strong message from her Krav Maga instructor to stay off the ground resonated with her, and one day she asked if she could try judo…

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Over the next year and a half, Christine competed in several tournaments–mostly local and travelling only as far away as Seattle.  Her first tournament in Seattle pitted her against green and blue belts when she herself was only a yellow belt, and although Christine didn’t win a single match, she looked at the situation objectively and didn’t let the loss get her down.  Christine knew she would likely lose but she decided that she would make those other girls earn their wins and she wasn’t going to give them anything.  Her spirit and self-esteem were strong, and she walked away from that tournament determined to one day come back and beat those girls in a future competition. She continued to compete in tournaments, both winning and losing, but always learning from her matches and taking that experience to the next one.  Her goal was to participate in the 2016 BC Winter Games and represent the zone for her division, and by this time she had earned her green belt.

Road to the Judo Nationals

1The BC Winter Games and the Judo Nationals were only 3 months apart, and Christine wanted to go to Nationals just so she could experience the environment of a high level tournament.  In order to qualify, one must attend training camps, specific selection tournaments, and a minimum number of BC Team practices.  The camps and team practices are grueling and tough, and it takes a certain level of will and commitment to be able to not let them get you down.  After the first team practice where Christine was tossed around like a rag doll, I sensed that she was at a low point and I asked her, “I bet you want to quit judo now, don’t you?”  She just nodded, “Yeah.”  It was a quiet ride home.  However, the additional training was not only helping her qualify for Nationals, but was also good preparation for the upcoming BC Winter Games.  She toughed it out and continued to fulfill the qualifications so she could attend Nationals after the BC Winter Games were out of the way.

She was at a low point and I asked her, “I bet you want to quit judo now, don’t you?” She just nodded, “Yeah.”

The BC Winter Games is a good multi-disciplinary sports event, but is not considered a very prestigious tournament in the judo world, primarily because the competitors are limited to BC residents only so the pool is not very large.  Even though there are eight zones in BC, there were only two other competitors in Christine’s division and unfortunately, just 3 weeks earlier Christine fractured her thumb in a Kamloops tournament and was advised by her doctor to not compete in the Games. In spite of her injury, Christine’s coach taped up her thumb and she competed regardless, eventually losing to a blue belt in overtime and winning silver.  Now her goal was to get healthy so she could be competitive at Nationals only 3 months later.

Christine’s goal going into Nationals was three-fold: (1) to experience the environment of competing in the highest level judo tournament of the year, (2) to win one match, if possible, and (3) if she didn’t win a match, then she’d give the other girls the fight of their lives.  Her first match was with the blue belt to whom she lost against in the BC Winter Games, and to whom160514-23 she’d lost twice before in overtime.  As the scoreless match was winding down, it looked like history was going to repeat itself for a fourth time when, with 8 seconds left, Christine forced a penalty on her opponent and she won the match.  She was ecstatic, and with tears in her eyes she walked off the mat into the arms of her colleagues who surrounded her and congratulated Christine on her win.

With that psychological monkey off her back, Christine couldn’t be stopped and ended up beating a green belt from Saskatchewan, another blue belt from Ontario, and a brown belt from Quebec to secure her first place win.  During the match with the green belt the other girl accidentally punched Christine as she was going in for a throw, and in the video you can clearly see Christine’s head thrown back.  The girl started to say “Oh, I’m sorry…” when Christine shook it off and threw her to win the match.

So what does it take to be a champion?

With every victory, there are usually several aspects that contribute to the win.  In Christine’s case, there were many factors: she had great coaching, strong camaraderie from her teammates, access to excellent training, she had the will to win and perseverance even when the going got tough.  She even reached out to a fitness instructor from UTKM to have him put together a personalized strength and conditioning program for her.  Christine doubts that she would have gotten as far without the proper support system in place, and is grateful to everyone who helped her progress.  In the next season Christine will be in a new division with older and heavier opponents, but she will be bigger and stronger as well, so who knows what will happen at next year’s Nationals.  If she keeps focused and continues to receive the support that’s in place, she should continue to do well.

She had the will to win and perseverance even when the going got tough.

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Christine – centre stage

 

Sports Drinks – Do You Need Them When Exercising?

Posted: March 19, 2016 by Forge Fitness + Martial Arts in Uncategorized
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So do you? Well, it depends…

Whenever I am at a gym, martial arts school or fitness centre I see guys (yes, mostly males) gulping down sports drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade, or something made from a powder. I often ask myself, is that drink necessary in this situation? To answer this I usually observe the individual’s activity, and more often than not, I answer my own question with a resounding ‘no’. I want to be clear though, there is a lot of confusion about sports drinks and hydration in general. Hopefully this brief article will clear-up some of the misinformation to help you understand how to drink effectively, and what to drink when you do.

Sports Drinks as a Marketable Product

Let’s be honest. We all know that nutritional supplements and ergogenic aids (performance enhancing supplements) are big business. They are huge in competitive and elite sporting circles, as they genuinely can give an edge to a competitor, and also because when the public see their favourite athletes slurping on a cold sports brew at half-time, this is good for sales. The companies that make them know that the real money is in marketing these products to the general population. So, companies have a vested interest in seeing sports drinks sold to Joe and Josephine Public in order to increase profit. Does that mean sports drinks don’t work or are unnecessary? Read on…

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What is a Sports Drink

For the purpose of this article a sports drink will be considered to contain electrolytes (sodium and potassium) and carbohydrates. Most commercial sports drinks contain both, but sometimes the electrolytes are missing. Typically a before and during exercise sports drink should contain 6-8% solutes, so a 500mL drink would 30-40 g of carbohydrate plus electrolytes. A post-exercise recovery sports drink would likely have a higher carbohydrate load.

The Importance of Being… Hydrated

Water has a number of important roles in your body. With 60% of your total bodyweight made up by water, suffice to say, if you run out of water you die. With only 1-2% of body water loss your heart has to work harder and your aerobic endurance decreases. Continued fluid loss ensures further consequences. When exercising, fluid loss is most likely from sweating, particularly in hot climates. The highest recorded sweat rate was 3.7 litres per hour, by Alberto Salazar when preparing for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games. Replacing fluid lost from sweating when exercising is very important. Rule of thumb, the more you sweat, the more you should drink.

When to Drink

It is a great idea to start drinking before you begin your exercise. During exercise a consumption rate of approximately 250mL every 15 minutes should be sufficient for really intense or long duration, sweaty training. For lower intensity or shorter exercise periods, periodically sipping water is fine. Remember not to wait until you are thirsty! Once you feel thirsty you are already 1-2% dehydrated. Continue drinking once you have finished exercising to ensure adequate recovery.

What to Drink

If you are going to be exercising for less than 45 minutes, then water alone is probably sufficient. Should that 45 minutes be high intensity, high sweat yielding exercise, it will be important to replenish both electrolytes and macronutrients soon after exercising, and a sports drink during/after the session might be worthwhile to decrease your recovery time.

Have you ever experienced muscle cramps during or after exercise? This is likely due to  a loss of electrolytes from your body through sweat. If you are anything like me, you will have noticed that sweat tastes salty. This is because it has a high concentration of sodium. Electrolytes are essential to effective muscle contractions, so when you are losing them quickly through sweating, you will need to replace them reasonably quickly. The fastest way – a sports drink. Longer duration vigorous exercise, high intensity exercise, and exercise in hot climates are three contexts in which using a sports drink does make sense.

Where sports drinks truly come into their own is competition events. If you are competing in a long duration (+45 minutes) event or have multiple events on the same day sports drinks can be vital to maintaining high performance. This is even more essential in hot climates or events that require high intensity physical work.

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Please use re usable water battles when possible.

To Drink or Not to Drink?

Definitely drink! If you are trying to decide whether that drink should be water or a sports drink, ensure that you consider the ambient temperature of the climate you will be exercising in, the intensity of exercise, and the duration of exercise, before making your choice.

Donna Marion is a BJJ Purple Belt and instructor at UTKM. In this podcast we discuss what its like being a respected BJJ player in a male dominated world. In addition we discuss self-defense and other sensitive topics.

Donna Marion Teaching

 

Taiwan BJJ Academy  台灣巴西柔術學院

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Taiwan BJJ is the most well known and established BJJ school in Taiwan. It can be said that Taiwan BJJ has truly contributed to the development of BJJ here in Taiwan. Personally, I also share some great memories with this institution. In 2009 I was a member of the Taiwan BJJ team that competed in the 2009 Bangkok BJJ International Open. The team was made mostly of members of Taiwan BJJ Academy, Evolution MMA and Tough MMA. We did an excellent job at the tournament. I personally won bronze in my division. Although the team was made of mostly members of Taiwan BJJ Academy, we were a cohesive team that trained and coached each other throughout the tournament.

Facility:

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The school used to be located near Taipei city hall and just like every other gym back then, it had only the bare essentials: mats……and that’s about it. The school back then was small and potentially dangerous to train at if too many members were there at once. The new gym however can only described as sexy. It is located in a huge basement with plenty of space, lockers, a shower room, changing rooms, front counter and a small shop. It has full-time staff at the front you can talk to instead of talking to the instructor and interrupting the class.

Coach:

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Professor Makoto and I

Professor Makoto Ogaswara is truly humorous fellow but takes his BJJ craft very very seriously. Professor Makoto Sensei is a first degree black under Wendell Master Alexander and André Pederneiras Nova União. Professor Makoto compete frequently internationally and he is also a true leader within the BJJ community here in Taiwan and I had personally receive many helps and instructions from him. In addition, professor Makoto ‘s Chinese has significantly improved compare when I first meet him.   He can now communicate fluently in Chinese and also teach BJJ in Chinese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impression:

The overall impression of the member’s fighting style is that they are very tight. Their movements are precise and more cautious compared to North American fighters. It also means there is less chance for you to attack. Some of the guys also have excellent stand-up game. This is not very common in the BJJ world.   The bottom video is one of their athlete I had the pleasure to roll against.

During my short stay and rolling with their members, I did not see lots of De La Riva, or X-guards among their members but I only roll with about 2 purple belt, several white belt 4 strips, 2 blue belts……etc.  Taiwan BJJ, as its title says, is a BJJ school. Their grappling style caters more to sports BJJ competition and less to MMA application. Generally speaking, different schools have different applications – some cater to BJJ competition like Budo MMA (Scott Boudreau, 4 times world champion and Mike Hansen 2014 NAGA Champion), Clinch MMA ( Sal Ram, champion makers of some the finest MMA fighters and top OneFC fighters in Asia, like Typhoon Paul Chen ) or a more self defense approach like Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

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Overall:

I would recommend anyone who is visiting Taiwan to train at Taiwan BJJ. It is professional, friendly and in some ways this school still has a pioneer spirit as the first serious BJJ school in Taiwan. It is just a bunch of people who like to roll and train.

Contact Info:

Website : http://taiwanbjj.org/en/taipei/

Address: Jilin Rd., #12-3, B1, Taipei, Taiwan
Tel: 02-2531-7383
Email: contact@taiwanbjj.org
Nearest MRT Station: Songjiang-Nangjing, Exit 3

 

 

 

 

My annual trip to Taiwan always takes me to the some of the best martial art
schools & MMA gymin Taiwan. The martial art culture and spirit deep within Taiwanese
people. Compare to Canada, the Taiwanese martial art community is subtle, small, and tight. Like or not, the Taiwanese society is not a big fan of martial prowess and less reveal about this type of culture. You would not know some of your friends, neighbor are martial art lovers unless they tell you.

Ranlee Muay Thai Gym 仁李泰拳館

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Impressions:

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Borhan in the middle

During my visit in Kaohsiung, the southern city of Taiwan, our Taiwanese UTKM instructor Pedro brought me to his Muay Thai Gym: Ranlee Muay Thai Gym. Training here is old school Muay Tai training: hard, tough and authentic. I would even say more authentic than the Muay Thai training I receive when I was in Vancouver. No offense to my Canadian Muay Thai trainer.Simply put – many North American Muay Thai gym has adopt its style more suitable for MMA purpose. Whereas in Thailand and Taiwan, Muay Thai stills remains more traditional and a Muay Thai gym can thrive by being single discipline focus. It would be difficult for the gym in Canada to do the same.

Coach:

Coach Ranlee is a veteran in Muay Thai world and remains closely connection with the Muay Thai community in Thailand and also Burmese boxing ( Lethwei ). Interesting background regarding Coach Lee; Coach Lee grows up in Burma as the descendants of the last KMT legions that got stuck in Burma. Some of these KMT soldiers later become the king pin of the infamous Golden triangle. There is a toughness and ruthless growing up in place and time like that. Burmese boxing ( Lethwei ) is quite similar to Muay Thai but allows head butt and use ropes instead gloves during a match.

Coach Lee also retain several formal pro-Muay Thai boxers such as Erik Massion from
Germany help him train new recruits. Both coach Ranlee and Erik Massion hold incredible pad works for their students and know when to push and when to cut the student some breaks. Holding pad for your students is another skill set that takes years to develop.

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Facility :12494797_1027151884015092_2694413682173487653_n

Overall, Ranlee Muay Thai Gym offers a very old school, self-made type of training experience, exactly like  gyms in Thailand. Everything is hand-made; from punching bags, boxing stages to signs. However, the teaching is top notch. Everyone in the gym breathes and lives Muay Thai as things should be in an Asian gym. This gym has produces some of the top notch fighters including our very own Pedro ( first UTKM instructor)

Overall:

When you are in Taiwan you have to come here and learn some Muay Thai here.

Location:

高雄市鳳山區光遠路120巷16號
4樓

phone: 0986 185 519

 

Unless you have been living under a rock, the media has been covering more and more situations involving death of a civilian by a police officer using a firearm. While the majority of these covered are out of the United States, there is occasionally such an event in another country that makes media headlines. Though it is not as widespread or as widely covered in a country like Canada, “death by cop” as the media often calls it, is something that happens whether you hear about it or not.

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In Canada’s case, the death of Sammy Yatim by Toronto Police constable Forcillo has been in headlines since it occurred in 2013. As I am writing this the date is January 25th and the verdict of the trial against Constable Forcillo which started in October has been announced.

The results are as such:

On the charge of Second Degree Murder – Not Guilty

On the Charge of Attempted Murder – Guilty

For a little bit more of a detailed breakdown of the trial and history of the events leading up to the trial see this National Post article:

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/jury-has-reached-verdict-in-trial-of-toronto-cop-charged-with-murder

Before I continue on with this, one of the main reasons the public went into a frenzy over this particular case was because within minutes of the death video footage of the event was made public on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lG6OTyjzAgg

Another video is the released footage from the bus can be seen here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dx2iQnYMQfM

First of all, if you found that disturbing, please take a breath and understand that this is the kind of thing that any and all police officers may have to face at any point, and before you sit and judge, ask yourself what you would have done in his place.

Of course, you most likely easily answered – oh, of course I would not have shot! But despite what many of you think, it is not such an easy decision to make, especially in the moment. Here is a short clip (Yes, I know its fox news but still, it makes the point clear) of an activist who is critical of police actions going through simulated real training:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfi3Ndh3n-g

OK! So let’s go back to the case. The question you have to ask is – how can someone be found guilty of attempted murder when the person in fact died, and then not be found guilty of more severe charges? Here is the first problem in logic with the verdict.

Does this mean I think he should have been charged with the more severe charges? I want to be perfectly clear, that NO, I do not think he should have been charged with any of these charges.

Now before you jump down my throat for saying that, you must understand this DOES NOT mean I think he should go unpunished.

Before I go on with my opinion on the events that occurred I would to establish that unlike most of you reading this, I am far more qualified to asses a use of force situation objectively. Why? Because I served in the IDF for two years, which in itself doesn’t mean anything but most of my active service was in the West Banking doing police work. There were numerous times when I faced potential threat to not only my health and wellbeing, but also to others, and I know exactly how I react in such situations. In addition I have dedicated my life to studying and teaching use of force through Krav Maga and firearms training. In addition, I am also a certified machine gunner and infantry sniper. But I am not here to talk about myself, but I would just like to give you some idea as to why my thoughts have a little more weight than the court of public opinion.

Ok, so let’s break down the event. Here are the facts that matter in my eyes:

  1. We have a knife wielding individual on a bus that has made threats to the general public
  2. Before the police arrived, passengers vacated the bus in a panic and Sammy remained on the bus
  3. Sammy is relatively contained in the bus
  4. There were multiple officers some, with guns also drawn but then re-holstered and others with guns still drawn
  5. The first 3 shots from the constable are potentially justifiable
  6. The next several shots were not really justifiable
  7. After shots were fired and Sammy went down, not one of the police immediately jumped in to either
    1. Take the knife away
    2. Offer immediate first aid until medics could arrive
  8. The constable has a history of misconduct among other things.

So 1 and two are fairly self-explanatory and I don’t think I need to get into this any further.

Number 3 -The fact that Sammy was in the bus with a knife and no hostages means that he was relatively contained, which should have made it more comfortable for the police to attempt to calm Sammy down. They could have (any or all of them, tried to calm him down with relatively little worry that he would harm others or themselves. This means that putting the fault for not to attempt to calm him down cannot be exclusively put on constable Forciillo because any one of the officers should have done this.

Number 4 – Many of the officers made the assessment that it was necessary to draw their weapons. This means that any one of them knew that they could have potentially needed to use lethal force. Some decided to re-holster because for one individual you really do not need that many guns drawn. In this situation, with Sammy contained, 1 or 2 drawn pistols would have been enough. If you are sitting there saying that they did not need to draw their guns at all then you are mistaken. They were in relatively close proximately and were under 21 feet which means that had they had their guns all holstered Sammy could have easily charged and stabbed any one of the officers before they drew their guns. If you don’t believe me, believe myth busters:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckz7EmDxhtU

This means drawing their guns at that range was 100% justifiable in any and all circumstances when a knife is present.

Number 5 – The first three shots are justifiable in the moment because Sammy walks into the bus then quickly turns to the door at a faster speed. IN THE MOMENT, not one of you could have determined if he was charging or not. If you assessed he was charging, which officer Forcillio clearly did, then the correct response is to shoot. This is a split second decision and making the wrong one could be fatal to more than just the knife wielder.

Number 6 – Because Sammy was already CLEARLY down the next round of shots is not really justifiable unless he was trying to get up and attack, which he was not. This action is most likely what caused the crown to seek charges in the first place and potentially caused the public to freak out (I say potentially because the public is generally very anti-police in Canada).

Number 7 – After the first 3 shots were fired and Sammy was CLEARLY down officer, Forcillo or any other officer for that matter should have immediately charged in to remove the knife and control Sammy, and then offer medical treatment. While I cannot specifically say why this was not done even though it is what should have been done, it is very likely that this comes down to Canadian police training which is what his defense attorneys are saying is why he took the actions he did. I have talked to many Canadian police officers and it is my opinion that due to their training they are severely lacking in hand to hand combat and arrest training, and as such do in fact rely a little too much on their firearms as a means to deal with a situation. This means that if training is a big factor, which is based on what I know and the lack of reaction from the other officers present that it is potentially the police force and the governments fault for such behavior.

Number 8 – This is a big reason why the constable should be punished. Due to his historic bad performance as well as the poor judgment and potentially negligent action causing death it is clear that no matter what happens he should not be allowed to continue as a law enforcement agent.

So why do I think finding him guilty of attempted murder is wrong you ask? The obvious is the logic of finding someone of attempted murder to someone who died is completely illogical but that’s far too easy an explanation.

In my opinion, charging a law enforcement officer of ANYTHING to do with murder when responding such a call, regardless of good or bad judgment, is wrong and irresponsible. This is essentially saying that anytime an officer uses lethal force against someone with a weapon even if it was a good kill, will potentially result in a murder charge for doing their job.

You may not think this is a big deal, but in a legal system based on common law, which all of Canada except Quebec uses, means that this case sets precedents. This means that any time an officer kills someone in the line of duty the Crown counsel can seek to use this case as a means for various murder charges. This also means that if this charge is to stick, all future judges and Juries may be required to use this case as a general standard for future decisions.

So you are now putting another legal hurdle in the way of officers from doing their job, which is protecting the public form unwanted harm.

This means that instead of simply forcing officers to continue to be judged by the court of public opinion which is based on emotion and BULLSHIT usually, there is now that, plus legal precedents working against them.

Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely scenarios when an officer should be charged with murder but these should be reserved for very specific unique scenarios that does not involve an officer doing their job.

For example a police officer just off work but is still in uniform with his firearm. Their neighbor whom they do not get along with just let his dog shit on their lawn. THAT’S It, the officer had enough draws is gun and shoots. This would be murder because it has nothing to do with the officer doing his or her job but rather is an emotional outburst resulting in death. Which, by the way, in Canada would be manslaughter.

So how do we solve this problem? Clearly In constable Forcillos case, he should no longer be allowed to continue as a police officer and should in the future not be allowed to do any work in a similar line of work.

I would like to point out that I do not find fault in the jury but rather in the Crown Counsel, the legal system and the government. This is because he clearly should have be punished, but the only option of the three charges they could punish him with was the lesser one. Because if they didn’t find him guilty of something then another bad cop (Which is an extreme minority, despite what you may think or what the media may say) gets to walk free. This would not only make the situation worse but most likely lead to protests and potential riots. As such, I think this verdict is more of a political decision than actual justice.

What should happen is the legal system and government should create a new charge. Let’s just call it for arguments sake extreme negligence and judgment in the line of duty. This new charge, would result in a criminal charge. Would result in a dishonourable discharge. Would result in a ban from any job of similar nature and would result in probation.

Such a charge would:

  1. Rid the force of any actual bad officers from a legal and moral perspective
  2. Prevent them from doing any such action again in the future
  3. Give them a criminal record
  4. Give them punishment in which the public so often demands.

Such a charge would NOT:

  1. Set legal precedence potentially further restricting officers from using legal force when required
  2. Continue to aggravate police public relations

So, Again, Forcillio should NOT be found guilty of anything to do with murder but he SHOULD be punished and SHOULD NOT be allowed to continue as a police officer.

Now with that being said there is clearly a BIG problem with training for the overall police forces in North America, but this is largely political and related to budget concerns.  This of course, is an issue for another article but is definitely a problem.

So before you jump on any anti-police bandwagon, please consider the following:

  1. Legal ramifications of any decision in court under common law
  2. The fact that you were most likely NOT there in the moment
  3. The fact that you most likely DO not have any training on the subject matter
  4. The fact that it wasn’t you in the moment and if you say you know how you would have reacted with no prior comparable experience, then sorry but you are lying to us and to yourself.

Regardless, there definitely needs to be improved relations between the police and the public lest we descend into either an anarchist state or a police state, because if things continue as they are these are, these are two potential devastating outcomes.