Teachers and Mentors

By Mike Suyematsu

I have had many great teachers and mentors in my life. Number one would be my Dad, Taro Suyematsu. He worked two and sometimes three jobs his whole life. He raised a family of five rowdy boys who never really gave him rest until the later years of his life. He had his share of dust ups and fights through out his life first as a young boy protecting my Aunts from “Jap” haters and later as a bartender.

Dad was big on teaching us boys to behave, but always gave us permission to stand up for ourselves. He hated bullies. I was raised in a small town where I stood out as a complete oddity being mixed race. I got picked on and jumped in school, at the park, on the way to the store, at the carnival, etc, etc.

One time when I was about 12, I was afraid to go to school because this idiot kept picking on me and I knew if I fought him I would get suspended. I told Dad about it and I remember our conversation like it was yesterday…

“Hey Dad I’m afraid I might get in trouble at school. This kid keeps on picking on me and he won’t leave me alone.”

Dad looked up from his dinner and asked, “Is this guy an idiot?”

“Yeah Dad he just won’t leave me alone and I don’t know what to do.”

“Mike, if this guy is an idiot you don’t have a choice. You can’t talk to an idiot. The only thing an idiot understands is pain. The only thing you do with an idiot is beat the shit out of him. He will understand that.”

The next day I got suspended from school. The idiot walked up to me in the hall before first period and started his shit. I lit him up with a single punch to the nose which dropped him into a pile of sobbing snot and blood.

It was the best day I ever had at school. Dad made me do chores and kept me busy for the three days I was off from school. I had lots of witnesses who came to the principal to testify that my actions were in self defense.

I had to apologize to the idiot, but everything was cool from then on. Pain is a great communicator. At that point, my Dad set my attitude in stone…

I have great respect for Dan Inosanto, Vut Kamnark, the sayoc system, etc. the reason I studied Martial Arts was not to compete, it was to save my ass. The number one thing you have to have is attitude. The system you learn may or may not work for you. You can develop tools, like punches, kicks, take downs and chokes. You can develop attributes like timing, speed, agility and strength.

But everything is worthless until the mind is engaged. Some of the absolute best fighters I have ever met have no name recognition. In fact some of them are dead or in jail. Most of them never opened schools or made it in to Black Belt Magazine.

Here is a short list of names of some of the most dangerous fighters I have ever trained with:

Henry R.
Alfred C.
Angel Cabales
Tony Blauer
Eric Shingu
Vince Lopez
Raymond Lopez
Mike S. (not me!)
Brandon B.
Ryan M.
Hank D.
Keith K.

I have left out the last name of some on the list because they are in prison or don’t wish to be identified. At least one of them is currently in a witness protection program. A few are active LEO’S, SWAT Officers, Snipers and have experience in MMA and Kick Boxing as well as BJJ. A few have killed doing crimes and a few have killed in the line of duty protecting us from the bad guys.

Most of my life has been spent looking for what works in the street. Ring sports like MMA and Boxing are sources of entertainment and knowledge. There is some overlap between ring or cage sports and street, but they are definitely not the same.

In order to train for the street you must include dealing with multiples opponents and opponents with weapons, single or multiple. It is in this arena that things get radically different than the cage or ring.

That being said, on the physical side of things you must be able to mount a good unarmed attack because you won’t in most cases have your weapon out and ready to in everyday life. Learning to take contact is critical. Anyone can do it, safely and scientifically with the right teacher and equipment. I love Tony Blauer’s High Gear just for that purpose. If you do MMA, Kick Boxing or Boxing, you can deal with contact.

Here is my first lesson for anyone who is interested in learning about learning to protect yourself or loved ones from a street assault.

1. Check out Tony Blauer’s Cerebral  Self Defense audio CDs.
2. Check out Marc McYoung’s website.
3. Pick up a copy of Rory Miller’s book, “Meditations on Violence

That’s it for now.

Take Care,

Mike

TAKU’s NOTE: Last December I mentioned that we would add some new articles about Self defense from one of our inner circle Mike Suyematsu. Well it took me a while to get around to it… Thanks to Mike S. for sharing some of his stories with us. I’ll be looking forward to many more in the not too distant future.

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COMING SOON!

I Wanted to take a moment to let folks know that one of our founding members Mike Suyematsu, will be creating a new series of original content on personal protection, self defense, combat sports, etc.

For those who have not yet heard of Mike, here is a little background on him:

Mike Suyematsu

mikes-headshotthumb.jpg

Mike Suyematsu is a fitness and martial arts instructor with over 38 years of experience. His extensive and diverse martial arts resume includes such styles as Kempo, Kajukenbo, Goju Karate, Northern Style Shaolin Gung Fu, PFS Jeet Kune Do, Cabales Serrada Escrima, boxing and wrestling. In addition, Mike is a Certified Principles Coach in Tony Blauer’s PDR (Personal Defense Readiness) Program and is extremely well versed in close-quarter combat and weapons training.

Mike’s list of clients is as diverse as his experience. They include police and S.W.A.T officers, business executives, retirees, college students and combat athletes, among others. Mike brings a unique mix of fitness knowledge with years of self-defense training. He’s “walked the walk” so to speak. Mikes wealth of knowledge make him an important member of the team and what he teaches can literally mean the difference between life and death.

PAU for NOW

TAKU

MMA STRENGTH 101

By TAKU

Performance enhancement is the product of practicing the skills involved in the sport, strengthening the muscles and preparing the appropriate energy systems. This basic strength program for MMA was designed to strengthen the entire body as one functional unit in the safest manner possible thus improving performance and helping to prevent injury.

 

There are a variety of approaches and schools of thought on strength and conditioning, and the methods I recommend are just one approach. I have already developed a basic Combat Sports conditioning program (see TAKU’s Intervals). This article is going to focus only on the “strength” portion of the athletes overall Strength and Conditioning preparation.

Remember, these are recommendations for a basic strength training program for MMA. This approach may at first appear far too simple. However, for most athletes (even those who are considered “advanced) sticking with the basics as a foundation to build from, is usually best. I hope you will give these ideas a try before you dismiss them. I of course encourage athletes and coaches to keep an active mind in determining what works best for them; in other words if it does not seem to work, find out what does and do it.

The best way to truly know what is working is to keep very accurate records of all program variables as well as the athletes response to how these variable are manipulated. Some of the program variables that should be tracked regularly include; volume, frequency, intensity, and duration of training bouts. The athlete’s response to the training variables is tracked by monitoring closely for both physiological and psychological signs of over training* which may include but are not limited to: a decreased eagerness to train, a decrease in performance, a gradual increase in muscular soreness from training session to training session, as well as an increased resting heart rate.

With that being stated, I recommend a low-volume high-intensity approach to strength training for the MMA athlete. The first program I recommend is for an athlete who is in training, but is in an off-season mode; It is an abbreviated training’ method that requires the athlete to perform brief, intense exercises infrequently.

Off-Season Training

Day 1:

Rep cadence = 3-5 seconds up / 3-5 seconds down

Rest = 90 sec between sets

Exercise – Sets – Reps

    1. Squats 3 x 5
    1. 4-Way Neck 2 (each direction.) x 6-10
    1. Bench 3 x 5
    1. Barbell / Machine Row 3 x 5
    1. Barbell / Machine Military Press 3 x 5

Dynamic AB series (2 sets each)

    1. Torture Twist
    1. GHD raise

Day 2: (3-5 days after Day 1)

Rep cadence = 3-5 seconds up / 3-5 seconds down

Rest = 90 sec between sets

    1. Hex Bar / Barbell / Hammer Deadlifts 3 x 5
    1. 4-Way Neck 2 (each direction) x 6-10
    1. Chins or weighted chins 3 x 5
    1. Dips or weighted dips 3 x 5
    1. Curls 3 x 5

Static Abs series: (2 sets each- 30 second timed hold)

    1. Hanging knee / leg raise
    1. Resisted Rotation
    1. Back Extension

The “In-season” program is used for the athlete who is within 6-8 weeks of a fight. This routine is very low-volume, thus allowing for maximal efficiency so that an athlete will be able to maintain strength while allowing time to condition for the demands of an up-coming fight.

Pre-Fight (In Season) Training

Workout 1

Exercise Sets Reps**

    1. Hex Bar / Barbell / Hammer Deadlifts 1 x 5-8
    1. Weighted Dips 1 x 6-10

Static Abs series: (2 sets each- 30 second timed hold)

    1. Hanging knee / leg raise
    1. Resisted Rotation
    1. Back Extension

5-7 Days Later: Workout 2

Exercise Sets Reps

    1. Squats 1 x 8-15
    1. Weighted Chins 1 6-10

Dynamic AB series (2 sets each)

    1. Torture Twist
    1. GHD raise

If the recommended exercise can not be performed due to equipment limitations, contact me for alternatives.

*See my article on over training for more information on this important topic.

**Reps recommended are guidelines however all work sets should be taken to a point of volitional fatigue. If the recommended rep range is far exceeded, increase weight by 5-10% next session.
PAU fir NOW

TAKU

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Every Gym Needs One!

I have written several articles about the importance of training the neck. After attending the Legends of Strength clinic last month in Ohio, I feel even more strongly that everyone should be training the neck. It is clear that it is equally beneficial for athletes and regular folks.

Rather than re-write a bunch of stuff, I am only going to compile some links to other great neck training info, as well as links to some neck training machines. If you are lucky enough to have access to one, USE IT! If not, then I suggest you read the articles here, and then bug your gym until they get one. Click on the link below, and then click on the article of the same name.

Article: Neck Priority

Neck Machines: My top 4 favorite Picks

1. Pendulum 5-Way Neck

2. Med-X 4-way Neck

3. Nautilus 2ST 4-Way Neck

4. Nautilus X-Pload 4-Way Neck

PAU for NOW

TAKU

Training the Neck (with video)

The question of training the neck came up on one of the forums recently so I decided to put up a little something here to address it. First let me say that I am a fan of neck training. I recommend it to all of my athletes. As a matter of fact I encourage all of my clients to do some form of neck training, unless of course they have some sort of pre-existing condition that would preclude them from doing so.

I highly recommend neck training to all combat athletes. Along with the obvious combat sports such as Boxing, Wrestling, and MMA, I also include other high contact sports such as Rugby, American or Australian rules football, Lacrosse, and Ice Hockey on my combat sports list.

If you are already doing some form of neck training and are happy with the results, keep up the good work. If you are looking for a quick and easy way to strengthen your neck, give the following routine a try.

PAU for NOW

TAKU

Neck Routine: Begin with one set of Shrugs with enough weight to fatigue within 60 seconds. Do one set of 60 seconds pushing head into a small stability ball in all four directions. Finish with a final 60 second set of shrugs. Alternate methods not shown include but are not limited to, using a neck harness attached to cables or resistance bands, as well as manual resistance either solo or using a partner.

(An alternate method for neck extension is also shown in the video below). Using this method you would bridge, forcing the neck back into the stability ball with muscular force aided by gravity.

1. Shrugs: Barbell / Dumbbell / Cable

2. Neck Flexion

3. Neck Extension

4. Lateral Neck Flexion (right and left)

5. Shrugs: Barbell / Dumbbell / Cable