Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Flux in the Matrix

Set-point Control Question

Hi Joe Lewis,

I have a problem with the set-point control tactical strategy. I work the exercise you describe in your web site video and that all works well, but when I do this in sparring I become more passive and less assertive. It appears to have kind of taken the drive out of my attacks (could just be I need more practice integrating it into my game) Many Thanks, Andrew

Answer: This is a good question. Many instructors will find students with a similar predicament, that of discovering a loss in self-assertiveness when initially learning this principle. This is all part of the integration process, which for some, may take more time to adjust.

First, you must realize that when your mind becomes more actively engaged (focusing on controlling the set-point), the body is functioning at a different frequency, and in the beginning when attempting to learn something new, the rhythm between the two is not in sync. Give your body time to catch up with the actions of the mind. Your mind is functioning on a higher level than your ability to execute appropriate physical skills.

Secondly, the instant you become aware that something is different or missing, your focus becomes split. Now you are experiencing an additional problem; you are monitoring yourself and wondering what's wrong. You cannot watch yourself and pay attention to the actions or non actions of your opponent at the same time---too much is taking place inside the conscious mind to digest all at once.

Your conscious mind is a faculty and has a limited capacity. If you fail to pay attention to only what is necessary in a given moment, then you limit the available capacity of your consciousness to be able to deal with that which is of greatest importance----the actions of your opponent.

Thirdly, you must learn how to allow thoughts to simultaneously participate in your actions (that aggressive behavior combined with profound strategic certainty). If you find yourself thinking for a split second about not letting your opponent get set-----without exercising action at the same time----then your timing is off, and you WILL perform passively.

Fourth----Any good strategy has two parts, defense and offense. When using set-point control, remember that there are only two things one can do when sparring---you can move or you can fire. With any good strategy, there has to be an appropriate balance. If you are on the battle field and currently engaged in a fire fight, and you know you only have enough ammo to last about another hour before more arrives the next morning, are you going to use it all up within the next sixty minutes in an act of desperation?

Some fighters let frustration lead to desperation----not smart. Definition of a smart fighter:

"One whose actions are in alignment with his strategic purpose"

This means BALANCE----his actions are congruent with his goals, to survive first and to win second. With set-point control, there are two factors which co-exist----not separately-----when to move and when to fire. What happens if I only move and never fire, or if I spend too much time moving and not enough time with the usage of effective firepower?

You get the picture-----without appropriate balance, anyone will fall into this trap called passiveness----too much thought and not enough action, or thought separate of action.

Cardinal Rule in Sparring:
(To avoid doubt or frustration)

"When in doubt, INSTANTLY stick and move!"

I believe, as is the case of most who spar, that the issue here is mental, not physical and that a committed work ethic will quickly put you ahead of the game. Sometimes an instructor will have a student who gets easily frustrated and finds the task or assignment given him too complex. Let me leave you with a quote from a former Commandant of the Marine Corps who I served under.

"The galleries are full of critics. They play no ball. They fight no fights. They make no mistakes, because they attempt nothing. Down in the arena are the doers. They make mistakes, because they try many things. The man who makes no mistakes lacks boldness and the spirit of adventure. He is the one who never tries anything. He is the break in the wheel of progress. And yet it cannot be truly said he makes no mistakes, because his biggest mistake is the very fact that he tries nothing, does nothing, except criticize those who do things."
--David M. Shoup (General, United States Marine Corps

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Overcoming a Fighter’s Black Hole

A Method of Analyzing Sparring

Let me first establish an instructor's point of view when observing a sparring session or a fight. I want everyone's perspective to be consistent with what is going to be the most important common factor we should focus on in order to achieve an optimal or appropriate academic assesment.

So at this point, let's level the playing field by not looking for the usual attributes such as who is the fastest, who's more aggressive, or who's scoring the most points. This tends to make the observer result oriented rather than purpose oriented.

I want to invite you to study these posted sessions and to learn how to look for and how to identify patterns. For example, if a taller opponent is keeping a shorter one just out of range, he is demonstrating a pattern of maintaining an appropriate distance. If a fighter consistently steps into the pocket and instantly covers up rather than firing, this is another example of a repeated behavior that we call a pattern.

The 40 Universal Fighting Tactics listed on my web site can greatly help any teacher to quickly and easily learn this instructional art form. On our web site you can see that they have been broken down into the Five Pillars of my fitness self-defense and fighting system.

Patterns can be changed and altered; however, if you are slow, or if you are very short, or if you psychologically lack any degree of willingness to engage, your problem (for lack of a better term) may be permanent. There are many known physical and mental patterns exhibited in the fight game. Exploring this phenomenon together is going to be an eye opening and insightful experience.

Sparring session I

Click here to view:

This first session that I was asked to review is between an older practitioner (wearing red head gear) and someone much younger (wearing blue head gear). The older fellow makes just about every (physical) mistake in the book although he stays in the fight and exhibits no passive state of mind. This clip is good for the older guys to acknowledge and to remember to identify each missing tactic when they watch it. The younger fighter may be stronger, but there's no excuse for allowing him to also beat you mentally.

Roll Clip

Time clock:

  • :30 Note neither corner man knows how to properly hold gloves to place on fighters.
  • 1:25 Red corner sets pace---gets off first. Good mental start.
  • 1:35 Red fighter walks him to ropes, smothering Blue's offense, but allows him daylight to escape.
  • 1:50 With each punch Red fires, he drops opposite hand----Blue fails to take advantage.
  • 1:50 Blue fires counter overhand right----fails to follow with left hook. He lacks balance.
  • 2:02 &
  • 2:06 Note Blue drops right hand before he fires straight right punch. (Telegraphing)
  • 2:40 Red steps into pocket, stops and covers. Bad habit----fails to dominate pocket. This becomes a pattern.
  • 2:52 Red fails to step in on right jab to smother kicks. (No aggressive defensive) Eats counter stop kick.
  • 2:55 After being dropped by front kick, Blue stands straight in front of opponent and then fails to reassert himself.


This is an important point. Fundamentally, neither fighter projects any sense of using some type of strategy. I do not get a strong sense of what either fighter is trying to make the other execute. Either you make your opponent perform, forcing him to react to your will, or you yield and allow him to do whatever he pleases. This is typical of most undisciplined fighters; two combatants wondering around the ring taking turns attacking each other void of any purpose.

Neither fighter uses head rhythm to take away other's cranial shots. They constantly remain a bit too upright. Adding head movement should be easy since neither is body punching or using any two- and three-point combinations.

Red needs to work on getting in, then executing without hesitation, and then getting out of the pocket without waiting for a receipt.

Since Red's kicks are mere slaps and lacking conviction, Blue should simply smother Red's lead kick with jamming footwork and use a low/high punching combination.

Red needs to learn to cut off the ring (ring generalship). He had Blue on the ropes at least three times and let him off.

There was a lack of any assertive jab from either to set up their attacks or to keep opponent from getting set. All these patterns carried into round #2; however, we already have a volume of material to work with. Never overload or force feed your fighters an excess of things to think about, especially in the corner. My recommendation----work on one tactic at the time----only one!


Blue has a decent right hand but fails to use it enough. He needs to learn to bring a left hook behind it. Once he has this balance issue down, then he can close the door with a low cut kick.

Red needs to work on taking away Blue's main weapon, that looping right hand. This will give him an added aggressive defense with his offensive attacks. To attain this skill, he has to roll his forward shoulder (right) inside with a slight crouch…..thus taking Blue's punch on the back side of the shoulder, and then quickly ride the punch back in with a straight left and then right shovel hook to the head.

"I Believe...either you control your attitude or it controls you"."

The collective use of both a sound offensive attack together with the disciplined use of an aggressive defense (what you're taking away from opponent) will enable fighters to appropriately focus their mental energies in exercising the use of a constant visualization necessary to authoritatively control any opponent.

This is an example of what I offer all JLFS members on my web site: (click)

I cannot stress how helpful it is for each of you to go there and to explore all the benefits I can offer present and new incoming members.

"The ultimate competition is not against an opponent, but to compete against yourself."