The Market

Walking across the street to get groceries had never felt so labour intensive for Jason Miller, but he was getting old. His hips creaked, his jaw was tight, his back ached and he never got enough sleep. Being old was nothing but a lonely inconvenience for Jason. Everything and everyone seemed to be passing him by. One minute he was lazing about in his living room, nothing but a shut-in by the neighbourhood's standards. The next, he was standing lifeless at a busy intersection, staring into a flurry of spinning rubber, polished metal and humming engines.

   The traffic had seemed to move faster ever since he had hit seventy-five and the crosswalks seemed fewer and further between. Perhaps Gary would be working the express lane today. He seemed to be at the store every Sunday. Gary was the only person Jason knew that spoke to him willingly. Hell, he even seemed to enjoy their conversations as long as he wasn’t too busy. Sometimes they would chat about the price of groceries and how things used to be before the days of plastic bags and bar codes. Last week they exchanged words about the upcoming election and how Prime-minister McNally was making a fool of himself. In truth, Gary was the only reason why Jason bothered to walk the extra three blocks to the Shelf-Save rather than going to the bargain-mart behind his house. Nobody at the bargain-mart wanted to waste their time on a complacent old man like him.

   The light changed and Jason adjusted his eyes to make double sure that he was allowed to cross the intimidating street. Stepping off the curb was usually the only tricky part, but this intersection had a parking meter that he could use to steady himself as he lowered his foot down. Jason hated crossing the street. He always felt like an inconvenience to the traffic that waited irritably, the drivers revving their engines in anticipation of a green light. He tried his best to hurry along before the light changed again but his efforts were wasted. He always found himself in the middle of the intersection when the little white man turned into a solid orange hand. He could feel their impatience the same way he felt the static on his hand when he turned on his tube television. He hated the static. It gave him shivers and goosebumps.

   Marge knew that. She never made him turn it on, even if she was already in bed and he was standing in front of the damn thing. She’s a kind soul, Jason recalled. She was the kind of lady that opened the door for people and offered them a smile even if they greeted her with a grimace. She volunteered too. They had been retired for a little over five years before her boredom seized her by the throat.

  “I cant take the waiting anymore, Jay. I’m seventy-three years old and all I can be bothered to do is bake and read magazines. People our age ought to have more energy, more spring in our step. Its like we’re sitting around waiting to die. We’ve got more time, don’t we? I mean really, don’t you get a little bored?”

   “I must be getting old because I could swear we’ve talked about this, Margie. I’m happy the way things have been. I like my television, I like my chair and dammit, I like you. Isn’t that enough? Besides, you’re sick, my love. Doctor said you shouldn’t even be on your feet.”

  “I know, Jason. But I feel like I’m-”

   “Enough, Margie. I’ll bet there are millions of people that are working right this minute, trying to get to a point in their lives where they can sit down on a Thursday afternoon and watch some baseball. We had better just be happy with food on our table, air in our lungs and god smiling down upon us.”

  Jason grinned with that almost in mockery of what he had just said, but he had meant every word. He enjoyed being stagnant and comfortable. Marge was not easily deterred. She went on to volunteer as a cook at a local shelter across from Gatsby Park.

  Jason’s foot hit worn asphalt of the local Shelf-Save parking lot, where everyone was in too big of a hurry and there were never enough parking spaces. This was without a doubt, the part of this journey that Jason hated the most. He felt like a turtle in the middle of a busy highway, only in a parking lot, traffic goes from linear to anarchic. He shuffled carefully past the rows of chaotically parked vehicles and meandered through small crowds of parents accompanied by their children. He spotted a moist newspaper on the ground directly beside one of the parking lots many garbage cans and sighed with frustration.

  When did everybody stop caring? He wondered. 

   The doors opened automatically as per usual, which had a funny way of making Jason feel appreciated. It also had a funny way of reminding him of Marge. When Jason got arthritis and it hurt for him to bend his fingers too much, Marge began to help him with things like that. He was upset at first. Not at Marge but, at his no-good luck. His good-for-nothing rotten luck. Marge began to write for him, use the remote for him and on occasion, even hold his cigarettes while he smoked them. It was embarrassing, being babied like that. But before too long, Jason accepted it as part of growing old – a fact of life. Now he had to rely on himself for those things. But never the automatic doors because they were so kind to him, so welcoming and familiar.

  He grabbed a basket as usual. Pushing a cart made him tired and he never bought more than a basket load of groceries anyways. Today in particular he wanted milk, butter, a bag of those triangle shaped potato chips and cigarettes or at least that’s what everybody would assume from the contents of his basket. Jason didn’t really need any groceries and he had plenty of cigarettes at home. In a way, the old man was shopping for something that grocery stores don’t even sell. A laugh, a smile, a conversation if he was lucky – anything to feel like he belonged again.

  Aisle number four was his first stop and he reckoned that next time he would start with it as well. Aisle four was the best one to look at though it was filled with junk that he didn’t usually care for. Here he saw shimmering, brightly colored bags of potato chips, tall glimmering cans of soda and energy drinks and as he searched higher, he found cases of soda so high up that he would need a ladder to reach them. Behind him were tantalizing packages of candies and chocolates. “Sour rockets!” A package exclaimed. Banana fizzers, Caramel ripples, Choco-dogs! His eyes lit up at the sight of them.

What fun! He thought. The packages danced in his eyes and for a brief moment, he was a child again grasping his mother’s finger in one hand and a lolly in the other, bemused by the possibilities before him.  He wondered how he could stand the taste back then. Now the most he could stomach was some plain pasta and a bowl of weak tomato soup. It was strange for him to think that-

  “Sir? Sir are you alright?” It was a younger man. A store employee as far as Jason could discern.

  “Oh! Yes thank you. I was just thinking about how strange these things seem. When I was a boy things were never-”

  The man was already gone. Likely to go stock a shelf or help other customers. Jason’s shoulders rolled forward, back into their usual slump. Why did people have to be so goddamn cold? He palmed a bag of cheese flavored triangle chips and dropped them into his empty basket with a crinkle and a crunch. He took a few weak strides towards the end of the aisle when a familiar face emerged and made Jason recoil with delight.

  “Gary! How are you doing, my friend?”

  “Well, if it isn’t my buddy Jason! I’m well, thank you. And yourself? I haven’t seen you here in a couple weeks. Thought you might have switched grocers!”

  “Oh heck no. Nah, the wife’s been sick again so I’ve been staying home to help her along and whatnot. Nothing serious though, just a bit of a lung infection.”

  “Ah well it is that time of year again. I had a nasty cold just a few days ago actually. Nothing a bit of Neocitron can’t clear up though, eh? Say, Jason. I’m just about to call it quits for the day, what do you say I walk you home when you’re done your shopping? You DO walk, don’t you?

  “Ill tell yah, Gary that sounds terrific.”

  “Great, im just gonna go to the back room and change out of my uniform. Meet you out front?”

  Jason nodded with a smile that was mostly gums. His teeth had been worn away from his chewing tobacco days and he refused marge’s every attempt to get him a set of false teeth.

  “That’ll be the day!” He had proclaimed. “You wont turn me into some kind of artificial robot!”

   Gary emerged from the maze of shelves and gave a friendly goodbye wave to one of the female cashiers. He was a graceful looking man for being just shy of fifty-five. He didn’t WALK towards Jason, he jogged as if it caused him no pain in the knees. His spine was straight too. Real straight, like a dangling rope. He never hunched his shoulders or dragged his feet either. It made Jason wonder if he had aged too quickly, if he had made the right lifestyle choices.

  “Ready Freddy?” Gary remarked.

  “Aint getting much younger.” Jason laughed as he began to stand with wobbling knees and throbbing feet.

   Gary was patient with Jason. He walked extra slow so that Jason didn’t feel compelled to walk speed up. He even held the old man’s elbow as they crossed the street but it didn’t seem to help very much. As they neared the Glidetch and Fillow intersection it occurred to Gary just how far Jason walked every week for groceries.

 

“Awful long way to go for a bag of chips and a pack of smokes, huh? Isn’t there anywhere closer to home?”

 “No.” Jason lied. “But it’s nice to get out and stretch my legs once in a while.”

  The rest of their walk was spent talking mainly about blues music. Gary was a fan of Muddy Waters while Jason liked stuff a little slower like B.B. King. They talked briefly about family as well. Gary had a wife named Hellen whom he had met twelve years ago in a café. They had a daughter named Christine who was just finishing grade six. Gary was saddened when Jason told him that he and his wife had never had children. Marge had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was twenty-nine. Due to complications from her treatment, she was unable to bear children.

“It was really something. We had just started talking about having children before she got sick.”

 He and Marge had never had siblings when they were growing up either. Gary had to stop himself from tearing up as it dawned on him that this poor old couple were completely alone in the world. He decided that he would visit Gary one day. Perhaps they could have some tea and listen to blues music. Maybe his wife would join them.

  They had reached 1624 Moon Crescent, The address of one Jason Miller.

  “Well thanks for walking me home, Gary. I really hope you’re not too far from home now. Would you like bus fare?” He asked as he began to root through his jacket pocket.

Gary stopped him.

  “Oh no. I prefer to walk. Come by the store next week and we’ll do it again, eh?”

   Jason nodded and gave a wave as his gums shone with appreciation. It was the closest thing to a smile that Jason had.

            Inside the house, all was quiet as it was every day.

“I’m home, Margie!” He yelled up the stairs.

 “How was your trip, Dear?” He imagined her asking.

 “It was good. I ran into Gary again. This time he walked me home!”

 “That was nice of him.” Jason pretended to hear.

  “Yes. It sure was.”

  

 


GAVIN HART

Gavin is an amateur mixed martial artist from Muskoka, Ontario. He enjoys the outdoors, dirt biking, playing the drums and long walks on the beach.

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Nutrition and Conditioning: Love, Hate and Lentils

Alright, so you want that MMA bod that guys like Uriah Hall and Tyron Woodley have. Well I've got some bad news for you: If you don't already look and perform like a UFC superstar, you're doing something wrong and depending on your level of resilience and determination, you could have a long road ahead of you.  Fear not! Anybody can make a lifestyle change to better themselves and end up looking like a Greek god, but for our purposes we'll be working towards being a leaner, meaner and healthier fighter. Lets get started with the basic framework for an athletic diet.

Macro-Nutrients:

Macro-Nutrients are simply nutrients that the human body needs in large quantities in order to function. These are: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. A proper diet for an athlete means that macro-nutrients are consumed in the right quantity because each nutrient plays an essential role in our growth. Carbohydrates give us energy that we will use in our workouts, protein builds and repairs tissue such as muscles and organs and fats help us to store energy. 

Protein

On an athletic diet, you need roughly one gram of protein for every pound of body weight, so for example: I weigh 187 pounds, therefore I need to consume about 187 grams of protein every day. My go-to items for high protein content:

Eggs, beans, lean meats (chicken, fish, beef), tofu, almonds, 0% Greek yogurt, 0% cottage cheese.

Fats

Fats have a bad stigma, but healthy fats DO exist. My rule of thumb is to avoid saturated and trans fats, instead go for poly and mono unsaturated fats such as:

Olive oil, fish, avocados, various nuts, eggs, sunflower seeds, soy milk and coconut oil all contain healthy fats that are high in omega-3.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a little different because there are two different types: complex and simple. You need both, but keep in mind that complex carbs are much healthier. Simple carbs contain next to no nutritional value.

-Complex carbs:

Various vegetables, whole-grain pasta, whole-grain breads, peas and beans will give you long lasting energy.

-Simple carbs:

Jams, honey, maple syrup, sugar, molasses, brown sugar and hard candy are all simple carbs that can give short, but intense energy boosts. For our purposes, simple carbs should be pretty much avoided.

 

Basic Conditioning:

The best way to get in shape for martial arts is to mix cardio and muscular endurance  training, making sure to hit every muscle group along the way. There's many ways to accomplish this, but there are a few basic conditioning exercises that will target multiple muscle groups as well as improving cardio-vascular and cardio-respiratory capabilities.  Here are a few of my favorites.

 

           Cross-Over Mountain-climbers

Mountain-climbers with a twist. The key is to try and knee yourself in the opposite elbow as quickly as possible. This exercise works your quadriceps, abdominals, cardio and provides a bit of resistance training for your arms and chest.

                                     Sprawl Jumps

Sprawl_Jumps_Gif.gif

Squat, jump, sprawl, repeat. Jump as high as you can, go down as fast as you can and push one hip to the ground (alternate hips) as if you were defending a takedown. This works quadriceps, calfs, and upper-arms primarily, but they're also great cardio.

 

                                         Split Push-Ups

A push-up with leg splits. This emphasizes pressure on the quadriceps and core, but is primarily an upper-arm and pectoral exercise. Tuck elbows in, or flare them out and bring the hands closer together for more pressure on the triceps

 

Proper diet, fitness and a lot of motivation is all you need to get in good shape. With a little work, you can move faster, punch harder and kick higher. Don't focus on the results because they wont come over night- just focus on doing the work. How you look and perform is completely in your control, so get into that aggressive warrior mindset and start crushing your goals before it is too late. 


Gavin hart

Gavin is an amateur mixed martial artist from Muskoka, Ontario. He enjoys the outdoors, dirt biking, playing the drums and long walks on the beach.

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The Joy of Partner-Based Training

Although it can be intimidating partner-based training is a staple of any martial art. Nobody enjoys being hit (outside of weird BDSM culture of course) but if you expect to improve, it cant be avoided. You won't get any better at fighting by striking a stationary object and pretending to defend yourself.  As my coach says,"You haven't learned a thing until you've been hit." 

getting beat up

getting beat up

High knees

High knees

Training with a partner helps you find your range when trying out different strikes. There is a big difference between training with a stationary dummy or heavy-bag, and training with a moving target. In a real fight, your opponent will not be standing still.

striking a stationary target... Boring!

striking a stationary target... Boring!

With practice, one can learn to find a good range for various strikes even while the target is on the move. Both people will develop proper footwork, strike connection, speed, upper-body movement and focus. Pictured below is a lead-knee attempt that was ineffective due to being too close to the target. 

A failed knee attempt

(Red)- where the strike landed (Green)- where the strike should have landed

Another reason why I prefer partner-based training is the accountability and encouragement that comes along with it. While training alone, one is more likely to quit early or give up on that last set of pull-ups. For some reason it can seem okay to fail when you're alone, but being seen as a quitter in your partner's eyes can be twice as painful. This is a double-edged sword. Nothing fires me up more than some positive encouragement but, "Nice! Good contact!" and "Come on, Gavin! You can do more!" tend to have the same effect. 

Beating up on your friend can be positive.  look at those smiles!

The social aspect of partner training is also fantastic. I have met some of the kindest and most insightful people through this type of training which has helped me to build confidence, social skills and mastery in what I love. So, next time you're looking to train, grab a buddy! The only thing better than leaving the dojo drenched in blood, sweat and tears is doing it with a pal.


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                                Gavin Hart

 

Gavin is an amateur mixed martial artist from Muskoka, Ontario. He enjoys the outdoors, dirt biking, playing the drums and long walks on the beach. 

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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: fun for the whole family

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling sport that is fun, challenging and beautiful to look at. One of the things that makes it so great is that it is suitable for all ages. With proper instruction, children as young as three or four years old can hit the mat with confidence. Jiu-Jitsu is done traditionally in a gi, but this has been adapted for mixed martial arts. Now you can choose between gi and no-gi Jiu-Jitsu. The objective of the sport is to make your opponent submit or earn the most points by gaining advantageous positions, performing takedowns or submission attempts. Hover over photos for further detail.

Jiu-Jitsu can begin standing, sitting, or even lying down. I prefer to start standing. This provides the added element of takedowns and throws.

Jiu-Jitsu can begin standing, sitting, or even lying down. I prefer to start standing. This provides the added element of takedowns and throws.

 

From a standing position, there are multiple ways to take an opponent down to the mat. One of the most simple take-downs to learn is the single-leg whip. 

The Single-Leg Whip Takedown

The Single-Leg Whip Takedown

 (Red) - The right knee is placed between the legs of Blue while simultaneously ducking and grabbing the right leg  as shown.  The leg is then whipped to the outside in a quick swinging motion. Done properly,  this will cause Blue to  lose balance . Red will fall with blue ending up in either the guard or half guard position.

 (Red) - The right knee is placed between the legs of Blue while simultaneously ducking and grabbing the right leg  as shown.  The leg is then whipped to the outside in a quick swinging motion. Done properly,  this will cause Blue to  lose balance . Red will fall with blue ending up in either the guard or half guard position.

Once both fighters are on the ground, Jiu-Jitsu becomes an aggressive  game of rolling around, scrambling for the best position, and attempting to enforce your will onto your opponent.

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From the ground, you can try to pull off hundreds of submissions. The arm-bar is becoming common knowledge with the rise of UFC star, Ronda Rousey submitting 75% of her opponents by arm-bar. I have been in many, and I can assure you that it's not a fun position to be in.

(Green)- An arm-bar can be performed from a few different positions but it always ends up looking something like this. Green has their legs on either side of Red's right arm and each leg over the chest. Green clasps Red's forearm just before the wrist and twists until Red's palm is facing upwards. Green then arches their back, pulls on the arm and pushes Red down with the legs. This bends the arm at the elbow (blue). It is easy to dislocate the elbow from here.

(Green)- An arm-bar can be performed from a few different positions but it always ends up looking something like this. Green has their legs on either side of Red's right arm and each leg over the chest. Green clasps Red's forearm just before the wrist and twists until Red's palm is facing upwards. Green then arches their back, pulls on the arm and pushes Red down with the legs. This bends the arm at the elbow (blue). It is easy to dislocate the elbow from here.

Another well-known submission is the triangle choke. A triangle is formed when the head and one of the arms are caught in a triangular hole made by either the arms or the legs. This blocks the opponents airway and blood passages causing decreased blood flow to the brain and an inability to breathe. 

The Arm-Triangle Choke: The arm-triangle choke is performed from the side control position. The head and arm are hugged while using shoulder pressure to force a choke. 

The Arm-Triangle Choke: The arm-triangle choke is performed from the side control position. The head and arm are hugged while using shoulder pressure to force a choke. 

While the arm-triangle Choke is a practical submission, a leg-triangle choke can be even more effective due to increased strength in the legs and the ability to pull on the arm, utilizing more muscles for maximum choking power. This submission is also useful because it can be done from the guard position with the opponent on top.

Leg-Triangle Choke from guard.

Leg-Triangle Choke from guard.

(green) - From the guard position, Green wraps their legs around Red's head and right arm. Green pulls on the right arm.  so that Red can't sit up. They then lock their right ankle behind their left knee.  While pulling on Red's arm, Green applies pressure with their legs, creating a choke.

(green) - From the guard position, Green wraps their legs around Red's head and right arm. Green pulls on the right arm.  so that Red can't sit up. They then lock their right ankle behind their left knee.  While pulling on Red's arm, Green applies pressure with their legs, creating a choke.

The last submission I will go over is the guillotine choke. The guillotine choke is as easy to pull off as it is versatile and effective. This particular choke can be done from a standing, kneeling, or prone position. The most effective position to lock in a guillotine choke is from guard. With the forearm tightly against the throat, a submission can be forced within seconds.

Guillotine Choke into Guard 

Guillotine Choke into Guard 

(red) - The Guillotine into guard  is performed by grabbing the head as shown with Red's right forearm across Green's throat. Red will then lie down on their back pulling Green with them  and wrap their legs around Green's body. From there, Red would arch their back, push and squeeze with their legs and pull on Green's head while simultaneously pushing their right forearm into the throat, forcing a choke.  

(red) - The Guillotine into guard  is performed by grabbing the head as shown with Red's right forearm across Green's throat. Red will then lie down on their back pulling Green with them  and wrap their legs around Green's body. From there, Red would arch their back, push and squeeze with their legs and pull on Green's head while simultaneously pushing their right forearm into the throat, forcing a choke.  

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a fantastic sport that truly is fun for the whole family. It caters to all ages, skill levels, and provides a surprising amount to learn. It can take around seven years to earn a black belt which, for many, is an exciting goal. If this post piqued your interest (even in the slightest) I highly recommend giving it a shot!


Gavin Hart

Gavin is an amateur mixed martial artist from Muskoka, Ontario. He enjoys the outdoors, dirt biking, playing the drums and long walks on the beach. 

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The Muay-Thai (Double Collar) Clinch

It always fascinated me, the way two bodies can fit together like a sweaty, blood-encrusted puzzle. Like a Rubik's Cube or a good game of chess, combat is a puzzle that requires mastery, skill and a little bit of luck. Some are attracted by this challenge, some are in it for the physical benefits, and others just want to blow off some steam. 

From age 7 I was doing junior karate and was transfixed on being the best I could be, but it wasn't until age 16 that I got seriously interested in combat sports. I have dabbled in wrestling and tae kwon do, but now I train in kickboxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. After a year and a half of training in these disciplines, I've decided to switch things up a bit. I met with my coach this past Friday after recovering from a minor injury and told him that I was interested in learning some Muay-Thai.

For those who don't know, Muay-Thai (or "Thai Boxing") is a Taiwanese combat sport that is well-known for its visceral brutality. This is one of the rare fighting sports that allows the use of both bare elbow and knee strikes. Given that elbows and knees are used, Muay-Thai quickly became known as "The art of eight limbs."

 The first thing we went over is a staple of the Muay-Thai style: The Thai clinch. The Thai clinch (also known as a a double collar tie) is performed by grasping the back of an opponent's neck/head area with both hands and pressing the elbows inward towards the collar bones. This locks the head in position with nowhere to go but down. From here, it's easily possible to land destructive knee strikes (to the face AND body) as well as devastating elbows and traditional hand strikes.

Hand and arm positioning is key with this type of clinch. When used effectively, this position allows you to control your opponent's movements and swing them around by their head. There are a few ways to do it properly and a few ways to make sure you have a really bad day.

Once you have the clinch locked in and you feel comfortable, it's time to make some important decisions. Your main choices are: Let go, whip the head around, push them up against the cage/ropes, trip them, knee strikes, elbow strikes, hand strikes or you could try to transition  to a better position. Personally, I tend to value knee strikes above all else.

THAI-CLINCH KNEE STRIKE: For this example i have used my heavy-bag instead of a person. Your knee strikes should look something like this. Opponents foreheads should be almost touching, hands should be placed on the neck as illustrated in figure 3, hips are positioned slightly forward of the standing foot to guard against being pushed over. Note that the striking leg has toes pointed towards the ground. This is to prevent injury to the feet and toes. 

THAI-CLINCH KNEE STRIKE: For this example i have used my heavy-bag instead of a person. Your knee strikes should look something like this. Opponents foreheads should be almost touching, hands should be placed on the neck as illustrated in figure 3, hips are positioned slightly forward of the standing foot to guard against being pushed over. Note that the striking leg has toes pointed towards the ground. This is to prevent injury to the feet and toes. 

Muay-Thai is one of the most high-risk sports on the planet. The potential for serious injury is insane. I feel privileged to have learned these tricks from trained professionals, which reminds me:  I AM NOT AN EXPERT. DON'T DO THIS STUFF WITHOUT LIVE INSTRUCTION FROM A MARTIAL ARTS PROFESSIONAL.


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Gavin Hart

Gavin is an amateur mixed martial artist from Muskoka, Ontario. He enjoys the outdoors, dirt biking, playing the drums and long walks on the beach.  

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Instagram @battle.hawk

 
[Fig. 1] Thai-Clinch: This is what the double collar tie looks like in action. A good show of defense on the left side by placing the right hand on the back of the neck and the other hand (not pictured) grabs the right forearm. 

[Fig. 1]

Thai-Clinch: This is what the double collar tie looks like in action. A good show of defense on the left side by placing the right hand on the back of the neck and the other hand (not pictured) grabs the right forearm. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 [Fig. 2] WRONG: This is a common mistake. It may feel comfortable, but with fingers interlocked, it can be impossible to let go of your opponent if need be. This can lead to being manhandled like a sack of potatoes.

 [Fig. 2]

WRONG: This is a common mistake. It may feel comfortable, but with fingers interlocked, it can be impossible to let go of your opponent if need be. This can lead to being manhandled like a sack of potatoes.

[Fig. 3] CORRECT: With both hands working independently, you have freedom of choice when it comes to letting go or re-positioning. If your opponent is proving to be stronger than anticipated, let go and try something else.

[Fig. 3]

CORRECT: With both hands working independently, you have freedom of choice when it comes to letting go or re-positioning. If your opponent is proving to be stronger than anticipated, let go and try something else.