Monthly Archives: November 2013

Student / Instructor Camp…

H.I. Student / Instructor Camp

The Harris International Student / Instructor camp is scheduled to begin on Friday, December 6, 2013 at 7:00pm. The cost to attend this camp will be $50 – for one or all three days of training and sparring!

Here is the schedule of events for the Harris International student / instructor camp next month:

FRIDAY (December 6, 2013)

– 7pm: “NEW” Secrets of Guard Passing, with Roy “The Boa” Harris

– 8:30pm: Jiu Jitsu sparring

SATURDAY (December 7, 2013)

– 9 to 10:45am: Injury prevention and kettlebell conditioning for BJJ and MMA, with Dr. Mark Cheng

– 11:00am to 2pm: Jiu Jitsu sparring

– 2 to 3pm: Kali’s elbow for MMA and the street, with Roy “T.A.W.M.” Harris

– 3:30 to 5:15pm: Very Specific Striking for MMA, with Lee “The Gladiator” Mein

– 5:30 to 7pm: Side mount crucifix with Sensei Jeff Clark

– 8pm: Use of The Rear Leg Round Kick: A JKD perspective, with Roy Harris

– 8:30pm: Escaping the Triangle Choke (imperative for guard passing), with Roy Harris

SUNDAY (December 8, 2013)

– 9am: The new blue belt curriculum & the new “No Gi” curriculum. Brown and black belts only!

– 10am: Fence work in MMA, with Jason “The Punisher” Lambert

– 11am: How to Crush 101, with “The Boa” himself

– 12pm: Q&A and closing comments

Harris International students and instructors, start making plans to attend now. Thirty-seven students / instructors have already signed up!

Please make sure to bring several changes of clothes for the different classes and the sparring sessions. Also, bring your gi, gloves (12 or 14 ounce boxing and MMA), mouth pieces, groin protectors and other protective gear.

Also, on Saturday morning, I will have the new gi’s with me. If you want one – for sure – email me here and tell me your interest and gi size.

Be prepared to learn, laugh, sweat, enjoy and experience some really cool stuff!

I look forward to seeing you all there.

Roy Harris

What Makes a Good Instructor

Over the years, I’ve had a chance to train with a variety of different instructors: Some were extremely good, others were very good, while others were………”OK.” Allow me to share with you my views on what makes “a good instructor / teacher.”

For starters, a good instructor is an individual who cares about his or her students. This, I believe, is the most important quality a good instructor should have. To care for the students, the good instructor pays attention to the needs ALL OF THEIR STUDENTS, not just the talented ones, or the gifted ones, or the good looking, or the similar ones (i.e. similar by gender, race, age, ethnicity or interest). By consistently demonstrating a concern for the individual needs of each student, an instructor can show they truly care for all of their students!

Now, this does not mean the instructor will always be able to care for all students, at the same time, each and every class. What I mean by that is this:

Some students can be very needy. They may not see themselves as needy, but their actions say otherwise. For example, some students need repeated “attention”, every class or every week. Caring for these students can sometimes be difficult because there will usually be an expectation on the part of these students to interact with them for an extended period of time. For example, I once had a student who wanted input, feedback and instruction after every class. Yes, EVERY CLASS! This went on for over a month. Finally, I had to tell him, “Joe (not his real name), I don’t mind sharing information with you, and I don’t mind helping you to progress, but these periods of time you ask for help after class are getting longer and longer. What started out as a couple minutes here and there have now turned into these 15 to 20 minute private lessons after each class. If you really need all of this help, I need to ask you to begin taking private lessons. Again, I don’t mind helping you after class here and there, but I can’t keep giving you all of this time free of charge and ignoring others, or ignoring my other responsibilities. Unfortunately, Joe got an attitude that I was helping others and not helping him as much as he felt he needed or deserved. Eventually, Joe quit training at my facility and went some other place – which is unfortunate….but Joe came to my academy after feeling dissatisfied with his training at another martial arts facility. So, his quitting my academy was not unexpected.

As you can see, clearly, no instructor could meet Joe’s needs – at least not for an extended period of time. So, while it is important to care for students, sometimes their needs can become so weighty that they become demanding of an instructor’s time and generosity. While giving and sharing are a part of a good instructors repertoire, doing so every evening after 10pm can get a little heavy – especially when the student begins to demand this time (free of charge of course).

Second, a good instructor is a giver. Giving and caring go hand in hand. An instructor who truly cares about the progress of each student will consistently give from the heart. A good instructor will give extra time to students who need additional help, as well as freely share their time, experience, wisdom and knowledge with all. A good instructor will consistently go above and beyond the call of duty. He or she will give until they can give no more!

Third, a good instructor must know how to present information to a diverse group of students. Whether they are teaching to men or women, adults or kids, military or civilian, foreign or locals, the good instructors will know the best way to present the information to the group they are in front of. They will know which subjects to present as well as which ones should be avoided. The good instructor will make every effort to present information in an entertaining and enjoyable fashion that will help the student retain the information easier.

If an aspiring instructor does not know how to effectively present information to a diverse group of individuals, he or she will make every effort to learn how to do it. A good instructor knows that no one is born a good instructor and that becoming one is something that takes time, patience, effort and persistence.

Four, a good instructor willingly adapts to the ever-changing needs of his clients. The good instructor has paid attention to detail and knows that his students train for a variety of reasons. Some students train for fun, while other do so to relieve stress. Some train because they want to learn self-defense, while others do so because they desire to feel the adrenaline rush of competition or the euphoria of learning something new and challenging. Some students come to class to prove something, while others come to class because they desire to “feel” are a part of something bigger than themselves. The good instructor knows all of these things and adapts to them. He allows each student to find and travel his chosen path, as well as change his choice of paths at a later point in time. Knowing how to adapt to each client is important to the success and health of the academy.

Unfortunately, change and adaptation are two things some instructors fight as though their lives depended on it. However, their refusal to change sends a subtle message that says, “I have no desire to be a student again.” It also says, “I enjoy the instructor status I have.” The good instructor knows that the needs of his clients will change over time. He also knows that he must change and adapt to them, as well keep current on all the latest trends. This “change” will help keep new life in the training environment, as well as keep boredom and frustration at low levels.

Additionally, I believe it is important that the good instructor allow his or her students to find their own path, as well as change their choice of paths over time. A good instructor will not force his students down a path he thinks they should go. For example, if the student does not want to compete, the instructor should not force him to compete. However, if the student changes his mind at a later point in time, that’s OK. It’s the client’s prerogative to change his mind. The good instructor knows this and adapts!

A good instructor embraces change in the student, the academy and him or herself!

Five, a good instructor maintains a high level of awareness to those who have special needs; 1) Those who learn very quickly, 2) Those who learn at a slower pace, 3) Those who lack confidence or need reassurance, and 4) Those who do not possess a high level of coordination. The good instructor also pays attention to atmosphere of the class. He knows his students not only require him to be an excellent instructor who shares and cares, but he also knows they want him to be the keeper of the peace, a solver of problems and a judge of fairness and equality! In short, the good instructor makes every effort to stay keen about his students, as well as create and maintain a safe and enjoyable training environment for all.

Six, I believe a good instructor must have been a good student himself, for “it is impossible to lead if one has never truly followed.” Benjamin Franklin spoke these words long ago, and they are so true. In order to fully understand the needs of various clients, the instructor must have first been an exemplary student: One who has learned his craft by hands on experienced, followed the examples given by his instructor, made adjustments for his own personality and body type and then assumed more responsibility as it was given to him.

I believe the good student has the potential to become a good instructor. I also believe the opposite is true: the not so good student has the potential to become a not-so-good instructor. Now, I am not saying that a not so good student could not become a good instructor. I just know that people tend to be creatures of habit. If they have taken short cuts as students, they will more than likely do the same thing when they begin teaching.

Additionally, I believe the good instructor will always remain a student. He will always retain that child-like curiosity for martial arts. He will always be on the look out for more efficient ways to teach and perform.

Finally, I believe the good instructor must make the effort to become a kind, considerate and compassionate human being. Joking, talking negatively about or condescendingly to a student, or behind his back, or sharing confidential details with one student about another student are just a few examples of deeds that cause division and harsh feelings. The good instructor will lead by example. He will allow his actions to speak the intent of his heart. And, he will make every effort to stay above reproach.

I hope this article has been helpful and enlightening.

Good training to you,

Roy Harris

Purple Belt Requirements

The Harris International Purple Belt Examination is a skills oriented test. This test focuses on two areas:

1. The use of combinations.
2. The use of momentum.

These two areas are what distinguish a purple belt from a blue belt. Allow me to explain the subtle differences between the two:

1. Blue belts have a certain amount of technical proficiency. However, when it comes to the performance of technique, blue belts tend to use speed and power to effect their techniques – and that’s OK for their skill level.

Also, the blue belt mindset goes something like this, “If I tried to perform a specific technique once and it didn’t work, all I have to do is try the same technique a second time – only this time I will try much harder. My use of power and explosiveness should make the technique work.” While this can be an effective way to perform one’s techniques (at their current skill level), it is not a very efficient way of doing it.

2. Purple belts should also have technical proficiency. However, they also need to have a certain amount “savvy.” What is this savvy? Well, a purple belt should have the knowledge, training and experience to know when one technique is not working, that the more efficient course of action would be to change to a more “appropriate” technique – rather than to just try the same technique a second and third time with more force.

3. Additionally, purple belts should have a rudimentary knowledge and skill level for using momentum to their advantage. Momentum represents a student’s ability to simultaneously (A) remain “aware” of what they are doing, (B) remain aware of what their training partner is doing, and (C) be able to follow the energy / pressure provided by their training partner.

Generally, blue belts tend to have “blinders” on. Because of the focus of their training and the lack of experience, many are blind to awareness and timing – and that’s OK. Everyone has to crawl before they can stand before they can walk and before they can run.

Purple belts, on the other hand, must be more aware of all that is going on. They should also be able to respond “more appropriately” to a given pressure – because of their knowledge, training and experience.

Below are eighty-six (86) combinations you should train extensively (six to ten months) before you take your “purple belt evaluation” lesson. Here’s what you should be focusing on while practicing these combinations:

1. Fluidity throughout the entire combination. No jerky movements.
2. Smoothness throughout the transition. No explosive movements.
3. A semi-relaxed trunk, limbs and mindset.

Here are the combinations:

I. Two technique combinations from the bottom of the mount position:

Bridge and roll escape to guard pass under leg
Bridge and roll escape to guard pass over leg, near leg
Bridge and roll escape to guard pass over leg, far leg
Bridge and roll escape to guard pass around the leg
Bridge and roll escape to straight foot lock
Bridge and roll escape to heel hook
Bridge and roll escape to knee bar
Elbow / knee escape to elevator sweep
Elbow / knee escape to scissors sweep
Elbow / knee escape to scissors sweep with knee push
Elbow / knee escape to knee sweep
Elbow / knee escape to Kimura
Elbow / knee escape to guillotine choke
Elbow / knee escape to triangle choke with legs
Elbow / knee escape to triangle choke with arms
Elbow / knee escape to take the back

II. Two technique combinations from the bottom of the guard position:

Elevator sweep to mount control #1
Elevator sweep to mount control #2
Elevator sweep to side mount hold down #2
Elevator sweep to scarf hold #2
Elevator sweep to scarf hold #3
Elevator sweep to reverse elevator sweep
Hip bump to mount control #1
Hip bump to mount control #2
Hip bump to Kimura
Hip bump to telephone arm lock
Hip bump to guillotine choke
Scissors sweep to knee sweep
Scissors sweep to Americana
Scissors sweep to straight arm lock against belly
Scissors sweep to Kimura
Kimura to hip bump
Kimura to guillotine choke
Kimura to triangle choke with legs
Kimura to spinning arm lock
Triangle choke with legs to kimura
Triangle choke with legs to spinning arm lock
Triangle choke with legs to sweep
Spinning arm lock to triangle
Spinning arm lock to Kimura
Spinning arm lock to omo plata

II. Two technique combinations from the top of the guard position:

Guard pass under the leg to hold down #2
Guard pass under the leg to scarf hold #2
Guard pass under the leg to scarf hold #3
Guard pass under the leg to reverse scarf hold #1
Guard pass under the leg to north / south hold #1
Guard pass under the leg to north / south hold #2
Guard pass under the leg to Kimura
Guard pass under the leg to Americana
Guard pass over the leg to hold down #2
Guard pass over the leg to scarf hold #2
Guard pass over the leg to scarf hold #3
Guard pass over the leg to reverse scarf hold #1
Guard pass over the leg to north / south hold #1
Guard pass over the leg to north / south hold #2
Guard pass over the leg to Kimura
Guard pass over the leg to Americana
Guard pass over the leg to knee bar
Guard pass around the leg to hold down #2
Guard pass around the leg to scarf hold #2
Guard pass around the leg to scarf hold #3
Guard pass around the leg to reverse scarf hold #1
Guard pass around the leg to north / south hold #1
Guard pass around the leg to north / south hold #2
Guard pass around the leg to Kimura
Guard pass around the leg to Americana

III. Two technique combinations from the bottom of the side mount (100 kilos) position:

Replace guard escape to scissors sweep
Replace guard escape to scissors sweep with knee push
Replace guard escape to knee sweep
Replace guard escape to reverse knee sweep
Replace guard escape to elevator sweep
Replace guard escape to reverse elevator sweep
Replace guard escape to heel grab sweep
Replace guard escape to Kimura
Replace guard escape to guillotine choke
Replace guard escape to hip bump
Replace guard escape to take the back
Go to the knees escape to double leg takedown left
Go to the knees escape to double leg takedown right
Go to the knees escape to elevator sweep
Go to the knees escape to reverse elevator sweep
Go to the knees escape to go to the back
Bridge and roll escape to knee on belly
Bridge and roll escape to mount
Bridge and roll escape to triangle choke with arms
Bridge and roll escape to Kimura
Bridge and roll escape to Americana

If you do not know the techniques listed above, please take a private lesson to learn them. If you do not know the combination, please take a private lesson to learn them.

A handful of things to remember about the Harris International Purple Belt Examination:

1. Students should bring a minimum of three training partners with them to assist them during the examination.
2. Students must wear a full gi (pants, belt and jacket) during the examination.
3. If accompanied by your coach, the coach should know and bring a purple belt in your size.
4. If you train directly with me, let me know ahead of time what your belt size is, or that you plan to bring your own.
5. The cost of the examination is $100.
6. Total test time is around 75-100 minutes.

Should you have any “procedural” questions, please feel free to ask.

Here is a video of me talking with a group of instructors in Norway about preparing for the purple belt exam:

 

Thank you for your time and interest,

Roy Harris