Bas Rutten Visits Chicago: 5 Things He Taught

Bas Rutten came to Chicago-land last weekend  to offer a striking seminar.  It was hosted by my friend and colleague Sue Garski, the Owner of Illinois Krav Maga.  This was the 3 or 4th seminar I have taken with Bas (I can’t really remember), but it did not fail to deliver.  Although Bas Rutten and his Fighting System presents a couple things considered controversial in the fighting sports, he does a great job justifying ‘the whys.’

Many of my students were wondering why I would take a workshop that covered the cross and hook punch.  About 70% of the content presented by Bas focused on variations of the hook, cross, hook and the cross, hook, cross.  Then I told them it was 3 hours of this topic and they scratched their head.  But these are the best types of seminars.  Parlor tricks are just that- tricks.  Said Hatim (my ideal training partner, fellow martial artist and co-worker) and I relished in the opportunity to practice basics and re-learn Bas’s perceptive on these hand combos.  He presented:

1.  how to change their rhythm

2.  how to play them off of defense and kicks,

3.  how they should be everyone’s bread and butter

4. how to use them at various levels

This workshop had children, new students, law enforcement, other instructors from out of town and us.  So the cross section of attendees was huge.   I never felt at any moment that I was training something that was beneath me.  But a secret about me- I never get bored of punching – EVER!  Said and I felt like we were the only ones in the gymnasium.  The information was presented with a thorough explanation and lots of time to practice.  Truthfully, I believe a lot of it was over the heads of many attendees, but not because Bas spoke unclearly, but because they were at a stage of simply learning how to just throw punches.  Many of the senior students and instructors were able to focus on the details and fine points.  Bas provided a presentation that spoke to all levels in the room and I left feeling like one of my kids driving home from an afternoon at the water park: happy, hungry and fulfilled.

So what does Bas have to say about the striking game that is considered controversial?

  1. Do not pivot on a hook (lead arm).  Bas teaches a completely square stance or forward facing fighting stance (similar to the one taught in Krav Maga).  This places the lead arm in a position to generate more power, because a traditional lead jab does not fit.  He emphasizes power, but teaches you to generate it from rotating your torso and winding up the hook.  Granted this wind up should come from a counter offensive position or because you completely rotated into your cross.  The obvious  argument is that it will lead to torque in the knee.  I am one of those people that believes a hook requires a pivot, but not necessarily in a forward facing stance with the lead foot pointing forward.  Juxtapose is a boxer’s/ kickboxer’s stance.  The body bladed and the lead foot is often internally rotated.  Without pivoting in this position there is strain placed on the knee.
  2. He doesn’t drive his hips forward on a knee strike in a clinch.  The knee strike that Bas teaches in a clinch looks like a single leg high step.  It definitely punches up and into the opponent, but it is without the hip drive traditionally taught with thai knees.  From a square fighting stance it is not as useful to fully drive your hips forward.  When your hips drive forward in the traditional manner of a thai style knee, you compromise a little bit of your footing, your ability to base and quick access to your close quarter strikes (elbows are the most obvious).   Bas presented this high stepp’in styled- knee strike, power elbow (from the same side), which had full torso rotation through the target; which lead to a winds up of the hook/uppercut –  which can then be thrown to the head/body or body/head.

Sue Garski and Katalin Give You the Best Lessons Learned From Bas Rutten’s Seminar.

  1. For someone who has already been sparring and fighting, Bas addressed the concept of baiting your opponent so thoroughly.  He emphasized how to use your eyes to build body shots into your combinations.  He also highlighted how counter offensive is a smart way to fight, drawing in an opponent which always sets up your own power punches.
  2.  The loading principle is a fundamental lesson that Bas teaches.  Although he fights wider than most people he demonstrates how it is strategically used to implement the loading principle for striking.  It obviously feels great because all of your punches hit hard.  The trick is to practice explosive rotation.
  3. When describing his infamous liver shot, Bas said that it is between the uppercut and a hook.  But it needs to enter as if you had wolverine’s claws coming out of our knuckles and that claw enters straight in and up.  It doesn’t actually slash.  Sounds a little violent.  But it is a good analogy in helping a student properly  direct the energy and path of this body shot.

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