2021 USAFPA Pankration Seminar & Banquet

USA Federation of Pankration Athlima hosts the 2021 Pankration Seminar and Banquet
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Craig Pumphrey Asks, “Do You Practice Deadly Viral Knowledge?”

Craig Pumphrey

Craig “The Professor” Pumphrey

For a moment I want you to imagine that people no longer go to Martial Arts schools to learn how to fight or learn the Martial Way. I want you to imagine for a moment people learning only from videos that they can watch for free, any time they want, from anywhere in the world. They will then practice these techniques in their garages, yards, and houses to the point that while some will capture world titles, some will only injure & even kill people. Now, if I made this statement 20 years ago you would laugh at me and tell me I was crazy, but the truth is, I find it more common to run into “YouTube Black Belts” than I do traditional Black Belts. This is good & bad, it’s good because there is a wealth of knowledge on the internet that we can all learn from. There are some really neat techniques and shortcuts, but there are just as many dangerous techniques that only few should know. I see it all the time, guys/girls showing some technique he/she learned on the internet and there he/she is trying to apply it during a sparring session. The bad thing about learning something “new” from the web is the missing knowledge. For example: the dangers, the pros & cons, the dos & don’ts with that new technique are often lost in a short on-line video clip.

What many people may not know is that whatever Martial Art they train or dabble in there is something they must understand. The techniques they are practicing are derived from a military fighting art. In fact most martial arts are just that, they were invented to defend their country, families, and way of life. These styles were designed to hurt, injure, maim, and kill. What this newer generation needs to understand, about this new style of learning, is before you started training in your “Sport” it was NOT a sport when it was created. When one learns this you will understand how dangerous these styles are and how deadly these techniques and can be. In the month of April of this year a 14 year old was horse playing and “wrestling around” with his 24 year old cousin. The 14 year old was able to apply what is known as a (Rear Naked Choke) and without him knowing it his older cousin passed out due to the technique used. The 14 year old did not realize what happened, and he didn’t release the hold off his unconscious cousin. Unfortunately by the time someone noticed the older cousin’s face was purple, and told the younger kid to let him go, it was too late. The 24 year old was pronounced dead at the scene when EMS arrived.

Since this unfortunate incident many people are asking a lot of questions about this tragedy such as; did the 14 year old have any Martial Arts background or training? Where did he learn this technique? Let’s examine this and try to find an answer to these questions. I don’t believe this was intentional and I do not know if this kid had any formal Martial Arts training. The fact is this poor kid will have to live with this the rest of his life, and the effects of this will be seen in many ways, in his life in the future. Many young kids are learning techniques such as the Rear Naked Choke on social media sites, YouTube, and from watching MMA fights. The Rear Naked Choke (RNC) is a very popular and devastating technique we often see used in MMA shows like the UFC. The RNC technique to this day still wins fights in & outside the ring and is used in Military & Law Enforcement applications. Millions have seen this technique and thousands know how to apply it, but few know how to read a person’s body, and know when to let go during a scuffle. This is where the lack of experience & knowledge comes in. Even in the ring where professional fighters are engaged in competition there is a referee! The referee looks for the signs of someone passing out so he/she can stop the fight and protect the fighter. I have seen lots of people “Choked Out” and no one died. That’s mainly because the fighters knew when to let go from their experience, or the referee stopped the fight because he/she saw the signs.

So please remember these techniques (All of them) are designed & created from a battlefield before they ever became a “Sport”. The knowledge of the techniques & how the human body responds is very important to learn and know. It’s sad to say that even though we live in a technologically advance society, there will always be a lot of lost knowledge. So to all my YouTube Black Belt friends out there, please spend some time learning the dangers, the pros & cons, the dos & don’ts with those new techniques. Learn the anatomy of the human body, so you can understand why some techniques shouldn’t be shared on the internet, but learned under the guidance of a professional. Be safe.

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Craig Pumphrey Asks, “Who else wears your belt?”

Craig Pumphrey

Craig “The Professor” Pumphrey

When I watch pro fighters in any fighting sport I often wonder who trains with them and who helps them get there. I can look at any fighter who is in the lime light and even though they may have what is known as a “fight camp”, usually there is just a few that wear their belt. What I mean is there are many people who help that fighter train for a fight, but there is only one or two that came up the ranks with that fighter. Someone who literally learned their techniques as they trained with that fighter. Someone that all the experimental moves, takedowns & striking combinations were practiced on. These are the ones that will stay with you when others leave because the training was too hard, or they didn’t get rank fast enough. I often tell my students “You’re only as good as the person you train with”. This is very true within martial arts and the people you train with can be an asset, or a stumbling block.

Everyone must find a person who shares their enthusiasm, and is like minded when it comes to learning anything new. I remember when I began looking for a new way to approach martial arts, I researched mountains of information on several different fighting styles & their instructors. I wanted something that wasn’t heard of in my area, and at the time that guided me to research Pankration. I found myself taking moves & techniques from dozens of styles and then researching which of those techniques worked in real fights & which didn’t. This took several years and I went through several training partners. Then I began teaching someone who would take the years of punishment, injuries, blood & sweat, just to find a style that was effective; a style we could call our own. This continued for years (This is a story within itself) but needless to stay he became my first black belt. My friend Ivan Dale, became not only my first black belt, but also became very detailed in his own teaching methods as an instructor. With National titles & World titles of his own, we still to this day strive to perfect our art, Eclectics & Pankration everywhere we go.

You will find yourself more times than not looking for a training partner, and I will tell you this…..they are hard to find. When you do find someone who shares your ideas, you have found a rare thing. Just as when Bruce Lee was searching to create something new, he also found a training partner who shared that dream, Daniel Inosanto. To become a better martial artist it is good to bounce ideas off of other people who have diverse backgrounds, and come from different areas. For example, I have a new student who is working on learning Pankration yet no one in his area is familiar with this style. There are a lot of BJJ students in his area, and he has a friend who likes to train in BJJ; so he asked me “What should I do”? I suggested he train in BJJ with him, and learn all you can learn about that style. Then schedule some days where he can train with you in Pankration so he can learn something new himself. Before you know it you both will be skilled in two different styles, and you both will have a great time training. Later, you can both compete in Bjj & Pankration tournaments which will only enhance your skills and sharpen your knowledge.

There is nothing wrong with learning other styles and competing in other tournaments that are not your style. Personally, I have competed in Wrestling, Kickboxing, Jiu-Jitsu, Submission, Tae Kwon Do & MMA tournaments. So, find someone you can train with even if that means in another style, and who knows, that person may become a good friend and maybe even your first black belt.

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