Geoff Thompson Seminar review
4th July 2004 Coventry.
We arrived for registration at Centre AT7 in Coventry about 10am by 10.30 we were all under way and Geoff started things off with one of his inspirational talks about stepping out of our own personal circle and moving out of our comfort zones by embracing the things that make us feel scared, in other words feeling the fear and having the courage to step through it. He asked us if we could feel those feelings of anticipation and apprehension right now. Out of the hundred plus group who were in attendance there were quite a few people who had never trained with Geoff before and perhaps didn't know what to expect and I assume that they indeed had a little unutilised adrenaline floating around their systems.
Fear Control:
Geoff encouraged us to close our eyes and look inward when we feel fear and to try and dissect the feeling by analysing it. Our inner opponent, the part of ourselves that creates this feeling of fear, apprehension and doubt does not like to be looked at. Instead it wants us to scatter our thoughts and latch onto worry and doubts until before we know it, everything appears much bigger and harder to handle than it really is. By looking closely at the feeling we can begin to make it smaller, small enough to deal with. Along with this method Geoff suggested the use of deep breathing such as that found in tai-chi, yoga and chi-kung as a means to help us to control the feelings of fear in addition to this he suggested a physical out let that will allow you to take the top off the feeling by utilising it as energy. Regardless if your anxiety stems from a possible physical confrontation or just the fear of change, its all the same and we all feel it at some point in our lives with varying degrees of intensity. But it is those of us that put ourselves into discomfort that grow as we all should know, anything worth having in life comes through effort and discomfort, this is indeed how we all grow. With that said we all moved into a physical warm up of jogging, sprinting, mobility work and some light stretching.

Vertical grappling:
This prepared us for our first physical drill with Geoff which entailed working from a stand up clinch with a partner and gently sparring for dominant grip. Here we are starting in a neutral grip clinch where each person has one hand on his partner's neck and the other on the out side of his/her upper arm from here we practiced 3 ways of escaping our partners grip. The first is to pull away sharply from your partners grip on the neck holding side this is done by wrenching away as you stiff arm him to release the grip. The second way is exactly the same only now you now grab hold of your partner's neck replacing his grip with your own. The final method entailed a slight lift on your partners elbow on the neck holding side as you dip underneath in order to get behind for a throw Greco Roman style or to apply a side neck crank/strangle by cranking your opponent's own arm and shoulder up tight against his own neck as you apply pressure from the other side with the radial bone of your forearm to the side of his neck or face. Once we had practiced these holds with a little partner compliancy we all proceeded to have a little free play sparring for holds with compliancy removed which was great fun. We then stopped for a well deserved fifteen minute tea break which gave everyone a chance to net work amongst each other.

Line up drills & combat distance:
We started our partner pad work with a drill for the double hip method of applying maximum impact, this is a drill that allows the hips to move first creating momentum at the shoulder for the punch/strike to follow accompanied by maximum body weight. As always with Geoff we focused on power punching from conversation range which is where most situations start. Then Geoff had us apply our short range punches and strikes from a very short distance with our backs to the wall and alternate pads fed by our partner from a very tight distance forcing us all to apply our game using both left and right hands. Then we did an excellent drill striking and punching as we rise up from a seated position and finally from a side Machado mount position on the ground with a partner. The reasoning for these superb drills is to help the student develop maximum impact power for hitting from a very short range and from awkward positions using both your strong and weak sides. Obviously if we can produce knock out power from here then just imagine the confidence you will develop when the conditions, range and line up are ideal from the fence at punching range with your strong side available.

Action triggers & aggression control:
After this Geoff talked about the use of deception by asking a question just before we strike in order to engage the opponent's brain and to provide ourselves with an action trigger. He went onto talk about the use of the psychological fence and posturing as a means to psyche the opponent out with aggression in an attempt to prevent the physical. All great stuff worthy of any good Self-Protection game plan.

Next up we took it to the ground for some horizontal grappling where Mattie emphasised the importance of the pins and how you should strive for position before submission this applied to the ground game as a martial sport as well as grappling applied as a 'last resort' support system for a real situation that has now gone to the ground (not the ideal, but part of life) where the emphasis would then shift from position to ballistic striking and returning to your feet ASAP. The drill we practiced entailed moving from the cross side position also known as the side four quarter hold down. In this scenario the pinned aggressor had the back of his arm bearing pressure to the side of your neck where you then proceeded to put your arm around his neck and apply the side neck crank/strangle that we practiced standing up. From here Mattie showed us a really nice flow drill that had you move into the mount and crank tight for a submission if you couldn't get it from here you would base forward with all your weight by straightening your legs and coming up on your toes and finally moving into a scarf hold where you are now in position for the Judo hold Katagatame shoulder holding neck crank. Here the submission is pretty much guaranteed.


Machado mount drill:
The grand finale drill was the dreaded Machado mount drill, this was designed to fatigue your legs and some, after all your legs are your foundation and when they're gone it's pretty much over. The deal is to introduce you to this fatigue quite quickly and have you carry on regardless of the excruciating lactic acid build up by sheer will power and determination alone. This is one of those drills that introduces you to your inner opponent and trains you to push your own personal boundaries. Some find it easier than others usually the lighter individual the heavier amongst us just have to suffer. Basically your partner lays down on the floor so this acts as a conditioning drill for him also while you assume a crouched side Machado mount leaning on your partner with one knee from here you hop side to side four times then rotate in a complete circle around the head end of your partner, first one side then the other whilst keeping your legs bent and your arse low. The drill continues for 90 seconds, rest 15, and then 60 seconds rest 15 and finally 30 seconds to finish. Then switch with your partner very hard to say the least.

The warm down was next which Geoff kindly asked me to take after giving me an introduction to all present I proceeded to warm the class down with a couple of combat conditioning exercises used by the old time grapplers followed by some light mobility and stretching exercises and some chi-kung breathing. This brought a most excellent seminar to a conclusion where a superb day was had by all.

Here is Geoff with instructors and students from The Urban Combatives group.