Friday, 22 May 2015

Call of Duty: Ghost Fighter

Via Adrenaline's Wayne Hubball I found out about a different type of boxing discipline, Ghost Fighter. In a nutshell it is about avoiding getting hit, while being able to hit.

The blurb on the advertising states "Ghost Fighter Central (developed by Phil Norman)- Offers the latest in stealth fighting, a stand up fighting system which enables you to strike with minimal return from your opponent. This unorthodox system teaches you dynamic striking angles whilst utilising evasive movement, leaving the person in front of you hitting thin air and feeling like they are fighting a GHOST!"


My cynicism was whispering in my ear. This sounded a lot like the Gun Kata from the Christian Bale movie "Equilibrium" (mathematically predicting where an opponent will fire at in a gun fight so you can move just before they shoot). I checked the Ghost Fighter website and their club T-shirts have the slogan "Now you see me...." on the front. In a list of reasons to try Ghost Fighter was the paragraph:

"No more toe to toe. Gone are the days of using our heads as conkers taking hit after hit. The elusive movement of Ghost massively minimises hits".

Double hmmm....

But as I have some tiresome psychological stuff that prevents me from fully enjoying the sparring or fighting side of Krav Maga I thought I'd give it a look. I spoke to a guy named Ade on the phone. He's the only certified Ghost instructor in the Birmingham area and I was welcome to attend for a free lesson. I made my way over to Acocks Green in Birmingham the following Monday and met him and his club members at a small gym. Ade is also a Krav Maga instructor of G2 level and splits his time between the two worlds. I chatted to a couple of guys who were warming up. They told me that the principles of Ghost have boosted their confidence in Krav, and the skills it teaches have given them an edge they didn't have before when fighting.

Talking to Ade he told me there are 4 rules in Ghost.

1). Don't enter No Man's Land.
2). Get off the track.
3). Continuous motion.
4). Don't get hit.

As we formed up in a line we did the Ghost version of Krav's "kida!" which was left foot forward, punch left fist into right palm and shout "respect!" Then we did some warming up to get a sweat on before splitting off into pairs. Ade got us to work on some striking, pointing out that in Ghost there is no sparring until you are advanced in the discipline, mainly as the whole point of Ghost is to avoid getting punched.

He then had one of each pair close their eyes and the partner stand within their reach. The "blind" one had to then throw punches while the other attempted to block. After we'd all had a go Ade explained that if you get too close to someone even a blind man will be able to land at least one punch on you. Therefore it's better to stay out of reach and not enter No Man's Land.

After some more workouts on striking we then moved to a specific technique designed to thwart someone attempting to use jabs. It took me and some of the others a while to crack this but I could see and feel the difference afterwards. The idea is that as someone jabs you, you move your head back, you twist your upper body and "load" your left arm. You then switch stance by swapping your feet and duck around the jabbing fist, stepping to the left of your opponent. You are then in a blind spot and can deliver a hook punch to their face before stepping behind them to come full circle. I really liked this technique and with a lot of practice I could see that it would be useful.

I chatted to Ade afterwards and he broke down what the 4 principles are about.

"Don't enter No Man's Land. Which means don't enter your head into anywhere where you can get hit. Get off the track means if you stay on the track with someone there's going to be a collision, someone's going to get hurt. Continuous motion means that a stationary target is a lot easier to hit than a moving target. And the fourth principle... if you forget about all of that just don't get hit."

From what I could see the basic benefits of Ghost Fighter to me would be that I would be able to approach my reluctance to sparring in a "David and Goliath" mentality as opposed to trying to emulate stronger, more experienced fighters. By that I mean that there are ways to solve problems that require lateral solutions and not direct confrontation. There are several guys in my Krav Maga club who are fast, strong and skilled when sparring. Meeting them head on is a mixed bag at the best of times. Working on my cardio from six weeks before my P5 grading helped me to sustain energy during the milling we had at the end (7 rounds of 2 minutes, full on. Then 10 rounds of 4 against 1. Two as the defender, eight as an attacker). By being fit enough to go the course I was able to keep slugging away and ended up with a score of 8 out of 10 for my sparring, despite failing the grading itself. One thing I noticed during this grading was some guys simply locking up tight by keeping their faces protected but not hitting back in the later rounds. One bloke told me afterwards that he was "blowing out my arse" by about round 5 and felt unable to fight so just gritted his teeth and hung in till the end.

By having suitable cardio fitness levels plus an ability to be "sneaky" and work around other people's frontal strength I believe I would be able to stand my ground much better. The best example would be the tale of a double decker bus that came to a low bridge and was 6 inches too tall to go under it. Various methods were discussed as to how they could get the bus through. Turning it around or dismantling the bridge plus many other suggestions. After a while someone simply said "Why not let the tyres down and drive slowly under then inflate the tyres again?" I don't feel I will ever be able to face some fighters that I know head on and win. However, by adapting my fitness levels to have better endurance plus learning how to get on their flanks, I would feel a lot more confident about my future.

Overall the Ghost Fighter discipline is like an expansion pack on the Playstation or X-Box franchise "Call of Duty." You can buy extra levels featuring new battles with soldiers or even zombies. You can buy maps and equipment and cheat codes but none of them will mean anything unless you have a copy of the main game. Ghost will be useful to me as a bolt-on for my main Krav training.

I'll definitely be back.

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