Warm-Up Techniques

Please use the following videos to help you prepare your body for self-defense training.  The warm-up is the most important part of any workout because this is the time we take to prepare our bodies for the strain we are going to put it through.  If you do not properly prepare your body for this, you will incur unnecessary injury, possibly preventing you from training for a time, or permanently.  Never skip the warm-up and enjoy the videos.

Front Shoulder Roll Warm Up Drill

The front shoulder roll is an excellent exercise to get your body warmed up for training.  It’s more than just a warm-up exercise though. It is also an excellent way to protect yourself from an unexpected fall.  If you were walking or running and suddenly tripped over something, sending you falling forward face first, then the front shoulder roll is a technique you could use to land safely from the surprise trip and fall.

The description of this technique will be with your left leg forward, but remember to practice both sides equally; you never know which way you might fall!

Alright, here we go with the front shoulder roll step-by-step description.

  • Step 1: Place your left leg forward and your right leg back.
  • Step 2: Bend over and place your right hand on the mat.
  • Step 3: Bend your knees slightly and to a comfortable level.
  • Step 4: Bend your left arm slightly and bring it between your right arm and your legs (Note: you are not bringing your left arm between your legs, you are bringing it between your other arm and your legs).
  •  Step 5: As you bring your left arm between your right arm and your legs, slowly roll over your left shoulder as you look behind yourself.
  • Step 6: Continue the roll until your forward momentum has ended. Note: As you shoulder roll over your left shoulder, you want your body to be shaped like a circle and you want it to roll across the mat like a wheel.
  • Step 7 (Option 1 to end the front shoulder roll): One way to finish this front roll over the left shoulder is to land in a right side Break Fall just as the momentum of the roll ends (Note: The right and left side break fall is described in detail in its own technique video and description that we will post up shortly).  Landing in a break fall will help your body absorb the impact of the fall in a safe manner. This will make it far less likely for you to get injured from the fall.
  • Step 8 (Option 2 to end the front shoulder roll):  A second way to finish the roll over your left shoulder is to tuck your right leg under your body as you come out of the roll and simultaneously place your left leg forward.  From here you can use the last remnants of the roll’s momentum to simply stand back up. Note: This second ending is nice if your fall wasn’t too violent, hard, and/or fast. If your fall was extremely fast, this second ending can actually fling your right back on your face as you tuck your right leg and try to stand up, because there was too much initial momentum going forward.  If this is the case, i.e. if your fall was very sudden and fast, then the break fall might be a better ending option, or you could even do two or more successive front shoulder rolls to kill the momentum and then tuck the leg and stand up as you come out of the final roll. Once you get the hang of the front shoulder roll, you can then begin to experiment for yourself and practice different types of scenarios and falls you might find yourself in.


Backwards Shoulder Roll Warm Up Drill

Like the front shoulder roll, the back shoulder roll is an excellent warm-up exercise and it can save your life if you suddenly slip and fall backwards.

The following description will be for a backwards roll over your left shoulder.

  • Step 1: We will begin this technique in a seated position.
  • Step 2: Turn your head and look to your left shoulder.
  • Step 3: Gently push off the mat with your feet and rock backwards.
  • Step 4: As you rock back, continue to look at your left shoulder and bring your hips and legs up and over your head (Note: During this step you can add in a back break fall as you rock back, right before your hips begin to lift off the mat; the back break fall is described in its own video).
  • Step 5: As your hips and legs begin to come over your head, lean your weight slightly towards your left shoulder (Note: The goal here is to shift your weight as you roll so that your body can easily roll over your left shoulder; this way your weight won’t go straight back onto your neck as you roll).
  • Step 6: As your hips come over your head and you lean your weight towards your left shoulder slightly, continue to look at your left shoulder and complete the shoulder roll by coming to your knees.  Once your’re on your knees you can go ahead and stand up or go back to a seated position for your next back roll.

Once you begin to get the hang of this move, you can make it a little more challenging and realistic if you begin it from a standing position.  From a standing position, squat down and then rock back. At this point everything else is the same as the above description. As with all techniques, start out very slow on your back rolls until you begin to feel comfortable with them. Once you feel comfortable you can begin to go a little faster.  Be very careful of your neck when practicing back rolls.  Pay attention to where your head position is and be careful not to roll over the top of your head, possibly straining your neck.  


Hip Mobility Warm Up Drill

This hip mobility drill is very important to get the hang of, as you will see it appear over and over again in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and submission grappling/wrestling.  It is a key drill that will help you to become very mobile, agile, active, and offensive whenever you are caught on your back. Being on your back during a self-defense situation is never ideal, but if you master this hip mobility drill you will have taken the first step on the very important and challenging journey of being able to effectively defend yourself off of you back.

Please note that there are a few different ways to practice this drill as a warm up.  For example, you could practice it as a general body motion or you could practice it simulating a specific technique such as an elbow knee escape for when you are mounted by your opponent (note that we go over a few of the different ways in which this drill can be used in the hip mobility video above).  For this written description, we are going to give you step by step instructions for the general hip mobility motion that is applied in many different grappling techniques with minor adjustments depending on technique. So, the following description will be for a generalized hip mobility movement to your left side.

  • Step 1: Begin by lying on your back with your arms bent and tucked tight to your body.  Your hands should be in front of your chest, under your jaw, and your jaw should be tucked to your clavicle bringing your head up and off of the ground.  Your hands should resemble the little arms of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. When we teach kids we call this positioning of the arms: “T-Rex Arms”. Your feet should be tucked up close to your butt and about shoulder width apart.
  • Step 2: Use your feet to slightly bridge/lift your hips up, about two to four inches should be enough.  Bridging your hips up a little will open up some space, allowing you to move your hips a little bit easier.
  • Step 3: Use your legs to push yourself onto your side and over to your left shoulder.
  • Step 4: With your left shoulder as a pivot point, use your legs to begin pushing your hips back behind you at about a 45 degree angle.  This should begin to move your hips up towards your head.
  • Step 5: Continue to push your hips back with your feet until your knees and elbows connect together.  You should now be in what resembles a fetal position on your left side. Make sure that your head is still off of the ground.  This is the end position for the left side hip mobility drill.
  • Step 6: From here you can continue the drill by rolling to your back once again.and resetting your body back to step 1.  To continue the drill, simply perform steps 1-5 again but this time reverse and go to your right shoulder and side.


Break Fall Drills

Understanding how to properly fall is very important.  This technique is not just for self-defense. Falling can happen in a variety of situations, and not understanding the nature of a falling body can spell disaster for your body.  Often when people fall, our natural instinct is to use our hands to stop the fall. Unfortunately, this is the worst thing you can do when falling because it can often lead to broken bones due to the impact of the fall.  In order to reduce the chances of injury, we drill break falls to train our bodies to properly absorb the impact of a fall. There are several types of break falls which will help you to address a variety of falling situations.  It is important to practice all types of falling motions so that you are ready to apply them in any falling situation.  

Backwards Break Fall Warm Up Drill


Side-to-Side Break Fall Warm Up Drill


Wrestling Shot Warm Up Drill

In this video, we will be showing you the basic wrestling shot technique.  In any self-defense situation, it is important that you know how to stop people from taking you down, as well as knowing how to take someone down if necessary.  Remember, these are warm up techniques which will help you prepare your body for the main training. Some of these warm up techniques may not make much sense at first, but once you have worked through the foundational self-defense techniques, they will make more sense.  These techniques are meant to help prepare your body for the main training.

To begin, you want to get into a self-defense stance, where your dominant leg is behind your non dominant leg, staggered with a shoulder width distance between your feet.  Please see the self-defense stance video for more details. Begin with your self-defense stance, but remember that it is always important to practice both sides to insure that you do not become dependent on one side.  Situations will change depending on the type of confrontation, so practicing both sides will ensure that you can handle any situation you may encounter.

To begin, you want to be sure that your elbows are tight to your sides. You do not want your elbows chicken winging out to the sides.  Your hands should be up by your head to protect against any possible strikes your attacker may be attempting. You want to have a slight bend to the knees, do not lock your knees out at any time.

When you are ready to begin the shot, you want to change your body level.  This is done by bending at the knees. Do not bend your back, your back will remain straight, so you simply want to change the level of your head position.  If you bend at your back, you are moving your head towards your attacker, which may put you in the red zone. Essentially, you are performing a lunge motion with your legs.  Lunges are an excellent exercise to help you build leg strength for takedowns.  

Once you have changed level, you will then take a step forward with your lead leg.  In wrestling, this is called the penetration step, and is a crucial step in the takedown technique.  The penetration step is what allows you to close the distance to your attackers body.

Once you have completed your penetration step, you will drop to your lead knee, following the motion and direction of the penetration step.  Your back leg will simply follow your motion during the penetration step and knee drop. From this point, you will now bring your back leg up and out to the side, so that your back leg foot lines up with your lead leg knee on the ground.  From this point, you may simply stand up and begin the technique again.  

Note:  Do not slam your knee down hard as you drive forward.  The level change is what helps you make a controlled knee drop.  If you do not change level enough, you may hit your knee hard and injure yourself.  Remember, our goal is to get out of any self-defense situation with as little damage as possible.  Self inflicted damage is unnecessary if proper training is completed, so be sure to pay attention to all the details to ensure personal safety.  Don’t rush through the techniques. Speed and power comes with proper technique.

It is up to you how you want to drill your wrestling shots.  You may want to drill one side for several repetitions and then move to the other leg, or you may want to alternate each leg, the choice is yours and is subject to personal preference, just make sure to drill both sides equally.  This will also depend on the space you have available to you. Adjust your drills to the space available to you.