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Joe Hubbard’s Street Fighter’s Toolbox DVD Review
As Reviewed by Lee Morrison
What can I say about this DVD other than its absolutely excellent, great content from Joe Hubbard, very basic functional combative skills applied in a very ‘live’ and efficient way, there’s lots of concepts, principles and ideas incorporated into a very functional toolbox as the name suggests. Joe has formulated all the essential elements needed, in order to deal with a violent confrontation on the street. Situations of this kind are categorised in two ways; the interview or the ambush. Obviously if awareness, is not in place then any situation that you find yourself in will be an ambush attack. Assuming that we all understand that fact, we are now concerned with countering the interview. Most situations will start with talking and some kind of dialogue.
This may be either deceptive or aggressive and is employed by the aggressor as an initial entry for the attack; this is the way the aggressor of today operates. Joes offers sensible advice for protecting personal space as we attempt to employ non-physical options to defuse the situation. He demonstrates how you can passively receive that information in order to disarm the potential attacker and then proactively take the guy out with non-telegraphic telling strikes, incorporating some of our most dangerous tools to the most vulnerable target areas. I like the way that Joe has integrated the combative mindset along with some of the principles of Close Quarter Combat that are a mainstay in all systems. Joe uses a holistic approach by combining methods from Military Combatives, Defensive Tactics along with some of the more functional methods within the martial arts.
As Joe himself says, this is material that he has learned from others; he like me has merely continued to carry the torch. But I can see, that like myself Joe has taken what he has been given and stood it up against his own live experience with modern day violent society (in Joe’s case 6 years on the door along with experience of the street) and adapted the same to form his own functional jigsaw. The result has given it a modern twist and more of a flow. You can see the 20 yrs plus of Martial arts experience that Joe Hubbard has, as he has integrated it into his Combative method. In short you can see Joe Hubbard’s signature on it. I really like the fact that he has not simply regurgitated material that he has learnt from others, but has actually applied it in a method that is logical to him, thus offering a formula for you to do the same. This production starts with an introduction into the dynamics of a possible confrontational situation, summed up in two phases really either by an ambush or an interview and how a lot of the static ness in the martial arts of today just won’t work in terms of countering real world violence. What is interesting is the controversial point that Joe makes, about one line of thinking; that is, if we have too many skills to remember we can create log jam, in other words, when the time comes to use such skills under stress, our cognitive thinking process disappears and our decision making ability is impaired therefore log jam can occur making access to skills difficult.
This is something that most of us are familiar with; I included. Conversely to this, Joe Hubbard’s approach is that we have the ability to learn lots of simple every day movements without fail and do so every day. Therefore his idea of thinking is to take a range of basic tools and flow them in a variety of ways, ingrain them through repetition and they will come out. I can see the intelligence in this line of thinking. I also do think personally that such methods might be impaired by stress, but if they are hard wired into a few basic skills, the likes of which Joe gives you and you can learn to flow them well, then a good positive approach will come out. The basic strikes are just that really quite basic, I like the way Joe describes weapon formation from fingertips to elbow before moving on to more low line tools. One example will be palm-associated strikes, where he combines a face smash to a chin-jab to a palm strike etc.
The same with finger-associated strikes like an eye jab rake and thumb gouge etc. I like the commonalities of that. He goes on to talk about having your co-ordinated side forward much like the JKD principle of strong side forward so for example, a right handed person will have their right side forward and predominately use their lead hand tools, this will leave their less dominant hand further back so it now has that extra increase in range to give it more power. Therefore both sides become strong, again good thinking in line with Bruce Lee’s JKD approach. Personally I take the approach of learning to use both sides regardless of what side is forward, I don’t want any weak links I want the highest probability of success for me.
To get that I need to be able to train both sides, but I like the thinking of lead side forward. The positions that he uses are basically a hands high de-escalation fence; which Joe calls the interview stance and also the prayer position. These commonalities are known to all of us that practise this kind of thing, basically what we are looking at, are non-telegraphic positions from which to operate. This allows you to employ the use of deception, using very natural movements to set up a pre-emptive attack, which Joe does extremely well. All the basics are covered, his approach to teaching tool development come from the fingertips down to the elbow I quite like that simple approach, a good teaching mythology. Joe also shows the chin jab/palm strike/cradle-blow/Hammer-fist/forearm strike it’s all in there, including use of the elbows and knees and low line kicks to the groin and legs etc. The combination that he puts together is really to meet what he calls the chaos of combat. The Chaos of combat is basically what McCann would define as a live moving struggle. Something you need to learn to flow and adapt to. A couple of nice little drills that he puts together for instance, an eye jab off the lead hand, stepping in with a face smash to bring the head back, the raking down the face with the hand clawed then coming back in for a double thumb gouge, very nice combative stuff.
He also makes great use of the arm drag, which is a really good way to manoeuvre/manipulate, your aggressor into a position where it’s going to be less beneficial to him and better for you. Joe shows a great little flow drill for the arm drag that will help you develop that movement. Attribute development drills are something that a lot of people within the Combatives fraternity, tend to shy away from. My own personal thinking is once you’ve got basic combative hard skills down, you’ve got then down. You can become proficient in a relatively short period of time. Even if you go to a seminar you will come away with something, even if you never train again you will have some degree of hard skills from that point on. Particularly if you are a committed trainer however its difficult keep on increasing in power and speed once you are hitting as hard and fast as you can, what you need from here is attribute development and a lot of the previous systems that some people may have studied, Joe in particular and myself included can offer you that; hence the reason a lot of us cross train.
One such example comes from a Filipino background. Such systems tend to develop great flow and tactile sensitivity. Such attributes are very useful as you can see from the way Joes puts it all together. So very good DVD gets the thumbs up from me great title as well. Another thing that you can see within Joe’s combative approach is that the majority of combative systems really deal with the conflict phrase of a potential assault the area where the actual confrontation has taken place, its all about mindset and tactical skills put in place to eliminate threat and Combatives achieves that aim extremely well, some of the best stuff I have ever seen has come from Combatives I don’t think I’ve ever trained in anything better than I am doing now.
The only problem with that is obviously because Combatives were predominately borne out of warring experience WW1, Shanghai, WW2 etc. Basically what we are left with is a clean-cut combative approach that deals with the threat, because that is what was needed in times of conflict. In modern society you tend to need some of the elements from reality based approach which deal with the pre-conflict phase as well as the conflict phase we talked about and also post conflict phase.
Understanding the pre-attack cues, body language, and verbal dissuasion, talking down etc this is pre-conflict. The conflict part of the equation is quite simple just nail the fucker! From here you are looking at post-conflict. Post-conflict is escaping safely, tacitly disengaging looking around for further threat, understanding third party observation etc, these kind of things Joe Hubbard addresses really well, this is more in line with what I teach, what you might call the Modern Combatives approach, basically combining the best of Combatives with what’s available in reality based self-defence today.