Technical Breakdown – Marc MacYoung and Terry Trahan




MARC: What’s funny is how he’s so casual. But if you know what to look for the owner of the arm Terry Trahan is holding is hosed — all it would take is a slight crank
The left cross is possible from that position. But how far does it have to travel?
Distances and direction. (I’m going to break it down into points)
Conversely — moving the same speed how far does Terry have to travel to ‘touch’ the first knuckle of his thumb to his right nipple?
Given comparative speeds, which one would arrive first?
We’re talking a race at same speed, different distances.
Think of a bike wheel. If you remember a point on the hub is moving slower while the ‘same point’ on the wheel is moving MUCH faster.

TERRY: Also, this is a pause to explain something. I wouldn’t stop to talk in this situation. The full move doesn’t end here.
It’s not a demo. I’m teaching how to do something. When you’re teaching people, you have to have artificial pauses and reactions. Once the skill is learned, then you go for more realistic responses.
This is an Eskrima technique. It’s just something that flowed out of training. I think we went into figure 4 arm locks, breaks and takedowns from there.

Looking at that picture, I remember where I was going with this. The reason I was pointing is because that is the direction I wanted to keep moving, the right, pointing hand was an elbow as I pivoted into him, spinning him and slamming him into the wall about 2-3 feet away. You also can’t see our feet and legs, which is a big part of this. My right foot has stepped onto his right foot, pinning it, and not giving him any mobility options, plus ruining his ankle as the circle is completed.

MARC: It is common during teaching ‘pauses’ for the uke to re-position himself so shit doesn’t get broken, snapped or to regain his balance.

Now looking at this photo look at where his wrist is vs. where his elbow is. Odds are this photo was taken AFTER the knifer used Terry’s teaching moment to relieve stress on his elbow. That’s an extremely awkward stabbing position, but a ‘this is the best thing I can do to save my elbow from getting bent the wrong way
The term I use is ‘slaved.’ Meaning the uke’s body is unwillingly connected to the body movement of the person doing the technique.
Because of the mechanics of the arm,and what Terry has developed here (and knows how to use) this guy is slaved to Terry’s body’s movement.
Without the teaching pause the knifer’s elbow would probably still be ‘up’ in a chickenwing position.
Think of Terry as a girl and wiggling his tits at the guy WHILE touching his right nipple with his left thumb.


I loathe the term ‘muscle memory’ because muscles have no brain cells. But for simplicity’s sake I’m going to use it to explain some things.

There are many elements involved in speed. One is the development of neural pathways both in the brain and in the body. Being so grossly simplistic to be completely and technically incorrect — the more one practices doing a certain action a certain way the more ingrained THAT specific movement becomes. In other word these pathways, become highways and extraneous -also slowing — movement is removed from the motion. You do become faster with practice. This is what people think of as ‘muscle memory.’ You ingrain doing a certain move a certain way and get really good and effective at doing a certain move … a certain way …and (this is important) under certain conditions.
I can give you all kinds of examples and ways to mess this up. One that’s always a laugh is to ‘change the conditions’ by standing neck deep in water and try to do kata or throw powerful punches. The first time you try this, do them at speed –you’ll learn a lot about bodymechanics. No matter how good you think you are, you’re going to discover some things that need work. Things that speed and gravity normally cover, blow up on you under different conditions. They go wrong in weird and unexpected ways. When they do you’re going to find yourself scrambling to find a solution to problems you never knew existed.

Another way to change the conditions is to add in factors that don’t exist in training or normal application. For example a boxer jab is motherin’ fast — both going out and coming back. A boxer has the mechanics and range so ‘wired in’ that when circumstances are normal, muscle memory takes over and BOOM! Super fast.

But this speed is very much influenced on not having to consciously think or problem solve on the spot. Boxing for all of its speed and power is a very limited and controlled environment. I use a jab as an example because it’s a specific level, distance, muscles and nerve firing sequence. The slightest change can and does slow things down — even if the over all goal doesn’t change. Wing Chun is in my background where trapping, sticky hands and counters (especially moving his limbs to somewhere else) are common. Instead of ‘blocking’ sideways, if you trap a jab and push the limb down, you significantly slow the retraction time because different muscles and neural pathways have to be used to retract the limb. A good analogy is that you have to find another route home because they’re doing construction on the fastest and most effective way you normally take. Once you know they’re doing construction you can shift to the alternate route a lot faster, but that first time is way slower than the second or third time. All of them are slower than the original way.

I’m going to run with that analogy. What Terry is doing there can be likened to doing road work all over a neighborhood WITHOUT putting up signs — especially detour signs. You have to figure your way out of a complex mess. And do it before he starts digging up other roads. This is made even worse because you’re turning blind corners.

Here’s the money shot of this subject. You don’t have muscle memory over new problems. The same goes for when things are changing in ways you’ve never experienced before.

You think the left is the answer. Which BTW, I’m not saying it isn’t. BUT if Terry were to twitch towards his nipple, the knifer would be moved to a completely new position. That aimed left strike relies on the striker controlling his own body’s location. Someone else moving him, really screws things up.

I can give you a simple way to see this. Stand up, aim at a point on the wall, reach out and touch it. Easy right? Now take one step in ANY direction and do the exact same body mechanics. Unless you cheated, you’re not going to touch the same spot from the new location. While you can still touch the same spot, you have to change things — starting with assessing the new proximity and locations to get your firing solution.

ALL of this is assuming the arm didn’t break somewhere in the twitch. That kind of makes coming up with new firing solutions a little more … complicated.

Now everything I just said about striking with the left applies to pulling the arm back. Pulling your arm back from out front is one thing, pulling it back from the side, mixed with “How’d I get here?” and maybe being broken in the process of getting there isn’t as easy as it may seem. It gets WAY more complicated if you’ve never found yourself in those conditions before and/or you’re dealing with a counter attack from his — faster because he knows where you are — right.

There are counters to the conditions he set up in that photo. But they are not ‘natural’ reactions (which the difference between instinctive and counter instinctive movement is something I didn’t go into.) But the solution is VERY counter instinctive. It involves using the left in a very specific manner, re-positioning the right arm and withdrawing it. IF you don’t meet these criteria there’s going to be a lot of pain as things break by doing a natural movement.

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