Sunday, January 19, 2014

Combat Sambo: Club Kozak: Verdun, QC

Background: I have known Coach Eugene Shewchuk for many years. I am not sure what first drew me to his school all those years ago but I knew I had found a home when I did. The classes are intense and designed to pushed you to your limits. Because I was pushed to those limits I found a lot of success in the ring fighting.

Fighting in a Combat Sambo tournament with a pro fighter.

While Sifu John Hum developed a lot of my stand up fighting it was Coach Shewchuk that gave me a ground game. Wutan Canada had just implemented our grappling program in Ottawa and I had almost no experience in ground fighting when I moved to Montreal. After many hard hours in Club Kozak’s gym it was Coach Shewchuk who really motivated me to try full contact fighting.

Coach Shewchuk’s gym has grown and changed over the years as well. I remember training in a homemade ring that wasn’t even close to regulation size. Today the school boasts a real ring and beautiful wrestling mats. Montreal Pancrase tournaments take place in the ring as well as submission wrestling and Sanda Kickboxing matches.

Coached at Kozak I compete in a Pancrase Montreal Tournament.

However, it isn’t just inside the walls of the school that the fighters participate in tournaments. Look around at NAGA and Grapplers Quest and you will find them competing. Club Kozak’s Combat Sambo is routinely on display and bringing home medals. Top quality amateur fighters will find a great home in the gym and can be sure that they will gain a great mix of striking and ground skills.

What did I learn: What makes Club Kozak such an interesting place to train at is that they mix the Combat Sambo together with both sportive and self-defense aspects of training. Coach Shewchuk is a licensed security professional  and you will often find him on patrol during community events in Verdun. The fact that he is working in the security field as well as coaching provides a great dynamic.

When we were working on knife defense this perspective shows. While disabling the attacker there were often times that the defender was placed in a superior position and able to do great harm. Because of Coach Shewchuk’s experience we were shown how use non-lethal force to restrain an attacker. It was this trade off that was fascinating to participate in. I worked on establishing my own security and once I had secured it ensuring that my opponent was restrained properly for their security. All too often I have seen people “freak out” on an opponent and carry a fight well beyond self-defense and into assault.

Coach Shewchuk tosses me around and restrains me to remove my knife.

Travelling the world and getting stay in so many different locations I have had the privilege to train with many different people. As such, I have noticed that self-defense is far from a global standard. Rather it is broken down into smaller regional standards that make sense within their own context. For instance, I have friend that teaches “Conceal & Carry” in Illinois. In Montreal carrying a collapsing baton requires security professionals to have a permit.

Why I like training with Coach Shewchuk is that he intimately knows the regional laws and “rules of engagement.” The movements that we did were done with an example as to why we were executing them. This greatly aids the learning process. Often I hear people question an instructor only to be told that “this is the way we have always done it” failing to account for local laws and the changing times.

Start of a grappling session with friends. 

What was similar: Training with Club Kozak is always a pleasure. It was my home for years and when I showed up with my admittedly ridiculous camera rig they laughed at me. However, in true Kozak style, Coach Shewchuk and a friend of mine stayed after hours and helped simulate a class to test the system. It is moments like that which make me so grateful for their friendship.

Like before, we warmed up with a quick run and then launched into tumbling. In many grappling arts learning to fall and roll are fundamental pieces that need to be practised every time you train. At the end of a class Kozaks will all get together and grapple. Combat Sambo is similar to MMA in most regards other than the fact you wear a kurtka (gi or jacket). This combination of grappling and striking is incredibly effective and not to mention a lot of fun. For filming purposes we limited ourselves to just the grappling aspect in order to test the headgear with the mounted camera in a stressed environment. It was a smashing success despite a few glitches.

Coach Shewchuk and I test the camera rig. 

Conclusion: Club Kozak is a great training centre if you are looking to compete as an amateur fighter. Whether you are grappling, striking or getting into MMA this is a great place to look and develop your skills. The street applications are well thought out and grounded in reality rather than fantasy.Also, if you are in the security field this is a great place to train with an instructor that knows and understands the limitations you face in the workplace. 

A great night training with some great friends. 

Best regards and keep training,

Martin "Travelling Ronin" Fransham 

If you are interested in training together I would love to get together with you. Drop me a line on facebook and we can connect. I would love to learn from you. On Facebook:
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