Background: I first visited Sifu Nik Farooqi in 2013 while travelling through Chicago. It was an awesome experience and got me excited to try more Jeet Kune Do. This translated into a trip to Focus JKD in Nashville where I got a much better idea of what Jeet Kune Do is. The aggressiveness and drive that I saw in both Focus and Ballistic really hooked me into exploring this art more.
When I moved to Chicago I looked up Sifu Nik in order to continue to explore Jeet Kune Do. I really wanted to get a better understanding of how Jeet Kune Do fit within the modern world. Bruce Lee was one of the greatest Martial Arts promoters of the 20th century. Whole generations of Martial Artists have been inspired by what Bruce Lee did.
Jeet Kune Do bursting carries fighters in and out of combat.
“Actually, the father of mixed martial arts, if you will, was Bruce Lee. If you look at the way Bruce Lee trained, the way he fought, and many of the things he wrote, he said the perfect style was no style. You take a little something from everything. You take the good things from every different discipline, use what works, and you throw the rest away.” – Dana White, President of the UFC.
Bruce Lee might be a controversial figure within the world of Martial Arts and there are certainly some that will debate his legacy. However, regardless of what you think about Bruce Lee there is one thing that all Martial Artists can agree on, Bruce Lee has been dead a long time. In the thirty-one years since his death the style he created could have either have grown and flourished or diminished into nothing.
Tossing my partner over me. He recovered instantly with Ballistics ground game.
It was great to see that Ballistic Martial Arts is certainly the former case. They have taken the philosophies laid down by Bruce Lee and the following generations to grow even further. Ground fighting and submission wrestling are now part of the Ballistic arsenal. Sifu Nik is also certified firearms instructor and teaches a variety of weapons self-defence classes and programs. Although this may seem counter to Bruce Lee’s lightning fast hands it should be noted that Bruce himself was known to carry a .38 revolver and a 1911 automatic. The weapons are simply an extension of the JKD program.
What did I learn: Ballistic Fighting Methods actually conducts their class “backwards” against many contemporary programs. Most classes will do some kind of warm up, basic drills and then move into sparring. Ballistic flips this paradigm on its head by having you jump straight into sparring and grappling. I really enjoyed fighting this way because you enter the fight fresh. Well sometimes…
I drive my opponent back with a kick.
Ballistic Fighting Methods also runs a wicked cardio program. Combining kettlebells with some cardio and strength exercises pushes you to your max. Sweet drenched with muscles burning you get dumped into sparring. Personally I found this to be an excellent way to attack your training. This has you entering your fighting anywhere from perfect fighting shape to bone tired depending on the night. This diversity in the range of how you engage a fighter is excellent for developing a tactical mindset.
Defaulting to my experience of competing in a variety of tournaments I truly see the value in a drill like this. It would be a wonderful world if I always got to engage opponents that I was fresher, stronger and faster than them. Reality is painfully different. I have been in fights where I was fresher than my opponents and others where I was wondering how I was going to make it through the round. By fighting in this manner it forces you to consider a multitude of game plans and options to run through. You learn to be conservative while tired yet still engaging and how to bring the thunder when you are fresher.
Sifu Nik whips a kick into my mid-section.
What was similar: Sifu Nik drilled us hard on the concept of switching levels and switching angles. We worked on “selling techniques.” I love to “sell” techniques to people and use my background in Praying Mantis to do it a lot and I am constantly changing levels. In my last visit to my friend Sifu Tom Lugo’s Integrated Kung Fu Academy we worked heavily on fakes and how to bait your adversary in. These techniques mirror across many arts.
Bruce Lee's backfist was infamous and Sifu Nik has adapted it to work in the modern world.
The reason that changing levels and selling fakes is such a big part of my game is simple. I am a big guy and as a big guy I telegraph many of my techniques. It’s a factor of size that I can’t control. If a small fighter twitches the movement can easily become lost in his motion. When I twitch that same motion covers a larger area and is more visible to my adversaries. Nothing I can do about it and shrinking anything other than my waistline isn't in the cards at the moment.
By “selling” someone a fake I can throw them off their game and bring them into mine. Although I focus on controlling my telegraphing I don’t make it a core focus to eliminate. Instead I use those very same tells against the other fighter. Because they can “see” my techniques I let them read the fake and think that they are going to intercept or block it. Once they commit to the fake I am able to slid into the opening and exploit it. Since this is an article on Jeet Kune Do it is fitting to cap this section with a quote from Bruce Lee. “To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”
Sifu Nik showing me how to sell the technique.
Conclusion: Ballistic Martial Arts was a great program. Covering stand up fighting to ground techniques, knives and sticks to firearms, Ballistic is constantly growing and evolving. Sifu Nik holds the “Warriors Weekends” where Martial Artists of all stripes get together to exchange techniques and grow. They aren't a static art lost in the past rather a dynamic art that remembers where it came from.
A great class with great guys to learn from.
Best regards and keep training,
Martin "Travelling Ronin" Fransham
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