The Evolving Trajectory of My Martial Arts Programs
by Rodney King
Over the years my programs have evolved to now encompassing both life long martial art experiences, to short intense courses for the busy individual. These programs have evolved for various reasons, some because of my own personal journey, whilst others emerged out of requests from those who follow my work. I can vividly remember back to the inception of the Crazy Monkey hand defense action, when that’s all there was, to what is now arguably one of the most important martial systems taught around the world.
Needless to say, it is an exciting time in my evolution, both as a teacher, business owner, and what I have always viewed myself as, a martial arts inventor. Nothing excites me more than evolving old martial art paradigms into seeing new solutions to ‘old problems’. I have always loved exploring older martial art forms, and looking for the seed of functionality that must have been there once upon a time. At its heart fighting is fighting. When you strip away stylised expressions, personality, historicity and culture — deep within lies the truth of fighting that our ancestors invariably uncovered during their evolutionary need to survive.
Crucially, my love affair with martial arts, and exploring the best way to overcome a martial problem, has never been driven by fame. If no one was interested in my work tomorrow, it wouldn’t for a moment diminish my enthusiasm. I have been compiling my own solutions to martial problems since I was 12-years old, and that continues now into my mid 40’s. I am of course humbled by the fact that many people in the world see value in my work, and either want to teach it to others, or simply want to experience it for themselves. As such, I am briefly outlining my current offerings, all of which are available as the New Year springs upon us. Many of these offerings can be learned at seminars that I am regularly invited to teach around the world. Some of these seminar hosts are trainers in my programs, whilst others are simply fans of my work. Some of my material you can learn about online, while many other people now travel yearly to my studio in Johannesburg to train with me personally. To be honest, I have always felt that this is the best thing a person can do. If any of this interests you, feel free to mail me here.
The Crazy Monkey Defense System
As I noted earlier, CMD evolved from humble beginnings as only a hand defense taught in a Scouts Hall in Johannesburg, to a fully fledged martial arts system now taught around the world. Many of these trainers have been with the program for well over a decade.
Crazy Monkey Defense is first and foremost a striking based martial system, inspired by Western boxing, but came into being through my experience surviving the mean, unforgiving streets of Johannesburg. While our priority in CMD is to continue to teach a functional, dynamic stand up martial system, it has evolved through the way we coach, as a truly accessible martial arts system for anyone.
From kids to adults everyone can learn CMD, and while I am always wary myself of the hype often marketed around martial systems, I can honestly say, without hesitation that CMD is a system of fighting that requires minimal flight time to learn, and to deploy. This is likely why it has been taught, and endorsed by special force military operators, law enforcement teams, and close protection details.
Finally CMD has become a lifestyle. While this was never my intention, as I evolved from that scared, emotional wreck in my early 20’s, and through CMD, and my personal inner work overcome those inner obstacles — it was natural that this would influence the future direction of the system. As such, people don’t only come to CMD to learn a real world martial system, but in addition because of how it makes them feel off the mat in the world.
Monkey-Jits Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
For a long time I had a love-hate relationship with jiu-jitsu. In fact, I hated it more than I loved it. I think part of it was that being in South Africa in the mid 90s I felt isolated and very much on my own. The people that I could find to train and learn from often presented an approach to BJJ I simply wasn’t a fan off.
It wasn’t until I became a black belt that I had the confidence to put my own stamp on my jiu-jitsu training, and the way I wanted to teach it. Even then, if it wasn’t for the continued requests from CMD Trainers to start a sister trainers program for BJJ, I may have simply kept my approach to myself.
Today Monkey-Jits is quickly becoming as popular as Crazy Monkey Defense. I think the reasons for this is that we actively focus on the self-preservation aspect of BJJ, while many other academies don’t. We have been able to find the right balance between ensuring our students can effectively defend themselves with their jiu-jitsu skills, while honouring and coaching the life performance aspect of the Art. This is why our tagline is: Flow as The Way. I want both my students, and those who teach the Monkey-Jits approach to be able to flow against all of life’s struggles and challenges, be that in self-defense on the street, or defense of the self in the boardroom. I think we have achieved that.
Weaponise-Your-Body (WYB) Course
WYB is a stand alone workshop/short course that is separate from all my other programs. I created WYB after being asked by several companies to offer a short, practical self-preservation course to their staff. WYB was so successful, that we now offer both a trainers certification in the workshop, and have opened the workshop to anyone who truly wants to learn life saving skills needed to survive interpersonal violence.
While I recognise the limitations of a short course, not everyone has the means to dedicated hours a week to training martial arts. For those who can we have Monkey-Jits and CrazyMonkey Defense, but for people who need immediate usable self-preservation skills WYB fits a gap in the market. Crucially in the WYB we focus not only on teaching quickly learned physical defensive skills, but arguably more importantly we teach the softer skills of situational awareness, verbal jiu-jitsu, and recognising, and working with the physiological changes that the human body undergoes during physical violence.
Just like the Weaponise-Your Body course, the Street-Jits course is a stand alone offering, and separate from all my other programs. The Street-Jits course evolved from questions I received in BJJ seminars I was conducting — where participants often asked about how to apply those grappling skills in a real fight.
The answers I provided to those questions, not only made me think hard about how to apply the jiu-jitsu training so many people take for granted for a street environment (something often forgotten these days in academies, or simply glanced over) — but equally inspired a course that we now teach to other jiu-jitsu academies, and martial artists. As with the Weaponise-Your Body course, not only do we teach how to apply grappling skills against a striking opponent, we equally place emphasis on the softer skills of situational awareness, verbal jiu-jitsu, and recognising, and working with the physiological changes that the human body will undergo when faced with physical violence.
Several years ago looking for a way to level up my fight game, I realised that physical training will only take a person so far. While everyone, including myself heard how important the inner game was to fight success, no one seemed to have a system or a way to teach it. I gave myself, what seemed then like an impossible task, to create an inner game system of my own.
And that’s exactly what I did. First as a way to take my own fight game to the next level, but then to do the same for my students. While the Sparring-Mind program is part of Crazy Monkey Defense, we also offer it as a stand alone program, that any martial artist regardless of system can learn and achieve the same inner success with. Variations of this course have also been taught to special force military teams, at Google and AirBnB.
EDGED Defense Course
As with our other courses, we offer a course in empty hand versus the blade. Currently the only way to learn this program is in person, either with me, or one of my qualified EDGE Trainers. Due to the nature of the material, I just don’t think it’s the kind of thing someone should be learning off a video (in other words, don’t expect me to be putting out a video instructional out on it, anytime soon).
I have actually been teaching a variation of this program, first as the hand-to-hand combat instructor of my unit in the military, and then to both my own students and some of my close trainers. In fact, Jacques Wagner who is still a trainer in my programs will remember me teaching this program at his gym in the late 90’s.
Our EDGED weapons course takes a pragmatic, real world approach to surviving EDGED weapons. There’s no sugar coating, or magic bullet training — just the raw realities of surviving edged weapons, which may invariably mean surviving on the edge of living. As of 2017 we now have people certifying in the EDGE program to teach others.
Other Things I Am/We are Doing
(Embodied Warrior, Military, LEO’s etc)
As a Team we are still teaching our military and law enforcement programs. We don’t advertise them much as typically requests for these programs come via word of mouth.
Recently I started a personal list entitled Embodied-Warrior: Mat/Street/Life (it’s free) where I share personal insights into my training, what I am working on, and lessons I have learned. Here I focus a lot on how to effectively take the lesson from the mat, to supercharge your life. You can find out how to join here.
I put out at least four blog posts a month, sometimes more. Lately I have been focusing more on self-preservation, and more effective ways to experience martial arts on the mat, as well as more efficient ways to teach and coach.
My Main Focus for 2018 – Come Train With Me in South Africa
As always I want to continue to develop, and refine my programs. What I want to most focus on however is having people just like you come out to train with me at my studio in Johannesburg. Not only do I believe learning in person is really the only way to truly embody what I have to offer, I also want to show you what an amazing environment we have created. Of course there’s seeing the beautiful country of South Africa too. In addition, because I live in South Africa, you can come out and train with me at a fraction of the cost it would be if you trained anywhere else in the world – but still receive world-class coaching. Feel free to contact me for more information here.
September 20, 2018
July 25, 2018
July 20, 2018