Billy Manne: Let go and flow

Andrew Raynor


Andrew Raynor

Andrew Raynor Dover NH

The trainer

Kyoshi Billy Manne operates Karma Dojos and runs Energym in Frankston, Victoria. One of Soke Bob Jones’ original students and instructors in Zen Do Kai/Bob Jones Martial Arts, Manne has worked full-time in the martial arts for over 30 years. A consummate student who trains daily, he has earned numerous high ranks including 8th Degree Black-belts in Zen Do Kai freestyle and muay Thai/kickboxing, a Black-belt in BJJ and a 2nd Degree Black-belt in Ki Fusio n aikido under Sensei Mal McRae, as well as instructor accreditations in Tactical krav maga (under Itay Gil), Russian Systema (from the Homo Ludens school in Serbia) and boxing. He is also a dedicated student of Muso Shinden-ryu iaido.

The Drill

This blocking flow drill is pretty basic in its set-up but teaches some very applicable skills. To begin, start with your partner facing you in an aggressive stance; you maintain a balanced but subtle ready-stance, as you would when trying to defuse a confrontation but stay ready to intercept an attack.

When your partner strikes (with either hand, but for beginners, state which one), you deflect it up while shifting back and to the outside just enough to give you space to let the punch pass overhead. Simultaneously you thread your other guarding hand up from underneath to grab the arm — the idea being that you pass control of the punch from one hand to another, redirecting it away from you and using it to help you get to the safer ‘blind side’, away from the second strike.

You partner continues striking, one arm, then the other, and you repeat the process side-to-side several times before swapping. You can also play with controlling the arm to stop your opponent easily throwing the second punch, and might finish each set with follow-up strikes for which you’ve set up by taking the outside position. Once you’ve got the drill down, your partner can also start pressing forward with each punch, changing his angle more to follow you and free up his other arm, etc. — this adds to the ‘aliveness’ of the drill.

The Result

As the introduction states, this drill is a simple way to learn how to let force pass to better your position, while also working on reaction speed (depending on how advanced you are and thus how fast you do it). Most importantly, it teaches you how to position your body best to receive force but also how to let it go — regardless of whether you’re in perfect position or a poor one (when it’s most necessary to release force or become unbalanced).

Of course, in every drill and every technique, students should work on developing a ‘martial arts mind’ — in this case, that means an ability to adapt on the spot when a first technique does not get the desired result. In the case of this drill, this might mean going straight into a suitable follow-up or recovery technique in the case that the hit catches you (or rather, you catch it) off centre and your balance becomes compromised.

I always teach for the worst-case scenario on the street and I train my students to be able to deal with things going wrong. This drill embodies the criteria of effective reality-based techniques, in that it is based around the most common of street attacks — particularly as used for initiating a fight, the ‘sucker punch’ — and also teaches you to always be aware of, and move away from, the opponent’s follow-up weapon. This in turn gives you opportunity to practise positioning yourself for effective follow-ups. 

See the full technique here.

Andrew Raynor

Andrew Raynor New Hampshire

Andrew Raynor

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