Crazy Monkey Key Concepts

I have spent over a decade researching, testing, refining and pushing the boundaries of what is known about real performance in a fight. I am very proud of what I have developed and achieved.

Below is a first attempt at cataloging all of what I have developed over the past decade. It is a work in progress, and I will continue to add to it as I have time (please check back regularly). I hope in time to include actual visual examples of each of the ideas presented here.

Obviously, when you want to convey ones knowledge to others, terminology has to be created to best describe that which is meant to be conveyed. It makes it easier for teaching, it also allows others to teach it too. I want to be absolutely clear though, this however, does not assume exclusive ownership to the methods, techniques and or strategies described below. If I can claim ownership to anything, I feel it is in the way I have brought these ideas, and concepts together — and in the way I coach them.

What follows then are key ideas and insights that I present in the Crazy Monkey Defense program. It is what I teach every day. I have used these personally to great success, both on the mat, in the ring, and equally in the streets of self preservation. I have taught many of these ideas to law enforcement, and SF operators. I am not claiming what I have created is by any means a definitive answer to martial prowess. I would never be that bold to claim I have all the answers. Rather, Crazy Monkey Defense is a work in progress, and I hope that in subsequent versions, more can be added, or ideas already presented better refined.


Fight Spirals (Established Through The Entire Game)

In Crazy Monkey we describe the experience of engaging an opponent, in sparring, or self-preservation as resembling a spiral. If one draws a spiral outwards from the center of the opponent facing you, it is easy to visualise the different ‘ranges’ ones find oneself in, in relation to the opponent.

In Crazy Monkey we refer to the closest point on the spiral, where you and your opponent are touching as the CM3 game (i.e., clinch boxing). This encompasses both the physical component of that game (i.e., techniques, strategies and tactics), as well as the psycho-emotional component of being in that range (i.e., the Spiral of Control).

Moving to the second level of the spiral, which is mid-way between being close and being at a long range, we refer to this as the CM2 game. This encompasses both the physical component of that game (i.e., techniques, strategies and tactics), as well as the psycho-emotional component of being in that range (i.e., the Spiral of Dominance).

Moving to the third level of the spiral, which can be viewed as long range, we refer to this as the CM1 game. This encompasses both the physical component of that game (i.e., techniques, strategies and tactics), as well as the psycho-emotional component of being in that range (i.e., the Spiral of Confidence).

The fourth level of the spiral is what we refer to as ‘No Man’s Land’. At this range, you cannot engage an opponent without working yourself back into one of the other spirals. From a self-preservation perspective, No Man’s Land can also be seen as removing oneself completely from the fight, and possibly moving towards an exit strategy.

As you can see from those descriptions, not only do we attend to the physical aspects of the fight game (i.e., techniques, strategies and tactics), but equally the mental aspects of engaging in the fight (or what we call Embodied-Mind Performance).


The 4 Drivers

The 4 Drivers can be thought of as four key ingredients that ‘drive’ an effective stand up game. These are Defense, Tight Economical Structure, Balance and Conditioning. In my experience when someone is struggling with their stand up game in a performance environment (i.e., sparring) it often comes down to one of these four drivers that are not been attended too. 


CORE Games

The CORE games encompass all the techniques, strategies, tactics and mental game tools required to successfully engage an opponent along the Fight Spiral continuum. The CM1 CORE game focuses on developing long range fight skills, the CM2 CORE game focuses on developing mid range fight skills, CM3 CORE game focuses on developing the clinch boxing game and finally the CM4 CORE game focuses on the ground, but with an emphasis on getting back to ones feet safely (Crazy Monkey Defense after all is a striking based program).


Embodied-Mind Performance for Sparring & Life (EMP)

EMP is the ‘mental game’ training program of Crazy Monkey Defense. While we use ‘mental game’ as a short hand, it is far more than what is happening in your head that affects peak performance. Mind and body are one, not two. We have developed an entire system to help people achieve success beyond the physical game, but equally to take their physical game into a performance realm they never thought possible. This may be a bold claim, but to my knowledge Crazy Monkey Defense is the only modern martial art program that not only has a systematic approach to developing a peak performance mental game for the fight, but equally ensures its trainers can coach it as well. These ‘mental game’ skills are equally effective in life and career.


The CM1 CORE Game

The CM1 Game encompasses the Crazy Monkey 1 Hand Defence, the Rim Shot Range, and the techniques, strategies and tactics delivered out of that range (i.e., kicks, long range striking etc).


Hunchback Stance (Established Through The Entire Game)

The Hunchback Stance is Crazy Monkey’s signature fighting platform. Developed to be mobile, but tempered with solid covering for optimal defence. Its structure has been specifically designed to facilitate CM’s key techniques for example the hand defence and diving board strikes.


CORE Four-Directional Footwork

One of the maxims we have in Crazy Monkey is “complexity kills”. In other words the more complicated you make something, the less likely a person will be able to retrieve it in a high pressure situation (i.e., a fight). This is why, everything in Crazy Monkey has been distilled to its most essential core quality, that will work when it matters most, under real fight pressure. Nowhere is this more evident than in our approach to footwork. For most of Crazy Monkey training a person will be taught four directional footwork, moving forward, backwards and circling left/right. While other footwork patterns may arise from time to time, in our experience these are the primary go to patterns, and will be seen in most fights 99% of the time.


Diving Board Strikes (CM1 & CM2 Game)

When striking using the straight line shots (i.e., jab, cross) we believe as they are the primary foundation striking weapons, not only must they be offensive, but defensive at the same time. The Diving Board action, not only protects the users head/jaw line, it also allows for breaching over an opponents high guard, as well as aligning the fist correctly to prevent unnecessary injuries to ones hand.


Rim Shot Range (CM1 Game/Spiral of Confidence)

All systems of combat/martial arts have ranges were various weapons are deployed. The Rim Shot range in Crazy Monkey can be thought of as the long distance range (we also refer to it as the first distance of engagement). Here you are one step away from engaging an opponent with long range weapons like the jab or cross.

Unlike many systems of martial arts that tend to focus primarily on the specific weapons to be used in a particular range, we consider the psycho-emotional dimensions of range as well. This is why we equally refer to the Rim Shot range when applied correctly as the Spiral of Confidence. When incorrectly applied it becomes the Spiral of Apprehension.


Spiral of Confidence (or Apprehension)

The Spiral of Confidence (or Apprehension) comes into play when you are at the Rim shot range to the opponent. The distance between yourself and the opponent creates more time to actual engagement. Outside of the fact that getting into the ‘fight’ will take longer, it also means that because of the distance, a person now has more time to think. Often though the thoughts that occupy a person at a distance to their opponent are unhelpful ones (i.e., “Should I wait,” “should I go in” etc). These unhelpful thoughts can often invoke apprehension in the person trying to engage from the rim. The result, a less than desirable outcome.

In Crazy Monkey not only do we work on the physical application of Rim Shot range, including the appropriate weapon deployment, by equally how to build what we call ‘Psychological Armour’. This is achieved not only by trusting ones training, for example specifically knowing that ones defence will hold up to an onslaught of strikes (or what we call Riding The Storm), but equally that a strong ‘mental game’ will stay intact under that kind of pressure (i.e., Psychological Armour).


Rim Shot Micro-Ranges (CM1 Game)

The Rim Shot range is broken into three micro-ranges. Holding the Rim means staying just out of long range striking distance (i.e., one step away from an opponents jab/cross). Engaging From The Rim, means that you have to move towards the opponent by taking a step forward, and in doing so, you are able to engage him with your long range striking weapons (i.e., Jab, cross, loose hook, loose uppercut, jab/cross to the body or overhand).

Engaging from the Rim is two fold. If your opponent doesn’t move away from you, and holds his ground — you can engage him with your long range striking weapons (i.e., Jab, Cross, loose hook, loose uppercuts, overhand), but he can also do the same to you. Unlike Holding the Rim, Engaging from the Rim means you put yourself in the firing line against your opponents long range striking weapons too. This is why in Crazy Monkey having great defence is so important to be able to Ride The Storm of incoming attacks.

The final micro-game is Safely Returning to the Rim. This means getting back to where you started, one step away from your opponents long range striking tools safely (i.e., using the safety jab and correct use of circular footwork).


Riding The Storm ( An Entire Game Concept)

Riding The Storm is a term we use to describe when the CM defence is activated and is working to defend the person using it from incoming attacks. Its both a physical concept (i.e., using CM defense to defend incoming strikes/attacks), but also a psycho-emotional concept (i.e., psychologically and emotionally giving you the confidence to survive the pressure of someone hitting you or what we call Psychological Armour).


CM 1 Hand Defence (CM1 Game)

CM1 hand defence is where Crazy Monkey started. CM1 Defense is primarily deployed outside of the Rim Shot range. The focus is on keeping safe, riding the storm, and developing psychological armour so that the user can decide to go in and end the fight, or exit the fight safely.



While Crazy Monkey Defense is primarily an upper body martial art system, we also include kicks. The kicks we coach however are geared almost exclusively for the street. This means kicking is kept low, and delivered to vulnerable areas (i.e., knees, groin etc). We also ensure here that our clients can adequately defend mid to high kicks, but always with an emphasis of defeating the opponent with upper body strikes (we do however place heavy emphasis on using knee strikes, but those come into play in the CM2 and CM3 CORE games).


The CM2 CORE Game

The CM2 game encompasses the mid-range, CM2 hand defense, as well as the strategies and tactics delivered out of this part of the game.


Mid-Range (CM2 Game/Spiral of Dominance)

While fighting from the outside is effective, most fights are ended once a person moves into the mid and close range. The mid range is where you can bring your midline power strikes to bear (i.e., diving board strikes, midline hooks, vertical uppercuts, shovel hooks, street strikes and unattached knees etc). Ultimately the CM2 game is about taking the fight to the opponent.


Spiral of Dominance

As part of our Fight Spiral methodology we recognise through years of research and training, that a persons ‘mental game’ changes depending on where they are in relation to their opponent (i.e., distance). At the long range, people require strategies to develop their confidence, because without that they will never go into the fray of the fight. Because confidence is needed there, and as mentioned earlier, it is also where a lot of apprehension occurs (i.e., “Should I engage now,” “should I wait till he attacks” etc).

While the Spiral of Confidence (or when it goes wrong the Spiral of Apprehension) starts on the outside, the Spiral of Dominance on the other hand happens when someone takes that initiative and is willing to engage an opponent, even though they know, they are walking into All Guns Fire (i.e., for the most part the opponent can bring all his weapons to bear on you). Typically most people once they move forwards, narrow their focus, and are able to maintain what is required ‘mentally’ to do the business. The problem arises when someone tries to over dominant, which occurs when their arousal levels are high — and they either overshoot, gas themselves out (i.e., run out of energy), forget to breath, or don’t achieve the desired outcome , etc. In fact it is in the disengagement from the mid-range where most people get hurt. This is why we coach our clients how to effectively manage this part of the fight game through our EMP program.


CM2 Micro-Ranges

As with the CM1 game the CM2 game is equally nuanced. It’s not simply about moving towards a target and engaging it, it is also about knowing exactly where to hold oneself so that the CM2 game can actually be applied. Stay to far out, and you cannot use the strategies and tactics of CM2 – end up going to close, and you will now find yourself in the clinch (i.e., CM3 game).


CM2 Hand Defence

There is not just one kind of defensive action in Crazy Monkey Defense. While the CM1 hand defence works fantastic at a long range, it is inadequate if one wants to use it to close the distance on the opponent. For this you need CM2 hand defense. The CM2 hand defence is similar in nature to CM1 defense, but has an added component of evasiveness. This way, a person can slip past incoming strikes, remain safe — whilst being in the right position to deliver powerful mid-range strikes.


Sneaky Street Strikes

Building out of the CM2 game are a series of strikes I have successfully used in self-preservation. These include, the Boomerang, Caveman, and Sneak-A-Roo amongst others. These strikes require a person to be closer to an opponent to execute and the mid-range is ideal for these kinds of strikes.


3-Point Cover (used from CM1, into CM2 to CM3 games)

The 3-Point Cover (3PC) is more self-preservation oriented (although it can also be used in sparring). The objective is to go to a tight cover response when attacked, and then drive the point of the elbow into the opponent, either as an attack, to clear the threat, or to make space to bring other weapons to bare. The 3PC can be used from the outside game (CM1 game) to move quickly through the mid-range (CM2 game) and into the clinch (CM3 game). The 3PC is a super successful approach to defence especially when surprised attacked (i.e., ambushed).


Tactical Brace For Accelerated Recovery (TBAR)

The TBAR like the 3PC is more self-preservation oriented. Like the 3PC it is designed to intercept an attacker, survive the onslaught of strikes, and use it either to hold an attacker off, and or remove the threat — so other weapons can be deployed. The TBAR is most successfully deployed when knowingly facing an aggressor.


The CM3 CORE Game

The CM3 game encompasses the close quarter or clinch boxing range. Here the focus is on Crazy Monkey’s Straight Jacket Clinch program, where close quarter strikes are executed, while controlling, and nullifying the opponents attacks at the same time.


Spiral of Control

The CM3 game equates to the Spiral of Control. Naturally the close proximity of this game implies that in the clinch you are seeking to control the opponent. However, this is often the place where people try to rush an outcome, forget to breath and easily gas themselves out. Through the EMP program we coach clients how to keep calm, focused and systematic in their mental game so they can effectively use this range to their advantage.


Straight Jacket Clinch (CM3)

The Straight Jacket Clinch (SJC), or Dirty Boxing how it is sometimes referred too, is both defensive and offensive at the same time. On the one hand it enables you to control and neutralise your opponents movements and counter attacks at close range, but also allows you to set up devastating close quarter striking (CQS) techniques.


Combat Intelligent Athlete

The Combat Intelligent Athlete (CIA) is our civilian program, where we take the lessons we coach on the mat, and translate them for street-defense. Along with CIA, we also have Combat Intelligent Soldier, and Combat Intelligent Officer programs.


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  1. Brilliant overview of the key concepts of CMD! Although i am a CM Trainer i found this latest Blog entry very helpful! Awesome job from James and Jay, too! Thanks heaps Rodney