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Guest Post: FMA, the Big Winner of Rousey vs. Holm

Russ Haas, owner and head instructor at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy in Boca Raton, FL, is back with another look at the Ronda Rousey vs Holly Holm fight at UFC 193. With his background in the martial arts, Russ’s analytical mind started computing, and he wrote a great article, Counterpoint Tactical System Related Fundamentals Used by Holly Holm to Defeat Ronda Rousey, that I’m lucky enough to host for him. Today, he’s back to expand upon his earlier article. Russ has third degree black belts in Counterpoint Tactical System, Cacoy Doce Pares, and Ed Parker’s American Kenpo Karate. He has training in a variety of other arts as well. In this article, his experience and insights show how the tactics that Holly Holm used to defeat Ronda Rousey can be learned in Counterpoint Tactical System and the Filipino martial arts.

Was FMA the big winner in the Rousey vs. Holm fight?

by Russ Haas

Well, my friends, the dust has settled and we have sussed out all the minutiae of what went down in the fight between previously (SPOILER ALERT) undefeated champion Ronda Rousey and the (possibly still) untested MMA challenger Holly Holm during UFC 193 fight held in Melbourne, Australia. We have gone through the basics in the FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF:

1. Denial

My buddy, Marc, says “… never underestimate the power of a good rationalization.” Ha blah blah … any given Sunday … blah blah blah. We have set blame upon EVERYONE: Ronda, her boxing coach, and her game plan. Pretty much everyone but the ring-card girls screwed this up (and they may have, but I DEFINITELY wasn’t watching them, as my wife just may, MAY, read this).

Ha ha, British humour  notice the “our”

2. Anger

We got mad at Ronda for being too cocky, and, boy howdy, many went after her inappropriately hard. We got mad at douche bag after douche bag (yes, I’m talking to you, Joe Rogan and Dana White). Some even got mad at Holly Holm for #winning as another d-bag, Chuck Sheen, would say.

3. Bargaining

I’ll be damned if I didn’t see an article about Holm being on steroids (find it) because, at the weigh in her shorts had… … well, I’ll let that go. [Editor’s Note: Nope, not going to link to that stupidity. The UFC tests their athletes; so, this type of speculation is gross normally, but that article is especially creepy.] There was another about Ronda being too busy with other projects, sponsors and such. “I’d like to see what she could do without all the distractions…” – ha – not in this day and age.

4. Depression

Well, let’s face it—it is sports and not real life, so depression isn’t going to last very long. It certainly may for Rousey, but that may be fodder for a later story. And the MGM Sports Book may take as much as 23 seconds to recover from the “significant blow” that was reported by ESPN: NFL underdogs help Las Vegas rebound from Ronda Rousey loss

5. Acceptance

We have come to a simple reality: on this day, in this place, Holly Holm became the Women’s World Bantamweight Champion . . . and that’s OK.


I saw the REAL winner in that fight and it was the use of alternative (to MMA) tactics. Fundamentally, your average MMA fighter has a great “ground game” or a great “stand up/ striking game.” Further, most would agree that Ronda Rousey had the great ground game and Holly Holm (especially now, upon reflection) had the great stand up/striking game. In the UFC, it is universally understood that fighters must work on their respective weaknesses, but my position is that Holm doubled down on her stand up by incorporating tactics that are ubiquitous in Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) to attain her victory.

Building upon my first article, these are FMA tactics that were similar to what Holm’s used in the fight:

1. Let it pass, or in FMA terminology palasut. Filipino terminology is notorious for its often indigestible use of language, but “to flow” is as fundamental to FMA as you get. Holm exemplified this in the weigh-in skirmish (see the video on YouTube) and throughout the fight. Did you see when Ms. Holm simply ducked under Rousey’s big left that ended with the aggressor face-planting in the cage?

Click the graphic to read Jack Slack’s post-fight analysis. 1

2. Intercepting. In my time in Jeet Kune Do we learned the jeet tek kick, or “intercepting kick.” At every turn, Holly Holm used a very specific kick in FMA that in Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS) parlance is referred to as the sipa kick. In JKD, I learned it as an “oblique” kick. This kick utilizes the inside arch of the foot to stop the opponent’s forward progress. This principle is also demonstrated in Holly Holm’s ability to beat Ms. Rousey to the punch throughout the bout.

Click the graphic to read Jack Slack’s post-fight analysis. 1

3. Hands forward. There may be an FMA term for this (which I do not know), but you cannot deny that the Holm tactic of “hands high, palms forward” (ever-present in Muay Thai kickboxing) played into her victory. This may go back to “intercepting,” but on the street (or in this case, light glove) putting your hand on your cheeks will not work. You WILL BE KNOCKED the “F” OUT! Ronda had her left hand forward and her right too close to her face. In between rounds she was exhorted by her coach to keep BOTH hands up!

Click on the GIF for an excellent comparison of Muay Thai and Boxing at Muay Thai Pros. 2

As an aside, I believe her boxing coach took some overly harsh criticism for his role in Rousey’s defeat. She did poorly with her boxing to be sure, but maybe she just didn’t do what she was taught(?!?!). As an instructor, I’ve had many of those. . .

4. Relax. My last point is certainly the most important in regards to FMA (and specifically CTS) training as it contrasts with other systems and styles. Many systems/styles that refer to themselves as “combative/ combat mindset” types, teach so-called “killer instinct,” and most fight-sport people understand the place this holds in the context of finishing an opponent in the ring. MY position is that this is not how you should train day in-day out for fight sport or, more importantly, street survival. I train to RELAX. My instructor, Zach Whitson, the founder of Counterpoint Tactical System, teaches a “Use of Force Continuum” that develops strong finishing instincts for the street through his block training system, and he—along with all CTS certified instructors—adhere to these principles. Here’s the kicker: we train our students to relax, go slow, and not compete while training. This method will develop the spontaneous motion essential for success in the ring . . . and on the street.

To understand what I am referring to; wrap your head around this: The U.S. military requires 8 to 12 weeks of 24/7 training to teach killer instinct. If you are determined for fight sport, this may interest you; however, if you are determined to learn civilian personal protection, this is not where you are.

I CAN teach you to relax, which you CAN practice 24/7. Are you mad at your spouse or child? Relax . . . you’re training. Are you stuck in traffic or on a long line at the market? Relax . . . you are training. Relaxation training can happen at any time—just as an attack can. Find the right FMA instructor and he or she will teach you the lessons learned in the Ronda Rousey vs. Holm fight. You will learn:

1. “Let it pass” / Palasut
2. “Intercepting” / strike first
3. “Hands forward” / maintain a barrier between you and your opponent
4. Relax, go slow, don’t compete

Was FMA training the big winner in the Rousey vs. Holm fight? I would love to hear your feedback. In the meanwhile see you on the mat!

1.)How Holly Holm Killed Queen Ronda Rousey by Jack Slack, Vice Fightland, 2015

2.)Boxing For Muay Thai: Boxing vs Muay Thai (Everything You Should Know) by Ben, Muay Thai Pros, 2014


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