4 posts / 0 new
Last post
Mark Morschhäuser
Mark Morschhäuser's picture
One-step sparring by Miller

Hi, I bought Miller's book a couple of months ago in which he explains the one-step sparring that is done in slow motion turns and allows one technique only.

The rules are not really difficult (I thought) but when I do it with my students they get confused soon if their move was one or multiple actions now (example: moving to the side with a defense technique and a combined kick and then adding a punch while putting down the foot) and I don't know either at some point because the description in the book is limited.

Could someone who uses that in training elaborate a bit how it is done? Do you know a video where it can be seen? I tried to look it up a while ago but I did not really find something I could use to understand it better.

Katz's picture

I have had the chance to go to a clinic with Rory Miller and to have him explain and walk us through the drill. I have also been using this drill for probably around 5 years in my own studio.

To answer your question: The whole point of the drill (as far as I understand it myself) is to train for very fast movements safely. The goal is to be able to move fluidly, as this will allow you to move very fast very efficiently.

The question of "what is one move?" does indeed come back very often. To me, it consists of "one hip motion". And I extend it to "one step" (which is in the title of the drill, after all). If you can do you move with one hip motion, one step, you can do it very fast. If you need to reverse your hips, no matter how fast you are, you will quickly reach a point where you just can't physically speed it up.

So, doing an inside to outside block with your left arm, followed by a right arm punch would count as one move, whereas an outside to inside block with your left and a punch with your right would count as two. (Assuming you don't just do a check with no hip power in your block, which would also work...) And of course, if you need to step twice, this is definitively not "one move".

If you are beginning teaching this drill, the main issue I find most of the time is that my students have a really hard time going slow. You need to watch everyone. And I recently realized the choice of words you use matters. "Go easy!" does not work, as they understand it as "don't hurt your partner", which they don't because they pull their punches. But that defeats the whole point of the drill which is to be at the right striking distance to hurt, but go slow enough not to. So I changed to shouting "Slower!". (In French, "Doucement !" can mean both, so it is more meaningful! :D)

Mark Morschhäuser
Mark Morschhäuser's picture

That was helpful, thank you. And while listening to Iain's One-Step podcast episode (which mainly focusses on ippon kumite though) I noticed he briefly referenced Miller's idea and mentioned a name "Marc MacYoung", so I was able to find this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vk57lEmrLq8 There the instructor even counts for the group, which is a good idea to keep the group from speeding up (though I think they are pretty fast). And starting in a tight blob probably adds some randomness. Grabbing hips = ground fight is a nice idea too.

I think I can now assume that a kick probably always counts as two steps: One for the kick (which has to be kept in mid air to allow defense) and one for putting down the foot. So in my example, I could move to the outside with a low kick while guarding the head but had to stay that way until the partner did something before I can put the foot down in combo with a punch. I could imagine that people will try to catch kicks a lot this way because they are so slow in that exercise. But I guess we can try out how it works (going to ground will likely regulate that).

I checked the book again: Miller writes, one partner initiates a move, while I was thinking the move had to be finished.

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Late to the party, but I use this drill and variations a lot, the fact is that throws and grappling - especially on the ground- are harder to account for because they are usually compound movements. I try to be as literal as possible and go by a physical "count", if you do something that requires your brain to think "one two", it was not one move.

A kick or a punch when executed properly is one movement, less than one if the person is really good! A throw could be one, but setting up a throw then executing it would be two.