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Michael Rust
Michael Rust's picture
Kata Based Sparring

To All,

I have Iain's video on Kata Based Sparring. However, I'm hoping to get other people's views on the way they approach their live training. What methods, drills do use ? How do to start off to make things as real as possible ?

Secondly, I very curious to hear if people are actually making a clear connection to kata with their live training. So are you actually see the principles in your kata work in reality ?

Regards,

Michael

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Great topic..I am looking forward to hearing what others do, and taking some notes!

Really basic things i've tried, that I liked the results of:

Do your entry and have the attacker just not stop, he can use a open handed slap immediately following the first attack if gear/contact/safety is an issue (yeah I know, issues with that). You can also do something like "cornerman drill" continously and work your entries off of that so that the timing is authentic.  Modify it to cornerman drill where the goal of the attacker is to punch and secure a headlock..etc. With the cornerman drill for isntance, a good basic thing is have the attacker do nonstop swinging attacks,  have the 'defender' use jodan uke as entry (block, forearm shiver + arm trap whatever happens)..and go from there. The hardest part is getting people to actualyl try to do stuff..instead of looking like they are trying to do stuff, if you get what I mean.

It is not reality by any means, but it is a good preliminary step to force to people to do  "bunkai" entries in a way that deal with continued agressions, rather than single movements, and hopefully creating immediacy in timing and thinking about "moves" that takes into account something broader than just some of of defense against a type of attack. I also like Iain's DvD a whole lot and have borrowed from his methods liberally when playing with stuff.

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Bah, no one posting in the thread:(

That being the case i'll throw another question out there, do any of you use the normal large boxing gloves, and if so, how do you drill and spar with them?

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

In Ashihara Karate we use Kata ALL the time to spar with, I am sure Enshin does too.

I recall using Pinan Sandan to spar again a Traditional Katateka, it worked well 

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Black Tiger wrote:

In Ashihara Karate we use Kata ALL the time to spar with, I am sure Enshin does too.

I recall using Pinan Sandan to spar again a Traditional Katateka, it worked well 

Right, I think Michael's question was how though, methods used etc.

On this subject, I just downloaded Iain's Introduction To Applied Karate ebook that comes with signing up for the newsletter, seems to have a really great plan in this department, with a staged approach from compliant to non compliant practice.

Another drill I really like that is not sparring, but is really great for context of kata application is the "One Step"
 drill that Rory Miller  does alot with,  found a video of it here:

It really is a good drill for context of kata application (and other things), though I would not call it 'live' practice exactly.

I think an excellent variation of the drill with different counts is mentioned in Kane and Wilder's way of kata as well..

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi All,

Kata-based-sparring is obviously something I discussed in my books and the DVD of the same name. In addition to that, these podcasts would seem to be relevant and fit with the theme of the thread.

This first podcast covers the key principles of KBS i.e. what it is and it’s relationship to combat and kata. The second podcast gives numerous examples of how to structure that sparring including many KBS drills that are firm favourites in the dojo.

Kata Based Sparring Principles: http://iainabernethy.co.uk/content/kata-based-sparring-revisited-principles

Kata Based Sparring Structure: http://iainabernethy.co.uk/content/kata-based-sparring-revisited-structure

All the best,

Iain

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

Michael Rust wrote:

very curious to hear if people are actually making a clear connection to kata with their live training. So are you actually see the principles in your kata work in reality ?

Kata was never my strongpoint so in all honesty I never made the connection.  I found as the contact levels and ferocity of my opponents increased, any complexity in my training had to decrease or I wasn't getting the impact I needed.  In my (brief) time on a door I used the same methodology as tournaments.  Keep it simple; hit hard.

Maybe others can make complex stuff work, that's just my personal experiences.

Gary

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Gary Chamberlain wrote:
Kata was never my strongpoint so in all honesty I never made the connection.  I found as the contact levels and ferocity of my opponents increased, any complexity in my training had to decrease or I wasn't getting the impact I needed.  In my (brief) time on a door I used the same methodology as tournaments.  Keep it simple; hit hard.

Maybe others can make complex stuff work, that's just my personal experiences.

Gary, I know how you adapt you Karate as I've attended your Seminars on many occations.

Could it be that From your years of Kyokushin Training where Application of Kata and Shu Ha Ri of Kata wasn't a strong point of Kyokushin. Your Enshin Years is where Application came into effect with "kata" that truly encompassed what "streetfighting" is about. I know at present you dont practice Kata, but there's nothing stopping you creating Form1, Form2 of your own stuff (you got enough knowledge in tow to make workable kata)

Although if you look at this video,

Samurai Spirit:Karate, Shihan Nicholas Pettas goes to Japan and visits several Karate schools. He speaks with many Senior Karateka and they all state Kata is the CORE of Karate,OSU!!!

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

Black Tiger wrote:

He speaks with many Senior Karateka and they all state Kata is the CORE of Karate,OSU!!!

It may well be - for them.  It's not for me.  At some point we have to stop quoting other peoples ideas and believe in our own. Not to be arrogant or disrespectful, but to apply a bit of critical thinking in relation to what we want from our training.

I teach karate as a sport with the focus on knockdown fighting.  Traditional kata will not help me in that direction.  

I have a great respect for people like Iain who can take the traditional kata, break them down and make them effective for self-defence.  For myself,  I never felt they were useful for heavy sparring.  (i.e. fighting with rules in combat sport)

I stand by what I said, the more impact you require (I was under 85kgs and often competing against people a lot heavier) the less complex things should be.  

Gary

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Gary Chamberlain wrote:
It may well be - for them.  It's not for me.  At some point we have to stop quoting other peoples ideas and believe in our own. Not to be arrogant or disrespectful, but to apply a bit of critical thinking in relation to what we want from our training.

I teach karate as a sport with the focus on knockdown fighting.  Traditional kata will not help me in that direction.  

I have a great respect for people like Iain who can take the traditional kata, break them down and make them effective for self-defence.  For myself,  I never felt they were useful for heavy sparring.  (i.e. fighting with rules in combat sport)

I stand by what I said, the more impact you require (I was under 85kgs and often competing against people a lot heavier) the less complicated I found things needed to be.

Gary,

Understood, everybody has a different point of view and has a different take on what their karate is for. I've taken the Kata I studied in Ashihara Karate and worked with them to be able to work in street situations as well as on the Mat (I tend to use the Kumite Kata for this purpose, keeping them for use on the mat), I forgot that there are various routes Kata training can take.

For those not conversant with Ashihara Kumite Katas here's a good example

Oh I definately WOULDN'T  even think of using Pinan Sandan for Knockdown Competition - unless I wanted to loose quickly lol.

and for those not conversant with Knockdown Competition

Sorry Gary, but I'm one of your Fans, and proud to have trained with you on the occations that I have

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

That's very kind of you to say Ken.

My personal ability peaked in the last century but I still enjoy coaching.

Here's a two times world champion.  People can decide for themselves if his kata made much difference.  He's a big old lump - 120kgs - so to mangle a well-known expression: "Fit people get tired, fast people slow down, but 120kgs is always 120kgs"

Gary

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

It's probably worth considering that these things (knockdown kumite and WKF style kumite etc.) arose from circumstances completely independent of those that created the classical kata, so it is not odd that the kata don't fulfill the same needs for their practitioners..so it seems to me.

Not sure i'd say that "complexity" is exactly what prevents kata from being useful in these places either, you could take an RBSD system that is hugely simple in terms of physical movement, and shares a strategic outlook (and physics) in common with the methods in classical kata - take something like Tony Blauer's SPEAR system-..and I doubt it would be very useful for you in knockdown kumite either. Seems like it's simply designed for a different set of circumstances.

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

Hi Zach

I agree.

It's the term 'sparring' here that's confusing me.  As I said, I never saw the connection with kata.  Kata based self-defence I understand, but 'sparring' puts a different image in my mind.  On other forums I keep out of kata discussions as I no longer practice them.  It would obviously make sense if I did the same here.  I have little to add except confusion ...

Best regards

Gary

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Gary Chamberlain wrote:

Hi Zach

I agree.

It's the term 'sparring' here that's confusing me.  As I said, I never saw the connection with kata.  Kata based self-defence I understand, but 'sparring' puts a different image in my mind.  On other forums I keep out of kata discussions as I no longer practice them.  It would obviously make sense if I did the same here.  I have little to add except confusion ...

Best regards

Gary

Hmmm, yeah I can see where you are coming from, sparring is a pretty wide ranging term really. You can watch three things..let say knockdown sparring, JKD sparring, and then maybe some Judo randori. Three different kinds of 'sparring" but we place them in the same general category for ease I guess. I guess terms like "live practicde" or "free play" might be more descriptive.

At any rate, I really enjoy the mix of people on here, and I for one don't think you should avoid posting just because kata is not your thing, if the forum was nothing but kata advocates who all believed the same stuff it would get boring very quickly!

Mark B
Mark B's picture

Hi all,

Its tough to know where to start with this subject.

To answer  Michaels original post we have a few different drills to approach Kata Based Combat, I'll  describe those as best I can, but  safe to say the pinciples and techniques of the kata(Naihanchi) are applied.

One thing that needs addressing is the type of sparring or combat drill you are attempting to practice, and what you hope to gain from that drill. Gary has stated keep it simple and hit hard, at the sharpest end of Kata Based Sparring that is exactly how we would do it. The problem that arises then is the issue of safety, we want to deliver punches and elbows at full power, so to practice that type of scenario we use Boxers training gloves that look like normal gloves but have an impact area in the palm. We then isolate a small number of techniques, under  real pressure  you are less likely to switch between techniques, so we have right cross and elbow strikes.

As part of the drill we practice clearing an obstacle using the opening salutation of Naihanchi.

The glove wearer will shout ''cover'' and begin delivering punches(at full power when the student becomes proficient), at this point we can drill covering the head and driving forward, which forces the glove man back, which greatly reduces his punching power. The glove man would then shout ''clear'' and present a target, and maybe place the other glove as an obstruction. We would the drill for one minute, which is taxing as there should be no respite. This shows us that as adrenalin and fatigue kicks in the techniques become scruffier and more basic, as I said, right cross and elbows.

Another way we drill is fighting within a clinch. The drill begins in a disciplined clinch and has three commands, again for safety. In the ''clinch'' only light knee strikes are allowed. ''Clinch fight'' allows the student to throw punches(we have well padded gloves that allow gripping and grappling) but one must always have location(Hikite). ''Fight'' allows the students to disengage and fight freely, this where angles, limb clearing and tactile awareness come into effect. Each command is interchangeable, again ther should be no respite and again we'd do this for one minute.

I hope that all makes sense,

All the best

Mark

karate10
karate10's picture

Hi Michael.

First off, I purchase the Kata Based Sparring which is very helpful not only for street based situation, but even in the dojo(despite you can't eye guage anyone in class), you can still control the flow with parry blocks as a means of offensive attacks and the "Mokuso" left over right hand position to clinch the kneck around your opponent to push his/her head off of you in a close situation. But, in the street situation, you would use your head for a headbutt to the bridge of the nose or elbow attack to the head.

Even now, I'm examining the vids =)

Michael Rust wrote:

To All,

I have Iain's video on Kata Based Sparring. However, I'm hoping to get other people's views on the way they approach their live training. What methods, drills do use ? How do to start off to make things as real as possible ?

Secondly, I very curious to hear if people are actually making a clear connection to kata with their live training. So are you actually see the principles in your kata work in reality ?

Regards,

Michael

miket
miket's picture

This is probably OT, but I was struck in watching the vid of the Danish guy that all o fthe applications he was shown for kata were WYSIWG, i.e. they were pretty much identical to the kata movements illustrated, without need for 'interpretation', per se. Taking that as an overall indicator of 'conclusiveness' (of method) would likely be premature, but this simply again underscored to me the need for combative 'pattern work' of any kind to be 'lliteral' or 'non-interpretive' in nature, despite the facty that I see some limited benefits to the exercise of analytic bunkai. I have heard anecdotally that so-called 'Okinawan approaches' to forms are different than Japanese (or other methods), with the attached assertion that the latter are actual combative rehearsals, whereas the former require 'interpretation'; and that the Okinawan method therefore represents a somewhat unique form of training.  Personally, I have, in recent years, become increasingly inclined to think that 'interpreation'-- while a valuable learning exercise in and of itself-- is an overall 'less effective' method of combative development, and that it is really fairly useless to train in a method that is NOT a rehearsal of 'actual' motion application.  Further, I idly speculate that perhaps Okinawan kata WERE originally 'actual motion' in performance (as the video would indicate) but that the 'applications' simply were not handed down with the forms outside of Okinawa, or maybe even outside of specific traditions, such that they are now virtually 'lost' for most purposes of combative training.  And I say that despite having a deep appreciation for the cultural art of karate.  :-) Just something I noticed while watching the vids... I was interested to see that the so-called 'applications' presented were pretty tightly consistent with the motions illustrated.   

JWT
JWT's picture

I think the term sparring can lead to some confusion here.

Good quality Kata application is generally designed to stop/trap/hold an assailant very quickly.  It may have built within the Kata possible redundancies that can be drilled as alternative outcomes from the same position or failures of the original technique.  Personally I would say that Kata application should be orientated towards HAOV in the main (as per Itosu's comments on the nature of karate) but given that fights did occur between mutually advanced practitioners I do not feel that checks and counters for more advanced techniques are unfeasible.

Generally speaking therefore I view Kata application as something that is fairly closed.  A committed technique from one party, a 'shutting down' response from another.  This has a slightly different dynamic to competitive fighting/sparring where (almost) all attacks are highly skilled and wary of the other's responses.  As a result I prefer to talk about training bunkai, paired combative Kata, and Kata based flow drills.  That said, I understand that sparring also immediately conjures images of paired combative training - hence its appropriateness in some ways.

When I put together the Heian Flow System it was after a number of years of doing my own single technique one step sparring rather than the customary Shotokan sets upon which I had graded.  It was essentially single technique bunkai against haov.  The Heian Flow System was a way of relating and putting together this bunkai in a way that linked more directly to the Kata yet still taught useful combative lessons.

I've got some old footage of students playing with Heian Sandan here:

and a larger version of me talking through possibilities of the same Kata in paired work here:

I still study Kata personally (though not as much as I used), and teach Kata and Kata bunkai to Karate clubs and associations.  In my own club and system though I just teach drills that have been developed in the main from learned from studying Kata bunkai rather than teaching Kata themselves.

miket
miket's picture

My two cents at present regarding the original question:

The thing with 'kata' is that they are sequentially static. i.e. How do we know Naihanchi is 'Naihanchi' in the first place?... Because relatively the same movements appear in relatively the same order each time.

The thing with sparring is it's NON-sequential and totally dynamic, random and chaotic (within constrained rules). i.e. to the degree that an exercise is artificially 'scripted' or choreographed with **requisite** moves on either the 'feeder' or 'responder' side from participants, I think most would generally accept that it's NOT "sparring", because to most, I think, the notion of sparring' is understood to be associated with 'free, unscripted action'.

So, as a static string of movements, it’s my belief that kata simply CANNOT be 'sparred' above the level of 1-2 motions.

However, I do think you can EMPLOY kata motions or motion combinations WITHIN concept of what I call "structured play" like you would see in Filipino systems in the form of such exercises as Hubad or trapping (the CONSTRAINED free-activity of which should also not be confused with sparring, in my opinion). But I do believe this is a great way to develop applications and reaction time.  And I do believe it’s possible, with practice, to similarly DEPLOY kata motions within a free-sparring or free-fighting context.

The ‘great question’ remains for all combative instructors of any tradition, however which is: how to take a person from a point of 'no skill' to a point of relative 'skillfulness' in TACTICALLY oriented self-defense. (More on that in a minute).

The method I have settled on is to 'perfect' the solo PERFORMANCE of a form by additively constructing it one move at a time, over time, based entirely upon a series of application-FIRST lessons.

Because each motion in our forms is an illustration of an 'actual motion application' the first stage is 'setting' the trainee's application-oriented performance of the individual target motions themselves-- in a word, to 'isolate' each motion with the primary purpose of habituating it through high-volume-repetition feeds.

So, if the motion is a 'block', the students spend several rounds moving around DYNAMICALLY using sparring-like movement with one side feeding and the other performing. Offensive techniques are isolated first for impact on pads and then for target-association on actual bodies at slow speed (what I call "touch contact only" as this seems to keep people from clobbering each other for some reason).

So, that's three 'sub-level' rounds to the first stage of development with a target mechanic. :-) Then, we often move to what I would describe as a "double-isolation" method: i.e. two target mechanics are selected, and one is given 'privilege' in the feed, with the second being 'thrown in' at a "Surprise!" moment determined by the feeder role partner. Another variation is "trigger" type double-isolations where say, if the privileged mechanic is a defense, the 'surprise' motion is a sudden target or signal presented by the feeder for offensive action from the trainee.

Then ‘find in offense’ and ‘find in defense’ isolations.  In other words, if the mechanic is primarily a defense, an ‘sensibly ADJACENT’ offense is attached before and/ or after it, and vice verse.  These drills are especially important in helping the student to not simply reinforce the isolation and in helping them to understand which other mechanics something connects to.

Then, we usually move to what I call "prefix" and "suffix" drills with the target mechanic being the thing that is being prefixed or suffixed by FREE-CHOICE selections on the student's part. We might conclude doing some additional rounds that explore variations in either application or position.

So counting, that's ‘ten-ish’ levels of increasingly complex application-oriented ISOLATIONS of the target mechanic, or 'sub-levels' to developing the first stage which is simply 'facility with the target mechanic'. Some of the latter 'prefixing' and 'suffixing drills, especially, take on an ASPECT or flavor of the underlying CHAOS of 'free sparring' but are obviously not free fighting.

AT THIS POINT, we then add the motion to the form which is being constructed. Because to us, the forms are simple 'inventories' of the CURRICULAR requirements, i.e. a "living notebook" as I sometimes describe it. So, for us, the form comes AFTER the application lessons are set, such that the student has a 'body picture' of the application lessons, and the form represents a 'body slide show' of sorts... Imagine watching a photo slide show of a vacation. Obviously, the images or illustrations help one to RECALL many, many, many details of a time or place that the picture doesn't show, and even over time, may simply become associated with certain 'feelings' or generalized memories. I want our forms to WORK for that specific purpose with students.

However, if I stop here, I find that students 1) tend to focus only on what they 'like' or a naturally inclined towards and 2) tend to therefore neglect other curricular aspects they don't like or which don't immediately 'feel natural' or which they happened to 'miss' because they went on vacation.

So from a **CURRICULAR** standpoint, it becomes difficult to maintain clear, concise requirements; and from an INSTRUCTIONAL standpoint, it becomes difficult to keep track of 'who knows what' as people come and go some nights based on the vagaries of life. This is another problem from an overall programmatic standpoint where I find forms to be a highly efficient solution.

And, they do have the added advantage of offering a student a 'list' of thing to practice outside of class-- preferably, however, by removing them from the ‘bag’ of the form itself. (i.e. if the student wants to develop their punching, for example, I would rather have them doing that with the 'alive' response of an actual partner, or on impact equipment like mitts or a punching bag where actual force, body momentum, timing, and the follow-through needed to develop solid impact skills can be employed.)

So, our forms ARE important, but they are important within our program like "chapter marks" are important in a book: they simply give both student and instructor a common point of ORGANIZATIONAL reference and communication to focus on the student's development within a particular 'topical' area... i.e. did you read, and do you know the material contained in Chapter 9?

So, I DO emphasize the forms, but the DRILLS I use in making such emphasis tend to be more FOR curricular and mnemonic purposes, and for the development of underlying ATTRIBUTES which SUPPORT actual fighting as I will next describe below.

Also, obviously the GOAL of training is **NOT** ‘good isolations’ per se, but rather 'chunked' combinations of isolations, any more than the overall goal of a boxer is simply to learn to jab or cross ‘in isolation only’ such that they can only 'one-at-a-time-it' when punching.  So, the idea of 'connecting' one motion to another is hugely important, as is the concept of 'what something connects TO'. Here again I find what I call "static-feed patterns" to be a useful method, PROVIDED that the 'static' part of that training is simply held to be the first step along what quickly gives way to what I in turn call "dynamic-feed patterns".

So for solidifying the forms from a curricular standpoint, after the motion is ‘added to’ a form, I then move students to what we call a "complex"--- essentially a choreographed, role-based, two-man male/female type feeder-responder 'form', or fixed pattern-drill.

The first level of the two-man or "complex" stage is experiencing the pattern as a 'static' series. Since the forms I have developed are primarily linear, this amounts to basically what I would describe as a long 'yakosoku'. (As a point of illustration only, the footage John just posted of the two orange belts doing Sandan applications actually makes a pretty good illustration of what we do here. So one person is 'feeding' and one person is 'doing the form'.)

The third stage of our approach is to take this linear exercise and make it 'dynamic', by taking it OUT of its linear format and making the MOVEMENT and TIMING of the choreographed pattern performance more sparring-LIKE. So the feeder is freed to move around and 'attack' from any angle and is in fact encouraged to do-so in a manner and using a 'broken' timing that is intentionally challenging to the trainee. So you might describe this stage as 'dynamic movement and timing'. HOWEVER, it's highly important to note that 'dynamic movement' and 'broken timing' are THE PRIMARY FOCUS of the drill, and that the pattern is NOT valuable because there is any 'magic' in manipulating the inventories back and forth, except to a lesser degree from a third standpoint, which is 'developing general body coordination' which most fresh-off-the-couch beginners utterly lack.

So here again, the focus is NOT on the performance of the 'body slide show', per se. Instead, it's placed on the distance, movement, timing, and coordination, along WITH the added benefit of providing yet MORE isolations of the individual target mechanics and a SMALL step toward what we might call 'association' or 'connection' to 'precursor' or 'follow-on' movements). So the focus AND PRIMARY BENEFIT here is: distance, timing, coordination, and association, **NOT** the 'application' of the mechanics per se. The pattern performance is the VEHICLE for developing the more abstract elements in what we assume will be a fairly uncoordinated often-out-of-shape person. The pattern is just a frame at this point for 'other' combative development.

And, as with **ANY** static feed pattern, however, a very real danger of this stage is that the student starts to 'chunk' one movement to another. I know--- wait a minute, that's good, right? :-) And in fact, that' great-- to the degree that the mechanics 'make sense' combatively as a combination or sequence.

So if you are connecting a long range parry to a rear naked choke (i.e. one position to a totally different position without including the requisite transitional movements to get there), and the student is repeatedly performing (and performing, and performing, and therefore, we all accept, totally HABITUATING) that series of body motions in a low-conscious-attention state, you are actually doing them a potentially large disservice in my opinion (this is another problem I have with inherited forms: their religious sequential performance can actually build BAD body habit). Imagine if, in teaching a batter to hit a ball, you had them swing the bat, then flourish it around their back after a successful hit before running. And you had them repeat this over and over and over again in response to every successful hit they ever had in practice: 'Don't forget to twirl the bat OK, **NOW** run!!'  The time delay associated with the unnecessary flourish actually DECREASES the batter’s chance of safely making it to first base.   And, after all that habituation, what do you think they will do in a game?

And yet, inherited karate forms abound with series-motions that are religiously practiced as purported combative rehearsals, but which are then changed, utterly dropped or stuttered in purported 'application' training. Which puts one eventually hard up against the question of ‘why not simply practice the motions the way you mean to use them?’

So wait a minute, which is it? Does one think their forms are a direct combative rehearsal? If so, why would you do that (ANY unnecessary or extraneous motion) in application?

And if not, do you see perceived value in skill-specific habit-forming forms of training? Isn’t that the purported goal of combatives training? So why does what we ‘connect’ a movement to NOT matter, in fact not CRITICALLY matter, unless 'forms' are a relatively DEEMPHASIZED form of training?

And yet in karate, forms (and the specific habituation OF forms) are in fact HIGHLY emphasized. So it would seem to me that it is critical for karateka, especially, to have motion APLLICATIONS that are in fact TIGHTLY aligned with their forms, when in fact, the opposite is frequently true in my own experience.  (The personal perception that led to my prior remark).

So that caveat about the inherent ‘risks’ of relative OVER habituation of the wrong things is simply a 'danger' to be aware of in this instructor's opinion. This stage of static two man applications should be (in my opinion) only a quick stopping point along the larger way, but I see a LOT of karate people who seem to get ‘stuck’ here without taking their training any further. Which, I believe, is why a great many tend to fall back on their relatively more spontaneously developed athletic-sparring skill set when attacked. To try to combat these perceived problems and the associated development of what I call “false anticipation" (i.e. moving in response to an attack before it is even initiated), we try to move along quickly past this stage.

Then, because our forms are constructed of smaller combinations or individual 'series' of related motions (or both), level four of "complex training" is to introduce the attacking-defending RYTHM of sparring (again, that is the focus, more than the iteration of the motions themselves, the motions are the vehicle to step FURTHER TOWARD free activity spontaneous fighting).

So, since both 'sides' are now very facile with ***the pattern*** (comprised of the motions it contains), it becomes possible by 'clicking the speed down a couple of notches', to develop a rhythm where one side feeds attacks one moment, and then, at the 'receiver' trainee's discretion or on the stimulus of a voice command or whistle, the roles switch mid-pattern or mid-series and the attacker-feeder becomes the defender-trainee. (I am using those terms loosely because I believe strongly in avoiding 'defined' roles for combatants in training, the way they do in more athletic forms of fight training, so these are meant to be mostly descriptive labels... i.e., if the trainee role is focused on attacking motions, he is actually 'the attacker' and the feeder side may be 'feeding' certain predictive defensive reactions as one example).

I was stuck at that stage for a long time until I encountered some training methods from FMA like Hubad Lubad and Sumbrada I picked up from my friend Kent Nelson, who in turn learned them from Dan Inosanto. Level five of what I call "complex training" is therefore to move to what I call "dynamic feed pattern work", i.e. you constrain the 'rules' and the target skill set, but 'open it up' within that domain to completely 'free' activity USING the agreed upon motions.

I also often refer to this as "randomizing" the pattern or "structured play". Essentially, it amounts to what you might think of as a "group isolation", i.e. you are 'isolating' a small group of (preferably highly-related) mechanics in totally free combination. Some people think of this as 'sparring', but to me, it's not because it’s still semi-choreographed. While it can be somewhat 'competitive' in nature, it leans more toward 'cooperative', and nobody just outright throws in a surprise groin kick in a game with rules focused on developing punch deflection, at least not at beginning levels.

For beginners, (and depending on the trainee's overall working familiarity with the material that has been developed at that point) it is again frequently necessary to drop the drill speed here, especially at first. But the important part is that the focus here is on 'flow state' S/R/R, dynamic movement, and especially 'not stopping' and 'keeping the flow' going to a place of what my friend Kent calls "no stop signs", even if this means that the speed gets dropped way (way) down for beginners. The important thing here is to keep the movement going, which is a fantastic tool for developing S/R. 'Flow' is a great word they use in FMA to describe these types of exercises because the energy level of these drills tends to be slightly softer. But within the rules of THE GAME the motion is UN-scripted, which is ***HUGELY*** important. In fact, I don't believe it’s too much of a stretch to say that the 'unscripted' nature of the game is its primary focus, and the spontaneous recognition-response actions it develops are (I believe) its primary benefit.

So, that is how we develop a student up TO a point of what you might call 'forms based sparring'.

But wait, there's more... :-)

So at this point, you have a student-trainee with a certain LIMITED set of 'abilities'. They can apply the target motions of THIS section **OF THE CURRICULUM** with facility. They can 'move' relatively well in dynamic directions. They can attack AND defend, and they can switch dynamically between attacking and defending without a substantial 'freeze' in mental recall. They are STARTING to develop 'real' S/R/R skills. They are STARTING to know 'what connects to what'. But ALL of this training to this point is a combative artificiality. It is primarily about 'correctly' regurgitating the requirements of a set curriculum, as with a particular kata. That is a long way from free-action fighting.

For us, that means that the student is **NOW** ready to commence more APPLICATION-ORIENTED training.

What? Wait a minute, I thought they were learning to apply this stuff all along?!?

Well, from a TECHNICAL standpoint that is certainly true. But training with a technical focus should never be confused IMO with training that has a TACTICAL focus.

In other words, the student is, at this point, just now 'leaving the hardware store with a fully loaded tool box'. They are now ready to 'go to work' on self-protection TASKS that may require SOME of these tools, NONE of these tools, or ALL of these tools together used as the situation demands. i.e.: at this point, you move to the introduction of live-motion skill TESTING and adrenal-based scenario testing. And note that in both cases I said that this is a "testing". And I am not talking about rank testing where katas are performed and self defense skills are demonstrated against controlled one-step type attacks that are known in advance to both parties.

You can easily tell the difference between the two (technical and tactical) by asking the simple question ‘is there an instructionally right/ wrong METHOD to be used here?”  For, obviously, if the trainee is asked to perform a high block, and instead performs a low block, the answer is ‘wrong’ FROM A TECHNICAL STANDPOINT.

But with tactically-oriented training it’s my belief that the objectives ‘switch’ from the MEANS to the END.  The ‘right’ OUTCOME therefore shifts to, ‘did the student successfully complete the self-protection objective?’; and the ‘wrong’ outcome is the student failing to complete the objective. So if the desired outcome is ‘demonstrate effective defense’ against close range punches, and the trainee tries to use a perfectly beautiful high block to counter a groin punch resulting in them being struck (the consequence), you are in the tactical zone.   

The way we conduct the former (free skill testing) is to let students 'spar', but 'secretly' give instructional objectives to one side or the other (or both). So, the trainee might be given the objective of 'finding' or successfully demonstrating a foot sweep, a cross, or a flying-booger flick WITHOUT the other combatant overhearing that these are tactics that the trainee will be attempting to employ or 'find' at some point in the fight or scenario.

One very simple way to do this is to put the names of techniques or objectives in a basket or write them on paper poker chips or something durable which can easily be kept in a bag in the dojo. The trainee draws three entirely randomized objectives, hands them to the instructor and sets off with no words being spoken. The instructor knows which techniques he is watching for, specifically (this is especially helpful in testing). And of course, you can also do this with 'feeds' for the other partner. So, partner B (C, D, E) might draw double leg, round kick or hook punch as their objectives, which they simply integrate into their attacks.

It's important to know that sparring can go for quite awhile without either side 'successfully' integrating their target motion, or 'all' of their target motions, especially if they are complex or if you don't start from positions that facilitate them (i.e. starting the objective of securing a grounded arm lock from a detached standing position). And of course, you can use even this to instructional advantage: Sparring continues until everybody achieves their objectives, and then is immediately recommenced with new partners, with those who 'hit' their objectives being able to ‘take a breather’ earlier. (This tends to encourage risk taking and offense).

And likewise, of course, after 16 double leg attempts, it becomes pretty obvious to the other partner what the first is 'looking for' so this method has its limitations like any other. In general, frequent round changes and partner changes are also sometimes useful (i.e. 30-60 second rounds or 45 on / 15 seconds off over say 5 rotations before switching to new objectives). This would probably be the closest thing we do to 'kata based' sparring, but you'll note that it's really just 'sparring' with defined objectives for the participants USING the motions that are drawn from forms.

A related drill is an excellent one I straight up stole from Erik Paulson he calls "puke drills”: 30 second bursts of constrained striking followed by 30 seconds grip/ clinch fighting (or we use alternating-throw randori sometimes) followed by 30 seconds of grounded wrestling or ground fighting. Two iterations through is a three minute round and people will flag quickly. And of course, this can be expanded and added to.

Then, as a final, final, occasional-use testing, we simply set up an objective-oriented (typically armored) scenario. Get away from five guys with each dropping out when THEY determine that they have received a blow that would have 'really' injured or stunned them. Get to a door. Escape the car. Incapacitate or pin an attacker. Protect a dependent. Verbally deescalate someone. Again, John has some good illustrations of these types drills in action, and guys like Peyton Quinn/ Bill Kipp's Fast Defense, or Blauer's Ballistic Micro-fight scenarios (as I understand them) fit here. And, simpler versions of these exercises can be used all the way up in the beginning-isolation stage, which we also do pretty frequently. The thing with scenario training is, it takes time, and people tend to not take it seriously and be a little sheepish about acting the serious part of a real threat. The only method I have found to attempt to combat the 'goof factor' is to give pushups to people whom I don’t believe make a serious attempt at what the Fast Defense guys call "woofing", and for saying equally deleterious unhelpful things as a defender like “Oh Yeah? Come at me Bro!” in response to a verbal woof.

Anyway, that's a general outline of what I am doing currently but I'm always tweaking it and looking for ways to improve it (also open to suggestions and constructive criticism). It has changed a lot in even the last couple of years.

JWT
JWT's picture

Nice post Mike. Thanks.

miket
miket's picture

Thanks John.  It's open to suggestions.

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

On the subject of the FMA hubud and similar style drills, i'm interested in hearing more about how these can be effectively used in this sort of context.

I'll admit here I have  a strong bias  against these drills, they often involve practicing to hit someones weapon rather than the person (armed or empty hand version), and seem to be awfully complex in that they involve learning 'steps'. That is not an indictment of FMA in any ocerall sense at all, in my limited exposure i've picked up a few things I really liked, but I just have never seen much value to hubud and similar looping drills, and I've always leaned towards thinking they teach more bad habits than good, I have really come to dislike drills that rely heavily on a pattern produced by someone else.

How do you use something like this exactly for something akin to 'self protection' or kata based sparring? Can something so predictive offer anything for HAPV type scenarios?

miket
miket's picture

Well, Zach, I agree with you to an extent.   And it's important for me to say that I don't either teach or regulalry practice FMA, what I am doing is my own thing based around some concepts that I have been exposed to which come from that root.  So it's important to say that right out of the gate-- I am not an expert in the subject of how these exercises are used WITHIN FMA in terms of their value or placement. Next, as I note in the veritable book above (smiley), this Hubad-LIKE phase is simply one step for us in about a twenty-step process of student development.  Simplifying, basically I have an 'isolation' stage that focuses on a student's ACQUISITION of the skill itself.  Then I move people to pattern MANIPULATION drills which have primarily, a curricular and instructional 'QC' benefit.  However, a second and very important aspect of this learning stage is the student learning 'connectivity' between elements and generalized 'movement' and 'coordination'---  basically what we might think of as 'facility with quickly moving parts around'.  Then, learning stage three is objective oriiented scenario testings with the focus of a trainee's APPLYING the skills they have learned in a context that may require some all or none of the elements they have learned in the prior stages. Personally, I consider everything below the third level to be what I call  'martial artifice'.  i.e., equating it to basketball, this is the equivalent of practicing and combining SET plays or free throws, which is a long way from playing an actual game.  Stage three is where the actual scrimmages or 'test games' actually occurs. Also, you need to understand that I teach at a Y, so the registraion for my class goes in block calendar 'sessions'.  For this (and a lot of other instructional reasons), I use a rotating 'block' curricular format based largely around a core focus on a specific combative range.  For instance, the upcoming focus for the next twelve weeks starting in the fall is going to be 'close quarter', with a sub-emphasis on 'handfighting' and the clinch.  We just finished our summer sesssion which was on (primarily) long-range detached  standup.  And, obviously, these are 'loose' categories, because once a person  has done one 'rotation' over the course of the year through the curriculum, a student has acquired some skill in each area / range, and so their second rotation through is increasingly more complex if that makes any sense.

The instructional goal in a calendar session is to get people through all three learning stages with all 'elements' of the curricular 'chapters' in question, and including a couple of weeks for 'review'/ reinforcement and maintenance where we 'loop' back through other sections and make attachments to the current curricular section.   Last point of background-- partly because of all this (and partly because it just 'makes sense' to me to do it this way logically), the 'forms' I teach, which I have derieved myself, are 'topical' in nature.  So, like the 'chapter marks' I mentioned above, they tend to have relatively 'the same kinds of things' inside them, especiallly the beginner forms which I consider to be elemental 'alphabets'.  So for example,  the standup series we just finsihed for beginners had one 'form' with three 'sub series' of about nine motions each:  9 'elements' of footwork, 9 straight punch defenses, and 9 wide punch defenses or 'crashe entries' to close quarter range.  (The common '9' is totally random, these just happen to be the same), and it had an acommpanying form similarly containing 'elements of long range striking'.  Class was generally about combining those two alphabets and moving the student across that twenty stage learning process from 'installation' of new elements to 'testing' them in live scenarios which might or might not require their use. Staying with the idea that these sereis represent small 'alphabets', the entire purpsoe of 'stage two training' is to build movement, timing and both mental and physical coordination in the trainee.  The student has already learned to 'do' the motion (imitiate, habituate and apply it in a CONTRIVED (**not** 'controlled') context) in stage one.  Stage three, in turn, is about tactical objectives as I noted, so there is no gurantee that if the student is, say, doing a stage three 'escape the car' scenario that they will use 'footwork' (for instance) of ANY kind, at least not in the classical sense.  So learning stage TWO is primarily about 'manipulation' (of combative elements), chaining things together, and the further development of both stimulus discretion (e.g. 'their ability to SEE or identify an 'opening') and 'timing'/ 'association' (e.g. the 'at will' deployment of the 'right' thing to fit the opening.)  Personally, I find Hubad-like exercises to be fantastic for **THIS** purpose.  So for me, the drills that I do that have been INFLUENCED by Hubad come in the middle of stage two of the three stage student development process I described above. I also tend to do these drills at the 'series' level, especially with beginners.   i.e.  take 'straight punch defenses' as an example-- we will use the Hubad-like manipluation exercises here, and what it amounts to is a 'randomized' performance of the nine motions in the sub-series at the defenders discretion in response to fed punches (stimulus).  My instructional objective here is simply to build 'dynamism in straight punch deflection', and **BEGINNING** S/R/R through some of the 'surprise' drills I mention.  So, if we are doing a 'riposting' drill where the person is defending straight punches and countering, the 'surpirse' element might be a 'random' kick, grab, tackle or hook thrown in by the feeder partner.  The important thing is the 'randomness', because the person then is building stimulus recognition into what they are doing. Phase one and two is entirely about 'loading the hopper' with technically efficient 'martial arts skills', like bullets in a gun. Stage three is where we look at the application of those skills in so called 'real' free fighting scenarios.  i.e. that is the stage where we 'spar' (aka do primarily free activity drills).  (I say 'so-called' because this too, is merely 'training', which is inherently UNREAL in my opinion at all levels) .

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Mike, thanks very for sharing of your teaching theories, very engaging stuff!

I'm wondering though more specifically, have you actually used hubud in drills, and if so, how? I mean at the stage you are discussing, do you have students do a looping drill where they both do the same stuff, with preset parameters..or is it actually something else?

I get what you are saying (I think) on a theoretical level, but i'm wondering about the nuts and bolts side of things.

My main reason for asking is that I have always had some interest in "flow" drills with some kind of a live component, but everytime I try to construct them with my own material (Goju Ryu via Kris Wilder and smatterings of Shorin Ryu, Judo, and Jujutsu) I come away extremely dissatisfied, with a very contrived result. So, I return to my 'basics' (or talk to Kris for inspiration) as it were. I would love to actually see some multi-step flow drills that resonate with me...so far the only thing in that category for me is Iain's beyond bunkai DvD.

miket
miket's picture

I think it comes down somewhat to what you define as a 'flow', and I'm not trying to dodge under the cover of semantics.  The term is pretty broad even within FMA (as I have limitedly experienced them), and even amongst its practitioners I haven't really found a clear definition of when you are using a 'flow' drill. This problem is compounded by the fact that people frequently mix the ideas of physical flow (i.e. one technique to the next) and 'mental' flow-- i.e. the mushin type 'ho-hum'/ relaxation of 'in-the-zone' motor action. 

For instance, I have heard a SEQUENTIAL series of arm locks referred to as a "lock flow".   Likewise, I have encountered SEQUENTIAL wrestling position drills referred to as a "position flow".  So there's one definition, but its not the definition I tend to use.

I am a a big believer in clarifiying (if only for oneself) what one 'means' when using specific training terminology.  For myself, therefore, this is how I define a flow DRILL at present:  the DYNAMIC (i.e. from movement) and SPONTANEOUS (i.e. no formal arrangement or choreography)  manipulation of a delimited, usually related set of curricular pieces FOR THE PURPOSE OF of developing stimulus discretion, shortening reaction time, creating 'association' (of mechanical action with stimulus) and increasing general coordination and dexterity with combative elements.

And, while I have added the parenthetical to further explain myself, I know that is probably dry as toast to read, but again, I think making such definitions for oneself is helpful in getting a person to understand the DELIBERATE reason they do the things they do as an instructor.  So, I try to define what I mean FOR MYSLEF at a very specific level.

I think, however, that there are a couple of important things to note about that definition.  The first thing is the attachment of the statement "for the purpose of" and the articulation of that purpose.  i.e. I do not say that these drills are for fighting, I see these more as "attribute development" drills.  And (more defeinitions!) an "attribute" to me is "any physiological characteristic that can be improved by a trainee which aids in or supports combat".  So, 'size' or 'body type' to me are not attributes (although they might be to someone else), as, to most extent, they are simply 'given' and cannot be IMPROVED UPON by the trainee.

The next definition one needxs to consder is 'sparring'.  And to many, that has a very, very specific connotation.

TO ME, however, sparring can literally be finger-touch level contact.  AND it can go all the way up to hard contact armored scenario testing.

That is because to me, 'sparring' is about the 'free-association' of combative elements.  So, while I was using the mostly classical viewpoint of sparring as medium-to-hard contact timed round in my second post, above; really how I see it is that ANY free-movement UNCHOREOGRAPHED form of training is a FORM or **METHOD of** 'sparring'.  Because of this, I see Hubad-like exercises as similarly being a METHOD OF 'sparring' MEANING:  they are a method of free-activity drill. So, because I don't have video (I'm working on a Youtube channel for our class, maybe shortly),  I don't really have anything to show you and I am going to have to stick with verbal descriptions.  But here are some exercises which I belive fit the definition of what I am traying to describe as 'hubad-LIKE' for our program, and your probably do some of these yourself, although YOU may define them differently or call them something else:

1) the randomized feed of a delimited attack for defenisve response isolation.  i.e. I limit the attack to 'free straight punches', and the 'defender' role is simply required to free-parry employing structured (i.e. a delimited set of) target motions.  In formal kaate, that might simply be using hi, low, and middle inside outside blocks.  Or, perhaps the trainee does this drill and adds a simple counter.  Or, with offensive material, maybe its just a set of strikes to mitss that are RANDOMIZED.  i.e. the various permutations you could hold a Jab-cross-hook combo in. Or, both could be combined with no mitts but gloves instead, so one side  throws jab (face) and the other counters with parry+jab (body), to which the first swings a low sweeping block off their first jab, and counters with a cross, and partner 2 again counters with  another parry and his own cross.

...to the degree that you break that series apart and 'feed' it back and forth, you are training in isolation.

...to the degree that you perform that series of motions the exact same way every time, you have created a two person 'kata'.  To the degree that a person practcies those motions in the air by themselves AS A STATIC SERIES, effectivley, for combative purposes, you have a 'kata' in the classical Okinawan sense.

However, partner 2, can counter that jab NOT to the body.  He could also follow his parry with  a side clinch  or a finger jab to the face, for example.

So, if he shoots, the first partner's option might be to 'frame' the neck and cross.  If the second partern counters with the finger jab, he parries with his back hand, in which case he can't counter with a cross very well.  So instead, he double taps the jab. So, as you noted, the drill 'loops' back and partner two is now freed to attempt a second response to 'defending the jab'.  That's not fighting, obviously.  IF it were fighting, we would want partner two to parry, counter to create pain AND THEN PRESS THE ATTACK. BUt this is a semi-cooperative manipulation GAME.  So, he does his counter, then 'serves' something for the other guy to practice. 

2)  the famous "360" drill of Krav Maga.  Structured 'blocks are trained to dynamic purpose.

3)  a FREE form wrestling "position transition" drill.  NOT 'wrestling' or grappling, per se, but semi-cooperative free movement where combatants simply change between mount guard, standing, assyrmetric, rear mount, etc. in a RANDOMIZED way.  (Usually I start people with a static series, because as SIlat guru HArley Elmore says:" Patterns exist because people need a starting point".  But once the pattern has been 'set'--- i.e. 'once they knoiw the alphabet' it's important as I noted above to STOP habituatiing **the pattern** and start 'randomizing' it and breaking it up.  The exception is pattern excercises where you are trying to establish a CONCRETE body habit, like attack X (ONE motion) is met with a kenpo-like barrage of response actions.  But to me these are just another form of trigger drils.

3)  A "handfighting" clinching exercises where specific movements have been established, but partcipants operate under delimited rules.  So one side clinches, the other performs a so-called 'clinch defense' (i.e. a non-striking method of breaking the clinch), then reestablishes the clinch on the first partner.  Or maybe they do strike lightly, then reclinch if the focus is on defending attached striking.

4)  Randori in judo can take on elements of a Hubad-like flow where for instance a throw and a couple of counters are attached together.  So, when partner A goes for a throw, partner B opts for one counter or the other.  Once you have a 'set' of these, basically you have the elements of a 'flow' drill:  one side can attempt one of a half dozen throws, the other can attempt one of a half dozen counters with the result that sometimes they are thrown, and sometimes they counter.  And obviously, there are degrees of what I call "progressive resistance" which can be integrated here:  i.e. it can be 'fully cooperative' (no resistance after a 'feed'), cooperative, (0-25% resistance, i.e. muscular 'sag' weight resistance only), semi-cooperative (25%-50% resistant, i.e. sag weight with attempted 'thwarting' or blocking of the trainee's action at least some part of the time), competetive (50%-75% resistance, i.e. complex thwarting with occassional counter-OFFENSIVE movements thrown in, and 'fully competetive'-- (75%-90% resistance) i.e. what most people tend to think of as typical anything-goes-within-the-rules 'free sparring'.  I don't go to 100% resistance becuase if I tell people 'go 100%' they tend to go too hard for training.  You can  also assign corresponding 'tags' to those levels of resistance, i.e 0-25% is beginner or 'beggining' (of a drill).  Most of the time, I want people running at the 50-75% mark for flow type exercises, once the base motions have been installed.  Their not fully cooperative, but their not fully competetive, either, the same way a game of tag is not really fully ccooperative or competetive. 

5) directly from Kali, you have excercises like sumbradas.

6)  from karate or boxing, you have 'combination trade' or 'attacker-defender' type 'free-sparring'.  So what is this?  Well, obvioulsy it s not FIGHTING, its cooperative practice.  So, partners either 'trade' static combinations, or they trade one side attacking-only and one side defending only (constrained role) or they trade one side hands only and one side feet only, or one side striking only, and one side shooting only (constrained tactical set), etc. etc.    To me, that is a hubad-LIKE exercise.

7) again from kali, you have most forms of semi-structured 'knife tapping'.  Again, not fighting, but THE GOAL is **Free-association** of structured elements.  That part is the key.  Here is my buddy Kent discussing 'feeding' and response: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXNC3IR7Fxc&list=UU7VKdbuEoSNblF5djt8dfsw&index=14&feature=plpp_video And, keep in mind that everything I am describing here is part of what I believe is either the skill Acquisition phase or the skill Manipulation phase of overall learning.  That's sometimes how I make the requisite mental break--  If an exercise is sequential, be it only banging out a static jab-cross-hook on focus mitts, it falls into Installation/ Habituation / Maintenance (looking at the Acquisition phase from beginner, intermediate and advanced perspectives that can apply to any drill, any tactic, or any student level.)

Once a drill 'makes the leap' to INITIAL free association, however, it becomes a Manipulation phase drill, AND THE OBJECTIVES OF THE DRILLS SHOULD CHANGE ACCORDINGLY.

And all of that is 'above' the cut line for what I consider to be realistic application-oriented training, which adds in elements of emotional content, contextual realism, SITUATIONAL delimitiation (i.e. fighting vs. a weapon, fighting with one arm 'broken'), etc.  

I guess what I am saying is:  What is the goal of 'training'? 

Well, from a mechanical standpoint, it seems to me that the end goal of training is the trainee's AT WILL ability to dynamically deploy whatever movements the situation spontaneously demands.

This being the case, it's my belief we simply CAN'T get there with kata OR ANY OTHER static pattern repetion drills (either one OR two person)  where motions are repeated by rote, however much this exercise might at times appear to LOOK like real fighting.

**HOWEVER**  smiley

There can be no denying that static repetition of ANY kind (isolation or pattern based) builds body habit, both good AND bad.  So, to me, "kata"  (i.e. 'choreographed patterns of ANY kind).  are in fact a CRITICAL step along the road to **IMPROVED QUALITY** free movement.

Yes, of course, you can start a person on day one with free movement drills, and you should.  Free movement training builds footwork, dynamic responsiveness, dealing with the 'slop factor' of real fighting, the ability to generate and deliever power in less than perfect 'on the fly' conditions, etc.. However, to me the very idea of 'technique' is nearly SYNONOMOUS with the word 'efficiency'.  'Structured' work, as I call it,  is very much needed to add an underlying framework of 'technique' (efficiency) to combative movements that the trainee attempts TO USE in dynamic motion. 

Personally, in my program I try to think of these things as being two sides of a scale you might call 'technique' and 'application'.  You can depress one or the other relatively more in certain drills or phases of training, but for overall effectivess in combatives training, my feeling is that they need to be kept approximately in balance.

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Well by "flow" I simply mean a drill that is about training transition between tactics, rather than entering  into a given tactic.

Quote:
from karate or boxing, you have 'combination trade' or 'attacker-defender' type 'free-sparring'.  So what is this?  Well, obvioulsy it s not FIGHTING, its cooperative practice.  So, partners either 'trade' static combinations, or they trade one side attacking-only and one side defending only (constrained role) or they trade one side hands only and one side feet only, or one side striking only, and one side shooting only (constrained tactical set), etc. etc.    To me, that is a hubad-LIKE exercise."

I'm not sure about that, the whole point of "bunkai", application, even Judo randori or loosley structured uchi komi practice is to practice prevailing against someone on some level, drills where roles are clearly defined (which admittedly have a whole other set of flaws) are very different from many FMA drills, which are an endless loop of no one "winning" or "losing". In fact, drills like hubud and whatever the stick tapping drills are called are actually structured so that the "winning" bit is entirely removed, essentially practicing a stalemate. If it were not this, then yes it would be indistinguishable from karate yakusoku kumites etc.

Quote:
"Well, from a mechanical standpoint, it seems to me that the end goal of training is the trainee's AT WILL ability to dynamically deploy whatever movements the situation spontaneously demands.

This being the case, it's my belief we simply CAN'T get there with kata OR ANY OTHER static pattern repetion drills (either one OR two person)  where motions are repeated by rote, however much this exercise might at times appear to LOOK like real fighting."

I think it depends, obviously the point is to learn to actually use stuff against the unknown, no argument there. However it strikes me that there is a point where spontaneous work can veer into  as danger zone of complexity and ceases to be KISS anymore, because rather than responses to violence that are non-diagnostic as possible, one creates a whole system of responding to someone else's actions, which after all in a "real" situation are nearly impossible to predict. Also, I am not sure what you mean by "static pattern repetition" in this context.. as that is exactly what Hubud and similar drills are, static repeitions of patterns, they are just static repetitions with no clearly defined winner. At least if I tell someone to use the motion of jodan uke somehow against an unkown attack, there is some element of needing to respond dynamically, yet with limited tactical choices. Not saying the two are mutually exclusive, but as far as i'm concerned having "one sided" bunkai at a point in training is vastly preferable to drills that remove the gaining of initiative entirely..which is what I suspect drills that loop like hubud might do.

miket
miket's picture

Again, I don't disagree per se, especially about the theoretically 'endless' aspects of many flow drills.  I am not trying to convince you.  For us, however, the value is about the point of placement of these drills in the learning process.  And in fact, I will go so far tos say that part of the value I see for them AT THIS STAGE is preceisely that 'endless' quality... it allows for endless MANIPULATION, which is not fighting.

I guess what I am trying to say is, I do not see thesed rills as being 'combative'.  I don't know if you play basketball, but there are some 'layup drills' where two parts of a team are set on each side of a basket.  So, one side will take the layup shot, then the other side will run in and grab the rebound, run out, pass the ball to the next guy in line on the 'shooting' side, and get in that line. So, effectively, you have a loop of shooting, rebounding, passing, and running.

Here are the LA Lakers doing one before a game: 

To me, these types of drills are a martial analog to the layup drill.  Obviosuly they are not competetive fighting, anymore than the illustration is a basketball game.

So, these types of drills are NOT about prevailing, I agree.  They are not fighting.  They are about manipulating elements and dexterity, like running tires; and about watching for stimulus cues (the unpredictability of the ball in the basketball example) that someone is about to attack from a square go.  They are about building RE-ACTION, and shortening reaction TIME, and matching a stimulus to a response action.

So for us, from the standpoint of managing encounter initiative, these drills support LATER applied training of a 'riposting' /counter-attacking nature which are a clear THIRD  choice (following preemption and simultaneous attacking.)  I also feel the need to reiterate:  these are not 'applied' stage drills in my program, these are 'installation' drills.  So for us, I would maintain that I see value in them, but as with any drill, it's a limited value that I believe needs to be fit to the training context.

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

I think I get where you are coming now from Mike, thanks for taking the time to explain.

miket
miket's picture

No problem Zach.  I don't go on at such length to pontificate, writing in such detail helps me to articulate for myself what I actually beleive about these questions and to clarify my own explanations, definitional boundaries, inconsistencies and contradictions, all of which I hope makes me a better instructor and better able to communicate what I want from students down the road.

Personally, I think the transition or 'bridge' between fully arranged forms of training and fully 'free' fight training is really where the central 'nut' of quality instruction lies.  So, thanks for asking engaging questions, I've enjoyed the discussion.

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

That's how I am too, Half the time I post it's really just about thoughts going through my head, of course we learn tons from communicating with other people,. but sometimes as you say it also helps us organize our own thoughts.