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Lee Richardson
Lee Richardson's picture
Go time

We practice pre-emptive striking as a matter of course, but how can we train for the mental and emotional aspects of actually hitting another person, as opposed to a focus mitt? What drills and conditioning can prepare us to 'pull the trigger' when we need to? Obviously being able to hit hard is fundamental to self-protection, but overcoming our natural reluctance to hit another is equally key, I think. After all if we hit first we're seen as being a bully. If we don't we're likely to get hurt and perhaps not be able to recover sufficiently and in time to perseverve.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to develop the ability to switch on at need (and, equally importantly, to switch off again just as quickly)?

soaringeaglekarate's picture

I suppose a great deal is to do with mental conditioning.  From playing rugby I have found myself able to step up when needed and then switch to focus on something different, from tackling an opponent to positioning yourself within the defence.  You wouldn't be much use if you were stuck holding the person you tackled, plus it would probably end up in fisty cuffs!  Overcoming the initial surge of adrenaline can be key to this, avoiding the "red mist" if you will.

The same applies when I practice kata, or when I spar.  I don't think it is an aspect that can be easily taught or shown, it is a part of personal development.  You will find some people can switch quickly and easily, while others will need to be wound up, it can come down to a matter of personality.

A way of overcoming the fear of htting somebody else could be practicing actually hitting a compliant training partner at half speed to get 'the feel' of the contact, then build that up on the pads.

That's just a couple of my thoughts on the matter.

shoshinkanuk's picture

this is one of the reasons we do use full pads for some sparring work - you can actually let go and everyone is reasonably safe.

mix it in with controled stuff with no pads, and all out on focus pads/heavy bag and contact work with makiwara I think it can develop.

Mark B
Mark B's picture

Hi all,

For me the key to avoiding ''freeze'' when the moment arrives is the knowledge that apprehension, fear and indecision are fairly normal emotions, particularly if you have little experience of real conflict. Much the same as understanding the effects of fear and stress induced adrenalin if you are aware of the symptoms you can control them , not allowing yourself to be engulfed. It is as important to discuss the emotions that can be experienced when , by necessity you have to strike someone as it is to consider the effect that adrenalin can have.

I personally am undecided as to the merits of heavy contact sparring as a means to combat this emotion as the mindset is significantly different, it will build spirit and maybe courage but when faced with a threat ''on the streets'' the intention will be to incapacitate your opponent with a spiteful cold indifference, this is the emotion we should strive for in an effort to combat the ''freeze''

All the best


Dave. H
Dave. H's picture

I have found the best way (for me that is) is a combination of things.

Firstly use visaulisation skills to create a situation that is as real as possible.  Try to base it on something that has actually happened to you, or that you have seen happen as this will help re-create the emotions of the situation you need to make it realistic.

Secondly (c/o Mo Teague) you have to decide in advance what you will or will not stand for, and what you are willing to fight for.  This will ,hopefully, take out some of the indecision and 'freeze' out of the situation.

Next i would choose an action trigger (c/o Geoff Thompson).  An action, cue or phrase that primes you for a response.  Then you have to train this into all your bag, pad and partner work to make it an automatic response.

However, nothing can replace experience.  My job allows me to be exposed to a lot of confrontation and violence in a relatively controlled environment.  I have found having a loose game plan and objective can help with thinking when the brain is shutting down, but keeping it loose avoids the panic that can set in when things dont go to plan.