How To Make Your Practical Fighting Training Really Count
Today I want to delve into the practical application of training in your chosen martial art. What I mean by practical application is the portion in your training where you simulate real attacks. This is sometimes called one step sparring (kihon/ippon kumite), free fighting (jiyu-kumite/randori), self defense drills, etc…
The purpose of this session is for your training partner to simulate an attack and for you to destroy the attacker. Often this is where I cringe as an instructor because most practitioners tend to go through the motions rather than taking advantage of training time that arguably could very well save your life. So here are three questions to ask yourself next time you have one of these extremely valuable training sessions.
1. Are You A One-Armed Fighter?
After training a while you may discover you favor certain techniques during your free fight period. Most times this tends to show itself by using only your dominant/strong side. Other times you may find yourself using the same technique or strike over and over again. If you find this is the case with you, apply these variations to your training:
Strong-Side Take Away – This involves taking away your strong side arm. If you are right handed you put your right hand in your pocket or waistband and free fight with the rest of your body weapons. Doing this every 5th free fight period will force you to work your weak side in order to balance off your body.
Legs Only – Try a couple of freefight periods fighting using your legs only. This builds tremendous versatility in your training and forces you to utilize targets using your legs in a variety of strikes.
Elbows and Knees -During your freefight period confine your body weapons to your elbows and knees. This builds 2 fighting skills : 1) Ability to close distance, in a fight closing distance offers you a distinct advantage, using only your elbows and knees you are forced to close distance to strike targets; 2) Teaches you to generate kinetic force in your strikes. In order to properly use elbows and knees you need to use your hips to strike with any power. This drill forces you to develop both of these necessary skills.
2. Are You Sure You Hit Your Target?
No, I’m not being a smartass. After watching the attendees at training seminars during their free fight periods it is very apparent that the majority of people don’t look at the target they are striking. Even worse they do not make contact with their body weapon and the target. If you are doing a one knuckle punch to the temple then your knuckle must touch the temple of your training partner and you must be looking at the temple as you strike it. If you do not do this you will not code your brain correctly for those targets and you will not be accurate in your striking in a real fight. You and your training partner must go slow at first to code your striking using this method it is critical to your fighting success.
Don’t make the mistake of sacrificing speed for accuracy. At first you may have to go extremely slow while you adjust your body weapon and eye coordination to code this striking info correctly. You also have to give your partner time to give the proper autonomic nervous system reaction (e.g. a kick to the groin results in a reaction of the body moving back approximately 1.5 steps, the torso bends down and the head and chin juts up).
This manner of training allows you to correctly target vital areas on the human body without inflicting serious injury on your training partner. As you progress with your training you will be able to increase your speed. You also will be able to increase your contact with your training partner as you both learn proper autonomic nervous system reactions. This increases to the point where most fighters can train at what is considered full contact speed but with real accuracy. Take the time and develop these skills.
Remember you fight like you train. Make sure you train to accurately hit your targets.
3. Did Your First Strike Create At Least One of These Results?
Your first contact with your attacker is critical and when you put your hands on him for the first time one of 3 results must occur:
1. Take His Balance
2. Create “Chaos”
3. Knock Him Out
If you have put your hands on an attacker and this has not occurred you are WRONG! The rest of your strikes won’t matter if your first strike is wasted with an ineffective blow. Let’s examine each of the three options:
Balance – Most people have horrible balance. It is very easy to get them off balance with proper strikes. Make sure you complete the arc of your strikes in order to take his balance. With your opponent off balance you can deliver another strike to him before he can recover his balance.
Chaos – You create chaos in your attacker when you strike multiple targets in the body simultaneously. The attacker can’t process what is happening to him and he goes into chaos which shuts him down during the fight giving you an opportunity to strike another target and finish him off.
Knock Out – When you strike a target which knocks out the body’s central nervous system either temporarily or permanently (lethal) you have defeated the threat. Make sure and evaluate your training sessions and honestly answer whether or not you accomplished one of the above three conditions on your first strike. If not correct this immediately. You may only get that one chance to take out your attacker.