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Are You Sabotaging Your Training part 2

Updated: Oct 25, 2020

Finding Home

Familiarity in combative disorder

For anyone who has ever been in a physical altercation you find out quickly how chaotic it can become. This chaos increases exponentially with multiple opponents. From dealing with the shock of a sudden attack or perhaps being overwhelmed by a much more aggressive opponent, you can find your mind freezing or going into the cover and protect mode (self-preservation). Its here that all those drills and training should kick in. I say should because often it does not for reasons we will touch on briefly here but address in much more detail in another article. This article will focus on how to find “home” again after you have been thrown into chaos. Home is where you find your training, familiarity.

Perfection drills, self preservation drills, sparring, attribute drills, sensitivity drills. These are common terms among Filipino and Jeet Kune Do practitioners. All arts do some form of these to some extent. In the Filipino arts its not uncommon to see the feeder (opponent) giving the fighter a prescribed attack, and the fighter do a series of responses or combinations. This is “cooperative training”. For example, aggressor 1 feeds the fighter a straight left jab. The fighter in turn responds with a destruction by intercepting the jab with an elbow, then clearing the arm to deliver a series of strikes. Next the same with the right cross and a different series of strikes and so on and so on. It builds from there and gradually becomes more and more skilled and technical. These are good ways to learn potential responses to a specified attack. The mistake is that the “application” is not found in those drills. An attack is rarely so clean and never so cooperative. This is one great reason “empty hand defense against a knife” is most often taught incorrectly and rarely realistically. A knife attack is never so obvious and never so clean, and its ballistic. Often the knife is felt before its seen, as it should be. But back to our training.

If the application isn’t found in these drills why do we drill? We drill to perfect our technique But we have to keep in mind that we are not perfecting our technique until we add to it resistance. Many will say that this is where sparring comes in. Its true but we also can build in resistance gradually before we ever have a student spar. By doing so we can avoid developing bad habits. Negative physical responses like closing your eyes when being attacked can be easy and quickly developed, (in a matter of milli-seconds in fact) and very very difficult physical responses to break. The other attribute gained from perfection drilling as well as other drills is Familiarity. This is “home” and its this place we seek to find in any altercation. This is the place where you are comfortable, your breathing relaxed, your mind focused and your responses automatic. Its also where you take your opponent from. You take them away from their “home”. We do this by inflicting pain, immobilizing them or parts of them, by taking away their ability to breath, move, execute or making it so painful if they try, that all they want to do is stop. Or by finally taking away their choice to continue all together by rendering them unconscious.

There is such a commanding feeling that comes with the thousands of repetitions we do of techniques and drills. Its our wheelhouse. But it can let us down as well. Application is found in pieces of a drill, not the entirety.

Lately I have been watching so many Facebook and YouTube videos of someone demonstrating a drill. In the drill you see the feeder feed a Jab and then they leave the arm out there and allow the person responding to do a multitude of techniques. All while the arm remained extended. As time froze for that person. Or the aggressor suddenly disarmed remains in a pose while the one responding fumbles to deploy a knife. The time standing still technique never really works. The gift of drilling is always found in the feeder and their response and this is always taught by the Instructor. The need to see that attacks are often wild and by combination. If the jab comes the cross is right behind it or the lunge or the knife, or the………..So train it. If your beginning and only at the point of addressing one technique at a time, feed realistically! If I intercept a jab with a destruction that hits home that jab will be retracting immediately. That fact alone changes all those techniques you did in the drills. How the arm retracts and where it retracts to etc. The response hand with or without a weapon responds or even attacks (better yet) the live hand is active, pressing trapping, checking diverting, deflecting etc. Remember its fluid and never ever stagnant. It helps no one to feed unrealistically. Even in the beginning of training. If you are teaching the basics of execution then adjust speed but never response.

How else can our perfection drilling let us down? Footwork, Not paying attention to it at all or paying the wrong kind of attention to it. Proper footwork gets you in the range and area to deliver attacks. It also gets you out of it as well. It provides for you the foundation for balance, speed and timing, delivery and execution as well as follow though. The trap is to fall into the belief that you have to “look” a certain way (pose) and/or you have to move a certain way (performance) to utilize it. The fact is that footwork drilling done correctly should result in an automatic, natural method of response in a given situation. I have seen many “pretty posers” easily knocked off balance because they remained in a position that was meant to be fluid. Footwork positioning is brief. Almost not even noticed. From point to point quickly, effortlessly and always in motion.

Its critical that the martial artist understand their training methods very well. That they begin in a cooperative predetermined way but move from that to a more unpredictable and fluid training method. Training must be “alive” to be effective and to bring the student to places where they find “home” in a chaotic experience or event.

Resolution of Chaos

John was walking down an unfamiliar street one night. He was suddenly hit from behind in a blitz assault………….Total time unseen………….3 seconds

John, realizing he was hit and on the ground immediately gets to his feet……………...Total time elapsed 8 seconds

His attacker, realizing he was not incapacitated decides to attack wildly and aggressively landing perhaps 50% of his wild blows. John covers his head and his mind races. Finally John feels his aggressors arm on his while he covered………….. Total elapsed time 27 seconds

John quickly recognizes this contact he feels and responds with an immobilizing technique while he delivers a blinding eye jab. He proceeds to blast down his aggressor’s centerline, grabs his head and delivers a fight ending cut elbow to his opponents temple. John caught a cab home safely…….Total elapsed time 39 seconds……….

This is simply an example of how a surprise, chaotic event can quickly resolve in a matter of 39 seconds. 39 seconds is being generous. Often its what you do in that first 5 seconds that determines the end result. In this illustration, John was able to protect himself while he found that moment of familiarity. His response was a product of many drills he trained in which he took pieces from to address this situation.

Ok now lets skip the hate mail from all the “pros” out there. These times were used as an example. However, the truth is that blitz attacks happen very quickly. For some, these blitz attacks can be better than one slowly unfolding before your eyes. Often the slow developing situation is lost due to excessive adrenalin dump and the subsequent inability to perform what you know and trained well. In a blitz attack this adrenalin dump often comes after the altercation. This leaves your brain able to respond with your body in synchronicity. As I wrote, please don’t get caught up in the time frame but the real issue at hand. Building a solid ingrained protective guard.

Drills of any sort are fun, but we must always remember the nature of the beast we train. It is “martial” (war) arts. The knowledge of what and why we train what we do as well as the mentality in which we train them may save your life on the street. It will certainly be the difference in being to apply your art.

Jim Miller is a Senior Instructor in Filipino Martial Arts and Jeet Kune Do under Sifu Paul Vunak. He has trained under many FMA, Silat, Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu Instructors over the past 37 years. His school, Innovative Fighting Arts is located in Emmett Idaho. Jim works with military and Law Enforcement and offers Intensive Personal Training Programs as well as regular classes.

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