Thursday, December 2, 2010

JKD Theory and Weapons

While it is true that weapons were not a central part of Bruce Lee's curriculum, the principles that are central to JKD apply broadly and are very useful for weapon methods. I have no doubt that many in the Filipino martial arts ("FMA") crowd will immediately talk of these principles as being old news because of the long history of the FMA and its being battle-tested over time and so on: that means essentially nothing in this discussion because, for one thing, a system's training can change in a single generation, and for another thing, much of what is being passed down now I doubt has been battle-tested.

Let me be specific about several essential issues...

Distance:
while many FMA practitioners may talk about long, medium and close range, they rarely define the fighting measure in any kind of ready (non-striking) position. That is, long range is defined as being able to strike or cut each others extended arm, but not whether you are in reach of a strike (INCLUDING THE WEAPON-HOLDING HAND) without the opponent taking a step in when you are in a non-striking or ready position. In JKD, we would consider this too close, because if the opponent strikes non-telegraphically, then we are unlikely to have time to respond well. I have certainly found this to be consistently true with knife and stick as well. It would be humorous how close many knifers stand in their training were it not so misguided. And yes, I understand and acknowledge that surprise attacks happen and we can't always be at "ideal" range, but in training we have to start somewhere and most people's view of basic fighting distance is lacking.

Economy of Motion: it's curious that many contemporary FMA folk also practice some kind of kickboxing-based empty hand art where it's understood that telegraphing (some kind of visually readable preparation) of strikes is a no-no to be guarded against, but somehow this is overlooked when they pick up their weapon. To prove my point, take any ten DVD/videos or Youtube clips on stick or knife, both where an instructor is showing the striking/cutting angles as well as drilling/sparring, and I doubt if you will find even one where the telegraphing is not obvious! Even built into the system! Any movement of a strike that does not involve the business end of the knife or stick going towards the target is a telegraph. Some will say that you need the prep for a fully powerful stroke, but you don't always need a maximally powerful strike to smash a hand, and smaller strikes can be developed to a nicely functional degree. (In a future post I will define the four features of a proper strike.) Also included in the principle of "economy of motion" would be the "passive/active" analysis: that is, how much motion is defensive ("passive") and how much is attacking ("active")? Again, I do acknowledge that we are not always together enough to catch our favored responses, but if a weapon system focuses on a defensive maneuver such as a roof or sweep blocks rather than striking right off the bat (the basic tactic of "largo" systems), then they are lacking in economy of motion.

There is never a point at which we shouldn't ask ourselves whether something we are practicing couldn't be done in a more efficient way, and this is something that is part of the best "traditions."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Drill Post #18: JKD as a Filter

From time to time, I get a call or e-mail from someone that's an experienced martial artist or instructor and has just discovered or become involved in JKD, and is now questioning whether they should simply toss out their previous system or not. What I advise is that they not throw out their system, but to feel comfortably disloyal to the system. What I mean is that they should go ahead and dump the material that they know is simply an artifact from tradition and not really useful, and modify or add what they know in their honest experience is a better thing to do.

Also, a system may just have missing links. For example, a student of mine experienced in traditional Jiu Jitsu always wondered when the teachers were going to show how they might actually get to the joint lock rather than just starting from the already connected position, so we worked on entries using a kickboxing with either time-hitting or trapping as a means to possibly get to a joint lock, and then it made sense to him. We also did kali lock flow freelance (which includes defense against strikes while trying to joint lock) so that it became more alive.

JKD is not just about efficient technique, but looking for the relationship between the pieces of the combative puzzle, and methods to make it real for you, an on-going process.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Drill Post #17: Taking Notes

An important part of martial art education for many people is taking notes. Arguably the most famous notes are those that comprise Bruce Lee's "The Tao of Jeet Kune Do," although he did not write them for public consumption or arrange the very problematic form they ended up published in. But more about that another time. The point is that people in most creative endeavors write notes as a way of remembering important points or sources of information as well as working through problem solving.

Note taking at the Inosanto Academy was particularly important because so much information was covered during any given session. Ironically, there was a senior student that used to conduct some classes back in the '80s, and when he saw students taking notes, he would snidely ask "Are you going to bring your notes to a fight?" Well, no, but neither are you going to warm up, stretch out or wear boxing gloves, dimwit, we thought. It was also an ironic stance on his part because the two biggest note takers I know of are Bruce Lee and Dan Inosanto.

Bruce Lee warned his students to avoid being either "physically bound" (i.e. able to fight hard and endure, but without being able to analyze what you do so you can progress past just being tough) or "intellectually bound" (i.e. being able to understand the theories but not getting your feet wet with training to see what you can actually do).

Notes are one of the ways to keep from being "physically bound."

Yes, in the moment of need, you just have to deal with it without mentally long-winded analysis, but to get to the point where you can be functionally spontaneous you have to do a lot of conscious non-spontaneous thinking, if you really want to be an efficient well-rounded fighter.

Here is the way I organized my notes. The date of an entry can be interesting just to look back at when you encountered certain kinds of training, but past that, I always noted whether something was either a technique (e.g. a jab), a drill (e.g. a random flow of strikes at a defender), or a principle. If it was a principle, I noted whether it was a technical principle (e.g. turn your waist into the strike, hand moves before the foot), a drilling principle (e.g. when delivering a flow of training stikes to the trainee, make sure that the flow is smooth and non-stop unless deliberately breaking rhythm), or a fighting principle (e.g. if the opponent steps inside your fighting measure as he chambers, then stop-hit).

As I have written before, I do feel that 90% of the training should be neither completely pre-set or anything goes, but rather where choices and responses have to made and with controlled or no contact.

Run your knowledge through the suggested organization above and see if that's helpful. You may also want to emphasize what techniques, principles or drills are most important to you.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Drill Post #16: One More Destruction

Previously we've talked about a stop-kick/low side kick as a counter to kicks, punches and general advances, and in the last post we talked about two do-able destructions (injuring the attacker's incoming strike). Although the average street fight does not involve kicking very commonly, even with all the MMA popularity, it would not be shocking to encounter someone kicking. The low round kick ("hook" in JKD terminology) is often defended against by either evasion or "shielding," a block using either the shin or outside of the calf. The shin shield, however, takes a lot of conditioning, and while it will be painful to the kicker's shin, it doesn't feel great on the receiving end either. The calf shield doesn't feel as painful to use but it doesn't really hurt the kicker either. The kali knee shield is a good alternative. The proper execution involves getting the thick bone just below your kneecap to the instep of the incoming kick (which really can't be conditioned worth a darn). Done correctly, your leg will feel fine and their foot may be broken or be so painful as to be hard to stand on. It would be understandable for someone to point out that it takes much more accuracy to do than the standard shields, but it takes much less time to develop the accuracy required than the conditioning of a shin shield which makes this a great solution in a number of ways. An important point in the execution is to draw back rather than advance as you shield, because that way you are replacing the intended target, your thigh, with your knee. If you advance in any way, you will end up crashing shins. By using a slight retreat (possibly just pulling you weight onto the rear foot to be able to point the knee inward or outward at the incoming instep) you also move back out of hand range should the kick be a fake to be followed by a hand attack. If you have good shin/instep pads, then the trainer can put them on, move around freely and firing light round kicks to the inside or outside of the trainee's lead thigh, which he defends against with a "point shield," that is, one that drives into the kicker's instep as we have described. This can be a real show stopper.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Drill Post #15: Two Easy Destructions

Dan Inosanto refers to the Filipino Kali tactic of attacking of an opponent's strike or kick as "destructions." Some require finer timing than others. Two of the simplest destructions to time are the forward elbow against a jab or cross and the downward elbow against kicks coming straight in at the mid-section. Several issues regarding the jab/cross destruction to be aware of. First, the distancing should most often be using a small retreat as though you were going to use a "catch." This has two important functions; first, it gives you the room to fit the pointed-forward elbow between your face and the opponent's fist, and second, should you not have the proper accuracy, the opponent's strike should not be able to reach your face. An additional bonus is that if your accuracy/timing is off, it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to become gun-shy, thinking "Holy smoke! That guy just tried to break my fingers!" It is more likely that he will just think you were covering. It is important when training this, that the trainer/attacker (wearing good hand protection, duh, or using lighter strikes with his palm) actually aims honestly for the defender's face, and doesn't "help" him by aiming for his elbow.

As for a dropped elbow on a front or side kick, still maintain proper distance, retreating just enough to be out of the range of the kick but close enough to come back in quickly with hands or feet afterwards if you want to. As you drop the point of your elbow sharply on his ankle/instep (if it's a front kick) or low outside of his leg (if it's a side kick), still keep your eyes forward so you can see possible hand attacks coming.

Note that in both cases, it's a one-step defense and counter, and really, the finesse needed is not extreme, certainly not a lot more that just a simple boxer's catch in the first case and definitely easier and safer than a scoop parry versus kicks.

Finally, a quasi-political note. There are JKD "traditionalists" that would avoid developing these tactics because they were not part of the JKD/JF curriculum. But since they "fit in" with the structure and principles of directness and efficiency, there is no reason not to use them other than a misguided closed-mindedness, the antithesis of what JKD is all about.

Good for now!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Drill Post #14: Low Maintenance Kicks

In a weird psycho-social way, I understand why certain kicks are not emphasized in most martial arts. Take the foot-stomp. Most people, particularly of the youth species, have an image of martial arts being exotic and physically dramatic (high flying kicks and so on), so if those people went to a school and saw the teacher showing people how to stomp on someone's foot or knee them in the thigh, instead of being impressed with the straight-forward practicality, they would be disappointed, thinking "Well, anyone could do that!" Of course they would be missing several points, among them that they wouldn't think to do that if they weren't turned on to it, and that one still needs the training to catch the opportunity amidst the flow of things. Which is why sometimes I call some of what I do "Old Fart" method; that is, I want to emphasize things that I could do as an old fart. As part of that ethos, we would want the lowest maintenance tools in our repertory. Two of those tools are the foot stomp and the knee to the thigh. One way to train these, beside the obvious use as a follow-up to hand or foot combinations, is in the midst of hand defense. So now, going back to drill post #7, when the trainer goes into a flow of strikes that the trainee is defending against, the trainee/defender should also look for opportunities to knee the attacker's thigh or to foot stomp. A few details here: The foot stomp may be toe point out or toe pointing out according to how your body is positioned as you are defending. Also, regarding the knee, some might ask why we don't just knee the groin. While kneeing the groin is a good tactic, it is more instinctive to defend, and there are many times when the opponent's groin is not an available target, but the inside, outside and front of the opponent's thigh is usually available when at hand range, and as an added bonus, no average dude thinks of defending their thigh. Needless to say, the execution of the foot stomp and knee needs to be completely controlled in training unless good protective equipment is used. Have fun!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Drill Post #13: Defending the Attack

This will relate back to drill post #7 where the trainee sometimes has to switch up from attack to defense, but in a more concentrated way.

This may be done initially without footwork, but after working it in a stationary fashion, it should be done with the trainer moving the footwork around freelance.

Staying just INSIDE the fighting measure where the either of you can reach with a strike without having to step in to do so, the trainer has his hands somewhat up, but a bit wide and low so as to give the trainee available targets. The trainee throws a consistent flow of strikes using training targets (such as a light palm contact to the neck of the trainer, or the chest), and periodically the trainer (who is not defending) throws a strike or two at the same time as the trainee is striking, forcing him to choose appropriate defenses with his striking or passive hand (or bob and weaving).

Many martial systems have simultaneous defense and attack as part of what they do, but attack and simultaneous defense is not the same mental skill, and the reason to do this drill. Note that in many fights, both swing away and one gets knocked for a loop just out of happenstance.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Drill Post #12: Sandbag Training

Hitting a sandbag feels better to me than a heavy bag or banana bag. Mine is up against a beam so there's no swing, and I like how little it gives. Years ago I used it with my first teacher's training medicine for conditioning and though I don't use medicine anymore, I still like hitting it without gloves for a certain amount of conditioning. Furthermore, what I like to do are freelance variations with hand, elbow and forearm strike and straight blast combinations close to the bag; think "inch punching" but using the full range of strikes instead of just the straight punch. Try combinations where your striking tools start from three to six inches away from the bag. Remember that if you are punching for a neck or throat, or elbowing a temple, you don't need the most loaded up variation possible.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Drill Post #11: Shadowboxing

I doubt that I need to explain the value of shadowboxing to anyone interested in these posts. The way I'll suggest rounds of shadowboxing will mirror some of the partner training we've covered up to this point.

- Round one: Just footwork. Make sure that any piece of footwork is connected to any other. That is, if you have, say, six most basic bits of footwork (step/slide advance, step/slide retreat, side step right, side step left, slide;/step advance, slide/step retreat), then that makes thirty six possibilities. No need to put it in a series, just make sure that you are playing with it and covering the variations.

- Round two; Hand strikes. Whatever you want to be part of your arsenal, throw it in there, jab variations (finger jabs, palm jabs, vertical and corkscrew), crosses, short and long hooks, high and low strikes, elbows, "miscellaneous" strikes such as whip hand/finger fan, scrapes. Mix steady and broken rhythms. In other words, a jab, cross, hook smoothly, and sometimes half of the jab or cross before the following strike.

- Round three: Kicks. Just loosely combining kicks and making sure to be able to lead kick to lead kick, lead to rear, rear to rear, and rear to lead, including advancing, stationary, angling variations.

- Round four: Defense. Combining footwork with hand and kick defenses.

- Round five: Putting it all together. Just like with the focus gloves/mitts, you want to move from offense to defense with hands and feet, sometimes interrupting one thing to continue with another. For example, half way to the completion of your jab, you retract it to a modified cover or a bob and weave, imagining that the opponent's hook was going to nail you before your jab landed.

The rounds don't have to be long, but it's good to work through different areas of focus.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Drill Post #10: Focus Mitt Training

Few non-JKD martial artists acknowledge that the use of boxing focus mitts in Asian martial arts was started by Bruce Lee. The initial method Lee and his students used was very crude; single targets and simple combinations. The methods evolved very quickly, but there is still a base level of use that is not common amongst the many systems now using focus mitts. Hand attack, hand defense, kick attack and kick defense are the four categories of stand-up fighting that we want to be able to flow between. It is assumed for this post that the trainee has trained the attacks and defenses that would be worked with here. The "feeding" by the trainer is at least as much of a skill as the trainee responding smoothly. The trainer should smoothly move between the four categories above, so that, for example, he holds the mitts for a hand attack combination, possibly switching up on the last punch of a combination to make the trainee miss and flow into another hand combination, or a kick, or at the beginning, middle or end of his hand combination the trainer throws a hand attack to make sure the attacker is able to defend his attack. The meaning of "smoothly" is that the trainer keeps the trainee moving with no pause for a response of at least three "change-ups," that is moving from one category to another. If the trainee gets to pause or cruise between each new thing to respond to, then the trainer is not doing his job. [Here comes the plug...] That's the focus of my Essential Self Defense Vol. 2 tape (still haven't heard whether the company that owns the rights will properly put them into DVD format. Don't order DVDs of my Essential Self Defense 1-4 series from Beckett Media until I can confirm that they have done this. At present they offer this series on-line, but are putting the wrong DVDs in the boxes if you can believe that).

The trainer may present everything as a visual cue, or he may also call out combinations as well as, for example, tapping his thigh with a glove as a signal for the the trainee to throw a controlled no-power round/hook kick to the trainer's thigh. That would be an example of a mitt hold that is not not recommended because they require too much accuracy from the trainee when going for power. Properly done, this training can provide much of the value of sparring without the wear and tear.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Drill Post #9: I "Heart" Foul Tactics

So, as we've mentioned, that list of illegal/foul tactics that are part of sport combat MMA contests are what are known as (and should be sung to) "My Favorite Things." And again, before the MMA crowd gets their panties all up in a bunch, this is not to deny any of the many valid methods of that crowd, but it does go back to our view of costs versus benefits (how labor intensive is it to functionalize a tactic/technique versus another that will give you as good a result, our primary goal being the ending of someone's attack).

When taking someone through a progression of training, I don't like to wait too long before dealing with some standing vernacular grappling. By that I mean the "tent hug" mutual bear hug that guys often get into when the punching ranges collapse into a chest-to-chest scenario. This happens easily when one or both of the people fighting don't manage to control their effective punching range because they are both trying to agress. (We're assuming in this case that neither party is deliberately trying to crash/shoot in to grapple). It just takes an instant of inattention for this to happen.

Before I work with this material, I always like to ask a student what his instincts are when the bear hug-ish situation occurs, and by and large, when I bear-hug them (under their arms at first) they bear-hug back. The central point being that they respond with a defensive, not particularly effective thing. I then ask what the closest thing is that they can effectively attack. They may mention some decent possibilities, but not they ones I want to ingrain first. That's when I point out that the hand on the same side of my head (i.e. their right hand if my head is to the right of their head) is free to thumb an eye or attack the windpipe. These are the primary targets most easily available.

To drill this into instinct, the trainer throws a flow of very controlled light punches at the trainee who is up against a wall and not allowed to simply evade. On occasion, the trainer will start to "get messy" as in drill post #8, and although knees and close hand counter-strikes are good to do, the trainer will go for the under arm bear-hug and ideally the trainee will have his hand on the trainer's throat or thumb on the eye brow (the training target for thumbing the eye) before the bear hug is on. At that point the trainer gets pushed back into elbowing/striking range, so the trainee executes available variations. Do I need to say that both partners have to really control the contact? Light to no contact is the name of the game here. The Thais have drills they lump under the category of "Play/timing" and that's what we're after here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Drill Post #8: Finger Wrench Drill

Of all the joint-manipulations/locks possible, the one that would be at the top of my Most Useable list would be a finger wrench. Going back to our observations regarding human combative instincts, it's clear that people reach out with their arms both in offense and defense, and often hands are open at that point. If you have "crashed the line," that is you are now in past the fighting measure and touching your opponent, you may have a finger available to grab and manipulate (a nice way to say "break or wrench"). As a general rule it will be when the inside of your arm is in contact with their limb and it is a quick slide down to get their finger before they know what's happening. For example, when executing a palm hook, if the opponent tries to obstruct with either a cultivated block or an instinctive defensive motion, a slide down the point of contact to the finger grab is viable. Other scenarios are equally good, such as a jackass pointing his finger at you in confrontation. It's not easy to accurately describe the way I like to train this, but give this a try; the trainer is grabbing/pushing the trainee in a messy way, and the trainee/defender, while looking for the most direct counter-attacks will grab the finger when that opportunity is presented (which the trainer insures will happen by sometimes actually in the mess of things putting his finger in the trainees palm). It's really interesting how many times, when doing this training at first, that I can say "freeze, now tell me what the closest thing is you can attack?" to a student, and they will point out three or four things they could do before I point out that my finger is actually in their hand.

As for the proper way to bend a finger, do not just grab the finger and point it back away from you, but (if, say, your right hand has grabbed his left index finger) use the little finger of your grabbing hand as a fulcrum to focus into the back of his knuckle as the index finger end of your fist bends it back towards him as you take the whole thing down to the ground while paying attention to move back and guard that he doesn't smack you with his other hand before the "point of no return."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Drill Post #7: Flow Training Between Defense and Offense

First, let's combine the drills from posts #2 and #4, so that the trainer is moving the trainee around and having him look for the close evasion and reposte, continuous evasion and the stop-hit, and then sometimes as the trainee is striking back (just as his stop-hit is landing, for example), the trainer, WITHOUT DEFENDING, keeps a continuous series of strikes going so that the defender/trainee has to go into a defensive flow like in post #4 for four or five strikes before the trainer relieves the pressure enough so that that he can go back to the "Frankenstein" scenario. It's fine, and of course recommended, that during the trainee's defense he is "time-hitting," that is striking back simultaneously with his defense. I have also referred to time-hitting as "sectoring" on the DVD of that name, and while I won't be going into an in-depth exposition here, I will say that if you are doing the cover as I describe in drill post #4, your free hand can either monitor the trainer's non-striking hand if it is up, or you can put it can in the trainer's eyes or throat (touch the chest or throat for training targets). Remember that when attacking eyes or throat, you don't need full-body power mechanics to make it count, so you don't have to disrupt your defensive structure. In the next drill post, we'll add some stop-gap foul tactics (AKA "Some of My Favorite Things") into the drill.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Drill Post #6: Fine Tuning the Kick Range Reposte

In Drill Post #5, the initial feed by the trainer involved a front kick/jab kick to the trainee's midsection with various degrees of depth of the trainer's advance, and the initial response of the trainee was to see how small a distance he could evade the kick by without parrying. Let's now add two possibilities to this. If, as is very common, the kicker drops his hands as he kicks and steps down, the defender (if he has controlled his distance properly) jabs or crosses, timing it to land just as the attacker's foot is landing. If the trainer keeps his hands up as he kicks and plants forward, the defender, after the evasion, leans back to execute a stationary low side/stop-kick. ("Stationary" simply means to lean the weight back on to the rear leg to kick with the lead so that there is no advance which would crowd your kick). Note that the jab or cross is in essence a stop-hit, even though it is after an attack, because it is intercepting the continued attack. As always, the goal of the defender is to make smooth timely responses. The trainer should not have to hang out while the trainee is figuring out what to do. As usual start at a mellow pace and work up.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Drill Post #5: Fine Tuning The Kick Range

Again back to reading distance in flow and responding with appropriate footwork. As nice as it would be to stop-kick everything, sometimes a kick may be launched and we are simply not prepared enough to stop-kick, so we do this drill.

Starting at kick fighting measure, the trainer will execute a front kick/jab kick towards the trainee's midsection. The trainee's first goal is to evade the kick by the SMALLEST distance possible without blocking/parrying. If the kick is so shallow that the trainee doesn't need to move to evade, then he doesn't; if the kick is deep enough so that the trainee can evade with a small retreat, he does so, or moves back with a slide and step if it's deeper. If the kick is deep enough that the trainee feels the need to side step, or parry and side step that's fine, but he should parry only if he feels he'll get kicked otherwise. The trainer should kick in a mellow enough manner at first that the trainee would only receive light contact. That way he can feel comfortable seeing how close he can let the kick come. Being gonzo prematurely just slows the whole training process down. This is the first half of the drill.

The second half of the drill involves what happens after the trainers kick: does he plant forward? Drop his leg back? Slide and step back? The trainer should do all of the above at random, to which the trainee uses the appropriate footwork to deliver a controlled low side/stop-kick. We are limiting the return to one tool (the low side/stop-kick) so that the trainee has to focus on footwork and distance judgment. If the trainee moves in before properly reading where the attacker is placing his kicking leg, he is likely to be too far away or too crowded. The goal is to read smoothly so that the defense and attack flow together and that the trainee's kick lands on the trainer's leg the instant after it hits the ground. The interesting thing about this drill is how challenging it can be to use a simple set of tools with proper timing when there are even these few variables.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Drill Post #4: Hand Defense Training

In drill posts 1 and 2, footwork was the primary defense, along with the stop-hit and then the stop-kick in post 3. Now, to develop the hand defenses further, we'll take away all footwork. As the trainee, put your back foot against a wall (now taking away all footwork) and having a partner throw a flow of strikes at you, not hard at first, and not so fast you are getting tagged most of the time. As your skill builds up, the trainer should go faster and appropriately harder. Also, the strikes being thrown should mix smooth combinations and broken rhythm, the simplest example being half of a jab followed by a rear hook, or half of a right hook (as fake) smoothly followed by the left hook. This will help develop a bodily understanding that what seems to be coming might turn out to be something else, and to keep all defenses small and tight as possible to be able to deal with those unexpected shifts in the flow. The primary tools the defender will use will be the high-line parries (parrying on the outside of the feeder's hands), the modified high cover for head hooks, low covers for body hooks, centerline forearm parries (like a detached "fook sao" from Wing Chun) for mid and low straight shots. For the variation of a cover (versus hooks) that I recommend, put your wrist on the back of your head, shoulder hunched up, with the elbow level between the nose and the eyebrow and, very importantly, pointed OUT slightly. This angle prevents a hook from getting any kind of surface to "bite" into and makes it slide off behind you. It's important to slip slightly forward when doing this to prevent the hook from slipping inside of the cover. The defender should keep his gaze on the attackers chest so as to be able to pay attention to a field of activity rather than one thing at a time.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Drill Post #3: Long Kick Fighting Measure

Extending the fighting measure to include kicking means staying at the distance where your opponent cannot reach you with a kick without taking a preparation step. Again, this gives you the chance to see it coming and to intuit whether to intercept (attack on his preparation) or to defend whether through evasion or any other tactic. Now with the trainer moving around as described in drill post #1 but at the extended fighting measure, the defender stop-kicks every time the trainer/attacker tries to move in to attack with either hands or feet. The stop-kick (jeet tek) is traditionally done in JKD as a "stiff leg" kick, that is, it is not chambered, but rather delivered as though you had a cast on your leg and raised it to side kick position to the opponent's closest shin or knee. However, actually you have a slight chamber simply by merit of having your knees slightly bent in your stance, so I would recommend using that slight bend as a way of giving the stop-kick a bit more punch than a stiff leg one might give, although clearly either would work. Use the striking surface is the arch across the bottom of the foot, as it is more stable than the edge of the foot. Although you would ideally follow up after a stop kick, for the sake of the drill simply drop back to the long fighting measure.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Finger Jab Specifics

I may not be able to do drill posts with as much depth as I would like for the next several weeks (although I'll try), so here is a quick technical one in the meantime. Regarding the finger jab, I recommend having the hand at a slight angle (not more than 45%) and using the pads of the fingers as the striking surface, and the fingers slightly flexed so that if you hit bone instead of eyes or throat, your joints won't get painfully jammed up/bent back. Try finger jabbing/tapping a wall surface with in this manner and see if feels comfortable to you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Drill Post #2: Four Essential Responses

We'll now add four important response possibilities to the previous "Frankenstein Drill. With the trainer moving the defender around, he will periodically throw a right or left haymaker/wide hook. The trainer/attacker will have four variations of hook that he will throw for the defender to develop the perception for. The first is a hook that is far enough away that the defender can simply let it pass (within inches) before returning a jab using a light palm to the attackers shoulder as a training target. The thought behind this first variation is that it's good to fine-tune our distance sense so that we don't defend against strikes that are not close enough to reach us (and indeed, nervous second-rate attackers do throw strikes like this). The second hook variation to be thrown is one where the attacker is stepping in just enough so that the defender has to take a small step back before his return strike. The defender should not "slip" back for now: That is, he should keep his weight forward/centered so that just as his rear foot touches down on the retreat, he can fire his strike and be leaning into it. In both of these first variations, it is VERY important that the the timing of the defender's counter-strike be initiated JUST as the attackers strike passes the defender's face and not at the end of the strike, as the defender might be stepping right into a following strike. The third variation, and one that could often be used, is when the attacker steps clearly inside the defender's FM WHILE loading up his hook, to which the defender will respond with a stop-hit, palm-stopping (not too hard) on the attacker's chest for a training target. It is important that the counter strike is not prepped with a drawback which would delay the strike. The fourth variation for the attacker to feed is the windmill, i.e. a series of continuous alternating sloppy right and left hooks while moving forward. This should be fed so that one hook is coming up in preparation as the other is firing, and that's what the defender looks for as his cue to maintain the FM until he sees both hands drop away at which time he returns his lead strike. This kind of emphatic but sloppy attack that dissolves is really common.

OK, I'll say in advance that Yes, there are many other good responses including stop kicks and time-kicks, but we are working a particular perception development here, and Yes, of course you would not necessarily continuously evade or have the opportunity to, but I repeat the above. Now, have fun with the drill.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Drill Post #1: The Fighting Measure

Hokay, there are many legit ways one could start training, from the ground, from situations (grabs, etc.), but I will start with general stand-up skills.

Training partners A and B stand just outside of the hand's reach: This defines the fighting measure for the hands. In a street situation, one would stay just outside of the kicking distance/fighting measure, but focusing on the hand measure is a smaller distance and therefore helps develop a finer sense of distance. I'll call the trainer "A" and the trainee "B." A holds both hands extended in front of him (which is why we call this The Frankenstein Drill) so that B knows exactly where "just out of his reach" is. Then A starts moving at random in all directions while B maintains the distance. It is important that A also moves backwards and that B follows. When A moves straight forward more than a step or two, B should start to circle (but making sure not to step inside the measure while doing so). A should sometimes follow B when he circles, with his right extended arm reaching towards B's right shoulder so that B knows to keep circling. After a two to five steps of A having B circle in one direction, he should reverse it, and cut back and forth as so he's trying to cut B's circling off, which B responds to by always cutting back/circling away from the pressure.

If some JKD related practitioner thinks this sounds like the "mirror drill" they would be correct. However, the problem with the way most people do the mirror drill is that they are so focused on mirroring the feeders footwork, that they forget the whole purpose of the drill which is learning how to maintain the fighting measure, which is a key to generalship. That is why I have set the drill up this way.

It may not be clear at first how to do this from reading a post, but give it a try! Within the week, I'll add four primary responses to additional feeds.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Post Series Starting Soon

Hello All,
Just a quick note to mention that starting within the next week, I'll start to post WEEKLY a progression of drills that I find useful, so check back soon.