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.