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.