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.

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