Sunday, August 19, 2012

Costs Versus Benefits

I've said it before and I'll say it again, there's a way to train without jacking yourself up, yes? So if you love being a tough guy and getting pounded on, read this:

Comfortable Complexity

As I have written about before, the simplest actions involve intrinsic complexity if they are in flow, with the potential to go in many (arguably infinite) directions. If we diagramed all of the things that commonly happen offensively and defensively as you try deliver a jab, it would quickly become a very dense diagram. If we tried to memorize or codify all of the potential footwork variations, for example, it would be very "top heavy," meaning that it would require an unwieldy amount of conscious mental work and that's not the way to go.

Don't get me wrong, a good deal of mental work is required to understand good technique and training process, but any neurological/cognitive research will confirm that what we do best is done without conscious internal dialogue, or without sub-vocalizing at the very least.

To make fine-tuned (i.e. complex) responses natural and comfortable requires training games where choices are made in the moment. Kinds of sparring would of course be included in that category, but drills can be constructed around any kinds of choices that you are looking to deal with. My recommendation is that when constructing a drill, you start with the lowest amount of choices possible, two and then add more choices progressively. The intensity should start mellow and build appropriately. What I like to do eventually is to throw something at the trainee that is not what the drill is focusing on, and if the trainee responds smoothly to the unexpected offensive opportunity or defensive need, then I know the response is genuinely there for them.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Drill Post #30: More on Footwork

Interesting how much has been written and demonstrated in JKD and kali circles about footwork, but it's always very black and white as it were. In other words, the "slide and step advance" in JKD, for example, is always shown as bringing your rear foot all the way to your lead foot which then moves a step forward. However, the movement of the rear foot, and therefore the distance of the advance, could easily be any where from a few inches to anywhere up to the lead foot and indeed should be practiced with varying distances so that you are comfortable moving an appropriate distance to, for example, deliver a stop kick. Same with the "step and slide advance," where you move your lead foot a comfortable step (usually defined as half of a step distance). If you thrust forward as far as you can, it's called a "push shuffle." But again, we should practice it anywhere from moving one inch, all the way to  the full push shuffle. The slide and step has easier potential to go further than the step and slide, but beside the distance you want to move, the choice as to what footwork you use is made by where your weight is and what tool you are attacking with, hand or foot.

To develop the choice making smoothly, the trainer moves forward and back at varying distances from the stationary trainee (but without crowding him at this point), and periodically stops and says "Go!" at which point the trainee immediately advances with appropriate footwork to touch a target with a hand or foot.

Then do the same drill but with both partners moving. Developing the instinctive feel for proper attacking footwork is a crucial skill set.