Monday, July 2, 2012

Through The Moment

I was watching a video clip of a seminar, and the participants were paired up, one was practicing an attack, in this case a particular strike, the other followed with a response. This is one of the most common teaching methods, and I am assuming that the thinking behind it is to condition a reflexive response to a stimulus .... See X coming, do Y, or Y + Z + ..... until it becomes ingrained. Everyone was doing the drill in rhythm, repeating this rhythm over and over.
I kept wanting the attacker to switch it up and throw a different attack, or mess with the timing, because of course that's how I learned, and though I know that this part comes later for those who spar or do some other kinds of random drills, it made we wonder, do you really need this first step at all?
Instead of only training to deal with what your opponent DOES, would it not be better to either train to deal with what your opponent is THINKING of doing (as you will get to deal with what they actually do do as a byproduct anyway)? ....... Or alternately, train to MAKE the opponent do the strike you want them to do by giving them a reason to throw it?

The repetitive, reflexive exercise in the clip may well be training how to predict the incoming danger of a particular strike from watching the opponent's physical motion, and maybe even from the physical set up, but if the feeder KNOWS what they themselves are going to feed, then you are not going to learn how to predict the intent itself, and the smaller micro adjustments, or 'tells', that happen as they decide what to throw.
Neither are you going to understand WHY they chose to throw that strike, or HOW to get them to do so.
If you are getting your information from this drill only, you will always be behind the opponents intent, in other words always behind the timing.

Tactically any partner practice like this where one is waiting, makes better sense if there is a reason for the waiting.
One reason could be being unsure of what is about to happen, and therefore making space until you can be more sure of what is going on. This set up could train reading the opponent's intent.
Alternatively, waiting for something you know is about to happen could potentially be a ploy/bait/draw of course, but then there needs to be a reason for the opponent to enter, for instance an opening ... and for that you need to MAKE one, AND be sure that it is tempting, but does not put you in danger of actually getting hit.

Is training AT the time something is happening, then winding the clock backwards until you can SEE the moment coming, and then can CREATE the moment to come, the best way to train?

Or could you train the uncertainty, and the creativity in from the get go, so you are already closer to context?
Even if there are only 2 options - perhaps either left or right, or high or low, now or  ++ now, as choices, surely it would be a more efficient way to learn?


Hertao said...

I really like Matt Thornton's break down of training stages...the "I Method". A technique is introduced, isolated with progressive resistance, and then integrated into "live" training. After the introduction, which takes very little time, there are various ways to isolate and integrate, each with pros and cons.

I think the kind of isolation training you saw in that video is valuable IF the training is:

1. Designed to make the practitioner better at particular techniques (because it's easier to work on certain qualities in a predictable drill).

2. To practice with full speed and power (because it's predictable, it can be far safer).

3. To create a conditioned response.

But it has to move into the "integration" phase so practitioners get all the things you mentioned.

With sword dueling going full speed and power may not be quite as important (although I still think it is) as with empty hands. I can't imagine random flowing FULL power, really trying to hit your opponent. At least without gear, someone is going to get seriously hurt every time. Really it's the same with unarmed fighting. But with these isolation drills you can do that, and both sides can "block" safely since they know what's coming.

That's where I see the most value in keeping that step in there.

Jake said...

Nothing substantive to add here...just interested in the line of thought. I'd have to think a lot harder to figure out how to make that work in the context of at least one system I teach.

Thanks for making me think.