Monday, August 13, 2012

Feed Me

One of the hardest transitions in training is taking the step from feeding, to something tactically more sensible.
I have noticed that this piece is rarely separated as a particular phase of training, there's usually feeding, perhaps multiple feeds (and working techniques off feeds of course)... and sparring, nothing in between.
I've been playing with this interim piece because it seems to make a more efficient segue to pure sparring because if you don't have an understanding of why and when something might work, there can be a tendency to 'trust to luck', and the competitive nature of sparring can make it difficult to keep focus and learn how to see this.

If 2 people are flowing, working on some aspect of the game, it obviously helps in the early stages of any new concept, for one to feed opportunities for their partner to work with. At first, just the very uncertainty of which side and what height a strike is coming from next, is enough to deal with.
After a while this becomes too simple ... so adding layers of uncertainty, through playing with timing and faking is a good next step - the 'when' and the 'what' if you like.
THEN ... and that's where the tricky part comes, the feeder needs to actually start to choose strikes, use the timing and fakes to create opportunities, real openings to actually go for
- NOT going for the side that is easy to defend,
- NOT cutting when the opponent can block easily, and
- ONLY cutting when they think they can reach the target ... thus adding the 'why', along with the 'when' and the 'what'.

That's the tricky transition, but super helpful if worked on consciously.
In effect what has happened is that the feeder is being fed a defensive line to breach. This is how it should be seen, and the better the defense, the harder the attacker will have to work. Even if the defender is a beginner and leaves obvious opportunities, the attacker should start consciously noticing them, both helping their own 'seeing' skills and the defender's. The defender still gets to defend, or practice other concepts ... just the feeder is now feeding more realistic 'questions' to answer.

It seems if there is not a transition at some point in the training to tactically 'sensible' behavior, both parties are at risk of wasting much time practicing entries that will not work, and defenses against things that are not true threats. The clanging and clashing may be fun and interactive, but it's not really helping build dueling skills.
Of course, the ability to lead and tactically choose is not a problem if you are the teacher, but this piece will help two people both learning how to see stuff when they are working together.


Jake said...

Interesting you have drills for solving it? Do the drills stay the same, but the mindset changes?

Maija said...

I think that the same drill sequence can be used, but as you say with a different mindset.
You can feed with no real thought, just to help your partner practice, but you can also do it by being engaged in the decision about what angle to throw next dependent on the moment.
From that point a couple directions manifest themselves - the defender can now counter strike to show which ideas have the biggest loopholes, or else the feeder/attacker starts to have zero success and the questions comes up ... what now?