Thursday, September 8, 2011
The Problem with Being purely “Reactive”
When I'm working with students on their technique/combination execution. I'm constantly telling them to be Active, and not Reactive. This often goes against many (other) instructor's teachings. It seems that most classes drill on speeding-up a student's reaction time (to aggressive motions made against them). There's nothing wrong (per-say) with doing so, but in the long run, it works against the student.
How? by training the student to wait for an aggressor's motion/technique, prior to beginning their own motion/technique.
My problem with this manner of practice, isn't in the concept, only in the execution. What the vast majority of student's will do, is to wait, until they see/identify the individual manner of an aggressor's attack method, before they execute their own defensive actions.
A great deal of this comes from systems stating that “such and such” (motion/technique) is for a “such and such” (attack method). This is repeated through (generally, 6-8) different manors of defending one's self, from whatever specific attacking method/manner is used each time. Frankly, it's too many choices to be made before a defense can even happen (which means it will never happen in a real situation).
This is one of those situations that having a choice works against you. In a controlled, practice environment, I can come up with a dozen different responses to any particular aggressive motion made (towards myself). Experience has shown, that in reality, I will commonly utilize one of (maybe) 4 different responses to any given situation.
Recently, I've had student's working on our 2-handed strike. This technique is designed to offer an effective defense, while (also) providing the ability to strike an aggressor's arm (when they execute a strike). This technique is maybe one of the most miss-applied techniques in our repertoire.
As demonstrated in an earlier blog, the motion is simple and can be utilized against either a Left or Right-handed strike. The purpose (beyond preventing the aggressor's strike from landing) is to disable the aggressor's arm. This goal is not always achievable, but should none the less be what is attempted.
Very often, and understandably, student's focus on preventing the strike from landing. Though obviously achieving a purpose, it does nothing to prevent further attempts being made.
Merely hitting the aggressor's arm, will rarely accomplish much (short of preventing being struck). For some, this is sufficient. For our student's, this is considered less than ideal. If an aggressor is able to repeat the strike, then nothing has been achieved.
Initially, the striking of the arm is sufficient (for training). This is expanded to include a kick (and of course, a follow-up strike). For now, the goal is to disable the aggressor's arm. This can be accomplished by several different striking methods, as well as locations struck (upon the arm).
It's during this manner of practice, that those locations are learned, and attempts are being made to contact/utilize them. Because our focus is being limited to only performing the arm motions, this is difficult. Students can easily become frustrated.
The individual motions are broken down to illustrate their specific actions, which have often been ignored, or over-simplified (by the student for their own benefit of execution). This modification of the taught technique, though simpler to perform, is now lacking in the ability to cause injury to the aggressor's arm/limb.
This is most commonly evident in the manner that the outside forearm strike is being performed. When done as taught, the motion will rise close to the tori's body, then motion outward (towards the uke). The hand is kept at a 45º angle, this is very important to maintain. If the hand/fist is kept at a flat, 90º angle, or even vertical, the tori will not be able to strike the (several) shown locations (points).
The fact that the strike leaves the body in a forward direction is what (IMO) confuses beginning student's the most. It's easier to understand knocking a strike away (by moving in a windshield wiper manner) than to strike the arm (in several shown locations) and possibly injure that arm.
Part of what's not being realized is that the tori's body is going to be motioning also. Not that it's going to move a great deal (unlike some instructor's that will have their student's spinning around like a top, just to perform one of their “blocks”). That motion (for us) is only a 10-15º rotation. If the student has been practicing the motion correctly, that now makes the (practiced) forward motion, at an angle to the aggressor. It also allows more momentum/power to be included in that motion/strike.
Once this is understood (by the student), they can begin focusing upon their strike (instead of the uke's). When the motion is being done correctly, the tori's strike will connect, and the uke's strike will be diverted (preferably along with causing injury to the uke's arm).
Practicing in this manner will make the student faster, simply by eliminating those unnecessary steps (evaluating what the uke is doing, which technique to react with, Left/Right strike etc.). The less ambidextrous (in regards to which arm the uke is using) a technique is, the less useful it will be.
The attempt at being reactive to whatever may be thrown at you (with a host of techniques to choose from), is an exercise in futility. The student should only have 2 or 3 (with little to no distinction between them) options. This often will only come, once one's basic technique motion is correctly understood. I often read that once one becomes Yudansha, they're always working on basic motions. Well, get a clue....