Monday, September 3, 2012
The “Safety Dance”
Anyone who has read this blog, is familiar with my opinions regarding the practice of “sparring” (as it's commonly performed). I don't care for (and criticize the practice of it,...regularly), that practice of 2 (or more) individual's donning protective equipment, and proceeding to wail upon one another until (some arbitrary number of) sufficient “points” are sufficiently accumulated to declare a “winner” (between those participants).
I'm not going to (again) bitch about that manner of sparring (right now). I am going to (once again) describe the manner of (protectively geared) interchange that I do endorse, and utilize (between my students).
What Taika (originally) utilized for Bogu (sparring), were (sometimes) modified kendo headgear, with chest and foot protection. Hand coverings, were the fingered “Kung-Fu”(type of) gloves (which allowed for grappling). There are now various manufacturers of fully-protective head gear (including clear plastic vision panels, reminiscent of a motorcycle helmet, LOL).
For our purposes, we only utilize the “bag-gloves” (light weight gloves that protect the hand from being cut upon the hard-plastic of the headgear visors). We only have the individual who may be subject to being struck (with full power) wear the appropriate protective gear (the other participant, having no obvious need for it).
These training sessions are very one-sided affairs. This is done purposefully to promote the training aspect of the exercise (in lieu of being perceived as a competition).
We have students face one another with the standard arm's length distance between them. For beginning students (lower kyu-ranked), we will have them focus on performing strikes to the uke/aggressor's arm (when the uke punches at their head/face). For this practice, the uke wears padding upon the length of their arm, the tori wears the headgear. Strikes are performed full speed, full power (by both participants).
Even with the use of protective equipment, the methods being practiced must be mixed (allowing the struck areas in each exercise time to recuperate).
The types of techniques which this manner of practice allows for (though substantial) only constitutes about 40% of the instructed (technique) material. Tuite accounts for another 40%, with the remaining amount being kicks, throws and submissions (none of which, the use of protective gear would prove to be of any added benefit).
Practice done in this manner, allows for the student to see/feel (some of) the differences between full-power/speed, and practice speed. Their own inadequacy's will become clearer (to the student) when they have participated in these exercises (and hopefully without completely discouraging them).
Each of the different attack methods will appear unique to the student (after time). Learning to recognize those methods will allow the student to respond and modify their defense as necessary to each (both during, and when not in "class").
By applying the learned techniques at full-speed and power, students can recognize what those attack methods look like when they are being used against them. As with any other learned motions and techniques, repeated practice will create ability.
We emphasize none of the BS hype associated to/with the common sparring methodologies (such as), “learning to take a punch” (there is no such thing). If you want to gain endurance, run 10 miles a day.
If you want to be stronger, join a gym (with a trainer) and learn to (properly) work with weights. These things are not the skills one should be participating in a martial arts class for.
A martial art's class teaches one to recognize the signs of an impending assault. Though not (generally) considered to be the primary focus of one's training, recognizing those telegraphed motions is what will make the student able to respond when they are actually used in an attempted assault.
Too often students will assume that by practicing (only) with one another, they will acquire the ability to respond to any attempted assault perpetrated against them. The fact is, that they will never be able to practice against any (type of) attempted assault made upon them (What occurs in real life, will never be like what was practiced in class).
The most that one can hope for, is to learn to recognize if/when an attempted assault is about to occur. This (obviously) can't always happen, but from practicing the most common manners of attack that do occur, we can hopefully learn to recognize them and respond effectively.