Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ippon-sanbon Kumite

 Anyone who has read this blog, is familiar with the fact that I adamantly disagree with the concept of “sparring” (as it is most commonly pursued and performed).
 That doesn't mean that I disagree with every form of it though. I regularly have my students participate in 1, 2 and 3-step Kumite. The difference (in how I have my students participate) is in how that kumite practice is performed.
 Kumite is used as a training exercise. The majority of the initial exercises are to acclimate the student to striking with power/force.
We will have 1 student don the protective gear, and the other has none. In most of the scenarios, the student with no gear will be the tori (thus, they can be allowed to strike full-power upon the uke).
 Depending upon the individual technique, the party that puts on the protective gear can be alternated. Unlike the more typical “dancing” tap fest (that usually constitutes a “match”), by not wearing gear, the tori can more realistically apply (actual) techniques upon a protected uke.
 This allows the ability to feel the application (at full-power) when performed upon someone that is (able to) resist/respond (when the tori performs their defensive action).
 Unlike the more common free-form manner of sparring (with points, and a ring and all that), by restricting the motions allowed, to be only 1 to 3 strikes (by the tori and/or uke), and by being protected, the uke can perform strikes without concern of being (seriously) injured.
 Conversely, there are exercises where we have the tori "suit-up" and allow the uke to strike the tori using (full-power) strikes to their head (which is encased in the protective headgear we provide). The uke is allowed to use arm pads (because this is where the strikes are often focused during this training). 
 The focus of this manner of practice, is to experience the technique's performance (with sufficient stressor's in place, to provide a level of error into the practiced motion).
 Though there is no perfect manner of practice, what proves to be the most productive (for each student) will be different. Through this manner of practice, we're hoping to provide the safest method that we can (while providing the most practical application experience).
 Our concern is that our students don't become dependent upon the protective gear that's being utilized during the practice (therefor it is usually the uke only, who is using that equipment).
 These practice sessions commonly can't be continued for extended periods of time. Even though wearing protective gear, being the recipient of repeated impacts can prove to be quite exhausting.
 We will usually alternate our training sessions between Tuite, kumite and kata/exercise practice. We don't tend to emphasize the bunkai aspect of training (it's just something that occurs and is mentioned during the course of training).
 Kyusho practice requires special conditions as well (it's not always “safe” to randomly perform neck strikes, LOL). Having acquired (usually through being constructed by us) protective “neck” padding, there can be some limited practice of those manner of strikes being performed as well.
 The limited motion (1, 2, 3 step) kumite (IMO) is closer to an actual conflict than any of the “sport” models being currently promoted. My own experience has shown that confrontations rarely last beyond a few strikes. If they have run longer, somebody was screwing-up, LOL.
 It isn't the concept of "Kumite" that I disagree with. It's the competitive aspect that serves no purpose in Life-Protection training. Our students are not concerned with "trophies" or awards. Their "ego's" don't require re-fueling through some manner of competitive interchange between one another (or anyone else for that matter).
 Our student's seek to understand how to protect themselves, in the most efficient manner that's possible (for them). This manner of performing kumite practice, is utilized for just that purpose, yet another method of practice.


Noah said...

Is the ippon-sanbon kumite you are describing scripted or unscripted? By that, I mean does the tori know what the uke will do before they do it and is the uke allowed to respond naturally to the counter that occurs? I am used to "ippon kumite" and "sanbon kumite" being used to describe completely scripted, unrealistic partner drills, so I was curious. Thank you!

Openhand said...

For our (beginning) student's purposes, the exercise is scripted. The goal is to (first) understand how/if the tori's strike will effectively nullify the uke's (striking) arm.
These exercises are intended to familiarize the student with “at-speed” application of the practiced techniques (focusing primarily upon technique placement upon the uke's arms, and the results thereof).
“Realism” is a vague term itself (different to each individual). Many of the more simplistic practice methods are often more “realistic” than those performed with everyone wearing enough padding to jump off a building without concern for injury, LOL.
Different people/systems utilize the terms “ichi-ban”, “ni-bon” and “san-bon” differently. We use the more direct translation of 1, 2 and 3 motions kumite. It is a “training” exercise, and is not intended as an equivalency to combat.

Noah said...

Thank you for your response! I suppose that my question, then, would be do your students ever get an opportunity to pressure-test their techniques against unknown attacks, whether through these drills or others?

With regards to "unrealistic partner drills," I was simply referring to the Shotokan-esque method of doing attack-and-defend type drills.

Openhand said...

Hmm,.. well, our manner of (that type of) practice is “different” from most that I've had experience with (in regards to what your calling “pressure-test”).
Our beginning students are taught to perform “their” technique/motion (that's pre-planned in their head), regardless of what/how the aggressor attacks them (when the situation allows for one to do so, which most do).
Our (Root?) defensive motions will achieve their “goal”, regardless of which manner (Left/Right) attack is being utilized. Until experienced (“first-hand”), it's an awkward concept to get one's head around, LOL.

Noah said...

That is definitely an awkward concept to envision--I have learned techniques that can be done the same against several different attacks, but not all of them.

Most schools do their pressure-testing through sparring, although I don't believe the way it is usually done is all that useful for self defense training. We typically pressure-test our defensive techniques by having an uke attack (unscripted) with any of the methods commonly used according to crime statistics and peoples' experience, and they try to react to what is being done by the tori as realistically as possible (flinching, grabbing, falling, resisting, etc.--whatever an untrained person might do). It gets intense when done properly, and I feel it keeps us honest but I am always open to seeing other methods. We do also spar (usually medium-contact with grappling allowed) but that is mostly for fun and getting accustomed to being hit and not stopping.

I would love to see how you go about all of this, one day. Thank you, again, for your responses!

Openhand said...

Well, it is a different approach to how “defense” is commonly being accomplished, LOL. The taught defensive motion(s) are began the same (regardless of the opening aggressive action).
There are (actually) only 8 possible ways (Left and Right) for an aggressor to strike (using the arm's) the tori (in the head, which is the most common 1st strike attempt made).

With only “minor” variation (between them), the opening defensive action for all are identical. They only vary in their continuation and follow-up.
The "main/initial" purpose of a defensive technique is to protect the defender (tori), after that it's variations of what to do with the uke.