My students typically find me to be very OCD with every aspect of training. It's not really that I am obsessive (well maybe a little) but rather that I firmly believe in training correctly and safely.
The two main issues I see today with training are the following:
Proper training distance for each technique
Proper Training distances:
Last week while training bearhug defense at Gabi Noah's gym here in Netanya, Israel my training partner got very frustrated because I would never let her apply the bearhug on me. So why was I being annoying? Every time she came to attack, she started from almost leg length away, with her arms stretched out. So every time, I either just kicked and followed up with other strikes or just pushed her hands out of the way. Eventually, I explained that she needs to start very very close to me where I wouldn't have time to do anything else but the prescribed technique!
Each technique needs to be trained from the shortest distance possible that is relevant to that technique; why?
Many times I see students performing a defense that does not really need to be performed from the distance that their attacker is attacking them (or rather a different technique should be used). For example 360 defenses, where the attacker is initiating the attack form an almost kicking distance away instead of at arm length. So what's wrong here? The student is learning to use the wrong technique for the distance, bad timing is developed, and most importantly the student is developing a false sense of confidence.
How do we correct these mistakes and ensure proper training?
Start with correct distancing tactics from the beginning; It starts from the ground up! Teach the student correct footwork and stance so they understand how to close and open distances through their feet. Then ensure that the student knows a how to strike with their hands and legs at each and every distance (with the relevant technique), and more importantly how to transition between these distances while striking. Yes this is a whole lesson; infact I have taught several full length classes on this subject!
Train self defense, whether simple inside defense through stick defense, at the shortest distance possible without telegraphing the attack. At first train these techniques only on instructors command so the student can focus just on the technique without the timing aspect. Then let them work freely. ALL WHILE working from the correct distance where there is no other option but to use the defense at hand!
Once students know the technique well have them train to the defend the same attack from different distances. For example, overhand stab: the students learned their 360 defense so they know how to defend against a very close attack, now add medium range where they should kick or have time to use an object for cover, then add far away where they can just run! (this can also be trained from far to close).
For the most part we are nice people that do not want to injure our training partners. As self defense practitioners we must understand that the person that is going to attack us on the street WILL try to hurt us or even kill us! What does that mean for our training?
I often see two main problems from attackers (aside from the one discussed above.)
Not actually attacking the defender, "pulling punches"
Attacking the defense
This is often a problem of new students who either do not understand the distance they are supposed to attack from or students who are afraid to hit their partner. How do we solve this problem?
Emphasizing to the students that they are practicing their attacking skills (punching, kicking and even stabbing!).
Wearing protective gear; gloves, helmets, mouth guards, etc. Even if they hit their partner, they will not hurt them.
Checking the attacker; every few repetitions NOT defending. (off course only while practicing slowly)
Note that if this issue is not fixed it will cause both students many problems in the long run. For the defender, primarily issues with timing and a false sense of confidence. For the attacker, problems in sparring and issues with distancing.
Attacking the Defense:
Often times a result of getting into a rhythm or over repetition:
When students are practicing and not very experienced they tend to get themselves into a training rhythm, where the attacker is attacking, defender defends and repeat without any breaks in timing. As a result the attacker tends to attack on a rhythm and often times at the defender's defense and not their body. For example: kicking the defender's shin instead of side of the knee or leg while practice round kick defense.
Additionally, over training is also a big cause when the student becomes tired of training the technique and no longer attacks properly.
I will leave you with this quote from Bruce Lee:
"Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick."
Thank you for reading,
Owner | Instructor
Tactical Fitness Austin