Friday, August 24, 2007

One step sparring drills followup

This is my group as I'm teaching it. I wanted to protect everyone's identity, as well as show you a cool shot our Region's drum. I'm one of the weirdo's in pajamas in the background.

I had fleshed out a pretty good plan, well worthy of some advanced black belts who were chomping on the bit to improve their one-steps. I was ready to wow and dazzle my team with my copious knowledge of the inner workings of our one-step techniques. Did I mention I try to employ some sarcasm in my lessons?

So what happened? I was told to completely change my lesson. Our directive was now to work on more "basic" concepts. We were given a few examples, and were given an hour or so to work on them.

One of the suggestions was to talk about what I call "unenthusiastic blocking" where the defender sort of just walks through the technique and doesn't really block with any sort of power or finesse. No problem, as that's a pet peeve of mine as well.

So I decided to get really basic.

In my opinion, techniques are a secondary benefit of one step training, and I eagerly told my students this. I was met with a mix of blank stares and people looking wild eyes as if, at that moment, lobsters had began crawling out of my ears.

I believe that statement, 100%. One-step sparring is a good method of teaching footwork, distancing, timing and creating tools to use in sparring and self-defense. But it's not the most important to me. What could possibly be more important than that? Now everyone wanted to know what was the secret that I could possibly have that they were missing??????

One steps, I explained, are vital for the development of proper martial spirit.

I could feel the disappointment flush over the group. "Oh," they probably thought "here comes some lecture on how we're being too soft or easy. I know this song and dance."

Truth is, without the proper spirit, what's the point? Part of the training should be to face an unsympathetic partner who only has the goal of improving the speed and power of their center punch. To know that not responding in a determined manner could mean a broken nose. To feel what it feels like to FAIL at a technique and work to refine it over and over again until you succeed.

Yet, complacency is one of the biggest problem facing black belts. And we're all guilty of it from time to time. No one wants to hurt their partner (usually) so when your partner has low energy, we're usually just nice and bring it down a notch. Truth is, when your partner is tired or down, they need you more than any other time.

Sometimes the best way to work on fixing an "unenthusiastic defense" is to instead work on the attacker's enthusiasm. When a center punch is whistling towards your face or chest and seems hell-bent on hitting you into next week, your defense becomes a little more enthusiastic. Especially the second time!

I'm not completely sure if my message sank in completely. But, I'm glad I had the opportunity to deliver the message. I didn't see any visible objection from my assigned mentor, so I can only assume that I wasn't controversial in my thinking. :)
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