4th November 2019

Week commencing 04.11.19

Big John in action at St Peters Centre Central Dojo's new saturday venue

Training recently has been aimed at an advanced level in preparation for a black and brown belt course in two weeks time, which is followed by a Dan grading. A template has developed in which we begin with drills, move on to one step kumite and end with kata plus some light sparring. Variations include alternating the one step with three step, in which an attacker delivers a high punch, a mid punch and a kick, which are deflected and finished by a counter attack of some sort. Something I have learned over the years is that it is best to keep your one step responses simple, unless you are asked to display a variation of responses. The more complex responses have to be regularly practised until they feel simple but flow quickly. Any hesitation, and then they will look poor and attract another attack. More importantly, if you ever did get attacked with a nice simple straight ahead kick or punch, you would forget that amazing fancy dan takedown unless it has become embedded in your muscle memory.

Theses drills and one step, three step, or jiu ippon kumite have to be practised so much because if it ever came to that one life defining moment, you would hopefully at the very least, respond, rather than freezing, and any response is better than none. With that in mind, it is good to have a little script of responses that you practice each time we come to that point in the session when Sensei will say “right, pair up”. More often than not, it will be either three step - jodan punch, chudan punch, mae geri, counter attack. Or it will be two jodan, two chudan punches followed by mae geri, kekome, mawashi, ura mawashi, ushiro geri kicks, each demanding an appropriate response. If you plan what kind of response you would like to make, and ask if you aren't sure!!, and then do the same every time, straight away you have at least a dozen responses, ranging from simple to fancy. The seniors usually practise very similar responses each time and thats why they can sometimes look sharp. Its not some kind of ‘ninja genius’ that the more experienced of us have, its simply about memory, conditioning, timing, footwork, breathing, balance, speed, effort and “Ki” (universal energy or spirit, hence “Ki Ai!” - the shout you make on contact).

So, next session, choose the responses you want to make and stick to them and practise those. Think about your kata and choose things from them to see if they would work in one step. The more you practice, the better you will become, but also, you wont stay good without practice. Remember what Bruce Lee said, “training is like water in a kettle, you have to keep heating it to make it boil, if you want to make tea”.

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