Monday, January 3, 2011

Appearances can be deceiving...

Lately, I've touched upon the importance of making your training dynamic and working with resisting partners and realistic attacks.  It is too easy to slip into the habit of always standing face to face with your training partner, having single attacks thrown and left out there for you to work your way through the defense.  This is part of learning the basics of a technique, and as such is both necessary and safe, but we can't get lulled into the false sense of security that real attacks come this way.

There are lots of great blogs, websites, articles and books which touch on this topic and most martial artists who train with a mindset towards real world application are working with this tricky area.  Put in too much movement, adrenaline and strength into technique, and your training partners, or you for that matter, can easily get hurt.

It is for this reason, that you need to gradually add in movement and make the process more and more dynamic with committed attacks and controlled responses.

The fact remains, however, that once training becomes dynamic and realistic, it no longer looks like the fluid beautiful art that originally wooed you.  It looks sloppy and it looks ugly.  Videotape yourself doing more advanced Randori, or free practice, and you'll see what I mean.  Once you don't know what attack is coming next, you'll see the appearance of the technique degrade rapidly.  This can be upsetting to watch as it look nothing like the you that you normally watch in the mirrors.

The questions you need to ask yourself are:

Did it work?  Did whatever unscripted, probably ugly ass, technique work?  Did it stop the attack?  Did it lesson the severity of the attack if it got through?  Did you neutralize your attacker?  Did you buy yourself  time and/or distance?  Did you create an escape route?  Put yourself closer to a weapon?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then what you did was a success.  Maybe not the success you dreamed up in your mind or the one you've practiced hundreds of times and demonstrated in a test or exhibition, but it is a success none the less.

This is very important.  This will be, for many, the closest they get to real combat in a controlled environment.  I've previously discussed the importance of Randori, of being a good Uke, and reacting and doing something, anything! when attacked.  These all tie in here.

So the next time you are involved in a dynamic training exercise such as Randori, bear the following in mind:  If you react to each attack by doing something, (anything!) and you continue from there without pause, adapting to whatever position you and your attacker end up in, and you finish your attacker or neutralize them, or create time, or distance etc..., then you are on your way to truly understanding and applying real world, realistic self defense.

"It ain't pretty, but it works."  This can be said for most realistic combat effective martial arts training.

At first glance,  dynamic training may not look very polished or advanced, but then again, looks can be deceiving...

Train effectively, and safely.


  1. this is why i try to always do things very ugly in controlled training drills so it looks prettier in randori....
    ok, being silly....
    good post....

  2. We don't do randori training in our system (which I think is a glaring ommision) but occasionally my husband and I have a go at home - it is so hard!! I just go blank. It is clearly something that needs to be practiced on a regular basis - who cares if it looks ugly! As usual - good post