Thursday, December 31, 2015

If It's Not Broke

J usually rides her bike to work, but since it's New Year's Eve I drove her, so she doesn't have to worry about the people who might have started celebrating early. A car offers a little more protection. We'd been watching some bunkai videos and J was critiquing them. She's never trained at an established dojo and has trained only to be as ruthlessly efficient as possible, so she's more critical than I am. We started talking about the false idea of an exchange during combat, or rather taking turns. Watch most UFC matchs and you'll see what I'm talking about. A fighter will get in a technique, a punch, a kick or even a combination and they'll all land, and he'll pause, step back, stop and see what the effect was. They do this even if the opponent is stunned, reeling, moving backwards and about to fall. They've performed their combination, so they stop and wait their turn.

We do this during sparring all the time. Wait, opening, strike, wait, opening, strike, attack, defend, strike, attack, defend, wait, opening, strike. Rarely is it attackattackattackattackattack. Drills are practiced this way as well. Attack, defend, counter attack, break. We are trained to stop after we've "succeeded" even if the result is not what we want. We are rarely taught to "shoot until they're down" as gunfighters are taught. They are taught to keep firing until the enemy drops, not when they hit a vital target or when they "should" go down. When me and J spar, I catch myself wanting to do different techniques even if the first technique continues to land. We learn to take turns, and we want to practice what we want to practice. It seems it doesn't work that way.

When we spar we need to continue to do a technique that is working, until it stops working. The kata changes techniques every few steps, but the kata is not fighting. In kumite, crossing hands, we don't get to decide what techniques we'll throw. We don't get to decide what techniques will work. If we did than fighting and self defense would be very easy. We'd decide to do x and x would work, no matter what happened. We need a plan of course and we need a plan for when the first plan doesn't work, but we don't abandon plan A when it's working just to shake things up.

I find myself when I engage in kumite doing this at times and I see it in others. We plan for failure and want to test the counter to the counter. I punch and it lands, I use the same punch and it lands and I think to myself "I need to practice something else" so I try a different punch or technique and it doesn't land and I've lost the advantage. We shouldn't give quarter, we shouldn't give the opponent a chance.

When a person attacks their first attack is their chance, they don't get a second. The first is their chance to put you down and their only chance. After this they shouldn't get another, and this is what we should train for. If technique A is working and it continues to work and stops the other from attacking while you pummel them than you shouldn't switch to technique B until technique A fails. We shouldn't train for an exchange, or taking turns.

If it's not broke, don't fix it.