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Wastelander
KF Sensei
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Joined: 18 Oct 2010
Posts: 2742
Location: Salem, IL
Styles: Shorin-Ryu, Shuri-Ryu, Judo, KishimotoDi

PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2023 4:42 pm    Post subject: Flow Drills Reply with quote

Hello, everyone!

I'm curious to know how you all feel about flow drills? If you use flow drills, are they ones you were taught, or have you created your own? How are they structured? I think it would be an interesting discussion to have on how everyone utilizes this type of training.
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DarthPenguin
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Joined: 03 Dec 2021
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Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Styles: Shotokan, Judo, BJJ

PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2023 3:46 am    Post subject: Re: Flow Drills Reply with quote

Wastelander wrote:
Hello, everyone!

I'm curious to know how you all feel about flow drills? If you use flow drills, are they ones you were taught, or have you created your own? How are they structured? I think it would be an interesting discussion to have on how everyone utilizes this type of training.


Personally i find i use them a lot more when grappling. For me it seems to fit more easily "flowing" from one technique into another to work on movements as i will then drill them separately with resistance to make sure the techniques work - the flow drill being used to work on smoothness of movement or transitions.

For me (completely personal view here) the issue with flow drills in a striking based art is i have always found it hard to do the second part - the train against resistance aspect. As an example i am thinking of the common drills which go like : block strike X, trap arm, perform strike to elbow joint/knee joint, then do ..

These can be hard to practice 'hard' i think so you run the risk of training light movements with no finish. I think this risk gets partially alleviated though the more experienced/skilled the practitioner gets as then you are better able to know that you would 'kick through the knee' etc when going for it as you are much more in control of your striking
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aurik
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Joined: 08 Nov 2016
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Styles: Shuri-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu

PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2023 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We don't have dedicated 'flow drills' per se, but we do have a number of drills that can be performed as flow drills. We do have a few kotekitae drills that double as flow drills. Our dan kumite, when performed as intended (renzoku style) also doubles as a flow drill, since each sequance is supposed to flow into the next.

Here is an example of our dan kumite dril
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sensei8
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Joined: 23 Feb 2008
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Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2023 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seeing that Shindokan is comprised of 85% hands and 15% feet, our flow drills are segmentally structured, meaning they're divided into Gedan, Chudan, Jodan, and Mixed.

Our aim is to get behind our opponent. The use of our feet are mainly for setting up our hands. Our flow drills that we are taught are to compliment our intended aim at all times.

Therefore, we learn how to attack the levels of our opponent, being it Gedan (Low) or it being Chudan (Middle) or it being Jodan (High) or it being Mixed. After all, we either create a weakness or we discover a weakness or weaknesses in combinations of our opponent, hence the flow because no fight in reality is always like a one-step drill. One side note. Because Shindokan is highly steeped in grappling, we've Open flow drills where we use at all levels of the body as well.

On the mixed, we start setting up the three levels. For example, we will drill two of the three levels by eliminating the remaining level. Chudan and Jodan. Next time Chudan and Gedan. So on and so forth.



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bushido_man96
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Joined: 31 Mar 2006
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Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE, Police Krav Maga, SPEAR

PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2023 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've done some striking flow drills in the past, some from DT courses I've attended and found useful. We've started doing them more in our self-defense focused classes. Some of the basic ones we do are more for a warmup than having a practical application. When we get into the other ones, I have a tendency to want to get outside on the drills, putting me at an advantage to the attacker, so a lot of mine will start involving stepping.

I've also done some in a grappling context, again picked up from a GRACIE DT seminar I attended years ago. I really like doing these.
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Wastelander
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Joined: 18 Oct 2010
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Location: Salem, IL
Styles: Shorin-Ryu, Shuri-Ryu, Judo, KishimotoDi

PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2023 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's interesting to see the fairly consistent use of flow drills in grappling arts, but not striking arts, and not much in karate, because (for me) karate is very much an art that integrates striking and grappling. I've definitely done my fair share of flow drills in Judo, and even joint lock flow drills in karate, but the majority of the flow drills that I've worked have been combinations of grappling and striking--of course, they are generally based on kata, so that makes sense.

While I definitely find value in flow drills, I've also seen some common issues with flow drills I've seen in use:
[list=]
Flowing without considering the feasibility of transition
Flowing without considering the opponent
Training to be good at the drill
[/list]

Flowing without considering the feasibility of transition is common in a lot of the joint lock flow drills that I've seen. Often, the drills are structured simply to teach students a collection of locks they need to know at a given level in the curriculum, and it doesn't really matter that it wouldn't make sense to transition from one lock to the next, or that it's very difficult to change the grip or direction of pressure that the drill requires. This, IMO, leads to impractical drills that don't teach much beyond memorization.

Flowing without considering the opponent often ties in with the previous point. Not only should a flow drill be designed around transitions that make sense, but they should also consider how the opponent might react and resist. I often see both lock flows and striking flows that suffer from this--the opponent just stands there and lets you do the drill. To be an effective drill, IMO, it needs to at least train to expect common forms of resistance and continued attacks. Of course, they can't account for every possibility, but that's what "breaking the drill" is for.

Training to be good at the drill plagues most flow drills, in my experience. People want to memorize the drill, and get to where they can do it quickly, smoothly, and without thought. The trouble with this is that they have trained into themselves an expectation that it is always going to go exactly the way they want, and the moment something throws them off, they get hung up on it.

I'm curious as to whether you all have seen these sorts of issues, and how you address them?
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DarthPenguin
Pre-Black Belt
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Joined: 03 Dec 2021
Posts: 955
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Styles: Shotokan, Judo, BJJ

PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2023 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wastelander wrote:

[list=]
Flowing without considering the feasibility of transition
Flowing without considering the opponent
Training to be good at the drill
[/list]



I've definitely seen them myself. What i have observed was (using your categories)

Flowing without considering the feasibility of transition

Whenever u have been shown joint locks at karate (or other striking arts) this has very much been the case and i think it comes down to the lack of resistance in the drill. In bjj (and judo) you are taught to apply the submission/technique and then the flow comes in with other techniques you perform if it is defended. Typically i find that when we drill this we usually have the opponent resist in some way which then leads to the other technique as a counter. My instructor also teaches that if they don't resist sufficiently then finish the technique rather than go through the flow (my karate instructor is similar in kumite drills, if the attacker gets too close without attacking or doing nothing, feel free to just punch them first as uke!). In the karate drills it is often a case of take limb of fully compliant partner and do X then move compliant limb into position B and do Y. Not as much of apply arm bar properly (though gently) and then when defended apply Y

Flowing without considering the opponent

As you mentioned i think this very closely meshes with the first point. Is something that a lot of karate people do well with striking but not as well with joint locks. Probably a legacy of how it is taught as opposed to striking. At karate we do a lot of defences to uncalled attacks but nothing similar lock wise

Training to be good at the drill

Again i notice the difference between this at bjj and karate. You are totally right, people do this a lot. The difference is at bjj we usually then drill it with resistance which makes the difference. Either, start in position X and apply the technique we were just shown or more usually start in position X with goal of sweeping/submitting/escaping/passing guard etc and see if you can do it.


Edit : re-reading through my post it seems that my comments can be summed up with "training against resistance makes the difference" - a lot more succinct!
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bushido_man96
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2023 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have seen the same issues in flow drills as well, Noah. I've seen some put together merely because they "look cool," which is even worse, as there is no practicality based behind them. I honestly think that is the issue with some of our one-steps and three-steps.
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Wado Heretic
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Joined: 23 May 2014
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Location: United Kingdom
Styles: Wado-Ryu , Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu (Kodokan), RyuKyu Kobojutsu

PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2023 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do have to agree with points made about flow-drills thus far. Another issue I have found, and I am not going to name names, is that often that instructors “sell” drills and more drills as a form of merchandise, and new material, to keep their customers/students interested. When the truth is there are only so many flow drills that are efficient, and there are only so many skills in combat that translate to training through flow work.

The organisation I belong to has a series of Rolling Bunkai, a form of Kiso Kumite, based on the five Pinangata. Each of the Pinangata has their own set of Rolling Bunkai exercises. They are performed as Yakusoku Kumite with an Uke and a Seme. Uke presents an attack such as a punch, kick, or grab, and Seme responds with a defence derived from the sequence of movements from the Kata. Fairly rudimentary, but very good at isolating and showing the principles behind the shapes of the kata, and helps students develop their sense of Miai for their own attacking range, and the defenders their defensive footwork and hand-fighting.
I developed my own set of flow-drill variation for each of the basic drills to, essentially, increase the intensity of training. The basic, or initial level, of my flow drills just have a “reset” moment where the Seme corrects distance and position to then initiate an attack in the Uke role. Basically, flowing between the role of uke and seme, back and forth, so it can be done at a faster pace. The “dose of chaos” relating to fighting skill being the need to very quickly correct your range to attack after defending. At this first level the students just stick to the same attack and defence. It is also done in an A-B-C, step through structure, so each part of the sequence is broken down rather than just flowed through.

Once the students have a grasp of the back and forth I then show them what I call the Omote Henka which is the second level of training. This is an idea I stole from Aikiken. Essentially, I show them the obvious, and easiest ways, to break the flow and “win”. This second level of training is thus for the student to look for these moments to Henka, so if the Seme is defending poorly the Uke should punish them. Ideally, these obvious Henka should not be possible if the person doing the defending action is doing it with proper distance, pressure, and timing. At this level, if Henka occurs the students just reset and restart the flow.

At the third level I add another dose of chaos. Several of the Rolling Bunkai exercises respond to the same attack with a different defence. For example, the Pinan Nidan drills have three defences to an attack from the left hand, four to an attack from the right hand, and one to a kick. At the third level the attacks are from one limb, but can be varied, so if it is a right-hand attack can be a hook, a step-through punch, a lunge, or jab using the front hand, or a grab to the arms or lapel, so long as it is a right-hand attack. The defences can be from any of the drills which deal with an attack from that hand. Each of the defences, of course, work best at different miai. Thus, the purpose of this dose of chaos is to start understanding proper defence to changing distance and angle of attack. For the attack role, it is starting to understand a suitable attack range relating to your partner’s distance and angle to yourself. Limiting it this way also allows the students to keep working on the kata shapes while adding more resistance, and giving a live element to what can end up over-rehearsed motions. At this level, I do instruct students not to use the Omote Henka until they develop confidence with the basic idea and back-and-forth.

At the fourth level I then show students what I call the Internal Grafting. The term grafting is one I borrowed from Ed Parker. In his system it meant to start one self-defence technique, shift to another, and then return to the end of the technique you started with. I use it pretty much the same way. Once students have got the idea of the third level and have then been invited to reintroduce the Omote Henka to their practice, I then show them how to use other movements from within the kata to deal with the henka movement, and then get to the reset movement. They start the basic flow-technique, the henka intervenes and changes the flow, and then the counter returns it to the reset. Initially, I only allow up to one counter-riposte, to borrow a fencing term, or one henka movement that is countered. As students get better, I allow as many henka and grafting movements until someone “wins” or they get off the allowed script. Essentially, escalating the flow-exercise into a form of semi-free sparring which still relates back to the kata movements being worked on.

At the fifth level the goal of a successful henka, or counter, is to secure a throw or standing hold. I will have to take a step back to the basic idea of the Rolling Bunkai to explain how this works. In the Rolling Bunkai, the turns in the kata are interpreted as take down or a controlling position, and thus each Rolling Bunkai drill concludes with a take down or controlling position. Thus, at the fifth level, if henka occurs, then the goal is no longer to return to reset but to secure a throw or hold to “win”. Once students become confident at going for throws or holds, I then add in Kanren Waza, Kaeshi Waza, and Renzoku Waza. Adapting techniques, counter techniques, and combination techniques respectively. Essentially, what you need to do against a resisting opponent if they resist and the standard version of the implied throw or hold from the kata is not working, or what you need to do to counter said throws and holds. Again, at this level, these additional techniques are grounded on the kata being focused on. For example, if the focus is Pinan Godan, all shapes used come from within Pinan Godan.

At the sixth level I introduce the Ura Henka. In contrast to the Omote Henka which are obvious ways to break the flow, the Ura Henka are subtle variations of position, footwork, and timing designed to throw your training partner off. To add more pressure and keep both partners actively working to get the Omote Henka opportunity. The Omote Henka was based on waiting for a mistake whereas the Ura Henka are designed to force mistakes.
Up until the seventh level, the rules of the third level are followed. That is the attacks are limited to a variety of attack but off one limb, and the defences mapped to attacks off said limb. At the seventh level the earlier rules of Henka, throws, and holds are allowed. All attacks as found in the Rolling Bunkai are allowed but initially only in the standard manner as found in the Rolling Bunkai, and obviously the corresponding defences. As students progress they can then add in the variety of foot-work and changes in manner of attack to the basic attacks as done in level three.

At the final, eight level I then introduce the External Grafting. This is just as with the internal grafting, but now we look at Henka counters from all of the Pinan and integrating them into the flow exercise. Meaning that although the flow-drill being done maybe from Pinan Nidan, if a Henka occurs, the counter can come from any of the other Pinan exercises.

Admittedly, one can argue that after level three my exercises no longer really follow the idea of a flow drill in the conventional sense. However, I find that the Henka mechanic, and escalation measures of moving from the flow-drill into a form of Semi-Free sparring helps prevent students just trying to get good at the drills as a flow. They have to practice the principles of the movements otherwise they are going to get caught out or forced into a spar.

My students and I tend to do more Renzoku and Kakei Kumite, and I use flow-drills more often to exercise principles I spot missing in our sparring. I much prefer live-drilling, pad-work, or conditioning through Uden-Tanren to flow-drills. With that said, I have such a structured approach to flow-drill escalation because I believe flow-drills introduce a physical intensity other drill do not have. In that way, they are good for conditioning for fighting.

In terms of sources for my drills I have borrowed body-to-body techniques from Judo Kata of counter techniques such as the Go-no-sen-no-Kata and Kaeshi-no-Kata which I learnt in my time doing Judo. For hand-fighting I have borrowed from the Lock Flow Drills of Ed Parker's American Kempo (which my Shorei Kempo teacher taught me), the Hyori no Kata of Yoseikan Aikido, and Wing Chun trapping (I learnt the basics when I was in Bangor doing my MSc). The striking aspect comes from my time doing Wado-Ryu and my experiences in kick-boxing. I have tried to stick to shapes found in the kata throughout however.
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username19853
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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2023 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wado Heretic,

That sounds fascinating. Do you have any videos you could share?

I love flow drills, I think it’s so much fun going back and forth with someone and seeing how high you can build the intensity. I like to rotate through a handful based on my mood, but I don’t think I’ll ever know enough of them.

Hate to say it, but I’ve gotten some great ideas from the KU system as well.
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