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Wastelander
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Styles: Shorin-Ryu, Shuri-Ryu, Judo, KishimotoDi

PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2019 10:55 am    Post subject: X-Step Sparring/Yakusoku Kumite Drills Reply with quote

A lengthy conversation has been going on, recently, about "x-step sparring" drills, which I'm sure many karateka are familiar with. Things like ippon/sanbon/gohon kumite or yakusoku kumite drills. In general, the basic premise of "prearranged drill where someone attacks you and you practice a defense," is fine, but the way that these formal drills are done (almost universally) is not practical. Generally, the attacker will step back into a preparatory position of some sort, then step forward with a formalized, basic karate attack, and the defender steps back and blocks it with a formalized, basic karate "block" before countering.

Here is an example of typical sanbon kumite (3-step sparring):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m84Vl08lVL4

I am of the opinion that these are impractical, ingrain terrible habits in students, teach improper distancing and timing, and do not scaffold to be built upon by practical drills later on. If your goal is developing practical skill, you would be better off making your own prearranged attack/defense drills using realistic attacks and defenses at a realistic distance instead. I'm curious as to the forum's opinion on the matter, though, as some people really seem to venerate these drills, but I have yet to hear a convincing argument for it aside from just enjoying doing them, which is fine for the individual doing it, but not for everyone.
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sensei8
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Opinions vary!!

These drills, that you speak about, are only impractical whenever the practitioners techniques are impractical. These drills are designed to strengthen the techniques in which effectiveness can be improved.

None of us, and I mean none of us, move in such like manner whenever executing any step-sparring drills whenever engaged in Jiyu Kumite. Similar to Kata, whereas we execute said techniques in such manner as well, some would say a robot like manner, and not a natural manner.

However, Jiyu Kumite flushes down the robot like manner, BUT the techniques practiced in any step-sparring ARE STILL THERE in Jiyu Kumite, albeit, perhaps not as technical as one would hope for, yet effective at application at target.

To approach any step-sparring drills with a negative mindset, shows the immaturity of the practitioner because drills are NOT ineffective, but it's the practitioner who's ineffective for whatever reason(s). Drills in the MA have their purposes for the practitioner, and if one wants to shelve said drill, that's their right, but I feel to do so is an injustice to their MA betterment. I've Yudansha students of varying Ranks that are struggling with Uke Waza/Receiving, and that's because they're still immature in their Karate-do; it takes time to break through that which is holding them back.

The Practical approach is a valid mindset, however, to much of a good thing isn't always a good thing. This, to me, calling proven drills, to me, is a slap in the face of proven drills because without drills, not even the basics are refined within the practitioner. Before one can be practical, one first has to understand, and to understand, one has to drill, including the various step-sparring through experience.

I'm not here to convince anybody because each practitioner has to decide for themselves. As Bruce Lee said...

“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own”

I hold step-sparring close to my heart because these drills have been the cornerstone before any of us here were born and/or before we ever thought of stepping onto the floor. I see the value of these drills for me and my students, and I will continue to teach them and drill them and practice them until my last breath. Attack me, and I will defend myself to the Nth degree, and while I am, my effectiveness will be felt and seen, but it will not be in any robotic fashion, but in a free flowing manner, yet each and every technique will be evident, and practical because of the many drills trained and practiced, and this includes Jiyu Kumite.

No Jiyu Kumite is empty, but any step-sparring is a drill as a prerequisite to Jiyu Kumite, and a practitioner has to drill it for the rest of their life; an unending necessary.

Remember, I'm a staunch proponent that the practitioner, and not the style, is at fault in everything. In the video provided in the OP, Shotokan is the model, a style founded by Gichin Funakoshi, and the one teaching in said video is Hirokazu Kanazawa, a student of Funakoshi Sensei...are they wrong in their mindset and approach in regards to any Step-Sparring??

Do we think that we're not capable of effectively executing any said technique that we've drilled and practiced for many years at any given time we're attacked on the street??...Well I most assuredly am!! I recognize a drill from reality, and can address accordingly and quite effectively.

Imho!!



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GojuRyu Bahrain
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

interesting topic! Having done such drills for about 15-20 years (not anymore in the last 10 years, though, since I teach my own group), I can see some merit in them.

X-step sparring is definitely not dealing with practical techniques for realistic situations, because mostly: the distance is wrong (much too far away), the strategy is wrong (linear retreat), the setup is wrong (starting from a 'caricature' Karate stance), and the techniques are wrong (I stopped subscribing to these "blocks" as shown in Wastelander's linked video long ago - they do not work).

No - the benefit of x-step sparring, as I see it, is to allow practicing with spirit (with intent) behind the attacks and counters in a manner that is safe to do even in larger groups and with unfamiliar partners. A large crowd at a gashuku, unfamiliar partners, 3 step drill at full blast = no problem.

The same intensity can also be achieved from realistic set-ups, with more functional techniques, closer distance, and most importantly better strategy, but only in smaller groups (like mine )
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GojuRyu Bahrain
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The frequency of x-step sparring is probably related to industrial-scale karate factory vs. backyard/garage/(in my case squash court) group
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Tempest
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that basic attack/defense drills are certainly worth doing.

That said, they should probably look more like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=In5vS-CTb6U

Than like this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFehKDFot6I

That second video was... not good. And did not show practical techniques or a good way to learn striking at even a basic level.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let me quote two well known sayings...

"We should never be shackled by the rituals of Kata, but instead move freely according to the opponent's strength and weaknesses." Genwa Nakasone

"Always perform Kata exactly. Combat is another matter." Gichin Funakoshi

I believe both of these are valid points in our conversation here!!



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Wastelander
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2019 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
Opinions vary!!


That they do, and I'm afraid we seem to be quite at odds on this one--I hope you don't take offense! I do not intend anything personal, but I'm going to address some of your points from my perspective, and I know that can get touchy

sensei8 wrote:

These drills, that you speak about, are only impractical whenever the practitioners techniques are impractical. These drills are designed to strengthen the techniques in which effectiveness can be improved.

None of us, and I mean none of us, move in such like manner whenever executing any step-sparring drills whenever engaged in Jiyu Kumite. Similar to Kata, whereas we execute said techniques in such manner as well, some would say a robot like manner, and not a natural manner.

However, Jiyu Kumite flushes down the robot like manner, BUT the techniques practiced in any step-sparring ARE STILL THERE in Jiyu Kumite, albeit, perhaps not as technical as one would hope for, yet effective at application at target.


I tend to disagree, a bit. The movements are there, yes, but they are applied drastically differently. Why not drill them the way they are applied?

sensei8 wrote:

To approach any step-sparring drills with a negative mindset, shows the immaturity of the practitioner because drills are NOT ineffective, but it's the practitioner who's ineffective for whatever reason(s). Drills in the MA have their purposes for the practitioner, and if one wants to shelve said drill, that's their right, but I feel to do so is an injustice to their MA betterment. I've Yudansha students of varying Ranks that are struggling with Uke Waza/Receiving, and that's because they're still immature in their Karate-do; it takes time to break through that which is holding them back.

The Practical approach is a valid mindset, however, to much of a good thing isn't always a good thing. This, to me, calling proven drills, to me, is a slap in the face of proven drills because without drills, not even the basics are refined within the practitioner. Before one can be practical, one first has to understand, and to understand, one has to drill, including the various step-sparring through experience.


Perhaps I am immature. It's easy to assume that I am, only being 31 and having been training for a little over 13 years, there are plenty of people who have been training longer than I have. Even so, I would like to think I have spent a lot of time in that 13+ years looking hard and thinking deeply about my karate.

I've been getting a lot of the "you just don't understand what the drills are meant to teach," from people in my organization since I made some comments about such drills. Now, I suppose it could be my own ego, but I actually do believe I understand what they are meant to teach--it has been explained to me quite thoroughly, by good teachers, and I have spent far more hours than I care for practicing the drills. It is exactly that understanding that allows me to see that they are not worth the time and effort that is devoted to them. Can you find valuable concepts in the drills? Sure! But the way they are drilled in traditional step sparring is definitely not the best way to do it. I would also argue that, when it comes to drills, if you can say "you just haven't been training long enough to understand" to someone who has been training diligently for over 13 years, then that should illustrate that the drills are terrible. Continuing to learn things from drills after that long is one thing, but to simply "not understand" a drill after that long? I'd like to think my brain is not THAT slow.

By and large,l the arguments that have been given to me in this regard have been logical fallacies. I made a statement that something was impractical, because it does not in any way reflect effective combative strategy/logic, or effective applications of the techniques being used, and pointed out that the same things people claim the drills teach can be taught more quickly and efficiently with different drills. My evidence to support this is provided by examples of people within karate teaching in this manner, and having students grasp the material more quickly than students taught with the traditional drills, as well as examples of drills and corresponding results from a variety of other martial arts. The responses I got were things like "<Insert Okinawan/Japanese name> created them, and they wouldn't have taught us something that doesn't work!" (Fallacy = Appeal to Authority), "The drills are time-tested and important components of our style!" (Fallacy = Appeal to Tradition), and "I have been doing these drills for <insert number> years and understand how valuable they are, and you just don't understand them because you haven't been training long enough!" (Fallacy = Sunk Cost). The list goes on. I realize that we are not on a college debate team, and aren't having points deducted for using logical fallacies in our discussions, but I have to say that such things don't carry much weight with me. I can respect the time, effort, experience, and knowledge of the person who made the drills, and still think the drills are poor training exercises. I can respect the fact that we have been doing the drills for something like 40-50 years, and still think that doesn't add value to them. I can respect the fact that someone has spent a lot of time becoming skilled at doing the drills, and still think that their time would have been better spent on more realistic drills.

As I mentioned in the OP, this isn't to say that prearranged partner drills aren't valuable; it's just that this particular take on such drills isn't valuable enough to justify their use.

sensei8 wrote:

I'm not here to convince anybody because each practitioner has to decide for themselves. As Bruce Lee said...

“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own”

I hold step-sparring close to my heart because these drills have been the cornerstone before any of us here were born and/or before we ever thought of stepping onto the floor. I see the value of these drills for me and my students, and I will continue to teach them and drill them and practice them until my last breath. Attack me, and I will defend myself to the Nth degree, and while I am, my effectiveness will be felt and seen, but it will not be in any robotic fashion, but in a free flowing manner, yet each and every technique will be evident, and practical because of the many drills trained and practiced, and this includes Jiyu Kumite.

No Jiyu Kumite is empty, but any step-sparring is a drill as a prerequisite to Jiyu Kumite, and a practitioner has to drill it for the rest of their life; an unending necessary.


Whereas I do not hold any such love for them, and will promptly remove them from my practice and teaching once I am no longer part of the organization I currently belong to. I have plenty of other drills that teach the concepts, tactics, and techniques of karate more effectively. I would also argue that the formalized drills I'm referring to are in no way a prerequisite to jiyu kumite, but I have other drills that are.

sensei8 wrote:

Remember, I'm a staunch proponent that the practitioner, and not the style, is at fault in everything. In the video provided in the OP, Shotokan is the model, a style founded by Gichin Funakoshi, and the one teaching in said video is Hirokazu Kanazawa, a student of Funakoshi Sensei...are they wrong in their mindset and approach in regards to any Step-Sparring??

Do we think that we're not capable of effectively executing any said technique that we've drilled and practiced for many years at any given time we're attacked on the street??...Well I most assuredly am!! I recognize a drill from reality, and can address accordingly and quite effectively.


I am in complete agreement that the individual martial artist is responsible for their skill and knowledge, and ability to apply it. I would say, though, that some styles have formalized curriculum that is not really conducive to that. I have also known people who have spent years and years practicing such formal step sparring drills who did, indeed, promptly fail to execute anything they learned when they were attacked, because the drills they spent so much time practicing did nothing to prepare them for it.

All that said, I haven't seen the drills that you do, Bob! It is entirely possible that the drills you do are ones that I would find value in. I can only go by the drills that I am familiar with, which utilize the wrong distance, the wrong attacks, unnatural responses, dead hands, and applications for movements that I would NEVER teach if they weren't required as part of the curriculum, because they simply don't work in reality, or don't work well enough.

GojuRyu Bahrain wrote:
interesting topic! Having done such drills for about 15-20 years (not anymore in the last 10 years, though, since I teach my own group), I can see some merit in them.

X-step sparring is definitely not dealing with practical techniques for realistic situations, because mostly: the distance is wrong (much too far away), the strategy is wrong (linear retreat), the setup is wrong (starting from a 'caricature' Karate stance), and the techniques are wrong (I stopped subscribing to these "blocks" as shown in Wastelander's linked video long ago - they do not work).

No - the benefit of x-step sparring, as I see it, is to allow practicing with spirit (with intent) behind the attacks and counters in a manner that is safe to do even in larger groups and with unfamiliar partners. A large crowd at a gashuku, unfamiliar partners, 3 step drill at full blast = no problem.

The same intensity can also be achieved from realistic set-ups, with more functional techniques, closer distance, and most importantly better strategy, but only in smaller groups (like mine )

The frequency of x-step sparring is probably related to industrial-scale karate factory vs. backyard/garage/(in my case squash court) group


To your point, realistic drills just do a better job, and I honestly haven't had any problem with safety teaching them, even in larger groups. If you think about it, teaching kata application at a seminar is the same thing.

Tempest wrote:
I think that basic attack/defense drills are certainly worth doing.

That said, they should probably look more like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=In5vS-CTb6U

Than like this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFehKDFot6I

That second video was... not good. And did not show practical techniques or a good way to learn striking at even a basic level.


That's kind of my point--I have no problem with the general concept of a prearranged partner drill, but the way they are generally done is not useful for the type of karate I practice and teach.

sensei8 wrote:
Let me quote two well known sayings...

"We should never be shackled by the rituals of Kata, but instead move freely according to the opponent's strength and weaknesses." Genwa Nakasone

"Always perform Kata exactly. Combat is another matter." Gichin Funakoshi

I believe both of these are valid points in our conversation here!!


Both very good and important quotes for the karateka!
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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: Sun Aug 04, 2019 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

**Wastelander's replies to my previous posts here are in italic**

Quote:
sensei8 wrote:
Opinions vary!!


That they do, and I'm afraid we seem to be quite at odds on this one--I hope you don't take offense! I do not intend anything personal, but I'm going to address some of your points from my perspective, and I know that can get touchy

Being quite at odds on this one is to be expected from time to time because we come from different methodologies and ideologies. In that, I take no offense to anything you've posted here, and I respect your differing opinions. It's cool!!

Quote:
sensei8 wrote:

These drills, that you speak about, are only impractical whenever the practitioners techniques are impractical. These drills are designed to strengthen the techniques in which effectiveness can be improved.

None of us, and I mean none of us, move in such like manner whenever executing any step-sparring drills whenever engaged in Jiyu Kumite. Similar to Kata, whereas we execute said techniques in such manner as well, some would say a robot like manner, and not a natural manner.

However, Jiyu Kumite flushes down the robot like manner, BUT the techniques practiced in any step-sparring ARE STILL THERE in Jiyu Kumite, albeit, perhaps not as technical as one would hope for, yet effective at application at target.


I tend to disagree, a bit. The movements are there, yes, but they are applied drastically differently. Why not drill them the way they are applied?

This is where I was referring to the difference in methodologies and ideologies, and this is never where ones wrong and the other is correct; just different, no matter how drastic it might be. We might look at the same thing, and recognize it, but we reach our conclusions differently, yet they're both effective.

Yes, the drill can be drilled the way they're applied...absolutely!! CI discretion as to how the student is trained!!

Quote:
sensei8 wrote:

To approach any step-sparring drills with a negative mindset, shows the immaturity of the practitioner because drills are NOT ineffective, but it's the practitioner who's ineffective for whatever reason(s). Drills in the MA have their purposes for the practitioner, and if one wants to shelve said drill, that's their right, but I feel to do so is an injustice to their MA betterment. I've Yudansha students of varying Ranks that are struggling with Uke Waza/Receiving, and that's because they're still immature in their Karate-do; it takes time to break through that which is holding them back.

The Practical approach is a valid mindset, however, to much of a good thing isn't always a good thing. This, to me, calling proven drills, to me, is a slap in the face of proven drills because without drills, not even the basics are refined within the practitioner. Before one can be practical, one first has to understand, and to understand, one has to drill, including the various step-sparring through experience.


Perhaps I am immature. It's easy to assume that I am, only being 31 and having been training for a little over 13 years, there are plenty of people who have been training longer than I have. Even so, I would like to think I have spent a lot of time in that 13+ years looking hard and thinking deeply about my karate.

I've been getting a lot of the "you just don't understand what the drills are meant to teach," from people in my organization since I made some comments about such drills. Now, I suppose it could be my own ego, but I actually do believe I understand what they are meant to teach--it has been explained to me quite thoroughly, by good teachers, and I have spent far more hours than I care for practicing the drills. It is exactly that understanding that allows me to see that they are not worth the time and effort that is devoted to them. Can you find valuable concepts in the drills? Sure! But the way they are drilled in traditional step sparring is definitely not the best way to do it. I would also argue that, when it comes to drills, if you can say "you just haven't been training long enough to understand" to someone who has been training diligently for over 13 years, then that should illustrate that the drills are terrible. Continuing to learn things from drills after that long is one thing, but to simply "not understand" a drill after that long? I'd like to think my brain is not THAT slow.

By and large,l the arguments that have been given to me in this regard have been logical fallacies. I made a statement that something was impractical, because it does not in any way reflect effective combative strategy/logic, or effective applications of the techniques being used, and pointed out that the same things people claim the drills teach can be taught more quickly and efficiently with different drills. My evidence to support this is provided by examples of people within karate teaching in this manner, and having students grasp the material more quickly than students taught with the traditional drills, as well as examples of drills and corresponding results from a variety of other martial arts. The responses I got were things like "<Insert Okinawan/Japanese name> created them, and they wouldn't have taught us something that doesn't work!" (Fallacy = Appeal to Authority), "The drills are time-tested and important components of our style!" (Fallacy = Appeal to Tradition), and "I have been doing these drills for <insert number> years and understand how valuable they are, and you just don't understand them because you haven't been training long enough!" (Fallacy = Sunk Cost). The list goes on. I realize that we are not on a college debate team, and aren't having points deducted for using logical fallacies in our discussions, but I have to say that such things don't carry much weight with me. I can respect the time, effort, experience, and knowledge of the person who made the drills, and still think the drills are poor training exercises. I can respect the fact that we have been doing the drills for something like 40-50 years, and still think that doesn't add value to them. I can respect the fact that someone has spent a lot of time becoming skilled at doing the drills, and still think that their time would have been better spent on more realistic drills.

As I mentioned in the OP, this isn't to say that prearranged partner drills aren't valuable; it's just that this particular take on such drills isn't valuable enough to justify their use.

When I speak about maturity, I'm not speaking about the person being immature, but the technique and its understanding. NOT THE PERSON, but the technique(s) in themselves as they're executed by the practitioner.

Age of the person has nothing to do with their maturity, and I will not judge ones personal maturity, but I will judge their maturity of their technique(s), and the lack thereof!! Therefore, I'm addressing the manner of which how said technique is being executed in order to achieve the optimum effectiveness.

None of my students that have 13+ years on the floor have the maturity their technique(s) should have, and must have. They're still very much unsure of themselves, and it is so very evident to me. They're still afraid and sloppy and inconsistent and so on and so forth. However, in time, their techniques will mature.

I'd say this, and I say it with great respect...you do not have the maturity of technique like Sensei Poage had, and Sensei Poage didn't have the maturity of technique like Sensei Bethea, and Sensei Bethea doesn't have the maturity of technique like Hanshi Judan Shugoru Nakazato. Same with me, my students don't have the maturity of technique like I have, and I don't have the maturity of technique like Dai-Soke had, and Dai-Soke didn't have the maturity of technique like Soke had. Everything takes time, and often time, there's never enough time to mature technique wise. That's why we're always a student first, and we accept and depend on that, before we can teach others.

You and I might not ever be in complete agreement on this subject at hand, but that doesn't mean that either of us are wrong; just different methodologies and ideologies, yet were quite effective whenever its required. It's like, I don't like sweet potatoes and asparagus, but someone else does, and in that, there's no way that that person is going to convince me to ever eat sweet potatoes and asparagus; to each of his/her own.

Quote:
sensei8 wrote:

I'm not here to convince anybody because each practitioner has to decide for themselves. As Bruce Lee said...

"Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own"

I hold step-sparring close to my heart because these drills have been the cornerstone before any of us here were born and/or before we ever thought of stepping onto the floor. I see the value of these drills for me and my students, and I will continue to teach them and drill them and practice them until my last breath. Attack me, and I will defend myself to the Nth degree, and while I am, my effectiveness will be felt and seen, but it will not be in any robotic fashion, but in a free flowing manner, yet each and every technique will be evident, and practical because of the many drills trained and practiced, and this includes Jiyu Kumite.

No Jiyu Kumite is empty, but any step-sparring is a drill as a prerequisite to Jiyu Kumite, and a practitioner has to drill it for the rest of their life; an unending necessary.


Whereas I do not hold any such love for them, and will promptly remove them from my practice and teaching once I am no longer part of the organization I currently belong to. I have plenty of other drills that teach the concepts, tactics, and techniques of karate more effectively. I would also argue that the formalized drills I'm referring to are in no way a prerequisite to jiyu kumite, but I have other drills that are.

I respect that, now and always!! Why?? Teaching methodologies/ideologies are different, but effective in our approaches. Absorb what is useful, discard the rest thinking is evident in the two of us, both as students, practitioners, and teachers. I do admit that my curriculum might need a more fresher approach, but I do see the value of what I was taught, and therefore, I will teach what I was taught, but with by own type of flair.


Quote:
sensei8 wrote:

Remember, I'm a staunch proponent that the practitioner, and not the style, is at fault in everything. In the video provided in the OP, Shotokan is the model, a style founded by Gichin Funakoshi, and the one teaching in said video is Hirokazu Kanazawa, a student of Funakoshi Sensei...are they wrong in their mindset and approach in regards to any Step-Sparring??

Do we think that we're not capable of effectively executing any said technique that we've drilled and practiced for many years at any given time we're attacked on the street??...Well I most assuredly am!! I recognize a drill from reality, and can address accordingly and quite effectively.


I am in complete agreement that the individual martial artist is responsible for their skill and knowledge, and ability to apply it. I would say, though, that some styles have formalized curriculum that is not really conducive to that. I have also known people who have spent years and years practicing such formal step sparring drills who did, indeed, promptly fail to execute anything they learned when they were attacked, because the drills they spent so much time practicing did nothing to prepare them for it.

All that said, I haven't seen the drills that you do, Bob! It is entirely possible that the drills you do are ones that I would find value in. I can only go by the drills that I am familiar with, which utilize the wrong distance, the wrong attacks, unnatural responses, dead hands, and applications for movements that I would NEVER teach if they weren't required as part of the curriculum, because they simply don't work in reality, or don't work well enough.

I agree with you and your assessment across the board.

What those you speak about here is what they don't do, but I've been doing it as both a student and as a teacher for 54 years, and with seriousness...Live Resistant training, and discarding the robotic movements that have the air of ineffectiveness. I do not believe in any technique without live resistant training because the attacker on the street isn't just going to go along with whatever the defender does, not in real life.

Resist me to your Nth degree, and that live approach will expose that which is ineffective, and then that effectiveness must be fine tuned or discarded!! The floor is that unforgiving witness, and can't be lied to or hidden or ignored.

Quote:
sensei8 wrote:
Let me quote two well known sayings...

"We should never be shackled by the rituals of Kata, but instead move freely according to the opponent's strength and weaknesses." Genwa Nakasone

"Always perform Kata exactly. Combat is another matter." Gichin Funakoshi

I believe both of these are valid points in our conversation here!!


Both very good and important quotes for the karateka

Yes, they are, and they speak about that much needed resistant live training, that is sorely lacked today.

In closing, I respect you across the board, and I always will. Imagine just how boring we'd be if we two, or anyone else for that fact, agreed with each other all of the time. I argue with fellow Shindokanists all of the time because we both need that so that our MA betterment can grow.




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aurik
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 08 Nov 2016
Posts: 88
Location: Denver, CO
Styles: Shuri-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu

PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2019 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I may be a bit inexperienced compared to others here, but to my perspective, the value of these two-person drills varies greatly by the skill and intensity of your partner. When I train with a partner who is at or above my own skill and intensity level, I find that I get quite a bit out of these types of drills. For example, most of the students in my current class are teens or younger, and only one or two of them will actually perform the techniques with any intensity or intent.

However, when I have the chance to work with one of our assistant instructors, he makes me be better, because if I don't do the defenses correctly, he'll tag me. He has a pretty good idea of what my ability level is, and he makes me work to get better. One thing our CI tries to stress is that the attacker in our drills *should* throw the techniques such that if the defender messes up, they get touched.

Now our organization has 4 sets of prearranged drills. We have two yakusoku kumite drills which are learn for yellow belt ranks (10th kyu through 7th kyu(): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVa8Wwr9B5k and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1sX16iOvjo . For green belt ranks, we have our kyu kumite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3ThlOqk4vo and our kicking exercise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcsfAvAiQUE . At sankyu and above, we do our dan kumite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ju-houzj7vQ .

Granted, I'm still very much learning the basics, but from what I've seen so far, I think these 2-man drills are valuable when done with intent and focus, and as they get more advanced, they help us learn flow. As one working towards rokkyu (green belt), I'm working the kyu kumite and kicking drill, and that kicking drill has done wonders for helping me with my balance and also judging distances when someone is kicking you (if you step back too far, your blocks won't connect, etc).

So, again, just my .02 worth from a relative newbie
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 28084
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2019 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oooh, this is a good conversation. Thanks for starting this one off, Wastelander!

I'll preface this by saying that one-step sparring (which is what we call these drills; step-sparring) is a part of the curriculum all the way up through our colored belt ranks. Each rank has it's own set; usually 5 for the lower grade, and an additional 3 for the higher grade. The colored belt are one attack only, and then a series of defenses. I have pretty mixed feelings on most of these one-steps. For the most part, I chalk them up to skill development exercises that teach how to put combinations of moves together, and learn how to target these techniques, control these techniques, and learn distance.

Now, the downside is the formalized style of declaring attacks and then blocking. I do feel it is a good introductory method of learning to recognize an oncoming attack from a less-than-advantageous ready position, learning how to react to said attacks, and then developing a proper response to said attacks. Proper focusing when performing the blocks and attacks will show the student if they blocked properly and if they are at a proper distance to actually contact with counter attacks.

However, the downfall of this process is that it continues in this manner, all the way up to the black belt level, only with more complicated ways of punching and kicking. The formalized way of attacking and defending is still present. This is the downfall.

I truly feel that it is important to move beyond the formalized way of setting these drills up, and using different attacks that might be more common out in the world. After all, if we as instructors are going to train a series of responses, it's pretty important that we are sure these responses will work.

To that end, I've found that (at least with some of the lower level one-steps in our system) these drills can be adjusted to work to that end. I move from the down block and kihap ready to a more aggressive, posturing stance for the attacker. The defender moves from the hands-at-the-sides ready position to a more staggered stance with the hands up in a "fence" position. From there, the defense techniques are executed in a less formal and structured manner, but still done as proper techniques with the goal being to end the assault. As much as I've enjoyed working these things out on my own, it isn't done in class, and I feel that not many of the more advanced one-steps are as adaptable as some of the lower ranking ones are.

Now, with all that said, as black belts, we've begun doing three-step sparring, and these steps have become requirements for black belt testings now. I unfortunately see flaws in them, and wonder quite a bit about how much they help. Of the steps we've done so far, the attacks are all face level straight punches while advancing forward. What is newer is the inclusion of some joint manipulations to restrain the attacker and facilitate some kicking, but the problem is that the attacker is probably not going to just leave an arm hanging out to be manipulated after being punched three times.

I do think there are some useful concepts that can be taken away from these drills, but some considerable time has to be spent to decipher it all, find what will work, or what works better for certain situations, and move forward from there.
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