With both Hugh and Eric unavailable this past week, John Marley took the class on Wednesday night. I love training with John; he is a highly skilled black belt and has an interest in quick, simple, and effective ways to deal with an attacker so I was really looking forward to this one.
It began with a very energetic warm up, with the first four katas, followed by two rounds of the breakfall kata, and then the next three katas. We then added some rolls with the challenge to bounce up and deliver a high kick. I was certainly warmed up by the end of this.
Onto the various locks and moves and as it transpired, I was John's demo partner for the evening. This usually goes something like this. John will say "throw a punch", I oblige, and something fast happens and I end up face first on the mat, upside down or tapping out to some sort of unexpected lock. This pattern repeated itself numerous times.
John instructed us in blocks of three moves to try before moving onto a practice where one person would be in the middle of the mats and would be attacked by the other members of the club, either punches, kicks or grabs. I was up first and this was a really fast paced and tiring practiced. What I liked about the moves was their simplicity. In the heat of the moment, a complex move doesn't always work and in trying to apply it, you may actually end up in a comprised position where an opponent could take advantage.
In this practice, the focus was on movement and dealing with the attack before it becomes a struggle. Having a fresh opponent ready to attack as soon as you have dealt with the previous one gets very tiring very quickly so part of the learning here was to avoid getting into a prolonged encounter with each opponent.
This is where John's favoured moves are so effective, with quick locks or strikes proving an efficient way of avoiding an opponent. Having said that, it was still a tiring experience even though I may have been defending for just a few minutes.
We then moved onto some pressure points which can certainly provoke a reflex response when they are struck. John advised that the outer and inner thigh had pressure points that may be a good place to attack if you are in a headlock, with the reflex possibly being enough to allow an escape. So far, so simple...at least until I tried to find them. Practising with Emma, it must have looked very strange as we tried to find the points that John had found with ease. Is it here? No. Here? Nope. How about here? No. Other leg? Aaaargh.
Clearly some more practise required.
All in all, it was a splendid lesson. It was a warm night and with the intensity, I think my gi was just about see through with sweat by the end, but as so often happens in training with John, I came away having learned some new things.
Scott has been training in Shoto Budo since 2007 and is a 1st Dan Black Belt. He is working towards his 2nd Dan grading.