Take a look at the Skills tab and you will see the different areas of a typical Shoto Budo practice, with pads, parrying, takedowns and wrestling all featuring. However, I've often wondered how to move from one skill to the next. Recently our practices have started to fill in those gaps.
Hugh has used a pummelling drill from amateur wrestling before as a warm up, but we have been concentrating on the movement within this. It's a physically tiring drill, particularly when your opponent is bigger and / or stronger than you.
From there, we added attempts at trips and distractions which could serve multiple purposes. It might result in an opponent being on the ground, it might create some space to apply a lock or it could break contact allowing either an escape or reset of distance.
The next addition was to add some light strikes, with us wearing grappling (or MMA style) gloves. We are not practising for a competitive fight so the strikes are not intended to cause damage but they serve as a distraction and another thing to be aware of when defending. When we started doing this a few weeks ago, I was very much getting caught up in the grappling element and got tagged almost constantly. It was something new and an element that previously we did not need to be aware of.
The next building block was to try and break the grapple and move to a distance where kicks or punches would be effective , leading to a short period of parrying before moving back in to the grappling distance. Again this been something new and in some ways goes against instinct to keep at a "safe" distance from an opponent. However, once that notion was overcome, I found myself getting more comfortable coming back into close quarters. It is helping me find ways past people who may be taller than me and thus can fire out kicks to keep me at bay.
Last week we added another stage of taking this movement to the ground to allow a short period of wrestling. That is still going to need some work to flow and indeed I found myself more on the receiving end of takedowns. However one thing that I did find myself doing was quickly getting into a "technical standup", a Brazilian jiu-jitsu move. This is a way of getting back on your feed whilst still being in a defensive position and without turning your back to an opponent.
This is all still a work in progress but the gaps slowly are starting to fill. There are a lot of things to be aware of. The grappling and potential locks. The strikes when close in, which could be hands, knees or feet. There are distractions that could lead to trips. There is balance. It is a physically and mentally tiring practice but after a few weeks, I definitely am seeing the benefits of the practice and how it all comes together.
The BMAC blog began in 2013 to chart one member's journey to black belt.