John Marley took the club for a new practice this week. It was one which I thoroughly enjoyed and took a number of lessons and benefits.
The scenario was one person defending against a series of attackers, grappling for 20 seconds per attacker. The aim was to takedown the opponent and be ready to face the next one. Takedowns, locks and throws were allowed but no punches or kicks.
First observation was how physically tiring this was. Each attacker comes in fresh so by the time I was defending against the 5th one, I was pleased to just stay on my feet never mind take them down. When my turn was complete, it took me several minutes to recover. Although I feel my overall fitness level has improved, this was another different type of stamina.
Second observation was how we approached defending. Rather than trying to take an opponent down AS they attack, we all pretty much waited to get in a grappling position and then try and work from there to get a takedown. Would you do this in self defence situation? Probably not.
I guess it is the context of the situation. It's a training session and so we all focussed on the technique rather than avoiding getting caught. We have been focussing on grappling for a little while and so practised with that mindset. This would certainly explain why it was such an exhausting practise.
In addition. once caught in the grappling position, we all adopted a stance that was quite far from our opponent, so as much as trying to work on a takedown, we were all conscious of being taken down. As a result, we were rarely in a position to get a takedown.
It was just novices like me making similar mistakes. During Hugh's turn, he immediately went for a grappling and control position and whilst very effective 1-on-1, it was not allowing him to dispense with his opponent and get ready for the next one.
At the end of the practice, John pointed out these observations and gave some pointers.
1. Deal with opponent BEFORE they grab you.
2. Deal with them quickly so you can be ready for the next attack (which could come from anywhere).
3. Look for any opportunity to distract the opponent which could lead to a takedown.
So an excellent session that I really enjoyed. I felt it gave a new context to how we practise takedowns and certainly forced me to think, in addition to keeping moving even when exhausted.
Hopefully we do this practice again soon, I would like to see if I can put John's pointers to good use and improve my performance here.
Scott has been training in Shoto Budo since 2007 and is a 1st Dan Black Belt. He is working towards his 2nd Dan grading.