Posturing and Blind Spots

After an extended absence the class returned in fine form and the enthusiasm was as inspiring as ever. A few areas in the warm-up, led by Phil, exposed some all-round rustiness, but once we moved into our MMA lesson muscle memory kicked and it was easy to introduce new areas.

Today’s class focused entirely on the sporting side of training. The CCMA approach dictates that we define purpose from the get-go. Sport and self defence can overlap, but their objectives are different so certain crucial areas are not the same and often diametrically opposed. At the end of today’s class I asked the question what is the key difference between self defence combat training and sports combat training. I received an excellent reply that pretty much sums up the distinction. Sport is an organized event. Usually students reply that a sport has rules, but this isn’t a defining characteristic. This somehow implies that self defence is a completely unrestrictive area of training, which it isn’t. There are no absolutes, but there is compelling evidence that a certain number of approaches are unlikely to work for the average person or, worse still, get into unnecessary danger. By defining sports training as an organized situation you bring in the match fight scenario, a situation the average citizen should avoid.

For a while now I have shied away from a technique-led teaching approach, which is the norm in most martial arts classes. My own experience, as a slow learner and never a natural at physical activities, led me to the conclusion that what you see being demonstrated or even hear doesn’t always translate well when you come to performing the technique. Sure enough today we began with a very simple guard passing technique, going under the guard. Despite several times showing and discussing the importance of posture and using the hips, most students rushed to the aspects of the technique they saw and ignored posturing. Is this what psychologists might call classic blind spot example?

We then went through the universal importance of understanding positioning. In most instances when we are reacting to a sudden shock positioning comes second. If the threat is immediate this is often the best survival tactic. Hock Hocheim writes a fascinating investigation into the startle reflex and the dangers of martial arts over-trained responses. Read it here.  However, if you have the time, in other words if you are at the interview stage of a self defence situation or engaged at the in-fight stage then positioning is obviously very important. We are dealing with sport here and I guess it is another distinction between the two areas of training. In sport there is no real need to train for the startle reflex. In fact, the difference between a good and a bad position is probably a major factor between that decides victory and defeat.

We were dealing with passing under the guard, so good posture was essential. Having observed the mistake we broke the technique down. We focused on posturing up, pushing the hips forward and moving under the legs without using the arms. Once this was down pat the technique was repeated. This was followed by defence from the guard. The person holding the guard began with the attacker’s arms already under his legs. He then had to immediately focus on shifting backwards to make space or backward rolling out of harm’s way. Finally this was put under pressure.

Continuing the hips theme we moved onto standing clinch. The first exercise consisted of specific sparring with one student controlling the other using double underhooks either from the front or back. The waist lock was then used to execute a simple mid-section takedown into mount. The lesson finished with six rounds of MMA sparring.

During the debrief we reviewed the CCMA tenets and discussed respect. I begin both sports and self defence training with the concept of respect. This begins with self-respect, which translates as a good attitude and confidence

Don’t miss the first “Vagabond Warriors” workshop on Saturday 29th January 2011. BOOK YOUR PLACE NOW1