My third lesson teaching self-protection/MMA at Kingham Hill School brought the entire class onto the in-fight problem of regaining the initiative. We began with an overview of the cover, which successfully tested to everyone’s satisfaction. The rules of using the cover were explained – namely that it is a recovery and temporary tool used to regain the initiative whilst recovering from an attack, the cover position of the hands must remain mobile and the person covering must move into the attack.
We trained this first on the focus mitts under Code White conditions. The student closes their eyes to simulate unawareness. The partner prompts the student to open their eyes and immediately starts attacking the head. The student opens their eyes and covers, moves forward and starts returning fire. It is important that the student doing the coaching keeps hitting their partner until their partner makes contact with the focus mitts. Everyone understood the reasoning behind this – in reality, the person defending has to take a proactive role and overcome the incoming strikes.
This same exercise was then performed with more direct partner work. The student coaching donned a full-face head guard (head cage) and put on boxing gloves. Here I took the class through various stages of pressure. Everything up to 50% pressure is compliant in nature. A student should begin very light, but have the pressure ratcheted up as he becomes familiar with the exercise. After 50%, the pressure becomes actual resistance with coach actively trying to stop their partner from achieving their goal. This is specific training with a set objective for one person to try to strike the head cage convincingly and take control of the fight.
Next individuals were put in the centre of pad-people. Here they covered and hit the focus mitts that were coming in from all directions. To add the chaos, they were expected to change postures on my command and also to do this with another person doing the same thing. At the end of each turn, the two people covering and striking were told to break for the exit.
The lesson finished with everyone switching postures in rapid succession whilst maintaining a cover.
Photography by Charlotte Von Bulow Quirk