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Vagabond Warriors was another enjoyable session – full of hard work and a good energy. We began with an introduction to CCMA and Vagabond Warriors concepts, discussing the CSI (Clarification, Scepticism and Individuality) approach to training. Then we looked at both partner and solo warm-up exercises. For partner work we began with fence sensitivity drills – developing tacticle responses and target familiarization. This moved onto body barges to get the feel of hitting another human without the risk of injury. This can then be further overlapped onto focus mitt work and also training with headguards. Training was then taken outside with some partner footwork drills like chasing/cornering and improvised striking drills on hills. This was followed by some short car tyre drills – bounces, knees, chops and tornados against the wall, and overhead and oblique twist passes. Next everyone did some grip fighting and escapes from ground positions – both asymmetrical and symmetrical versions.
We then moved onto some solo warm-up drills. Shadow boxing is perhaps the most relevant solo way to warm-up for martial artists. We covered several variations. This included jumping onto different levels, mixing in medicine balls and agility cones. Shadow boxing, of course, encompasses all ranges.
We then moved onto the hierarchy of training, which is the real basis for Vagabond Warriors’ cross training method. As my article on this aspect explained, this is a type of time management for cross-training in the martial arts. The focus of this seminar was what I call strategy two. This addresses contingency tactics – in self-defence terms – for closing distance like the cover and grappling.
Specific training concentrated the use of the cover. Strategy one versus strategy two training was practiced from a standing position, on the ground and off the wall. We then quarried the cover by stopping these pressure exercises once the s2 student confirmed contact with a high, mid or low line clinch. This prompted the instinctive use of the cover.
We then refined this using multiple attack focus mitt and pressure tests. We used the cover both to regain a striking position and to go to grappling. I also introduced the circular improvement theory. This is a concept that works off having several exercises over-lap around the same tactic or technique. Each follows the other in a continual loop of improvement. For example you have a focus mitt drill that teaches a student to cover, which then followed by a pressure test that has a direct application. Then you go back to the focus mitt drill and then back to the pressure test. A metaphor for this would be an upward spiral, each exercise feeding the other. Any amount of exercises can be added to the method, so long as they are justifiable. The theory is that you can get as close as possible to replicating a certain real incident through overlapping and therefore addressing the flaws inherient in the previous drill.
The importance of specific training is to stick rigidly to its parameters. If you are working to fight off a wall, then the exercise finishes once you are off the wall. Doing anything else afterwards is a waste of time unless you have an additional objective.
Attribute training, which is cross-training, was glossed over this time due to time constraints. The arts I recommended for off-the-line study included the Keysi Fighting Method and the Crazy Monkey MMA system. For the grappling aspects I advised Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling, Brazilian jiu jitsu, judo, catch wrestling and any grappling-based combat sport. The strength of a good-cross trainer is to take the attributes from these systems back to your primary path to enhance your hard skills.
The physical part of the session finished with a partner circuit and solo circuit of functional fitness exercises. This included medicine ball throws/sprawl combinations, a tyre war and car innertube tug o’ war for the partner work. The solo work included tractor tyre flips and jumps; tractor tyre drags uphill, car tyre chops and tornados, small double hammer ground ‘n pounds on the car tyre, resistance band punches, car innertube resistance for double takedown entries, and vertical and horizontal sledgehammer swings on the tractor tyre.
I would like to offer a big thanks to all those who attended. Hopefully this will be the beginning of something great in your personal martial arts development and the development of the scene in general. Everyone showed enthusiasm and there was a wonderful candidness that only helps to improve this service. This included discussing the emotional considerations – including giving oneself permission – when one decides to strike another in a self-defence situation. Further on from this we discussed the issue of guilt. The seminar will also develop with a PowerPoint section to make better use of the non-physical time elements and move things along a little faster at the beginning. We were restricted with the attribute training, the warmd-down and the debrief, which I will address better next time. My hope is that this information will be taken away, researched, experimented with, possibly expanded upon, maybe rejected for good reason, but ultimately fed-back online.
Note: Car tyre swings fall awkwardly between the counterproductive punching with weights exercise and the very productive baseball bat swings into a heavy target. The springback impact of the tyre adds a unique twist to training, helping the user handle recoil. However, students should be mindful about the weight of the tyre. If you feel you are fighting against gravity – as you would be with a weight – then pick up a lighter tyre.
Some links that might be useful for Vagabond Warriors. Interestingly, as per issue 4 of "Train Hard, Fight Easy", it is very hard to find any videos on YouTube with the correct tyre flipping technique. The magazine demonstrated an alternative way to lift the tyre to the usual sumo lift, which apparently doesn't provide the specific attributes the exercise can provide – developing drive force and teaching a student to lower their level whilst shooting in as well as developing the right muscles for explosiveness – and can place unnecessary strain on the biceps. Nevertheless, here are some interesting videos I found that provided ideas for routines: