Thursday, September 22, 2011

Formal Training Week 10

Tonight was the first official night of my training for yellow belt. (Before anyone gets confused, many martial artists refer to themselves as training for the next belt level.) Our sights should always be set on the next milestone we wish to reach.

Sensei was there, and after putting stuff away it was pretty much time to bow in, though I had a chance to greet Terri, an acquaintance who is slowly becoming a friend, as well as Master Markus and Miss Linda. (Oh, and Spike too of course). Miss Linda let me know she has ordered my uniform and belt.

Once we bowed in, Master Eric gave us a quick lecture on the areas he would like to see us show improvement in before we will be permitted to test again. Actually, his list of necessities matched almost perfectly with the goals I set for myself in the previous blog post. Then, he left us with Sensei to warm up and train.

Warm ups were just as strict as I am used to seeing them when I used to go to formal classes on Tuesdays. Sensei called for half-jumping jacks. When I asked how many, his response was "I'll tell you when to stop." He stopped us at 60. Then he had us do wrist stretches and neck rolls, before beginning our actual lesson.

Much of our lesson last night was actually focused on weapons work. We were brought over to our two B.O.B (body opponent bag) units and asked to demonstrate the four point striking sequence we had learned in preparation for our white belts. We did well, but Sensei had us begin to really focus on precision and accuracy, as well as putting more power behind each strike than we had been. The areas we should be striking are L-Ribcage, R-Ribcage, the Nose and Intra Orbital Nerve, and the Genitals.

When we had each gotten about 20 reps in, Sensei worked with us on identifying vulnerability points on the body of an average height male attacker.  The ones we identified were: temples, eyes, ears, nose, sides of neck/collarbone, under the arms, under the chin (driving UPWARD) and the solar plexus. I discovered that I have an easier time striking something positioned above me if I have a one handed grip on my weapon and either drive the point into the strike zone with a jab or strike using the shaft of the weapon.

After that, we went back to the open area of our training space to work on unarmed combat. But when Sensei tried to take Chad's weapon, he resisted and kept hold, even when Sensei brought the weapon above Chad's head. As soon as this happened, I saw Chad tense, and try to regain control of his weapon by force. This is the biggest mistake anyone can make when fighting. As soon as you do that, you become easy to manipulate because the amount of energy and focus you pour into getting that weapon causes you to lose awareness of everywhere and everything else and that leaves you vulnerable.

Sensei demonstrated this scenario with me when I called Chad out on his mistake. I have made the same error, so it was a lesson I learned early and internalized. Either way I consciously tried to strong arm the weapon away from Sensei and in moments he had me pinned, weapon against the side of my neck.

So what should you do? Keep hold of the weapon, but stay relaxed and allow the attacker to try to gain full control. As you continue to move with the weapon, it will frustrate them, while preventing the fatigue that comes with trying to force your way out of a situation. Also, this easy movement gives you time to learn about your attacker. Does he continually move in a pattern, whether intentionally or unintentionally? Is he already fatigued, maybe favoring one side or one limb? If so, wait for an opportunity to use these things against your opponent. Either twist the weapon into a hold or out of their grip, or if necessary, strike. It is perfectly okay to remove one hand from the weapon and deliver an unarmed strike to cause pain and enough distraction for you to regain control. Or, there is my favorite. I enjoy taking one hand off my weapon, offering a distraction strike to divert my opponent's focus, and actually grabbing their thumb and peeling their hand off my weapon. They never expect it.

Sensei had me demonstrate these techniques as well, and when I successfully got my weapon away from Sensei I used the force of his release and slight hip movement on my part to whip my chair around and face him with weapon in ready stance when he tried to sidestep.

As I finished that maneuver, we heard a happy bark. Spike had managed to get free of whatever his leash was clipped to, and run into the training area dragging the leash. Both the currently practicing advanced Tae Kwon Do students and ourselves said hi to him, before he left the training area and Master Eric, coming back in from outside intercepted him.

After that we worked on Brush Trap Strike for awhile, as it is something Chad still needs work on. I know he has spent less time than I have involved with hapkido, but he really needs to learn to hesitate less. Hesitation, like unneeded physical tension, can be deadly. Sensei taught us a modified version of the technique, using the opposite arm when brushing rather than same side, and then striking the ribs, or back of the neck once the opponent's momentum has turned them away from you.

One of the things Sensei has been working on with me when I see him privately is recognizing opportune moments when in the midst of combat. Stemming from this will be the ability to switch from one technique to another at a moment's notice, rather than relying on the sequences we are shown in class and worrying about what flows together. Try as they might, my instructors cannot possibly teach us how to account for every possible fight pattern out there. Adaptability is key for survival.

So when we were doing the new method of Brush Trap Strike, I saw a combat opportunity. Once I had brushed Sensei out of my way, I brought my chair around so my small front wheels clipped him in the ankles and the frame of my chair caught the back of his knee, increasing his momentum. Sensei is correct in that this would be a nasty move if employed when fighting in close quarters at the top of a staircase.

At this time, Master Eric came over and called a halt to class, saying we were done for the night. He also informed us that not only had our doboks been ordered, they had come in. We will be getting them at the end of next class in a special ceremony. I know my face showed disappointment that I couldn't have it right away, as I've been struggling with being bullied at school, but at least I didn't cry.

And I definitely have something to look forward to next week.


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