Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Unloading

Impact arts- karate, wing tsun, TKD and the like have a serious disadvantage in live scenario training. In real life, you hit someone hard or hit someone a lot and they either stop what they are doing or they don't, but you know. In live scenarios with the emphasis on safety you can't hit for real. Even in baton training, the practice baton is light and padded and the threat can take more harder hits than he could hope to survive if they were delivered with a flashlight or a piece of hickory.

Grappling and locking arts have less of a disadvantage. A guy is pinned or he isn't, locked or he isn't and there isn't much difference in the end state between real life and playing. (There are differences leading up to the end state, trust me, but a threat choked unconscious looks almost exactly like a competitor choked unconscious).

What this means, in training, is that the students see grappling (using real technique) stop the fight and they rarely, if ever, see striking (using pulled or padded or otherwise safe techniques) stop the fight.

It also means that strikers rarely get to unload. When they do unload, they don't know what to expect.

To an extent, that's realistic. You can line ten people up and hit them in the head as hard as you can (taking your own broken hand out of the equation) maybe two will lose consciousness; six might go "ow" and/or fall down; one will hit you back without thinking and one will look at you and smile. The effects of striking are really idiosyncratic and unpredictable- which is why if somebody is worth hitting, they are probably worth hitting a lot.

I've used armor to offset this a little. This goes back to the last thread on the knife thing. Every so often you run across a pure striker with a lot of faith and they do very, very well. They power in continuous damaging strikes, usually with a nice loud kiai. They ignore the weapon, don't try to block, defend or grab and they do very well. The constant attack tends to freeze the guy with the knife, defeating the mind first (and thanks, Mac, for being the first to figure this out).

Even armor doesn't do it though, it's not quite enough to make things safe. Armor is impact reduction, but the person wearing armor has to be able to defend himself. He must be sufficiently more skilled than the striker to protect his joints, especially his neck; take take some pretty unorthodox falls; and still allow the student to impact.

There's also a mental switch and levels of unloading. My dream day used to be playing the bad guy for cell extraction practice with my tactical team. Five to eight skilled fighters, fully armored. I could unload, but not all the way. Ribs and noses still broke, hands bounced off walls and other helmets... the dream needed to be toned down. It was unloading, but not completely slipping the leash.

When my students go after me in armor, I get the same feeling. They are unloading, and some think they are giving me everything they have, but there is a whole other level they don't touch. It reverses, I have a student (big and skilled preferably) put on the armor for me to unload and everyone gets hesitant. Wearing armor is the sign that there will be an ass beating. That probably sounds like punishment, but it isn't.

This is hard to explain. Contrast:
Students practicing non-contact.
Students striking, me in armor- tap, tap, set hard with a grunt of effort, another hard strike, a follow-up medium, get distance, tap
Me striking- close range, hard; drop step for one strike, leg scoop for the next; multiple directions to make it hard to set, unbalancing to combine and offset with the strikes... It's overwhelming and it is supposed to be: speed + power + multidirectional + integrated throwing, striking and locking + kicks closer than most have trained, multiple striking surfaces (fist, elbow, hand, wrist, inner elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, head, feet).

The students know how to do this, they've seen me do it, they've practiced each piece of it... but they hold back. Their unloading isn't the same as my unloading. And my unloading on a student isn't nearly the same level as my unloading on the team and a far cry from slipping the leash when I think my life is in danger.

But they seem to think it is all they have.

1 comment:

Chris @ Martial Development said...

Impact arts- karate, wing tsun, TKD and the like have a serious disadvantage in live scenario training. In real life, you hit someone hard or hit someone a lot and they either stop what they are doing or they don't, but you know. In live scenarios with the emphasis on safety you can't hit for real.

The other side of the coin is that you can practice with (and hopefully learn something from) people who could not tolerate your full-power punches or kicks--so that if you do slip the leash you are the very definition of "overkill". ;)