T stomped down on my knee. Why? It was pressed forward. I could take his entire weight at that point at that angle. A kick to either side not only would have done more damage, but would have been quicker and less telegraphed. We talked about it, and he saw immediately that he had hit me in the one way that would do the least harm. Why? Habit.
Later, D did a hugely telegraphed sidekick (a true kansetsu geri) to the outside of my knee. Her chambering action, had it been applied to the inside of my knee, would have done more damage, faster and with less warning. "It's a habit," she said, "we go to the outside of the knee so we don't hurt anyone." The better to protect the students.
During the targeting drill, I almost wanted to call it off. There are a lot of good targets on the human body. It is not difficult to put a body down. But somethings require very specific angles (in and up on the C1 vertebra has an entirely different effect than straight in) or specific conformations (the difference between gouging a nerve with the tip of your thumb and the pad is profound.)
Skilled martial artists, but almost the whole room was working on reproducing motion, not effect.
Mostly, it was a collection of training artifacts. The trouble with kata, or doing forms in the air, is that you start worrying about whether it looks right. Let me tell you, of the five senses, looking is the least able to tell you if you did something right in a fight. Hearing bone break, smelling blood, the all important feel of a good hit... okay, maybe taste is more useless in evaluating effectiveness in a fight. Maybe.
You want to see if the form looks right, so you remove the obstacles (including the bad guy) from the field of vision to see it better...and so you remove both the greatest problem and the best feedback from the equation. Precision without effectiveness.
The guys who trained mainly by flow were doing it, too. More concerned with whether it felt right internally (you know, each strike felt like a natural extension of the last) than whether any of the strikes would have done anything to the threat.
So, next time you are doing a drill that involves another person stop and evaluate: if I did do this, to this target at this angle with this hand conformation...what would happen? And if the answer is, "Not a damn thing," you need to fix that.
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