“SLOW DOWN!!!!!” Instructor shouted as the first unmanned focus mitt flight crashed landed into the back of skull.
We’d been practising what could best be described as fighting in slow motion. The idea of this was that we’d be able to concentrate on the point of impact, exploring the optimum body position, using the correct angle and direction and cleanly delivering power with our attacks. By going slowly we can follow through a little more because we are exercising control and restraint whilst discovering the “point of impact”… well the theory sounded good anyhows!
Just prior to being assaulted with focus mitt I had caused my partner to have a nasal leak of the claret kind. I was sporting a split lip and the makings of a rather fine black eye! Looking around the rest of the class I could see that we weren’t alone as everyone else was suffering with various scraps and bumps too.
“What do you think the point of going slowly was?” Instructor threw out to the class.
“So that we didn’t hurt each other?” said Billy at the same time he was trying to hide a watery blood shot eye.
“Well that was supposed to be one of the goals. But more importantly by going slowly you have the opportunity to examine in microscopic detail the ‘Point of Impact’.
Usually when you spar or mess around with each other you ‘pull’ your shots so you don’t get a feel for the way the energy from the strike is being delivered when you connect. This is due to the fact that you actually never really connect with each other!”
“I think my broken nose from last week would disagree with you Instructor!” interjected Billy spurring a murmured giggle from the class.
“Well volunteered Billy!” Instructor said motioning Billy into the centre of the class. “Let’s play!”
Billy threw a controlled jab that seemed to bounce off Instructors arm. Actually I think ‘bounce’ is wrong word, ‘slip’ would be accurate. As Billy’s strike collided with Instructors arm it just seemed to slip off and shoot upwards lifting poor old Billy straight out of his feet. Instructor then released an extremely light shot that landed into Billy’s exposed ribs with a shallow thud.
“By going slowly I have managed to land a shot cleanly and the strikes energy will go directly into Billy’s centre...” he paused giving a quick smile, “…like this!”
There was a slight ‘pump’ of his body and Instructors hand moved barely a inch. Billy on the other hand folded in half and landed in a pile on the floor about six feet away!
“Usually when you spar you don’t connect cleanly. Your strikes bounce off each other as you frantically clash bodies. In a decent session you might be lucky to actually connect with one or two decent shots where the power is delivered cleanly and effectively into the target! Most of you spar out of sheer frantic panic with your energy flying all over the place. One or two decent shots in 2 minute round! Is that really hitting effectively?”
The class hushed as everyone started to mull over the lesson at the same time as nursing bumps, cuts and sprains. I couldn’t help thinking that all this was well and good, but fighting is fast and frantic not slow and controlled. Didn’t seem very realistic?
I could tell Billy had the same chain of thought but looked reluctant to ‘volunteer’ again….
“Instructor….” I paused, saving Billy and choosing how to best phrase the question, “…you say that we need to go slowly but that isn’t particularly realistic. Real fights are fast frantic and driven from sheer panic. Surely we can only become accustomed to this by actually getting into the fray?”
“Real fights are fast and frantic affairs, this is true….BUT…they are only panic fuelled to the unskilled!” he responded.
“We’ve being learning skills for a long time now and we still panic in hard sparring sessions when the adrenaline kicks in!” I counter cautiously watching the focus mitt in Instructors hand.
“Would you consider one or two decent shots over a 2 minute period skilful?” he asks throwing an ego busting proverbial focus mitt.
“....OK! Let’s talk in terms of ‘real fighting’!” He interjects, “A real fight is a blitz which is over in a split second. How many ‘effective’ shots could you throw in that space of time?”
“We talked last lesson about ‘The Hunters Mindset’. The ability to be pre-emptive requires the correct mindset and intention. Equally important though is the ability to use the weapons that you’re actually trying to hunt with. Would you face down a lion without being sure you’re going to hit it?”
“Not really!” I respond.
“See being able to recognise the window of opportunity is one thing, being able to take advantage of it is another! We learn various techniques but we start trying to use them before we have the skill to do so. Tonight’s lesson was a prime example of this. All of your scuffs and injuries were accidents caused by a lack of control. I bet whoever was paired up with Billy didn’t mean to poke him in the eye!” Instructor smiled as Billy’s partner hid behind my shoulder.
“It’s really quite simple…” Instructor continued, “…skills are learnt slowly and then utilised at lightening speed! I’ve always said that if you’re going fast and you’re not seriously injuring each other, what you are doing isn’t worth squat. If you can’t hurt each other in a gym going 100% at each other you sure as hell won’t hurt anyone on the street. In fact you guys can’t purposefully hit each other going slowly!”
“So, I suppose with this skill comes the confidence to utilise that window of opportunity you always speak of?” Billy asks.
“Exactly! But, like I said, skill is built slowly! When you have skill, you respond with skill. When you don’t have skill, you panic! When you panic you loose control….”
“….and when you loose control you enter the realms of the unknown and ‘completely cr*p yourself’!” I butt in remembering something from the last lesson!
“Indeed! What we’ve learnt today is that even going slowly is too fast for most of us to respond skilfully. What we need to do is slow our stuff down so we can build our skills. Only once we have skill can we utilise it at speed! See you guys are just too damn fast!” Instructor laughs as the clock chimes to conclude the lesson.
Edited by Gavin (12/04/06 01:24 PM)