5 Ways to Practice Your Combinations

Pinning the attacker

Pin the attacker

Martial arts training is filled with repetition. It is an instructors job to disguise repetition and to enhance students’ abilities. In our style of Kempo, we have a set of predefined techniques that we practice. Kata is made up of these Combinations, which is the bunkai or application of the kata. These techniques are used for grading and testing. Class is filled with performing these combinations to the air and with partners. How can we mix up this stale system and breath new life into our repetitious rut? Try these new ways of practicing your combinations.

  1. Kata style: Start with the first technique and do each on right after the finishing the previous technique. Do not adjust your facing. The goal is to have as little time between the performance of each technique as possible.
  2. Five by Five: To engrain the combinations into your mind, practice smaller groups of techniques. I suggest doing five combinations in a row, and repeating that set five times. Then move on to the next set of five techniques. This will help improve your memory and provide enough practice of the combinations to provide improvement.
  3.  Left sided: As a student, we began training our combinations against a left-handed attacker at Black Belt. At my school, we start earlier because it provides so much benefit to the student. About Green Belt, practice the easiest five combinations reversing the sides, add another five combinations at Brown Belt. This method is a mirror of the right sided technique. In other words, a left punch becomes a right punch and a right block becomes a left block.
  4. On your back: Lay on your back and attempt to perform your combinations from the floor. This method requires a lot of visualization, imagination, and adaptation. The techniques will not be the same rather they will be essentially the same. For example, Combination 12 starts with a left kick and then spinning back kick. From the floor, you spin into a donkey kick (hands on the floor supporting your back kick), and continue to spin up to a fighting stance.
  5. Armed: My favorite way of practicing combinations is with a pocket stick or yawara. Hold the stick in your hand with a bit protruding from both sides of your fist. Perform your combinations as normal but utilize the stick to hook, strike and poke the opponent anytime you would normally use your hand for a strike. Like before, it requires visualization, imagination, and adaptation.

Though our combinations are set and predefined, that is not their real application. Kempo techniques are tools in your tool belt. You use them in any order and adapt them to the reactions of the attacker. You must flow with the attack, adapting and adjusting as needed. Real fights do not go as scripted in kata or in the combinations. When these variations are combined with the Triple I training, your techniques will become very effective.

Perfect practice prevents piss-poor performance. Train hard, train often, and train repetitiously.

Bo Staff course

I was looking through my notes and decided to post the Bo Staff course for my students to review.

Exercises
Push ups
Sit ups
Side-to-side walk
Hopping

Required Kata
1. Shu-shi no kon
2. Chu-on no kon
3. Saku-gawa no kon
4. Tsuken no kon

Hojo Undo (Basic drills)
Set 1: Strikes
1. Jo dan uchi
2. Kubi uchi
3. Chudan uchi
4. Gedan uchi
5. Nodo zuki

Set 2: Blocks
1. Jo dan uke
2. Kubi uke
3. Yoko uke
4. Gedan uke
5. Nodo kake uke

Set 3: Grip changing
1. Jo dan uchi
2. Kubi uchi
3. Yoko uchi
4. Gedan uchi
5. Kake uke tsuki (zen kutsu dachi/neko ashi dachi)

Set 4: Partner Drills
1. Head defense
2. Temple defense
3. Rib defense
4. Knee defense
5. Throat defense

Set 5: Shu-shi Complex
8 steps of the routine

Set 6: Block and counter
1. Gedan yoko uke, kubi uchi
2. Gedan yoko harai uke, nuki
3. Suna kake
4. Osa-e
5. Shitte, gyaku zuki

Perform the sets first, then you learn the kata. The partner drills are key in developing good timing and accuracy with the bo. It’s a lot like stick fighting (arnis) with a six foot stick. Also note that you can think of the staff as a spear too. Become flexible with how you think of bunkai and the weapons you use.

I hope you enjoy this and I’ll look for other notes.