Necessity is the mother of invention…
In this week’s Detailed Drills, we’ll look at a set of 3 different ways to use restrictions to help your sparring training. Setting restrictions can encourage creative thinking, force improvements on disliked techniques, and ultimately create a more well-rounded fighter. Hate to punch? You’re not allowed to kick. Love to get in close? Try to win using just a side-kick. These are all variations on restrictions forcing us to improve.
Hands Only/Feet Only
One person can only use hand techniques, the other can only use kicks. Make sure both people get a chance to try both rolls. This drill can be done either with the kicker allowed to block or without (relying solely on distance and offense to keep the other participant from scoring). You can also do this drill where both participants are hands only or both are feet only.
Hands Only Strategies – The puncher will need to control the distance and either be outside of kick range, or inside of punch range. The puncher will need to employ footwork, feints, and skill in reading the kicker’s intentions to get safely past kick range. Try to attack when the kicker is pulling back a kick. I always imagine the kick is a wave crashing on the beach. You don’t go in as it’s crashing, you go in was the water is flowing back out to sea.
Feet Only Strategies – The kicker will need to use straight-line kicks to keep the puncher at long range. Circular kicks such as crescent kicks or roundhouses will allow the puncher to close the distance. Be ready to double kick if they try to charge.
One or both participants have a specific move they must use. These restrictions could be the same or different for the two participants. This is a great drill to help a participant struggling with a certain technique. For example, if they struggle with a hook kick you can restrict them so the only kick they can throw is that kick (see the image above).
My personal story – When I was a teenager I was an intermediate belt rank when I got really into sparring. I would throw a lot of front, side, and roundhouse kicks, but I could never quite get the hang of the hook kick. My instructor kept saying I should try to throw it more to add another angle to my kicks. I would maybe throw one, it would miss, and I would go back to my other kicks. Eventually, my instructor told me the only kick I could throw was a hook kick. Many, many hook kicks later it’s my favorite technique to catch people by surprise. This can be the martial arts equivalent of being forced to eat your vegetables: it may not taste good at first, but it’s good for you!
This one is similar to the last drill but allowing for more freedom. In this drill, both participants may throw whatever techniques they want, but a designated technique is worth 2 points instead of 1. For example, participants may be allowed to throw any technique, but a hook kick to the head is worth 2 points.
Unlike Limited Arsenal, this drill allows freedom in setting up combinations. Instead of only being able to throw a hook kick, you could use a roundhouse to set up the hook kick. While Limited Arsenal will force participants out of their comfort zone, this drill allows people the chance to experiment with a technique once they become more comfortable with it.
That’s it for this post, but don’t worry there’s plenty more where that came from. Give these drills a try, and force yourself to try new things! After all, there’s no perfect technique that will work on everyone.