Today we’re going to look at 3 different categories you can place training drills in. This will relate back to my post about Form, Accuracy, Power, and Speed so I recommend you read that one first. For today’s purposes, we’re going to break down drills that fit into the categories of Air, Partner, and Equipment (APE). I usually go in the order of air first, then equipment, and then partner last, but AEP isn’t a word, so let’s just go with it. I’ll go over the benefits of categorizing drills this way, and the benefits of some individual drills in each category as well. Finally, we’ll look at using the APE formula to make lots of repetitions much more fun and interesting.
Practicing in the air typically means doing basics (ideally in front of a mirror) or doing Kata or forms. This is easy to do on your own, since you don’t need any equipment or a training partner. Training in the air is ideal for training form – it’s easy to practice and focus on posture or correct movement. It’s also a great way to practice speed. You can practice snapping your kicks as fast as possible. It’s very hard to practice power in the air, as it’s hard to judge. You can practice accuracy if you have a mirror, but it’s still not as good as having a pad or partner to aim for.
Partner drills could involve practicing basics by aiming your strikes at a person, self defense techniques with your partner as an attacker, sparring, or kata/form applications. You can find all kinds of ways to practice speed and accuracy with a person, but it’s hard to practice power safely. Be mindful because it’s also easy to have form get worse when you practice with a partner too much. Many sloppy habits develop from too much sparring!
This includes bags, shields, mitts, clappers, boppers, or anything else you can think of. Equipment is the best way to practice power, as you can see the results of your strikes. If you kick the bag harder, it moves more. Smaller pads are great for accuracy, and can be used for speed drills as well. Just like practicing on a person, form can start to slip when hitting a physical object. However, hitting a heavy bag incorrectly will teach to correct your form quickly!
Putting It All Together
That’s great, we all practice our basics and forms in the air, we all hit stuff, and we all do some partner work. How is that innovative? Well next we’re going to construct an example class to show how to use some drills from each category to trick your students into doing more reps without getting bored.
If you started class by telling all your students they were going to do 100 sidekicks, what would the reaction be? Maybe some people prepping for a black belt test would be fired up, but maybe some beginners will doubt if they can keep up. The point is, a large number will not be met with universal glee. But what if we did 5 here, 5 there, and spread it out over an hour without telling them?
That’s disguised repetition. Here’s a sample class sneaking in almost 100 sidekicks (or 50 off each leg):
Drills basics as a warm up, make sure to include 5 sidekicks off each leg, any variety. (10)
Tell your students you want to see better form, have them lean on a bar, windowsill, or wall and do 5 slow sidekicks off each side, focusing on bringing the knee up in the chamber. (20)
Do your normal stretches (gives the legs a break) then have your students partner up and get small pads (or clappers, or mitts)
Go through hitting the pads doing some basics including 5 sidekicks off each leg. (30)
Now do a reaction drill where the striker must sidekick the pad as soon as it’s presented 5 times off each leg. (40)
Make sure to do some similar hand drills with the pads to give students’ legs a break.
Have students partner up for self defense techniques or one steps. Select a technique that incorporates at least one sidekick and have everyone do it 5 times off each side. (50)
After doing techniques, partner them up again with a shield pad. Have everyone sidekick the shield 5 times off each leg. (60) Now have the pad holder walk towards the kickers so that the kickers must time their kicks correctly. (70) Advanced students could add a spin sidekick to the end. (80)
Have everyone get their sparring gear on and practice a few sidekick combos (for example: backfist high followed by a sidekick to the ribs). (90)
Finally, allow them to free spar but use a restricted or incentivized arsenal to emphasize the sidekick. (100+)
If you do 5 kicks off each leg for all of the above drills, you’ll wind up doing around 100 sidekicks. But rather than mindlessly doing 100 in the air as an endurance drill, you’ve done them while working on form, accuracy, power, and speed. You’ve worked on your form, done self defense applications, worked combinations, and finally emphasized them in free sparring. I guarantee your students will have more fun doing reps this way!
After class, ask your students how many sidekicks they think they did. If they said less than 100, the drills worked and they didn’t realize how many reps they were getting in. Try this with any technique you want to drill, it’s a fun creative challenge.