This article was written by BJJ.Org featured contributor Roy Harris. Harris is a black belt Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor in San Diego. This article was originally published on his PFS web site.Effectiveness in fighting is determined by the training methods you employ, not by the style or technique you perform. Efficient and effective training methods should address each and every component of fighting. Otherwise, an individual’s safety can be jeopardized.
Here is my personal formula for developing effectiveness in fighting:
Learning, practicing and mastering the basicsPutting the basics together into combinations to form a drillUsing drills to develop physical and mental attributesSparringSpecial considerations1. Learning, practicing and mastering the basics:The basics can be defined as a group of simple and direct, fundamental movements. These movements lay a foundation upon which you can build a myriad of combinations, drills and strategies. For example, all kick boxers, regardless of their level of experience, must maintain good footwork and keep their hands up at all times. To stand still and lower their hands down would invite the pain and injury, not to mention an inability to hit their opponent. So as basic as these movements are, they can not be overlooked or over stressed in training.
Practicing the basics is one of the hardest things to do. Why? Because practicing the basics is boring and mundane. Even though we know these movements lay the foundation, they do absolutely nothing for our ego or emotions. It is more fun to practice the cool, outrageous and flamboyant techniques that impress our family members, friends and co-workers. However, through consistent practice, we will one day master them and be done with them.
Mastering the basics is something that takes time. It can not be done overnight. To master the basics, you must correctly understand the mechanics involved with each technique, as well as practice them until you can perform them spontaneously and reflexively when presented with the appropriate stimulus. Although you may intellectually understand how to do a technique, that does not mean you can reflexively perform the technique under stress. You must take the basics to a level where you can perform them without thought. Then and only then will you have mastered them.
2. Putting the basics together into combinations to form a drill:Learning is a process of time and effort. This process begins with learning and classifying the simple knowns of life (the basics) and progressing towards the study of the very complex unknowns. When a child learns mathematics, he begins with a very simple known value system: he learns how to count from one to ten by using his fingers or toes. Once he can comfortably and confidently maneuver around these simple things, he can then be introduced to more complex things like counting to one-hundred. Once proficiency is achieved at this new level, he can then be introduced to basic arithmetic (which is the idea of putting the basics together into combinations). When his grasp of basic arithmetic has grown to a very high level, he can then be introduced to more complex mathematics like algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus. This is the process of learning mathematics. This is also the process of learning how to fight. One you can perform the basics reflexively, you can move onto putting the basics together into various combinations.
3. Using drills to develop physical and mental attributes:The purpose of a drill is develop instill certain habits into your repertoire of physical techniques, as well as develop specific attributes necessary to make your techniques work. Techniques without attributes are useless. Imagine a punch or a kick without speed, power, explosiveness, timing or accuracy. Would it hurt or incapacitate you? I think not! While it is important to learn and develop techniques, the bulk of your training should involve drills that develop specific attributes (like speed, power, accuracy, timing, strength, flow, explosiveness, footwork, sensitivity, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, balance, coordination, line familiarization, spatial relationship, rhythm, awareness, proper mental attitude, focus, concentration, determination, pain tolerance, the will to survive, etc…).
4. Sparring:Sparring is the next step in your progression of training. Sparring is one of the best tools to develop the timing of your techniques. For when you spar, you truly do not know what your opponent will do, so you must respond accordingly. You must develop your reflexes. Sparring should be done in stages. Stage one sparring is done with light contact hitting and at a slow workable speed. It’s as though your and your opponent are cooperating with each other, however, you are not. Stage one sparring is for the development of reflex and timing.
After stage one sparring you must move on to stage two. This is where you bump up the contact and/or speed of the match. This is also where you begin to don protective gear. This stage is very exhausting! Especially when you combine different ranges (long, close and ground) to the match. Stage two sparring is for the development of endurance, focus, concentration, determination, and pain tolerance.
Finally, there’s stage three. This is where you add multiple assailants and weapons to the training. This is also where you see the core personality of your trainees. When forced into a situation where they may be hurt, all trainees will show their true identities. I have seen it a thousand times. Joe blow at the office brags about being a great fighter. He talks incessantly about all the street fights he’s been in, yet when put through an exhausting scenario involving some medium level contact, he cowers like a yelping dog who sticks his tail between his legs and runs like the wind. Stage three training is very helpful for determining how people will respond to unexpected violence! It is the stage of training where you put it all together. Stage three training will identify an individual’s weak points, whether they be physical, mental or psychological.
5. Special considerations:To fully prepare one’s self to deal with violence, you must not only address techniques, drills and sparring, but you must also address those peculiar situations where the formula changes a bit. For example, when you are forced to confront violence, you will have no choice as to the time of day, the location, the environment, whether or not weapons will be involved, how many assailants will assault you, the range at which the altercation will start, what kind of clothing you will be wearing or what kind of mood you will be in. Each of these considerations makes the fight more complex. You must, and I repeat MUST, address these considerations in your training. Otherwise, you will be unprepared to deal with them when they rear their ugly heads!
My personal formula for efficient training that will lead to effectiveness in fighting is this:
Techniques: learn, practice and master themDrills: learn, practice and master themSparring: do itSpecial considerations: address them as needed