Skills vs. Drills

Discussion in 'Filipino Martial Arts' started by BahadZubu, Aug 5, 2016.

  1. BahadZubu

    BahadZubu Valued Member

    I guess the title says it all. How much time does your club spend on drilling techniques vs. sparring/tire striking/shadow boxing/bag work etc.?

    Obviously drills have their place in martial arts. They can build proper form and timing for certain techniques. But personally I think a lot of FMA focus way too much on drills rather than actually training for fighting.

    In my experience, FMA that attract the most students are those that have a lot of fancy looking drills and can make you 'feel' like you are learning real skill.

    I think this video ([ame=""]Doug Marcaida Кarambit Kali - YouTube[/ame]) is a good example of things that look cool but lack basic understanding.
  2. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    I assume this is a general MA discussion and not just FMA discussion.

    You can

    - wrestle all your life but if you don't train "hip throw" partner drill, you will never understand how to use "hip throw".
    - train your "hip throw" partner drill all your life but if you don't wrestle, you will never know whether your "hip throw" will work on a resisted opponent or not.

    So the proper progress should be "partner drill" -> "sparring/wrestling"?

    IMO, there is still something missing between these 2 steps. That is to apply a single technique in a "sparring/wrestling". You can call it "single technique testing".

    So "partner drill" -> "single technique testing" -> 'sparring/wrestling" should be more appropriate.

    A simple example of "single technique testing" can be:

    If you

    - can "punch" on your opponent within 20 punches, you win that round.
    - fail, you lose that round.

    Test this for 15 rounds daily and record the result. Continue test this for 1 year and see you own progress chart.

    You can replace that "punch" by "front kick", "side kick", "roundhouse kick", "all kicks", or ...
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2016
  3. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    "Drilling" and "drills" can be two different things. I consider "drilling" to be the repetitive practice of a single movement in isolation; "drills" are flows of two or more movements in combination, within a specific context.

    An example of "drilling" would be practising the jab on the heavy bag.

    An example of "drills" would be practising the jab-cross on the focus mitts, either with gloves (the context here being the sport of boxing) or bare-fisted (the context here being self protection).

    "Movement" can be substituted with "skill" or "technique."
  4. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    Why a drill is done is important because it affects how the drill is done. Some drills are to build muscle memory and sensitivity and these types of drills have the most benefit after years of drilling the movements.

    Some drills are in fundamentals and these have the most benefit after years of real world and fighting experience.

    Some drills are for developing a specific technique and these drills have the most benefit the first few minutes only, unless the training is progressive (alive) with increase resistance to simulate real fighting.

    I think much of FMA spends a lot of time in the first category of drills (muscle memory and sensitivity). One sign that this type of training is working is when the one that breaks the pattern loses. In other words, the one that tries to exploit an opening by breaking the pattern actually is the one that gets whacked because the partner is sensitive to the change and intuitively strikes the exposed wrist/hand or vital area.

    The last category (static drills only used to learn the technique at the beginning) is going to be used in alive training, which leads quickly to pad work and sparring.

    The second category (drills used to train fundamentals) is what I'm mostly interested in these days. Take what you learn from real world, ring, cage, sparring and other situations and bring that back to the fundamentals and principles. The goal is developing practical application.

    If you make it a circle rather than linear, the single technique testing comes first and last.

    "Single technique testing" -> "partner drill" -> "sparring" -> "Single technique testing" -> etc.

    Take what is learned in partner drills into sparring, take what is learned in sparring into single technique testing.
  5. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member


    - "partner drill" is to use your technique to against a non-resisted opponent.
    - "single technique testing" is to use your technique to against a full-resisted opponent.

    If you put "single technique testing" first, your technique have not yet fully developed.

    For example, when you apply "hip throw" on your opponent, if your opponent always sits down on the ground himself (full-resisted), you will never be able to develop your "hip throw".
  6. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    Okay I was looking at single technique testing as learning the finish of the technique in isolation. Partner drills as learning how to set up the technique.

    Every stage had progressive resistance. For example, testing out the hip throw, first partner gives no resistance then progressively increases restance (sinks weight, tries to ride you hips, hooks you leg). Partner drills increase resistance as partner tries to counter. Sparring starts light and progresses to full contact and/or heavy sparring.
  7. Janno

    Janno Valued Member

    If i was to be really cynical (which i may well be), i'd say that a lot of the cool-guy stuff is for marketing purposes, and obviously to provide an element of fun to your students. Despite what so many instructors say, this kind of stuff is not delivered with combat in mind - simply because the reality of any combative scenario is so far removed from these technical demonstrations, that they would only ever take place if your opponent was incapable of fighting and you fancied yourself a bit of a crowdpleaser (and why not!).

    A fight generally has 3 profiles:-

    1. Both parties are at an equal standing - in which case, why do technical drills not progress beyond a feeder that is compliant, predictable, and slow, when these same qualities do not apply to you?

    2. You've ambushed your opponent - in which case, why so many elaborate movements when you could literally just suckerpunch the guy and be done with it?

    3. Your opponent has ambushed you - in which case, why are you not practicing fighting from a position of disadvantage, since that's inevitably where you'll be!

    I'd propose that the majority of fight-outcomes depend on two things: The quality/reliability of the weapon used, and the experience/readiness the user has in applying that weapon. There is a third thing, and that is LUCK. However that's not really something we can factor in to our course of training. What i'm getting at is that there is no point attaching a whole load of fancy accessories to your vehicle if the engine is knackered and you can't drive it in poor conditions. Far better to invest in improving the performance of that vehicle (your attributes), and more time behind the wheel when it's dark and slippery (your exposure to violence/fighting out of the hole).
  8. BahadZubu

    BahadZubu Valued Member

    Interesting replies. So how much do partner drills (as opposed to solo practice) factor into your classes?

  9. raaeoh

    raaeoh never tell me the odds

    I always use a Dewalt for my drilling.

    Seriously though a daily Class of mine is solo drills. Partner drilling. And then make the drill work.
  10. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    The "partner drills" is 100% of my class. When you go home and you don't have partner, you train "partner drills" without partner, you will get yourself a set of "solo drills" for "free".
  11. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    Partner drills start with learning how to be a good partner. What makes a good partner? Clearly communicating expectations and being sincere about it.

    One of the areas often talked about is partner resistance. Within a partner drill, resistance can come at scripted times or at unscripted times.

    Resistance from a partner at scripted times is sort of like a demo or when practicing an isolated technique. For example, I might pin my training partner using an immobilization technique against minimal resistance, but once I have the lock on, my training partner is expected to increase the resistance to test if they can get out of the lock.

    Resistance at unscripted times is sort of like sparring. Whether it is heavy, medium or light sparring or pad work, the partner can attempt to counter at any time. However, depending on the intensity and drill, the counters could be kept light. For example, if I'm holding pads for my partner, between the combinations I might kick, hit, or clinch my training partner to test out their defense while they are striking at the pads.

    The partner drills I teach mostly consist of scripted movements with specific times for the partner to resist/counter. We then progress to the unscripted resistance, even if it is kept light.
  12. Docholiday

    Docholiday Valued Member

    FMA definitely has a problem with over emphasizing compliant demonstrations. We as FMA guys seem to be stuck in the "look what I can do" phase. FMA popular culture is too fixated on impressing and getting new students to develop what they've got. These compliant demos and drilling are little more than a circle jerk they don't have much training value imo. Other drills in some cases offer more in terms of skill development. FMA guys need to show more of the sweaty skill building stuff and more sparring and get over looking cool and impressing people. I'm dumbfounded at the comments section of Doug marcaida videos. How can you be impressed when his opponent does absolutely nothing? You can't assess skill that way. We see the same in other martial arts, the master shows a cool move on a completely compliant opponent and everyone fawns over his godlike ability. Doug may very well be skilled but I'd never know it based on what he shows. We get it FMA is the deadlyz now let's see you put in some work. Rant over :)
  13. Bozza Bostik

    Bozza Bostik Antichrist on Button Moon

    I agree with a lot of the posters here; a lot of kali systems effeminately (Hah - autocorrect) place way too much emphasis on dead drills.

    The last club I trained at was quite bad for this. The instructor was great and a good guy who was very talented and a had a few high ranks in various systems, the system itself was very stripped down and didn't have too many fancy, pointless techniques or drills, but the lack of alive training left a lot to be desired. I guess it isn't a problem with kali, but how it is often taught and therefore suffers from the same issues as a lot of TMA.

    But I've trained FMA in three places and all of the clubs focused on partner drills and rarely sparred, hit pads, or did things under pressure.

    As I have mentioned on a few threads, I have no interest in learning how to fight, self defence or even "self defence", martial arts to me is just a hobby and about learning a skill. However, I question if I am actually learning the skill if a guy is throwing a half-arsed strike at me and then leaving his arm hanging while I hack parts of his body off, then we swap and he does the same.

    What annoys me about this is that the importance of practicing in an alive manner, pressure testing , sparring etc etc have been discussed to death over the past couple of decades, but it doesn't seem to have got through to a lot of instructors....I guess people (teachers and students) are lazy and also scared of getting out of their comfort zone, I dunno :dunno:

    What annoys me further (similar to Doc's comment) is a lot of people in FMA will talk about how deadly kali is and how it's used by special forces then spend an hour playing patty cake. I wouldn't bet money on most kali people if they got into trouble.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2016
  14. Bozza Bostik

    Bozza Bostik Antichrist on Button Moon

    Oh and good of you to get some FMA discussion going BahadZubu!
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2016
  15. Theidiot

    Theidiot New Member

    Drilling is important as it trains proper technique without the pressure of having someone trying to hit you.

    You see it often in sparring. Especially amongst the less experienced. They stick with one or two moves that they are comfortable with, and darent risk anything else. I'm guilty to some extent, with some kicks that I can't seem to pull off in sparring so I rarely try.

    Practicing over and over without that pressure eventually embeds that technique into 'muscle memory', so it becomes a reflex. Then you can drop it into a sparring match without having to think.

    But equally, sparring is crucial but in my opinion, for entirely different reasons. Regardless of how naturally you can apply techniques, it's useless outside if you freeze in terror as soon as someone comes to hit you. Sparring teaches us the importance of maintaining a good guard, moving with agility, judging distance, conserving energy by not simply lashing out when there is no opening, creating openings, and perhaps most importantly, what it feels like to get kicked.

    But personally I think there's a missing link. I'd like to see more 'slow sparring' or even choreographed fights. I think they create the opportunity to test techniques that you're less confident in, in a situation where you're not going to get hurt if you fail utterly, but where you have a partner moving in front of you rather than think air or a bag.
  16. Morik

    Morik Well-Known Member Supporter MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Would you consider 1-step drills to fall in this category?
    The way I've trained them (just once, it's at my school's alternative location which I dont get to often), you and a partner start in some agreed upon position (e.g., both standing freely, or one grabbing the other, etc), then simultaneously you each make one move (a strike, a block, a grab, a transition, etc), then pause. Every movement is done really slow and you can use your move to react to theirs.

    E.g., leader starts with a jab to the face, partner's move is to step to the outside while parrying the jab, then leader starts next move when ready.
    We also did rounds where the instructor calls out when to make the next move (around 5 seconds between moves).

    Boh partners fully resist, but go slow. I usually ended up taking my partner to the ground and pounding/submitting.
  17. Theidiot

    Theidiot New Member

    We do one step at ours. While I thoroughly enjoy it for what it is, I personally don't think it's very practical.

    It kind of goes like this. Partner throws a punch to the face. Then effectively waits while you do your technique.

    I can totally understand why one step is the way it is. Often the techniques, if done correctly, are a bit too destructive for friendly but high energy sparring. But one step doesn't flow.

    Now if you were to string a sequence of one steps together, with say groups of 5 people, one defending and four attacking in sequence, and the defender has to go through several one steps in rapid succession, turning into each attack rather than just standing there, that might work.
  18. Docholiday

    Docholiday Valued Member

    Great discussion!
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2016
  19. BahadZubu

    BahadZubu Valued Member

    Though certain drills can help develop timing, rhythm and sense of distance, I would say probably 90% of the drills I see in FMA have very little, if any, value.
  20. Janno

    Janno Valued Member

    Oh they have value, but more for marketing/advertising than actual development of combat-related skills and attributes (though it can be argued that memory retention and manual dexterity/co-ordination are useful).

    The drive for revenue is actually one of the biggest ongoing concerns in the FMA, and has indeed shaped the creation of various groups and figures within the FMA community for a long time now. Not to point any fingers, but i'm sure any instructor who's been in the game for a while will be able to think of at least a few splits, promotions and reshuffles that occurred for financial reasons. It's not uncanny to think that the same motivation might affect the actual content, style, and methodology of a system...

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