Friday, April 6, 2012

Reaction Drills

There’s no such thing as a right way to do things. If you win, it’s right!

The chapter we just finished in The Book, on matwork series, is one way of winning on the ground. You begin with a plan that you follow through until winning is inevitable. (I called it predictable but Jim and Ronda voted me down.) That is one way to win and it works for a lot of people.

Situation drills are a second way of training to win on the ground. Don’t misunderstand me. This isn’t like a religion or voting for president. You don’t have to pick one or the other. However, we have found that most people do have a preference. Some people like the structure in matwork series. Others find it boring and have a hard time forcing themselves to go through the same routine over and over.

There is a “perfect” way to do a technique. Let’s take an arm bar. If you have all the time you need and an opponent that is not resisting, everyone knows the right way to do a perfect arm bar. Lock the arm against your body, pinch your knees together, hold the opponent’s arm at the wrist and arch.

There is one teeny, tiny problem though - people resist when they are being arm barred - they resist a lot. You almost never have all of the time you want. At most, you have a few seconds before the opponent turns over on to her stomach or pulls guard and gets out of position. In judo, you might get a few more seconds before the referee stands you up and makes you start again.

Situation drills are just how they sound, a way of training for the types of situations that are almost certain to happen in a competition.

There are two kinds of situation drills, one type I call reaction drills and the other I don’t have a specific name for except “other situation drills” so anyone please jump in with ideas. I thought of “scenarios” but that sounds too much like something you’d see in an episode of Glee or that show Julia watches on Hollywood High.

Let’s start with reaction drills, since I have been talking about those in most of my posts recently. There are five types that I like.

Transition from standing to matwork from a throw. This drill starts with one person doing a throw. The second as much as one person’s knee touches the mat, matwork starts and that is how we do matwork randori. There are several variations to this. Let’s say Joe and Bob are practicing.

  1. Joe does any throw and knocks Bob to his right knee.  As soon as Bob’s knee hits the mat, both try to take the other person down and go into a pin, choke or arm bar.
  2. Joe does any throw and knocks Bob to his left knee.  As soon as Bob’s knee hits the mat, both try to take the other person down and go into a pin, choke or arm bar.
  3. Joe does any throw and throws Bob on to his butt or side.  As soon as Bob hits the mat, both try to take the other person down and go into a pin, choke or arm bar. If Joe is smart he should be following Bob down to the mat. If Bob is smart, he should be trying to turn the throw into a position that is an advantage for him. One way of doing that, if he is thrown on his butt, is to pull Joe in and “collect the arm”.

Transition from standing to matwork from a missed throw. Again, there are a lot of different ways to do this.

4. Joe tries a throw, Bob moves out of the way and Joe ends up on one knee. As soon as Joe’s knee hits the mat, both try to take the other person down and go into a pin, choke or arm bar.

5. Joe tries a throw, Bob moves out of the way and Joe ends up on both knees. As soon as Joe’s knee hits the mat, both try to take the other person down and go into a pin, choke or arm bar.

Let me really, really emphasize something about these first five drills. All of them start the second one person touches the mat with any part other than his feet. That means the person who is down almost always has a grip on your gi and/or you on his. Any decent player is not going to stay in that position for more than a second or two because it is very disadvantageous. That second is your opportunity to attack.

Your success depends on your catching that opportunity. Chad Morrison made the astute comment on the previous post  that being faster than your opponent doesn't necessarily rely on you being naturally a better athlete. Someone who practices these drills a thousand times is almost certain to react faster.

The next set of drills also start standing but are for when you miss that first opportunity.

As they used to say on the Rocky and Bullwinkle show, tune in next time.


grubertally said...

Most of walls teaching action is exploration with the student, both in group configurations and in individual training. This needs the Master to have a variety of routine resources available to increase student learning and training. One of these resources is the No Response Drill.

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Steve Scott said...

Good post AnnMaria. I'm glad that you are including the transistion skills from a throw or takedown into groundfighting. You are right, the structure of drill-training is excellent for skill, tactical and reacttion development, but a coach should also include enough open-ended drills and "free" work so that the athlete develops all the skills, physical attributes and tactical awarness to prepare as fully as possible for a real situation in a fight or match.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

I have a lot more transition drills to include also. I really don't see Jim's way of teaching and mine as incompatible

Jorge Almeida said...

I like to give 15 seconds for the drills. Bob(tori) throws Joe(uke) and Bob has 15 seconds to pin/choke/armbar Joe (with Joe being able to do the same) and then switch. After each one has done the drill I follow up with normal newaza - 2 minutes.
Another drill is Joe (Uke) in turtle and Bob (Tori) in any position.
I think that the real important point is the 15 seconds to try to solve the situation. On judo newaza, I think that the tori should resolve the situation in 15 seconds with explosive use of speed and force during the drill. After that both players will have the chance to recover while doing newaza.
The objective is: Burst 15sec, Burst 15sec, Grind 2min. We do about 4 to 6 partner switches per class.

I would like to know what do you think about these times and repetitions - one problem of structuring the classes is to define how much time to define for each exercise and which exercises to choose.

dsimon3387 said...

Well one reacts to a situation...the term brings to mind an almost instinctive (if you believe human beings have one), very simple action to resolve. You grab the arm I turn away to protect the arm...a reaction most untrained individuals have to counter an ura gyoku.

On the other hand one responds when there is more time to set a strategy. For this reason "response" drills can be a name opposite reaction drills...just a thought.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

Response drills - now there's an interesting idea.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

I think the grind 2 minutes is a bit long for judo. I would do more like 30-60 seconds

dsimon3387 said...

Feel free to coopt it in any useful way whatsoever!