I’ve been doing martial arts for quite a few years. Taken from when I first started, we’re looking at 18 years or so. Total number of years though is significantly less – probably only about 7 -8 years. It’s hard to tell – there’s a lot of gaps in between and right now; I’m practising / learning when I can but it’s not often.
Anyway, the point is I’ve been at this for a while. I’ve probably gone to over two dozen schools, trained in (i.e. did more than 1 class) about 5. I’ve seen a lot of teaching and training styles and I’ve practised everything from Ninjitsu to Tai Chi (both forms & martially) to Western Martial Arts. So I have a wide range to draw from, though not necessarily depth.
And one thing I’ve realised – there’s no one ‘best’ style of teaching. Setting aside the fact that different people learn differently (auditory, tactualy, repetitively or visually come to mind); the different ways I’ve been trained have worked well to improve me in different ways.
Form work has given me an amazing level of body awareness. Doing Tai Chi forms at 1/10th of full-speed means that I have to pay attention to each muscle as I shift. Every time I practise (properly); I feel and sense something different. It’s one of the reasons I pick up motions much faster these days.
Unpaired drills help generate and set specific body mechanics I want to become innate. Whether it’s punches or kicks, repeating them slowly and quickly makes them part of my body’s repertoire of ‘tricks’.
Paired drills adds an edge of realism and adaptation that unpaired drills just miss. Speeding up; especially for blocking drills drills them into flinch response level territory. One of my main flinch responses is ‘block’. When I used to drill regularly, both our responses to everyday ‘fast moving object to body’ was block. Or in his case, catch (shuttlecocks being the main enemy).
Technical discussion has added a layer of understanding to what we do and why something works. Often paired with drills to then drill in the correct actions.
Slow work starts putting our drills into a dynamic environment at a safe level.
Full speed duels (or 80% in unarmed) has taught timing, distance and tactics in a dynamic environment. Drills can help, but there’s nothing that replaces doing it against a resisting opponent.
I have to admit, the two areas I’d love to do more of are:
- scenario driven drills (ambush, attacks from behind, weapon against unarmed, etc.)
- group combat
Unfortunately, for both you need both the right group and the time to do it in; and often neither is as plentiful as I’d like.