Whether practicing self defense skills for the street or as a martial artist, confident execution is built on a disciplined and strategic approach to practicing fundamental skills. In the following excerpt from Science of Skill’s Body Weapons course, Swedish self-defense expert Lars Fidler gives simple but powerful tips on how to practice self defense drills on an ongoing basis, as well as what to look for in a self defense school.
Optimizing martial arts skills requires an openness to continuous learning, as well as extensive amounts of training time and an ongoing commitment. But there are a number of important and simple skills that can be done when drilling with a partner on a regular basis.
You want to learn and practice drills that you can work with back and forth with a partner; it’s more realistic to switch between offense and defense and an efficient use of time to ensure that both parties are working on a relative skill. Lars offers the following fundamental skills as ideal for working on partner-oriented drilling:
Lars notes that it can be tricky to know if you’re getting quality martial arts instruction because “you can get away with a lot” i.e. most students, particularly beginners, haven’t actually tried and tested their skills in real situations, and even if they do it’s near impossible to make a ‘correct’ technical analysis as a beginner.
What you need to look for, says Lars, is a school that exudes an attitude of respect and humility and cultivates a relaxed and safe environment, where working with partners is a pleasant experience and teachers are constructive rather than overly critical. There shouldn’t be an excessive enforcement of hierarchy; you want structure, but it needs to serve a purpose, says Lars.
If you can’t work with anyone who is “below” or “above” your belt level, you’re missing out on valuable learning and teaching opportunities. There will be differences in percentages of what you can put into training with different levels of trainees, but there should always remain a feeling of cooperation, says Lars. It’s also important to be in a place where feel you have space to make mistakes and to try new techniques with a variety of levels of partner.
Additionally, students should look for a balanced curriculum of repetition and new content. Perhaps the most common trait of less qualified schools is excessive repetition, where you do the same techniques over and over. At the same time, you also don’t want too much new content thrown out that’s learned on a shallow basis. A quality curriculum is generally one where students learn techniques and moves and repeat those until they’re learned, and then move onto try something new while revisiting and incorporating old techniques on a regular basis.
About Lars Fidler: A student mainly of Hardy Holm’s (Chief instructor at Students of Goju Ryu) multifaceted system of self defense, Lars Fidler has studied and practiced self defense martial arts since 1997 and has taught it regularly since 2007. Lars holds belted ranks and/or experience in other forms of martial arts as well. He holds a teaching certification from Stockholms Universitet and is a martial arts instructor, focusing on self defense, at Students of Goju Ryu in Mariefred, Sweden.
Image credit: Survival Mastery
A post from the founder and head publisher at Science of Skill, LLC. A martial arts black belt and self defense instructor, Dan has spent years training with and interviewing some of the world's best self protection experts. His passion lies in encouraging others to train smart and to improve the skills that make them safer and stronger.
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