This week's Waza Wednesday takes a look at some conceptual drills for developing self defense reactions--one for developing a pre-emptive strike reaction to visual stimuli, and one for developing a defensive reaction to tactile stimuli. These are very simple drills that can be easily expanded to fit your preferred techniques or specific scenarios.
In the first drill, one person holds a pad while the other holds their hands in a "hands ready" position in front of their body. The pad holder then cocks their other hand back to throw a punch, and the "hands ready" person has to strike the pad as soon as they see this preparatory action. The "hands ready" hand position is intended to be neutral and non-threatening in appearance, and is a comfortable way to hold your hands when simply standing around, while keeping your hands available for use, unlike a "fence" position, which is meant to be applied after a potential defensive situation has begun. You can, of course, practice this drill from a "fence" hand position, which is easier. You can expand on this drill once students have learned to read the preparatory action, and have the pad holder put on a sparring glove of some type, and actually throw the punch. This gives you the ability to work the drill from an offensive approach (pre-emptive striking) or a defensive approach (blocking and countering), or any number of options in between. It can also be done with the pad holder reaching to grab/shove, or reaching for a weapon, or setting up for a backhand, etc.
While the first drill was meant to develop reactions based on visual cues (the hand drawing back to punch), the second is meant to develop reactions based on tactile cues. Fights aren't all sucker punches and haymakers--grabs, chokes, hair pulling, etc., can all make an appearance, whether they are the initial attack, or happen in the midst of a fight. With this in mind, the second drill has one person close their eyes, and then their partner grabs them in some way. In the video, we show a simple two-handed choke from the front, but it could be any grabbing/pushing/pulling attack. With the eyes closed, the student has to rely solely on their sense of touch to determine how they are being attacked, where the attacker is, and what they are doing, in order to react. That is a lot to figure out in a short amount of time, so the more you can drill it, the easier it will become, but drilling against known attacks, or attacks you can see coming, is going to be easier than random attacks you don't see coming.
Both of these drills can be fun and interesting, and very beneficial. I hope some folks here can find a use for them in their dojo!