TSG - TRAINING
Motor learning (brain - muscle co-ordination) means that you have to practise a technique as close as possible to how it is to be applied if you are to have any chance of performing it in a satisfactory manner in a stressful situation.
There is a saying that “Practice makes perfect” this was changed by a famous American Football Coach, Vince Lombardi, to a more accurate saying that I prefer “Only perfect practice makes perfect”.
So, unless the students are actually practising hitting a target or blocking a strike or kick, time is being wasted, which could have been better spent on more productive training.
If the students are not blocking a strike or a kick, they are only practising a movement. Moving your arm or leg from point A to point B in the air, is only a movement. For it to become a technique, it requires a target to hit or an attack to block. It is theory instead of reality.
Although a small amount of theory is necessary when teaching a new technique, no amount of theory can ever properly prepare a person for real fighting situations.
To make a technique a reflex action takes a lot of practise. This means that it is futile to practise a technique in any other fashion than how it will be applied in fighting, because one is spending time developing a reflex that later has to be overcome in order to perform a fighting technique correctly.
Our training methods should consist of breaking a technique down into its component parts in order to make the technique easier for the students to understand and learn. The component parts of a technique have to be identified and then practised. For example, the component parts of a block are the following:
the mechanics of the block
an opponent who has launched an attack
the conscious or preferably the sub-conscious recognition of the nature of the attack
the brain of the person being attacked commanding the appropriate response
the performance of the appropriate response
if the previous components result in the neutralisation of the attack, then one can say that one has performed a block
if it does not, then hopefully the brain can analyse the faults and store the information, so that the next time it is confronted with the same situation, it can command a successful response.
Power is usually not a main element in blocking; therefore, there is not a lot of “Pad Work” involved in the training. However, there should be some training where the student is struck with a Pad, so that they get used to the impact of an attack against their block.
It is more important where possible to teach the students to move away from the power of a technique, than to meet force with force, but that is not always possible. One of the main exceptions being shin blocks (Sune Uke).
STRIKING PADS, AIR SHIELDS, AND FOCUS MITTS
Striking Pads, Air Shields, and Focus Mitts, or some other type of target are essential ingredients in TSG training.
A great deal of the training is performed on these. This kind of training improves focus, judgement of distance, power in the techniques and stamina. The students also get a much better “feel” for the technique. Focus Mitts are also good for developing speed and accuracy.
It is very important that the students are taught to aim at a target, and hit it with power! Just punching and kicking in the air does very little to develop the ability to hit a moving target.
After the initial learning period, the students move around, so that they also learn to be able to perform powerful attacks, from all angles and against a moving target.
This requires a combination of good balance, timing, distance and reflexes that can only be development, if the training is realistic. These skills cannot be acquired attacking a stationary target.
Many students can hit a stationary target with great power, but are unable to do the same in fighting because it takes them too long to “set” themselves and their opponent has moved before they are able to launch a powerful attack.
To develop reflexes and explosive power, the person holding Striking Pads, holds the striking surface against their body and then quickly lifts them up for the partner to strike. The striking surfaces are then returned to their original position as soon as the combination is completed.
A form of sparring can be performed with Striking Pads where the training partner holds them in different positions, angles and heights, indicating which type of technique the training partner should attack with. After the student has attacked, the striking surface of the Striking Pads is returned quickly to the original position against the body. Two minute rounds are ideal for this form of training.
TSG FIGHTING DRILLS and FIGHTING KATA
Both TSG KARATE and TSG Japanese Mix Fight have 10 Fighting Kata or Fighting Drills. Each Kata and Fighting Drill consists of a mixture of eight individual Fighting Combinations. A total of 80 combinations for each system.
These combinations have been arranged into a Fighting Drill or Kata to help the students learn and remember them. However, it is not the stringing together of the eight combinations that is important, it is the performance and understanding of the finer details involved in the individual combinations that is the goal. The TSG Fighting Drills and Fighting Kata form part of the backbone of the systems and they should be practised until the actions and reactions become a reflex.
During the first couple of months of practising a new Fighting Drill or Kata, only the individual combinations should be practised. Once the students are familiar with the combinations and can perform them well, then and only then should the set of combinations be practised as a whole Drill or Kata.
In the TSG Instruction film of the first Fighting Kata and Fighting Drills we have also shown the Free Sparring form of practising them. In the films of all the other Drills and Kata we have shown them step by step and in slow motion.
Even those Instructors, who are not interested in the idea of “formal patterns”, may find when teaching a new Drill or Kata that they make it easier for the students to learn the sequence and angles if the combinations are taught in this manner. Then once they have learnt the sequence, they can practise them mainly in the Free Sparring form.
1. The Fighting Drill or Kata is performed by one student with one or two partners (Ukes) the Instructor counts and one combination is performed on each count, in the basic T-pattern.
2. The Fighting Drill or Kata is performed by one student with one or two partners (Ukes), it is performed without counting (Mogorei) in the basic T-pattern.
These two training forms teach sequence, angles and reflexes.
Once the Fighting Drill or Kata has been learnt this form is mainly meant for demonstrating the Drill or Kata.
The main ways of practising the Fighting Drills and Kata are as follows:
1. The combinations are practiced on the spot, with a partner (Uke), repeating each combination several times.
2. The student and training partner (Uke) are moving freely and the Kata is performed in a continuous flow, without counting, in a Free Sparring form.
3. The most advanced method is the Free Sparring form where a partner attacks with the attacks from the Fighting Drill or Kata in a random order and one tries to respond with the appropriate counter attack.
These forms develop the ability to perform the techniques and combinations in fighting.
To avoid injury the student can use the training partner’s hands as a target when the Fighting Drill or Kata calls for a counter attack to the head either with a punch or a kick. However it is important that the training partner holds their hands in a suitable position so that the training is realistic.
Remember each combination of the Fighting Drill or Kata must be practised individually. Those combinations that are suitable should even be practised on Striking Pads etc.
SPARRING AND FIGHTING
The main objective of Tsu Shin Gen is to teach the students to fight and protect themselves. Therefore at least some sparring or fighting (Kumite) is included in almost every training session.
There are three basic categories of fighting, which can be taken into consideration. They are Dojo Sparring, Tournament Fighting and Self-defense. The local environment and the leadership of the Dojo, usually decides which category is given priority. The amount of contact during sparring or fighting varies, but should be kept at a controlled level to avoid injury.
Beginners start with controlled sparring, where the Instructor gives both partners certain assignments. For example, one partner attacks with only punches, whereas his/her opponent is only allowed to block. At a later stage, the person blocking can add a counter attack.
Another example is that one partner attacks with punches and low kicks and the other blocks and counters with punches. There are many variations on this theme, which can gradually introduce a student to fighting.
Gradual introduction to fighting is important because when two inexperienced beginners start punching and kicking wildly at each other, someone is bound to get injured. Therefore a gradual introduction to fighting also eliminates a lot of the risk of injury and the loss of training time due to injury. Giving assignments also works very well with advanced students, who need to concentrate on a certain area of their fighting.
Shadow Boxing is a segment of the club training, which can be performed without a partner as part of the warm up.
The students practice “footwork” moving from one position to another. They can even develop fighting combinations and ideas, that are more suited to their own individual characteristics.
Every student is built differently and they have different characters, natural abilities, and reflexes. So, each student should be encouraged to develop his or her own fighting style. A good fighter is usually one who has a wide repertoire of techniques and combinations at their disposal.
When Shadow Boxing and practicing Mawashi Geris in the air, with speed and power, one follows through with the kick, placing the kicking leg down in front, with control in a fighting stance. Kicking out in the air with power and then pulling the leg back at speed puts a great deal of stress and strain on the lower back, this can result in injury. This is why the kicks must be practiced on Pads etc. so that the correct reflex of pulling back or retuning to your correct Fighting Stance can be practiced. Hitting the Pads dissipates the energy in the technique, thereby reducing the risk for injury.
It is important that the students should also be encouraged to practice the combinations from the Kata at home in the Shadow Boxing form. Training twice or maybe three times a week at the club is not really enough, a few minutes Shadow Boxing at home in between the lessons at the club is very useful and helps the students improve at a faster pace.
THE HEAVY BAG
The Heavy Bag is one of the most important pieces of training equipment for those wishing to develop power in their punches and kicks. The bag should be long enough so that one can practice punches to the head as well as low kicks. A long bag is also suitable for practicing shooting in for those students that train TSG-Japanese Mix Fight. It should weigh about 60 -70 kg. and should be quite firm but soft enough so that it can be hit with FULL power without fear of injury. If the bag is too hard one tends to “pull” one’s punches and kicks, thus resulting in the complete opposite effect of the one desired.
When training on the Heavy Bag it is advisable to wear bag gloves and maybe even bandage your hands. Do not confuse bag work with Makiwara training. You should stretch and warm up a little before starting to train on the bag.
One can train single techniques on the bag by just standing on the spot and repeatedly hitting the bag with the same technique, this will improve the technique but it will not give you any feeling for the technique, as it would be in fighting.
When you train on the bag, spar with it and use your imagination. Block duck and move away from imaginary attacks and then counter with combinations and sometimes single techniques. Practice punching and kicking from different angles just as you would in actual fighting. Keep moving all the time. Move around the bag changing direction, move in and attack and then move out again. Do not just stand and hit the bag, WORK WITH IT.
Experiment on the bag and train combinations so that they become a reflex action. Just like Shadow Boxing but with the bag as your opponent.
When I trained on the Heavy Bag, I did a little stretching and then I did a couple of rounds of Shadow Boxing. Then I started my serious training on the bag.
The number of 3 minute rounds with 1 minute rest I did on the bag varied depending on if I was training just for the fun of it or if I was training to build up my stamina. Up to 5 rounds for fun and up to 10 rounds for more serious training was usually sufficient for me though. When I felt that my stamina had improved, I increased the pace rather than the number of rounds. When I wanted to obtain maximum stamina, I started pushing myself to hit as hard and fast as I could for the last thirty seconds of each 3-minute round.
For variation, I also did 2 minute rounds with only 20 seconds rest. When I did that I tried to keep my pace as fast as possible for the entire 2 minutes.
One can practice all the combinations of all of the TSG systems on the bag, except the Takedowns of course, however shooting in can be practiced on a long bag.
If you have a training partner you can cut down on the number of rounds on the bag and do some rounds on the Mitts afterwards instead.
This is a great way to prepare for promotional tests.
You can even make up your own combinations that suit your own individual style of fighting. Start with short combinations, train them slowly and then gradually build up speed and power. When you have mastered the simpler combinations, you can start practicing longer and more advanced ones.
One can finish off with sit-ups, push-ups and squats and then STRETCH. The stretching after training is very important. This is, of course, quite an advanced program. One should build up gradually to such a program. For those people who are preparing for a full contact fight or to perform some other demanding task such as 30, 40 or 50-man Kumite, a program like this performed three times a week will give excellent results.
One should be careful not to over train and one should get plenty of rest because on top of this program you can do weight training a couple of times a week and sparring 3 or 4 times a week. You should have at least one day complete rest per week.
If you are only training for fun about 5 rounds of bag work together with some other training three times a week will improve your health and fitness.
At over 70 years of age, the Heavy Bag is still my favorite form of training!
Experiment because the same program will not give the same results for everyone.
When fighters are preparing for full contact Tournaments of various sorts, they do bag work to increase their stamina. They train with Focus Mitts
to improve their speed and accuracy. They do “Pad Work” to increase their power. Some do weight training to increase their strength. Boxing training is also included if strikes are allowed to the head. It is important not to forget to do a lot of Sparring that corresponds strictly to the rules that they will be competing under.
THE FUTURE OF TSU SHIN GEN
As the Soke of TSG I continue to regularly revise the TSG systems. The techniques and training methods of TSG will continue to develop and improve. If something works well it will be included and those things that become outdated will be excluded!