TSG TRAINING METHODS
TSG BASIC TECHNIQUES
This is a training form in which the Instructor teaches the basic mechanics of a technique or attempts to correct faults and mistakes in the way a student performs a technique. In traditional Karate systems Basics (Kihon) is practised by repeating the techniques in the air without a partner. This type of training is only of limited value, due to the fact that one is only practicing one component of the technique and one of the most important components, a target and a moving target, has been removed.
The Tsu Shin Gen students perform this type of training with a partner (Uke) who is usually holding some sort of striking equipment.
THE TSG FIGHTING KATA AND FIGHTING DRILLS
Each TSG Fighting Kata or Fighting Drill consists of a mixture of eight individual fighting combinations that fit in to one or more of the three main categories of fighting i.e. Self-defence, Tournament Fighting or Dojo Fighting. These combinations have been arranged into a Kata or Drill 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 of the individual combinations that is the goal. The TSG Fighting Kata or Fighting Drills are part of the backbone of the systems and they should be practiced until the actions and reactions become a reflex.
One of the interesting aspects of the TSG Fighting Kata or Fighting Drills is the fact that there is room for personal interpretation and it is unlikely that any two students will perform the Fighting Kata or Fighting Drills identically.
During the first three months of practicing a new Fighting Kata or Fighting Drill, only the individual combinations should be practiced. Once the students are familiar with the combinations and can perform them well, then and only then should the set of combinations be practiced as a whole Fighting Kata or Fighting Drill.
The TSG Fighting Kata or Fighting Drills can then be practiced in two ways, in a Free Fighting form or for those Instructors who prefer it, in a more traditional Budo form with a set pattern. Irrespective of which of the methods the various Instructors choose for teaching, the main form that the students will be required to demonstrate for promotional tests is the Free Fighting form, after they have been tested on the individual combinations. The students will also be tested on their understanding of the technical principles involved in the individual combinations.
In the Tsu Shin Gen Instruction DVD of the first TSG-Karate Kata and the TSG-Mix Fight Drill, we have also shown the Free Fighting form of practising them. In the films of all the other Fighting Kata and Fighting Drills we have shown them in the Basic form.
Even those Instructors, who are not interested in the idea of “formal patterns” may find when teaching new Fighting Kata or Fighting Drills, 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 practice them mainly in the Free Fighting form.
The main ways of practicing the Kata or Fighting Drills are as follows:
1. The Fighting Kata or Fighting Drill is performed one combination at a time, the Instructor counts and one combination is performed on each count.
2. The Fighting Kata or Fighting Drill is performed without counting (Mogorei).
3. The student and a training partner (Uke) are moving freely and the Fighting Kata or Fighting Drill is performed in a continuous flow, without counting, in a free fighting form. This form develops 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 Kata or Fighting Drill 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 TSG Fighting Kata or Fighting Drills must be practiced individually. The longer combinations can be broken down into shorter sections and practiced. Those combinations that are suitable should even be practiced on Striking Pads.
TSG FIGHTING COMBINATIONS
The Tsu Shin Gen Fighting Combinations are more examples of effective fighting combinations that fit in to one of the three main categories of fighting i.e. Self-defence, Tournament Fighting and Dojo Fighting.
Whereas the combinations in the TSG Fighting Kata and Fighting Drills are defensive and always start with a block and then a counter attack, the Fighting Combinations usually start with an attack. Sometimes the first technique of the combination is only a feint to get the opponent to react in a certain way.
Instructors always have their own individual way of teaching, depending on their specialties and background. Tsu Shin Gen respects individuality and encourages its Instructors to experiment. However, it is important that there is a basic set of Fighting Combinations on which to judge the standard of the students when they are tested for promotion.
Therefore, irrespective of the specialties or preferences of the Tsu Shin Gen Instructors, the TSG Fighting Combinations together with the TSG Fighting Kata and Fighting Drills form the main part of the promotional tests.
Shadow Boxing is the only segment of the training, which is performed without a partner. It is of value because the students practice moving naturally from one technique to another. They learn “footwork” and balance. They also develop fighting combinations and ideas, which 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.
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.
STRIKING PADS, AIR SHIELDS AND FOCUS MITTS
Striking Pads, Air Shields, and Focus Mitts, or some other type of target are essential ingredients in Tsu Shin Gen 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.
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-Mix Fight. It should weigh about 60 -70 kg. and should be quite firm but soft enough so that it can be hit 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 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 train on the heavy bag, I do some stretching and then I do a couple of rounds of Shadow Boxing. Then I start my serious training on the bag.
The number of 3 minute rounds with 1 minute rest I do on the bag varies depending on if I am training just for the fun of it or if I am training to build up my stamina. Up to 5 rounds for fun and up to 10 rounds for more serious training is usually sufficient for me though. When I feel that my stamina has improved, I increase the pace rather than the number of rounds. When I want to obtain maximum stamina, I start pushing myself to hit as hard and fast as I can for the last thirty seconds of each 3-minute round.
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.
For variation, I also do 2 minute rounds with only 20 seconds rest. When I do this I try to keep my pace as fast as possible for the entire 2 minutes.
One can practice all the combinations of all of the Tsu Shin Gen systems on the bag, except the takedowns of course, however shooting in can be practiced on a long bag.
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 1 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.
Experiment because the same program will not give the same results for everyone.
Motor learning (brain - muscle co-ordination) is an exact science, this means that you have to practice a technique exactly as it is to be applied, if you are to have any chance of performing it in a satisfactory manner in a stress situation.
There is a saying “what you practice, is what you will do”. (With luck!) Another saying is “Practice makes perfect” this was changed by a famous American Football Coach, Vince Lombardi, to a more accurate “Only perfect practice makes perfect”.
So, unless the students are actually practicing 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 fact.
Although a certain amount of theory is necessary, 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 practice. This means that it is futile to practice 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 technique correctly.
The training methods of Tsu Shin Gen 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 practiced. For example, the component parts of a block are the following:
1 An opponent has launched an attack.
2 The conscious or preferably the sub-conscious recognition of the nature of the attack.
3 The brain of the person being attacked commanding the appropriate response.
4 The performance of the appropriate response.
5 If the previous components result in the neutralisation of the attack, then one can say that one performed a block.
6 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 is 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 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).
The general procedure for teaching Punches, Strikes or Kicks is to first explain the target or purpose of a technique. Once the basics are understood, the techniques are practised, first stationary and then moving around in a simple form of shadow boxing. This is followed by practising the technique on some target such as Pads, Air Shields, or Focus Mitts. The technique is then included in a Drill, after which it is practised in controlled sparring.
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 and in a strong 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.
Techniques and combinations should feel as natural as possible. If the students have great difficulty performing a combination in practice, it will never work for them in fighting. When practicing techniques, the students who are attacking, attack with speed and power, after which they try to react in a natural manner. They do not just stand in a passive fighting stance after attacking, or just freeze in position and wait for the partner to counter attack.
Mental training or visualisation has become part of the preparation for all physical competition. This technique is often overlooked by the average student. In simple terms, it means visualising the performance of a technique.
One should concentrate on the details of a technique and repeatedly visualise the motions and the performance of the technique in one’s mind. Mental training is also very useful in the memorising of Fighting Kata and Drills. In this way, the students can practice them at any time and in any place.
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
Soke Cook continues to regularly revise the Tsu Shin Gen systems. The techniques and training methods of Tsu Shin Gen will continue to develop and improve. If something works well it will be included and those things that become outdated will be excluded!