1: WARM-UPS AND BREATHWORK
Use pyramid breathing pattern (1 step inhale/1 step exhale, 2 step/inhale/2 step exhale, 3 step inhale/3 step exhale, etc up to 7 or more.......)
Use box breathing (as above but add in breath holds - example: 3step inhale/3step hold/3 step exhale/3 step hold, etc......)
Another variation: mix up numbers (example: 3 step inhale/8 step exhale)
Add in: holding the arms in various positions (above head/stretched out in front of body/held behind the body/hands resting on the shoulders - elbows hanging)
Can use different stepping - forwards/backwards/cross stepping/lowering the body
Smooth out the breath, make the breath audible - don't be shy!!
WALK/SPRINT WITH BREATHHOLDS
Pick a distance - walk half the distance inhaling/half exhaling. Inhale full distance/exhale full distance.
Hold breath - on inhale or exhale, go full distance. Walk or sprint. If sprinting, walk back to start point - use this time to calm yourself and bring yourself back to natural state.
***The work is to identify your limit, possibly expand these. Pay attention to any tension - first identify it then work out how to deal with it/get rid of it.
***During these breathing drills, a common feeling is a creeping tension to the base of the throat/upper lungs - accept but do let this tension infest the rest of your body.
Stretch your body in various positions - feeling should be of just waking from sleep in the morning/don't put too much into it/change often - stretching should not be static.
Stretching can develop into flow work of rolling or Four Exercise (Push-up, sit-up, squat, leg lift).
Pay attention to yourself - are you calm, is your movement smooth, are you rushing through certain movements, etc?
This drill helps with developing body structure and posture - it teaches our body to be engaged in all positions.
*** Good structure = having a body (and mind) that can work/move in any direction at anytime
***Key-point = How can one expect to develop flow with a partner (under stress/under attack, etc.....) if one cannot flow while solo?
(Drills taken from TALANOV disc - Breathwork and Combat)
While lying prone (on back, on side, on front - try to lay in position that allows for greatest amount of relaxation and a minimum of tension), exhale about half way and hold your breath. When you can no longer hold your breath - breathe using burst/recovery breath. Continue until your breathing slows down to a 'normal' pace. Relax and repeat.
Recovery breathing = shallow short breaths, in through the nose/out through the mouth. You're looking for a rapid exchange to take place. The breath should naturally come back to its 'normal' state.
This breathing should not tense you up - but rather lead to you being very relaxed.
This breathing style should be brought into play whenever the body/mind is under stress and finding it difficult to cope.
Partner lays prone (face up/face down - either way)/The other partner begins to walk his fists on the other's body. This can be done from the knees or in the push-up position.
To progress the drill, the prone partner can begin to roll and move slowly. The other partner is looking at fist placement - working out good places to put his fist, the structure of his own 'striking' hand.
For the very keen, this fist walking can be changed to the 'body walk' - where the partner literally walks on his partner as he is moving/rolling on the floor!!
This work sees to help the partner learn to relax (and BREATHE!!) under pressure. It also acts as a massage to the muscles and nervous system.
Work should be completed very mindfully - paying attention to the partner under pressure - listen/watch their breathing and body responses. Be a good training partner - lighten the work as needed, compound the work as needed. Although we are taking care of each other - we should be looking to edge one another out of our comfort zones.
For further contact you can roll on your partner and body surf (lying on your partner with a lot of body contact as he moves).
ABCs - BUILDING BLOCKS OF FUNCTIONAL GROUND MOVEMENT
These drills should be looked at as 'ground movement' not 'ground fighting'. There is cross-over of course but we are specifically looking to develop movement at this point - the ability to fight on the ground comes from learning to move comfortably on the ground first.
Also, if you can move well on the ground, you will be able to move well on your feet. The ground provides restriction so once on your feet/without that restriction, this should translate into freer movement standing.
Work as partners or group. One on the ground, the others - 'zombies' walk at the person. Partner on the ground moves away.
The 'zombies' walk straight lines, they do not track.....when they've taken a few steps past the partner on the ground they turn, lock in on target and walk through again.
Begin slowly, as the person becomes comfortable with the drill then speed can be increased - speed can be taken up to a jog.....
Partner on the ground works to become comfortable, no rushing - they should work to the speed of the 'zombies' or even slower. This is a chance to access the ABCs and link movement together into a flow.
Work towards efficiency - think about what is needed to complete the task, do we need to make large movements (rolls) all the time, can we allow the 'zombies' ro be very close and still complete the goal of the drill (getting out of the way), etc.....
While seated, fall backwards - you must figure out a safe, relaxed way to get to the ground.
Pay attention to your head - find its' natural breaking system. The head should not be held with tension.
Work to stay away from/protect your spine - try to get the meat of the back to contact the ground first.
When getting back to the seated position - be relaxed, do not rush.
Next, sit side by side with your partner - he pushes to your chest, you relax backwards as above. When you sit up, you push your partner to the ground, back and forth.
Same process is done from the kneeling position and low squat. The pushing partner directs the movement - he does all the work, you just respond and go to the ground softly/relaxed. The partner's pushes should be nice and long with good intention.
Progress to getting some type of contact with you r partner during the transition phase - legs/arms/etc.....Nothing too much in the beginning.....just contact.
A further progression - now the pushing partner comes in for the 'attack' and you do not let him touch you. Fall away as in the previous part of the drill - soft/relaxed. You can then think about adding in - getting to the feet, rolling away, etc.....
FALLING IN PLACE Part II
Standing - allow your partner to put you to the ground. Work the same as above - softly/relaxed.
Think of a building under demolition - they are not tipped over (classic break-fall) but taken apart piece by piece.
Work on getting you legs to bring the mass of your body as close to the ground as possible.
To progress the drill - work with your eyes closed as you go to the ground.
Another variation - as the person goes to the ground, the other partner walks towards him, he has to get out of the way, stand then switch roles.
GROUP TO GROUND
Gather the group (this drill can also be done with just a partner or two) - link hands/go to the ground. One person controls - calling out, 'sitting', 'front', 'kneeling', etc.....the whole group works to get down into the designated position - then back to the feet.
Add in: Changing from seated to laying on front while still connected with your partners, then back to sitting and to your feet.
As the drill progresses - change the point of contact. Join elbow, arm around the shoulder, hook the leg, etc.....
PUSH TO PUNCH
This drill puts together the previous work.
Working on the ground allow your partner to push you around - respond to the contact only, relieve the pressure, stay close to the partner.
Progress slowly through - pushing with the fist, then to - punching.
3: JOINT WORK/STAND-UP WORK
STIRRING THE JOINTS
Stand with your partner - his role is to just relax (at this point).
Take your partner's arm/hand and begin to move it around. Pay attention to how each of the joints work and how they connect with the rest of the body. Look at how certain movements affect the rest of his body.
Work slowly - mindfully. Help your partner to see what the extent of the range is in his joints.
LOCK AND FLOW
This drill can be done standing or on the ground (easier to start on the ground).
Take your partner's hand/limb - begin to twist/extend/compress. You are working to see what it takes to 'lock'/control his movement. Use one hand then two.
Your partner works to see how he can escape (or just cope!!). Again work slowly so your partner has a chance to explore freeing himself without fighting to do it.
To progress the drill - you as the 'locker' begin to pay attention to how his body is affected and how you can prevent him from escaping. Use the body, legs, feet, etc.....
As the person being 'locked' - you are once again looking to use the breath to cope with the pressure, looking at how although one part of your body maybe locked that the rest maybe free to move - slowly explore your limitations and open yourself up to new movement that will help you escape.
EXTENSION OF JOINT WORK
Partner up. Your partner stands with his hands resting at his sides. Approach and using subtle movement take up one of his hands. Use one hand to start with.
Approach from different directions, grab the hand, grab the fingers (A trick - have your hand in an uncomfortable position, grab - then turn your hand into a comfortable position.....this has the effect of twisting the partner into an uncomfortable position).
In the beginning, just look to get some type of movement from his body. The movement doesn't have to be large. Your movement should not be large either - work subtly.
To extend the drill - now work with two hands. Expand your targets - move up the arm to the elbow and the shoulder. Play. Work lightly in the beginning.
As the work goes on - really start to move the partner around. Get his feet going - if his feet are moving his problems compound significantly. Now his brain is in numerous places at once - this we look to take advantage of.
Pay attention to what is opening up on him - what targets are presenting themselves.....what gifts are ready form the taking!! And as Vlad says 'Don't be greedy, leave something for him." - (Please read: fist......ha!!)
This can be progressed to targeting and lying hands on. This of course goes further to strike work, free work. Don't rush to get there though - let things progress naturally with your partner. The more mindful the work in the beginning the more you can push one another as your comfort/confidence levels are reached.
4: KEY POINT
Results come from proper practice:
Help yourselves - Look for the easy way. The way you feel IT is by going SLOW. If you rush, it is just momentum that took you over/through and you've learned nothing from your body. You need to go SLOW and feel - where's your tension, where aren't you controlling things, how can you adapt, change. move. It all happens only if it is slow. (Paraphrasing Adam VOUNORIDIS (
On the surface some of the drills may not have apparent tactical purpose - some are designed for you to explore/discover and access your body, mind and movement. However, that said, look closer - we can never know what we may face in the future.....
Play - have fun.....you will learn faster.
Always stay a student.
Thanks to all the participants - great effort from all and great to see everyone supporting one another!! Here's to next time.
Thanks to Valdimir for inspiration and the senior instructors I've had the chance to train with at seminars (most of these drills come from them.) Also, thank you to Dave QUAILE who has helped me to come to a better understanding of this work. Then finally thanks to all the instructor and students from around the world - we are working on something very special here - so......cheers to that!!