Saturday, September 17, 2005

Matrix of Sixteen

My “matrix of sixteen” is a template for learning lock-and-block (numerado in some styles), which is a constant movement drill. The defender does continuous techniques against attacks, which are being practiced by his partner.

I teach four basic techniques for each of the first two angles. Angle #1 has, in specific order: outside, inside, cross and umbrella blocks. Angle #2 has: outside, shoulder, cross and umbrella blocks. I recommend sticking to a consistent sequencing of techniques when learning each angle so as to create a mnemonic device for remembering the material. Otherwise as one learns more material, there is a greater chance to forget to practice something.

In lock-and-block, the attacker will throw a #1 angle strike, then after the defender completes his full technique (as slowly as necessary, as cleanly as possible) the attacker will throw an angle #2 strike, which the defender will again counter. The initial developmental stage starts with just these two strikes.

Here is the map of the matrix in its most basic and straightforward progression, from the defender’s perspective. At this level, the speed is controlled by defense; the attacker merely feeds the strikes so the defender can work out the timing and movement.

Outside block for angle #1; outside block for angle #2.
Inside block for angle #1; outside block for angle #2.
Cross block for angle #1; outside block for angle #2.
Umbrella block for angle #1; outside block for angle #2.

This same sequence will be repeated, except substituting the shoulder block for angle #2.
Then same sequence will be repeated, except substituting the cross block for angle #2.
The sequence will be repeated once more, substituting the umbrella block for angle #2.

The defender will now have done a combination of every angle #1 defense with every angle #2 defense.

The next step past this basic is to have the attacker begin to lengthen the chain by throwing another angle #1 strike, then when that is accomplished, another angle #2. At this point, it can become a continuous sequence, with the attacker alternating angles #1 and #2. Next step would be to randomize these.

Competency at this level moves the student from seeing techniques as separate and discrete to becoming components in a larger holistic pattern of movement. When the student moves on into further angles of attack, there is now a framework into which the new defenses can be plugged, allowing quick progress integrating the system.

For those familiar with these exercises, what I am describing is not something new, except for formalizing a beginning drill to ensure everything gets practiced and students learn to flow from wherever they are to wherever they need to be. That flowing quality is one of the key principles of this art, and this drill creates enough sense of urgency to bypass the conscious mind’s ability to stop and analyze everything. In other words, it forces the subconscious to keep up with the attacker in real time.

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