We all want our students to be accurate with their technique, right?
And we’ve all got karate drills to help our students hit targets, yes?
However some drills, while they might help with one aspect of training fail in another.
For example, you might have one person holding focus mitts, while their training partner hits them with certain combinations. Or if you don’t have focus mitts, you might simply hold your hands up as targets for your partner to hit. These are both drills I’m sure you’ve done over the years as I have. And they are fine to develop some basic skills, however they have their downfalls which I have pointed out below.
- Targets In Incorrect Positions
The target holder must be acutely aware of where they are holding the mitts in relation to the real target position. In other words, focus mitts must be held exactly on the intended target, otherwise proper distance, accuracy and timing will be incorrect.
You may have seen targets (of course you’ve never done this) held in a lazy fashion maybe 12-24 inches away from the real target (such as in front of the face, or to the side of the body). This mistake by the target holder directly affects the technique of training partner.Often, especially with kids, the targets are nowhere near where they should be. As karate students we should be a little more intent on the accuracy of our techniques… wouldn’t you agree?
(In MMA you see this all the time – jab/cross/jab/cross types of drills where the coach holds mitts up to either side of the face and the fighter is throwing punches wide of the real target (the head), while the coach swats their punches with the mitts.)
- Holding Hands As Targets
This is another common mistake when doing these kinds of exercises. Doesn’t it make more sense that we train our students to hit real targets (head, body, back, etc) instead of hand targets?
The problem that arises from this type of exercise is that students (especially kids) will default to throwing their techniques at their opponent’s hands when sparring. I used to see this all the time with my own students, so that’s why I’ve moved away from such exercises and now make sure they are hitting the real targets instead.
I want their default action/subconscious to instantly hit the real target when it becomes available (such as when their opponent drops their hands or when they do something unexpected like slip over). I want my students to be on that target in a split second like a frog’s tongue snapping up a fly.
Here’s a quick 2 minute video I shot last night to show you a very simple drill that develops awareness of the real targets, improves reaction time and develops “clean hitting” for the attacker, while the target person works on covering the exposed target. We do several drills like this, each with it’s own emphasis, but this is a good one to start the process of developing a fighter’s affinity for open targets.