In recent weeks, while playing with Dref, I’ve experimented with training parameters. Some of those parameters include playing with the left hand only, limiting myself to specific Modern Arnis techniques, or limiting myself to defending against Dref.

Among the parameters I have been experimenting with has been wearing sunglasses in a slightly darkened enclosed garage. The garage is closed at times due to the weather. Also, I will slightly smudge the sunglasses to make the training more challenging.

When you add in the fact that I have 75% vision in the right eye (the left eye is normal), this can be challenging. When the action is up, close, and personal, my depth perception can be thrown off. The depth perception issue sometimes makes tapi tapi training challenging.

But, this kind of training does have one salutary effect. It forces me to feel Dref’s attacks and counters rather than rely too much on sight. To be sure, I am still relying on sight but trying to shift more toward “feel.”

Imposing parameters on myself is an interesting experiment, and one that I think will increase my overall sensitivity in training.

If you are not able to view the video, click here.

This video was taken last Saturday. Since it was a sunny day, I decided to train outdoors even though it was 2°C/36°F.

As can be seen in the video, I limited myself, for most of the 2-hour session, to defend with the left hand. Being right hand dominant, this can present some challenges. Also, my sunglasses were dirty and smudged. Just the way I wanted it. I wanted my eyesight to be slightly impaired and force myself feel Dref’s energy.

Also, we were pressuring and countering each other. Being able to go with the flow and counter a non-compliant player effectively can be difficult.

This is a fun way to train. There are aspects of the video that I am pleased with. On the other hand, I see a few things that I need to work on.

What were the things that made me happy?

Despite the impaired sight, I was happy with my alive hand sensitivity.  The gif below provides an example. This comes from the: 45 mark of the video. Watch my right hand.

I wasn’t thinking when doing this sequence. I recognized that Dref was not actively using his cane in this split second and I wanted to control his stick. Doing so would allow me to get back into the driver’s seat.

On the other hand, I am not happy about the position of my stick during this sequence. Notice how it’s hanging out to the side while I focus on the alive hand? Arrgh. I should have been thrusting with my stick at his center line.

Another sequence that I was pleased with is in the below GIF:

At this point, I was attempting to snake my left stick against Dref’s right hand. The counter for counter action occurred as follows:

(1) He resisted my left-hand snake.

(2) I immediately responded by “punching” him in the face.

(3) I followed up by pulling his right arm over and switching the cane from my left to my right hand.

(4) Dref successfully parried my #5 thrust.

(5) I rode the energy of that parry to a punyo bait.  Dref resisted my bait.

(6) I had to redirect his left hand elsewhere. So, I released his right hand and palm struck his face. This maneuver succeeded in getting him to release his grip. I swung a #1 strike. Unfortunately, Dref was ready.

An excellent sequence for both of us.

This sequence represents what I’m striving for. However, before I get too excited, let’s look at another clip.

This is at the 1:57 mark of the video.

Here’s what happened:

(1) In the beginning, Dref lifted my stick with his check hand.

(2) Feeling that the lift wasn’t particularly strong, I just pushed down with my stick hand. Dref responded by firmly grabbing my stick wrist.

(3) Instead of recognizing this, I attempted a #7 poke. By hanging onto my wrist, Dref compromised my body position.  My bad. My sensitivity failed me here. In hindsight, I did not take advantage of a couple of options to neutralize that grab.

(4) By the time he released, he had already inched forward into my space.  By then, his #1 strike was on the way. I did two things to avoid his counterattack. First, I leaned back quite a bit, putting myself in a very compromised situation. Secondly, I blocked his strike.

Not happy with this sequence. First, I failed to respond to his wrist grab. Secondly, my body positioning wasn’t optimal.

It’s not all bad. I did get out with a last-second switch from the right to the left hand, allowing me to control Dref’s stick hand.

At times during the training session with Dref, my depth perception was an issue. The smudged sunglasses made the training a bit more challenging.

I’m sure that many of you can point out other portions of the video where my performance was less than optimal. I see them too! 🙂

All that said, I recommend non-compliant training. With the addition of various parameters (i.e. sunglasses), non-compliant training can be even more challenging.

This recommendation comes with a caveat. You must have a good base of techniques, body positioning, footwork, and a basic understanding of the counter for counter concept. I also recommend hours of training with compliant partners.

The main takeaways from this session?

  • Setting parameters on training is essential to progress on your martial path;
  • Likewise, non-compliant training should be an integral part of your training;
  • I highly recommend video as a diagnostic tool. 
  • Be honest with yourself.

In summary, if all of your training consists of working with compliant partners, how are you going to progress as a martial artist? Non-compliant practice can be frustrating but ultimately will reward you in the long run with increased sensitivity to a training partner’s energy.

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