I want to discuss three attitudes for martial arts practitioners. These are martial artists who have skill and are looking to challenge their skill, understanding, and/or ability to apply. If you’ve just started training, read anyway!!
Firstly, we will look at “Play”.
When two martial artists play, they are having fun inside the framework of the drill. It should be light hearted and exploratory. There is no expectation to “win”.
Many times, a martial artists will allow their partner to continue with something just to see where they can take it. They will give up the counter they know will work for the chance to see what might be created.
There is always the chance that your go to counter won’t work. There is also the chance to learn something new. When two martial artists engage in this play, they are looking to create and explore with no expectation of outcome.
Secondly, we will look at “Move”.
This is where two martial artists allow themselves to express a technique or movement more fully. This is with the confidence in their companion to accept the technique, and with their own ability to apply with control.
Where they might need to be cautious with a junior rank, they can commit to the movement and perform it at around 80%.
Often, senior ranked martial artists are required to hold back from doing a technique to their level for the safety of a junior training partner. That is a part of the growth process, however when you get to “move” with someone at your level, you are expressing a technique more fully.
Getting to “move” with an equal allows for greater expression in the technique. And it’s fun!!
Thirdly, we look at “Fight”.
Which isn’t really fighting. It is challenging. This is where two martial artists engage. One martial artist will attempt a technique and the other martial artist will challenge the technique.
This helps the one who is challenging work on their timing to counter against a technique being performed in earnest. It also allows the one working the technique to overcome or adapt to a counter. This will give a higher level of understanding to both practitioners. Strategy and tactics get applied here more often, as the technique alone is not enough to overcome the defense.
A few examples of this would be a boxer trying to land only a jab, or just going for a specific throw in Judo, or working only for a single leg in wrestling.
Person A is attempting only a single technique. Person B is applying the fullness of their defense to stopping that individual technique.
Often a senior rank will work with a junior rank and the levels can be mixed. They might both play, but the senior might take on a “play” role to the junior rank “move”. When dealing with the highest ranks, they are often at the “play” level even when the junior rank is at the “fight” level.
A note of caution: newer students can often confuse their teacher’s intent, assuming that while they are fighting and being challenged that their teacher is also in the “fight” mindset. Often they are not.