Embracing the unfamiliar – JKD Super Seminar

I was fortunate yesterday to attend a four hour Jeet Kune Do seminar co-taught by Clive Elliott and Steve Martin. The opportunity to learn from two top instructors, and train with their students, was a real privilege, not to mention a fantastic chance to broaden my martial arts skill set.

This was the first JKD training session I’ve attended, although the R.AT. is grounded in JKD concepts. As a result, a lot of what was covered fell outside my core skill set of traditional Jiu Jitsu and Defendo. But cross training is something which is increasingly important to me, as a way to fill in the gaps ,and to address some of the assumptions which can develop if you only train in one art (attacks always start at a set distance, or in a set manner).

The seminar covered a significant body of techniques, from a number of different entry and exit points, and it was here that a theme started to emerge; namely of being able to transition between the different ranges of a fight and not get trapped in just one. For the uninitiated, the four fighting ranges are long range (kicking and some weapon attacks), medium range (punching distance), close (upright grappling), and groundwork. Most martial arts only operate within one or two of these ranges, which make it difficult to react if an attack originates in an unfamiliar range. Being able to effectively move between the ranges means that you can react appropriately, and move to a range where your core techniques fall.

So, over the course of four hours we worked on moving between the ranges and disrupting our opponents attacks, always from different starting points and assumptions. This included working from clinch, where I was delighted to get to use a technique with which I was intimately familiar (Koshi Garuma, everyone’s first hip throw, and the only thing which was familiar during the course), several sticky hands responses to a jab, cross punch combination, timing punches to disrupt a switch kick, and some wonderfully elegant lock flows on the knees and ankles.

Despite being well and truly out of my realm of experience and my comfort zone, a number of aspects of this approach really resonated with me, particularly being forced to work in ranges with which I am not familiar, and with attacks I am not used to dealing with. And this is such a necessary element of any training. This is not to belittle my core arts, far from it. But there are so many unexpected situations in which you may have to use your skill set, and training in a broad range of styles and arts presents the opportunity to functionalise training and increase the variety of situations which are no longer unexpected or unfamiliar.

Clive’s club are always a great bunch to train with, and the amount of information presented in just one morning by two expert instructors was incredible in breadth and almost overwhelming. I can’t wait for the next seminar!

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