This is just an easy list of guidelines that will help you get the most out of your kobo and jissen practice. I figured it would be good to tidy up my series on drilling methods with a concise listing of what I think are the most important points, in no particular order. You'll find that they aren't all applicable to every practice, but they will all be useful at one time or another. Think of this a tip sheet, and refer back to these points periodically as you use kobo for practice.
TrustOf the highest importance in practicing with a resistant opponent is the creation of a safe environment. This allows all partners the ability to explore within the bounds of the exercise. This is the yakusoku (promise) part of “yakusoku sotai.” If you can't trust your partner to do as promised, you are going to have a hard time relaxing enough to practice as needed. Cooperative resistance would be a good way to describe the proper attitude for kobo practice. Just don't go too easy on each other. Your partner trusts you to offer realistic resistance so he can improve his skills.
PartneringAny practice you do with a partner is very dependent on that partner. In order to fully develop your skills, you must practice with a variety of partners in terms of physical type, sparring style, skill level, etc. Failing to do so is setting yourself up for failure.
Do Many Short SetsDon't do kobo all night. Use it as a tool to work on a specific skill and then move on to more dynamic practices, such as free(er) sparring. Too much kobo leads to hypersuggestibility, habitualization of predictable movement patterns, and unrealistic expectations, among other things. Any kobo practice should be balanced and checked against "live" resistance. In a perfect world, kobo practice would generally be used as a diagnostic tool for discovering and correcting weaknesses. The instructor would make note of some hitch in each student's performance and then design the kobo progressions to use for the next practice. If the kobo practice reveals some problem that wasn't apparent earlier, a skilled coach can spot this and make adjustments to the drill. After a few repetitions each of two or three progressively more-challenging drills, the skills would then be practiced in actual jissen (or a limited jissen game). The coach could then critique the sparring to determine the next lesson's drill progression.
Get Down to Get UpJust like good dance music, you must bring it down before you turn it up. In order to manage the anxiety of learning new things and facing greater challenges, it's important to step back first. Then baby-step back up to and beyond the current level, into the next. This is sometimes counterintuitive since we feel like we aren't making progress unless we are moving forward. However, it's easier to move forward once we have gained a little bit of momentum first. Starting off easier than necessary gives us the momentum to work harder.
Incremental ProgressionIncremental progression is the means of backing up to move forward. Each drill builds off of the previous drill and leads logically to the next. Every drill has several variables, and it works best to increase them in subtle increments, one at a time. Examples of drill variables for incremental increase are:
- Speed of motion
- Power of strikes
- Complexity of movements, number of steps
- Drill sophistication via rule manipulation
- Time allotment or stipulation of timing
- Number of partners
- Number of chickens on the court