top of page
  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

Planning for Failure

Some martial arts have a strategy of overwhelming force and power in order to "win" a fight or survive a conflict.  That is, they do everything they can to set up an optimal strike to an optimal place in order to achieve optimal results.

My art is not like this.

Instead, we believe that strategically, we may not get the "optimal" strike.  Either it might not be available when we need it, or my opponent may see it coming and know how to counter it (and does), or it won't actually work because people don't always respond the same way when they get hit.

This means that as we have to be prepared for failure, to cope with it, and to keep going until we are successful in ending the conflict.

We were playing with this idea in class one day. We were working on a drill where you capture a forehand or a back hand strike with a stick (much like block check counter, which Brian Johns demonstrates below).

So, you actually capture the stick in this drill (versus checking the hand), then you deliver several strikes to the head and body.  Much like an empty hand person might deliver a combination of strikes after a block.

My partner was struggling a little bit with this, as he would inadvertently change his range and come in too close for the strikes (he was having to gyrate a bit to get the hit to land in the right place with the right part of the stick).  He was close enough so that he should have been using the punyo (butt end of the stick) instead.

I pointed this out, we did the drill a few times, and then because he was so close (and I knew what was coming - it's a drill, after all) I did a counter to his punyo strike to my face.  I grabbed his wrist with my free hand and locked on.

I was curious to see what he'd do. Like many of us would be, he was surprised by my counter, and he froze.

His plan had failed, and he didn't quite know what to do next.

We then worked through his options.  The first one was to take my stick - which he'd captured - and knock my hand off and continue the attack.  This is pretty much a standard response in the situation we were in.

Or, he could try to slap it off with his empty hand (obstruction removal). If that failed - if I'd locked on good - he could parry back fist to my face to soften me up (Brian Johns talks about parry back fist below) then get free by levering his captured weapon hand out,  and then keep hitting me.

There are other ways to cope with what I did, by the way.  For example, I didn't even describe using his lower body at all, did I?

Over time, as we train more, we acquire enough knowledge and skill to cope with the failure of our plans.  It is often a simple matter of knowing something - ANYTHING - to do when epic fail is epic and doing it quickly, without hesitation.

That's what training for a long time gives you - ways to cope with the failure of your plan and being able to do it quickly and with skill.   As I get more experience, and train with more people, I'll learn more ways to deal with failure of my technique.

After all, nobody is perfect, and nobody is unbeatable.

I have to plan for that fact!

So how do you cope with the failure of your plan in your art?  Let us know in the comments!

132 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page