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Improving Line Drills in Martial Arts


Line drills are common in martial arts classes, but very unrealistic and create bad habits. A bird's eye view of a martial arts class doing line drills looks like:


Where A1 is Attacker 1 and D1 is Defender 1. Note that in a class size of 2n students we have n/2 pairs of As and Ds. The arrow represents an A moving toward a D, and then doing something, like punch, kick, etc. As that happens, D will defend. Typically As do this to their Ds several times in a row, alternating limbs (Left, Right, Left, Right, etc.), and then the As and Ds reverse roles. After this, often one side (say the Ds) stays in place while the other side (say the As) rotate. This drilling and followed by shuffling continues until the teacher is done with line drills for that class. This way people can practice with different body types and skill levels and so on.

OK, while this model of practice has some good elements, why does it need improvement? Simply put, it is flawed. I definitely learned that line drills were flawed in my short times in taekwondo and Okinawan karate. I'll note that American Kenpo had some of these flaws, but not all.

The Flaws

How to Improve

There are many ways to improve these type of drills.

I hope these observations and suggestions help you in your self defense journey. Thanks for reading!

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