As a former athlete and fighter, I have encountered many coaching styles in my lifetime. They have all shaped the way that I coach today. My coaching style is different than many in my surrounding community. Many people might not agree with it, but it’s been proven to work and I continue to adjust it as I encounter new students.
My Coaching Style
The standard paradigm is to explain the technique, show the technique, practice the technique, then drill the technique. I will do this, but not always in the conventional way. Often times, I will do this through padwork. Doing the same combinations, same movements, same defensive/offensive tactics. What many students later see and what many outside observers notice is that I don’t correct a lot when doing these sessions. By the time I do a padwork session with a student, they have usually done the technique(s) a number of times and know what it “feels like” to execute a good technique. I let them feel and hear what the technique is doing. Whether punching or kicking, elbowing or kneeing, one can feel and hear the technique on the pads. They can feel if it’s right. They can hear if it’s right. If not, they do it again. And again and again within the pad rounds. This whole time, I am not saying anything and not correcting them.
In the cage or the ring or even the street, your opponent will not be correcting you. Your opponent will not be telling you what to do and how to do it. You must figure all of this out for yourself. One of the main ideas behind padwork is and has always been a replacement for sparring; at least it should be used as such. The padholder is your opponent. The pads are your opponents head/face, body and legs. It’s main focus is to get the student/striker comfortable with throwing strikes in a combat scenario. The padholder may throw back or just keep the striker moving and executing. In any case, this is a popular way of getting a student comfortable with an “opponent”. Of course, it needs to be explained as such. With all of this being said, the idea of self-correction comes into play. There is nothing wrong with correcting someone during padwork. I just choose to keep it to a minimum. Self-correction. As with anything in life, you cannot always have someone there to “coach” you. You need to learn to be independent and figure it out on your own. This is especially true when the consequences are bodily harm.
While this may be my way of thinking, this is not the only way to do things. It’s just one way, not THE way. And if this can help someone to get better, then I am all for that.