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Learning how to take a hit is an important part of martial arts training. It’s nice to think we are good enough in a fight to never get hit, but the likelihood is, especially in a crowd, that we will get hit at some point. However we have to take a balanced and methodical approach to this work. Just belting each other and “toughing it out” is a recipe for damage and injury. A balanced method requires we address the psychological as well as physical issues. We also need to take our work into the tactical. Standing still and taking hits is a start, but all work needs to be integrated into our practical application.
People often see clips of giving and taking strikes – something our school is well known for – and wonder what is going on. It is important to stress that this is not a form of the dominance and abuse syndrome that is sometimes seen in martial arts. Nor is it the Instructor showing how hard he can hit on a helpess dummy. In fact the striking work should always be geared around the needs of the person taking the hit. Of course there are benefits to the striker too, but the main goal is to help and develop the person being hit.
For this reason the work needs to be progressive. We normally start with light contact and pushing. People should be shown how to manage impact (with relaxation or tension) beforehand. Likewise they need to know how to use breathing and movement to recover posture and poise. From static work we can advance into more uncomfortable positions, taking hits on the move, with eyes close and so on.
The single best reference on this work is Vladimir Vasiliev’s latest book, Strikes - Soul Meets Body. It’s required reading for people of any style interested in this kind of work. We also have a new Class Download out showing some of the work, from basic methods through to moving, you can get it at our new download site
Learning to take strikes has effects beyond the obvious. It also forms a strong base for learning to avoid strikes (less fear means less unnecessary tension which means better movement). It can help with some physical / psychological conditions, particularly those which manifest in muscular tension. It helps with understanding our fear response and all the baggage that goes with it and so paves the way for deeper aspects of training.