Rock, Paper, Scissors…Stab!


Recently, I saw a video that inspired me to make a new drill for my students.  The video took place in a kendo school.  Two opponents knelt in front of each other.  Between them were two toy hammers and a big bowl.  They then proceeded to play rock, paper, scissors.  The winner grabbed the hammer and tried to hit the other guy’s head.  The loser grabbed the bowl and tried to use it as a helmet as quickly as possible.  If a clean shot was landed, then a point was awarded.

Beyond the comedic value of the video, I instantly saw a framework for what will likely be many games/drills at my dojo.  The first of which I will do this Saturday and will proceed as follows.

Two opponents will kneel in front of each other about one and a half arm lengths apart.  In front of them will be two training knives, one for each of them.  They will play rock, paper, scissors.  The winner gets to grab their knife and will have 3 seconds to cut the other person.  The loser must defend through blocking, parrying, and/or disarming.  If the loser gets cut (probably restrict this to vital areas), then he or she has to do 5 push ups.  If they tie, then they can both grab a knife and the same rules apply.  If you lose the rock, paper, scissors battle and you grab a knife anyway, then you do 10 push ups on top of whatever else happens.

I’m pretty sure that’s going to be a lot of fun.  I like the drill for several reasons.  First, there’s a randomness to it.  Often in martial arts drills, roles are assigned and everyone knows what they’re supposed to do and when they’re supposed to do it.  It lacks a certain realistic uncertainty.  Even having an instructor call out which person is supposed to attack can lead to some psychological predictions on the student’s part because the instructor will inevitably want both sides to get an even number of tries at either role.  The rock, paper, scissors pre-game eliminates all of that.  The students have to be ready to attack or defend at a moment’s notice.  Second, because of the uncertainty, there’s a requirement to be not only physically quick but mentally quick.  I’d argue that mental quickness is the more important of the two in a fight.

I’m actually quite looking forward to trying out this new drill/game.  I have a feeling that there will be some push ups to be had…

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