I have been spending a few weeks attending martial arts seminars and sparring with friends I have also been visiting. The last few weeks of training with dozens of new people have really brought some of my 'Broken Record' points to mind. There are mistakes that I seem time and again from almost everyone. This includes myself, alas. And others, from beginner to people who should know better. I will list a few and see what else others see recurring like a bad Hollywood sequel. I am coming from a primarily empty hand and knife viewpoint but many apply with other weapons.
A. Mistakes of Execution
1. Failure to Understand Range. One of the most common errors I run into is a failure to understand what Threat Range truly is. When it comes to hand and melee weapons, the failure can be partly explained because it changes somewhat with every situation. This was really brought to my attention when i was trying to work defensive reactions. Time and again, people would close to make their 'attacks' from a range well inside where the defender should have already been engaging or reacting. The other side of this is people letting the 'attacker' get well inside the critical distance needed to launch an attack.
2. Failure to Understand and Use Angles. I can be very, very guilty of this one, especially offensively. From the outside, when teaching, I feel like I could bark until I passed out, "Get off the line off attack!" Until drilled and drilled out of it, people just seem to move in a straight line, whether attacking or defending. The best solution I have found is to have a third party witness who is there only to remind people to take angles until everyone's brain kicks in.
3. Defending Empty Space. Time and again, I see people pouring energy into a block or parry well past the point at which the attack will miss. A lot of this is nerves and a lack of confidence. Most of the time, it takes very little effort to generate a miss. Are there times to pour extra energy into an attack to guide the attacker somewhere? Yes. But that is a deliberate action, not a reflective one.
B. Mistakes of Conceptualization
1. Misunderstanding of the Difference of Drill vs. Application. A saying I hate having to use, over and over: It's Just A Drill. After showing a drill that is designed to train one tiny facet of a combative encounter, someone invariably says: But that's not what I'd do in a fight. The other side is someone trying to take a drill and use it in a fight. It's an old problem. It came up in Memphis, last Father's day: Drills invented by people who understood what a fight is being taught to people who have never been in a fight creates problems.
2. Misunderstanding of Training vs. Street. Another mistake that comes from not intuitively knowing what a fight is and what it is not. It is the difference in what we do in training, with people we theoretically like and care about, contrasted with what we do against strange baddies putting us into dangerous situations with difficult moral choices. This came up Sunday, sparring with a friend, showing an arm from the mount against a punch. Friend: I'd just slide out the gap. me: there's only a gap because I'm being nice.
There are plenty of other relatively common mistakes out there. Just something to start the ball rolling with.