The other night we were practising prearranged sparring. While the students found defensive postures like blocking easy enough, some students found it difficult to come up with a variety of appropriate counter-attacks. They tended to fall back on the same counter-attacks all the time, such as a reverse punch or low turning kick. Of course, there is nothing wrong with using those techniques that come most naturally to you. It is good that you have such an arsenal of reflexive techniques to rely upon. Yet part of the purpose of prearranged sparring is to provide an opportunity to practise a greater variety of techniques to apply within a specific scenario. It allows one the chance to ingrain new techniques that could potentially become reflexive responses as well.
Being familiar with the vital spots is important. (You can review Taekwon-Do's primary vital spots at the SA-ITF website, here.) But more than a mere surface knowledge of these points, a 'feeling' for how to reach the vital points, which attacks work most comfortably and most powerfully from whichever position relative to these targets are equally, or probably even more, important.
Human Dummy Drill
One drill I use to help students acquire such a 'feeling' is to have a training partner act as a human dummy and allow the student to move around the training partner while mock attacking different vital spots.
|Students practising prearranged sparring at|
'The Way' ITF dojang in Seoul, South Korea.
Remember, of course, that this drill is a good exercise to help one expand your awareness of different vital spots and different attacks to reach these vital spots. However, don't forget that this is only an exercise and not reflective of a real combative encounter because your opponent is not moving.
The human dummy drill is a good exercise to do before doing prearranged sparring exercises as it reviews the vital spots and helps the students 'feel' how to attack them better.