A Jeet Kune Do Boxing Guide to Dynamic Focus Mitt Training
Focus Mitts Explained
ARTICLE & VIDEO PRESENTED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. NEVER TRAIN WITHOUT A QUALIFIED INSTRUCTOR OR THE PROPER SAFETY EQUIPMENT.
In contemporary and original Jeet Kune Do training, focus mitts are commonly used during class. The mitts, borrowed from boxing and kickboxing, are intended to provided either a moving or stationary target for the student to safely strike in a myriad of ways. Professional boxers spend quite a bit of time with focus mitt training and that alone shows the value of training with "punch pads".
Of course, boxing trainers use focus mitts the correct way. JKD classes have a tendency to focus too much on using the gloves to promote a cardio workout or over-emphasize getting the finer points of a technique down. Cardio workouts are good. Getting the fine points of a technique down is also helpful. Too much of both at the diminishment of other important uses of the mitts is not.
The focus mitts should be used in (as Bruce Lee was fond of saying) in an "alive manner" in order to provide a bridge between training and sparring/resistance. If not, students are, at best, ingraining bad habits. At worst, the student is fooled into thinking he or she has developed skills that actually aren't there.
Static Focus Mitt Training - Values and Demerits
While a training holds a mitt in front of a student who is punching at the target without head movement or footwork, the trainer is able look very closely at technique in performance and correct flaws. The goal here is not to merely look perfect static, but to ensure the student does not become too sloppy during sparring or during any type of real fighting scenario. Practitioners want to be fluid and alive and still be able to fight/spar with proper mechanics. This returns us to Sifu Lee's saying about having "No form" (being with the moment) vs. having "no" form (sloppiness).
Perfect form is going to be hard to maintain when fighting an opponent intent on making life difficult for the other person. Form should not totally fall apart though (and leave offense or defense in a disastrous posture) if the student has been effectively and correctly trained.
The obvious problem with static training is too much of it means deficiencies exist in terms of working on footwork, head movement, distance, timing, or other components necessary to be truly skilled.
Dynamic Focus Mitt Training
Dynamic focus mitt training integrates elements of sparring while still utilizing the mitts for attribute and skill development.
Dynamic focus mitt training is performed in competitive boxing gyms and other fight sports environment for the purpose of bringing out specific attributes necessary to become a better fighter and to spar safely. Clearly, this is a drill that requires the help of a qualified and competent trainer who knows how to lead the workout properly. The trainer makes the boxing workout a little challenging, but never compromises the safety of the person being trained.
The drill itself is rather self-explanatory.
It is a training session that is completely spontaneous and free. Almost everything is improvised in the moment. Furthermore:
- The drill is constantly moving requiring a lot of footwork and head movement.
- The person with the gloves has to always be aware of spatial relationships and the changing of the different ranges of combat.
- The jump from the focus mitt drill to sparring in a ring with full gear is not exactly all that huge of a leap.
A great deal is going on in this incredibly simple drill. No wonder this is the preferred method of focus mitt training in real boxing gyms.
Old School JKD Meets New School Training Methods
A few words on the "old time" approach to JKD training.
Old school JKD is a term of endearment given to the late 1960's/early 1970's approach to Jeet Kune Do. The old school Jeet Kune Do training methods of the bygone era came about before better martial arts training methods were devised. JKD employed a lot of sporting equipment in order to set itself apart from classical systems, but there still was a lot of room for training method improvement. Adding newer self-defense and athletic training methods definitely would help improve both the instruction and the learning of the art immensely.