So, the whole “dick move Mondays” concept may require clarification. First of all, some readers may be saying, “Every day is dick move Monday at our dojo.” However, readers who train at more orthodox schools may be wondering how such an apparently ludicrous idea would even come up. The idea’s origins are the result of seeking a martial art’s correlate to the “bad pass Fridays” that have been instituted in many basketball practices in recent years. On “bad pass Fridays” coaches give players passes that are catchable–but just barely. I’ll get into the scientific argument for this kind of training below, but for now suffice it to say that the idea is to have regularly scheduled instances in which the individual is taxed to his or her limits and forced to try to cope with worst case scenarios. While there needs to be some limitations for safety’s sake, I’ll argue that there’s some advantage to applying this concept from the sports science and motor learning literature to martial arts training. [Note: if your objective in practicing martial arts has nothing to do with being able to succeed in the context of a sporting match, an actual combat situation, or both (i.e. a situation in which an opponent is trying to clobber you and vice versa) then this isn’t really relevant to you. But feel free to read it any way.]
Here’s some low-down on the science. Historically, it’s been popular to teach / coach sports (and non-sport martial arts) using a “partial and blocked” approach. This method is extremely popular because: a.) it’s simple to organize and conduct practice sessions, b.) short-term growth is rapidly visible, and c.) it looks neat and tidy. “Partial” means that a particular skill (or even sub-skill) is extracted from the overall skill set of the activity at hand and practiced in isolation. This could be a throw, a strike, or a means of receiving or defending. “Blocked” practice means that one skill or sub-skill is practiced over and over again under the exact same conditions until it’s deemed time to move onto the next. “Whole and random” practice represents the opposites of “partial and blocked.” “Random” means that one drills a skill under an ever-changing situational context (e.g. one may still be drilling hip throws repetitively, but not against a static partner who’s standing in the same place–there’s movement and pushing and pulling, and possibly a few dick moves.) “Whole” practice simulates the actual event that one is practicing for–whether it’s a Muay Thai match or a parking deck brawl.
For a good explanation of the problems associated with blocked practice, watch the video by Trevor Ragan of “Train Ugly” that’s linked below. (fyi: “Train Ugly” is an apropos name for an approach that involves more “whole and random” practice because there will be more short-term failure and one won’t look masterful at what one is doing by the end of a practice session. However, long-term skill retention and the ability to integrate those skills and sub-skills into a more realistic environment is higher.)
As Ragan points out, the random approach requires one read the situation and environment and respond in a way that won’t leave one worse off. (I don’t like the word “planning” applied to martial arts because there’s never time to do any planning in the sense of using one’s conscious mind. However, I’d say reading is a very apropos concept, and there is a need to adjust to one’s context.)
So what would “whole and random” training look like in a martial art? First of all, one should realize that one doesn’t need to make every training session “whole and random” from the very beginning. In the beginning a lot of “partial and / or blocked” practice is necessary. The problem is that if one doesn’t ever move beyond that, one’s performance will be hindered. Second, all practice doesn’t have to be both whole and random; one can spend a lot of time with random drilling of a particular skill. One can drill a particular skill while moving around freely, applying counters, making timing more random, and making the approach less regimented. “Whole and random” practice in the martial arts involve sparring or randori. Jigoro Kano did a brilliant thing in making the techniques and practice environment safe enough that randori (free form) training became possible. For many years, I would have said that Kano Sensei made a system that was less “realistic” by paring out the dangerous elements of jujutsu. However, today I don’t see it that way. I’ve come to realize that the ability to train randori keiko actually added back in a great deal of realism. Who’s to say what the net effect on realism is. I certainly see the advantage over the old way in which one trained in a regimented fashion devoid free form components for years and then one day one went out on musha shugyō (warrior’s errantry) and may be the day you learned of a deficiency in your technique was the day you died.
So “dick move Mondays” is really a way to add randomness into training. One can’t ignore the reading portion of the attack because one never knows what whacky ass attack one’s opponent is going to come up with.
If you do implement “dick move Mondays” in your school or gym, you may want to review this instructional video by Master Ken because the “bitch slap” is sure to enter into your training.
[Disclaimer: Master Ken video included as farce. Readers are advised not perform any techniques suggested by Master Ken or his Amer-i-do-te practitioners.]