This is a guest post from my friend and noted police trainer Ron Borsch. Ron explains a basic flow drill he developed that is useful for both cops and martial artists.
“DUCK-A-ROPE” Flow Drill©
Copyright 2014 Ron Borsch
CREDITS AND HISTORY
Over a decade and a half ago, while training with other black-belt staff instructors at our Karate school, Chief instructor Robert Pacula tasked us with coming up with different defenses for a round-house or hooking punch targeting the head. As we were brain-storming and practice punch-throwing, it occurred to me that the most realistic defense was to simply duck while stepping off the initial line of attack.
Some sort of “Flow Drill” was needed as a training aid to achieve a high level of repetition. Necessity did not have to be the mother of invention here as one of the “Rocky” movies immediately came to mind. The visual in a “Rocky” movie of Sylvester Stallone using a rope doing an old boxing drill inside a Russian barn was our start. Techniques more appropriate for law enforcement officers and martial artists were designed. Next were additional research, development and practice at our Kent Martial Arts Club, SEALE Regional Police Academy in Bedford Ohio, and with international audiences as an elective course at annual Monadnock Police Training Council conferences in New Orleans LA.
Wall hooks had been installed at both our academy and Dojo at approximately average shoulder high height, (vary for typical students). A thin nylon rope, (550 Cord), with a bungee cord at one or both ends with snap fasteners made the temporary connection to the wall hooks. These light ropes, or any cord, in fact, can be used as a portable training aid, without a wall connection. Two students placing each end over their shoulder, holding each end behind their back and keeping the rope taught has worked for us.
As a concept, flow drills encourage more repetitions with less boredom. “Duck-A-Rope”© became a significant modular component of my “Survival Footwork and the Reactionary Gap”©, presented at SEALE Regional Police Training Academy in Ohio, at several annual International Monadnock conferences in New Orleans Louisiana and Lowell Massachusetts. Duck-A-Rope© is a flow drill emphasizing both defensive and active countermeasures. Suggested techniques are on the last page.
HOW THE ROPE IS USED FOR “DUCK-A-ROPE”©
The rope represents the vertical center of an adversary’s body. The rope also represents the horizontal line of force to avoid by ducking a punch, such as a roundhouse or straight punch. Generally, the rope is not touched, grabbed or punched so as to keep it from bouncing. Simultaneous with the duck is a single rear foot forward “V” step at about a 45 degree angle, with a slight shuffle and pivot with the trailing foot.
The student defender participant is always shoulder-close to the rope, so a single “V” step, 45 degree angle forward with a duck will place him just on the other side of the rope in position to do a routine and ready to repeat without repositioning. Efficiency and effectiveness here requires only a simple single “V” step with a shuffling rear foot settling into a slightly bladed 45 degree angle stance with the head and shoulders facing the rope which simulates the next adversary. This is the beginning and end position on each side of the rope.
Duck-A-Rope© can be performed Solo, or with about as many students as the rope length, a waiting line and proper supervision allows. At the end of the rope, students return to the beginning point.
Beginners should start out with only the “V” step and a duck before moving on to multi-tasking with a correct step/angle, duck, and hand or foot technique. When beginners are ready to graduate to the whole drill, they should be supervised closely to insure that their foundation, stance, Duck/Under and Step/Angle, does not degrade.
BE SLOW AND “SMOOOTH” LEARNING ANY NEW SKILL
As always, learning a new skill should be broken down into small parts and practiced slowly and fluidly smooth toward perfection. Trying to force fast technique is counterproductive, as focus and accuracy degrade. Speed naturally progresses with smooth fluid perfection of your technique. So too is this true with Duck-A-Rope©. If your students are not used to a 45 degree angle attack avoidance step, and or ducking a punch, these must be treated as new foundational skills. Also, the more you are already familiar with the aggressive countermeasure techniques that come after each defensive duck and step, the quicker your progress will be.
FLOW DRILL REPETITIONS CAN BE F.U.N.
As one might imagine by the name Duck-A-Rope©, this flow drill’s primary objective is to obtain the skill of ducking through numerous repetitions, with an additional focus on the “V” angle step foundation. Repetitions are often dull, so the trick is to have maximum “FUN”© (Formatted, Unique, Necessary), while obtaining maximum repetitions. “FUN”© counters the dullness, by changing the technique after each trip down the rope, just as the old Boxing drill with rope used different combinations.
ANGLES, “PUNCHES IN BUNCHES” AND COMBINATIONS
Not being where your opponent targets you is both a significant strategy and tactical advantage. Aside from defensively avoiding the initial round-house punch attack, we are using angles setting you up for appropriate and powerful active countermeasures. The direction you should be stepping and ducking is toward the same side the offender is attacking from.
For example, if the round-house or hook punch is coming at your left side, left is the direction you should be stepping and ducking. The logic for this same side method is simple. You go where it is temporarily safest, as that side arm is already committed and that side of the attacker’s body is more exposed, (as in open rib area). You still have the choice of what target is more appropriate, the head or the body.
With the “Duck” as primary, and the” V” step as secondary, the student’s attention is distracted by the changing hand techniques. The duck and V-step footwork are performed with each step for maximum repetitions while the student’s attention is focused on the pre-designated hand or foot technique. For example, if there were only six technique combinations, and the average steps taken on the rope was 10, the student would be “only” doing 10 repetitions of each hand technique. However, the flow drill would have accomplished 60 Ducks, and 60 “V” steps. Merely ducking and stepping alone could get dull fast, especially for less dedicated students, but with the variable multi-tasking hand techniques, the student is challenged sufficiently to rarely notice the 60 each ducks and “V” steps.
HAND PLACEMENT FOR COMMON ESCORT POSITION
The hand placement for the escort position in law enforcement is the foundation for at least a few specific law enforcement arrest controlling systems, so training repetitions on the Duck-A-Rope is a great job-related investment. The hand placement is near-hand palm-down above the rope, and far-hand palm-up below the rope, (both are open-flat hands, not touching the rope). Non law enforcement students should understand that this hand placement is foundational to the escort position take-down, a relatively advanced grounding tactic that requires a protective mat to reduce the risk of injury.
When an offender is stepping forward, with an arm extended toward you in a pointing, pushing or grabbing manner invading your reactionary gap, the escort hand positioning can be applied. Once the Duck-A-Rope© escort hand positioning is perfected, in reality with a more passive offender, completing the actual escort position is easy. In reality, if the offender’s aggression or resistance is higher than your confidence to perform a takedown, our hands should already be in a ready position for combative strikes or kicks when appropriate.
ESCORT GRIP TAKEDOWN: EASIER TO SEE AND DO THAN EXPLAIN
Once correct hand placement is accomplished, students can graduate from the “Duck-A-Rope”© to partner work of limited or somewhat stationary unbalancing. The next step is a more dynamic momentum unbalancing module requiring safety mats. As students progress to a higher level of dynamics, their ability to fall or roll-out correctly will determine what level of dynamics would be appropriate for them.
NO RISK, NO REALITY
Off rope minus the V-step and duck: The Escort Grip Takedown beginner module works best with a cooperative realistic offender-partner’s forward momentum. Practice should begin with a straight-arm pushing attempt at a walking speed with both palms straight out at chest level. The student chooses which arm to grab, (alternating sides is highly recommended). The student’s hand technique must always redirect the offending limb away from the center of his own body with a far hand circular block and simultaneous over-wrist grab of the offender’s hand. The student’s near hand will be reaching for an above the elbow under-arm-grab simultaneously along with the following side-stepping footwork.
The escort grip takedown footwork is relatively simple. As the offender’s pushing hand is redirected away from the student’s body center, the student pivots to the rear, (same side foot as his over-wrist grab hand), assuming at least a double shoulder-width side-facing stance. Somewhat simultaneously, with the double shoulder width stance is the assisting sharp yank with both hands sharply and suddenly shifting the offender-partner’s arm downwards at an approximate 45 degree angle. The downwards pull is coordinated with the defender lowering his body center and bending the knees.
UNBALANCING GOAL AND DEFENDER’S POSTURE
“Balance is easier to maintain than to regain”. Once the student accomplishes the in-motion, sudden manipulation of the offender-partner’s nose over-extended beyond his own toes, (“Where he head goes, the body follows”), regaining his balance becomes difficult. Results can range from merely off-balancing the offender to a sudden impact with the ground, (or a roll-out).
The end result depends on both the offender’s momentum, and how proficiently the student performs the technique. The ending defender posture should be an erect, (non-leaning), torso, rear hand about thigh level, front hand about solar plexus level. Both elbows should be near their respective sides. Stance should be side-facing, about DOUBLE shoulder-width, with knees bent in a “Horse-Riding” position.
THE MARTIAL SCIENCE OF THE ESCORT GRIP TAKEDOWN
Redirecting the offender’s momentum, his loss of balance, the defenders quick body drop with simultaneous sharp-short double arm yank downwards and gravity are the best explanation. For top results, it is important that the defender maintains balance, posture and stance. The offender-partner’s own momentum is harnessed, accelerated by the defender, (“Go with the flow”) and the offender-partner’s line of force is redirected suddenly towards the ground.
It is also important to realize that the 45 degree angle double arm pull down is not strictly a strength technique. The main power effect is the defender dropping his body center in coordination with the sudden-sharp-short arm yank 45 degree angle down. Body weight sinking appropriately at the right time is far more powerful than merely the arms alone.
The next building block module is the offender-partner pushing attempt is with one straight arm toward the defender’s center-chest. In this drill, the line of partner offenders alternate the arm used.
For example, if the last aggressor was using a right hand, the next aggressor uses his left hand and so on in their momentum aggression. The defender performing the escort grip takedown is now challenged with performing the technique correctly from alternating sides.
Suggested examples of techniques that have worked for us are below. Here, “Near” hand or foot refers to the limb closest to the rope. “Far” hand or foot refers to the limb furthest from the rope.
The “Duck-A-Rope”© is designed to be a FUN flow drill exercise that accomplishes maximum repetitions of the defensive Duck, and the “V” step avoidance survival footwork. The “Duck-A- Rope”© drill avoids the dullness of mind-numbing repetition by challenging the students with a variety of martial art or law enforcement related techniques that tends to occupy the mind while supporting our basic goal of numerous ducking and avoidance stepping repetitions.
About the author: Ron Borsch is a staff instructor for the Kent Martial Arts Club and a Viet Nam veteran, (1965-66 U.S. Army 101st Airborne Paratrooper). Ron’s 30 year law enforcement career included 20 years as Rangemaster, Pistol Team Captain and 17 years as a SWAT operator and trainer. Concluding his law enforcement career and retaining a police commission, he semi-retired as an agency consultant.
Along with support from the 7 SEALE Chiefs of Police from 1998 to 2015, Ron initiated, managed and was the lead trainer for SEALE Regional Police Training Academy, a post-graduate facility in Bedford Ohio. The academy served over one hundred law enforcement agencies from 9 states. He is nationally recognized for his research documenting the 7 out of 10 successes of “Single Officer’s Lifesaving Others”© in police responses to “Rapid Mass Murder”© by active killers. Ron has presented various subjects in several different states to fellow officers, national and international instructor audiences and Chiefs of Police.