Originally Posted by Danja
I've been doing traditional jujutsu for over a year and muay thai for a couple months, and I've noticed the same problem in both places, and in other situations such as "play sparring". Whenever I'm in a non-choreographed situation, I have absolutely no sense of which strike is coming. I have five different blocks firmly engraved into my muscle memory from jujustu and another couple that I'm practicing from muay thai, but whenever a strike is coming at me, I'm completely incapable of recognizing it and invariably do our jujustu sweep block along with side stepping footwork (#5/6 ichi uke bubisuuru tai sabake, if anyone is familiar with the terminology). It's the only one the reliably blocks most strikes and gets me out of the way. The problem is that it puts me back to back with the attacker, and I only have a limited amount of options from that position.
We rarely spar in jujustu (twice in the last week, but before that we averaged probably once or twice a month), and I'm not sparring in muay thai yet as I just don't know the techniques well enough, so lack of practice may be an issue, but I feel like my lack of anticipation is disproportionate even to my lack of practice. I mean, I'm completely lost when a strike is thrown. In muay thai, I end up doing (sorry for not knowing the proper names) hook blocks for jabs and crosses, and vice versa, because I have no idea where it's coming from and where it's going. Does anyone have any tips on being able to identify a strike quickly?
Keep sparring more. It sounds like you are going to end up with a period on "unlearning" some of the more traditional stand up defenses. Here's a few things to consider:
1) When blocking in a MT (or most combative sports), remember to keep your covers as tight to your body and head as possible. Try thinking small movements over large movements. It will help save you time and energy, and will be a lot easier to ingrain into your muscle-memory and skill set.
2) When considering blocking, choose to cover the angle of attack instead of covering for each individual technique. The cover for a high right kick is the same for right hook. The cover for a punch to the liver is the same for a left kick to the body. Why? Because the angle of attack is the same. This also simplifies things for you for when your body is tired and your reaction time slows.
3) Relax... Even with my basic striking skills, if I see that you are anticipating my attacks, I am going to bait your defense with a feint and then dive right through the opening you gave me fist (or foot) first. You want to be able to react well enough, and anticipating to block and attack is just as useless as tensing up before throwing a punch or kick. You will burn yourself out, and set yourself up against better strikers.
Whatever you do, keep sparring. If you get spanked in a sparring session, don't just internalize it and let it mull over (that will kill your progress). Instead, talk to your sparring partners and your coaches and ask them what you did wrong. That way, you can have something to work on when your spar next.
If you would like a deeper post than that, read this thread: How Do You Defend Against
? I've got a lot of stuff in there you might find useful.