It’s helpful, every few classes, to throw the normal patterns out and spend the night just cleaning things up. Lots of fighting teaches the body little lessons that aren’t always good for the long term development of the fighter. You want to be efficient when fighting, so you learn tiny little cheat habits that make things easier for you. Successfully landing a hit tends to make you throw that hit repeatedly.
Stretching is a powerful tool for realigning the body. When we do a clean-up class, like last night, we start with stretching. Our stretching is done a little different…we don’t just lengthen the muscles, we make active use of contraction of the opposing muscle to pull the muscle to as much of a limit as we can. Working alternating cycles of expansion and contraction…say, contracting the bicep to stretch the triceps, and then contracting the triceps to stretch the bicep…is a good way to re-balance the body.
A re-balanced body is a good place to start corrective work. Sometimes I use ideokinetic work, and we work on correct form when walking, sitting, standing and other daily activities. Either way, we spend some time making the body more receptive. From there, we can work on refining technique. Simple arm extension attacks, cuts, or specific footwork work well. It’s a good chance to introduce a new core mechanic, as long as it’s simple.
Mirror work is a nice follow up. Fighters can use the mirror to self-correct posture and movement patterns. For us, we start with simple lunges, and learn to use our eye to find body mechanics that stray from what we imagine. We can also improve mechanics by using the mirror feedback to try arranging our bodies in ways that aren’t obvious using only our own sense of body position. Mirror work should develop into shadow sparring, and observing what flaws or strengths show up in a fighters style.
And, of course, you have to wrap up a detail class with tons of fighting. It’s not only a nice stress relief after the heavy work, it’s also a chance to cement in the new work and corrections.