A Great Motivator (aka Getting the "dummy" out)
Flowing and moving full speed with a live blade is not the same as flowing with trainers. The physical movement is the same, but the mental component is not. Being able to Flow with trainers is beneficial (but they also allow you to be sloppy), but you will find out real fast that a live blade changes the dynamic dramatically. I’ve seen people fly with trainers, but hand them a live blade and many look like their learning all over again. You need to be able to over come the fear of cutting yourself, and develop the heightened confidence, awareness, and skill to avoid doing so.
One (of many) training methods I like to use, and advocate for advanced students is to practice being able to flow at full speed with live blades (single and double of varying sizes). You start out going slow working through movements from various drills and gradually speed up to full speed. Then just start free flowing while moving around utilizing footwork and simultaneously changing the height and angles of your attacks. Your awareness becomes much more heightened and tuned with the added danger of the live blade.
I’ll also practice this with different blade types and sizes which force me to be able to modify my technique to make the most of the weapons capabilities. Another variation is to add in moving targets (that I hang from the ceiling…or trees if I’m outside) that help me develop my targeting and hand eye coordination as well.
I also advocate two person controlled live blade training…blade to blade and open hand to blade. I know it doesn’t precisely simulate a real confrontation, but that’s not really the point. The point is to build the students blade awareness and to get them to develop the mental component of confronting real steal. To many people who always train with dummy blades develop the bad habit of just waltzing in to perform their technique/disarm believing that is really going to be how it goes down, not developing a healthy respect for a real metal edge. Hand someone a real blade after watching them work with trainers and see how much their technique and focus changes.
It’s not the end all be all of training, just a component among many. The goal is always to keep your training partners/family intact and healthy while training as realistically as possible.....REALISTICALLY AS POSSIBLE.
PS: Recommended reading: Go read the first post in the "knife" article at the begining of this Blog site.