BOB Drills You Probably Never Thought Of, Part 1
T hese days, it’s hard to watch a TV show or movie that includes a dojo scene without spotting a Body Opponent Bag in the corner. BOB is ubiquitous for a very good reason: It’s a must-have for every martial arts training center no matter what style is taught. I say that because of the myriad ways you can use BOB to improve your students’ skills. Presented below are some of the methods used in my school, along with a little background information.
FIRST, THE BACKGROUND. Like most dojo, ours has a BOB — it happens to be an XL — placed near the heavy bags, pads and shields. I wish we had more than one because everybody loves whaling on it. I remember the first thing I did when I got a chance to try one: crack it with a left hook and an uppercut. If you’re a puncher, it’s hard not to appreciate being about to make contact with a target that’s designed for it, and that’s true no matter how old you are.
Over the years, I discovered that the beauty of BOB is it offers users so many options that a heavy bag does not. The first one is what precipitated my initial action when I had my first close encounter: BOB provides a realistic striking surface for the hook and uppercut, which the heavy bag does not. Consequently, students who lack access to a BOB often alter their strikes to adapt to that shortcoming, which leads to bad technique, improper muscle memory and so on. Yes, they can benefit from rounds on a heavy bag, but if they’re training for self-defense, they need to practice their techniques in a realistic fashion, and that’s precisely what BOB is made for.
While traveling to other schools, I noticed that most instructors keep their BOB stationary when it’s being used. They fill the base with water to give it mass and keep it from moving when struck — which, incidentally, permits solo workouts, and that can be very convenient. However, keeping BOB loaded isn’t the only option. I often drain the water from mine to make it easy to move around the dojo and quick to maneuver when I want to change the angle of attack to keep students on their toes. The following are some drills I use for “empty BOB.”
TEACHING CHILD SAFETY is one of the priorities in our dojo. The three rules of our program are don’t be there, don’t get touched and don’t go quietly. BOB helps us ingrain those lessons with these two drills.
Hi-BOB Drill: Have the kids line up in front of BOB while you stand behind it. Addressing one person at a time, tilt BOB forward and downward to touch the student. The student’s job is to shout “Hi” while smashing BOB in the nose with a palm heel before running away. This drill helps kids develop an immediate response to an adult who invades their space. Fringe benefit when teaching the very young: They think of BOB — and not you — as the bad guy.
You’re-Not-My-Dad Drill: Have the students line up several feet away from BOB. Stand behind it with one
hand on the base and the other on BOB’s back. Focusing on one child at a time, quickly push BOB around the mat while the student runs away and shouts, “No, you’re not my dad!” The goal, of course, is to prevent child abduction the easiest way possible — by avoiding the threat.
IN OUR DOJO, I teach group classes as well as private lessons, and many of those sessions revolve around tournament sparring, kicking and finetuning the basics. Yeah, I could serve as the target in any of those drills, but I prefer to let BOB absorb the punishment. For sparring drills, BOB usually wears head protection and a chest guard. For the other drills, he’s not geared up.
Defensive-Kick Drill: Have a stu dent square off with BOB at a normal fighting range in the middle of the mat. The student waits for BOB to move forward. The instant BOB advances — once again, you’re pushing it from behind — the student moves back and pops BOB in the midsection with a side kick. Reset and get ready to repeat, but this time, have the student move backward at an angle while nailing BOB in the noodle with an ax kick. Reset and get ready to repeat, but after the student kicks, keep going forward. Chase the defender as he or she responds with whatever foot and hand techniques are appropriate. These drills develop skills, improve endurance and boost body control. They’re a great workout for you, too. Speed and Focus Sparring Drill: BOB stays stationary this time with you supporting it from behind. The student, who plays the attacker, practices his or her favorite kicks aimed at BOB’s head and body, precisely where they need to land to score in competition. Offer corrections while the student continues for several minutes. For the next round, shift BOB from side to side and forward and backward to make it more difficult to score. Take full advantage of BOB’s ability to adjust to different heights to simulate fighting differentsize opponents.
Kihon Drills: (Note that BOB wears no gear during these drills.) These exercises are similar to the sparring and kicking drills, but the student performs your art’s basic techniques. They might include the reverse punch, lead punch, chop, ridgehand and backfist, along with the front kick, roundhouse kick and side kick. When BOB attacks, the student responds with pre-assigned techniques and combinations. Because empty BOB is so mobile, these drills foster dynamic movement without risking injury to a human being who otherwise would be absorbing a lot of contact.