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Block drill vs Random drill

Block drill vs Random drill

Block drill vs Random drill in combat and combat sports.

This post begins with a story that intrigued me and is used by a basketball coach named Ragan who uses two tigers with different lives as an example.

A tiger is a zoo tiger.

This tiger grew up in a fence, fenced off by the outside world.

Every day, his food is brought to him.

If it rains, it can get into the heat of a pre-built shelter.

If it’s hot, you can bathe in the meticulously manicured pool.

Life is easy because he took care of him.

The other tiger is a jungle tiger.

This tiger grew up in the jungle, if he wants to eat he has to hunt and hunt his prey for every meal, going long distances to find food and find shelter.

Every day he brings something new and must always be on his guard so as not to fall into a trap or become the prey of a hunter.

After Ragan finishes this story, he asks a question: “Which tiger is best equipped for survival?

The answer is obvious and unanimous, always the same, the jungle tiger.

In fact, if the zoo tiger were released into the jungle, it would probably die if it could not quickly adapt to the new condition.

drill in the fight

Block drill vs Random drill in combat and combat sports.

Choose your tiger: the basics of motor learning

How you approach learning determines what type of tiger you become.

If you want to become a jungle tiger, you need motor learning, your body needs to learn to perceive and respond to stimuli by adapting to the moment, you need to do exercises that study and develop how people acquire skills and in that study you will discover a number of deficiencies in the “traditional” approaches to skill development.

For this reason many limbs do not become functional because they do not develop skills but are limited to technical execution that does not translate into “game”.

In technical/motor learning, you need random, game-like exercises,not pre-established and repetitive blocking exercises.

An example of block drills

To help you better understand an example of bulk drills can be pulling a combination of jab-cross to focus pads from the same point 30 times in a row.

In a random drill, the distance and position of the focus pads would change continuously, forcing the fighter to correct the position and distance from a different point each of the 30 repetitions to find the correct distance and angle of attack.

Lresearch to understand how fighters learn and one thing every coach or athlete has to do to maximize performance even if it’s a complex search.

Motor learning as a training methodology is what produces higher rates of improvement and maintenance than other approaches.

The value of game-like reproductions

This approach has an important consequence on the coaching process but suddenly makes new sense to the way you train.

Who knows how many of you have happened to pull strong at the focus pads or the sack and then when you have in front of one that moves fail to do anything, or to make triangles in rivers and then fail to make a ta out to anyone with a triangle in sparring.

In block drills you do it so well and then sparring/rollingyou can’t.

What are you missing?

Now you know, at least tell me thank you by ethically sharing this information that you find on the blog.

Block drill vs Random drill in combat and combat sports.

You could already answer yourself where the bulk drills performs the technique several times from the same point over and over again always the same but thena sparring, match, roll, etc. you will ever find yourself in that ideal condition?.

You already know the answer, your opponent could move, be strong, more articulate, different, and you have to adapt if you want to win.

At that moment you may be tired and sweaty, slipping.

Your girlfriend might be in the stands looking at you with high expectations and you feel the weight of her looking at you.

Bulk drills don’t work in reality

Bulk repetition doesn’t provide the practice of any of these things, so the gains you have in doing the exercise are not transferred into the real game by failing to target and place the technique.

“One of the most important things that motor learning science has had is not about how you perform exercise in practice in training, but how it translates and how you then perform the technique in combat.”

This thing has a very important focus! and that’s why it’s not easy to develop this method because it goes to see how exercise translates into real sports performance.

“The performance you’re focusing on is always the performance that happens after a day or a week’s training or whatever, they’re the best at understanding if the things you do have higher levels of performance in the race or in matches.”

This is a complicated job for the high variables in play, but it still remains more suitable for significant improvements.

Technical repetition plays a fundamental role in learning and building neuro-muscular memory but does not have a value in the reality of applying the “game” because it only addresses one aspect of performance when in reality athletes need to be experts in at least three areas.

These areas, which relate to the interpretation and research on motor learning, are:

  • Reading – The athlete critically assesses the situation and chooses the right answer for that scenario.
  • Planning – the athlete plots the steps necessary for the execution of the response, taking into account factors such as timing and power.
  • Execution – The athlete performs the chosen technique with the correct shape and with the expected time.

Block drill vs Random drill

Example of a block drills

Studying the technique (block drills) of a Jab for example or an arm bar teaches you to do the technique correctly but it is not giving you any chance to read the opportunity to score, place a lever or plan as a game strategy that technique or shot in the chaos of a match.

The hardest job is just about building the skill.

At this point, I hope you can start to guess how the work of a construction of specific exercises or drills is useful to apply to your martial art, whether it’s boxing, jiu jitsu, etc.. that’s why martial art is complicated because it’s not enough to know the technique to be able to really play fighting.
  • When you throw a Jab in the striking pad, you limit yourself to the final result of the equation but you miss everything that leads to that result. 


  • When we drill a traditional arm bar from the guard, you limit you to the end of the equation, but what is it that led you to make that choice.

Ps. You can not only rely on experience, but you have to leverage those who have the experience to develop those necessary features with targeted exercises (random drills) that lead to the construction of skills useful to your sport.

Having technical expertise is essential to succeed and to gain confidence, but if you can’t do these repetitions/drills with the right reading and with a training schedule aimed at functionality, it’s likely that your technical baggage, that your weapons will lose effectiveness in sparring, live rolling or in a competition.
Just as you can imagine, your opponent’s arm is unlikely to be at the exact spot without defense and is unlikely to end up with your opponent’s arm in the exact position, without resistance, as when you drilled.

This block drills approach is what makes you a zoo tiger.

Your arm bar technique while doing the techniques with your training buddies looks clean and fluid while you’re between the curated walls of your gym, but when things become rolling “non-cooperative,” when you’re in the”jungla” of a fight, you can’t place the techniques you saw and studied during training.
The technique is important, but as I told you you need to make sure that these two elements, reading and planning are present and that it works in a real game.
Block drill vs Random drill

There are no pre-established drawings

You have to have a mindset that leads you to work without over-pre-arranged designs because



true learning and true growth happen on the edge of our comfort zones.

If you do not challenge yourself or are not willing to face challenges, it is likely that you will not have an improvement and working on predetermined schemes is useful during the study of the technique but then needs to be adapted and contextualized if you really want to learn how to use the technique in a non-cooperative context.

This mentality is fundamental in technical/motor learning because accumulating technical repetitions similar to games but not similar to what really happens during fights means failure, a lot.

If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not challenging yourself enough to experience measurable improvements in your performance as an athlete.

  • Drill blocking drills limit likelihood of exercise failure
  • Random drill or sparring free exercises force you to tackle and learn from failure, so you need the right mindset to reap the benefits.

It incorporates motor learning into training.

Block drill vs Random drill Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

According to this reasoning if we talk about struggle and BJJ students perform a block drills of 40 arm bars in a row they will have an ability to perform it in relatively low practice.

To make it more like the game, we would need to randomize the practice where students:

  • Vary the position of the target arm so that it is never in the same spot twice.
  • Ask your training partner to alternate your left and right arms at random.
  • Make random the pressure and posture angles that your training partner gives.
  • Periodically change partners to offer student exposures to different body types.
  • Incorporate into arm training a larger drills in which the student has to choose between attaching an arm bar, triangle or Kimura based on specific changes in position.
  • Isolate the on-call position during live rolling and encourage students to focus on setting up an Arm bar.
  • et cetera.

It is important to note that simplified bulk drills are good for the introduction of new techniques, especially in the case of less experienced athletes, and to do at least 20 repetitions or a little less in lockdown mode before introducing randomization.

When introducing random drills random variables do not need to be extreme, especially at the beginning of skill acquisition, but they need to practice the athlete with reading and planning, as well as practicing.

Although research on motor learning as training methods has been growing for several years, few coaches employ it in practice.

Motorized learning seems seemingly messy, so it takes some confidence and method in research to believe that athletes will come the other way better for the challenge.

Motor learning also requires more creativity and competence, specific real knowledge from coaches, it’s not something you can improvise, it’s something that develops as an insider, it’s not enough to be a practitioner.

  • Block drills are easy to set up and manage.
  • Random drills that isolate the right skills are harder to design.

“It’s very easy to train the way you’ve been trained, butbecause an athlete has won a race by training with traditional methods doesn’t mean there are no better ways to learn and train that’s better for everyone.”

There are people of nature but to make a leap of quality at certain levels it is no longer enough to use traditional methods seen and revised, repetitive, even in this there is an evolution not only in combat.

Now the person who “receives” the technique has to do a more active job with this approach

According to the principles of motor learning, you need to reconsider some striking and wrestling exercises in an attempt to incorporate more reading and planning during training sessions and do exercises that develop more skills..

  • Just shrimping up and down the carpet is a great way to introduce the basic skill of the technique, but in the long run it’s not much like what happens in rolling.
  • Drills of exits from the guard that are useful to learn the technique but that if they do not have that right contextualization become useless because they have that “static” that does not exist in the reality of a struggle.
  • Large numbers of block drills like drills on a swinging arm and side-to-side Kimura drills are good for fitness but often bring grapplers into “auto-pilot” mentally, you do it without any intention, nice to see but requires little or no reading or planning.
  • Lessons structured mainly by students who alternate drills of the same technique back and forth at the same time and with the same non-resistant partners.
  • Etc.

These are just a few examples, but it’s to make you realize that if you do things that don’t have the “ingredients” of real combat they risk making you believe capable of something you’re actually unable to do, ending up in the pathology of the famous Dunning Kruger effect.

Block drill vs Random drill Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

This topic was addressed well by Max De Michelis who on his blog maxbjj addressed this topic first in Italy.

I recommend if you are passionate about fighting to go and read its articles if you are passionate about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Here is the video where he explains the block drill vs random drill in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

On the blog Max De Michelis writes:

“For example, how to apply this methodology if we want to train techniques to pass the guard, a typical fighting situation:

  • First phase “Block Drill” – The athlete learn through repetition a guard pass. At this stage the athlete focuses only on the correct execution of the technique, repetition helps him to build automation. After this the athletes learn the other techniques in isolation.
  • Second phase “Random Drill” – The guard creates some difficulties for the athlete who has to choose the technique suitable for that circumstance.

Those who pass the guard learn so through the Random Drills to flow from one technique to another, because they have to choose the right passage in a chaotic situation very similar to the reality of the fights. Accelerations, decelerations, changes in direction and weight are all factors that add a bit of difficulty to the drills.”

the result

At the end of the entire training cycle with this method surely the work has been more dynamic without too many predetermined schemes and you can see the real improvements being that you have trained the specific skills that are needed to make the technique work.

This approach although no one here in Italy tackles it with due attention apart from the work done by Max De Michelis in Jiu Jitsu is nothing new in other areas such as in the Philippine Lameco systems where the use of flow drills is the basis of many workouts, but this approach requires a more articulate development to build the training methodologies that need to be built and adapted to your art to make the exercises more contextual and targeted to your art, maybe in your sport this approach is not used and needs to be more in-depth and you have to devote more time.


Block drill vs Random drill in combat and combat sports.

Now this method is sufficient on technical/motor learning you have to use it with Drills called Block drills only to build muscle memory after the technique is learned to work only with Random Drill.

What tiger do you want to be?

You have the choice. Block drill vs Random drill in combat and combat sports.

I’m in the Jungle

Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport


Con una passione per la difesa personale e gli sport da combattimento, mi distinguo come praticante e fervente cultore e ricercatore sulle metodologie di allenamento e strategie di combattimento. La mia esperienza abbraccia un vasto panorama di discipline: dal dinamismo del Boxing alla precisione del Muay Thai, dalla tecnica del Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu all'energia del Grappling, dal Combat Submission Wrestling (CSW) all'intensità del Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Non solo insegno, ma vivo la filosofia di queste arti, affinando costantemente metodi e programmi di allenamento che trascendono il convenzionale. La mia essenza si riflette nell'autodifesa: Filipino Martial Arts (FMA), Dirty Boxing, Silat, l'efficacia del Jeet Kune Do & Kali, l'arte della scherma con coltelli e bastoni, e la tattica delle armi da fuoco. Incarno la filosofia "Street Fight Mentality", un approccio senza fronzoli, diretto e strategico, unito a un "State Of Love And Trust" che bilancia l'intensità con la serenità. Oltre al tatami, la mia curiosità e competenza si spingono verso orizzonti diversi: un blogger professionista con la penna sempre pronta, un bassista dal groove inconfondibile e un artigiano del coltello, dove ogni lama è un racconto di tradizione e innovazione. Questa sinfonia di abilità non solo definisce la mia identità professionale, ma dipinge il ritratto di un individuo che nella diversità trova la sua unica e inconfondibile voce e visione. Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport! Andrea


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