What separates a good one-step from a bad one-step?

Monkey Turned Wolf

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How does the jump scissor kick come into play later?
The technique itself does not. It comes into play in terms of having additional leg strength, balance, and being less afraid of falling when learning to do other spin or jump kicks. Once people are able to hang long enough to do the actual scissor kick, a lot of the other kicks come easily when taught.
Is there another way you could teach it than the impractical technique?
Probably. You can learn those skills in a bunch of different ways. That happens to be the one that school uses, and I find it effective (if there's a desire to learn the other 'fancy' kicks), so I've not had a need to figure out alternatives. It's also fun for them.
How is it explained to the students which techniques are directly applicable and which are building blocks for future techniques?
I can only speak for the schools I've been in, but it depends, mostly on age, and which technique. Something like combination 14, it's told pretty much right off the bat what the purpose is, regardless of age. Combination 1 will be broken into different parts when taught and trained. For kids, it's just each part taught. Giving them too much info will likely confuse them, and it gives them the opportunity to discover as they're training later on.

For teens or adults, the concepts and reasoning are taught as the technique is taught. When it comes to upper colored belts/black belts (which are exclusively teens to adults), none of the instructors I've had (or myself when I've taught), have hidden their own thoughts behind a technique.
 

marvin8

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I think incorrect distance and timing of one-steps at the beginner level can be okay, so long as it's ironed out in the later belts (i.e. a year or two after starting)...

I also think some level of timing or distancing is going to be off in an instructional demonstration (and maybe formal test) compared to training. I see this in Muay Thai and BJJ as well. For example, in BJJ, often the uke will have an odd pose, so that the students can actually see the grip that Professor is talking about.

Our Muay Thai drills are typically combinations of 3-5 techniques against an opponent that is defending, but not countering. How are these drills different from one-steps in which the defender does multiple techniques without the attacker countering?

It's one thing if beginners have incorrect timing and distancing because they are beginners. That can be fixed fairly easily (and in less than a year).

It's another thing if they are being deliberately taught to use incorrect distancing. That will take a lot more work to unlearn and fix. What's more, it won't just be the distancing they have to fix. When you change the distancing, you change the timing, footwork, angles, body alignment, available techniques, emotional intensity, and more....

The simplified answer is that when the opponent defends, they are using their moves. In KFW's terms, the person throwing the combo and the person defending get the same number of moves - it's just that one person is using their moves to punch or kick while the other person is using their moves to block/parry, cover/etc.

Dont know how to post well yet. KFW may have repeated an excerpt from my post, from a couple days prior, on a forum we both visit. Here is my note on Principle of Action and Reaction and timing:

"Principle of Action and Reaction For every action, there is a reaction. Every time you take a step, the attacker gets to take a step. You want your technical ability to stand alone, not relying on being faster or physically stronger than your opponent. For example, you dont want to rely on doing five actions to the attackers one action. (Knowledge, understanding and skill helps in working within this principle.)"

"Timing is the skill of executing a move at the right time. What is the right time? Its the time at which the move can be the most effective.
Some moves work without timing, providing you have a strength advantage or leverage, or both. If your opponent is standing square on his feet, poised and ready with good balance, you may be able to lift him and throw him anyway if you are much stronger. No timing involved. You will however spend a lot of energy, and your chances of getting countered are very high, especially if your opponent is skilled.

Whenever you do a move, you want to think about the right time to do it. Figure out the right timing.

The proper timing requires the following conditions to be true:
1. Your opponent moves into the (weak) position you anticipated, the way you anticipated;
2. You are in the right place to do the technique;
3. Your position allows you to perform the technique; and
4. You know how to perform the technique.

If these 4 conditions above are met, you can execute the technique with good timing.

#4 is your technical skill.

#1-3 have to do with predicting the future: You need to know where your opponent is going to be ahead of time, so you can put yourself in the right spot and position yourself in such a way that when the opponent gets into the weak position, you are ready to attack.

Some people think of timing in terms of fast reaction time: you see a weakness and you attack it right away before your opponent gets a chance to make himself secure.

This is a shortsighted approach and will only work if the opponent remains in a weak position for a long time. It happens, especially in groundwork where people can spend several seconds or even minutes in weak positions because they dont realize they are exposed. Standing, timing is far more difficult to achieve as people, even beginners, move and constantly shift their balance.

Fast reaction times will only do so much. To have good timing, you need to predict your opponents position and movement several seconds in advance."

A couple drills I believe follow the above principles and address some of the subjects (e.g., controlling space, distance, timing, etc.) discussed in this threadwhich I can go over in more detail and relate to "one step", but this post may already be too long.

George Hickman (owner/coach) of Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA:

Start at MMA distance where the opponent has to bridge. In this modern day and age if I just go to shoot a double leg, hes going to see it coming from a mile away. Controlling the distance knuckle to knuckle is very, very important. Because, he can just counter me. So, I need to feint or fake to make my opponent put his hands up.The opponent may just step back. So, I need to shuffle step to bridge the distance....


Dynamic Striking
Oct 28, 2020

This fight training video explains setting traps to counter the lead hook.

 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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Whenever you do a move, you want to think about the right time to do it. Figure out the right timing.

The proper timing requires the following conditions to be true:
1. Your opponent moves into the (weak) position you anticipated, the way you anticipated;
2. You are in the right place to do the technique;
3. Your position allows you to perform the technique; and
4. You know how to perform the technique.

If these 4 conditions above are met, you can execute the technique with good timing.

#4 is your technical skill.

#1-3 have to do with predicting the future: You need to know where your opponent is going to be ahead of time, so you can put yourself in the right spot and position yourself in such a way that when the opponent gets into the weak position, you are ready to attack.
I agree with all of this, except point 1. I agree that's definitely helpful, but not needed. You have the option of that, or noticing when your opponent has moved to a weak position of which you know a technique. While it's better to set things up, it's important to always pay attention and see if your opponent gives you any extra openings you can use.

Might be nitpicky, but important.
 

punisher73

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What makes a good "one step" is understanding the purpose of the "one step" in the first place.

In Okinawan Karate, ippon kumite (which is usually translated as one step) was designed to interrupt the attacker so they couldn't have a continuous attack. It meant "one point" in time. It was a snapshot to train initial responses to the initial attack. Built into this would have been things like proper distancing, proper angling, proper target selection, proper body weapon etc.

In Japanese Karate, the distance was extended to mimic, Kendo and a more sports oriented approach. Add also the Japanese concept of "one strike, one kill" to the techniques and the emphasis of the drill is slightly changed.

So, a good "one step" should have a clearly defined objective and meet that objective. Those objectives should be clearly taught and communicated as to their purpose. For example, if Kenpo taught their "self-defense" techniques as I have seen some Kenpo instructors train them, its not an issue. They teach them as "flow drills" so the kenpoist can go from different targets with different body weapons without having to start and stop between movements.

Another HUGE part of the one steps is understanding what the techniques of your art are designed to do to your attacker. For example, if I look at a basic one step of the attacker throws a punch to the defender's face, why am I using the block I am using? I've seen many people just using the "block" to get in the way of the punch. If that is all you are trying to do, then why not parry? The block has a specific function and it is to attack the attack. The goal is to injure the attacking arm. If you train with this in mind, you will find a MUCH different response from the attacker for the defender's follow up technique. But, it all comes back to proper objective and understanding of what you are doing and why.

Even if we move the example to boxing. Watch what happens when a boxer just always covers up, it allows the other boxer to start stringing techniques together looking to create an opening. Watch what happens when a boxer counterpunches, it not leaves the attacker at a momentary disadvantage because his intent was interrupted. (yes, I am over simplifying it for the example).
 

Kung Fu Wang

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"Principle of Action and Reaction For every action, there is a reaction. Every time you take a step, the attacker gets to take a step. You want your technical ability to stand alone, not relying on being faster or physically stronger than your opponent. For example, you dont want to rely on doing five actions to the attackers one action. (Knowledge, understanding and skill helps in working within this principle.)"
Agree with you 100% on this. You and your opponent should use the same clock.

understanding the purpose of the "one step"
A good one-step should train a certain principle/strategy. It's like the English grammar. When a student has learned the grammar, he can construct as many sentences as he wants to. This way, the student can grow tall and not just grow fat.

Grow tall - understand the principle/strategy.
Grow fat - understand the technique but don't understand the principle/strategy.
 
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Gerry Seymour

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I don't want to ask much more than the question on this one, because I want it to be left open-ended. I will specify one thing: I'm referring to the choreography and teaching of the one-step by the instructor, not the performance by the student. What is it that separates a good one-step from a bad one? Alternatively, what makes for a good one-step (tips to follow) or what makes for a bad one-step (things to avoid)?
I haven't caught up on all of the answers here, so I might be repeating other responses.

What's the purpose of the 1-step? That will affect what it should be judged by. For instance...

If the 1-step is meant to teach some transitions, then so long as the transitions are in there (and given focus in the teaching). This would mean nothing about the attack-response sequence needs to be particularly realistic, though the transitions probably ought to be some that are used often in some part of the training/fighting strategy.

If the 1-step is meant to provide a usable sequence for fighting (whether self-defense or sparring/competition), it should mimic in some meaningful way the likely movements, the way good padwork does in a boxing gym. Here, things like keeping the "turns" realistic (for every action you do, the "opponent" should also be attempting some action).

There are other possible uses for a 1-step, and those would alter the evaluation criteria, too.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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What's the purpose of the 1-step?
One-step may be used to solve a certain problem. It may not be a finish fight move by itself.

For example, the purpose of this one-step is just to move your head under your opponent's arm in an upper collar grip (or dodge under a hook punch). What will you do after that is not defined in this one-step.

 
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drop bear

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This ^^^

If I could pick one bad habit to fix that I see in many, many karate, TKD, and kenpo schools, it would be the practice of drills where the attacker throws a fully extended punch which comes up 6 inches (or more) short of the defender and then leaves the punch hanging while the defender goes through a sequence of counters. To my mind, the incorrect range is worse than the punch being left extended and worse than the defender getting multiple moves to the attacker's one. That incorrect range makes the timing wrong. It makes the angles wrong. It makes the footwork wrong. It alters the techniques that will work. It basically messes up everything.

BTW, just to make sure I wasn't misremembering the prevalence of the problem, I went on YouTube and searched for TKD one-step sparring. I went through the first 8 results and 6 of the 8 had the attacker stepping in with a fully extended punch which came up anywhere from 2 to 8 inches short of the target. Note - all of the demonstrations were by black belts.

I think that one-step drills can have value, but performed this way I think they are worse than useless.

I was thinking about this. And I don't think it is the main issue.

The problem is with one step. You see the punch then adress that with the appropriate response. Which is an unreasonable expectation at speed.

And why almost nobody can really do random punches the same way.

If the defence was pro active and you were fighting for the angles, distance and timing before the punch was thrown. A punch that falls short probably wouldn't mess you up as much.

(Not saying to fall short. But it is not the mechanism that hinders these drills)
 

drop bear

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How do your students select what self-defense they perform?

In my first school, self-defense wasn't on the test. In both my most recent school and my current school, self-defense is prescribed by the Master for the test. The difference is that on your way to black belt at my old school, there were over 90 of them (23-26 total on the black belt test itself, depending on age), whereas my current school there are 14. But everyone who is a yellow/advanced in my current school does defense 1.1 and 1.2, every green does 2.1 and 2.2, and everyone going for black belt does all 1.1-7.2.

If your school is similar, then I would argue that as helpful as this information is, it's also off-topic for this thread. I was looking more at the creation of those techniques than the performance of them.

For example:
  1. Step offline, block, chop
  2. Step offline, block, chop, palm strike, body punch, elbow strike
  3. Step offline, block, chop, palm strike, body punch, hook punch, elbow, backfist, punch, front kick, jumping back kick, spearhand, ridgehand, and then 10x horse stance punch to various targets
  4. Step offline, block, grab the hand, roundhouse kick, use the kick to set up a sweep, pin them down and punch
  5. Kneeling back kick, kick with the other leg, stand up, grab the hand, sweep, pin them down and punch
The first one is overly simple, but good for beginners. The second one is a combination, but a small enough combination to make sense. The third one is the much maligned "throw 20 moves while the opponent just stands there." At what point in this kind of one-step does it go from "good combo" to "just plain silly."

The fourth is what I would call a prototypical punch defense. It blocks and immediately grabs the punch, and then uses that to set up some strikes (with added power from pulling them in, something we also do in Muay Thai), and mix in some grappling skills. The fifth is kind of the same, except there's so much time between the punch missing and the arm being grabbed that it's very unrealistic to be there.

Another minor example would be two very similar techniques from my old and my new school:
  1. Step to the right, block with the left hand, chop inside with the right hand. Left hand grabs their wrist, right hand grabs their shoulder. Bend them over, right knee strike, left 12-6 elbow strike. The left hand is used because the right hand is holding the shoulder down, which "pins" them in that position. If you used the right arm to elbow strike, there's much more opportunity for them to stand up and avoid it.
  2. Step to the left, block with the right hand, palm strike with the left hand. Right hand grabs their wrist, left hand grabs their shoulder. Bend them over, right knee strike, left 12-6 elbow strike. To me, this makes less sense, because letting go of the shoulder pressure gives them the opportunity to stand up. The right arm holding their wrist doesn't do anything without any additional anchors.
This is the kind of thing I'm looking at in this thread. What makes a one-step make sense, what makes it not? For what it's worth, at both schools, there are ones I really like, ones I like but would tweak, ones I don't like, and ones I think make zero sense. Those that I like (or at least would tweak) make up around 75% of the curriculum.

Bear in mind people coming up with their own defences invites a trip on the crazy train due to the idea that if the person gives you 20 feeds. You need to give 20 different responses to show depth.

Which is the opposite to fighting. If you look at the UFC stat's. There are only about 4 things that work.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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A punch that falls short probably wouldn't mess you up as much.
In training, you know that your opponent will step back, and your full powerful punch will miss into the thin air. It will be unwise for you to commit 100% on your punch.

The simple question is if you know that your punch will be blocked, will you still put 100% power into it (even in training)?
 
OP
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Bear in mind people coming up with their own defences invites a trip on the crazy train due to the idea that if the person gives you 20 feeds. You need to give 20 different responses to show depth.

Which is the opposite to fighting. If you look at the UFC stat's. There are only about 4 things that work.
I don't really understand this at all. Just in terms of fight finishers, I've seen tons of different techniques used for both KO and for submission. That's not including other techniques that are used along the way to set those up.
 

JowGaWolf

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I don't think I used one steps in my sparring training. I mainly use them to develop the motion of a technique and not the application of a technique.

I need to see the body movement of my opponent when I train application. One steps do not use the same prep steps and body movement that free sparring strikes have. You opponent's body movement and shifts in body weight will notify you when a strike will come in.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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I don't think I used one steps in my sparring training. I mainly use them to develop the motion of a technique and not the application of a technique.
What's the difference between "motion" and "application"?

Here is a "one-step" training. When your opponent sweeps your leg, you bend your leg at your knee joint and let his foot to pass under it.

Is that "motion", or "application"?

 
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Gwai Lo Dan

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Alternatively, what makes for a good one-step (tips to follow) or what makes for a bad one-step (things to avoid)?
In a word, "realism" or in 3 words, "understanding of realism".

For fun, I have imagine I am showing a non martial arts friend my favourite one step.

The problem is I HAVE TO KEEP CORRECTING HIM to show the technique.

1) No, you need to punch with your right hand
2) No, you need to step forward with your right foot while punching with your right hand.
3) No you need to stop your hand about 12 inches in front of my chest, so that I can use my mid-range technique (e.g., crescent kick)
4) No you need to go slower so that I can block your punch.
5) No you need to hold still after your punch so I can keep going with 3 other techniques.

The worst part is if people don't see that some of these are a practice without application as practised.

Example: One instructor said that a technique was really effective: block the punch go behind the person, fall to the ground , scissor kick the legs, the upkick to the groin.

I didn't correct her. To me, that 1 step does have some merit.
1) No matter how bad of a position you are in (eg lying at someone's feet when they can stomp you), there is always SOMETHING you can do. Just do whatever the best move is.
2) If you are on the ground, and especially if you have no particular ground skills, an upkick is likely your best bet.

I hate no only 1 steps, but the requirement to memorise them. "You forgot what number 15 is? Oh you need to know them off by heart for your black belt test."
 

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This may sound like a joke, but we can see so many online videos are all doing this.

Why?
My thoughts on 'why' are near the beginning of this thread. When people don't know how to actually apply things (or have never seen actual violence) they create fancy choreography to make it look like they're great fighters...
As to why they do that, that's simple.
EGO.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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My thoughts on 'why' are near the beginning of this thread. When people don't know how to actually apply things (or have never seen actual violence) they create fancy choreography to make it look like they're great fighters...
As to why they do that, that's simple.
EGO.
But for EGO, if you want to show your amazing speed, you don't have to hit your opponent 6 times before you drop him. One punch is good enough. To hit your opponent 6 times to drop him just further indicate that you have no knock down power.



 
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For fun, I have imagine I am showing a non martial arts friend my favourite one step.

The problem is I HAVE TO KEEP CORRECTING HIM to show the technique.

1) No, you need to punch with your right hand
2) No, you need to step forward with your right foot while punching with your right hand.
3) No you need to stop your hand about 12 inches in front of my chest, so that I can use my mid-range technique (e.g., crescent kick)
4) No you need to go slower so that I can block your punch.
5) No you need to hold still after your punch so I can keep going with 3 other techniques.

The worst part is if people don't see that some of these are a practice without application as practised.
I had a white belt woman come up to me before class one day and say she's having a problem with a technique. She can do it in class. But when practicing with her black belt teenage son, it doesn't work, because he's too strong. I explained to her that what we're doing with a one-step is drilling a technique. All techniques have counters. But over time of drilling enough different techniques, you get a sense of what to do based on where your opponent is applying strength.

The technique she was having trouble with starts with bringomg the opponent's hand up and inside. In a real situation, if your opponent resisted that motion, you would bring their hand down or outside and switch to a different technique. (Or a few other tricks to get around their strength).

I say this a lot about forms, but I think the same is true of one-steps: they are great at what they are, and not great at what they aren't. The one-steps aren't a replacement for sparring, and they shouldn't be treated as such. Not by those practicing them, nor by those teaching them, nor by those judging arts for including them. I think the term "one-step sparring" is a poor translation, because people read that and thing that's what Taekwondo does for sparring.

I will say, we do the same thing in BJJ. When we're practicing lasso guard sweeps, I let my partner get into lasso guard, even though I'm generally better off stopping him from doing so. I don't just jump over onto my back, but I also don't base as hard as I can against the sweep.

One interesting thing I'm finding is that a lot of what we do in TKD and HKD is similar in BJJ and Muay Thai. So all the criticism I see online from those arts, I'm adding more salt to take it with.
I hate no only 1 steps, but the requirement to memorise them. "You forgot what number 15 is? Oh you need to know them off by heart for your black belt test."
I had the same frustration with my school, especially because it just ballooned after black belt. Although my issue was in the other direction - people would memorize the movements, but not really internalize it. Some would. But some would fit thee description of Taekwondo as just being dancing.

The problem was most apparent in the punch and kick combinations. For example, if the Master calls out "Kicking #5" and you're supposed to do roundhouse kick, back kick, and double punch. The problem is, a lot of students would basically do a turn-step and two maraca shakes instead of actual kicks and punches, because they were focused more on memorizing than anything else.

With that said, my Master's belief is that most people won't practice unless they need to memorize it. Using the above example, how many people are going to practice kicks at home if they don't need to memorize them? How many people are going to practice the back kick at home if they do?

My theory is that most people will meet the bar, instead of trying to exceed it. If the bar is that you need to know the back kick, most people will practice it until they can spin comfortably, and then stop. But if you need to remember it, then you might practice until you can do the combination when "Kicking #5" is called.

But...I would rather spend class time on teaching how to do a better back kick, than on reminding students that "#5 is back kick".
 

JowGaWolf

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What's the difference between "motion" and "application"?
If you are training a technique but the movements and delivery are different from, they would be if you were in a fight, then you are only training motion. This is training the motion of the technique. The motion lacks the motion used in fighting. This is only training the movement of a technique but not the applications. Proof is simple. Fight like this in a real fight and you'll be crushed.

Here the students are doing similar training like a one step with the pads. Application movement is what the teacher is doing when he includes fighting movement with the technique movement. If he had a partner, then his partner would also use fighting movement. When I taught the sparring classes all the training was with fighting movement. In the regular classes taught by the other instructor, we did drills that were like one-step.
This is application training. Your partner moves like someone who is fighting Tyson. This is professional level

Most of us are at this level. This is also application training. With a lot Chinese Martial arts. This is the safe speed until both get better at seeing and recognizing strikes. In this situation, you know the movement of a technique, but now you must learn how to apply it with fighting movement.

Here is a "one-step" training. When your opponent sweeps your leg, you bend your leg at your knee joint and let his foot to pass under it.

Is that "motion", or "application"?

This would be one step for me. Fighting movement is missing:
1. Sparring partner allows Entry vs Sparring partner must gain and set up entry.
In application training my sparring partner should present various opportunities for me to apply a technique, but he should not give me the opportunity. I must learn how to see, gain, and create the opportunity. The better I get the more difficult my partner must make it.

This is a training application. The instructors give the students openings and students must recognize the opening and apply the appropriate technique. In the first couple of minutes the instructors (without head gear) are only playing defense. This means students must engage and be on the offensive with their kung fu. We intentionally put our footing so that they could try to sweep it, but for the most part, they didn't see the opportunity. We also provided higher than normal guards so that they could kick the openings that we were showing. They saw some openings but missed many other opportunities. To me this is application training.

This would be my applications training. How can I sweep an unwilling partner? This is the question that I had to find answers for. Technique movement + fighting movement = application. I'm the guy doing the sweeps and I get called out at the end by one of the instructors. He had just watched me pull off some sweeps on the other instructor, so now he believes that he's safe from my sweeps. Now my new question is "How can I land a sweep against someone who is trying to defend it?" You'll hear the teacher laugh because I pulled off a double punch, then I landed a successful sweep. The difference between application and movement is that I don't know which entry that I will use ahead of time. One instructor had lighter footwork. The other instructor had heavier footwork. I could not use the same approach or entry for both. Sweeping a mobile person is different from sweeping a more rooted person, even though the technique is the same. That entire sparring session was just me focusing on how to set up sweeps and time the fighting movement.
Learning
 

JowGaWolf

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My thoughts on 'why' are near the beginning of this thread. When people don't know how to actually apply things (or have never seen actual violence) they create fancy choreography to make it look like they're great fighters...
As to why they do that, that's simple.
EGO.
Yes and no. I think most of it is incorrect assumption. Because they aren't using it in sparring. They are making guesses about the technique becasue they have no experience using it often.
For example. Dragon tail sweep as they see it and understand it. This is what I expect the conversation to be from someone who doesn't use a lot of it.

This video is older than the one they posted above but I use a dragon tail sweep that is set up the same way but doesn't look like anything they are talking about. Why is that?

The discussion that they are having is more like the assumptions that a person makes as they are trying to learn how to use the technique. It's the same process that I went through with a lot of my techniques.
1. Think about the right entry for a technique
2. Try it out to see if you are right. Repeat step one if you are wrong about your assumptions.

One step sparring will cause people to make a lot of assumptions about a technique, which is why it's important to always remind students and ourselves the purpose of one-step which is to train the movement of the technique.
 
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