Practical applications training is very different from sparring.
We isolate some action we wish to train, eg tan sau, and have a training partner deliver a particular strike eg a roundhouse punch so that we can practice the tan sau, get a feel for it and develop our structure relevant to this action.
The intensity of the incoming strike is built up as the student is ready. This allows the student to develop good structure and response, without learning to flinch inappropriately or develop other errors.
We don’t drill the applications ad infinitum. The applications training is just to develop the understanding of the action. How the action will be performed in the fight is determined by the situation, and no doubt will differ from the training, so to drill it in too much would only reinforce a particular response. Even in applications training we are still programming in ideas, not techniques. How these ideas will be used depends on the circumstance.
As the student’s understanding develops, we can vary the incoming strike and make it more difficult, eg the roundhouse punch becomes a hook punch, and eventually a straight punch, delivered from a position which would elicit a tan sau response. Then the tan is practiced on the outside of an incoming punch, and against a backfist.
Once the student is familiar with the action and at high intensity, the attacks are delivered at random, from either side.
When a student is familiar with fook sau responses in this way, the incoming punches are delivered at random from either side and any position. The student can then respond to incoming strikes by picking the line and using fook sau usually flowing into a punch or perhaps flowing into tan with an accompanying punch, ie tan-da. Sometimes the line asks for pak-da to be employed. This way the elements of stepping, facing, responsiveness and developing the ability to finish the fight in the first movement are all covered. The student also develops the ability to control the response, if the intensity is built up appropriately.
All of the forms, especially the dummy form, are goldmines of material for practical applications training. We can choose something to work on each session, and it all has value. Through doing this training, we develop a deeper understanding of the movements in the forms, and they adapt accordingly. Thus the whole systtem is constantly in a process of integration, linking it all up.
Just like all the rest of the training, this is work that keeps getting better as the years go by, fine tuning the responses, increasing the efficiency and the ability to read the opponent, find the centre and to finish them quickly.