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Timing is everything. We say “if you are early, you are on time; if you are on time, you are late; if you are late, you are dead”. The essential element of timing can not be overemphasized to the beginning student. Likewise, it is the one thing every beginner struggles with the most. When I was a student under GME Leo, all I heard was “you’re late”. For my students, I try to give a little more information as to why they are late and how to fix it. Giron Escrima teaches the student from the start to be half a beat ahead of their opponent. When the aggressor attacks, he is already disabled. He just doesn’t know it yet. What few people understand is that timing is an act of faith. Attitude, mental supremacy, cockiness, confidence, courage; these are all words used to describe the mental state of the superior defender. I prefer “faith”. In keeping with the philosophy of “Bahala Na”, placing your faith in God’s Will gives you the advantage in combat. Let’s try to tie this to a specific technique. The next defense in the number 1’s is inside block. The technical steps to proper timing are simple: step to 12:00, “punch” your opponent’s weapon, block slightly in front rather than to the side, clear to the side to avoid recoil of your own weapon, check and follow up as quickly as possible. I have given these directions hundreds of times and as soon as the beginning student puts them together, I am shouting “you’re late”. So, even given all the tools of the technique, the beginner can not fully execute the proper timing until they learn how and when to put the techniques into play. It is a strange amalgam of courage and technique that allows someone to successfully execute a defense and as we practice year after year, the line between the two becomes more and more blurry. Is it technique? Is it faith? Is it both? Sometimes we who have practiced for years forget that there are small, intricate technical steps that one must learn before one can apply the technique and we wonder why students are so slow to “get it”. We have surmounted the hurdle of combining faith and action. Our students have not. If we consider the technical elements as the “nuts and bolts” are not enough, what is the catalyst that makes the difference between the beginner who is constantly late and the graduate who can surprise an attacker with his speed? It is faith. Faith is the catalyst. Practice and wisdom are the whetstones on which you hone your ability to discern when to apply a technique, but faith propels your actions. Beginning students need to be encouraged to have faith in the technique. Ultimately, they will get it. Then they will learn to have faith in themselves. And, ultimately, they will learn that strong faith in themselves and their techniques stems from a strong faith in God.

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Guro Lawrence
Great post on timing! Hope to see more!
Nicely stated. I often tell my students that if they believe it will work, then it will.

Timing is an element that students must understand. It is interesting to see when a particular student begins to piece together the rhythm, movement, and the applied technique with the proper timing. Equally interesting is when they fail.

Allow me to share an amusing example. I was demonstrating that no matter how fast the attack, I could move extremely slow as long as I utilized the proper timing. I had showed this versus several attacks, and was focusing against the angle 1 since this is often the building block for new students.

I stepped back from the student that had been attacking me, and was explaining in more detail how to utilize timing. As I was explaining, I had my student attempt the same action. I stepped back again while addressing everyone. (I was now facing all of the other students) I stepped towards my student and swung the angle 1 at him with speed; fully expecting to hear and feel the correct technique against the attack.

Unfortunately, my student didn't move. I felt the stick hit him across the head, instantly stopped my motion, and turned to see a very surprised and dazed student. Thankfully, I didn't intend the attack to hurt him and hadn't delivered it with power, but we all waited to see him drop. It was a great lesson!

He was definitely late... =)


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