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.