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Had a great early morning training session with Dan and Janelle working on absolute basics.  I've heard it was Arnold Palmer who said "Practice doesn't make Perfect, perfect practice makes perfect".  It's funny how we all get into habits; little things that throw off our game.  I notice it myself in my daily routine.  I do my warm ups every morning at 4:30 during the week and sometimes, I phone it... in, I admit.  The more I do this, the more I slip, little by little into bad habits.  Blade angle is a good one.  If you don't pay attention, you'll be surprised how fast you can lose the proper blade angle.  Often, I see people going through their warm ups and deliveries with improper blade angle.  This is mostly due to improper posture, foot position and hip engagement.  If you want to test your blade angle, freeze mid delivery and have a friend swap your stick for a training blade.  Also, I notice a lot of follow ups using the base or middle portion of the cutting edge rather than the tip.  Uncle Leo used to remind us to cut with the tip.  This is not only to keep distance, but also to be sure you are cutting soft tissue and not bone.  I will sometimes take one of my real bolos out to the orange tree, pull off some of the ugly fruits and practice cutting.  It's one thing to hack an orange in half but I will try to cut 80% of the way through with the tip, leaving the back of the orange barely connected.  This helps me target with the tip.  Try this at full speed and you will see very quickly how hard it is to control the blade.  For even more fun, I will sometimes suspend  an orange on a string and try to cut it with my daily carry knife.  It always surprises me how little damage I can do to a target that moves away as I hit it.  Flicking, jabbing, snapping hits do more damage to the ligaments in my arm than to the target.  Easy flowing, well practiced and deliberate strikes tend to hit their mark more often and do considerably more damage.  Of course, an orange isn't an attacker.  But, it helps us understand what it is we are trying to gain control over and how our daily practice needs to be disciplined and correct lest we teach ourselves to hit wrong and ineffectively.  Practice hard, practice often and practice like you will fight.  When the time comes, you will fight like you practiced.  GLM

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Comment by Master Ron England on February 17, 2015 at 3:24am

Thank you, great post and points on blade control. A blade usage story: In the mid 90's I had several, 20 year old guys training with me (Derobio Escrima) and we had been doing a lot of Bolo training. So one Saturday I loaded them up in my van and took them out to my house in rural Oahu Hawaii. I had several banana trees in my yard and told them to clear the trees out. I first gave them a demo as they were all city boys on how to cut with a machete. I picked a tree of about 9 inches in diameter and proceeded to cut through the tree in one blow. The first young guy grabs the machete and goes to cut another tree of about the same size. He takes a nice swing but the blade bounces off the tree and his friends all laugh, he was a bit embarrassed. To make a long story short, we did not leave until the last of the trees were cut back and the boys learned it was a lot harder to use a machete for actual work that it seemed (they had much better blade control and some nice blisters too). I then told them how when I was a young guy of about the same age growing up on Guam (1968) I worked as a machete "operator" for a grounds maintenance company. For a few years I swung a blade for a living 6 days a week, 8-10 hours a day (no weed wackers in those days). When I see photos of the old time Filipinos that cut Hawaii cane 6 days a week, I have great respect for how hard of a job that was. No wonder those old Manoys & Manongs were so damn efficient with a blade, it was their constant companion. My point in agreement with your article and in closing, if you really want to be good with a long blade, go out and use it to clear brush, or banana trees for extended periods of time, only then can you call yourself a "machete man". Btw: I still regularly use a machete to cut brush off the fence line in my yard, it keeps me in practice and I love swinging the blade.

Comment by Guro Lawrence Motta on February 17, 2015 at 11:35am

Master Ron, I love that story.  I've been a carpenter for over 35 years.  Over 30 of those were in the field swinging a hammer every day.  Lord help you if you face me with a framing hammer in my hand!  I also spent a good portion of my career sharpening my own hand tools.  A couple weeks ago, I brought out my stones to show my students how to sharpen a blade.  I never realized how much I took for granted until I tried to tell them what to do.  I think my bones have grooves in them from doing the same thing over and over.  In the end, the bolo, cane knife, hammer, whatever, is a tool and using it daily will teach you a lot of basics and make you proficient.  Thanks for the comments!!

 

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