Topic for this week: Take your warrior with you. Last weekend, we decided to loop back on fundamentals. The students have been working through the week on angles 1-12 and now that they are getting advanced, they decided it would be good to review. I still teach the old way. Everyone has to go through each number completely before advancing to the next. It's the way I was taught and I think there is deep value in it. The Giron system, taught this way, is complex and highly technical. It's easy to lose sight of the practical flow and dynamic nature of fighting while you are busy learning detailed foot and weapon work. That is the big danger of being a dilettante. If you only dabble, your understanding of the system will be limited both in depth and practicality. With that understanding, one has to ask what the real value is in sticking around through many years of detailed instruction. The value is self realization.
It has always been my intention to not only teach the techniques but also elevate the student's self awareness and help them grow emotionally and physically. The truth is that our system, I believe, cannot be learned without achieving a certain level of self realization. There is a large element of abandonment and faith needed to do the techniques correctly. Without it, you will not be able to effectively fight with just foot and weapon work. The pathway to that abandonment (read Bahala Na) goes in two directions; technical and intentional. You can learn the technique by rote and the intention will reveal itself and/or you can study the intention to revel the proper technique. In truth, those two seemingly disparate paths are traveled simultaneously.
Last weekend, as I said, we spent time going back on early techniques. My two advanced students wanted to revisit some of the #1 techniques. Now that they have gone beyond level 10, I am looking for them to bring out the true intentions of the early techniques. This is when it all starts to come together as years of study inform the techniques. Advanced students should not be concerned with exact footwork or precise body position. These should happen as a matter of course now.
One thing I always emphasize is returning to guard. We don't want the guard to drop after a technique because the fight continues onto the next attacker and the guard should always be in place, much like a boxer needing to keep up his hands. It was interesting to see one of my advanced students perform a defense and then settle back into her guard; technically correct but lacking intention. My instruction to her was to go to guard after the technique but to take her warrior with her, not leave it back on the plateau she came from. Once the fight is on and you are engaged, you can be in guard and prepared for what comes next while still pressing the initiative forward. Once you have taken the battle initiative from your opponent, you must press the initiative until the threat is eliminated, not just until the end of the technique. This latter behavior is that of a victim who blocks and then retreats back to a safe place waiting to get hit again. On a deeper level, this has a profound effect on the students journey to self realization. Understanding how we may be able to perform technically in the world yet still retreat to victim when the threat is defended, reveals in us all a vicious cycle and shows the student that the place they think is safe, that place they keep falling back to, is holding them back from truly advancing through the world; taking their new warrior self with them.