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"There is nothing wrong with teaching children Kali. If you can teach a child, you can teach an adult. Keep teaching, keep training."
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I started my first Kali class this week. Im super excited to learn & grow as a martial artist! As a class we went over the basics, 1-12 and some of the foot positions (male & female Triangle) Its all very new to me but everyone else in the class has been doing this for a bit. One thing Ive noticed about myself is that im not very self-aware, nor aware of how others are doing things. I have to see a basic move done a few times before "getting them" much less could I do things on command without first memorizing them. Has anyone else experienced something similar, or have any advice on ensuring I keep mentally focused & on-point? Any advice is appreciated. Thanks so much!

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 ".....I have to see a basic move done a few times before "getting them" much less could I do things on command without first memorizing them." - Sounds like you are a normal student, beginning or advanced.

".....have any advice on ensuring I keep mentally focused & on-point? Any advice is appreciated."

Relax, be patient, slowly master your basics and foot positions in class under a watchful eye then go home and practice 1,000 times each technique.

When I begin with a new student without FMA background, I tell him or her to expect "total chaos" for anywhere from two weeks to a month.  That being said, there are fundamentals that are practiced every training day, regardless of the student's experience.  These are the things that one should focus on not only during class but, especially, away from class.  In class, listen, observe, and practice with intent.  Find someone in your class willing to practice with you outside of class, putting in the extra hours to "get it right".

It is very difficult to train solo when learning for the first time.  You need the physical and mental feedback to burn it in.  If you have the opportunity to simply observe more advanced students as they go through their routines, do so.  Analyze and cognitively link what they are doing to your basics.  Use what you know about your footwork and your blocks while imagining multiple attackers in sequence.  Ultimately, this can be your "carenza", i.e. your FMA shadow boxing equivalent interpreted in thoughtful, measured responses.  Even better with traditional music.  Be patient.  I have been practicing FMA full-time for 36 years, and I am still learning.

Just start by looking at all the exits wherever you go. Look around for potential weapons that will allow you to get to a primary weapon if need be. Its good to be aware of all that. If someone is acting up or being obnoxious, avoid him or her. Or go somewhere else. When walking around alone...if you feel something suspicious, it probably is. Never disregard your natural instincts or feelings. They are natures prewarnings. ;)

If he or she is old enough, have them go to a bar and not drink. Observe the crowd. Pick up on how people's judgement changes with alcohol. Watch how the bouncers handle people. Watch how the bartenders and how they serve. Where are the bathrooms? How can I get out of here if there is a fire, an active shooter, a knife right etc?
Seek arts outside of the combative arts. Musashi wrote in the book of five rings that if one studies the sword one should also study the paintbrush. I would say trying other sports can surely help with awareness, timing, speed etc. better yet watch a football game even if it's not a liked sport and try to be aware of what how the team is working in unison.
Hope that is of some value. Being aware of the world around us is a practiced skill and in my experience can be improved by searching outside of what we are trapped by, our own minds.
.... I missed that the question was more specific to technical development. Like mentioned above get the basics down. It really takes time and lots of trial and error. Question EVERYTHING. Know thyself. How do you learn the best? Always ask question and have humility. It's a life long endevour. Awareness comes.

Normal feeling especially if you never practiced any martial art before!

One wise advice Master Dani Faynot provides to any of his student, whether already experienced or not: when you attend a class, do your best and do not judge yourself: that is the teacher role and responsibility. One can not assess his/her own level, either for himself/herself or others( of the same level).

Usually we demonstrate too kind or too severe, rarely true ;o)

Carry on with patience and take care!

It's not uncommon. Eventually you will break things down into 'forehand' and 'backhand' (like tennis) and realize the problem is that everyone else is a mirror image of yourself (left is right).

But thinking 'forehand and backhand' was a good start for me.

Then be aware or look at what position the feet are in stationary. Is the left foot forward? Then the right forehand becomes like a right cross or a reverse punch.

Relate to what you know. Get a friend to video you for review. It's kind of like learning to dance and they put footprints on the floor to help you. You can also do that at home.

Then from there realize that the stick motions will cause you to feel the need to 'torque', your hips will move first, then you will be stappeing and swinging and reaching.

Learn basic 'heaven six' Sinawali as soon as possible then practice it on a tree branch then with a partner. It can take about a week or two to get the coordination down for that.

Yea that was one thing I noticed was difficult to me! The fact that they're reverse of me, I have to take a second to think about what they're doing, and how it would look if they were facing me direction. Thanks for the advice. i suppose rather than feeling like its a hindrance, i should recognize that its normal & just pay attention to it

It's so important to have good basic guidelines. For example two things that have always stuck with me:

1. Always have the 'point' of the stick facing your opponent. Do not have the tip go back behind you, but re-orient it to keep it pointing at the opponent (in sinawali).

2. When clicking sticks, try to hit with the last 2-3" of the stick on your opponent's stick. That gets you going on precision. Take it slow. You can even tape the stick tops in yellow to aid visual retention.

Precision and patience before going fast.

Good luck!
To Dennis and those who are talking 'tactics'. We should try to bear in mind that H2H martial arts is a HOBBY first and foremost and not a method of deadly combat. Can it serve as such at some point? Perhaps. Can FMA teach you aspects of how to 'fight', yes, if you take it to the level of contending with an opponent, using safety gear, learning how to bring pressure and timing to the fight.

But in reality, if you have serious self-defense needs you should train with a firearm and/or get a bodyguard. My opinion.


Lots of excellent comments here from some very respectable instructors (love this forum!).  I often find with my students that expectation outweighs ability.  Your conscious mind may conceive but you really don't "know" the techniques.  Understanding the concept and actually knowing it are two different things.  Most students today believe they know their techniques when, in fact, they really only have a tenuous grasp on the concept.  Be humble to the art or it will humble you.  I agree with Guro Hines that you can practice this art for over 30 years and still discover things you never knew before.  Be patient, get a partner and practice outside class.  Class is for learning the basic technique.  Your daily training outside class is for perfecting the technique.  I tell my students to go home after class and practice the techniques they just learned.  Don't go to class expecting to practice. 

Here is something to think about and help you reach knowledge.  Everything we teach has a function and that function is tied securely to your intentions.  We step a certain direction and twist our bodies for a reason.  Search out the reason; know your intentions.  Make those intentions into actions - true active verbs.  Then use the tools your teacher is giving you to execute those actions.  Students can build understanding from two different directions: outside in or inside out.  Most students land somewhere between these two extremes.  On one hand, you can build understanding from the overall intention (concept) to the specific movements - outside in.  On the other, you can build understanding of the overall concept or intention by rote repetition of the physical techniques.  Most students need to bounce between these two ends of the spectrum to effectively learn.  In other words, don't get so caught up in the intention of a technique that you lose the technical components and at the same time, don't be so technical that you lose the intention.  Eventually, you will find the middle ground of true understanding.  Good luck and keep us apprised of your progress in the art.  GLM


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