Why is it that so many Eskrimadors that demonstrate their brand only demonstrate drills or techniques? Is it because it looks more aesthetically pleasing to on lookers or is it because they're hiding something? Drills are an integral part of any martial arts training program as well as complimentary training for conditioning but do we rely on drills soley because we know they are a safe way of ensuring that we have complete control of the situation in front of an audience?
In my early years of training I was taught drill, drill, drill, but as time went by I grew tired of drilling all the time and wanted to test my knowlege. Members of my group invested in protective gear and we went for it. We went all out in full-contact sparring and what we discovered was that many of the things that we drilled upon didn't work. The other thing that we realized was that it wasn't very pretty either.
I always enjoy watching examples of the Grand Masters past and present that would get out there and challenge what they saw or heard by testing the water. Recently I watched a video of a Grand Master demonstrating sinawalli solo drills and afterwards another Grand Master sparred against him and disarmed one of his sticks within minutes with one well timed strike.
But this is just my prospective on this topic, what do you think? Do some Eskrimador's have a fear of failing?
What would you recommend as a "safe" alternative to demonstrating drills and techniques?
As far as discovering that many drills don't work - most taught drills will not work against an uncooperative challenger.
Do some Eskrimador's have a fear of failing? No. Just some people like myself do not like to fail. This is not fear. Failing can be used as an educational tool.
From a practical perspective, drills are used to develop skill sets. They are not necessarily designed to be employed as they are taught. Of course, you know that. :)
If a particular practitioner wants to test what they are learning, then jumping to protective gear is the wrong direction. To really test something it has to be alive and unrestricted. Anytime someone questions whether something I teach works, they open themselves up to pain. If they are not willing to be broken, then they aren't really ready to know if something works. The Manongs that came before us didn't don gear. They jumped into the fray willingly accepting the outcome...or more often, they laughed it off as childish ignorance.
It isn't a fear of failing, it is compassion for others that lack the understanding that what we do is designed to maim and kill. I may have mentioned this in a previous post, but I once had two gentlemen contact me to learn "stick fighting." When they arrived, it became apparent that their intentions were far from noble. They wanted to stick fight, and questioned the FMA in general. At the time, my students and I were working out in my front yard. I chose not to walk away - which I could have done. Instead I gave them a valuable lesson.
I insisted that if they wanted to truly understand FMA that we spar without gloves, helmet, etc. They were manly men and accepted the challenge to their egos. One of them volunteered to go first. As soon as the other man said begin, I struck my opponent on the hand disarming him and swung my stick in front of his face. Recognizing the pain and defeat he immediately backed away and started complaining that I hit him on the hand.
The second man didn't waste any time. He grabbed the stick and came towards me. I broke his hand - instead of his skull. He crumpled and joined the chorus of "you hit my hand." I politely asked if they wished to try again and promised that I would only target their heads now. They declined, but said they would like to learn. I turned my back and went to sit on my front steps.
As my student ushered them away, I just sat and shook my head.
I do not do this at seminars (I have not had to), and I do not do this as a regular part of class (because my students do not need constant reassurance). If I did, people wouldn't want to train. I'm mean enough and inflict enough pain already. :)
Hello John and Al S,
Warmest greetings to you both...
I tell you if words were eskrima sticks I'd be dead a hundred times over by now but since they're not, I feel comfortable to agree on some things and disagree on others. Note that I said in my "early years" we put on the protective gear... But gear or not, when we use real sticks and not padded ones or sticks wrapped in foam or rubber, it will still hurt well enough "if you ever tried it," just ask the Dog Brothers or watch some of their old vids.
But as far as a "safe alternative to demonstrating drills or techniques", well that would be skill. Here's where I agree... No one likes to fail or look bad in front of an audience, it would be bad for the self-esteem, reputation, and business if that is your "skill set."
That's part of the fun and the adventure - learning and sharing with each other. :)
I am not against protective gear for developing skills. I just feel they add a false sense of reality. That, and I dislike the extra inch or two it adds to the front of your face when you are wearing a helmet. Getting nicked on the shield by a shot that would have otherwise missed is annoying and can lead to training incorrect responses. I don't mind my opponents missing me by a millimeter. That simply means they will stay committed to that attack, and I can apply the appropriate response. :)
I can agree that there may be those that refuse to "put their skills on display" out of fear. And instead rely on drills and other methods to teach. However, I can also see where everyone would start to call someone a jackass or bully if everywhere they went they used their abilities and beat up attendees just to prove what they teach works.
We teach a blade based art. Most, actually all, of our techniques are designed to disable, destroy, decapitate or otherwise mame, break or severely injur our opponents. I have seen GM Malmo in action and he does very much the same thing. We don't teach sport fighting. Therefore, by necessity, every time we want to display our art to the public, we have to "approximate" the techniques; lest we leave a wake of body parts in our path. We use padded stick fighting, drills and other non-lethal techniques to both teach and display our "Art" but they are not the actual art, only approximations. This is a crucial distinction. My teacher, GME Leo Giron had the unfortunate opportunity to fully display his art in the no-holds-barred arena of combat. I say unfortunate because the taking of a life is never something to celebrate or brag about. He was certain to teach all of us that fact. But he used structured drills, combined with highly technical training and frequent sparring exercises to help bring us to an understanding (limited as it was) of the art in combat. He couldn't put live blades in our hands and let us hack each other to pieces. We use the same methods to display our art, not out of fear but out of necessity. The viewing public usually can not follow the subtleties of the art at full speed and in real time. So we have to approximate the techniques in a controlled display. Every approximation steps a little further from the true art but should contain a somewhat realistic highlight of the core technique. This way, an audience of non-practitioners can see the techniques in motion, understand their meaning and be inspired to study the art. Likewise with padded stick fighting competitions. Those who excell in this sport excell in the sport only but what they do to win could never be done on the street. Taking full force head shots to gain a grappling mount can only be done with a helmet on and so does not really display any art except the ability to take a shot in a stick fighting match. I think we refrain from displaying the true art not because we are afraid to fail, but because success means someone is going to be really badly hurt.
I believe that when you show your art publicly, you want to recruit students. I might be wrong? I know I don’t want to scare them away before they even get their foot in the door. It’s scary enough to be in class and have these weapons wiz by your face at 55 mph lol. I do have a story to tell though. I was teaching a class in the park in Albuquerque N.M. We kept seeing this low rider car circle the park a couple of times. Finally the car stopped and parked about 25 yards away. This guy comes up to the class and immediately issues a challenge. Walks right up to me and says I challenge you. My response was “say what??” And again he said I challenge you. O.K. and I started to explain what we did, and that my specialty was double sticks. I asked him what weapon he wanted to use and he pointed at the staff. I handed him a staff and picked one up myself. No head protection, no hand protection. By the way he held the staff I knew he had no chance. But your still carful, and you look at his friend in the care does he have a gun?? You never know. We then start circling each other and he goes off. Striking left right left it was easy enough to block, and I use the point of my weapon to push him back and also let him know I was in. And again he comes in a flurry and again I he does not come close and I tap him in the hands. This edges him on with a further flurry this time I aim at taking his legs out from under him and hit his ankle. This puts a stop to it. He bows to me puts the staff down goes back to the waiting car and they drive away. But this could have gone down differently. If I wanted I could have put a hurting on this individual, and maybe his buddy did have a gun. But in the end I let him walk away with some dignity. But my students were even more impressed with the control and calmness that I possessed during the situation. It’s not always about being this bad ass, it about having the humbleness not to boast about what you know, but to show humanity against aggressors who cannot defend themselves, as Great Grandmaster Pedoy put it. So yes we do drills, this helps with timing. Do we have fear? Yes, and I use it to my advantage. When it comes to fighting you have to believe in what you’re doing. I Do….
That's funny, I know he'll remember that ankle tap I know that hurt. You just never know what will be around the corner. I just remember that it all happened so fast. add to that your students watching and all the time still trying to set an example.
Hello GM Dan,
Great story, I always enjoy these stories as so many eskrimadors have faced similar situations.
"Drills are an integral part of any martial arts training program as well as complimentary training for conditioning."
Isn't it funny when someone challenges the status quo people quickly go on the defensive? I remember another young martial artist that challenged the status quo and the same thing happened to him and if my memory serves me correctly his name was Bruce Lee.
Me and a friend were practicing Heaven and Earth in a park at about 11pm at night, because we figured we would be alone at that time. Normally I don't go outside in the yard to practice, because I don't do it for an audience, and just want to be left alone. My training is for me.....And in a couple of years, my daughter :)
Anyway, we were at the park, and a car pulls up, and flashes headlights at us, so we stop. This guy climbs out his window (drunk) from the passenger side, and staggers a few feet towards us and says "I dare you to try that Tae Kwon Do shit on me!!!".........Yeah that was it, we both couldn't stop laughing lol. We were both rolling on the ground with laughter, and the guy seemed to get embarrassed, and the guy driving the car even started laughing, and they left. Best self defense I've ever used was reacting to his funny joke :D