Sunday, April 19, 2015

Danger! Restricted Area!!

(Thanks for the inspiration MG Ben!!)

Just reading a training tip from MG Ben at Kali Majapahit Mothership.  In addition to being a fantastic martial artist and athlete, he is one of the most creative at finding new drills and exercises to challenge the students.  He leverages his experience in ADD/Parkour and really comes up with a lot of innovative ways to get you to discover yourself and how to move your body.  Pugay!!

In this post, he shared a limitation drill, where he forced students to respond but WITHOUT hitting the head as part of their counter.  This made them look for other alternatives such as locks, sweeps, throws, takedowns, but also attacks to the low-lines/knees and other options.
This is a fantastic idea, and the concept is worth further discussion.

Kali Majapahit is all about optionality.  What do I mean?
Guro Fred talks to us about our FLOW and our FLAVOR, which is how we make our Kali Majapahit unique to ourselves, moving in line with our own physiology and psychology.
Sounds great, right?  But all too often I find we are creatures of habit, using the techniques we like and know best, and failing to truly EXPLORE and develop other options for each situation.
As such, we become mechanical and we lose the beauty of Kali Majapahit, which is in being able to react to the new and changing situation effortlessly and finding the solution to each problem as it arises.  How do you train for that??

One of the very best ways is to create scenarios and rules in the responses to force us to find other channels and explore other options.  There are many ways to do this.  Here are a few of my favorites.

1) Limit the Style/Subsystem
Explore the difference in your body's attitude, distance, timing and psychology by restricting the response to any specific subsystem.  Respond only using Kali, Silat, Panantukan, Hakka Kuntao, Western Boxing, Dumog.  Force yourself to take and keep that mental and physical attitude throughout the drill.  As an even more advanced drill, let the instructor (or your partner) choose your subsystem before they attack and switch up every time.

2) Limit the Line
Restrict yourself to a certain dimension - high line, medium line, low line.  For the high line targets are head/neck/spine.  Medium line are liver/spleen/plexus/cocyxx, low line are groin/knee/ankle/feet and toes.

3) Spaced
Restrict yourself to either Largo mano (long distance) or Corto (short distance/CQC).  Force yourself to make and keep this distance during the drill, closing in or pushing away as needed to control and maintain the space you want.  (note: I deliberately omit Medio (medium distance) since this is used for transition only and NOT as a purposeful fighting range).

4) Inside Out
Restrict yourself  to only the inside or outside line.  This is a great drill with Sinawali 6 empty hand application, but can be expanded to weapons work as well (knife defense, single/double stick, etc.)

5) Downtown
Restrict yourself to groundwork.  Every response must bring the attacker immediately to the floor for submission. Vary the attacks to include punches and kicks.  This is great for working your single/double leg takedowns.

6) Uptown
Every attacker should seek a takedown/shoot.  Defenders' job is to stay on their feet and keep moving.  This is harder than it sounds. For a very advanced version, use multiple attackers and have one of them try to immobilize the defender's legs.

7) Wrist Wrecker
Great drill for sticks (foam sticks are better for beginners).  Have one partner put on arm guards or boxing/MMA gloves.  For any angle attack, try to contact the hand/fingers/wrist first. Learn to do this while keeping your focus on the center mass, not looking at the arms/hands. For more advanced drills, you need to hit the hands/finger/wrist 2 or 3 times for every attack.

8) Off the Wall
The defender starts the drill with their back flush against a wall.  Advanced students should use the wall to their advantage!  Another variation is the corner.

9) Immovable
The defender has one or both legs immobilized (as if the bottom of the foot is stuck to the floor).

10) Game of Thrones
The defender is sitting down in a chair and gets attacked by one or more attackers.

11) Rapid Deployment
Using any commonly carried personal defense item (EDC trainer), the defender gets attacked by one or more attackers who have foam sticks.  The goal is to deploy your EDC tool (folding karambit/knife trainer, scarf, tactical pen/flashlight, collapsible baton, etc.) while moving/evading attacks and responding.  You can't use it if it's in the bottom of your bag, right?

There are many, many more ideas.  These are a few I like.  Please feel free to share!

Restricting yourself is a great way to learn to FREE YOURSELF!  Now, GO EXPLORE!!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Someone You Can Depend On

"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”  And I said, “Here am I. Send me!""
 --- Isaiah 6:8

I am not Christian, but I like this verse.  It was quoted in the movie FURY, which I have been watching since I saw it in the theater, and then bought it on Blu-Ray.

This is an important quote, and I'll tell you why.

We live in an age of convenience.  Most of the things we need and use in our daily lives are done for us by someone else.  Someone cooks our meals, takes care of our health, manages our money, teaches us, entertains us.  Some of us have someone who cleans and does our laundry for us.  We are a consumer people, and we equate "freedom" with no longer having to perform menial tasks so we can concentrate on higher pursuits (new services even promise to deliver our food in 10 minutes or less)

However, when the chips are really down, in that moment of truth, I can tell you from experience --- you will be alone.  Somehow, some way, call it Karma or I-Ching or whatever, the really tough stuff always ends with Y-O-U and you always have to face it on your own.
At least I always have.

The good news is that once you come to accept this, you can make yourself ready.  HOW??

  • You can make time to exercise regularly and think about what and how you feed your body.
  • You can invest in making yourself smarter, and keep building a catalog of skills and experiences that you can draw upon.
  • You can make sure to meditate (at least a little bit) every single day so you can be calm and aware and very focused when needed. 
  • You can invest your earnings (at least some of them) so you will have money later in the future when you might need it.
  • You can spend time in the dojo, setting and achieving training goals and proving to yourself again and again that YOU CAN DO IT.  GO TO KALI MAJAPHIT They will take good care of you.  I know.  They took good care of me, too.

Most importantly, through these tasks you can begin to see yourself as a resourceful, capable adult - someone who does not back down from life's challenges.  You can become someone who instead rises to the occasion, does not crack under the pressure, and can deliver results when it really matters --- not just for someone else, but FOR YOURSELF.  You can grow up from being that needy child to become someone who is really able to give back to those around you who are important to you.  You can become the calm, confident YOU that you know is in there.

Trust me, you are stronger, smarter, braver, more resourceful... BETTER than you ever imagined. Give yourself a chance.

It is a fantastic feeling to do things for yourself, including any of the things I listed above.
It is empowering and helps re-establish your control over every aspect of your life.  Later on, when you do decide to let others do things for you (and you should), you do so with the full knowledge and appreciation of what is involved, and the gratitude that comes from knowing how hard things can be, and knowing how much easier life is when you have help.  take nothing and no one for granted.

There is NOTHING more beautiful than a strong, capable person.  IT'S YOU.
Don't wait around for someone to do everything for you.  What if they never show up??
Instead, take control of your life and become that someone you can depend on.
You can always be there for yourself.

The time is NOW.  

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Touch Me

Yeah! Come on, come on, come on, come on
Now touch me, baby
Can't you see that I am not afraid?
What was that promise that you made?
 - The Doors

There is almost nothing more important in martial arts than the sense of TOUCH.  I would argue it is almost more important than any other sense, including sight.  Philosophically, we are all connected, touching and being touched, by the energy and lives of those around us - living beings that we interact with, even for a moment, touch us and can change us forever.  Our martial arts is symbolic of this.

However, practically speaking as well, touch is critical to martial arts training.

Very often in class I see that students are afraid to touch each other (especially on the face).
While I recognize that there can be some deep-seated cultural and social rules around this, it is a big danger to the training and skill development if we do not touch each other.  The dojo is a laboratory where cultural rules (apart from courtesy and safety) must be broken in order to learn, explore and discover.

Specifically, touch is critical to our development of sensitivity and reaction.  Many martial arts systems have it, called chi sau or "sticking hands" in Wing Chun or te no tori "taking hands" in Aikido, a fundamental skill of practical martial arts is the ability to make and keep contact in order to feel the energy and direction of someone's movement and intent.  It is simply not possible to develop much skill without learning this.

Also of great importance is the use of touch in understanding how to move and control the body of the attacker.  Kali Majapahit is about attacking the structure of the opponent, and the only way to learn this is by touching.  We operate mainly on the head/neck/spine in order to take away the structure/balance/strength and control the fighting situation from the earliest possible moment. This can only be possible through touching and keeping contact.  In fact, this is the most ethical way to engage.

If we do not make and keep our touch, we are forced to use only the most temporary contact (percussion) to submit and subdue someone.  This is most likely to result in injury for either party since percussive impact is often imprecise and can be extremely difficult to control.  It is far better to make and keep contact, where we can manipulate the body to take away strength and aggressive intent without causing injury.  This is only possible through mastery of touch.

In training, it is absolutely necessary to touch our partners.  This is the only way to get a natural reaction that we can use to study the motion and build chains of techniques.  It is the only way to learn the degrees of pressure and force needed to control another person.  It is the only way to study locking and submission without injuring our partner.  Particularly, it is necessary to touch the head/neck/face since these are key gateways to controlling the spine and taking away the structure and balance of an aggressor.  We must, therefore, become comfortable in both touching and being touched as part of the training.  There is nothing rude about it.

We are NOT doing our partner any favor by not touching them.
We are NOT doing ourselves any favor by not allowing others to touch us or being hesitant to touch our partners.

If we are nervous or uncomfortable about being touched or touching, this is going to make it very hard to defend ourselves or to remain calm if a confrontation occurs.  For such people, it is common to panic, tense up or freeze when being touched by someone - not a great fighting response.

The dojo is the perfect place to gain confidence and safely learn how to do touch others and become comfortable with physical contact.  Instructors are there to ensure safety and give the right context to the situation, so students who are afraid can learn to overcome any apprehension.  Touching and being touched builds confidence and reinforces our sense of "connectedness".

This does not give us the right to hurt each other - in training TOUCH IMPLIES TRUST.
That means that what we do we must do with CONTROL.

Please do your partner the kindness of making contact, hopefully they will return the favor.

Remember, we are all connected... :-)

Sunday, April 05, 2015


"does the hand go on the left or the right?"
"which leg do I step with?"
"punch, elbow and knee? Or elbow, punch and knee?"

The first time I saw Guro Fred move I thought "Damn, he's fast..."  Seven years later at the recent Japan seminar in Tokyo on 28/29 March, probably the 1,000th time I saw (and felt) Guro Fred move I thought "Damn, he's REALLY fast..."

That was a great weekend filled with fellowship, great training, really cool techniques and, as always, a lot to learn.  many things Guro Fred said that weekend resonated with me, just as they did in Singapore when I started. One of them is about not being a "prisoner of the technique".  What does this mean?

In many traditional martial arts, especially arts which emphasize kata (forms), we are forced to mimic the instructor and do exactly as he/she does. At the beginning this is mostly about gross movements such as which leg is forward and which movements are in which sequence.  As we progress and begin to understand the purpose of the movement more, we observe more detail about specific angles, direction, weight shift and complex combinations of movements that yield different results.  As always, any deviation from these patterns is WRONG.  The goal is to burn into your muscle memory a very precise set of motions in a very specific sequence.  Used properly, this training builds the body, posture and breathing.  It creates a strong will and mind/body harmony and also disciplines the spirit.  This is admirable, but it is NOT FMA.

In the Filipino arts, individual expression is the goal.
Our instructors' job is to give us the right basics, the correct concepts and principles and teach us how to reinforce them through drills and exercises and examples.  Then they must allow us to express them (and expand them) our own way.  Your Kali must be YOURS and can be no one else's.  It is an expression of who and how you are as much as, ultimately, what you believe.  You can learn an awful lot about somebody through physical contact - yet another reason why our Kali Family is so close.  What you show is what you are, there is no way to hide that.
Thus, it is important that you learn to break free from the boundaries of what your instructors show you and find your own Kali, or what Guro Fred called "your flavor".

Boxing is a great example.  Boxing fundamentals are largely the same.  They consist of the same basic punches and the same basic footwork - no "hidden techniques" or "secret death punches" (not legally anyway).  At the same time, no two champion boxers box exactly the same.  They always express their uniqueness and individuality through the way they move, and this is one of the things that makes the "sweet science" so fascinating.  The physical chess is about more than just the punches - it is indeed a mental game.  So is Kali.

Like little children, at the beginning we learn by mimicry.  We imitate the movements and sounds of our parents and observe everything they do.  This is necessary to build the basic motor skills and building blocks of language.  However, if there were no individual expression then children would only ever say what their parents have said (scary thought) or do what was done before.  As parents we rightfully encourage our children to "be themselves" and to "express themselves", to explore their world (safely and with supervision of course) in order that they can discover their way.  It is no different for Kali instructors. As we learn, grow and EVOLVE, we expect our students to do the same.   The drills are designed to encourage exploration and should be used as such.  The goals is ADAPTIVE FUNCTIONALITY, the ability to take the principles and concepts we know and apply them effectively to any situation - physical, mental or spiritual.

In Kali, there is no rule book.  Instead, it is best to think of the techniques, patterns and drills as a set of guidelines, behind which sound fighting principles exist.  In class, pay attention to what your instructors do, but also let your mind consider the possibilities from each step or place. Seek what is efficient, what works best for you and what matches your body and your personality.  Rejoice in every discovery since this is what helps you to become an expert of motion.  Keep your sense of wonder.

As Madonna said "EXPRESS YOURSELF."

Break Free.    

Sunday, March 15, 2015

On Locking

While it is plain to see that anyone who has studied Kali Majapahit will have similar basics (including some of the KM "signature" moves), beyond a certain point all of us will express our flow in a slightly different way based on our unique backgrounds and personal preferences.

Some of us who come from boxing/kickboxing lineages will express KM principles with brutal and effective Panantukan/Sikaran styled Filipino "dirty boxing", while others with a JKD background may prefer a KM flavored "straight blast" or Hakka-inspired trapping.

My pre-KM lineage is mostly Japanese traditional martial arts including sword styles (Iaiajutsu/Kenjutsu), percussive styles (ninjutsu) and Japanese locking systems (Aiki).  That means that locks and locking show up pretty frequently in what I do and what I teach.  Lately some of my beginner students have been asking me about locking, so I'd like to explain why I think these systems are so important to learn, and a few pointers to improve your skills in this area of fighting.

During the recent Peaceful Warrior Camp, Swedish expert instructor Stefan Linarsson (6th Dan) gave a Locking class and the question was raised "Why bother locking?"  I think locking is essential for several reasons:

Locking involves being in close contact with your opponent.  In order to lock successfully, we must be near enough to take firm control of whatever limb or joint we are planning to secure, and keeping contact allows us to "feel" their intention and quickly/smoothly react to any changes. Staying close also puts us inside their punching and kicking range, and this makes it a great toolkit for use when the opponent is larger and has longer reach.  This also makes locks an excellent response when opponents enter CQB distance with us first.

By locking well, we are able to precisely control the amount of pressure we exert in order to gain the compliance we need.  In some situations, unfortunately, it is necessary to injure someone in order to stop their aggressive intent, but unlike striking systems, locking allows us the ethical chance to submit without injury.  This can be useful for dealing with people who are drunk or who otherwise do not warrant an aggressive and overly violent response.  Done well, locks offer a great option as part of an integrated weapons defense/disarming, since one principle for neutralizing a knife is to immobilize the knife arm to prevent the knife from making contact and moving to cut.  Lastly, many locks and holds can be properly applied while still standing, and this allows us to put multiple attackers in each others' way when needed.

Locking into a submission gives us the option of pain compliance to stop an attacker, versus striking arts where compliance comes as a result of the knockout - which can have more dire consequence of injury.  Law enforcement professionals often use locks as part of R & R (restraint and removal) as a step in applying handcuffs or plastic restraints to suspects.

Furthermore, since we will only ever fight when provoked or in defense of someone else, this suggests the other party has broken the law by committing assault.  Locking is an effective way of executing a citizen's arrest and immobilizing the suspect while law enforcement arrive on the scene.  While laws of countries and jurisdictions may vary, in general the reasonable use of force is allowed for citizen's arrest.  This may not include repeated kicks and punches to the head or use of weapons, but often will include locking.

Chokes and Strangles
Along with breaks, chokes and strangles are the most serious of the locking arsenal.  Locking the head/neck is always potentially dangerous, and can easily result in permanent injury or death.  As such these holds should be practiced with care and only used in very serious situations.  That being said, locking the head/neck is one of the fastest and best ways to get an attacker to stop. The sudden "black tunnel" of a strangle or the pounding of the temples and the shock of struggling for breath that a choke causes get just about anyone to submit.  Done properly, these techniques apply and finish so quickly that the opponent often has little chance to resist.

For clarity, chokes are head/neck locks that seek to block the opponent from breathing, while strangles target the arteries to stop blood flow.  The results can look the same (opponent passes out and goes limp), but the means are completely different.

So what are some keys to locking??

Isolate the target joints
Locking is usually done against (at least one) specific joint(s).  For each lock, take care to understand the specific area being targeted and learn how to isolate it.  This means that we immobilize the joint in order to limit its range of motion.  To effect the lock, we then apply pressure to the joint, usually against the typical range of motion.  This can result in pain compliance as the joint hyper-extends, or ultimately into a break.  All joints are not created equal, and some joints are simple hinges (elbow/knee), ball and sockets (shoulder/hip) or radials (wrist/ankle/neck).  As the above clearly illustrates, most locking principles work equally well on both high and low-line variants (elbow/knee, wrist/ankle, fingers/toes).

Angles matter
Precision is key when locking.  Especially when locking the elbow and knee joints (which is fairly common).  For example, finding the elbow lever position is easily done by aligning with the little finger on the hand, since the little finger always identifies the direction of the elbow hinge, even when the wrist/hand is rotated.

NO Slack
In order to quickly and effectively execute a lock, it is important that we remove any slack from the target joint.  This means that if the opponent's arm/leg/head can still move around, the lock will be loose and take more time to work, or may not even work at all.  Good locks do not offer any escape for the joint, and the opponent is not able to move the target in any direction except against the usual range of motion.  The most common reasons for slack are that we are too far away or are too shallow in isolating the joint.

Use Leverage and Torque
Once a joint is properly immobilized, we can begin applying pressure to it.  Most beginners try to do this using their arm/shoulder muscles.  This can work against a weak joint (elbow/knee) when the opponent is weaker or already compliant but can be challenging otherwise.  The best locks allow us to use our large muscle groups to apply leverage.  This means we should seek to use the muscles of the back, hips and legs primarily, or to deliver the full body weight in order to make the lock more effective.

Thus, when learning locks you should consider how the lock can be applied using the largest muscles available and how your body weight can aid delivering the lock.  Often, this means arching the back to extend the pelvis and deliver the back and legs into the lock.  In other cases, the lock takes advantage of the large chest muscles and back muscles in combination (especially pulling as you would in a "seated row" movement).

Lastly, relaxation is important to allow larger muscle groups to deliver the lock.  Tension in the arms/shoulders will prevent us from using the back/hips/legs and weaken our locks and make them hard to maintain.  To borrow an example from rock climbing, the arms/hands are used to set position and take balance, but the back/hips/legs are used to drive and deliver power.  This is exactly the same in locking.

There are many locks which apply torque or rotation to the joint.  Wrist locks almost always involve rotation/torque.  When this is part of a lock, it doesn't work well without it, so it is important to apply the torque fully when a lock includes it.  many students will focus on another part of the lock and miss the rotation of the wrist.  This makes the lock incrementally more difficult (or impossible) to execute.  Torque is a key to taking away balance and structure, and can be an essential part of the locking series.  If it is in the movement, don't forget it!

Speed and Simplicity
While there are some very involved and complex locks, I am more a fan of locks which can be executed very quickly and involve only one or two movements.  In the chaos of a fight filled with high adrenalin and stress, I find that slower, more complex movements fail, or are contingent upon injuring the opponent before application, neither of which are a preferred result for me.

It is highly likely that an initial hit will be required to disrupt the balance and concentrated before a lock is applied (called "atemi" in Japanese), this can usually be done with a good slap rather than a punch or elbow, and can be more about pain/distraction than injury.

A good lock should be on before the other person is aware of it and over before the other person can react to it.

Once these principles are well understood, smaller people have little trouble locking bigger people.

I hope the above will spark your curiosity in exploring the wide world of locking and in finding new effectiveness in your locking training.  These techniques should have a valuable place in your fighting arsenal.

See you on the mats!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Going Camping

Well, that's that.  The Bali Camp 2015 is over and life slowly starts to return to normal.
I am already thinking about the 2016 Camp --- every year it gets better and better...

If you were not there this time (first of all, shame on you!) then you have no idea what you missed.  It was CRAZY GOOD.  If you were there (Hurray!) then you know just what I am talking about.

We spent a week doing a variety of classes taught by some of the world's very best instructors, pushing ourselves and each other to the limit.  At the end, there was an emotional and joyous graduation for those who tested, and a warm feeling of camaraderie among all of us who had this wonderful experience together.  There really is nothing else like it.

Why do I love The Peaceful Warrior Camps so much (and why should you go next time)???

1) Curriculum
The curriculum is fabulous.  We cover everything from Kali to Pencak Silat to Bagua Zhang to Tai Chi, with yoga and meditation as well.  We have a great mix of Parkour-based conditioning as well. Over the course of the week we use single/double sticks, blades (knife/karambit), and spend quality time with our boxing gloves and mitts.  In prior camps we have gone deep into improvised weapons and the sarong for variety.  It's a great mix of styles and systems.  We are busy from 6am to 10pm so the days are pretty long, but the time just flies by.  In an instant, the camp is ending, and you are stronger and better than when you arrived a week ago.  You go home tired but very, very happy.

2) Intensive Study
Camps offer the unique environment for intensive study.  Our instructors often take a single theme and use this idea in the initial classes and then develop it and explore in detail throughout the camp.  This means we are able to experience an ongoing extension of the thought chain and have enough time to dig very deeply into the application.  In the 2015 camp we started with ideas in Kelit, Sinawali, and cross-body (right hand versus right hand).  Over the week we worked Kelit into empty-hand and karambit applications, and our Sinawali went into variations none of us had ever imagined before.  Cross-body empty hand led to cross-body applications of  knife/karambit versus knife, which brought us to some very unique (and effective) responses.  Every subsequent step builds on the one before, like a pyramid.

The instructors know what each other do so well that they are able to help even beginners connect the dots from concept to execution of any technique or style and help illustrate the contrast and comparison of different methods and concepts.

In the camp, we get just over 40 hours of mat time (not counting "secret trainings" and other ad hoc sessions).  For people going 2 hours a week back home, that is the equivalent of A LOT of training time (20 weeks for you math majors).  As well, since it is intensive, you really get a chance to burn in the muscle memory for the movements, and that helps even more.  Kali Majapahit cycles are 12 weeks long, and you could get the equivalent of a full cycle or more of training done IN ONE CAMP.  Yes, it's totally worth it.

3) Compare and Contrast
Unlike other camps, the Peaceful Warrior Camp is multi-style, multi-discipline.  The instructors all come from deep lineages in a wide range of Filipino, Chinese and Japanese systems (as well as diverse styles like Savate and Muay Thai) and even represent several styles of each.  This gives an unparalleled ability to compare and contrast various ways of thinking about distance, range, timing, entering, and moving.  Some strong similarities exist between seemingly different styles (circular movement in Pencak Silat Cimande and circular movement in Bagua Zhang, for example) and I am forever fascinated with the subtle differences and similarities between our Kali Majapahit and Guro Claes' Kali De Mano.

4) Forming New Habits
Camps are a great chance to break old habits and form new ones.  The Peaceful Warrior Camp is almost entirely vegetarian, and it offers a great opportunity to rest your body (and soul) from meat/animal products for a week while training.  It seems hard to do in everyday life with our structured work routines, but at camp you can use this opportunity to check out something new.
Guro Fred's deep background as a nutritionist and Sifu James' expertise in Traditional Chinese healing helps a lot, too.  Not to mention Guro Lila, who is probably the best vegetarian/vegan chef I have ever met (and always willing to share her incredible recipes!).  Going to camp is about "putting on the green glasses" as Guro Claes says and opening yourself to examining your life from a new perspective.  This can be the moment that changes the rest of your life (if you let it).

5) Conferences
Every night we gather for a special conference.  The topics have ranged from talks about nutrition and health to deep discussions of spirituality including Hindu/Tibetan Buddhist traditions, Esoterism and the Journey of the Soul.  Yours truly even ran a session on Financial Freedom and Investing.  There is a lot going on and plenty to think about.  Sifu James is a world-renowned expert on Taoism and just the chance to hear him and ask questions would be worth the trip to Bali.  The topics are presented in a very open and informative manner, and designed to help you develop the curiosity to explore further in conversation with the instructors or on your own after the camp.  These help us make the camp not just about training, but about learning and growing as well.

6) The Fellowship
I miss everyone so much already.
The camp has so many precious moments to connect with each other.  We had people coming from all over the world to be together, many old friends I haven't seen for a while, and many new people who brought their energy into our big family.  Our camp has NO POLITICS, NO DRAMA. Just good people and good times.  We train hard and support each other when the going gets tough (like Guro Lila's conditioning class!).  It makes us all very close.  By the end of the week I felt so connected to everyone, like we had known each other all of our lives.  I know Sifu James would say that's because our souls have met before, and I also believe that.  Still, it's such a great pleasure to see everyone and be together IN THIS LIFE.  We all go home knowing that we are part of something bigger; a collection of outstanding people all across the world who share and grow together - always welcome.  It is a beautiful thing, isn't it?

7)  Testing
Every camp has some people testing.  This time we were lucky to have people going not just for Kasama (assistant instructor) but for Kadua Guro (Black Belt Instructor) as well.  It gives the camp a buzz as we watch these candidates prepare body, mind and spirit and then go ALL IN to show everyone how good they can be.  They shone brightly and everyone was suitably impressed. These are unforgettable moments, key milestones on the path, and we are all proud to be witness to them.

8) The Laughter
There was hard training, yes.  That being said, it would not be the Peaceful Warrior Camp without the annual Belly Splash Competition, which always has some big surprises.  This year was off the charts with an unexpected win from Team Singapore --- Incredible Job!!
Work Hard, Play Hard, right? many great memories...Camp is just the best thing you can do.

SEE YOU IN 2016??

Monday, February 09, 2015

Sacred Geometry

(thanks for the inspiration Jeremy)

GREAT class last night.  Our beginners and intermediates had their own challenges to engage, while the advanced group worked through more free flow in stick, knife and panantukan.

One idea that manifested while watching the advanced group was how to simplify the strategy to a few key points.  Ours is a CQB system largely derived from Inayan Escrima/Barong combat.  Thus, we should generally endeavor to close distance with an opponent, stay standing, and finish quickly and decisively in corto.

Another key understanding is the use of lines and circles in how we flow in response to our opponent.  Generally speaking, when an opponent moves in a linear way we have the option to redirect their line, or to go around/choose a different plane.  In practice, this means that passing their straight line to our outside/inside, responding on a different plane (high/medium/low) or using a circular movement (hook versus jab) can be efficient ways to respond.  For circular attacks (hook/roundhouse) we are often best served by using straight line responses and entering directly along the center line, rather than trying to use a circle of our own.

Of course, in fighting there are rarely any absolutes, but thinking about the lines and circles of techniques can add perspective and is worth consideration.

"Simplicty is the shortest distance between two points" - Bruce Lee