Monday, October 22, 2012
We were lucky to have my friend Guro Romeo Ballares back in Japan and I asked him to come and give a special seminar on Redondo Arnis. Guro Romeo is an interesting guy - 5th dan in Yoshinkan Aikido, but also having done FMA since his childhood days including Illustrimo Kali, Modern Arnis, Balintawak, and some others. He is a spicy combination of the best of all of them, and a wonderful, kind and genuine person as well.
For my KM Japan students, most of them have had no direct experience studying FMA before joining my class. Several of them (thankfully) have visited our HQ school in Singapore, gone to the annual camp in Bali, and attended Guro Fred's seminars here in Japan and so they have an idea of how diverse the Kali Majapahit system is and its major influences. That said I encourage them to explore the richness of FMA as it is reflected in other major styles. Seeing the different approaches to the same concepts helps develop a well-rounded perspective, and different styles emphasize different aspects of the FMA, which can add depth to the students' understanding.
While on one hand I believe it is important to study a particular style deeply for long enough to feel really at ease with it (generally 10+ years of regular training), it can also be said that through diversity of experience we can more fully understand the core concepts and gather a wider variety of expressions. A critical flaw in Bruce Lee's Wing Chun training, for example, was not being able to learn the full footwork underpinning Wing Chun, without which the whole system cannot fully come together. At the same time, the awareness of this led Bruce to explore ways to fill that gap - which led to the emergence of Jun Fan/JKD, which has been a truly revolutionary discovery for martial arts that has had almost limitless influence on our training and philosophy.
As its name would suggest, Redondo Arnis uses a circular style as a foundation, and like modern Arnis, contains some overlap with Japanese systems, especially in some of the locking and disarming. They do emphasize a "walking" stick and FLOW, by having a variety of continuous-motion drills that develop dexterity, fluidity, and timing. KM, by contrast, is much more heavily influenced by southeast asian style (hakka kuntao, silat, muay thai/muay boran) and has almost no connection to the Japanese arts.
Despite having no direct experience in Redondo Arnis, I found many of the basics to be very similar to things I have seen elsewhere or have worked on in KM. At the core was single sinawali, which Guro Claes presented in Bali last year, and which is a great container/structure to work applications of flow, especially in the medium range (bridging to close range). This framework allowed us to explore both solo and doble patterns, as well as solo versus doble applications for working on our reactions and timing.
From this flow we were able to explore bridging from medium to close quarters via the puno, finding the entry point (and response to puno attacks) every time the sticks crossed. I have seen this flow in modern arnis before and I like it a lot. It offers a clear reason why controlling the hand (not just the stick) is so important when blocking. This led us to tapi-tapi drills to work on connecting the live hand to our partners and keeping that contact through the drill.
In the solo variation, we were able to experience the live hand contact with our partners, and ultimately this led us into a variety of disarms/strips in medium distance which were interesting and useful. Some were variations of other common disarms in medium range (vine disarm, snake disarm), while others were body strips using elbow or underarm which felt very practical and easy to apply under pressure.
I wonder how many of my students picked up that the single sinawali is basically a flow using the punch block series that we have been working on throughout this cycle...
The Balintawak influence was evident in some of the recoveries and blocks in closer ranges, where returning from the dunga (stab) rapidly was critical, and where we used a combination of stick on stick and hand trapping to control the centerline and open up abaniko or other fast responses exploding from the centerline.
We spent a final few minutes on daga and application, using what we had learned and finding a unique disarm that I liked a lot :-)
Overall, as a contrast to what our students see in KM, this was a great seminar by a very talented martial artist. Subsequently, I am sure we would be able to dig deeper past these basics into the depths of Redondo Arnis without disappointment, finding it (especially as Guro Romeo shows it) to be rich and robust, with plenty to take away.
Thank you again Guro for a most enjoyable Sunday in the park!