To keep other people from falling asleep, I try to explain in a way that will resonate with each person, especially if they are not martial artists.
Paul is a physicist by background, so science/maths is a great medium to try to explain what we do. Here goes...
When I walked into Kali Majapahit (at that time Ni Tien Martial Arts) in Singapore, I was AMAZED.
Guro Fred moved like no one I had ever seen (and still does). He was (is) like a predatory jungle cat - graceful, powerful, lethal: 100% martial and 100% art. However, it wasn't just how he moved, it was also how he spoke.
I remember it like yesterday... Katulong Guro Vince (at that time not even a Kasama yet, now one of our best and most experienced instructors) punched. Hard. Guro Fred slipped outside effortlessly. Guro Fred was looking at ME the whole time. He wasn't even looking at the punch. He said "this time I will choose an outside solution." He spoke not of "techniques" or "katas" but of "solutions". I was intrigued.
Later, I would discover that we classify solutions by several categorizations. One is by our position in space relative to our opponent: inside/outside/split. Also, defining a solution as high line, medium line or low line. Finally, through our distance: close (corto), medium (medio) or long (largo) distance. We can also classify solutions by the subsystem we express (or the weapon type we use). This includes Kali (panantukan/sikaran, dumog), Silat, JKD, Muay Thai, Hakka/kun tao and more. Regarding weapon types we have single/double stick (impact weapons), edged weapons (long/short/karambit), axe/tomahawk, staff or spear (bankaw), flexible weapons such as sarongs and scarves, and many, many more.
Classifying our solutions creates a framework for learning, much like a chessboard, and so too the combination of solutions are infinite. All of the above variations give us an endless array of options from which we can express ourselves.
So...what to do??
I added the binomial tree above as one idea to consider. Each moment in time or action point represents a step in the binomial tree: action/reaction. Each action opens the door to the next step in the sequence of events from left to right. At the end, the opponent is incapacitated (hopefully without injury) and the fight is over. Skill in fighting, using this example, can be defined as:
- Flowing from left to right seamlessly without stopping, adjusting for each action/reaction by moving to the next stage of the binomial tree without hesitation
- Choosing the highest percentage movements at each stage of the tree, so that our chance of success gets increasingly larger and our opponent's gets increasingly smaller at each step of the tree until the opponent can no longer continue
- Limiting the opponent's response at each stage by "feeding" or "drawing" a conditioned and expected response from them which yields the result we want and can exploit
Of course, every fight is unpredictable and there are always unforeseeable elements. The goal of the training is to develop and enhance the ability to KEEP MOVING, to FLOW with the changes as they happen and be neither constrained nor restricted in our responses. When we express Kali Majapahit, it should be the truth of our own spirit which shines through --- relaxed; without fear, without panic, without anger - calm, confident. Completely in the moment until the encounter is over and we are safe.
I remain just as fascinated and intrigued by Kali Majapahit today as I was when I started 7 years ago. I love the art and introducing people to it, because I know they will find a lifetime of exploration and adventure, just as I have.
See you at class.