Monday, November 06, 2017

Inayan System of Eskrima

On Halloween weekend we were given a very special treat.

Together with our friends at Shin Kali, we hosted the first Japan visit by Suro Jason Inay, Grandmaster of the Inayan System of Eskrima.  It was an amazing two days jam-packed with training drills, history, application and more.  I can't wait for the next one.

Kali-Majapahit stickwork is strongly influenced by Inayan Eskrima, including drilling of Cabca, Sinawali and Serrada, and it was a great opportunity to learn directly from the source.

About Suro Jason
Suro Jason is the son of legendary Eskrima master Mike Inay who, together with GM Angel Cabales, is widely recognized as one of the founding fathers of FMA in America having jointly established the West Coast Eskrima Society (WES) in the 1970s together with Max Sarmiento.  During the Pinoy Diaspora, many Filipino immigrants settled in places like Hawaii, but California was also an extremely popular destination, particularly the Bay area and around Stockton.  Suro Jason grew up training in Eskrima with his father and other famous masters, affectionately called "Uncles" - a veritable who's-who of FMA royalty in America.  The Stockton Tradition is characterized by low, powerful stances explosive striking and blinding speed, now hardly found even in the Philippines. Students of this tradition are easily recognizable when they move.

Having become familiar with many prominent styles, his grounding is firmly in the Inayan family system, to which he has added additional structure and pedagogy.  Suro Jason spent many years as a professional bouncer and currently works as a fugitive retrieval investigator/agent.  Despite this pedigree, he is humble and genuine and brings a direct, no-frills practical approach to the family tradition.  ISE includes a variety of sub-systems, each designed to cope with a different set of fighting circumstances.  These include Dequerdas, Sinawali, Kadena De Mano, Espada Y Daga, Largo Mano and Serrada among others.  While we touched a bit on all of them, we spent a majority of the seminar training specifically in Inayan Serrada.

Serrada Sticks
Although Serrada can be done with almost any length of stick (some masters use sticks over 35"), it is typically shown using a shorter, heavier stick between 22-24" in length.  The stick is unique to the individual and should reach from the armpit against the torso along the arm to the base of the wrist.  This stick allows for superior mobility at the extreme close range where Serrada is considered most effective.  Longer sticks can be used if hip rotation, footwork and shoulder positioning is good.

Stance and Footwork
Serrada stances are low and grounded, weight onto the balls of the feet.  Older pictures of GM Cabales show his knees almost touching the ground. This improves the geometry of the blocking by lowering the center of gravity and "coils" the legs for explosive counters.  Serrada is a forward-moving style, ideally suited to dueling in close quarters and does not rely on backward or sideways steps to evade.  Rapid replacement footwork delivers the full body weight on impact and positions the hips and bodyline for optimal striking and defense.  Done properly, Serrada can receive full power strikes in rapid succession while keeping very close to the opponent.

Much of Serrada is practiced with the single stick, however double stick, double dagger, espada y daga are all based on the same responses, as well as empty hands, flexible weapons and even the bankaw.  The cornerstone movements (3 responses to each of the 5 basic attacking angles) have universal application regardless of weapon type.

Apart from the many and varied training drills that ISE uses, they are renowned for the "lock and block" method.  In this drill, the receiver stands his/her ground while the feeder attacks with a set of random attacks that the receiver must block or evade.  No counter attacks are allowed, and the drill increases intensity in accordance with the receiver's ability, pushing just past the comfort zone into a high stress, high intensity session.  At higher levels, the attacks are full speed, full power and completely unscripted.  The feeder also trains to find openings in the guard and touch points on the body or head.  All of us had a chance to experience this drill one-on-one with Suro Jason and it is a humbling experience.  Some may liken this to the flow sparring of Balintawak, however in my experience the speed and power of the attacks are very different.  Lock and Block develops not only timing and reflex, but also the unique ability of Serrada to get ahead of the attacking chain and reposition proactively for the next strike.  Even at the basic level this drill is done with both stick and empty hands variations.

It would be easy to label Suro Jason as simply "GM Mike Inay's son".  This would do a disservice to the more than 40 years of training and research he has done to take ISE even further than it was.  He brings unique, practical insights to his family art and delivers extremely dense information in every moment of the seminar.

Friends in the Los Gatos area, I am insanely jealous of your chance to train regularly with Suro Jason.  He is the real deal and a warm and considerate teacher fully dedicated to making his students better.

Find him. Meet him. Train with him.  Be grateful.

Further Info

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