Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

MARCH 3-5, 2016 – Here at LSAIsrael, we do our best to outdo ourselves with each next activity. This year we held our 2nd Winter Camp in Eilat in the south of Israel. Great sunny weather the whole weekend, we exceeded our planned 10 hours of training! In addition to our planned training hours we had a bonus session of some good old fashioned stick sparring and friend and guest instructor Brenton Welford gave us a taste of Kalis Ilustrismo.

Eilat is a great venue for these camps for its accessibility to all sorts of entertainment and other fun leisure activities indoor and outdoor. It also has night activities for those who need a little something to wrap up the day.

Seminar topics vary every year. This years focus was to beef up our core material. We have a very broad curriculum and these weekend seminar campsare great opportunities to cover the material with more depth. It is also a great time for people to make friendships and forge bonds. The camps are very much a family affair where members can bring along relatives and family.

Seminar Topics – LSAIsrael Winter Camp – Eilat 2016

Day 1
– Short Stick Pushing and Trapping
– Solo Baston serrada

Day 2
– Hand to Hand Combat
– Close Quarters Knife
– Empty Hand knife defense
– Doble Baston on the beach

Day 3
– Kalis Ilustrisimo workshop

Buffet meals, the only open indoor pool in winter, open bar on drinks, on-stage evening entertainment, various other outdoor activities. Maybe next seminar you should join us ūüėõ

All-in-all it was a full and awesome weekend and we look forward to improving the experience each year.

Thanks go to Neta and Ofer for making the arrangements and making sure everything went awesome!

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Photo Credits to Ariel Raskin, great photos man! – you can view the albums here:

Day 1Day 2Day 3

 

With the Holidays over here coming to a close, its time to think about training.

Here are a few options to sort out your week:

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a week in arnis – choose your workout!

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movementIn Baston Serrada, movement is the key whether it is to the rear, sideways or forward. It is the key to making you elusive and mobile.

Footwork
The role of footwork is to support your goal. If it is to evade danger or dodge an attack or to engage a threat your feet are supposed to bring you to the best possible position to accomplish the task of hitting your opponent.

Kambio

kambio

kambio (back foot moves first)

The kambio also know as “triangle” footwork changes your position by swinging your back foot forward to the other side of your opponent, and pulling your front foot behind you to support your balance and provide forward pressure. The kambio also provides forward pressure. ¬†This is important because it discourages your opponent from charging forward. ¬†This forward motion also brings you closer and around your opponents blindside.

Seguida

seguida

seguida (push from back foot)

The seguida is a forward diagonal side-step which allows you to stay behind your opponent’s weapon. This side stepping maneuver allows you to maintain checking pressure on your opponent by pushing from your rear foot, like a basketball player trying to bypass his guard.

Retirada

retirada

retirada (push back from front foot)

We call the retreating diagonal footwork a Retirada. Its simple a “backward” seguida or shuffle. Its footwork that allows you to keep your weapon in the same position while moving backwards.

Lutang

lutang

lutang

The “lutang” or the floating step is a backwards stepping movement done by the lead leg sort of like in the “cha-cha”. The lead leg is brought backwards to hover behind the body to evade an attack to the lead leg. It then returns to its former position after.

Redirection
On point of contact with your opponent’s weapon you will have several options. If Baston Serrada is the one you chose, redirecting your opponents attack improves your chances of a successful execution of technique. We also redirect the attack for less obvious reasons such as absorbing the impact, improving our position, moving our weapon to a more advantageous angle, releasing pressure and getting out-of-the-way of your opponents other weapons.

Checking
The “checking” motion is an integral part of Baston Serrada, not just for the continuous pressure it provides and the continuous flow of information you get from contact with your opponent, but also for the potential it represents when you put a weapon in that hand. when converted into the “dagger-hand”, it develops cutting, slashing and stabbing attributes. This elevates your level of potential lethality.

*Scooping
This is an inward half-circle “cupping” motion, as if you are scooping water in the palm of your hand. This is a great follow-up after the espada y daga block. Used in conjunction with a kambio, it can get you outside the line of attack effectively and in the same motion, get you behind your opponents weapon-side shoulder and away from your opponents other weapons. From this position you gain a line of attack on the edge of your opponents peripheral vision on both the highline and lowline for either a banda y banda or a krus..

*Sweeping
This is an outward “brushing-away” motion. When used against a backhand strike it moves you into the centerline giving you access to the face, head, collarbones, chest, pretty much any part of the body in the center. The risk though is that when you are in the center, you are accessible to your opponents other weapons on the other side of his body.

*Shifting
It’s like a “joystick”. If you are able to catch your opponents stick with your hand when you block, it puts you in a “double-stick position. So now, with “your” newly acquired weapon you can fan it inwards or outwards, or lift it up or down depending on the goal you want to accomplish.

Movement is the first of our 3 Rules¬†we follow as a basic guide to survival. ¬†Quoting “Ender’s Game,” his mentor says, “there is no combat without movement.” For us it is never about fancy footwork but rather about increasing our chances of survival.

*these terms are my own and have been utilized for lack of an official terms for these movements

De Salon, Corto, Tercia Serrada, What do they all have in common? In general they connote close-combat fighting but they each have their own nuance. So, what do they mean, specifically?

De Salon connotes a close range of fighting in the context of fighting indoors, in a closed space with very little room to maneuver. “Salon”, meaning living room or parlour, it conveys the sense that a lot the techniques would be in small frames with small footwork.

Corto also means close range fighting (coming from the three ranges of fighting largo, media, corto), but with emphasis on the weapon movements. Understanding that in the close range, shorter strikes with either chopping or curving angles would be more efficient in hitting and recovering than long arcing strikes. The shorter strikes also expose your arms less in the close range.

Tercia Serrada suggests the principle of “closing-in and jamming” your opponents movements from the “outside”. It also means meeting the attack and redirecting it so that you can expose your opponents weak-side, blind-spot or back.

These are the Core Principles in doing proper Baston Serrada.

intercepting in baston serrada

intercepting in baston serrada

STRIKE CHARACTERISTICS

I already mentioned when I defined Corto that the strikes are meant to be short. But lets refine our definition. In the close range, body positioning is tighter, somewhat similar to a south-paw boxer. Hands are at chest-height, the elbow is close to the ribs, knees bent, the stick in front of the face guarding the body. From this position, full arcing strikes become risky because they make the body over extend making them hard to recover after execution. What is efficient in this range though are shorter, chopping strikes that don’t overextend the arm, exposing the body. Shorter strikes also allow you to reposition your stick faster if you need it to block or defend against a strike you didn’t expect as well as allow you to re-chamber your strike so that you can hit more times.

ACTION SETS

So I’m now going to break things down into Action Sets. These are sets of movements that could either be interpreted as an attack or a defense, depending on the scenario. These are the building blocks that we will use to put together the full movement that is Baston Serrada.

Banda Y Banda

banda y banda

banda y banda

The word “banda” means bounce. So it translates to a “rebounding strike.” What makes it different from a “halfstrike” which returns to its point-of-origin, is that a “banda y banda” strike rebounds to the other side of the body. To further refine this, the chopping action of the banda y banda comes in at a 45 degree angle on one side and exits at a 45 degree angle on the other side creating a “V” shape. This is the angle of the bounce of the banda y banda. The angle makes it easier to move the stick from one side to the other and vice-versa.

Espada y Daga

espada y daga

espada y daga

Literally, it means sword and dagger, but in this case we are referring to the involvement of the empty hand in a checking or pushing motion where the intent of it is to detect and monitor your opponents movements. Basically, the empty hand moves to the sticks position after it has hit its target. This creates a continuous pressure on point of contact giving you a better chance to overwhelm your opponents position.

Krus

krus

krus

The Krus is an inverted vertical strike, like a swinging pendulum, that gets its name from the shape it makes when it is blocked by a horizontal block, forming a “cross”. The objective of this strike is a snapping sneak attack on the lowline towards the knees, groin or elbow. It is also an effective strike when your checking hand is in the way by being on top of your weapon hand.

GOAL

When performing Baston Serrada, it important to check several things

1. Accuracy – Make sure your are hitting what you are aiming for. It’s nice to have a little luck on your side in a fight, but knowing that you can hit anything you aim at is better insurance.

2. Sensitivity – You must successfully detect the intent and motion of your opponent by feeling the pressure of their movements from point of contact. You must also learn to follow your opponents movements and to redirect them to a safe position from which you can take control and counter attack.

3. Timing – The speed and timing of your block, check and counter attack have to be tight enough that there are no gaps in which your opponent can interrupt you. This also means entering at the proper moment and disengaging safely.

4. Pressure – This refers to the line of pressure your strike creates and not necessarily the power behind your strike. It also refers to the process of pushing and jamming your opponents movements continuously and putting him off-balance.

5. Control – We can look at this 2 ways. Controlling your self and controlling your opponent.

a. For yourself, make sure you know where you stick is at all times. Make sure you know what your position is relative to your opponent. Make sure that you can put yourself where you want to be.

b. On your opponent, make sure you know where his weapon is, know if he has a second weapon in the other hand. Drive your opponent where you want him to be.

METHOD

Begin training with a progression in mind. It is important to develop the proper escalation of movements to ensure smooth power delivery and coordination. Develop a rhythm. The timing will become evident to you as you improve. Emphasize and develop the use of proper attributes (strength, speed, stamina).

Banda y Banda  

banda y banda

banda y banda

Start slow with the Banda y Banda. Pay attention to body mechanics. Another important part of the dynamics is how the body moves with the strikes. Ideally the body should be powering the strikes from the ground through the hips.

1. One way to ensure this is to start from the abierta position with the heel of the back foot raised.

2. As you execute the first strike of the Banda y Banda, drop the back heel of your foot. This twists your waist and opens your hip which drives the force through your leg, up back into your arm and out to the stick.

3. On contact, the stick should bounce upward to the other side of your body. On the backhand strike of the Banda y Banda, power it by raising the heel of your back foot and push from your toe. This will push the force up your leg and through your waist, twisting it into your strike.

4. Bounce the strike back into the abierta position.

5. Make sure the tip of your stick points upwards throughout the drill.

Espada y Daga + Banda y Banda

espada y daga banda y banda

espada y daga, banda y banda

This is an escalation of the Banda y Banda drill. The objective is to properly apply the “dagger” hand in a checking position in-between the bouncing sticks.

1. Start like you would normally do the Banda y Banda from the abierta position, checking hand on the centerline, back heel raised.

2. Thrust your empty hand forward, right after your first strike as it bounces to the other side. make sure the shoulder of your weapon hand faces forward and drop your back heel.

3. Twist your waist, raise the heel and push from the toes of your back foot as you perform the return strike of your Banda y Banda. Point the elbow of your empty hand forward, with the empthy hand under your chin.

4. Return your stick to the abierta position and move your hand forward into the checking position.

5. Repeat as necessary.

Espada y Daga + Krus + Banda y Banda

espada y daga, krus,  banda y banda

espada y daga, krus, banda y banda

We can further escalate these movements by adding the “krus”. What this does is that it adds the element of unpredictability by adding a low angle strike which gives you additional options of a strike when the point of your stick is low and a strike on the lowline which can be unexpected. Espada y Daga

1. Start like you would normally do the Banda y Banda from the abierta positon, checking hand on the centerline, back heel raised.

2. Thrust your empty hand forward, right after your first strike as it bounces to the other side. make sure the shoulder of your weapon hand faces forward and drop your back heel. Krus

3. Shift your weight from your front leg to your back leg, lean back sideways from your waist to create a pendulum like movement as you swing your stick upward in a snapping strike from under your arm.

4. From contact, chamber your stick on top of your empty hand side bicep. Banda y Banda

5. Twist your waist, raise the heel and push from the toes of your back foot as you perform the return strike of your Banda y Banda. Point the elbow of your empty hand forward, with the empty hand under your chin.

6. Return your stick to the abierta position and move your hand forward into the checking position.

7. Repeat as necessary.

APPLICATION

Baston Serrada operates as action-sets on triggers from point of contact. The information you get from point of contact should trigger your reaction, whether it is to go completely on the offensive, redirect the attack and counter, or stay on the defensive. It is ideal to “blind-side” your opponent by going to the outside, but you should still be able to hold your ground on the inside if you cant regardless of the attack. A constant barrage of strikes from multiple angles assisted by the “checking hand should keep your opponent off-balance. Some simple rules of thumb are:

1. redirect the attack

2. move to a better position

3. neutralize the weapon / weapon hand

4. off-balance your opponent

5. attack from an unexpected angle

6. keep hitting

7. repeat as necessary, not necessarily in any order

ESCALATIONS

There are obviously other options that may be inserted into this structure. We still have not covered the different possible blocks that work well with Baston Serrada, nor the different types of disruptive attacks you can insert between the movements, as well as positions favorable for disarms or takedowns. This makes Baston Serrada a very flexible system. I didnt say its going to be easy though. As with anything worthwhile, you must put in the time and effort to develop these skills to their highest potential.

Baston Serrada is a dance between the Line and the Circle.
Combat must  be direct. But if you are blocked, go around.

The stick is a strange weapon. Simple, humble and unassuming in design and structure, but potentially brutal and devastating.  The many stories behind the evolution of stick fighting are pretty interesting. From ideas of spontaneous indigenous development to the influence of foreign swordsmanship.  Very interesting, but we are still waiting on our scholars to help fill in the gaps in these stories.

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GM Ben Lema, Founder of Lightning Scientific Arnis, doing Baston Serrada

Right now I’m more interested in the different ways sticks are being used in combat and the method of training involved, particularly a method called “Baston Serrada“. ¬†In Lightning Scientific Arnis,Mang Ben called it “working the stick“. But what does he mean by that, and why do we do it?

I’m going to break it down into three aspects.
Goal,Method, Application

GOAL
The goal of this drill is the smooth flow of movement from defense to attack and vice-versa while fulfilling certain parameters. In the case of “proper” serrada, that would mean:

1. moving to the “outside” off the opponents attack
2. neutralizing the opponents weapon
3. “blanketing” your opponent with your own barrage
4. repeat as necessary

METHOD
This drill is a blend of hard and soft movements. ¬†The blocks and “checks” are hard while the flow from strike to strike is soft but with enough stiffness that the body recognizes the potential to increase power later on in application.

1. Use your short range strikes to hit and your checking hand to interrupt your opponents motion alternating between them as necessary.
2. Use your footwork to manage the distance between you and your opponent and stay outside his center.
3. Move soft, slow and deliberate in the begining of the drill to develop your timing and accuracy.
4. From contact develop a “sense” of where your targets are.
5. Learn to put your targets where you can hit them.
6. As you progress in the drill, increase the amount of power and speed in your movements.
7. Develop your decision making skills.
8. Develop your repertoire .
9. Develop your control.
10. After learning the template set, learn how to substitute strikes and techniques to see how it affects your position, movement and timing.

APPLICATION
The movements you trained are basically action-sets on “triggers”.
In close-combat situations, there is simply no time “stop & think” of the “best possible counter-attack”. ¬†So we are counting on “attacks-made-instinct” in these stress situations. This is also because the combat is too close to be relying solely on vison, so instead we are relying on physical cues and hard-wired reflexes.

When applying Baston Serrada, it is a matter of ANGLE, POSITION and PRESSURE.

1. Changing your angle of attack in Baston Serrada makes you unpredictable, because the strike that connects, is the one that is unseen.
2. Changing your position to be always out of your opponents reach makes you difficult to hit.
3. Constantly hitting and checking your opponent puts him off-balance and on the defensive, so when he is defending, he is not attacking.

What I have not discussed here is the Mechanics of Baston Serrada as it deserves a separate discussion of its own.  So stayed tuned for that one soon.

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Of Poses, and Posing Well…

Anyone can fight.

But not all fight well. It is about successfully accomplishing your goal while reducing risk on your person. ¬†So what‚Äôs the point I‚Äôm trying to make? ¬†I’m¬†going to paraphrase a line from¬†Gavin¬†de¬†Becker’s¬†¬†book, “the Gift of Fear.” ¬†It’s a great book and an eye-opener and one of the first books that influenced my way of thinking about¬†fighting¬†and self-defense. ¬†To me, fighting is about “high-stakes decision making under complete stress.”

Fighting is a messy deal. It can happen at the worst of times when you are least prepared physically or mental.  Fighting is a non-cooperative activity where the other participant seeks to do you bodily harm.  So to me, fighting smart is about increasing your chances of success in a fight and reducing the amount of risk involved fighting, not just getting the job done. What could be more important to you at that time than protecting your life and the lives you fight for?

I find that all of arguments about which martial art is more applicable in a realistic scenario or which system is more effective to be moot and pointless.¬†Why? Because, there are many kinds of “fighting.” ¬†Prize-fighting,¬†street fighting, self-defense, wars to name a few All of them have one thing in common- a goal. So it makes sense to take actions that support this goal especially since many things are different in each scenario. So to clarify this, let‚Äôs outline some criteria to determine what “fighting well” means. ¬†This way, we can evaluate and validate our training,¬†regardless¬†of the art we practice. ¬†This is by no means going to be complete as each art or style will have their own criteria specific to their needs, but it‚Äôs certainly a good place to start.

fighting smart is about increasing your chances of success in a fight and reducing the amount of risk involved fighting

HITTING AND NOT GETTING HIT
Who¬†doesn’t¬†hate double-kills in sparring? ¬†It‚Äôs either you were too slow or the opponent was too fast. ¬†Either way, it is energy wasted, time wasted and you have to once again to re-evaluate and re-engage your opponent. This is¬†energy that¬†wouldn’t¬†have been wasted had you been¬†successful. ¬†So put some effort into NOT GETTING HIT. ¬†This means not taking too much or any damage as you fight. In weapons fighting in general, it not a good idea to be trading hits but is something taken for granted with protective gear. To that point,¬†there is still value in the old way of training without all the protective gear. ¬†Simply, you learned once and very quickly that getting hit is not nice at all. This can be further expounded by range or distance. Are you able to stay out of his reach and within yours? ¬†If your opponent is too fast to attack outright, can you take the hits on your defense before you attack. There are many other¬†options¬†better¬†than¬†just trying to bash your opponent faster, harder or more times than he can bash you. ¬†You need to consider that every attack has a cost, and that sometimes the cost can be heavy.

GET A BETTER POSITION 
A one-on-one fight is usually assumed to be “up-front” and “face to face”. ¬†The tricky part of this is that all of your opponents weapons are facing you (arms, legs, elbows, knees, head). ¬†Coming in at an angle to reduce the number of weapons he can use on you can significantly increase your chances of success and simultaneously ¬†reduce the amount of risk.

REDUCE HIS ABILITY TO HIT YOU
Throw a wet blanket over him I say.  If you don’st happen to have that wet blanket on you, reduce his ability to hit you by reducing his ability to move his arms and legs, by putting him off balance, or by forcing him to go on the defensive.

HAVE A FINISHING STRIKE
Tapping your opponent doesn’t really work much. ¬†I will probably serve to annoy or anger him more. ¬†Have a strike, punch, throw, kick etc. that has the potential to knock out your opponent. This needs to be¬†something devastating enough to knock your opponent out and finish the fight. ¬†The premise of this is that, if he is too preoccupied with trying to recover, he is NOT Fighting you.

HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY
Knowing how to make an exit in the midst of combat is a useful skill especially if you start to get overwhelmed even if it means going through your opponent to make an exit. Having an exit strategy is very important especially if your goal is saving your life. Prolonged or extended contact exposes you to more risk and danger.

With criteria like these you can evaluate and validate your training methodology and see if you are meeting your success criteria. Tools like this can help tweak your training experience and add value to your understanding.

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Language is an integral part of learning. Inasmuch as martial arts is a predominantly physical activity, the transfer of ideas, concepts, principles and knowledge become more efficient with the precise use of terminologies and definitions. This brings to light the situation within the Filipino Martial Arts where there is a huge mishmash of terminologies in a mixed-martial-mess of a combination of Tagalog, Bisaya, Ilonggo, Spanish and English to mention a few.

This has never really been much of an issue to me, until I started teaching abroad. I found that I needed a better understanding of the words I use in class to describe or name techniques. Yes it is very easy to call a technique by numbers. Its efficient when you are trying to emphasize a sequence or hierarchy of techniques. But I find it lacking in spirit to name them that way.

I look at a technique as a self-contained principle. No matter how simple or complex, I¬†look at it as having some guiding logic and reasoning for its existence and importance within a system. I look at it as the description and context that governs the technique. To some degree the names’ true meaning may only be understood by members of the specific style, which also may indicate some level of specialization. I’m finding it also interesting in the cultural aspect to explain things with names that open their minds to the cultural context of what I’m¬†teaching.

 

To some degree the names’ true meaning may only be understood by members of the specific style

 

I think it is also important that we keep up the use of the core “old” terms that represent the roots of the systems we practice. ¬†They are like the lines of our palms and fingerprints that identify us and in some ways the FMA family we belong to.

As FMA becomes more and more global, we can anticipate an explosion of new terms as people make the effort to understand it in their own ways. The potential for confusion is there admittedly but if it serves the purpose of progress in training i cant really say anything wrong about it. As FMA grows and spreads and comes into contact with other martial arts, the cross-pollination of terminologies is inevitable.

It is also a sign of the times that as it spreads and comes into contact with other cultures the language with which FMA is taught leaves its mark on it as well like the time when Spanish was the “educated” language of the times of our grandfathers and English nowadays as an international language.

In the end for me it is a tool for communication. I try to find the most efficient way to get the idea across. sometimes it involves creating interesting, whimsical and amusing names, but in the end what is your goal? the message getting across or trying to stick to archaic terminology that people cant connect to? I look at naming as the tool of innovators who are trying to bring FMA into other areas of understanding, trying to expand and expound the understanding through ingenious and creative ways. As our FMA evolves, so should the language we speak it with.