Saturday, September 24, 2016

Skill Transfer

Most people know that Eskrima, Kali, and Arnis primarily focus on stick training.

The firearm is a superior weapon compared to a stick. However the stick can be more practical.

Most beginners understand that if you learn how to fight with the stick, then no matter where you are in the world, chances are you will be able to find a weapon similar in size and shape to a stick. This makes total sense, however this is a beginner level way of thinking.

To head in the direction of higher level training, we begin with the double sticks.

Eskrima, Kali, and Arnis training also has a lot of double stick training. This is where some people begin to moan and groan. They do not like double stick training because they say it's not practical. What are the odds of finding two sticks in a combat situation they say.

At a higher level we understand the importance to adapt during combat. In order to truly adapt to any altercation, we need to ability to use anything around us as a weapon. This is called improvised weapons skills.

To develop improvised weapons skills, we begin with the double sticks. The goal is to transfer your double stick skills to whatever weapon that is in your hand.

We build a foundation of skills with the double sticks and then do what I call a SKILL TRANSFER so that you can fight well with whatever that is in your hand.

To do a smooth skill transfer the most important ingredient is to put in a ton of repetition practice so that even when your not holding the sticks you can still feel the sticks in your hand. I call this sensation Ghost Sticks. When you are at the level where you can feel the ghost sticks, then it becomes much easier to skill transfer. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Chin Jab

In the summer of 1994, my first year of college, I found what I believe to be a WWI combatives manual. It was a thin book with hand drawn illustrations demonstrating some very interesting techniques that I have kept with me to this day.

One of the techniques is called the Chin Jab. The idea is to hit your opponent on the underside of their chin like an uppercut, with an open palm strike, and then immediately follow up with a claw to the eyes.

This technique can be combined with a knee to the groin, a take down technique, and the shin scrape which I will talk about later.

I recently had a friend come visit me from a far. He is a long time friend and fellow martial artist, so I showed him the Chin Jab and we discussed/explored the technique.

We tried to figure out the context of the technique, in other words, the manner in which it was meant to be used. We talked about what the battlefield was like in WWI and WWII. We brought up scenarios such as a POW trying to escape situation, sentry removal, and fighting in the trench. We talked about various weapons that the soldiers carried and used in battle at the time, such as the trench knife, pistol, grenade, and bayonet rifle.

The main scenario we focused on was a soldier trying to take away another soldier's bayonet rifle. We mimicked the bayonet rifle using a thick PVC pipe I occasionally use for Eskrima training.

The key points:

A) You are engaged in a standing grappling situation.
 
B) The Chin Jab is not executed like a right cross where your trying to hit them with all your might in order to KO the enemy, but instead, your lifting their chin up to compromise their structure. 

C) Immediately follow up with the claw. The claw must be a continuous clawing motion attacking sensitive areas of the face including eyes, nose, and ears.

We also lightly tested the claw in a ground fight scenario. We took turns taking each other down and tried to dominate or finish the other person on the ground while the other defended using the claw.  The claw seemed very effective to throw the grappler off their game.

The Shin Scrape was another technique from the same manual. The idea is to kick a person in the knee, then scrape down their shin to land in a heel stomp to their foot. I like this triple attack combo, although I am not sure how well one can scrape down the shin if the enemy is wearing boots. I would imagine that the laces and such would get in the way. 


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Eskrima The Game

To learn The Game we experience full contact fighting or we can study it. I value my health so I'm going to borrow from combat sports such as Boxing, Muay Thai, and MMA.
 
The Game of Eskrima consist of the following components.
1. The Jab - a quick non committed strike like the jab in Boxing.
2. Power shot - a committed powerful strike like the cross in Boxing.
3. Combos - Every Boxer/Kickboxer knows the effectiveness of combos.
4. Feints - use feints to fake out your opponent.
5. Work the Leg - Change levels to attack their leg like in Muay Thai.

The strategy is the same as Boxing, use the jab to set up stronger strikes. Manage your cardio while depleting your opponent's. Fight them close when they want to fight far, fight them far when they want to fight close. You want to frustrate your opponent and discourage them, make them doubt themselves.

When you play The Game, your always ready for a battle of attrition. You expect the fight to go the distance so you make sure you stay strong while your opponent gets weaker.

Why play The Game? Every professional fighter knows that if you charge in meaning business trying to finish the fight from the very beginning, your vulnerable because it's very risky. 

Eskrima 2 Ways of Fighting

In real life combat there are two ways of fighting. Direct Combat and The Game.

Even though The Game doesn't sound realistic, it is, and every martial artist is trying to do The Game in a real life situation. Your trying to make a street fight as close as possible to a Boxing match, or Kickboxing match, or MMA match. There are many games in the martial arts such as a Karate match, Eskrima match, point fighting, San Da, and many grappling matches. These kinds of sport fighting is The Game and that is what you want to do in a real life altercation.

The Game is an exchange of strategy and skill. In a Direct Combat situation which can occur during The Game, is when you are in close proximity and your just attacking like crazy or defending like crazy. A bar fight brawl is Direct Combat. It's rare but there are a few K-1 Kickboxing matches I've seen where one fighter rushes in on the other and just unloads at the very start of the match, instead of the feeling out process which 99% of most Kickboxers would do. 

So if your are studying a style like Eskrima, most if not all of that is for The Game. And if you try to implement techniques designed for The Game during a Direct Combat situation, then you are using the wrong techniques at the wrong time.

In The Game, your Eskrima techniques should consist of attacks similar to Kickboxing, quick jabs setting up power strikes, various attacks from different angles, and working their legs. Defensively it should consist of parrying, deflecting, and blocking.

In Direct Combat your attacks are powerful close range attacks such as the Bayonet fighting techniques. Defense should be once again two hands on one stick like in Bayonet fighting.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Eskrima and Other Martial Art Styles

Here in the US, I have seen practitioners of other styles add Eskrima to their arsenal. Many people want to complement their style with practical weapons such as sticks and knives. The art of Eskrima also seems to be quite easy to learn compared to some other styles.

Eskrima should primarily be an ancient form of fencing. It definitely has those kinds of traits especially when it comes to long range stick fighting.

However there are also some very close ties to the art of Boxing. Filipinos take their Boxing very seriously and I have seen many Eskrima people add elements of Boxing to their training.

Since Eskrima has a strong link to Boxing, it's also easy to connect Eskrima with other styles that connect with Boxing such as Muay Thai and MMA.

When you examine techniques like the Heaven 6, you will notice that Eskrima has many similarities with Karate. After WWII Karate had a strong influence in the Filipino martial arts. From the Eskrima and Karate connection we can also link up with Kung Fu, since it is the predecessor of Karate.

The way I see it, is to train in Eskrima to get a better understanding of a different style, and to train in other styles to help you get a better understanding of Eskrima. Ultimately you get better at both. This is possible because Eskrima and other styles provide different perspectives of the same thing. If you get stuck in your training and you can't move forwards, then tacking it from a different perspective maybe the ticket for you to keep on progressing.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Eskrima Methodology

Eskrima uses the same concept as the bayonet fighting method utilized by the US Marines. Bayonet fighting is based from Boxing so that soldiers can learn one style and apply that to empty hand or a bayonet. In Eskrima we use the same movements whether we are empty handed or holding one or two weapons, whether it's a stick, knife, tactical baton, Tomahawk, Nunchaku, or some improvised weapon. 

What makes Eskrima unique is that even if you are a beginner, from day one you will begin with weapons. Right from the beginning, you will start with single and double sticks.

Originally the sticks were designed to be for practice, simulating a short sword. Overtime the Filipino warriors discovered that the sticks were formidable weapons themselves.

Single stick work is more technical at a higher level, but double stick work will help you become ambidextrous. Don't think that in real life you will never find/have two sticks, therefore double stick skills are unrealistic. Double stick is important because in real life combat we fight with both arms.

The sticks are the most generic shape and size for a weapon. The idea is that we train with this generic stick so that we can apply these skills, to whatever we find and choose to use as an improvised weapon. In other words if I have a hammer in one hand, and a wrench in another, I should be ready for combat.  

The length of the sticks exaggerate the moves making them easier to learn. The knife on the other hand is short making your moves more compact, which makes the intricate and subtle motions harder to learn. That is why the knife skill is considered advanced. So we don't normally start off with the knife, we start with the sticks and then progress to the training knife.

After learning single and double stick, the single and double training knife is added to the practice. We also begin empty hand work. Empty hand work consists of finger jabbing, slapping, palm strikes, chops, hammer fists, and punching. This kind of versatility helps you get ready for the various smaller improvised weapons you will start to use, such as a Kubotan, tactical flashlight, pen, and cup. You should start to incorporate practice with various improvised weapons. Improvised weapons are the things that you can find around you in your daily life that normally aren't used as weapons.

After that we begin to practice with a short sword to get use to the blade. In modern times I like to replace the short sword with a machete. After working with a longer bladed weapon, we can then add the knife. So mastering the knife has been the ultimate goal for me because I followed this natural progression.
  
People ask me how to defend against a knife attack. The Eskrima method is to first learn how to use the knife. Once you understand the major and minor attacks, only then can you begin to mount some kind of defensive plan. If you don't understand the knife, then every knife attack will always seem 100% deadly all the time and you won't be able to do anything.

So, in order to learn how to defend against the knife, we must first learn how to use the knife. In order to learn how to use the knife, in Eskrima we first learn the sticks.

Even though we practice empty hand skills in Eskrima, in a real life crisis situation, the idea is to use a weapon, whether it's improvised or a weapon you carry. The only time you wouldn't use a weapon is when the situation is not that serious, or you didn't have time to get to a weapon.

   

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Eskrima Warmup

Eskrima warmup exercises are designed to warmup the body, for the Eskrima training your about to do so that you don't get injured.

I personally like to include shadowboxing style mobility exercises so that you practice your footwork and cardiovascular conditioning for endurance. 

The warmup can consist of a review, where you do techniques previously learned at a slower pace. The biggest mistake beginners make is that their form becomes bad when they go slower.  

Eskrima also consists of exercises that will slowly change your body over an extended period of time so that you can perform better. The main exercise is to twirl the stick to make circular motions with your wrist. It takes a long time to build up the kind of wrist strength and wrist articulation that we are looking for. I also teach students to use the Eskrima stick to lightly hit the body in different areas to toughen up various areas of the body. This includes your knuckles, abs, thighs, shins, and arms.