Hitting People with Sticks
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Layers and levels of thought

Tony did the warm-up again today, and my abs thank him, rather spitefully.  Lots of stretches and ab work, and running around the room that made us all want to whine.  Good stuff.

Instructor McWethy brought up the movie “Sherlock Holmes”, specifically pointing out how the main character was shown to think through his moves in the fight, from action to reaction and block to counter, all the way from beginning to end.  While the portrayal was Hollywoodized and slowed down from anything resembling real speed, it is a good example of how we should all be striving to think during a fight.

To me, it seems as though there are several layers to what we should be thinking, and we all incorporate them at different times.  We get past the instinctual flailing to good blocks, from there to the first glimmerings of strategy where we begin to see patterns and move on to being able to both anticipate those patterns and use them against our opponents.  The level Instructor McWethy brought up is another step up, to thinking several moves ahead, and having different plans for different behaviors and outcomes.  I’m not there yet, but I’ll certainly do my best to get there.

Anyway, after the strategy lesson, Instructor McWethy broke us up into groups by skill levels and (I assume) what he wanted to assess in each student.  One group started working just on angles 1 – 8, the next on their dequerdas blocks, Ryan and I were asked to focus on fluidity and flow in a 1-for-1 situation, and the final group played tag (or follow the leader, can’t recall the exact term) between the four of them.

Flow is an odd thing – vital to being good at eskrima, but hard to explain and harder to implement if you can’t relax.  It requires being aware of your options and being able to switch between those options at a moment’s notice, but also being very aware of your partner so you’re never really surprised.  It’s dance and grace with a purpose.

Ryan and I had a good time with that, even if by the end of the evening we were both getting tired.  On Instructor McWethy’s suggestion, we moved into 3-for-3, concentrating on picking a counter or disarm move and using it only if presented with the proper angle.  It’s a beginning of that level of strategy, thinking of moves further away than the one presented to you *right now*.

Takeaways:

Hard checks with the live hand rarely work in sparring – the movements there are too fast and the blows too strong for that to work with most people.  Remember that when training and develop other tactics accordingly.

It’s gotten easier to see and feel the boundaries of an area I’m using to train, even when that includes moving obstacles like other people working on other things.  I still need to work on using those boundaries appropriately, to my advantage, rather than just stepping out of the way or running my partner onto a pile of sticks (that would work, but isn’t exactly nice …).

Great class, as usual.

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