Hitting People with Sticks
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Katipunan recap

Several of us from the Equilibrado Orihinal eskrima group here in MN went to the Katipunan event in Chicago this past weekend, and it was a blast.

Regardless of the rain, about thirty (or so) FMA practitioners and instructors showed up at the LaBaugh Woods park to huddle under a pavilion and share knowledge.  There’s nothing like getting together with like-minded people to put politics and ego aside and learn something from each other.

The first instructor was Master Tom Sippon of Doce Pares Escrima.  Because space was limited and tight, we worked on stick grappling techniques, basically working with your stick as though it were a riot baton, held in both hands.  He said straight out that we were unlikely to remember individual techniques, but to try to remember the concepts – ho0k and smash with both ends of the stick, punch with the entire stick, and grind with the punion.  Most of the techniques were not necessarily something you’d plan and execute; they were more along the lines of “well, I got here, let’s do something other than die”.  It was very interesting, and Master Sippon said he’d used those techniques in real situations before.

Then, we got a session on Silat from Guru Sam Clark, an instructor in Silat Desa Baru.  The session was extended because Guru Joe Judt was unable to attend, so we worked for quite some time on hand-to-hand Silat techniques.  The concept mainly appeared to be twisting your opponent to take his balance, open him up for potential knife thrusts, and take him quickly to the ground.  The movements were tight and coiled.

After lunch, we were treated to demo sessions from several instructors.  The instructors from the morning sessions were unable to stay, so we got a taste of the style of each of the upcoming classes.  Demos ranged from historical dances and drills to examples of experienced practitioners working with live steel.

The first session after lunch was with Guro Al McLuckie, a veteran of Inayan Eskrima and Indian Lathi, and currently an instructor in Russian Systema.  Systema is by far the most unfamiliar art presented (to me, anyway) that day, and the concepts are really interesting.  It involves staying as loose and relaxed as possible, folding around blows rather than tensing into them, and thinking of having *two* centers of gravity – one in the usual “one point” just below the navel and the other in the solar plexus.  It makes for an extremely unique form of movement, and inspired some interesting discussion.

After this, we moved into more familiar areas with Guro John Bednarski, an instructor in Dekiti Tirsia Siradas Kali, Kombatan, Bahad Zubu and Modern Arnis.  His hour was spent on techniques designed with bladed, edged weapons in mind, involving a lot of moving off-line of the attack and chopping bits of your opponent off.  In a nice, training sort of way, of course.

Next, we worked with Guro Kim Satterfield, working on Inayan Eskrima.  Since this is the same system that Instructor McWethy trained under, it’s also the most familiar to our group.  We had a great time working on dequerdas blocks and parries and knife work, though I have to admit – the live steel demonstration isn’t one I’ll be trying myself anytime soon.  Yikes.  0.0

Finally, organizer and instructor Mahaguro Nate Defensor of the Defensor Method of Filipino Martial Arts took us all out into the sunshine to work on disarms and take-downs.  By this time, I was pretty worn out, but Instructor McWethy assured us he was familiar with the techniques and could fill in any gaps later.  Thank goodness.

In all, the trip was well-worth the drive from Minneapolis, and I definitely would love to attend next year as well.  The people were welcoming and helpful, and it’s hard to imagine something better than such a meeting of the masters.

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