Monday, March 27, 2017

It Is All The Same

Over the weekend I got to help my instructor as he taught a seminar on some basic techniques in our style, Presas Arnis.

The seminar attendees were all from empty hand styles - mostly our local Texas brand of tae kwon do and variants of karate.  If they did any weapons at all on a regular basis, they mostly did tournament-style performance weapons or they were learning the version of kobudo our organization teaches (and that I'm studying myself).

I love working with people completely unfamiliar with my style but are relatively experienced martial artists.  It's so fun being able to help them connect up what we do with what they do.

For example, we were working on a disarm.  The motion involved, once you got the stick in position, is nearly identical to what they know as a "scoop block".  This is what I'm referring to:

Gif from this video HERE.
It's not 100% identical, but it's close enough for them to understand the basics of how the disarm we were teaching them worked.  Once we oriented them into how this works, all the light bulbs went off in their heads, and you could see them making the connections, almost physically.

It's always so cool when that happens.

We who study Modern Arnis are quite familiar with our founder Remy Presas' statement that "It is all the same."  The longer I study, the more I see that it is true - that we have more in common across styles than differences.

Sure, you can't just pick up sticks and start doing karate with them (see THIS and THIS for more about why I think that's true).  But, there's no need to throw out everything you know when you pick up a weapon, either.

We make this point with experienced martial artists who start studying with us all the time that they don't have to abandon your "core" martial art in order to do our style, and do it well. In fact, there's plenty of times where you can insert things from your core style into what we do.

I mean, if you can kick somebody in the head, why wouldn't you do that after you've disarmed somebody?  Go for it!

I mean, if it's good enough for Billy Jack...
Those connections must be there when you cross train in other styles, right?  So I would like to know what you've spotted when you've cross trained?  What have you noticed?

Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 3/25/17

Here's how my week of training, writing, teaching, and miscellaneous Filipino Martial Arts-y goodness went.

What have you been up to this week?


Saturday:  Mr. Chick was in Houston all weekend, so that left me to keep the home fires burning.  Took younger daughter to Taekwondo class, and since my teacher had a seminar to teach, I covered Arnis at Hidden Sword.  We worked on Dos Manos and capturing the stick with padded sticks so we could hit each other with impunity.  Fun class!  Also got in sai practice.
Sunday:  Mr. Chick still out of town, so I did ALL THE CHORES.
Monday:   Skipped gym since Mr. Chick didn't get home until the wee hours (construction plus Spring Break traffic = VERY LONG DRIVE) and neither one of us got to bed until very late.  Fine tuned our demo in Arnis class at Hidden Sword.
Tuesday:   Morning gym. Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Worked some on Anyo Isa.
Wednesday:  I think I got a milder version of this horrible flu thing going around, and I stayed home from school.  However, as we have our Demo this weekend, I made it to Hidden Sword and practiced.  It just about killed me, but I practiced!
Thursday:  Still sick, but started feeling well enough in the afternoon to go teach at Mid-Cities Arnis.
Friday:  Morning gym. Not 100% yet -  more like 80% - but it was a normal day.  Instead of stick sparring, we had one last practice at Hidden Sword before our demo.  We're ready to go.

Just a portion of the demo practice in slow motion.


Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:  On High Kicks
Wednesday:   Nuthin'.  I was sick, y'all!

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   Weapons in Real Life: Confronted with a Long Blunt Weapon
Thursday:  A Black Belt is a Black Belt is a Black Belt
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Are Values Necessary?


Hey cool, The Stick Chick blog was included with VERY good company (including friends of the blog +Logen Lanka at Way Of Ninja and +Andrea Harkins at The Martial Arts Woman and +Ando Mierzwa at Sensei Ando) in Feedspot's Top 20 Martial Arts Blogs.  I follow most of the blogs listed (Reddit is a "blog"? Really?), so you should check 'em out: Top 20 Martial Arts Blogs & Websites Every Martial Artist Must Follow

There's a new issue of FMA Informative out.  Not only is this the premiere "news" organ of Filipino Martial Arts, but you might spot someone you know (*cough*) in there.  Download the current issue as well as back issues here: FMA Informative

Different groups do our forms in different ways.  This version of Modern Arnis' Anyo Isa by our friend +Traveling Lakan at Progressive Arnis Miami is really cool!


Today will be a long day over in Richardson with AKATO. I'm going early to observe their Black Belt test, then my teacher is teaching an Arnis seminar, then we have our demo (the one we've been working on for weeks).  Then we have our banquet - YAY TACOS!

Now that the demo is past us, focus at my teacher's school will be on the final preparations for our second batch of Presas Arnis black belts that are testing on April 22.  Given that Mr. Chick and I were the first batch, this is kind of a big deal!

Hope your week was fantabulous.  Yes, that's a word.


So what did YOU do this week?  What did you train? What did you teach?  Did you see any really cool martial arts stuff online?  Let me know!

Monday, March 20, 2017

On High Kicks

Let me make a confession that in some circles in the martial arts would be considered shocking.

I don't like high kicks.

There.  I said it.  Happy?

It's not like I doubt the usefulness and effectiveness of high kicks.  I know there's some folks out there who do, and I don't count myself in their number.  There's too much evidence out there of high kicks working, and working well, to make that argument.

I don't like high kicks because I can't do high kicks.

Look, I have an excuse.  I sustained permanent knee damage as a teenager, when I was a runner.  So if you see me running today, my friend, you better start running too, because something BAD is coming.

Pretty much.
This causes me big time problems in martial arts.  Any move in a form where I have to get down on a knee, I can't do.  Or rather, I can, but I won't get up again any time soon.  I have to be very careful on takedowns that involve my knees, because it's easy to end up hurt and out of training.

When you have this sort of damage, it actually affects more joints than just the damaged ones.  I get knee aches in certain weather patterns, and it hurts from my hip to my ankle when I get those.

So, when I first started in the martial arts, I was in an style called PaSaRyu Taekwondo.  As everybody knows, most variants of TKD require high kicks and PaSaRyu is no exception.

Within a few months, I developed bursitis in both hips and ended up in physical therapy (because I'd fallen in love, you see, and I wasn't going to stop training) - in fact, I suffer from bursitis to this day.

I ended up leaving PaSaRyu after I was introduced to Arnis and I moved away.  After I ended up in Texas, I wound up in another version of TKD for about six months.  It was then that I realized that TKD is just not a style I can do long-term.

The main reason I quit studying taekwondo was the high kicks.  Between the bursitis in the hips and the damage in my knees, that stuff just hurts.

As a result, it's best for me to be in styles that don't ask me to try to kick high.  It can't be a part of my strategy in the martial arts. The amount of pain and damage I get in training it isn't worth the advantage I get from being able to do it well.

So no, you won't see ol' Stick Chickie kick somebody in the head.  Unless, of course, I'm on a ladder.

Do you like high kicks?  Are you good at it?  How has it affected your physical health?  Tell me all about YOUR kicks in the comments!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 03/18/17

Here's how my week of training, writing, teaching, and miscellaneous Filipino Martial Arts-y goodness went.

What have you been up to this week?


Saturday: We used our kobudo class to work on a demo we're preparing for AKATO in a couple of weeks.  I attended Arnis class, then I went to Dallas for my monthly kobudo class.  Worked on our other weapons for an hour of the class, and then we started a new weapon this month - the sai!
Sunday:  Caught up on chores we've left to the wayside while Mr. Chick trained with GM Art Miraflor of Miraflor Serrada Escrima.
Monday:   Morning gym. Arnis class was more demo practice.
Tuesday:   Morning gym. Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  It's Spring Break here in Texas, and our classes are lightly attended,  We introduced defensive response #1 to our kids class, worked on block-check-counter and introduced the standard #1 disarm against a high forehand strike, the lever disarm.
Wednesday:  Morning gym. Finalized a big section of our demo.
Thursday:  Morning gym. Worked on off-curriculum material, basic espada y daga patterns, in the kids class, then continued on block-check-counter, the lever disarm, and other disarms off the high forehand strike.
Friday:  Morning gym. Worked on Defensive Response #1 with soft sticks (so they could "fail" on blocking without getting hit), worked on other double-stick material, then we sparred, mostly with double sticks.  Fun!


Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:  Women's Self Defense for the Win
Wednesday:   Oh Hai, Sai!

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   Exploring the "X"
Thursday:  Five Things I Absolutely Hate About Being A Martial Artist
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Do All Fights Go To The Ground?


+Prof. Dan Anderson published a TON of anyo (form) videos this week, and they're awesome!  We don't have a lot of empty hand anyos online, so it's a huge help for the rest of us as reference material.  You can find them on his YouTube channel (here).  Here's one of them, of Anyo Tatlo, aka "Form Three".

Save this link and read this article every time you don't "feel" like training.  Not Even Brain Cancer Can Stop Me From Competing at IBJJF

Not martial arts, but... often, when I describe my self defense strategy, I compare it to a cat taking on a big dog.  Watch this:


Hubby is training in Houston all weekend long, so I'll be holding down the fort.  I am covering Arnis classes today, then I will be working on some form work and practicing sai (I work them almost every day since our last class, trying to get better at manipulating them).

So what did YOU do this week?  What did you train? What did you teach?  Did you see any really cool martial arts stuff online?  Let me know!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Oh hai, Sai!

In kobudo, we've started the sai.

Now we're talking some SERIOUS weaponry, y'all.

If you don't know what sai are, they're the three-pronged weapon that you've seen Elektra from Marvel Comics (we won't mention the films she's appeared in as a character) or Raphael from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles use.

I am a katana and an intelligent rat mentor away from being one of these guys.

The other weapons I've trained with in kobudo - bo, tonfa, nunchaku - are derived from everyday objects, and you can find analogues to all of those weapons in your daily life.

Sai are different, though.  These bad boys are weapons, and there's no analogue that I know of in regular everyday objects.

I actually ended up with two pair of sai.  I bought my steel pair years and years ago, but they're really small (almost too small for me, and that's saying something, as I am a small person).  I was given another pair of sai by a great friend, and they're black and a little bigger, and these are the sai I'm using in class.  They're a little longer and they're safer for blocking and whatnot than my original pair.

Golly, I have two pair of sai.  That's tragic.

Sai are not short swords with really big guards or tongs, mind you.  The middle portion - the blade or shaft (or monouchi) is round or octagonal.  The tip (or saki) is more rounded than pointy, even though it is pointy enough to stab someone with.  It's still (basically) a blunt weapon - there is no edge like a sword or knife.

Not that it can't and won't break the skin - it will.  But the key word is "break" (or "tear") versus "cut".  They're heavy enough that it shouldn't take a lot of force to do so, either.

The thing about sai is that they are substantial.  They're metal - mine are steel, not aluminum, and good traditional sai, I've been told, are iron.  The first thing we are learning is how to manipulate the sai and how to properly block with them (it's tricky, as the shaft is very thin and there is zero margin for error).

You drop these bad boys tip-down on the floor, especially a wood floor, and there will be a hole or divot in that floor.  Drop them on your foot... well, let's just say DON'T.

It's also important to learn how to change your grip so that you are not at risk of having your fingers smashed when the sai is used to block or trap using the tines (yoko).  This is the part I'm struggling with the most as I work on learning how to manipulate this weapon.

Yes, but... no.
I thought tonfa were heavy (and they are) but wow, sai take the cake.  It's not like I don't already have relatively strong wrists or forearms, given what I do.  Sai are taking me to a whole new level of training my arms.  My shoulders, my forearms, and my wrists are getting a hell of a workout, and I'm having to work very hard on not stabbing myself.

That'll help me in arnis, and I'm always happy about that.  Sai manipulation is a nice little workout.

But honestly, I don't know how I feel about the sai just yet.  With bo, it took me a while to enjoy the weapon (and now I do, even if it is not my favorite).  I was disappointed by tonfa but I'm good with them now, and nunchaku are a blast to learn and manipulate.

Sai though...

I'm finding the manipulation required a little complicated in a life and death situation - I don't understand the point of holding them where the shaft is against your forearm (what I'd call reverse grip) - why not shaft out, in "traditional" or "saber" grip?  It seems simpler and more flexible in application.

But I'm new to it, and I'm sure I am missing important things that make perfect sense once I train a little more.

I will be learning new material on sai in kobudo class, plus practicing everything else I've learned, for the rest of the year.  I may be looking at a black belt grading at the end of the year or the early part of next year.

So the sai represent me entering the home stretch to black belt.

Awwww yisssssss.

So no matter how I end up feeling about the sai, it is a huge milestone for me as I train in kobudo.  So I will work hard on learning how to use the sai, as hard as I did the other weapons I'm training in.

Have you trained in sai?  What was your experience?  Have any sai stories?  Let us know in the comments!