Monday, April 24, 2017

And Now There Are Four

Over the weekend, our school held our first formal black belt testing for our Presas Arnis program (Juniors and Adults).

Not that we promoted our first black belts.  That was Mr. Chick and myself, in 2013.  But we were not formally tested.  We were tested in secret - that is, we had no idea we were being tested - and surprise promoted, and that was totally cool and fun.

But our new batch of black belts got to actually TEST-test this time around, with a formal board, and everything.  We also had students going for mid-level ranks (blue and green).  Our school is kind of laid back and informal, and this was one of the biggest, most formal events we've put on.  So it's a really big deal for us in a number of ways.

The board, in front, and the people testing, in the back.

The test took about 2-1/2 hours, and included selections of what our folks have to know.  It's impossible to cover everything our guys have to know in a single test, to be honest - well, unless we want it to last days.  I know some schools do that, but for us, it's not necessary.  We earn our ranks on the mats anyway, and this is more like a demo or a graduation ceremony than a "test" anyway.

Just a couple of highlights from the test:
  • Tomas, our adult testing for Lakan, lost one of his sticks in the two-stick defense portion of the test and he just switched to single stick techniques without stopping. That was awesome.
  • Guest board members asked really challenging questions (Thanks Guro +Abel Mann Martinez and Guro +David Beck), put our guys to the test (thanks, GM Art!), and challenged our guys to shred a stick using rompida (and our adult was successful really quickly - our junior guy just isn't strong enough yet but if we'd let him go longer I bet he would have, as his technique was sound - thanks, Guro Kwan!)
Here's a few photos. Our adult green belt, testing for blue, is a private student of our teacher's, and we don't get to see him in the bigger group very often, so it was great to see him working out with the rest of us.

Working double-stick feeding patterns
Going for a disarm
Can't have a blog post without a shot of me beating up children.
Stick Anyo Dalawa (Stick Form Two)

Near the end, Mr. Chick and I had to do presentations about what we've learned since we were promoted to black ourselves, as part of our promotion to 2nd Black.  Mr. Chick talked about how drills are templates and how he understands how they work in training. My presentation was about how my Arnis is not the art with in my art - it IS my art - and how it prepared me for kobudo, and how my kobudo studies have informed my Arnis.  I then used my big pile o'kobudo weapons to demonstrate by using them in various ways with techniques I learned in Arnis.

I used much of what you see here - and no, this isn't even close to the entirety of what I own.  I might have a problem.

The test went really well, everyone was happy, and we have two new Lakan Isa (Black Belt 1st Degree) in our ranks.  Mr. Chick and I were promoted to Lakan/Dayang Dalawa (Black Belt 2nd Degree), and now our school has four black belts (three adult, one junior) under our instructor.

Dylan (Jr. Lakan Isa), me, Mark Lynn, Mr. Chick, and Tomas (Lakan Isa)
It's been fun being a part of developing our two Lakans to their new rank.  I was there when they both started, and I've watched each of them grow.  Both of them have their own special strengths and weaknesses, and I enjoy being paired with each of them for different reasons.

No, I don't like to be paired with Dylan just because I like beating up kids - which I totally do, of course - but he's really sharp and that kid can flow, y'all!

It was a successful day and the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.  And now there are four black belts under our teacher in our style, and I am in good company.  I know they'll continue to work hard, and learn, and grow.

Tell me about a black belt promotion you've been a part of, or attended.  Any funny or amazing stories? Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 04/22/17

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:  Practiced a little in the morning, then went out to Bridgeport to help out at my teacher's "HSMA Modern Arnis Instructor's Course" session.  Very long and fun day!
Sunday:  Easter.  Did a little bit of festivities then both myself and Older Daughter got sick, so we went to bed and stayed there most of the day.  Boooo.
Monday:   Hubby has done something BAD to his knee over the weekend, so gym is light this week. Went to class at Hidden Sword.  Last week before testing, so we reviewed Anyos and a few other things.
Tuesday:   Morning gym.  Mr. Chick taught class while I went with Older Daughter to an event at school.
Wednesday:  Class at Hidden Sword. Worked on last-minute things for my 10 minute presentation for our test this weekend.
Thursday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Reviewed Anyos a little bit, then we worked on the "wooden man" drill for Brush Grab Strike.
Friday:  Morning gym. Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Stick sparring - we worked on translating things we do in sinawali to using double-sticks in stick sparring.


Here's the original content I posted this week:
Monday:  Training the Trainers
Wednesday:  The Big Test
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: What Other Style(s) Would You Study (if you could)?

And here's what I re-shared this week:
Tuesday:   Martial Arts Ruins Everything
Wednesday: Injury: Just Train


Hey, cool, +Larry McDonnell was featured in his local newspaper.  Way to go, Larry! One in a Million: Man with dwarfism has passion for martial arts

+Ando Mierzwa has a neat video (below) and excuse me, sir, but the correct answer to "Which is the best style of martial arts" is "MINE!"

Great read on Bartitsu and jiu-jitsu and the Suffragette movement - read it: The Martial Art that (sort of) Won British Women the Right to Vote

This is making the rounds in the martial arts world online, and for good reason:

Details were finalized and we have a new seminar that Mid-Cities Arnis will host (in partnership with Hidden Sword Martial Arts).  It's on Mother's Day and I can't think of a better present for mom!  Here's the event details over on Facebook:  STICK and STEEL Seminar with GM Art Miraflor and Professor Dan Anderson


Today's the big testing day!  I will be going to Roanoke early for last minute practice, then the test is at 1 pm.  I know our guys are gonna do great!  I'm doing a presentation for my 2nd degree about how Arnis and my Kobudo training blend (and how Arnis gives me the ability to use other weapons).

Hope your week was as productive as mine was.

Oh, by the way, If you haven't done it already, would you please like this blog's page on Facebook if you're there (and encourage other people to do it too)?  You can find it right here:  The Stick Chick Blog

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!

Friday, April 21, 2017

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: What Other Style(s) Would You Study (if you could)?


Today's question is a little different.

Many of us, after having studied a while, branch out to explore other styles other than our original or home style.  Sometimes these styles are closely related to what we already do, and sometimes, it's a completely different point of view.

Either way, most of us end up cross training in something else, if we end up studying long enough.

But, there's only so many hours in a day, right?  At least for me, there's far, far more I'm interested in, in the martial arts world, than I can feasibly study in my lifetime.  I can have friends who do them, I can watch video or see photos of people doing them, I can read about it, but due to circumstances of location and schedule, I just can't fit them in to my martial arts training.

I need a time machine and three copies of myself to study all that I'm really interested in.

So today's FACE-OFF FRIDAY is related to that, and I'm actually going to give you my own answer this time around (in the comments).

So let us know...


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Big Test

This weekend marks a milestone in the history of our Arnis program at my teacher's school, Hidden Sword Martial Arts.

This weekend we are testing for promotion our second batch of first degree black belts, or as we call it, Lakan Isa (both candidates are male - female black belts are called Dayang).   One of our candidates is also the first Junior black belt in our program.  We're also testing some lower rank folks for various ranks, but these two are the "big" ones of the test.

This is, of course, a big deal in our school.


Our program is relatively small, but we're one of the few full-time Presas Arnis schools around, and this is only the second time we've gotten students to the point where they're ready to be promoted to black belt.  So yep, really big deal.

Mr. Chick and I were our program's first black belts. We were promoted via secret test and surprise promotion in August 2013.  So for this test, we're on the board but we're also the candidates' main partners on the test.  I expect to be locked, tossed to the ground, and pretend beaten up for about three hours.

My kind of day!

Like many schools, rank at Hidden Sword is earned on the mat, not in a test.  The only way to fail is to give up or quit in the middle of it.  I have lots of confidence in everyone testing that they'll get through this just fine - in fact, they may be better prepared for the next rank than we were three and a half years ago.

If you've read this blog a while, you know that I'm sort of ambivalent about rank and rank testing. While I see the value of such things, I think we put way too much emphasis on it than we need to sometimes.  I'm not wild about special privileges in a school based on rank, for example.

What's important are the skills you're acquiring, not the rank you're earning.

That being said, the jump to black usually represents a big step forward in a person's training.  What's expected of you on the mat changes.  The responsibility you have in your school changes. And if you've been promoted correctly - at the right time and stage of your training - your ability to learn accelerates, because you're mastered the basics and you don't have to think so hard any more.

That certainly was the case for me, even if I was sort of shell-shocked for a few months after we were promoted.  I'm a very, very different kind of player now than I was then, not only due to the influences I've gotten cross-training (especially in kobudo), but to the deeper understanding of our style itself.

Of course, the opportunity to train with some of the top people around didn't hurt.

I fully expect this weekend's test to go off without a hitch.  The folks testing are as ready as they can be.  It's going to be awesome.

As an aside, Mr. Chick and I are also testing, for 2nd degree black (Lakan/Dayang Dalawa).  Wish us luck.

Tell us about any big milestones in your school you've been a part of, or about a big important rank test you've taken.  Any funny testing stories?  Let us know in the comments!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Training the Trainers

My teacher, Mark Lynn, has started a program where he is working with empty-hand martial arts instructors and their students on material that they can then turn around and teach in their own schools.

It's a classic, Modern Arnis-y, "art within your art" approach.

He's been doing this a few months now, but this session was the first time I could go and help.  Usually I've had to cover our classes at Hidden Sword that are held at the same time, because Mr. Chick was booked.

Well, lucky me, Mr. Chick was available this time around to cover classes, so I got to go out to Bridgeport, TX and assist with the third session my teacher has offered.

Lemme tell ya, I just LOVE this sort of thing.  That is, when we get to work with experienced martial artists as they are introduced to our style.

I mean, I love working with newbies regardless, but experienced martial artists present a different challenge than completely inexperienced newbies do.  I just relish that particular challenge.

I stood in as my teacher's main demonstration partner.  We worked on our defensive responses #1 (same side block-and-strike), #2 (cross body block-and-strike) and #3 (double block and strike) in our double-stick material.  We then introduced the 12 Angles of attack, supported blocking, and counter-attacking in single stick.

The #9 strike. Via the NTKA Karate Martial Arts Facebook page.

The class had some folks who had attended all three sessions, and some who had only attended one or were brand-new.  I took this group - the least experienced - and continued drilling them on our defensive responses, while my teacher worked with the rest of the group on the single stick material.

When you are teaching you are always trying to find ways to help students relate to the things you want them to learn.  With experienced empty hand players, I usually go back to motions they already know, such as down block = low backhand strike to the knee, aka our #8 strike, or the idea that you don't stop the stick before it reaches the target like you don't stop a punch before it hits the target, and so on.

It's so cool when the penny drops and the lightbulb goes on, it really is.  Aha! It's all the same!  Just as the found of Modern Arnis, Remy Presas, was known for saying all the time.

Like this.
What is different about this class, versus a typical seminar, is that this is aimed at people who will teach what we're showing them to other people.

This means we have to correct (usually) small things here and there, but we also have to show them those small things and teach them how to correct it in people they are teaching.  So we correct them and we teach them to correct others, simultaneously.

It's challenging, and as an instructor, it really makes you think really, really hard, which is always good.  So not only am I teaching others, but I'm learning too.

It was a great session for all of us, and I left physically tired and mentally stimulated.  A great day!

Tell us about your experience learning to teach others.  How did it affect your ability to understand what you do?  Any cool stories? Let us know in the comments!