Saturday, March 1, 2014

Productive Playtime

This week, my husband and I have been able to spend a little more time on “upper level” techniques than we have been able to do over the past few months.

As I've said before, I like spending time working on fundamentals – I think it’s important and useful.  However, I also like it when we get an opportunity to work on, well, “black belt stuff”, and that’s been in short supply in class this year as a matter of necessity.

You see, our school, being relatively new, doesn't have any regular high-level students except my husband and I just yet. The highest level students we currently have are green belts, which are the lowest level middle range belt rank.

While we are inordinately proud of them and their skills, they aren't quite at the point where they can “flow” yet.  They'll get there, but it'll be a while.

As an aside, our progression goes:  Zero Belt, White, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, 3rd Brown, 2nd Brown, 1st Brown, Black.   And now you know.

We do have an “advanced class” on Saturday mornings, but sometimes we use it to work on plans for the upcoming week’s classes, or someone misunderstands and shows up early for the regular Arnis class that takes place later in the morning, or other things interfere with our ability to take class time to do higher level techniques for our own progression.

It's a treat when we get to “play” with higher level drills with our instructor, +Mark Lynn around.  We can get his advice, ideas, and critiques on what we’re doing.

For example, we came up with one technique this week that honestly isn't any good in a real self defense or fight situation, for a variety of reasons.  But, if you’re training with other players in a relaxed environment, it is totally doable and will be very funny to pull off.

No, I’m not going to tell you what it is… yet.  But it sure was fun to figure out.

Another idea we've come up with that I will tell you about is based upon punyo entries in which one does a stick exchange (that is, passing the stick from one hand to the other).  Here's the Professor doing the entry we're talking about:

Still taken from this video: Introduction to Tapi-Tapi
The stick exchange (in this case, from right hand to left) such a natural, obvious thing to do. We were thinking, what if we came up with a drill to isolate practice of the entries and stick exchanges in flow? What are the secondary skills that are practiced as a result?

So we made one up.

It has a “driver” and each player has a different pattern, like tapi-tapi, but it actually looks a little more like a sumbrada, as both players take turns delivering punyo entries and doing stick exchanges.

We’re still working on the kinks and perfecting it, but we think it has a lot of promise.  When we get it to a point where we’re happy with it, I’ll record it and share with all of you for feedback.

This is what happens when you get to play with people at or above your own rank – you come up with things that can be purely for fun, or something that’s actually useful that hadn't occurred to you before.  It’s much harder to innovate this way when you adhere to a strict, curriculum-only training schedule all the time.

So are you incorporating playtime into your training?  If not, why not?  If so, what’s some of the best ideas you've come up with as a result?  I’d love to know!