Wednesday, April 30, 2014

SHENANIGANS! Brian Carlisle's Escrima and Sword Training

There's a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions about Filipino Martial Arts out there.  People see FMA players online, or they go to a seminar, and think, "Hey, that's not so hard."  So they buy some rattan sticks and go to town, whirling the sticks all around willy-nilly, and call it "escrima".

This is similar to people who watch movies and television weapons work, and think, by copying what they see there, that they now know weapons.

This, my friends, is shenanigans.

Let's check out YouTuber Brian Carlisle, who looks like he's made both the mistakes I've mentioned above.
Brian twirls.
Brian advertises himself as follows on his web site at
"Brian is proficient with numerous combat art styles: Kung Fu, Jiu Jitsu, Chin Na, Dragon fighting, Muay Tai, Boxing, Kali, Karate and Kalaripayattu and Escrima. He is also proficient with numerous weapons in his training regiments."
So he knows "Kali", "Escrima" and is proficient with numerous weapons. He's posted a lot of stuff on YouTube channel that are martial arts related, but I'm going to stay focused on his "escrima" and weapons videos.  You have a clip of one of his videos above, but here's his longest and most extensive "escrima and weapons training" video.

Brian, Brian, Brian.
  1. Grip:  You do not twirl with the stick basically held in your hand with your index finger and thumb, whipping it around with your wrists like that.  It's not very powerful, it's a pretty easy disarm (you drop the stick without even getting hit using this grip in this video and others) and, when I tried doing this myself, it hurt my hand right below the metacarpophalangeal joint on my index finger and my wrists.  Proper twirling doesn't hurt at all.  Here's some good twirling that's related to what I think you're trying to do:
  2. What is the point of the move behind your shoulder where you catch it underneath your armpit?  It sort of looks like a wing block - we in the FMA's do that block, just not like that, and for a specific purpose and reason.  It looks to me like you're doing it because you've seen it done with nunchaku (in fact, your twirling looks like basic nunchaku twirling with a stick), not doing it because it's something done in escrima.
  3. FMA's are generally smooth and flowing. Power is generated with technique and speed.  You are muscling the sticks in order to get speed and power, and thus you are clumsy, slow, and off balance. This is another reason - other than the extremely poor grip - that you drop and fumble your sticks.
  4. Twirling two sticks in one hand.  NO.  Pointless.  Stop it.
In short, you're clumsy and your grip is atrocious.  It looks like you're trying to do basic nunchaku twirling with sticks.  I don't know if you've noticed, but they're actually very, very different weapons.
Not the same thing.
Now, in the second part of that video, Brian does some sword work.  I do not study Japanese sword, but as an FMA player, I do somewhat understand blades.  I think Brian leaves critical parts of his body out to get cut off (mainly his elbows when he posed in guard - and he is posing, without purpose), his targeting is poor, his grip - surprise! - is very poor, he twirls the sword (this is not a movie, sir, and you are not Conan the Barbarian), he lacks awareness and control of the point.  He moves the sword as if he's chopping wood...


Hey, Brian, here's the right weapon to do what you're doing in that video:
Chop wood, arms, heads off... it's versatile.
It's awesome. it's the right tool for the job you're doing in that video, and you can buy the one pictured above here.  Please, stop chopping wood with your katana.  It's not what it's for, you'll dull (and possibly break) it.  Here's someone doing it right:
If I were half as good as her, I'd jump with joy too.
See how precise, fluid and controlled she is? Try to be like her.  So, to be clear:
I sense a theme developing.
Okay, so,  here's Brian and a buddy doing what looks like sinawali.

This is the one video I'd show people on how not to do sinawali.  They're rooted, they aren't targeting each other and they're chasing the stick.  Brian, read this post of mine and try again.

One more, because I enjoy his escrima so very, very much.  Here he is showing empty hand applications.
Yep.   He posted this for us to watch and enjoy as empty-hand escrima techniques he's learned from... somewhere.  He has no idea how to do the throw he attempts to do for the first half of the video, and his knife defense - he bends over and places his head in a great place to get hit.

Okay, I said one more, but here's another one I just can't pass up sharing.  Here's what he calls an "escrima and balance drill".
I have no words.

Please, Brian, get with a real FMA teacher, and get corrected on this stuff.  I admire your passion - you obviously do practice - but you are not qualified to teach any variant of the FMA's based upon this evidence.
Yes, just... stop.