Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I'm Really a Black Belt!

I was in class with a fellow student who'd taken an extended break and has recently returned to training again.  I'm very happy he's back, as he's a great guy to work with.

We were working on a specific technique - abaniko corto, with a wrap of the arm where the stick would end up against the inside of the wrist both right hand versus right hand, and right hand versus left. To see the full technique: Abaniko Corto Right Hand and Abaniko Corto Left Hand,

Like this.

Once you get the stick in position above, there are a number of things that can happen, including locks and traps, several disarms, and set ups into other techniques.

For example, here's our friend +Brian Johns showing a specific drill using the abaniko corto technique (watch his follow-up) :

If you can't see the video, click here.

We were working on disarms in this class, so I'd have my friend get me to the point where the stick was on the back of my wrist, and ask him to disarm me from that point.

He was just learning, so we practiced the first two easy disarms (both of which involve grabbing the stick with the empty hand) and then we started down the path of, "Okay, what now?"

And it was in this discussion that I finally, FINALLY, felt like an honest-to-goodness black belt.

Because I could see what could come next, but not just one thing.  I saw many things, depending on the way we stepped, the angles we chose, the way we used the empty hand.

My mind went, "Oh, we could do this... or this... or this... or this... or if you did that it would lead to this other thing... or that other thing..." faster than I could say it out loud.

I could see the chain, off in the distance, of technique to technique to technique, forming a shape that I knew was there, but I hadn't really seen.  Until just then.

Like this.  But not at all.
This doesn't always happen to me.  It's not usual to get to a point and think "What now?" and come up blank, and have to stop and think about it.  I usually come up with stuff, but I have to stop and think if it's outside of my normal routine.

But not this time.  It just was there, and I could do it immediately versus having to think about it.

This is when you see tapi tapi, not just play it.   You see the counter to the counter in this chain, choosing which link comes next, working to get your partner to react a certain way, so you can do what you intend to do.

The second part of this is that my friend was saying how he had to slow it down versus the way I was doing it.

I thought I was doing it slow!

Apparently not.  I was experiencing that weird sensation of time slowing down that martial artists and others, like athletes, get when they are really doing things right.

Am I... am I the One now?  When do I get a cool trench coat and sun glasses?

Since I was seeing the tapi tapi... time slowed down for me, just a little bit, compared to my training partner.  It's not that I'm that great or anything, it's just that I've experienced enough for that to happen - the connections are already there so I can make decisions relatively quickly in the middle of doing a technique.  Thus, it seems to me like I'm not moving that fast because my brain is moving fast.

This is what makes a black belt in my art -  not a collection of techniques (those we collect over a lifetime) but the ability to flow and to see the tapi tapi.

I really am a black belt in Modern Arnis!  Not only by being tested, and by others saying so, but because I really, actually am.

If you've earned a black belt in your art, when did it finally hit you that you are, indeed, worthy of that rank?  Before you were granted the rank? At the test?  Some time later? And how did you know?

I'd love to hear your story.