Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Stick Tricks

The Filipino Martial Arts seem to be getting a little more popular.

It's not unusual for friends to send me"stick" videos from a variety of martial artists with a background in other martial arts - almost all of which are empty hand arts.

Click here if you can't see the video.

Either they're videos like the above - which is terrible, by the way - or these "stick" videos are people doing various sinawali patterns.

More often, though, they're not awful - not great (as they obviously haven't read my posts about sinawali here and here), but not awful.

Unlike the video above, most of these videos are just people doing sinawali - the basic weaving pattern that most FMA's use in one way or another.  They'll be single sinawali, "x" or "ocho ocho" sinawali, or one of the double sinawali variants - all common, all basic.

They won't be labeled as "sinawali", but that's what it is.  Clearly.

It's a pet peeve of mine - calling it "Stick Fighting Drill" or whatever other than the actual name of it, mainly because it makes it sound like something they invented, versus something that is a very common drill in the Filipino Martial Arts.


Click here if you can't see the video.

Small children can do sinawali - it's a basic, basic introductory drill, ok?  And these kids are doing a great job at it, too.

I'm finding this "stick video" label most often applied to people who are well versed in an empty hand art but have added FMA to their curriculum.  Some of these guys are legit, and some, well, not so much.

There's lots and lots of people out there claiming to have trained "under" various teachers and systems in the Filipino Martial Arts.  Sometimes, this is true - they either studied at a school, or attended many seminars and camps resulting in hundreds of hours of training.

Other times... they went to a four-hour seminar or two, or one two day camp, and now they claim to teach Filipino Martial Arts.  They claim they are "under", say, Guro Inosanto, because they went to a seminar and learned a sinawali.

Look, if a teacher wouldn't know your name or face if presented with it, you did not "train" under that person.  End of story.

Watch out for this if you're looking to study the Filipino Martial Arts.  It's a stick trick, and not the good kind.

This is the good kind. Click here if you can't see the video.

If you don't know the FMA's, it's hard for you to know what is quality, and what isn't - you don't know what's missing from what they are showing you.

Here's some ways to weed out the stick trickers from the real deal FMA players.

Make sure they aren't teaching you what I've come to call "Seminar Arnis" - a few sinawali performed without chambering, targeting, out of range, and without moving an inch.  If they don't know more than this, they haven't really trained in an FMA.

Look for basic violations of best practice - I wrote about some of those here.  The first video above is a great example of bad stick play, as both players are constantly twirling their sticks gripped in the forefinger and thumb, like drumsticks and that's an easy disarm.  You can clearly see in the twirling in the third video - the demo set to music - their hands are closed on the stick.

Do they name, clearly, the lineage of their FMA? If they call it "escrima", ask which one.  If they can't tell you, that's a huge red flag.  It's like saying "I teach karate" and then refusing to name which variant.

Did they make up their own "stick fighting" system?  If they claim to be teaching "stick fighting", ask where they've done it versus non-compliant opponents.  If they never have... yeeeeaaahhh. Red flag.

Do they just do their normal martial art with a rattan stick or a knife or kerambit in their hand?   You're not going to learn a Filipino Martial Art from this person.  You're going to learn their empty hand art holding a weapon.

You know who you are.

As the Filipino Martial Arts proliferate, this sort of thing is bound to happen, so I hope I've helped you avoid wasting your time.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!