Monday, May 30, 2016

Thoughts from MAPA 9 - A Two Year Journey

Recently we held MAPA 9, the two-year anniversary of the +Metroplex Arnis Players Alliance gathering concept.

MAPA is a loose group of people who get together once a quarter to learn Filipino Martial Arts (and other closely related techniques) from a variety of teachers and viewpoints.  The instructors and subject matter rotate from gathering to gathering.

At a MAPA gathering, people don't wear belts and nobody is above training with anyone.  Nobody's way is better or worse.  Nobody's art or lineage is better or worse.  Once a teacher is done with his session, he becomes a student with the rest of us.

It's really fun, and via MAPA, I've met so many wonderful martial artists that I'm proud to call my friends today.

So let's talk about MAPA 9.

First up, +David Beck worked disarms off of forehand and backhand strikes using the punyo.

Guro David (left)  WANTS THAT STICK.

Disarms were (almost) a theme for this day, as Guro Beck was only the first one to talk about the concept.   Disarms are always a fun topic to cover, so it was a lot of fun.

Next +Abel Mann Martinez taught us about body structure and how that related to disarming.

Guro Abel (left) picks on a short dumpy middle aged woman too fragile for direct sunlight to hit her face.
This was really useful material as often, one of the ways that disarms fail is that your body positioning - your range, where your weight is in relation to the other guy - is all wrong.  It was a really fun session.

Next, Mr. Chick himself, +Kevin Bradbury, taught the group a series of drills based on the Dos Manos (two hands) techniques, using sticks and other weapons, including a walking stick and an umbrella.

Guro Kevin demonstrates the technique on different levels. 
This was the "good workout" portion of the day, as they worked up to the "Dos Manos Blocking Drill".

Finally my teacher +Mark Lynn taught double-stick disarming concepts, including the idea that you must never try to disarm "clean" - that is, you always do a hit or some other thing coming in so that the disarm can work.

Guro Mark (right) is going to make Tomas very, very sorry he attacked him.
Not only are many of these double-stick disarms good for single stick and empty hand, the emphasis on hitting the guy to make a disarm work helps cover some of the deficiencies you typically see in FMA disarming.

Another successful MAPA  gathering in the books!  I got to meet some new friends, play with old friends, and have a great time with my fellow Filipino Martial Artists.  Fun day, fun people... what more can you ask for for 25 bucks?

It's hard to believe we've kept this going for two years now.  When we started, we didn't know if we'd get past one or two.

MAPA 10 will be announced shortly - typically it will fall on the first weekend in August. If you're in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and have tons of experience, or you've never picked up a stick before and have always wanted to give it a try...  you're welcome at MAPA.

Of course, I had to get a nice picture of myself and my friend and fellow Arnisadora Karen Keith Clarke together, being all badass-y.  SHE'S a badass, anyway.  Me, I have to hide from the sun like a damn vampire these days.

I hope to see many of YOU at the next MAPA!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 05/28/16

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:  Took youngest daughter to Tae Kwon Do and got some good kobudo practice in while she was in class.  That afternoon I attended MAPA 9.  I will have a full write-up with pictures this week. ;)
Sunday:  Worked on bo forms a bit and a run through of the tonfa (footwork only).
Monday: My day off.  I use this night to make a dinner that will have some leftovers throughout the week.  I remember a time where I had more than one night a week to make dinner...
Tuesday:   Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Worked on x-pattern sinawali, worked on aspects of brush-grab strike, worked on Anyo Isa (form and applications of the form) and I worked with our new Adult student on her "zero level" material.
Wednesday:   Attended  Arnis class at Hidden Sword Martial Arts.  I worked tapi-tapi with our senior adult black belt, mostly right on right, playing with the idea of thinking a little bit ahead to get your opponent where you want them.
Thursday:  Worked combative responses (double-stick and empty hand), stances, and our "zero level" material (the 12 Angles of Attack, our 6 count blocking drill, and Single Sinawali).
Friday:  Played a bunch of tapi-tapi and sumbrada, worked on basics, and introduced our new adult student to the joys of stick sparring!

Playing sumbrada.


I posted this post of original content this week:
Monday:  Muscle Memory (Override)
Wednesday:  Roll for Attributes
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: When to Introduce "Alive" Training, or Resistance

Based on the response to Wednesday's post on my Facebook, in Twitter, and in other places...


I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday:  You're Never Too Old to Start the Martial Arts
Thursday:  Injury: Just Train


Neat article discussing European medieval flail weapons - and the possibility that they didn't actually exist;  The Curious Case of the Weapon that Didn’t Exist

FMA Junkie on Facebook shared this wonderful video from Funker Tactical - and damn, someday I hope to be a tenth as good as these guys are.

+Hock Hochheim posted a nice (and maybe controversial) discussion of the Kerambit over on his blog.  Check it out here:  The Kerambit Gambit Handicap

If I missed a neat video or article or other martial arts related thing of note, let me know in the comments!  I'm still looking for guest bloggers - if you want to try your hand at writing an article for the Stick Chick Blog, hit me up, thanks!


It's Memorial Day weekend here in the United States.  Americans, please take a moment to remember those who have lost their lives in the service of our country, thank you.   I plan to try to rest up a bit - running as hard as I do, I need every moment of downtime I can find.

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, May 27, 2016

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: When to Introduce "Alive" Training, or Resistance


Today's topic is about "alive" training, or resistance.

By that, I mean a non-cooperative drill with another person - that is, the partner is not trying to allow a particular technique to work. In fact, they are actively trying to defeat it.

Some arts introduce resistance almost immediately in a new student's training.

Other arts introduce it gradually - over a period of months, or at a certain rank.

So I want to know how YOU do it - when, and how, you introduce alive training.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Roll for Attributes

It's not uncommon for martial artists online to spot a video of a drill and say, "That's so impractical, nobody fights that way."

The most common response is, "It's a drill to build attributes." or "It's a skill-building drill."  Because most of the time, that's exactly what's going on.  It's not a "this is how we fight" video.

But what do we mean by "attributes"?

I like to think of it as our very own version of the old Dungeons & Dragons attributes.  In case you aren't a raging nerd like me - Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.

Image found here.  And if you haven't seen this episode of "Community"... GET ON IT.

The attributes we want to build may vary from art to art, but generally speaking, some of the attributes we train include:

  • Spatial Awareness
  • Targeting 
  • Speed
  • Pressure Sensitivity
  • Body Structure
  • Balance
  • Strength and/or power generation
Let's consider spatial awareness for a moment.   This can mean range - that is, placing yourself in the appropriate place in relation to your opponent for offense or defense.  It can also mean positioning one's self in an advantageous position (which can vary from art to art, strategy to strategy).  It can also mean training enough to learn what your opponent can and can't reasonably do based on where he or she is positioned.

Lots to learn there, and there are many drills that can train this kind of spatial awareness in my art (and I'm sure you have them in yours, too).

What "proper" range or positioning is one of those strategic choices that makes one art different from another, and that's why someone might not understand what they're seeing if they are in a different art making a different strategic choice.

So before you start criticizing a drill you find online as "unrealistic" or "impractical", consider that it may be an attribute builder, not a fight demonstration.

What are some of the attributes that you build in your art? How do you build them?  Got any nice drills or tips you'd like to share?  Let us know in the comments!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Muscle Memory (Override)

I attended the MAPA 9 gathering recently, and I had a frustrating moment while I was working on one of the techniques being taught there.

Guro +David Beck was showing a variety of disarms off of a forehand and backhand strike, where you place the punyo (butt end) of the stick against the wrist and lever the opponent's stick out.

One of the disarms I'm talking about versus a backhand
I have done these disarms, and many like them, many times, so it wasn't exactly new material to me.

But for some reason, on the forehand, I ended up having to force myself to use the punyo rather than the tip on the disarm.   I'd practiced this so many times using the tip that I had the tip there on the back of the hand before I realized it was there.  That reaction of mine I've trained so much that it was now in muscle memory.

I had to slow it down big-time, and make the punyo lead, versus the tip, to do the disarm as we were being coached.  

I felt all clumsy and newbie-ish again, and it was annoying.

Training something so well that you don't have to think about it is a huge advantage in stressful or fluid situations.  That's what the concept of "muscle memory" is all about - knowing it so well that you don't have to give it conscious attention.

Most martial arts and martial artists have this concept.  We train certain techniques or concepts so much that we just don't think about it any more.

It almost always includes some type of footwork and range principle, and a core set of "things" to do that vary widely based on what kind of art it is (strikers, grapplers, kickers, and weapons based stuff like I do).

It turns out, blocking vs. a forehand and getting the tip of my weapon against the back of the hand (for a variety of different purposes) is now muscle memory for me, and I didn't even realize it.

Another name, of course, for muscle memory is habit.  It's my habit to block and place the tip against the back of the wrist for a disarm.  In order to override that habit, I had to slow things down so that my brain could catch up with my body.

Ain't that the truth.

In this case, while what I was doing is in no way wrong, it just prevented me from adding another good tool to my martial arts toolbox that's as easy to get as the one I've already trained into muscle memory.  There are good reasons to use a punyo on the disarm versus the tip.

So I have to decide if I want to override that muscle memory to use the tip vs. the punyo version of that disarm. If I do, I have to train it a lot, to overcome the habit I've already built.  I can make a case either way (and I'm still thinking on it, to be honest).

This process and consideration has to be made when people start cross training in different arts.  You may have something trained to the point of muscle memory from one art, but then you add on a different art and you discover that you'd like to do something from the new art instead.  So you have to train that new technique so much that it overrides the old one in muscle memory.

This is why I believe it's important to have a core, base art - any art you like - before you train a lot in other martial art styles.  In a stressful situation, you want to do something, anything, even if it isn't "optimal".  If you don't have enough practice, it won't be in muscle memory, and you'll have nothing in your toolbox ready to go when push comes to shove.

Knowing something so well you don't have to think about it is something that takes time, patience, and a ton of practice.  It can take years before you get enough practice in for something to become so well known you can do it without giving it too much conscious attention.

That's why you spend so much time doing things over and over and over, and there is no shortcut to this. Repetition makes habit.  You have to put in the time to make it so.

Tell me about a time where you realized you wanted to override something in your muscle memory.  What tips or tricks do you have to help something become a habit?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 05/21/16

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:  Attended morning Arnis at Hidden Sword and then in the afternoon I went to my monthly Kobudo class.  I received my next weapon - nunchaku - and they informed us our next test is the class in July.  So I'm knuckling down and practicing bo and tonfa double-time now - I especially have to practice the bo one-steps with partners because I can't practice them solo very well and I honestly blank out on them half the time.
Sunday:  Practiced kobudo a bit.  On Sundays I also curate the week's photos for Mid-Cities Arnis, post them to Facebook, and then send out our weekly school email to our students.  Takes me a few hours every Sunday.  If you're on Facebook, I'd appreciate it if you'd "like" our Mid-Cities Arnis page HERE.
Monday:  My day off. Had a wicked tension headache, so I didn't get to enjoy it much.  Texas is very bad for allergies and it's yet another reason I plan to retire up north someday (the major ones being I want mountains - small ones will do - and a REAL winter!)
Tuesday:   Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  We have a new adult student - yay!  I really loved being able to play hubad-lubad and riff off of all sorts of things that crop up in that drill.  Very fun night.  Also reviewed material for Mr. Chick's portion of MAPA 9 - it's his first time instructing.
Wednesday:   Attended  Arnis class at Hidden Sword Martial Arts.  My teacher is also instructing at MAPA 9, so he worked on that material in preparation.  I got to play a bit with our senior adult student and we got to riffing on topics similar to what we were playing with the night before at Mid-Cities Arnis!  I love it when that happens!
Thursday:  Taught at Mid-Cities Arnis.  We covered applications of the elbow and worked on low kicks, and combinations of the two.
Friday:  Practiced Dos Manos techniques in preparation for Mr.  Chick's MAPA 9 material.


I posted this post of original content this week:
Monday: They Are Not "Chucks", Got It?
Wednesday:  What's in Your Toolbox?
Friday:  Happy Birthday GMM Ernesto Presas!

I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday:  Enough with Sensei Scumbag's Shenanigans!
Thursday:  Stick Exchange: One Advantage of the Blunt Weapon


Really nice discussion of how a culture might use violence that isn't intended to inflict damage or long-term harm:  The Educational Beatdown 
Heartwarming story of using martial arts to help kids with cancer: Rabbi uses martial arts to teach kids 'inner power' in fight against cancer

Interesting review of the usefulness of wearing a fit bit while doing martial arts (specifically Tae Kwon Do):  Can a Fitbit Work for Martial Arts?

Now THIS is stick fighting.  I love seeing the stick fighting traditions of cultures world-wide.

+Larry McDonnell  scored an AWESOME interview with Master Ken and Todd!  Check it out!;

Want to write about the martial arts but don't want to go to the trouble of maintaining a blog or using social media to share what you write? Guest posting for this blog might be for you!  Ping me privately on G+ or make a comment below and I'll reach out to you (you can also reach me via Twitter, here).

If I missed a neat video or article or other martial arts related thing of note, let me know in the comments!


Today is MAPA 9 - if you are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, come on out to Haslet and PLAY!  It's not too late - details are RIGHT HERE!

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, May 20, 2016

Celebrating the birthdate of GMM Ernesto Presas Sr, founder of Kombatan

Along with his brother's art (Remy Presas, Modern Arnis), my teacher(s) were also heavily influenced by the teachings of Ernesto Presas, Sr.

His birthday would have been today.  He was born May 20, 1945.   Instead of marking the anniversary of when we lost him (November 1, 2010), I'd like to mark the anniversary of his birth - as what he did lives on in all of us who have learned from him and from his students that continue to teach us today.  He died about a year into my training under my current teacher, so I never got the opportunity or the pleasure of meeting or training directly under him.

Please take a moment to watch this - it's a demo and it's amazing thing to watch.

Additionally, I have watched this presentation many times.  So much of what my teacher does to me I see in here!

I cherish and honor the "side" of my martial arts heritage that comes from GMM Ernesto Presas.   Much of what I do - heck some of my most important go-to tools - come from Kombatan.

So join with me in thinking of him, and wishing him a Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What's in Your Toolbox?

In class the other day, we were working our basic Combative Responses, inserting them into the hubad-lubad drill.

Me teaching Combative Response #1, or same-side block and strike/counter attack

As quickly happens, students start wondering what else they can do with these inserts.  Can I do a kick? What if I move off the line?  Could I get a lock here?  What happens if I step the other way? What changes if the attack is linear?

It's a fun drill, one I love to play with, because it's sure to spark the imagination.

That's one huge advantage of drills like hubad-lubad (and others, including sinawali and empty hand tapi-tapi).  You get a lot of reps with a variety of options to learn timing and experiment with different things you may have learned.  You get to ask, "Might this work here?" and then try to figure out how to make it happen.

So, as a part of this conversation, we got to talking about our Combative Responses, and why we work them so hard at this level in their training.  We typically train this in our double-stick material and empty handed.  Not so much single-stick (it can be done, but it's not optimal for a variety of reasons) but it also translates really well to shorter weapons like dulo-dulo and knife.

The reason we work them so hard at this level is because, all things considered, these are the basic tools in their self defense toolbox.

I compared these responses to the most common tools most people use in their homes.  Think about the tools you keep in your junk drawer for easy access.  In my house, that's a hammer, an adjustable wrench, a Phillips screwdriver, and a flat-head screwdriver.

Oh, we have lots of other useful tools, and we need those tools once in a while.  Socket wrenches.  Saws.  Drills.  Those weird hex wrenches.

Whatever size I need you can be sure it's NOT included here.
Generally, though, we tend to use just four or five basic tools for most things we do, even if it isn't the most optimal tool for the job at hand.  Everybody who's ever nailed a small nail or tack into something using the handle of a screwdriver because they didn't want to go fetch the hammer is nodding at me right now.

That's what the Combative Responses are in my martial arts toolbox (with a couple of other items, including brush grab strike, always a favorite).  My hammer, my adjustable wrench, my screwdrivers.  Simple tools you can use for a lot of jobs.

I like simple.  Simple is good.

What if it fails?  Well, I know other stuff to do next, and practice those, too.  There is no perfect, undefeatable technique after all.  But it is built upon a foundation of the Combative Responses.

We drill these very early in our program, knowing that most people don't study for years and years, so when they leave us, they at least leave with a few tools in their toolbox that are sturdy and simple and easy to use - like a hammer or a screwdriver.

At a very basic level, they can deal with an incoming attack, and escape the situation - which is the whole idea behind self defense, after all.

So tell me about the basic tools in your toolbox.  Do you have a set of simple-go to moves?  Tell us in the comments!

Monday, May 16, 2016

They are not "Chucks", got it?

In Kobudo, we are getting ready to wrap-up tonfa study and move on to our next weapon.  Our next rank test will take place in July, 2016, so it's just a couple of months away.  I will be spending all of my extra time in bo and tonfa practice so I can ace that test like a boss.

Our next weapon is possibly my least favorite of the Japanese/Okinawan weapons that exists.

Yep, I'm talking about nunchaku.

My nunchaku. There are many like them, but this is MINE.
Why am I not looking forward to this weapon?

To be honest, my excitement about any given weapon seems to be directly proportional to the amount of shenanigans I've seen either in television/movies or on the internet with said weapon.

If you were making a list of weapons most often found in weapons shenanigans, Nunchaku has to be at the top of the list, right up there with the katana.

It's not uncommon to have people with zero training grabbing them and thinking that they can spin them around their body from side to side and that makes them an "expert" in the weapon, inspired by Bruce Lee or other dorks on the internet spinning the damn things around like they're actually accomplishing something.  There is a reason why people flailing about with nunchaku is the one of the most common contributor to "martial arts fail"  video compilations, right up there with bad board or concrete block breaking and people horribly misjudging the height of their kicks.

Posting a nunchaku groin shot would have been so cliché.

The thing is, for most of us who know diddly-squat about the weapon, we think twirling it around like you see above is how the weapon, y'know, works.  Add that to the tournament-style day-glo "nunchucks" and "Speed Chucks" and "Extreme Chucks" and very quickly, it goes from being a weapon used against other weapons and people, and it becomes a prop for dancing or tricking or whatever.

And all y'all know how I love that, right?

Missing from the video - lots and lots of screaming.

Of course, the program I'm in doesn't do that sort of thing.  You saw the standard-issue nunchaku I have for my class above - they aren't even tied together with a chain, they don't light up in the dark, and they aren't padded.

I know it's going to be fine.  Fine.

Hell, I've sparred against nunchaku several times with a variety of weapons (jo, bo, and of course Arnis sticks - the ActionFlex versions, but still, it was sparring).  I know how devastating the weapon can be, up close (as I've been whomped with them more than once - and I did have two fingers horribly sprained when I missed a block vs. nunchaku not too long ago - those things move FAST).

So here's an antidote to the shenanigans above.  Yes, it's a demo, but still...

Now that is kinda cool.

And then there's this - similar to the first form I'll be learning (I don't know the name of yet, y'all, I haven't learned it, but I have seen it).

Nary a weird flip or a toss of the weapon to be found!

I will start learning Nunchaku soon.  But for all that is holy and good in this world...

Don't call 'em "Chucks".


Do you have experience with nunchaku? Or is there another weapon that you kinda dreaded learning but took it on anyway?  Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 05/14/16

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:  Taught at Hidden Sword.  Had a great time playing "Guro Says" with the 12 angles and then having the group work the bags.  When Miss Jackie is running class at Hidden Sword, you know we're going to do some bag work!  Inlaws are visiting as well, and they took the kids out of town for the weekend, so it was nice to spend some time with Mr. Chick.  Of course, we practice martial arts - what else would we do in a kid-free house for the weekend?
Sunday:  Mother's Day!  Went to see "Captain America: Civil War".  Loved it.  Go Team Cap!
Monday:  My "day off".  Hung out with inlaws.
Tuesday:   Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Worked sinawali and our combative responses.
Wednesday:   Skipped class, as I had to have a gum infection dealt with in the afternoon and the drugs made me tired and loopy and my face hurt.
Thursday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Worked on Anyo Isa, wrist releases, and oblique and front kicks.
Friday: Mid-Cities Arnis - worked with our senior student on disarming concepts, including double-stick disarms. Then in stick sparring we worked inserting off of single sinawali (as an attribute drill - nobody actually fights that way, y'all) and then different  actions once the insertion is made.

Working "X-Pattern" Sinawali


I posted this post of original content this week:
Monday:  5 Ways To Tell If You're Watching a Demonstration (Versus a Fight)
Wednesday:  Viva La Resistance!

I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday:  Pondering Green Belt
Thursday:  Demo Daze
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Contracts or No Contracts?


The Metroplex Arnis Players Alliance next gathering, MAPA 9, is SATURDAY, MAY 21 in Haslett, TX. This is our two-year anniversary gathering, and all y'all are invited to attend if you're in the Dallas-Fort Worth area (or are coming through town).  You can learn more at the Facebook event here or by downloading the flyer here.

I enjoyed watching Jake Mace getting repeated hit in the groin by Master Ken a little too much.

Well, do you, bro?

Want to write about the martial arts but don't want to go to the trouble of maintaining a blog or using social media to share what you write? Guest posting for this blog might be for you!  Ping me privately on G+ or make a comment below and I'll reach out to you (you can also reach me via Twitter, here).

If I missed a neat video or article or other martial arts related thing of note, let me know in the comments!


It's Kobudo day, so I have to go over to Dallas and tonfa stuff.  I've been practicing and I think I finally have this stuff down.  Of course, since it is the week of the "big" class, I strained my right arm pretty good in Arnis class last night.  FUN FUN FUN.

We're putting in our order for our next weapon - the dreaded (by me, anyway) nunchaku.  This is the one weapon I'm not super looking forward to, to be honest.

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!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Viva La Resistance!

One criticism of many martial arts styles or training groups is the lack of "resistance"

Just so we're all using the same term, "resistance" means that a person is not helping you do your martial arts technique - in fact, he/she is trying to defeat it.

Resistance is a hallmark of the combative arts, as a matter of course.  It's also present in some styles of sparring in traditional martial arts, at varying degree of contact.  I do not consider no-contact sparring "resistance", personally...

The opposite of resistance.
In the Filipino Martial Arts, we get it two ways - freestyle "play" (such as freestyle tapi-tapi) and with stick sparring (be it a point-based system or just an all-out fight Dog Brothers style).   We can debate the methods and the effectiveness until the cows come home, but it's still resistance.

Training with resistance is especially difficult in various weapon arts, especially without special equipment (armor or lighter or padded weapons).  That's why Actionflex weapons are so awesome to have because we've sparred at my teacher's school with various weapons against each other (I sprained my fingers when I was fighting stick vs. nunchaku - nunchaku got me at just the wrong time!).

I am a firm believer in training with resistance, but I also think it takes a lot of attribute building to get to the point where we can freestyle play or stick spar in my art with any degree of success.

You have to work very, very hard on a lot of fundamentals with weapons before you can allow this to happen, because the risk of injury is incredibly high.

We spend lots of time attribute building in various drills.  You'll see videos of this in the Filipino Martial Arts, and some folks will say, "That's not how fights work!"

Well, no.  They don't.

Take this drill, as demonstrated by +Brian Johns at +Bamboo Spirit Martial Arts:

This drill is taught in stages, typically.  You learn it versus our standard 12 angles of attack, then you do the same drill against random strikes, then you might learn how to interrupt single stick single sinawali to find the angle you want to work with off of Block Check Counter, then you learn how to get the angle you want in Block Check Counter, then you learn additional combinations off of the base drill, and so on.

All of this is attribute building - you learn timing, you learn how to close the distance, you learn how to spot incoming angles of attack, you learn range for counter attack options (and what those options might be based on where you are)...

Take another common drill, sinawali.  Sinawali builds a lot of things, when done properly - you learn range, targeting, chambering, footwork, and you do so using both hands (in double-stick versions anyway).

All of this is attribute building, all of this takes a lot of time, and none of this is how people exactly fight.

That's where our Friday night stick sparring comes into play at our school.

Just another Friday night at Mid-Cities Arnis!

We've been working on the concept of entering into Block-Check-Counter from single stick single sinawali in its most basic level in our classes. On Friday night, we'll review this technique and then play (with our Actionflex sticks) with the idea in stick sparring, where we'll ask our students to try to execute some of this stuff (and hit) with someone who isn't just going to give it to them.

It's not hard style hard core fighting.  It's working on attributes, but with a little less accommodation than we typically do in the drill itself.

So tell me about how you work your way up into resistance in YOUR training.  Is it early in the training?  Late?  Why?  Or do you not train with resistance at all - and why?  Let us know in the comments!

Monday, May 9, 2016

5 Ways to Tell if You're Watching a Demonstration (Versus an Actual Fight)

Judging by comments in social media and in other places, there's a lot of problems out there with people being able to tell whether or not the martial arts video they are watching is a demonstration, or an actual fight.

In order to help our community, The Stick Chick blog proudly presents 5 ways to tell if the martial arts video you are watching is a demonstration, or a fight.

"Demonstration" for this post includes something done for performance, entertainment or educational purposes, including storytelling, or in a seminar/instructional situation, where there is no intent to do any harm to the people in the immediate area, and/or there is no (or very little) resistance being offered.

"Fight" for this post means several different situations - a situation of mutual sport combat with all particpants resisting each other (which carries considerable risk of injury or harm even if the intent isn't necessarily to do damage per se), or a situation where two or more individuals are being captured on video engaged in violent action against one another, with intent to harm or injure, or, a self-defense situation where a person is attacked and repels the attack with force and intent.

1)  Is there only one person moving around doing something martial arts-y in the video?

If the video you are watching contains only one person moving around doing martial arts type stuff - either by themselves, or with someone else standing nearby - it is probably a demonstration.

A Demonstration.

If there is more than one person moving, see the next point.

2)  Are the people who are moving in the video moving at full speed, with power and intent, or not?

If the motion is slow with no power or intent to harm the person being "attacked", it's probably a demonstration.

If there is more than one person, and both are moving at each other at full speed with intent and force, it's probably a fight.

Obviously a FIGHT.

3) Is the person who is doing the martial arts movement talking while he or she is performing the technique?

Talking, typically to the camera, an audience, or to anyone who might be gathered around while the technique happens, is a sure sign that what you are watching is probably a demonstration.

A demonstration.

If they are talking to each other, using curse words or yelling, it's probably a fight.

4) Is the person "attacking" in the video making contact with power?

If they are not, then it is probably a demonstration.

If they are, it might be a fight, but be aware that videos showing grappling, locks, and throws may require this sort of contact even if there's no intent to do harm - that'd make it a demonstration.

A fight. 

5) Is injury of any kind being inflicted in the video?

If there is no blood, injury, or heavy bruising involved in this video, it is probably a demonstration.

If there is, it's probably a fight (unless it's a demonstration gone wrong, which makes it a martial arts fail).

Fail: Exhibit A.

So, in the future, if you're watching a martial arts video, and it has all the hallmarks of a demonstration, it's probably unreasonable to expect a lot of resistance when you're watching it.

It's just a demo.

What are some of the other ways we can tell the difference between martial arts videos made for the purpose of education or entertainment, and martial arts videos depicting a fight or real-life violence?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

My Week in Stick Chicktivity - 05/07/16

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:  Big day, as I spent most of it reviewing everything I've forgotten in Ryukyu Kempo, being placed in painful locks, and getting thrown around a bit.  I got to meet +James Bullard in person and he showed me all sorts of good stuff.  Nice to be able to connect with him - after all, he's a "relative" of mine in Ryukyu Kempo.
Sunday:  Oh lord, I'm old. So tired and sore.
Monday:  Really.
Tuesday:   Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  We went to our two hours a night schedule (a "family" class and adult class) this week.
Wednesday:   Attended class at Hidden Sword Martial Arts. We were working on double-stick disarms and variants, plus we worked on the classical disarms off the 12 Angles of Modern Arnis.
Thursday:  Taught class at Mid-Cities Arnis.  Worked on applications of Combative Response #1, including using different weapons.
Friday: Mid-Cities Arnis stick sparring night!  Okay, okay, we also did other stuff like review what we'd gone over this week, too.


I posted this post of original content this week (no post Monday due to the trip):
Wednesday: The Art Within My Art (Is Not Arnis)

I re-shared these posts:
Tuesday:  Dancing with the Martial Arts
Thursday:  Just Call Me the Mayor of Newbietown
Friday: FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Instructors and Students Dating


I think you'd agree with me - yes, it's time to #PROMOTETODD.

Want to write about the martial arts but don't want to go to the trouble of maintaining a blog or using social media to share what you write? Guest posting for this blog might be for you!  Ping me privately on G+ or make a comment below and I'll reach out to you (you can also reach me via Twitter, here).

If I missed a neat video or article or other martial arts related thing of note, let me know in the comments!


It's not a "normal Saturday", as my teacher is having a Tae Kwon Do black belt test today.  I have Arnis in the morning, and I'll practice tonfa, bo, and Ryukyu Kempo stuff on my own.  My inlaws are in town and are taking the kidlets on a weekend trip down to Austin, so I'll have plenty of practice time.

What, what else would we do in a kid-free house for the weekend?

Happy Mother's Day, y'all!

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!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Art Within My Art (is not Arnis)

Over the weekend I traveled 8 hours to spend the weekend training in one of the earliest arts I was exposed to, Ryukyu Kempo, with my original teachers.

I hadn't done the math - it's been seven years since I moved away from there and trained in this stuff full-time.

Back then, we had to avoid dinosaurs coming in to the dojo every night. 

Seven years.

Of course, I've forgotten much - maybe most - of what I learned there.  When I was training with my teacher, he didn't use a formal curriculum (we were just playing, really) and there are things he is teaching now he didn't teach us then.

So of course, I am basically a rank newbie in that art again.  Which is as it should be.

So we reviewed a lot of material over a day and a half (and again, thanks to +James Bullard for coming by and helping us out).  During this training, and as I was thinking about what I'd learned on the way home, I found myself inserting it right back into what I do in Arnis.

Of course I did, because Presas Arnis is my base art.

I am unusual in this.  Most people have a foundation in most of the more popular non-obscure empty hand arts - the karates, the tae kwon dos, the kempos, kung fus, what have you - and then they learn Arnis later.  This is how Modern Arnis (and a lot of other FMA's) spread in America - as "the art within your art", the thing you learn as an add-on art to what you already know.

Image found here

But I haven't been studying Presas Arnis as an add-on art. I've studied it as my primary art, for almost six years now, three to five days a week at a minimum.

I end up with a stick or knife in my hand nearly every single day of my life.  For the past six years.

This means that now, my study in Ryukyu Kempo - and just about anything else I will ever study - is the add-on art.  It's the gap-filler, the extra "English" on what I do.

Ryukyu Kempo is, for me, my "art within my art".

I'm doing this backwards, way out of order from the way people normally learn this material.

Of course I am... as an (already) non-traditional martial artist (starting as late as I did, for one), I would end up learning things in a non-traditional, out-of-order way, wouldn't I?

Now I have some time to study and practice what I've learned in Ryukyu Kempo, and go back and demonstrate understanding and skill in the relatively near future (maybe, say, 6 months or so).  While I do that, you bet that I will also be working on incorporating what I learned into my everyday Arnis work, too.

Gotta make sure I'm really, really careful practicing some of this stuff solo, though...

I like the efficiency of that - and it helps me become a better Arnis player, especially in some of the Modern Arnis portions of what we do.  There is a long standing relationship between Modern Arnis, Ryukyu Kempo and Small Circle Jujitsu, so all I'm doing is re-incorporating those arts together like many of my brothers and sisters in Modern Arnis have and do, just in a very different order than most.

So tell me about your non-traditional ways you've learned things.  Or, if you like,  tell me about how you've added on other arts onto your "base art", and how you study those in concert with your core art.