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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

Adding Dimensions

I sometimes use the term "Modern Arnis" for what I do, but what I actually train is a hybrid style called "Presas Arnis".

I actually started in "pure" Modern Arnis back in the day when I first was handed a stick back in Mississippi, but when we settled with my teacher in Texas, we took up Presas Arnis.

My Presas Arnis teacher and I working double-stick disarms on a Presas Arnis test.

Presas Arnis is a blend of the systems of two of the three Presas Brothers, Remy Presas (Modern Arnis) and Ernesto Presas (Kombatan). There are tons of influences from other styles and systems as well (and more than one version of Presas Arnis), but to make a long and somewhat complicated story short, think of what I do as 70% Modern Arnis, 25% Kombatan, and 5% "other".

There aren't exactly a lot of people in the world who train in Presas Arnis. If I'm training with people outside my group it's almost always with my "relatives" in "pure" Modern Arnis or Kombatan (or other close relative styles like Balintawak).

Training with "relatives" is always a "so alike but not alike at all" sort of experience. It's like a Venn Diagram of training, where my skill set and theirs overlap a LOT, but there is still enough outside of the overlap to differentiate us. The same, but not the same at all. I sometimes have to think hard to override slightly different habits (differences in chambering, or power, or what have you).

So it was when I got to train again with GM Shelley Millspaugh of Kapatiran Mandirigma.

The group at GM Shelley's seminar.

We worked on mostly espada y daga (sword/stick and knife) drills from Kombatan that are definitely included in what my teacher teaches. GM Shelley is a gifted martial artist (and a Chiefs fan to boot, which makes him of course AWESOME), and he expanded on drills I learned years ago into better detail and depth.

I was able to work off of a framework I know and then spend hours absolutely geeking out on the material.

This is becoming a more common experience for me. I'll train with "relatives" and I might not see anything new to me in terms of a drill or technique. What I get out of it is different details or perspectives that make me understand what I already know a lot better.

It's like filling in a 2-D picture with shading that makes it more three dimensional.

Long time readers of this blog know I enjoy cross training. I don't think of training with my Kombatan or Modern Arnis or other close martial arts style family as "cross training", necessarily, but that's the only word I have for it right now (if you have a better one, let me know).

I have to seek out "relatives" to train with, mainly by necessity. But I'm glad it's a thing I have to do, because I think ultimately it makes what I do, and how I do it, better.

Maybe you have a similar opportunity, in whatever style you train. Maybe it's a matter of going to a seminar by a different organization in the same style. Or training with someone in a different variant of your core style (like the different lineages of karate, like Shotokan and, say, Shorin-Ryu). Not something completely different, but different enough to have a fresh take on what you know well.

Maybe you can add dimensions to your own personal style. And I bet you'll have as much fun with it as I do!

Tell us about a time when you trained with "relatives" - did it help reinforce your perspective? Did it make you rethink your own choices in what you do? Let us know in the comments!

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