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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

Back To Staff

It's been a long time since I got in more than a couple of hours of intense, focused training. Probably over a year now, thanks to COVID and other factors.

I discovered this weekend that thanks to that, I have lost most of my calluses on my hands, and this happened:

Yeah, I haven't had blisters like that in a loooooong time.

I got those bad boys by traveling to Orlando, Florida, and attending the Progressive Arnis Winter Camp. Since all of my trips last year got canceled, I had a lot of credit on Southwest Airlines and a lot of money in my "martial arts training" account, so I was able to go.

I knew some of the instructors and attendees in various ways through a lot of different connections, and while Progressive Arnis is not exactly like what we do, it's close enough that I'd consider them martial arts "cousins".

Thus, there really wasn't much shown at the camp that was SO different that I struggled with it, but different enough that it was a challenging.


I met Bram Frank for the first time. Super nice, crazy knowledgeable, and I'm going to probably go broke buying some of his knives.

I got a chance to reconnect a little bit with my Modern Arnis roots, as Bruce Chiu of Arnis International was there. My original teacher, David Jones, is a student of Bruce's,. That was a real pleasure seeing him and his son Chris and other students of theirs, and I definitely plan to make a bigger effort to do more with Arnis International going forward.

I don't think I've seen anybody from Arnis International for at least five years. Gosh, I missed them. I'm a little homesick for my original teacher, David Jones and Darrel Kellner, too.

I also got to see Dan Lowman of Kapatiran Mandirigma of Florida. I first met Dan in Colorado in 2016 (Ernesto Presas Memorial Camp) and since Kombatan is such a huge part of what I do in Presas Arnis, it's always fun to hang with the Kombatan side of my family. He had a lot of great insights to share and if you're in Florida you need to look him up.

Going to camps like these are always a great way to visit with old friends and make new ones, and for that reason alone, it was worth the effort to go.

But the main reason I attended the camp was to learn more staff material.

There was a lot of non-staff stuff covered too that I absolutely enjoyed, from a variety of really smart and skilled teachers. But, I went to Florida for the Big Stick.

Staff - long pole, bo, jo, bankaw, sibat, whatever you want to call it from whatever martial tradition you study - is the last "frontier" to cover in our curriculum, when it comes to being able to literally fight with or against just about anything that doesn't explode.

While I have studied staff quite a bit formally - in Kobudo (6 foot bo) and with (4 foot) jo, and a touch here and there with some material I know exists within Kombatan - I am looking for more material to integrate into a full staff curriculum for our students here in Kansas City.

I certainly came away with a TON of fresh ideas for how to approach training staff.

However, I don't think I will teach exactly what they showed me, exactly how they showed me. I am leaning towards adapting the concepts and techniques they taught into our standard framework. That takes more work on my part, but ultimately, I'm trying to avoid making our curriculum too complex and have too much stuff for them to try to absorb.

As I write this, my mind is buzzing with ideas and I wish my teacher were nearby (instead of in Texas) so I could geek out on them with him in person.

I'll just have to settle for Mr. Chick and our awesome students to help us figure it all out.

Often, this is what the value of training in a different style can give you. Ideas and concepts you don't have to adopt directly, but you can adapt into what you already do.

Yeah, I have a lot of work on this to do, but I'm excited for the challenge, and grateful for the opportunity to train it.

Do you enjoy working with the staff? Or is it something you don't see the point in studying? Either way, let us know in the comments!

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