• Jackie Bradbury

Can I Do... THIS?

As we start moving into the more complex drills in Arnis, one of the most common questions serious students ask is, "Can I do THIS?"


"This" being something that occurs to them to do in the drill based on prior training. "This" could be a strike, an insert or an interrupt, a counter, a lock, a takedown... it doesn't matter what "this" is. They want to know if this thing they thought of, that we didn't tell them to do right now, is possible to pull off in this new situation.


The answer is often "Sure, you can do that", followed by a discussion of pros and cons, congratulate the student for making the connection, and then we get back to the drill.

Rarely the answer is, "No, don't do that, because reasons", then we discuss the reasons, congratulate the student on thinking of what they asked about, and then we get back to the drill. Or as I'm told Professor Remy Presas would say, "Sure, YOU can do that. I wouldn't, but YOU could."


"Can I do THIS?" feels related to the question that is the bane of the martial arts teacher's existence, which is: "What if this completely different thing that isn't what we're working on now happens?"


An example of that sort of thing is if you're working a defense against a strike, the student will ask, "What if he doesn't strike? What if he does a kick instead?"

No, that's a different and far more annoying rabbit hole to go down than the "Can I do THIS?" question.


Asking "Can I do THIS?" is actually a great sign of student development.


The student is engaged in the current lesson and isn't changing the situation or the scenario. They're just connecting the dots between this specific drill and other things they've already learned. They're starting to see that things they've learned can be applied outside of specific situations you've taught them.


It's a big mark of progress.


As you're working through your drills, don't make the mistake of shutting down the "Can I do THIS?" question so you can keep to your training schedule. You want your students thinking critically and owning their training, don't you? This question demonstrates that it's happening.


Encourage this sort of thing. Be happy when it happens.


What was your first big, "Hey, can I do THIS?" moment, if you remember it? How do you handle students asking this question? Let us know in the comments!

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