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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

I Am The Passenger

In Modern Arnis, we have a drill most of us refer to as "tapi-tapi".

It means "counter for counter" and it works as a semi-scripted stick fighting flow drill.

As I am not really a stick fighter, per se, I actually like to work this drill for other aspects.  These include working on thinking ahead a few moves in order to try to get an opponent where I want him, to be able to spot openings and opportunities and take advantage of them (inserting combative moves, locks, and disarms), and to play with range and interpretations of what I'm doing in order to do... other stuff.

There's a lot there to play with and explore.  That's why it's one of my goals this year, to play it better so I can grow in Arnis.

In this drill, typically, you have a driver, and a passenger.  The driver is the one who "leads" the drill - deciding what's going to happen and when.  The passenger typically just reacts to what's going on.

Obviously, driving is the harder role - that's the "thinking ahead" part I mentioned above.  The driver has to decide which of the "pre-set" patterns to play, and what she wants to do when she wants to do it.  Passengers just respond to the stimuli the driver gives them, and doesn't have to think ahead at all.

So, one of the first "great leap forward" in playing tapi-tapi is being able to be the driver.

When I am teaching this to students, and getting them to the point where they can "drive", I spend a lot of time in the "passenger" role.  But... I can't just "ride" as the passenger, as my REAL role is to help students learn how to drive.

In this case, I'm not just the passenger - I'm really more of a navigator.

I keep these tucked into my belt. Image by TheBrassGlass at Morguefile.

Part of my job working with these brown belts is to give them hints of where they can go.

Often, when they get into a rut - just doing the set patterns, not seeing where to change it up, insert, lock, disrupt,etc., I'll slow down my responses to make the hole bigger and more obvious to spot.

I'll ask them what would happen if I didn't respond the way the normal "pattern" of a drill goes, and we'll work on that for a while.

We'll talk about different ways to get me to react so that they can do the move they've planned.

We'll work on it out of sinawali, out of our block-check-counter drill (a feeding drill in Modern Arnis), even out of sumbrada (the "6 count drill" or "3-8-12"), and work out different ways to get to specific responses.

To continue with this metaphor I have going on here... we will try all sorts of different roads on the map to get to our destination.

Image by ariadna at Morguefile

As tempting as it is sometimes to try to take over the drive sometimes, I have to keep focused on my job when working this drill with these students.

I am the passenger.  I have to let the driver... drive.

How do you help training partners "drive" in what you do?  I want to know in the comments!

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