It Really Is All the Same
We have a popular maxim in my style, a quote from the founder of Modern Arnis, Remy Presas.
He said, "It is all the same."
The meaning of this is that what we do and learn in my style isn't actually terribly unique in the martial arts world. Much of what we do can be seen in other seemingly unrelated styles like taekwondo, karate, and kung fu.
Given that Modern Arnis is often taught as an "add-on" style to other arts, it's very useful to build upon that idea when teaching new students. We can relate certain things to what they already know, such as our low backhand strike - a #8 strike - is a down block in karate.
Another example is that the motion the hand makes for Abanico Corto resembles what my taekwondo friends call an "inside outside block".
Here's Brian Johns demonstrating Abanico Corto, so you can see what I mean.
It's a convenient shortcut to get people with martial arts training up and running in Modern Arnis quickly.
What we don't talk enough about, in my opinion, is that this is a two-way street. That Arnis study helps me understand and relate to what I'm learning in other styles quickly.
When I was in the home stretch for my black belt in my kobudo group, I was really struggling with learning sai. It's just not my favorite weapon, for one, and I just found it really difficult to learn.
After months of struggling, in class one day, our teacher said that we had to learn to "flow" with the weapon.
Flow. It's a concept that's fundamental in Modern Arnis. The idea that you relax, you move smoothly and with confidence, that power and speed come with good technique. Being able to flow means you can react to whatever is presented to you, quickly.
To get better at sai - to get better in kobudo in general - I needed to flow. Just as I've learned to flow in Modern Arnis. I needed to practice more with sai and other kobudo weapons to achieve it, but I already knew what flow feels and looks like.
I learned it with a stick in my hand.
I asked myself what "flow" looks like in sai. I relaxed, I slowed down, and I tried to move smoothly, just as I do in Arnis.
Sai got a lot easier when I focused on the flow. Actually, all of my kobudo forms and practice got better thanks to applying what I know about flow to what I was doing.
IT IS ALL THE SAME.
It just goes to show how much insight Remy Presas really had into the martial arts in general. And it also shows how much we really are alike, even with seemingly very different martial arts styles.
Look for the connections and the similarities when you cross-train, and see what you discover.
It's all the same.
Did you discover some similarities when cross training from style to style? Tell us about it in the comments!