Over the weekend, a bunch of us gathered at Sagasu Martial Arts in Leavenworth, KS, for the Heartland Arnis Players Alliance (HAPA) 2nd Gathering. HAPA 3 is already being planned and will be held in the spring in 2020.
Seriously, kids, if you aren't doing SOMETHING like this - a style-neutral local get-together to do a little cross training and make friends - you are totally missing out on a fantastic way to build community and to check what you think you know or believe.
Long time readers of the blog know that I am a big-time believer in cross-training. Oh, you don't have to change styles if you don't want to (like train in BJJ if you're a karateka), but you should at least train with outsiders of your own group who see things differently than you do from time to time.
This keeps you out of your bubble and avoids making bad assumptions about reality and the usefulness (or not) of what you do.
Even though we gathered to play Filipino Martial Arts, most of us have knowledge in other things. Our group had all sorts of different things to bring to the table, from catch wrestling and judo and BJJ to old-school karate and kung fu to Okinawan/Japanese weapons and even some Krabi Krabong.
Very few FMA players are only FMA players, so you never know who knows what in a room full of us. Heck, lots of us are familiar with more than style of FMA, so even though you might know someone as, say, a Modern Arnis player, it doesn't mean they don't also have training and skill in, say, Pikiti Tirisia or Balintawak or Serrada.
Now that we've all met and trained together, we can reach out and find private training in some of these subjects that maybe we didn't realize we had in our area before HAPA.
In fact, Mr. Chick is already trying to organize an informal get-together with some of our HAPA friends to train in catch (a special interest of his) and in Okinawan weapons (my "other" thang) soon, based on conversations we had at HAPA.
You see, our Heartland Arnis Players Alliance isn't just about training Arnis (escrima, kali, eskrima and related styles). It's about community and friendship and all those warm fuzzies, but it's about a lot of other martial arts too.
So get cracking, folks. Organize a gathering in YOUR neck of the woods. If you need advice on how we got started, let me know, I'll be happy to help.
Did you go to a martial arts gathering and seminar and discover you could train in stuff you've always wanted to study but didn't know anybody who trained it? Let us know in the comments!