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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

You Have To DO To Know

In an online conversation recently, several of us who are weapons-oriented martial artist were trying to explain to an empty-hand player why he couldn't simply just grab a weapon and start doing his empty hand techniques with it.

Our explanation boiled down to, "Well, reasons."

As long as you're just waving it in the air - and it isn't sharp - sure, you could, I guess.

Our real reasons, things like differences in range, targeting, and how your movement and angles and such change (not only with empty hand to weapon but also weapon to weapon), how the risks are different especially with an edged weapon, and so on, are hard to get across to someone who hasn't experienced it first-hand.  It sounds sorta like bullshit to someone who is not a weapons-oriented martial artist.

You see, our reasons are inexplicable in words.  It's even hard to show in video or to demonstrate to someone else.  It's a thing you have to do, to know.

That is how we end up with so much nonsense and shenanigans in weapons, because the empty hand players don't believe us when we tell them this - they just pick up a sword and start doing karate (or whatever).

Many concepts are like this in the martial arts. Let's take another one, one dear to my heart - the concept of flow.

Back off, fanboys.

While we Arnis players are certainly not the only ones with the idea, it's central to our way of thinking and it's the primary way we can tell if a person gets what we do, or doesn't.

But what is flow?

It's like a masterpiece work of sculpture or a painting or hard core pornography. It's hard to describe in any consistent way, but I know it when I see it.

The player moves smoothly, where power is generated by proper technique, not by tightening the muscles.  Indeed, the player is relaxed and just...moves...

I know, it doesn't seem like anything when I write it, but when you see it, you just know.


This is flow.

This is smooth action, not jerking around, range is fluid, strikes and parries are not hard, just... flow.

This is something that's very hard to learn because in the early part of your training, you don't know you're doing it until someone tells you that you are.  Eventually, you finally see it yourself, and can do it, without even thinking about it.

You know, because you do.

What concepts in your martial art is like flow or training with weapons, that are hard to explain to other people in words? I'd love to know!

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