Teaching is it’s own art…


Obviously I am partial to all things USMC (Once a Marine… ) but in this case it is also a good example of the difference between

training instructors vs. training ‘martial artists.’

This is a short (and obviously promotional) video on the Instructor Training Program at Quantico, Virginia for the MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program).  These ARE NOT ‘martial arts’ students.  They ARE instructor trainees.

What’s the difference?

The focus is not primarily on technical skill, it is on how to teach these skills.  Notice too that there is strong emphasis on role modeling (teaching by example) from personal behavior and historical examples.

Most recreational martial artists are really teachers first and practitioners second.  But, how much ‘teacher training’ have they received or sought on their own?

You can’t teach well if you don’t know what you are teaching, true.  But how many of our fellow ‘martial artists’ (who really are teachers of martial arts) have not spent even half as much time on learning to instruct/coach/mentor as they have on perfecting their technical skill?

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USMC Birthday…


 

 

1775, 10 November – Sam Nicholas and Robert Mullan formed the basis for two battalions of Marines in preparation for action in 1776… Leave it to the Marines to start the legend in a bar.

I’ll be honest, I’ve met tough civilians, LEO (Law Enforcement Officers), and military from different branches and units,  but there’s something unique about the Espirit de Corps wearing the  Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.  It isn’t the strength of any individual Marine that is the foundation of it’s success.  It’s the strength of the unit that is created when strong individuals are willing to serve something larger than themselves and live by a code. I felt a similar sense of fraternity as a Military Policeman when I switched to the US Army NG, but it wasn’t “Army wide” so much as a sense of brotherhood (and ‘sisterhood’ if you will) for the unit and MOS (Military Occupational Specialty).

So, here’s to my fellow Marines – Current, former, and standing in formation in the great beyond….

 

Dan Donzella Rocks….


I don’t do the math often, so I’m stunned every time.  I’ve been involved in martial arts for over 28 years….

After all that time, the most important lesson as far as I am concerned was from Dr. C. Jerome Barber, my main instructor.  He always encouraged us to explore other systems, styles, and schools.  As a TacArnis minded guy, this makes a lot of sense since it exposes a student to different movement styles ‘because you won’t be attacked by someone who moves like you’ as Jerome would say.  Jerome trains in defensive firearms as well as martial arts so his mentality has always been a practical one.

As a life lesson, though, training with other styles is a way to stay in that ‘newbie’ or white belt mentality.  After 28 years of training, I still get nervous about stepping onto someone else’s training floor, but that’s the point!  It’s humbling, frustrating, and exciting.  In the end, it makes you a better teacher, student, and person if you are willing to ‘put on your white belt’ every once in a while.  Submitting to someone else’s system – especially when you have your own way of doings – is not an easy thing to do, but shows respect to another view point.  And, as far as leadership goes, sometimes the best way to ‘lead by example’ is to be willing to follow.

On, August 25th I attended a seminar with Dan Donzella at Ken Swan’s school .

I’ve known Dan since the early 90’s and I want a blood transfusion or the secret to his diet – he has not change one iota!  Fit, fast, lean, and skilled as ever.

Dan’s no-nonsense approach to training has always impressed me.  His style of movement is intricate at times, but he has a knack for breaking it into bite size elements that make it easy to learn quickly.

Dan intended the seminar to cover his Beginner and Level One curriculum, but he took the time to give me some one-on-one work on higher level material.  The material blew me away, but also Dan’s generosity because he had so many other students to teach as well.  Ken and his students were gracious hosts and training partners.  From the time I registered/paid to the end of the session, I think just about all Ken’s student’s took a moment to say hello.  As training partners they committed to mastering Dan’s curriculum and worked hard.

Training with Dan, Ken and his students was a great time.  Ken’s school is minutes from me and I could have just dropped in to say hi and hang out with him instead of getting on the floor, but it’s about the training.  That’s what bonds us.  Taking Dan’s class was more than training, it was a sign of respect, cooperation, and camaraderie.  I could have walked in with the mentality that I had already ‘been there done that’ since I’d trained with Dan before, trained in Arnis for over 23 years . . . but I walked away with a head full of new discoveries from “old” material, and reconnected with a long time associate.  Besides, if I expect students to follow my instruction, I should be willing to follow someone else’s on occasion too.

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Congratulations to Dan for his partnership with the Syracuse PD.  During our conversations, I was glad to hear that the Syracuse PD is taking advantage of his knowledge too.  He teaches a defensive tactics program specifically designed for Law Enforcement Officers (LEO).  As a martial artist, Dan is great but as a TacArnis minded kind of guy, the topper for me, is that he’s a shooter too – just like my instructor.  His mentality about training has always been a practical one as well.

T.A.W.G. Workout Rewind 8/19/11 – Driving Nails


“To increase speed and power, one must hit the bag hard. Regular practice is required to develop efficiency of movement when punching.” Ross Emamalt
Just like boxers, kick boxers, or MMA’ers, TacArnis students train to hit and/or be hit.  We have to condition our joints, our muscles, and our nervous systems in order to give and take a hit. Unlike boxers, kick boxers, or MMA’ers though, TacArnis students practice with weapons as well as empty hand.

Whether it’s hitting an opponents weapon as a block or striking vital areas in order to stop a ‘bad guy’ (or guys or guys and gals…) swinging sticks in patterns in the air is totally different from the impact, drag, and reverberation of really hitting something.  Even the ‘middle ground’ of using light contact striking with a live partner won’t condition the body for throwing a committed strike with a stick anymore than slap boxing prepares boxers for contact.

We make a point to do some kind of striking in every work out we can,

but today was all about “Driving Nails.”

I like the tire for this because:

  • It creates interaction between training partners
  • Trains the holder to watch/read the ‘telegraphs’ of the striker from the correct perspective
  • Lets the holder feel the force of a stick trick through the impact on  the tire
  • Allows the striker to see the ‘silhouette’ of a human target while striking the tire
  • Gives the striker the feel of hitting a firm ‘resistant’ surface
  • Forces the striker to apply adjustments between swinging air strikes and really hitting something.
There’s also a bit of ‘nostalgia’ in training with a tire for this.  It’s a cheap, readily available and improvised training aid… just like most of the early training tools are.  If it ain’t broke why spend way too much money on something that will only be ‘as good’ (or possibly not as good since it wears out faster).

It’s never been glorious…


HeroCraft

Image via Wikipedia

Life, let alone combat, from earlier times tends to be romanticized when people begin talking about ‘the good old days.’

I cringe when I hear comments from martial artists like “I wish life was like it was back in xyz…”

Here are some reality check videos from a few of my favorite “geek channel” shows to remind us that we have it pretty good on a daily basis – let alone when it comes to fighting/combat/self defense.

The trade off seems to be that modern society is obsessed with ‘working out’ and ‘conditioning’ because we have it so good that we are our own worst health risks…

The Blacksmith/boxer probably didn’t have to do too much ‘conditioning’ in order to be ‘fit to fight’ by the old standards.

The Farmer/Foot Soldier probably didn’t need to take PT tests too often and probably was very familiar with death/killing/slaughter given the daily life of herding/selling/butchering livestock.

The Herder/Fighter was VERY familiar with long stretches of boredom and having to be vigilant in all weather conditions – as well as fighting off the occasional rustler, coyote, wolf or other predatory threat to his herd.

And the idea of ‘women’s self defense…’ in a time when women lifted, carried, pulled, cleaned, killed, washed, built (and yes fought when they had to) probably would make them chuckle – women were tough as nails (maybe even tougher than some of the men) because of the work they did.

Drills for Skills: Preparation not… well, you know.


The Tactical Arnis motto is to “Train Smart.”  One way we do this is focusing on the ‘big picture’ training goal of our program – preparation for self defense.

Other martial arts programs focus on the ‘art’ of their martial art system in order to preserve the tradition, others focus on the sport and competition, and still others want to use martial arts as ‘character building.’  Different people train for different reasons and it’s good that they can find a school that fits them.  But, there can be a ‘danger’ when there is a disconnect between what you are training and why you are training it.  That’s why Tactical Arnis training is clearly focused on one objective – preparedness.  Personally, this is a bit ironic since I train for something I would rather avoid, but Shakespeare gave Hamlet the best explanation for this enigma:

“If it be now, ’t is not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all.”

(Hamlet. Act v. Sc. 2.)

An example of a drill that develops preparedness is the “Hand Flash” drill borrowed from my time training with Bobby Taboada in his Cuentada Balintawak System.  This drill is an empty hand version of the ‘defense and counter’ training approach that is signature of Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) in general and Balintawak specifically.

The “WHAT” of doing the drill is to isolate and develop quickness and speed.  ‘Quickness’ is your ‘first twitch’ explosive move that takes you from ‘zero to 60mph’ whereas ‘speed’ is your ‘top speed’ once you get going.  The “WHY” is NOT to master the drill for it’s own sake, but to prepare students for the ‘furball’ of reality.  If we look ‘pretty’ too… well that’s just a bonus.

This is a great drill and shows up in other systems, although it may be done differently. Click the links below:

Balintawak Basic Defense and Counter (Stick Version of the “Hand Flash” drill)

Modern Arnis – Hubud and Siniwali Boxing

Siniwali Boxing Feeds

Tactically Speaking: Do you have “Excalibur Syndrome?”


This video was not created for the “Joe or Jane Civilian” audience, but the “Excalibur Syndrome” mentality is not exclusive to Law Enforcement Officers (LEO), Military, and/or other ‘Operator’ types.  Do a quick google search on ‘swords for home defense’ … Continue reading