I just got back from an incredible weekend in Rochester, NY, home of Marcaida Kali! I had the opportunity to spend two days training with Ka Anthony Palmer, one of Kuya Doug Marcaida's senior instructor team. In addition to a weekend full of fun, relaxation, and fellowship, it was an opportunity for some very insightful training. Here's some thoughts and concepts that definitely stood out over the weekend.
1. Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast
It's a truism that you will hear time and time again. I have trained with Army personnel who say Delta came up with it, Navy personnel who say it is a SEAL maxim, and Marines who insist they coined the phrase. Whoever came up with it, I have heard the phrase from all of my mentors, to which Prof. James Hundon added for me, "...and less is more."
Without beginning with slow training, it's nearly impossible to engage in self-observation. Carenza, sayaw, whatever your particular FMA system calls solo movement training, is an opportunity to watch and feel how you move and increase efficiency. Are you winging your elbow out on your backhand jabs instead of keeping it in? Are your forehand strikes so wide that they can easily be seen coming? Taking your time with your motion will give you opportunity to see the things you overlook when moving quickly.
2. Aim Small, Miss Small
Another truism, frequently repeated. While your entire stick or sword can be used to attack your opponent, physically, the greatest amount of kinetic energy will be transferred to your target with the tip of the weapon. By focusing on making impact with the tip of your stick, you can train yourself for more efficient striking techniques.
Secondly, when working partnered drills or solo target striking drills, work on pinpoint targeting. Take the focus you've developed on hitting with the tip of your weapon, and not aim for targets on your heavy bag, wall target, or training partner that are no larger than the tip of your weapon. Don't aim for the left side of their head, aim for their left eye, their left cheek bone, their jaw, or a specific point on their collar bone. Combine that with "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast, and less is more" to give yourself the time to teach yourself the most efficient and minimal ways to strike those targets.
3. Empty Your Cup
Whether you're a beginner or have years of experience, there is always something to be gained from seeing things from someone else's point of view. A technique that you believe doesn't work may work when someone else shows you a concept you hadn't thought about before. A concept that you had previously rejected might make more sense when explained in a way you hadn't heard before. Be willing to get hands on with someone who trains or believes differently than you, not to prove them wrong, but to be willing to be wrong yourself, exchange ideas, test yourself, and most of all, have fun learning about yourself and your friends!
These concepts have been a part of my training for years thanks to the incredible teachers and mentors I have been blessed to train with. It was validating to have them reinforced in new ways by Ka Anthony. Whatever your system of FMA or any other martial art, the above maxims will definitely help you if you keep them in mind.
- Sifu JB
News & thoughts from Maryland Jeet Kune Do!