Apologies for the long absence in terms of blogs. I have not had the time in recent months to sit down and write a decent blog.
What comes to mind immediately is FMA in Hong Kong. I hope you will view this opinion open-minded. At present, the FMA community is weak, scattered and limited. I only hope to build this up strong in Hong Kong and cultivate it into all martial arts practitioners here. The lack of effective FMA in HK is due to a lack of curriculum and methodology. It is my goal to make sure this changes for the future of PTK in Hong Kong. Allow me to clarify my statement.
Let's talk about curriculum. The lack of curriculum comes from a lack of understanding. People try to mix and match different styles of Filipino stick fighting as they have limited experience within one system. False claims and only partial learning. The problem with this is not only individual progression, but mostly in how they are presenting it to their students. I see many students that end up coming over to join me after a few years in another style. The first thing I notice is the inability to perform a correct swing stroke, which translates to no speed, no power, no timing and no precision. These are the key elements in developing yourself in blade combat. It's body mechanics. Failure to do so will only hamper your ability to progress in a given style. Furthermore, without a proper curriculum, the student is unable to bridge his footwork with his swing mechanics. This leaves you unable to move effectively and unable to establish a correct angle for attacking and countering. The beauty of PTK or FMA (as many are familiar with) is its bridge from long range, medium range and close quarter with either a long weapon, short weapon or empty hand. The curriculum should be laid out for the student to understand this. Not in a mesh of “techniques” for students to occupy themselves or to keep them from getting bored.
Second is the methodology. Your instructor must have his own clear methodology that can be passed to his or her students in order for them to develop. The curriculum should be built, based on that methodology. It is a method of learning, a method of teaching and a method of application. For example, this is why we have sub-sets. You could be learning the methods of contradas or the methods of the payong or penastas, you could be learning the methods of long range or medium range or close quarter. However, none of this can be achieved if the student still swings his weapon down at the ground or is easily confused when integrating his or her footwork with the above methods. Or when you switch your weapon grip or the weapon all together.
It should not be a case of the student telling the teacher, “well, what if I do this or can I do that.” You must first be able to master the given curriculum at that time in order for your instructor to progress you into another subset or so called ‘advanced concept’.
Everyone should have the opportunity to spar in learning a martial art of combat system, but that should not be the main emphasis. You should develop good mechanics first. This is your foundation. It sets you up for unlimited growth.
People often misunderstand good mechanics or proper functional movement. So let's break that down.
Good mechanics in your swing for example. When gripping a weapon, the person usually thinks he must grip strong and swing with his hand. However, if you look at the body and where force or power or speed is developed, this is not true. Imagine your shoulders as stabilizers, and your elbow as the driving force. It's evident in all sports and physical movements involving dynamics. If you have ever played baseball, football, tennis or golf. Then you can see the throw or the swing materialize in the same fashion. The hand only holds the weapon or club or bat or ball. The power is generated in the hips and the elbows, while the shoulders stabilize the motion. The legs must be rooted firmly to the ground and the body must move with momentum. That brings me to functional movement. Functional movement is when you are using more than one muscle, tendon or joint to complete an action. Therefore, they must move in sync allowing the body to move efficiently. Speed, power, timing and precision can then be obtained. This is relevant in all aspects of movement. How you hammer a nail, how you surf a wave, how you hit a ball, how you throw a punch and how you swing your blade. If your student is not able to do this, then you should not have him sparring. It's counter productive.
So to be perfectly honest, if you are not clear on this concept and you are a student, I am not interested in your illogical ideas of what you think works and if your instructor is unclear on these concepts, you need to think clearly about who is teaching you. You don’t have to be an athlete to understand and apply these concepts. But it should be clearly evident in how the person moves.
The more I train and the more I teach, I am fascinated by the way in which things are learnt. Whether I am teaching empty hand, blade fighting or firearms, there are no shortcuts and if a person progresses without clarity it will only bring about consistent confusion and therefore internal questions of effectiveness.
It is not the job of the instructor to turn you into a fighter or warrior. This part is up to you, entirely. Our job is to show the correct way to apply through a complete curriculum, methodology and conceptual understanding. What you have inside will determine the outcome. Whether or not you have a fire inside.
This blog can pertain to many different subjects in my life and in yours. However, today i am speaking of the Pekiti-Tirsia Kali, a bladed combat system passed to me from a brotherhood of Filipino warriors, whom I am proud to call my family. They showed me a system that is clear and proven effective. I can only hope to continue learning and teaching this magnificent system for many years to come and progress myself and my students from this day to the next.
I hope this blog did not waste your time and you take with it a mindset to thoroughly understand what you learn and take the time to get it right. Whatever endeavor you pursue, I wish you success.
Sifu Chris Collins