The difference in hitting with a stick and cutting.

I hope ya’ll are doing well. The title says it all. I thought I would write a little about training methods. When you look at different master, teachers and other people doing what they do you will see that a keen difference is present if you have an eye for it.

Before we get into striking vs. cutting I want to clarify something else. There are systems with a heap load of techniques and there are those with very few. If you look at the typical Arnis and Kali stereotypes there are 12 attacks and more. This translates into 12 or more responses to the attacks. On the other end of the spectrum there are 5 zones which have to be protected or 5 strikes zones which have to be protected against. Serrada and the teaching of GM Rene Latosa fall into this group. There is always more to learn after the beginning stages of development. In general, the Filipino weapons systems as a whole are called Escrima/Eskrima and then you have many subgroups. Kali, Arnis and Escrima are the common names. Once again take this with a grain of salt, there are always exceptions. There is one called (Kali) Illustrimo, which I would like to learn more about (through training!). You will see a person doing escrima that looks more like Kali and you will also find a Kali instructor teaching something very powerful as commonly seen in GM Latosa’s Escrima. Names can be interchangeable in some situations today.  All this is just to make sure we are on the same page when writing about general terms.

With that behind us, we can get into the idea of training with stick and using them as sticks or using sticks to simulate blade on blade training. Most people who have any pride in what they do will tell you that is about energy. For me and many other people who train Filipino or Filipino inspired systems that is very true. Ways of reacting to the energy are varied. Training the concepts and the general order of drills promoted by GM Latosa means we learn to strike with power in the beginning, as you would do with a blunt object. With time we learn to do passing techniques. (BTW. In my book, there are both hard passing and soft passing techniques. We are talking about more force to force as compared to letting the energy go where it wants. )  As more time goes by we start to learn how to stop crushing bones and joint and start cutting soft parts of the body.

When we look at Illustrimo, it’s all about slashing and not that much about crushing from the get go. A beginner learns to slash from the beginning levels. Where this is tricky is where people who start a system like this think they are using a stick/blunt weapon.

There is a great benefit that comes from knowing what you are training and why you are training a certain way. Are you slashing and pulling your weapon away to create distance? Are you learning to smash hard parts of the body for power and control or keeping the energy forward and focused on the attacker? I was very lucky when I started training escrima because Grand Master Latosa headed an org that consisted of Master Bill Newman and and many other top level instructors from Europe not to mention all the different instructors from Copenhagen. I had to adjust my techniques to the instructor that was teaching that day. Seminars held by an instructor from another country and seminars that were held by one of the Danish instructors kept me on my toes. It was all tied together and topped off by GM Rene twice a year.

When we look at everything we trained, the list was long, GM Rene’s box system was at the heart of staff, training single stick and double stick training, espada y daga, largo mono, sword and buckler, short blades and unarmed. Add to that the different personal styles that each instructor brought to the table.

One of the things we have to remember to look for is when we are watching people show a drill or a method of training, or even a demo, is the fact that they are bringing their own personal style to the table as well as what is trained in the system in general. You have to ask your self …. Why is he/she doing that? Is this a drill performed a specific way in order to develop a feeling for distance? Is it a seminar designed for fast track learning? We could use a police or military courses as an example for this. All this brings us back to what the blog post start with. Look to see if an instructor is showing how to use a stick as a bladed weapon or like a  blunt weapon. Look to see why they start to use a different set of techniques. Going from blunt weapon use to bladed weapon use might be an example. Look to see if distance is the true lesson or if focus and splitting timing is the true lesson of the drill.

There will always be extra lesson from a drill. Enjoy those, but make sure you are looking for the real reason and motivation for the drill.

I’ll wind this up by writing a little about what MA and I did last night, when we trained espada y daga. We worked on traditional point foot work in order to keep the flow going and keep slashing and stabbing. There was no fancy turning around and some other things shown in the video below. Flow and staying at the long weapon distance was the goal of what we did. We trained unarmed vs unarmed, single stick vs single stick, and a lot of passing and cutting to target ( be it forearm, bicep, just above the knee, groin area, throat, etc.) The last part of training was with espada y daga set. There was a time when we used padded sticks to do cutting techniques.

Here is a video that shows flow training with espada y daga length weapons as well as other parts of what he teaches. I don’t know anything about the man. The video was picked solely for the espada y daga flow in the beginning. If you watch the whole video, ask your self when he is showing something with a blunt weapon in mind and when he is showing something with a cutting weapon in mind. Parts of it are a little bit too flashy for me, but that’s just me and my practical side.

Have a great day.

Be proactive in Life and Training


I watched this video while drinking my coffee. You’ll see which weapon the drill is made for.

Latosa Concepts terminology. Thoughts on mindset, moods, and espada y daga.

Latosa Concepts terminology. Thoughts on mindset, moods, and  espada y daga.

I thought I would write a bit about the mental state and how it influences our physical ability to perform a given action. This subject is driven by my experience in the last few weeks. I train espada y daga  for the most part with MA these days. There are days when I just don’t feel it until we do some hand to hand inspired by the espada y daga. (We go through different weapons and training methods in a session.)  We stay “inside”, in tight  and use our arms as machetes. You might say I don’t get into my groove until I get really physical sometimes. That might be due to the warm up (shadow boxing with hand weights) that I do before strength and conditioning sessions.

The alu-trainer sets can be ordered at Norms Training Blades. I have been real happy with the ones I have ordered for my self as well as for other people.  Next time I need some more variations of trainers I’ll be ordering them from the same place. Chris also makes special orders. He trains and teaches which makes the products better in my view.

I should mention that I like to start with point foot work and circular movements (at the short sword range)  when building up a person’s espada y daga game. Working at a long distance and moving in to the stabbing range when a feeling of control is established usually works well. This would be working in the squaring off zones as well as diagonally backwards. Btw, hockey gloves, arm protection and smackstiks are a great way to practice the flow and not have to hold back as much as we have to do with alu-trainers. I can recommend it for espada y daga training.

All this gets to the subject at hand. I am driven by mood and my fighting changes according to my mood. There are days when a more serrada based movement pattern feels right and there are days when a more traditional espada y daga feels right. Trying to do espada y daga when every gene in your body is screaming Mike Tyson is a waste of time. The opposite is true as well.

The basic pattern (a basic starters pattern) for espada y daga is cut-maim-kill for beginners. In other wards there is a set routine … sword-knife-sword. You can see how that can get to be slow when you are in a Mike Tyson kind of mood (online, online, and online again). If you are a student, you have to do what your instructor has planned for the day. If you train with a partner then you can possibly talk with your partner about training what best fits your mood.

The reason for this is simple. If you teach yourself to fight against your instincts you are “un-training” yourself. When we teach ourselves to die … we learn to die. When we teach ourselves to win … we win. When we learn to trust the instincts we have worked hard at developing we are winners. This gets back to one of my basic philosophies … don’t get used to starting in a bad position. We should be busting our butts not to get in a bad position. Catastrophe training from a poor position should not be the largest part of your training! I repeat starting from a bad position and accepting it is not a good habit!

If your mood lets you go either way, great for you. If your instructor has some tips for changing your mood / mental state, learn them and practice them. He/she can’t change the plan for a class just for you.

If you are a professional and you have to be more tactical in your response/actions, that’s another “tough … learn to live with it” response. Tactical responders don’t have too many choices, especially when they are working with teams as they do for the most part. Each person has a job.

All this brings me to another basic mantra for me. Don’t defend yourself in a given way if you don’t feel it 100%. That will get you in trouble. Second guessing takes time and energy, which is often needed to perform the action correctly and safely. That’s why the bruiser beats the martial artist every time. You have to feel it, know it and live it. Add to that have experience with it when under real and painful pressure. If you can’t get your Mike Tyson on because you are in a “control-gunt-strike mood”  … then go that way. If you feel some Carl Lewis in your legs, then run if you can. There is no reason to stick around and get your butt kicked when your head is not in the fight.

I’ll stop here. Ya’ll have a great day.

Be Proactive in Life and Training