Over the years that I’ve taught Modern Arnis, I have flipped back and forth between teaching the art through techniques and through flow drills. Lately, I have begun to emphasize flow drills more. Why?
While teaching one step technique has its place, there are limitations to this method. The most severe limitation, in my opinion, is that the one step method does not develop the flow. If students regularly stop and reset for every repetition of a technique, they never actually learn the flow.
I have come around to the view that it is essential to teach students how to flow. From experience, I am increasingly finding it easier to teach my students Modern Arnis through flow drills instead of one step techniques.
Don’t get me wrong; there is a place for one-step technique work. I will often use the one step technique as a precursor to the flow drills that I teach. See the below video on how I teach a flow drill. Every technique that I teach can be a stand alone technique.
If you are not able to view the view, click here.
Let’s break down what I teach in this video:
- the slap-off;
- the tapi tapi block;
- the inside clear;
- Abanico Corto;
- right sweep stroke; and
- the pull-off.
Put them together and voila, you have a flow drill! It keeps both partners busy and introduces them to the flow, even if it’s just prearranged flow.
I have found that the more that my students do the flow drills, the more likely it is that they “accidentally” insert a portion of another drill when practicing one. “Oops, I didn’t mean to do that.”
I chuckle when I hear that because that means that they are beginning to perform without thinking! My students should develop the ability to perform techniques without thought.
I think that most students will not be able to reach this stage practicing one step techniques. I believe that flow drills are the key to developing the ability to react and counter without thought.
Many of the flow drills emphasize major concepts of Modern Arnis such as palis-palis, changing hands, stick grappling, thrusting, high palis-palis, hitting, crossada, posing, umbrella/wing blocks, abanico corto, and intercepting check. Once the student learns all of them, we can then start mixing and matching them up until they can spontaneously counter anything thrown at them.
As you might guess, there is an element of stress inoculation involved in this that is absent in the one-step format.
As you might have guessed by now, I constantly think about teaching and the best way to impart the art to my students, children and adults alike. I ask myself: What teaching method works best? Am I getting the information across effectively? Are my lesson plans advancing their skill?
The issue of teaching flow drills vs. one step technique has been one that I’ve been pondering for months. Based on the fact that my students have shown noticeable improvement as a result of increased emphasis on the flow drills, I’m going to shift the focus of the classes much more toward flow drills. Stay tuned for updates on the progress of my students!