I am pleased to present a guest post from my good friend, RoseAnne Mussar. She hails from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and trains in Modern Arnis at the 6Tigers Academy in Barrhaven (Ottawa) under Renshi Janet Heffernan. She also trains in the American Cane System, often traveling to New York for training.
“It is all the same!” – my story in three acts and finale.
Lately, I seem to be having a lot of “light bulb moments” in stick class. Times where I feel I have gained an important insight, and say to myself “gee I never thought of it that way”, or “that makes so much sense!” Maybe it’s because I’ve been doing this a while and am starting to get a clue, or I’m just better a focusing in class and being in the moment.
Professor Presas traveled the world for decades, teaching Modern Arnis as “the art within your art”. He was known to say “it is all the same!” This is truly a profound insight into the world of martial arts training and practice. The more I think about it, the more gobsmacked I am at its brilliance and profundity. Gobsmacked I tellz ya!
I am very fortunate to train not only with my dear hubby Gary, but also with our son Cameron, who is both unbelievably brilliant AND good looking (sorry – just fulfilling my contractual parental obligations here). He has an encyclopedic memory for Modern Arnis techniques, and often corrects me when I forget the proper sequence, or use the wrong version of a particular disarm or whatever. He also has a knack for making connections that I would never have thought of. This kid is my external hard drive of knowledge.
In a recent class, we were doing a basic block-check-counter drill against all 12 angles of attack. This is basic, basic stuff, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from it or apply more advanced techniques. I have done this drill many times with a basic “slice” block – an introductory level block that gets you used to blocking a stick with your stick and following through with a counter attack. But now that I am a brown belt student, it’s time to step it up. The blocking technique is changed to have more power, speed, and efficacy. But after doing the simpler block a bajillion times, I sometimes have a hard time remembering to do the more advanced version, especially on the lower #8 and #9 strikes.
So Renshi Janet reminded me: “It’s like a down block and a golf swing.” Block the #8 strike as if you were doing a down block (or low block in karate), but with a stick in your hand. It is exactly the same (and for the record – way more power and speed than a beginner-style slice block).
The #9 side is like a golf swing (or tennis forehand if you prefer). It is also the same motion used in reverse sinawali boxing – except with a stick in your hand. Or the reverse double sinawali stick drill for that matter. So many connections – IT IS ALL THE SAME.
Then my handsome and brilliant son offered this gem: “Mom, just meet the 8 and 9 with an 8 and 9.”
WhaBAM! The connection comes full circle! Connections within connections! CONNECEPTION!
I love nerding out about martial arts. This is the kind of thing that keeps me jazzed and coming back for more. For me it’s as much an intellectual exercise as a physical one. Modern Arnis is unabashedly, SHAMELESSLY, honest about its connections to other arts. I think this also provides a strong foundation for the student to make connections between various techniques within the art. Plus, I think it speaks to the commonality of human experience. We all have the same basic physiology: our arms and legs all have the same joints; our nerves run along the same pathways; our muscles do the same things. We all have the same wants and needs: to live a happy life; to keep ourselves and loved ones safe.
It IS all the same, because WE are all the same.