All types of knowledge ultimately mean self knowledge.- Bruce Lee.

One of the wonderful aspects of studying Filipino Martial Arts are the opportunities for self discovery. This can encompass anything from figuring out a tweak in a technique through experimentation to stumbling upon a more effective way of teaching a concept.

Once a Modern Arnis student has been guided through the basics and has a solid grasp of the concepts of the art being learned, he/she will start learning tapi tapi (counter for counter) and gradually, over a few years, start to “see” and piece together the seemingly disparate aspects of Modern Arnis. Over time, the student will have several “eureka” moments on their own when they have worked out, on their own, a viable variation of a pre-existing technique.

While it is human nature for some to want an instructor to give all the answers on a silver platter, it is much more satisfying to make your own discoveries in the art.

How do I arrive at some of these moments? I have noticed some instances where self discovery is likely to happen:

  • Consistent practice. If you practice consistently, those moments are bound to happen. Don’t force those moments. Let them come to you. For instance, there have been moments where I suddenly come up with a variation that I had not done before while practicing tapi tapi with Terence. I’ll then stop and re-trace my steps. Far more often than not, it’s a variation of a pre-existing technique or a new sequence of pre-existing techniques. Nothing earth shattering or revolutionary. But it represents deepening understanding of Modern Arnis.
  • Look for inspiration. One can use any source for inspiration, whether it be your instructor, a seminar instructor, a video, a training partner, or a book. The most consistent source of inspiration for me is Master Chuck Gauss. While I would love to train with him on a daily basis, that is not possible. I do see him on a pretty consistent basis and often get enough material from him that I can chew on it for awhile and experiment with it. The experimentation often provides new insights.
  • Place parameters on your workout. This will force you to be more creative when training. For example,  you could train left handed and defend against a right hand driver. As readers of this blog know, left hand techniques in Modern Arnis is often done from the driver side. But what about the defending side? When doing this, I often stick with the basics and build from there. Another way to place parameters on your workout is to stick with only a set number of techniques or groupings when playing. This will force the creative side of you to discover a few things. Another way is to work just one technique and see what variations you discover.
Personally, I find the last example to be especially useful when I’m in the “self discovery” mode.
Going back to Bruce Lee’s quote, I believe that he is correct. A student should, at some point, be expected to engage in self discovery and explore the art, gaining “self knowledge.”
Over to you, can you tell us what consistently brings out your “eureka” moments?
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