I’ve been teaching Modern Arnis seminars at the Stronger You Martial Arts and Fitness dojo since August of 2008 when I first met Renshi Janet Heffernan. Since then, I’ve been going to Ottawa 6 to 8 times a year to teach seminars as well as to teach private lessons to those interested. As usual I took the train from Oshawa to the Fallowfield station in Barrhaven, alternating between napping and surfing on the Wi Fi. Met Renshi Janet, Cathy and her grandson, Cassidy and went back to her house for lunch.
After lunch, I headed over to the dojo for an hour and a half private lesson session with Sensei Mark, who wanted to review some of the material from the recent Michigan Camp. We focused on two basic areas: the 2 vs. 2 stick drills taught by Master Ken and the 2 vs. 1 stick techniques taught by Master Chuck Gauss. That’s all we did for an hour and a half. Lots of repetition and tweaking of technique and body mechanics. While Mark may be the student, I’m always learning something whenever I teach private lessons. It may be anything from teaching methodology, to certain phrasing or explanations that cause a light bulb moment. The student could trigger an idea or an avenue that I’d like to explore. I had lots of fun with Mark in this session.
Then I transitioned to grading a couple of young women, Olivia and Morgan, for their Modern Arnis ranks. They both did very well and have bright futures in this art. The young ones are going to be important for the future of Modern Arnis here in Ontario!
After dinner, Renshi Janet and I trained for several hours, focusing all 20 Bamboo Spirit Flow drills and working our way through them and making some tweaks here and there. We also reviewed the basic left vs. right tapi tapi. Then we mixed it all up and did a fair bit of free play. We had a lot of fun with this stuff!
The next day was the seminar and, as usual, I started off the first hour with a question and answer session. The folks wanted to go over the single lock and the forearm backward throw. I went over the technical details for both techniques and went through a few “what if scenarios” to drive home the importance of solid body mechanics.
The second hour continued the theme of proper structure and body mechanics in the execution of technique. While it may seem like we were practicing posing techniques, I was really focusing on solid basics. Topics included the angulation of the punyo feed, timing of the slap off and having a good solid stance. I made the point of showing them how poor structure can affect their technique for each of the above. And while I taught some variations of the posing technique, the focus was laser beam like on proper structure.
Working hard on the slap off technique!
In the last hour of the seminar, I chose to focus on Flow Drill #2, aka the “Clearing” Drill, both with the cane and with empty hand applications. First, I focused on the stick version of this drill, ensuring that the drill was being done correctly. Structure in every aspect of this drill was emphasized. After ensuring that the attendees did this drill well, I went into one combat application of this drill, consisting of the standard inside clear followed by a punyo feed to a slap off. I also covered the outside clear followed by the same technique, with a variation being using the stick to knock the opponent’s arm off before the finish.
I finished the seminar off with an empty hand application of the first part of Flow Drill #2. The empty hand application mirrored the inside clear/punyo feed/slap off portion of Flow Drill #2. The translation is as follows: Opponent throws straight punch. The defender parries the punch with a heavy check of the left hand, followed by a right hammer fist to opponent’s face, which is blocked. The finish is the slap off. Regardless, the principle is that there are empty hand applications of the Flow Drills.
After the seminar ended, Renshi Janet and I reviewed some material with several students to see where they stood in regards to their next promotion. All are progressing well and are on track. Their hard work will pay off!
Oh yes, I shot another “Fix It Friday” video with Annabelle, a 15 year old student of Renshi Janet’s. Annabelle has a lot of promise and I enjoy watching her rapid progress in Modern Arnis. She’s got a bright future!
I spent much of Saturday night and Sunday morning training with Renshi Janet, going over disarms, anyos, counter disarms, sinawali boxing, and timing aspects of tapi tapi. Fun times with her!
I look forward to coming back to Ottawa in the future and doing more teaching and training!
To the folks at Stronger You, keep up the great work and see you soon!