Saturday, February 26, 2005

Kali Fencing: Accelerated Blade Awareness

These were originally posted in August of 2001. The original group of us who started doing this training and fighting at Guro Daniels home have developed this to a high degree. It's amazing how quickly your reflexes and blade awareness can be accelerated by Kali Fencing. It's also quite a challenge from an aerobic stand point as well.



I am going to take a slightly different but related tack here. Some of you will recognize these postings I put on the DB forum from about six months or so ago. I will post them here because I believe that adding this type of training to your program is VERY effective at developing, speed, offensive, counter-offensive reflexes and blade awareness to a very high
degree. Also, the ability to track the blade becomes very acute as well. This is so very important in dealing with a blade from an offensive and counter-offensive standpoint. This is an off-shoot of our regular training but have found it to be highly effective...and it's a great aerobic work out as well.


Guro John Daniels, Guro Preston Boyd and myself, have been researching and comparing Western bladed arts to the FMA for over a year now. We have mainly been using heavier practice Sabers/Rapiers and daggers (Espada Y Daga, Daga Y
Daga)) with fencing masks and street hockey gloves. Just wearing regular work out clothes, you'll now real fast if you've taken a hit. You can end up with some nasty welts and bruises. The blades are heavier and a lot less flexible then your standard (whippy) Epee blades. It's not fencing in the classical sense, not at all. FMA footwork and striking techniques combined
with a little of what we have researched about Western blade techniques. It's still FMA (because of our backgrounds) but with added WMA offensive, counter-offense, and evasive techniques. It has definitely changed the way we apply our bladed techniques. If you play it realistically and consider the lethality of the hits, it really advances your blade awareness (which
translates to baton as well) and evasive & offensive reflexes (by light years). I was a little skeptical until I tried it. As ******* said, I was also very interested to learn of how extensive the WMA bladed arts were (but I'm still FMA at heart).

...We seem to be having a bit of a difficult time getting people to play. The fencing folks aren't sure what we're doing because we don't stay on the straight forward attack & retreat linear lines and we allow any targets. The HACA folks don't seem interested in comparing/testing styles. Some of the other FMA folks seem a little skeptical until they try it. After their legs
are taken out, or they take a thrust to the face/neck, or they get their
weapon hand/arm lopped off (figuratively speaking of course), the mask comes off and their eyes look like saucers. Either the adrenaline is pumping and they want more, or they leave and don't come back. We actually had a former Green Beret come play a while back who took a Saber/Rapier hit across the face, took his gear off and said he didn't want anything to do with it. But he came back a week later and has been playing ever since. He considered the hit seriously and realized that would have probably been it for him if it were for real. And that's the whole point of doing this. In FMA, the stick
is supposed to represent the blade (many people don't make the connection). But sparring this way, with blades, you realize real fast that the sticksare slower and less maneuverable then the blades. Don't get me wrong here, I love to stick fight, but it just doesn't develop the speed, offensive, and counter-offensive reflexes and blade awareness like sparring in this manner
does. Also, you find out real fast the importance of thrusting. Guro Crafty can correct me if I'm wrong here (and he did), but I don't believe that they allow thrusting in the gatherings, and if they do, you don't see it happen a whole lot. Slashing/caveman type movements are a whole lot harder to pull off when you have an opponent who is using thrusting techniques (with a blade). Its not impossible, but your footwork and angling have to be right on, and again, that's the whole point of doing it. These attributes develop a lot faster training in this manner. If you play it this way, and realistically (and you'll know if you've been hit) consider the hits and what they would have done to the body (arm/hand lopped off, thrust to the face, to the biceps, the midsection, groin, or hamstringed....) you come away with a whole new view of appreciation for the effectiveness of the FMA's. Again, if anyone wishes to train or spar with us please drop us a line....

...A little over a year ago, Guro Boyd brought some fencing gear with him and convinced us to "play" a bit. The increased tempo and speed, as well as being able to track the blade were quite difficult at first. Also, it was immediately apparent where you took a hit because of the welts that were raised. We realized very quickly the effect that training in this manner had in developing our speed, offensive, and counter-offensive reflexes, footwork and blade awareness. These attributes are developed at a much faster rate then what we had experienced before. We immediately went to the heavier and less flexible training Saber/Rapiers and daggers. We started training Espada Y Daga, but quickly branched into single sword, double
sword, Daga, and double Daga. More recently we have been experimenting with sword and shield. We will also match up different pairs of weapons against each other to test effectiveness and our abilities. We also started researching what we could on Western/European bladed arts and begun to test principles and techniques that we found in WMA manuals. We
found that we could effectively work a lot of the WMA techniques from our FMA base. Through our consistent training we also re-discovered the importance and effectiveness of thrusting techniques. Yes, thrusting techniques are in the FMA. but very much underutilized today (as Crafty has stated). Slashing/caveman type movements are more natural movements where as thrusting is more of a learned technique. Once the ability to thrust effectively has been acquired, slashing movements are harder to pull off consistently ( if you play it realistically). Especially if your playing Espada Y Daga where the incoming slash can be jammed/deflected with the Daga and a thrust delivered simultaneously. With developed timing, thrusting behind the slashes can also be quite effective. The thrust is quicker and has less distance to travel to the target. It also cuts down on the
willingness of an opponent to try and crash in (if they spar looking at this from a realistic stand point of using bladed weapons). Now, with that being said, in order to counter effective thrusting techniques, you have to develop your footwork, angling, and timing (and parrying and deflecting techniques) to effectively counter with slashing movements. Basically, in sparring in this manner, developing effective offensive and counter-offensive thrusting techniques, timing and footwork force you (and you opponent) to improve your offensive and counter-offensive slashing techniques, timing and footwork. Which in order to counter, will force you to further improve your thrusting abilities, which in turn will force you to
improve your slashing....on so on. This is why we feel that training in this way improves your development at an accelerated rate. Our speed, offensive, and counter-offensive reflexes , footwork and blade awareness were markedly
improved in a short period of time. And it immediately transfers over to knife, stick work and open hand as well. As I stated before, If you play it this way, and realistically (and you'll know if you've been hit, also see side note below) consider the hits and what they would have done to the body (arm/hand lopped off, thrust to the face, to the biceps, the midsection, groin, or hamstringed....) you come away with a whole new view of, and appreciation for the effectiveness of the FMA/WMA bladed arts. If anyone is interested in training or getting together to spar, please drop us a line. Your always welcome.

BTW, we are in the process of video taping so we hope to have visuals available at a later date.

Side Note: (I believe we have this one on video. It's from earlier in our study) We had an SCA guy come and play with us one day. A very aggressive fighter who liked to crash in. Really more in the manner of "running amok". Once, when he was able to parry one of my strikes, he crashed in and I did my impression of a Singer Sewing machine with my dagger to his midsection.
Realistically, we probably both would have died, him being disemboweled, me possibly bleeding to death (I deflected his sword which became pinned flat between us and I had jammed his dagger hand). If he wanted to commit suicide by running amok. he was successful. But most people want to live to battle another day. And trying to get into a standing grapple is not very smart if I have a dagger waiting for you when you get in. He was used to wearing heavy leather armor and exchanging blows. We train to hit without being hit. And we know real quickly if we are, instant feedback. I look at this the same way the DB's look at wearing heavy armor and how it causes some people to take shots to get in. Use as little armor as possible. You will get bruised. You will get welts. But those represent where you took a thrust, or a slash. That is your feedback and you warning to change your tactics and improve your game. Hope to hear from, or see some of you in the future.

Guro William