Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Catbloggin' - Pre-Thanksgiving edition

Thanksgiving is for thanks to the cats Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 21, 2005

Dan Inosanto Seminar - Aftermath

The second day of the Inosanto seminar went better than the first day for me. The pace was slightly less frenetic, and I felt more in tune with what was going on. Perhaps it's just a simple resignation on my part that I wasn't meant to get everything at once all the time, but instead to take whatever I can and run with it.

Having my friend as a drill partner helped a lot throughout the second day... he pointed out one or two things I didn't know or understand, and I pointed out one or two things he didn't know or understand... and it was done, and I guess we both got a common benefit from the seminar as a result. As it should be.

Guro Nick Sacoulas was super-helpful throughout the day, helping out all his students whenever he wasn't working out with one of the other instructors at the seminar. There will be plenty to work on once we're all back in PMAA for training.

One thing I wanted to share is my observation that Guro Inosanto, despite his legendary status and skills, is also quite a warm, humble human being. Most instructors do the demonstrations on their students, lending the aura of invincibility to themselves, the appearance of being nearly untouchable. Guro Inosanto, on the other hand, let his chief assistant do all the crazy super techniques and disarms on him, often explaining the technique as the assistant continued to "finish him off" with a rapid swirl of sinawali. This is not to say Inosanto didn't have a counter, as every once in a while somebody would ask "how to counter?" and he'd just go, "Oh, like this", and the audience would "ooh and aah" as he'd dismantle the once-invincible assistant in equally impressive fashion. Like I said in my previous post, he moves much faster and is much stronger than you'd imagine a 70 year old man to be. His willingness to have his assistant do all the techniques on him for demonstration shows tremendous humility and non-concern for such archaic Chinese and Japanese need to show "face", almost as if he was saying "He's kicking ass because I taught him to do that, and I'm proud of him and sure of myself.".

A Kali demonstration can get awfully hazardous whenever there is disarms involved. Sometimes during the demonstrations the sticks and training knives get ejected so forcefully the dislodged weapons just go flying into the audience... it was a miracle nobody got hurt!

After the seminar ended, there was a brief ceremony when they handed out certificates to those who attended both days of the seminar. Everybody got to shake Guro Inosanto's hand, and it was a great honor. I'm probably going to laminate or frame the certificate to preserve it.

Afterwards, like a masochist, I went for an hour of kung fu training. I don't know why I push my body to such extremes now, but I'm liking it. And looking for more.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Dan Inosanto Seminar

I just got up about 3 hours ago from a comatose nap induced by my first martial arts seminar... I was so exhausted! Dan Inosanto is in town, and gave the first day of a 2-day seminar on JKD, Silat, and Kali. For a man that is supposed to be celebrating his 70th birthday in a few months, he sure doesn't move like his age. His eyes are still bright and his movements very sure, and seems to be the pantheon of health. I'm sure his late friend Bruce Lee would have been proud.

We started off with a little bit of light shadowboxing to get warmed up, then proceeded to work through some standard kick-punch combinations, mostly off of counters. Each of these was followed by a "blitz", which was usually 7 seconds of rapidly hammering a combination over and over as many times as possible, which I imagine served both as a way to up the cardio and keep everybody loose and alert. Each of these combinations were first demonstrated by various members of Nubreed Martial Arts, who is hosting this seminar. Their movements were crisp and efficient, and seemed to please Guro Inosanto. Of particular note were these two little girls, who were quite fast and sure with most of the combinations (some of which strung out to as many as 6 or 7 techniques long!), and this got some big applause from all of us attendees.

We then broke for lunch, and got to digest our food while enjoying some native Filipino music, the players of which mostly hailed from Mindinao and other parts of the southern Phillipines. They continued to play as Guro Inosanto brought us through a whole punch of single stick, double stick, stick and dagger, and silat exercises. It really made for an interesting effect! (We usually have hard pumping techno or hip-hop going at PMAA)

Now, a couple of notes of frustration, most of which stems from not being used to this type of thing, even though I have some modest experience in martial arts. First of all, Guro Inosanto talks fast, and goes through multiple possibilities of each technique and motion quickly as well. (Okay here we go... you can do this... I'll show it again.. you can do this. You can also do this, this, this, this, this, and this. Need to see it again? Okay, here we go...) I now know where Guro Nick Sacoulas got his style of teaching. :) I think this is because of the very fluid nature of combat, and also Guro Inosanto needs to cater to the more advanced students so they get what they pay for. However, you can see how this could utterly confuse a much less advanced student such as myself, as I'm still trying to process the first 3 techniques, as he's going on to maybe the 4th through the 7th variations. I have about 7 months of Kali under my belt... consider how bewildered somebody would be if they had zero to 2 months experience! I suppose as I grow and get more accustomed to the system, the next seminar will be more fruitful, and so all I can do is practice hard so I'll be less lost next time. Moral of the story: Seminars are most beneficial to those who have considerable experience in what they are going to the seminar for. Beginners such as myself should prepare for a bit of frustration, but I've learned that it's normal.

My other point of frustration, is how important it is to have a partner of roughly equivalent skill and a good demeanor and training ethic to work with. I found myself stuck working with somebody that... and I'm trying to be diplomatic here.... has at best sub-optimal hand-eye coordination, the attention span of a fruit fly, and the cognitive ability of a three-toed sloth. It was getting to the point of being dangerous, as I would watch his brain shut off and just random flailing ensues as he wouldn't pay attention that what the drill was (we'd often just work one or two out of the 5,6, or 7 technique variations... which is fine with me, because I'd rather get a few techniques right rather than crap all over 7 and get nothing from the seminar), and what angles and sequences he did attempt were nearly unrecognizable. I will state that this person seems like a really nice guy, and maybe there's a reason, medical or otherwise, for his shortcomings (we all have them), but I felt he was very hazardous and frustrating to train with.

A friend of mine also got stuck with a partner who obviously has much more experience in JKD/Wing Chun... which is fine. Except, my friends partner insists on sucking up valuable training time trying to re-teach the whole concept, and going full-tilt full-blast all the time. We're talking about Guro Inosanto here... there's no need to try to reteach and modify what a living legend in the art has already assigned as the drill. And full blast kicks to the knees are just damned dangerous (I should know... my knee was totally messed up from such a kick during a Kempo class some 10 years ago... it hasn't been the same since) as well as overpowered joint locks. I've had one class where I had to partner up with this guy, and I totally sympathize.

Needless to say, hopefully, my friend and I will try to get there early tomorrow and partner up to avoid the same respective situations again, so that we'll have more fun at the 2nd day of the seminar. It's an extreme honor to be in the presence of a living legend like Dan Inosanto, and I look forward to gleaning a little more from the immense wealth of experience, kindness, and dedication this man has!

Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 13, 2005



I hope these don't start showing up in my Filipino Kali classes....

Monday, November 07, 2005