Tag Archives: filipino martial arts

IN DEFENSE OF FMA STICK FOLLOW-UPS

If you are a FMA “stick versus-stick-fighter,” I think, about…ohhh…80%…85% (?) of the stick material typical taught, thee so-called by many – “fancy stuff,” fancy follow-up stuff is meant for the seconds AFTER your opponent is busted in the head (no soft sticks and-or no helmets) or busted somewhere painfully vital, that will diminish his speed and brains. The head shot (or any real diminishing blow) is the missing link between sparring and the follow-ups.
 
Do you know this, realize this, can you articulate this as doctrine to the shallow naysayers who belittle follow-ups? I think this “diminished fighter” message should be one of an FMA system’s “Ten Commandments.”
 
Lots of folks prioritize sparring as the initial, most important encounter (I think it is very important) but then many belittle a lot closer quarter stick moves (the 80%) like disarming, stick grabs, trapping, grappling, etc. as impossible because “oh, you can’t do that when actually stick sparring.”
 
Some follow-up material examples:
  • Checking the guy’s other hand, or maybe-
  • Catching his stick, or maybe-
  • Disarming with any of the 5 big disarms, or maybe-
  • Going 2, 3 deep to finishing blows or kicks, or maybe-
  • Any takedowns-throws, or maybe-
  • A standing to ground capture or finish, or maybe-
  • Etc., etc.. 
A stunning blow or two sets up everything in the martial world, why not here too? A good stunning, crack on the bare head changes everything, opens up the follow-up world. Stick sparring with protective safety gear does protect against a real, full diminishment. A head shot from a soft stick to a helmet or say – to a hockey-gloved hand is not a real-deal, it’s a practice deal (unless you are playing for points?). And such protected play probably won’t replicate the damage you really need to move in and do the 80% stuff. Folks want to believe that stick sparring is the “realest of deal-ests,” but it fails here at the missing link point. This “diminished fighter” concept must be recognized in FMA stick doctrine so that you can indeed do some of the 80% material against a wounded opponent. Wound him enough you might even tie his shoe laces together.
 
 
Some of our great, super-athletic, gifted, obsessed FMA-ers can go deep at “Superman speed” and execute some of that 80% collection without a head shot (of course this depends on the skill of the opponent, a rookie might be easily invaded). But fighting the diminished fighter is an important step to winning-surviving. I am not so gifted, not Superman and probably most of you aren’t either so we would need to (theoretically-simulate) bust some heads to move in and trap, catch, disarm, stick-grapple, etc.
 
 
FANNNNN-CY! This missing link which usually allows for a range change and finishes is just common sense but I am not sure all FMA-ers, new or old, know, teach, and proudly pontificate on this commandment. We cannot really hurt our friends in training. We SIMULATE the head shot (or whatever serious blow)! We segment the training. We don’t emphasize or fully recognize enough the missing link between segments that makes the second segment…work.
 
(Yes, that is tissue in my ears in this photo above. Sometimes I get stuck teaching without hearing protection in a room full of banging sticks. Decades of this banging contributes to a hearing loss, which I have. Warning! Hey, keep score of your ears.)
 
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Hock’s email is Hock@ForceCentrix.com
 
 

WHAT I WON’T DO, DON’T DO

Hock holding flintlocks

Every competent person, every competent organization has or should have a refined “mission statement.” It’s where you start. Like so many operations, and in a training company like mine, the mission statement is how you build and direct doctrine, avoid dogma, confusion and even hypocrisy. People-companies within their sphere must seriously define, the – “what we do.” One way to really help define what you do is to also seriously define what you won’t-don’t do.

Mission Statement Consequences? – Keep in mind, there will always be both good, planned consequences and unintended (bad?) consequences. Be flexible enough to make sense of things, changes and challenges. 

In the 1990s, interested only in the generic, mixed-weapon world of hand, stick, knife and gun, self-defense survival (and enforcement-security), I decided to refine my Force Necessary mission statement to also explore what I don’t do, what I cannot make, and what I would not produce. This is a truth-and-honesty mission statement for me and for my “customers-practitioners.” 

By simply understanding won’t you are not, you are not trying to limit yourself, you are trying to be realistic and stay…on a mission. The “no” reasons, the “why,” for each topic listed below might take a few lines, a paragraph or perhaps in some cases a book chapter to explain, but not a whole book to explain. But, no such details are pontificated here for a such a short essay as this.

  • I don’t teach firearms marksmanship. I leave that to the many great folks that do that so well. I’d rather spend all that time in interactive, person versus person, simulated ammo training. I’ve never settled for 2nd or 3rd or 4th stringers instructors, nor should you. I can send you to experts I know, or suggest that you get the best veterans in this field you can find for bullseye shooting, if that is your goal.
  • I do not make champion kick boxers. While nothing replaces “ring time,” as Joe Lewis warned us, we must experiment with kick boxing methods, please note the word “champion.” I will never make you a sport, champion kick boxer. I’ve never settled for 2nd or 3rd or 4th stringers instructors, nor should you and I can send you to experts I know, or suggest that you get the best veterans in this field of kick boxing you can find, if that is your goal. (By the way, how many advertised coaches actually do produce champions anyway?)
  • I do not make champion boxers. While nothing replaces “ring time,” we must experiment with bare-knuckle-boxing methods, please note the word “champion.” I will never make you a champion boxer. I’ve never settled for 2nd or 3rd or 4th stringers instructors, nor should you. I can send you to experts I know, or suggest that you get the best veterans in this field of boxing you can find, if that is your goal. (as you might begin to spot themes here? One such theme is a dedication to the short cuts of cheating. Cheating the rules.) (By the way, how many advertised coaches actually do produce champions anyway?)
  • I do not make champion wrestlers. Again, while nothing replaces “ring time,” and while we must experiment in with wrestling-grappling methods, please note the word “champion.” I will never make you a champion, sport, wrestler-BJJ person. I’ve never settled for 2nd or 3rd or 4th stringers instructors, nor should you. I can send you to experts I know, or suggest that you get the best veterans in the field of wrestling you can find if that is your goal.(By the way, how many advertised coaches actually do produce champions anyway?)
  • I do not make champion MMA fighters. “Ring time!” And yes, while we must experiment in MMA methods, please note the word “champion.” I will never make you a sport, champion MMA person. I’ve never settled for 2nd or 3rd or 4th stringers instructors, nor should you. I can send you to experts I know, or suggest that you get the best veterans in the MMA field you can find, if that is your goal. (By the way, how many advertised coaches actually do produce champions anyway?)
  • I don’t teach any other official martials arts except very essential, Filipino Martial Arts “on demand”- when asked. I am happy to do so, and when I do, I trim it down to rawest-raw, universal, generic essentials. I do not regurgitate whole systems. Though I have black belts in several martial arts, I only use parts of them.
  • I don’t follow any sport rules. I am only guided by the “law-law,” use of force, ethics and the rules that keep you and me out of jail. “Using only that force necessary”…heard that before? Which is the very name and filter of my courses.
  • I don’t do any katas. I have other things to do with that time I think is more productive. So I don’t do or teach katas. Zero.
  • I don’t do unnecessary, artistic moves. You know them when you see them, well, I’ll take that back, maybe most won’t know them, and be amazed, infatuated and seduced instead? One should look efficient and ugly when fighting. If I-you appear pretty and artistic in action, that should be by accident. Trim this fat. Combatives is checkers not chess.
  • I don’t do emergency or tactical medicine beyond some very initial, raw advice. There are plenty of really, terrific medically-trained, veteran EMTs and doctors available for this. I’ve never settled for 2nd or 3rd or 4th stringers instructors, and I can send you to experts, or suggest that you get the best veterans in the emergency medicine field you can find, if this is your goal. (Get veteran EMTS, medics and “Docs,” they are the BEST!).
  • I don’t teach kids.
  • I don’t require uniforms, just wear “street” clothes as in the clothes you think you will be fighting in. What will you be wearing when forced to fight? Wear that. No pajamas. No bare-footy. No Spiderman body suits.
  • I do not long-lecture on anger, fear and pain management like I am some kind of an expert psychologist. I only brief these issues and quickly steer people to real experts. I can lecture on many topics like crime and criminals and fighting and writing, I am comfortable with history and war, but I don’t have PHDs in the complicated, mind game. 
  • I do not, will not worship a martial arts system and a martial arts system leader. Such worship is a mind-trap and counter-productive. If I am not mistaken, Bruce Lee said the same thing. Be free to question, distrust and investigate everyone and every idea. You can like them, respect them, have coffee with them, but not worship them. (Nor should I be over-trusted or over-worshipped.)
  • I don’t want to be called any titles. I am just a guy that’s “been around a few blocks” with a bag of tricks. And we are getting together, scratching our heads, experimenting with the mixed-weapon fighting problems of crime and war. 
  • I don’t put up with any racist crap. That’s white on black, black on white or any color-on-color crap. One of my American heroes is Martin Luther King. What he says, goes, and works for me.    
  • I do not and will not ignore your past martial experience. You have climbed off the couch and done stuff! I like that.
  • There’s a few more but this is getting too long.  I could offer many examples in each category, dramatizing my ideas, but I think you get the idea of the reverse concept. This actually not about me! This is about what such a list looks like and you and your list.

A martial arts customer-practitioner needs a mission statement too and most NEVER-ever do, they just walk into schools like dumb and dumber, looking for things that the school doesn’t offer, that they saw in a movie last week. Revealing your different reality doesn’t always fit with the join-up, lobby sales-pitch.

Just in the teaching business with a school? Exist in that classic 5-square mile, demographic in a hunt for customers? You are at ground zero. As school-owners, don’t follow me and my “don’ts! Remember I have no school, my market is different, so don’t mimic me. Keep the kids and the uniforms and the dragon posters!  Stay alive! And look, many people “change hats,” right within their diverse school. Then you should have a mission statement for your karate class, FMA or BJJ class and another mission-hat-statement for your self defense class. I do want you to be happy and healthy and pursue your interests and hobbies. If you are happy? I am happy for you. But you still need appropriate mission statement…hats. It’s a hat trick!

man and hats

There is a not-so-old expression (and at my age I know what an “old” expression is) the new kids call –  “staying in your lane.” What you are not, helps you understand what you are and helps you stay in your so-called “lane.” (This is true of life in general too.)

But for me exactly? If you are questing for the above traditional, sport and art goals, while I can’t “plead the 5th,” I can only quote Bob Dylan,

“It ain’t me babe, no, no, no, it ain’t me babe, it ain’t me your looking for babe…”

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Hock’s email is Hock@SurvivalCentrix.com

Watch free, long training films at Hock’s TV Channel, click here

FMA STICK versus STICK DISARMING

In the big picture of fast and furious, speedy, adrenalized stick fight, where does the single stick disarm exist? How can it? Let’s take a look. An important way I think for starters, is to first examine the overall Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) subject of stick versus stick disarming. I identify really only FIVE stick vs. stick disarm categories…in the universe!

  • 1-Impact Disarms (pretty self-explanatory).
  • 2-Stick-side snakes (the stick and stick limb circles clockwise or counter-clockwise)
  • 3-Support-side arm snakes, (empty hand limb snakes (circling clockwise or counter-clockwise)
  • 4-Strip and keeps (because you caught and kept the stick, then push-pull it away from him)
  • 5-Strip and sends (because you caught his weapon limb, and push-pulled the stick off-off-off)
  • (Note: Collect disarms and stick them into categories for organization)
  • (Note: Take note to see if instructors sneak a simulated, stunning blow in, as soon as possible within the disarm steps. Stunning really helps.)
  • (Note: Some intermingling gets involved but usually the real core, successful move can be identified by the successful one. You’ll know it when you see it.)

Thus far for me, all the disarms in the universe, the galaxy (!) fit well into one of these 5 general categories above. Impacts and lots of circles and push-pulls, huh? Which is another way to help teach and summarize-explain the subject. List the raw movement concepts within the 5 disarm categories. Here are the three raw movements inside all the disarms categories.

  1. Disarm Raw Movement 1: Hits! Impacts (a hit to arm, the knee or head, torso, even a hard hit on a stick, can cause a drop), 
  2. Disarm Raw Movement 2: Circles! (both arms clockwise and counter-clockwise circles)
  3. Disarm Raw Movement 3: Grabs, push-pulls and pulls-pushes. (Grabs on weapon, grabs on weapon-bearing limb)

I have had the opportunity to dissect and teach this list of 5 disarm categories (and their 3 movements within) around the world for years now and some, even semi-famous FMA instructors refused to believe this 5-list rendered, simplicity.

“How can it all be that simple? NO! It can’t be,” they sometimes say, “well then, what about this one?” they ask and show a disarm.

“Well that’s a strip and keep because you caught and keep this stick,” I would say.

“Well then, what about this one?” Demo…

“I would say, strip and send because shipped the stick away.”

And so on and so on, the challenges were fun to explore and always help me refine, refine, refine.

Five categories. Three raw ways to do them. Simple? Complicated? Traditional disarms are often taught and passed on in disorganized ways, usually created by artistic people with no scientific sense or teaching-organizational skills (like so many nutty katas, huh!). As a student in various FMA systems since the 1986, I have seen many of these disjointed disarm lists that miss the opportunity for smooth education, conformity and simple understanding.

For example, many disarms are glued to traditional angles of attack system. “Guro Jose” has 10 angles? And he demands – “Do this different disarm at each angle. And here they are. Memorize!” Many traditional disarms are passed along by doing…say…one mandatory disarm at their angle 5, (6, or whatever angle), when actually an angle 5 attack might be disarmed by 3 or 4 different ways. Best to pick a disarm category first and experiment doing it against all 10 angles. It will work sometimes and then not.  One might call that process reverse engineering? This is a way to make your own list. Self-discovery experimentation is great, recognized, retention method.

Anyway, a search for easy, relatable explanations and mental retention must be conducted. But for many FMA systems and instructors, simplicity was-is not their mission, and after all, complexity is the fun – wow factor- cool goal. That fun, wow stuff, and-or then the regurgitation of their historic art is more important than say…the simple, sheer freedom to fix and improve things.

After the list of disarms with the 5 categories, understanding how they are executed with the 3 raw movements, it was time-saving and thorough for me to make the next list of counters to disarms. (For me, the counter study was really related to thwarting the 3 movements. What universal things could be done to counter them?)

  • Any early-phase counters
  • Any mid-phase counters
  • Any late-phase counters

OKAY! Quick Disarm Tip: FMA stick is primarily a play within the Rectangle and-or “X’” box, and-or figure 8 circle, areas in front of your body betwixt the two opponents. Not as many training attacks come down from straight above, or up from low-low (there are a few more low than from straight down, still not enough). How did I determine this? Just examine your system and other system’s angles of attack drills to check this. One or maybe two angles of their 8, 10 or 12 angles comes straight down from above. The rest are side-to-side thrusts or slashes in that rectangle. In Guro Jose’s system, only one angle came down from above, the other 9 were other attacks. This means his system by innocent doctrine, de-emphasizes the common from 12 o’clock high, downward attack! One out of ten. On these high and low problems…

I spent a lot of time with one of Inosanto’s top 5 instructors – Terry Gibson of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who has since passed away. Seminars, hosting him, privates in the 80s and 90s. He is responsible for a very large chunk of my FMA training to name one of the Inosanto Family topics (forever grateful to him). He gave me several disarm tips worthy of passing along versus these occasional high-low, top and bottom stick attacks. Here’s one – move them to the sides: 

“Hock, connect sticks high? Then force the contact DOWN to the left or right sides where there are more and easier disarms. Low? Connect sticks low? Then force the contact UP to the right or left sides where there are more and easier disarms.” (Okay! Did Moses bring that tip down on another tablet we didn’t see? It was very helpful, conceptually.)

Okay, back to making your own list and using it in sparring. Free and eclectic. You got your list! Next, can they be done fast? Under pressure? The subject of this essay! We can all do them slow, sure. But so, in the big picture of fast stick fighting-sparring, how does the proverbial stick disarm exist? Can it exist?  I know a lot of veteran hardcore stick fighters and they say they hardly ever saw a semi-elaborate move. It seems that in a full-blown stick fight-sparring (but with protection-see below), all semi-elaborate moves and elaborate moves are very hard to do and hard even to see-find in usual stick sparring.

In the same way we only see…ohhh, what? Eight, ten basic, non-elaborate, fundamentals in UFC fights, over and over again, and nothing elaborate seems to manifest, because the elaborate is usually hard to insert in the world of full speed and adrenaline. (I might add the impact disarm is probably the most common?)

I have found that in order to fully understand the possibilities of disarming in full action mode, I had to cut stick fighting-sparring into two categories and understand “stun, no-stun.”

Stun, No-Stun? Protective gear or not, you can do a few more things, go a little deeper in moves, be a little more “semi-elaborate” when an opponent is stunned-wounded. (Some come to you diminished, are naturally slow, untrained, etc. like their stunned!) If very stunned? Then elaborate! Sooo, protection matters!

  1. Sparring Category 1: Helmeted, protective gear for sport-fun-hobby. Less stun possibilities.
  2. Sparring Category 2: “Street survival,” for lack of a better term. No protection! I mean, do you really think you’ll be on Johnson street, with your 28” stick and get into a fight, coincidentally with another guy with a 28” stick? The “street” reality of such a dual, 28” stick duel is mostly nonsense for most of us. Odds are in most countries, no. But remember, no helmets, no pads, more stun.   

So,  single-stick sparring within the Stun, No-Stun universe:  

  • Stick sparring WITH helmets and gear protect against such stunning diminishments, making disarms and elaborate moves a bit harder to pull off. Less stun factor. Which might explain why you don’t see many. I wouldn’t let this depress you or dismay you much, because it’s not fully a real-deal…
  • Stick fighting WITHOUT helmets and gear allow for more serious injury and then that might allow for a bit more elaborate material. Of course you are crazy to train this way, full out, all the time. You and-or your brain won’t make it to 30, 35 or 40 years old? You’ll dribble when eating.

Stick sparring with sturdy helmets and protective gear frequently ends in grounded wrestling matches because of the protection and limited, reality stun factor. Much FMA stick-duel instruction is given under this art-sport umbrella. Stick sparring without any such gear at all frequently ends in an ambulance. 

Disarms! Who or what, where, when, how and why…are you? These questions define your training mission, your end goal. They create the important nuances of doctrine (and disarming). I surmise that that many practitioners think about all or any bit of these points and just play around in the art for the wow, the fun, the hobby. Wow! Which is absolutely fine, I only ask folks…just…know what they are doing who, what, where, when, how and why.

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Hock’s email is Hock@SurvivalCentrix.com

Check all the free Hock FMA training films, click here

RESPECTING THE HEAD SHOT IN STICK SPARRING

 
Respect the Head Shot? Do you? Really? One of the conundrums in FMA stick sparring is figuring out the realistic importance of the head shot and emphasizing it in a training doctrine. Ignoring the strike (as in “pretending” it didn’t happen and “sparring-on”) because you have a helmet on is training doctrine mistake. Making it “count” in a helmeted world is important and should be a mandatory training doctrine mission.
 
Quick example. My friend Raoul is power lifter. A brute. In the 1990s, he so wanted to attend one of these stick fight events because…well…just because. He was also an agile guy and total, FMA “nut.” So, he did travel and attend one. The rules? Rattan sticks (Big Raoul has quite a war club). Fencing helmet. Hand gloves. You could wear elbow and knee pads. It’s a world were serious injuries abound and most people over 40-ish have to quit doing it.
 
Raoul’s fight begins. And within 20 seconds he bashed the other guy in the head so hard…so hard it ‘crinkles-caves-in’ the helmet a bit at the forehead area and the receiver is stunned. The ref stops the fight and asks if the guy is okay. He says yes. The fight continues and in a short time, the fight ends the typical wrestling match on the grass, which is so typical because with gear, rules and CRIMINAL and CIVIL LAW, you really can’t maim-kill off the opponent, no matter how rough-tough the fights are advertised to be. True reality is always gone. Raoul is choked! That is to say, he has to tap out. Losing, he was pissed. They peeled the helmet off the other guy and his face was bloody from the crosshatch pattern of the mask down the left side of his face. Blood.
Raoul shouts: “Who won this fight! I did in first 20 seconds with that head shot!”
 
Of course he had, but the rules….the rules! These rules affect training doctrine, whether the individual fighters, the instructor or the entire system-art realizes it. It became obvious to me in the 90s that if you train with gear, many people, most people probably, sort of ignore or misread the head shot as if it is any other body shot (they’re all bad), especially when helmeted. The sparring just goes on and on. I do not wish to name names and systems but I studied with a big, organized outfit that routinely stick sparred at the end of every class, No gear, but with rattan. Just for about a minute or two. Light sparring, NO head shots. Over time, this removes the head-shot-methodology from your “muscle memory.”
 
International competitor, Arnisador Teresa Cronin adds, “Well said Hock. I’ve seen a man get his head split open from a shot to the top of a WECAF helmet, blood pouring down, but the sparring continued like nothing happened. I also noticed in my own sparring I would sacrifice my head, because it didn’t hurt, to close the range.”
 
And get this – I recall a crazy competitor who tried to develop – follow me now – a way to crash his metal helmet into a stick head shot, so has to cause a painful vibration in the hand of the striker, essentially head butting the stick strike. Dreaming of a disarm?
 
All this eventually, subliminally de-values the head shot and distorts its importance in a “real” stick fight.
 
A “real” stick fight? What’s that anyway? Well, it is unlikely that most people will be in an actual life-or-death, stick-vs-stick duel-fight. If so, the head shot is still VITAL. It is instead, more likely in crime and war, that you will use a stick-like object vs. unarmed, vs. knife or vs. some gun threat. Needless to say, the head shot is still VITAL.
 
The challenge is to create a sparring system and competitions that values and embeds important strikes like the head shot. I organized it all out with the “Killshot” stick fight system since the 90s. If a fighter got clubbed in the head? Bubba, it’s over! The stick arm gets significantly hit? Whistle! “Switch hands!” And so on. But then you are sort of managing a tournament (point-style?) style fight, which of course, also sucks. I know, I ran these Killshots for years.
“I got him! No you didn’t!”
 
 
 
But in training and the organized fights we ran in the USA, Germany and England, a clear club to the head means the receiver officially LOST and “sits down, sits out.” In training, take a break for a second, reward and recognize what just happened and discuss went right or wrong. You have to think of ways to memorialize proper performance like head shots, even with small, training tricks.
“You sit down. You let your head get smashed.”
Or,
“Stop! Hey, you did good. You got that head shot in. Continue.”
 
The head striker is rewarded for getting the head shot. This builds the training structure to recognize and respect the head shot. With this sort of structure, fighters begin to develop head strike strategies and conversely head protection strategies, as a priority.
 
Remy Presas would frequently when teaching, stop and turn to us and say-remind, “Of course, you could just hit de man in de head with a stick! But, I want you to learn the art.” I found this admission, oddly perplexing, but he wanted to remind us…the difference. It made me think about what I was and was not doing.
 
(For the record, I don’t run these competitions anymore as they were a pain in the neck to do, and I haven’t made-sold these Killshot shirts shown above for decades. But when occasionally teaching FMA these days, I do cover these head-hunting, stick methods. I am 70 years old. If I sneeze too hard? I might wake up in traction, so I do not stick spar any more either, other than a few seconds to demo something. I can’t beat my gardener up anymore. But I can teach you how to beat up my gardener.)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
#fma  #filipinomartial arts  #stickfighting  #sticksparring  #whockhochheim #stickfights  #remypresas

Hock the Filipino Gringo of FMA

Okay folks. Bare with me. I have a few martial ranks through the years, (like a FMA, guro BB test in Manila). So, this is a joke but not a joke. I have a joke-meme I’ve passed around for years with two loaves of cut-open bread, a “white bread-brown bread” meme.

The idea is that “Joe Jones,” white boys will hardly ever achieve respected status in FMA. (I know a RARE few are, yes, yes, but most people look to and seek, foreign sources, certainly Filipino in FMA, but often settle for any American in the states with a “Spanish sounding” name. Or at least foreign sounding name. Exotic. Same is true for the rest of the planet. Think about it. Make a list and really think about it.

“The ‘hierba’ (grass) is always greener….”

And bland, white, Joe-Jones-Gringos (like me) take a back seat. This is not new, it’s a martial arts “universal.” Who wants to learn BJJ from a white boy from Finland? NO! Brazil! Or at least have a cool Hispanic or foreign surname! I’ll fall for that!

Eventually you will have to settle for a …”Gaijin”  in your neighborhood. He or she may be fantastic, just not as well known, (and will remain unknown, which is actually the whole point of this essay).

All this is just the subliminal (and overt) marketing of life and what we seek out, like Chinese food, or Italian pizza and who makes makes the best cars? Germans or Japanese? Are ex-cons the best street fighters? Do the Israelis have the best military fighting system? Is Silicon valley the best source for all things tek? Why pick the Marines over the Army?  People should recognize natural and man-made…”lures.” Who has the “best” story for what? And why? What then, catches our fancy? What do we gravitate to?

In fact, when I think about it, I have felt like a white boy (and-or wrong religion) outsider in most martial arts I’ve ever down, with all the real leaders always from elsewhere, Japan, Philippines, Indo, Russia, Israel, China, the sewers of Spain (gag)…the popular systems and arts are always from elsewhere. And me? Always the…gringo. This though I expected, it’s just an observation on martial life.

Anyway, there were numerous viewers of that “bread” meme on various pages, some very smart and substantial folks, and they laughed and liked it when I half-joked that I might therefore just call myself “El Gringo,” as part of an FMA business nickname, (I still teach FMA here and there around the world along with mostly combatives.) Just a fun, name-game and partly a bit of satire on all those grand, tuhon-guro-supremo-GM master titles that keep inching up like bamboo. For 26 years now, I just tell everyone I teach to call me “Hock” and remain on an equal, friendly footing as I believe system-head-worship is confining and not good for evolution. Bad for some of my business, but good for your evolution and freedom.

Some attendees-students still insist on titling me. It’s a tradition, you know. If you must call me something? Truth is, I’m just a gringo, a white boy, outsider from Texas who knows a few tricks of the trade. Tongue in cheek? A satire on the name-game? For FMA…call me…”EL GRINGO!”  

“Out of the night, when the full moon is bright, comes the stickman known as Gringo. This bold renegade carves a “G” with his blade, a “G” that stands for Gringo.”

(Sung to the Zorro TV theme with apologies thereto. I realize the great young, unwashed has never heard the Zorro theme song. Never saw the old show. Too bad. Then feast! Feast on this video! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQnle_3KuOE    

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Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com 

Check out the PAC-Filipino page, click here

The Quandary of Training Stick vs. Stick, versus Combatives

A Bigger Picture. In the martial arts world, stick fighting is most closely associated with the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA). A huge chunk of many FMA systems is indeed about the stick-versus-stick duel and closer-in stick versus stick events.

 

(Using a stick as an easy and fast target, as with developing the smart fanning strike shown here, is not necessarily learning how to stick duel.)

 

The stick versus stick dueling battle is really a pretty rough game of checkers if done right. Next inward, getting in closer is often called by many, loosely “stick trapping.” Many FMA-ers have turned this closer-in range, this “stick trapping,” into a complicated, chess match with copious options to train…forever. Many FMA-ers obsess about this closer-in, back and forth above other vital skills. To me, it’s simple math turned into unnecessary calculus. (I remind all here that I have been “doing” FMA since 1986 and I know a bit whereof I speak.)

Is this calculus necessary in the real world?
First with dueling. No. Almost all of us are highly unlikely to get into the proverbial 28” stick versus (coincidentally?) another 28” stick fight in a real world, dueling “street fight.” A study of the stick in common self defense should not be centered around mirror-image, stick-versus-stick material. Second with stick trapping? No. Not this much. Obsessing with stick dueling and stick trapping should be relegated more into a category of (fun) art, sport, hobby or exercise, with only abstract benefits to self defense.

Through my decades of policing, training, cases and rather obsessive research, I have personally run across a few impact weapon “duel-related” battles like drunken, softball bat fights at tournaments, or crowbar versus tire iron fights. Things like that. Still, they are rare in comparison to the messy, mixed weapon world that actually exists in crime and war. While dueling helps various attributes, there are indeed smarter things to do, to prep for a fight in crime and war. When you remove stick-versus-stick dueling and the calculus of stick trapping from FMA systems, there is so much less to worry about and train for. It’s vital to some extent in FMA, but even in FMA, there is always other stick things to work on like stick-versus hand, stick-versus-knife, even stick-versus-various, gun threats.

I am asked to teach FMA and I do so with a great big smile as it is one of my fun interests, but I always make this quick “really?” lecture. As readers know by now, I preach the “hand, stick, knife, gun, mixed weapon, matrix.” And while my Force Necessary: Stick course must touch a bit on the impact weapon duel because it has and can happen in, I in no way emphasize it. And a great many folks emphasizing self defense and combatives agree with me on this.

Watch out! These “reality” people are “window-peepers, peeping in your windows, watching you on Youtube.” quick to judge what you are doing and pigeon-hole you as artsy and off-mission for reality. Which leads me to the quandary. For self defense combatives, can you train stick versus stick?

Yes. Some. It seems so, and not just for the rare event when dueling might happen. For the so-called, reality based training, the trainer and trainee, the work-out partners should still both often hold sticks sometimes. Sometimes? In stick training, it is much easier and faster for both partners to hold sticks for various goals. Ease, target practice and stick blocking to name three. 

  • Ease – You do it. Partner does it. You do it. Partner does it, whatever you are working on. This probably is best done when the attack is with any weapon, could be a stick or a knife, or many empty hand attacks. Just be aware of the purpose of the exercise. Easier and faster with both holding sticks. Both are holding sticks. It looks like stick versus stick training.
  • Target practice – As displayed in the photo above and below, often stick strike training is best done by hitting another stick. You can use a kicking shield, yes, but it might be faster and easier switching sides by both partners using sticks. And you can hit his stick hard. Again, both are holding sticks. It looks like stick versus stick training.
  • Blocking practice. Learn to block just about ANYTHING coming in with great force, the force that a stick can produce.

 

(Target practice! And you can hit hard. He can learn to block well too.)

 

 

So even if you are a self defense, combatives person you might find yourself looking like an FMA-er and appear to be doing “too much stick versus stick” to short-term window peepers. But dueling is not your real, end mission.

In summary, a few quandary warnings to think about…

  • Will reality-based “window peepers” blasphemy you as artsy? (Hey, I know I will hear from many of you that you don’t care what others think. But, I am “just sayin”…)
  • Is a “reality” person getting too use to subliminally seeing too many stick attacks? Remember to replace that stick with a knife. A lot. (It’s still FMA to go stick versus knife!)
  • Use the other guy’s stick for safe, quick target practice.
  • Once in a while, worry about impact weapon dueling in combatives.
  • Be “on-mission” in practice and doctrine. Doing FMA? Do FMA. Doing generic combatives? Do that. 

The self defense, Force Necessary: Stick matrix…

  • Stick versus Hand.
  • Stick versus Stick (not too much).
  • Stick versus Knife.
  • Stick versus some Gun Threats

Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.

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HANDS-LANDS Touching the “Hands” of the Master in the “Lands.”

HANDS-LANDS – Touching the “hands” of the master. Touching the “lands” of the master. Hands-Lands.

(This was a spirited discussion on FMA Discussions. Many say you MUST go to Philippines to “get it.” Many say no. Not needed. I said…)

I started attending Remy Presas seminars in 1986 and I was just another person in the crowd. One attendee was also an Ernesto Presas guy who asked me if I knew Ernesto. I did not and he pulled me aside into a curtained-off meeting room from the big seminar. Two others were there too and we started doing Ernesto stuff. This guy trained me in Ernesto’s material for years, which is different than Remy’s. Four or five years later we wound up in the Philippines. Once back in the USA, at the next Remy seminar, attendees told Remy I was over there for three weeks and even stayed at his old Negros house, etc. He liked this, called me over and wanted family gossip and so forth and only then did we made the solid connection, because he knew I was THAT committed to go over there. I started hosting Remy for years, etc.

Later at a Remy-Dallas seminar at Steve Selby’s school, Remy made a speech about training and with whom and “Touch hands with the master,” or as he would say it, “Touch hans’ TO de’ master.” He pointed to me and said, “Hock has gone twice to de’ Philippines already. I don’t know why? Because…I am here!” Everyone laughed as did I, shaking my head. You could tell by his smile that he making a joke. But why go?

The pro-go Filipinos in the FMA Discussion seem to want you to see the lands, walk barefoot on grounds, breathe the air, eat the food, dive deep in the history otherwise you won’t really “get it.” Like live there? “Going native” – is  “to adopt the lifestyle or outlook of local inhabitants. Furthermore, must we also “go native” with all these martial arts we take?  While Bruce Lee said all these things were just “Kicks and punches,” must we go down a national rabbit hole and become Colonel Kurtz?  I went a little native in South Korea. Lived in the village, etc, but didn’t become a Kurtz. The military grants you time and grade in obscure locations, otherwise you are in-and-out tourists.

 

Tourists. I often look at folks traveling to the homelands of their martial arts. So many go to Okinawa, Tokyo. South Korea. A friend of mine even went to NORTH Korea for a Tae Kwon Do pilgrimage! (He said it was scary.) All serious Thai Boxers go to Thailand (although in my “heyday-times” of Thai -1990s- many also went to Scandinavian countries for Thai). I think it’s a pilgrimage some want to take. I think it is situational and circumstantial. After my P.I. trips, we got Ernesto coming over the states with gigs and the P.I. trips were long and expensive for me (and my job). The circumstances, the situation, the need was over. But I will confess, me having “gone over” several times was a big marketing help for me.

People like to travel and touch for really unique reasons, lest of all over martial arts. I have a good friend in England who worships the Spaghetti Westerns of Clint Eastwood. He and his wife visited the small town village in Tabernas Desert and the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park in Spain where they were filmed. He has small glass jars of the sand from there as souvenirs. The human drive to visit. 

Look at all the people running to Israeli for religion and Krav! The Japanese see Americans going over and dressing like they are ninjas and they laugh. One Japanese-American told me it would be like Japanese coming to America and dressing up in Civil War clothes and taking part is a Civil War recreation. WHY!? 

I like for people to be happy and if they want to go, and afford their journeys if they can and should go. I would like to go to Frank Sinatra’s house in Palm Springs. I might not get a glass jar full of booze, but I would like to sing a song there in the backyard.

What of the name-game and FMA? This is actually a whole other FMA discussion subject, somewhat related though, but the real success stories in FMA, those with sought-after instruction and with bigger groups are really all Filipino people. Or they have a name-game-stretch-connection, with Spanish or exotic sounding names yet have never gone to motherlands. Dan Inosanto, a real important FMA pioneer, has never been to the Philippines that I recall. How many land-locked, Americans just have exotic foreign names and have large groups? (They could be good or bad but still get the immediate attention.)

Even though I have been over there – this is why I do not flash myself around as some kind of special super-duper, FMA Person. I will never be an FMA real deal. I am happy to help others get an understanding, etc, if they are interested, but I am just a white boy in Texas. I can only think of a very few white boys with consistent, international FMA success, oh like Bill McGrath and Deiter Knuttel from Germany. Otherwise you gotta’ be Filipino or have a Spanish sounding name and,or seem to be Filipino or could be Filipino. Or else, you better be seriously attached to one. The truth (skill) bears out later.

Origins and names…this is a universal, martial idea-draw. As a parallel, looking at ads and videos would you want to take Brazilian Jujitsu from a Tim Smith? Or a Jose Gonzalez? Who has the immediate advantage? Most would instinctively go with the Jose. (Makes me think, speaking of other parallels – how many Yankees are going down to Brazil to learn BJJ, to go “native” in that native homeland, or have all the experts moved up North?).

On “Going native,”  furthermore, must we also “go native” with all these martial arts we take?  I do think back through the years of Systema people getting so wrapped up in it that they started becoming communist. Posting pictures of Putin and remarking in pro Russia statements. How some Silat people became Muslim? And then even radical Muslim. I’ve seen it. Krav people becoming Jewish. Like Bruce Lee said – all these things were just, “Kicks and punches,” must we go down a native rabbit hole and become Colonel Kurtz?  Studying how to kick and punch should not ordinarily alter your politics and religion. 

Touching the “hands” of the master. Touching the “lands” of the master. Hands-Lands.

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Hocks email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

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Presas Double Weapons Training

Old-school, double sticks and espada y daga training. We had to DEFEAT the sinawali pattern as the attacker CHARGES (not just standing there, but charging in!) doing a pattern, and we ended it with takedowns, which must be executed without your empty hands to grip the opponent, as your two hands are busy holding weapons.
 
 
When Ernesto Presas had an experienced group with him, he highlighted this and other “endgame” training as vital. Just learning the patterns like dancers is incomplete.
 
Remember in the old days, Ernesto (and Remy) did not show high level materials to newbies, strangers and semi-serious students. So, if you only trained with the Brothers in big groups, you never saw this type of endgame stuff. One reason – you can’t start out at a high level in such groups, because of the mix of people’s skills in large seminars. Second, they absolutely did hold back their secrets to winning, in case they had to fight someone. Which they had to do in the old days.
 
 
Anyway. we would hear- “Do not show this to everyone.”
 
Therefore, I fail to see this endgame practice in many modern systems doing double weapons. I just see the mutual dance of the double stick patterns. (In my opinion, too many people just learn the sinawali patterns and are happy with that. They end there. That is incomplete, as Ernesto Presas insisted and taught/instilled in me from the early days of Arnis de Mano.)
 
“You must learn to defeat de sinawali,”Ernesto would say.
 
Ernesto had a very analytical mind, when you look back at how he organized things. Remy wanted you to experiment. Ernesto wanted to list ALL the experiments. Which I think had a big lesson for me on how to organize things. But, I do think it is impossible to organize the “Filipino Martial Arts.” It is a gigantic, mix-matrix, that must be handled conceptually. I kind of chuckle when I see a book here and there, called, “Filipino Martial Arts” and its like…150 pages. Huh? No. It would have to be many, many, many more pages. This challenge was why Ernesto changed the system several times through the years as he tried his best to capture lightning in a jar.
 
(I guess by now, everyone knows that you can do all the double stick patterns with espada y daga also. If you don’t know this? Try it. It will blow up your stick and knife drill work.)
 
This is what we did ala Ernesto in small groups…
The attacker attacks with one of the double stick or espada y daga patterns. He had us –
  • disarm one side, hit head to stun, takedown.
  • disarm both sides, hit head to stun, takedown.
  • hit head to stun, no disarms, takedown.
The disarms are usually impacts on the weapon-bearing limbs, or a block-and-stick-snake of some sort.
 
I have an old list of 14 double stick and therefore espada y daga, – the same with a slight nuance changes because of the knife – takedowns to do from Ernesto, as in doing takedowns while holding double weapons. This was “back in the day” when his 14 angles of double weapon attacks was his favorite forte to introduce training. I have learned that these 14 work against all wounded, disarmed and stunned attackers, 14 angles, sinawalis or otherwise. They are meant to work against all double stick and espada y daga patterns.
 
This way when you spar with double sticks or, stick and knife, you have an assortment of experience to do the takedowns.
 
 
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Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
 
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Training Arnis in Luneta Park

I was thinking about the classic park in Manila. “Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park or simply Luneta, is a historical urban park in the Philippines. Formerly known as Bagumbayan in the era of colonialism under the Spaniards.”

For many a decade if you trained in Manila, the Philippines, a must go-to place is this park. Many, many famous people have taught and gathered here. And when we were in Manila, we were either at the Presas school, this park or at the college where Ernesto taught Arnis at those times.

It did bother Ernesto a bit at times at the park, because various FMA grandmasters would set up folding chairs and watch us. He would whisper, “You see dese guys? Dey are grandmasters. Dey are spying on me.”

This above photo is me and Shelley. Early 90s. There were only like 6 of us there, so it was pretty intense. Under his scrutiny all the time. We would go about 4 hours in the morning and about 3 1/2 hours in, there would be a break. Ernesto would say, “Take a break, then…examination time.”

This photo –  Since we were so few, we also had his black belts as partners too, who were very helpful too. With Renato “Boks” Centro.

“Examination time?” we’d say in the beginning days. He was always “testing” us, but this would be a more real test for the last part of 3-4 hours. So…there was no break. We would walk off behind some trees or bushes and work through those ten minutes to hurry-review what we did. Then some water.

Then…the 
“Come on, COME ON!”
“Speed motion!” 
…observation “test.

Then lunch. Then another 4 hours. 6 days on. 1 day off pace.

That top  photo again. Me, Shelley Millspaugh and the big man GM watching us.  Captain Rene, a Honduran fighter pilot is behind us. Shelley Millspaugh added: “Great memories. That first camp was as intense as you could’ve made it. I haven’t had that type of intensity since. GGM was the Energizer bunny. Never stops.”

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Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

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“I AM LEFF.” – Remy Presas


Remy Presas frequently told this story in seminars. Many of us have heard this “leff story.”

After witnessing several bolo (machete fights) which I chronicled earlier on the Presas Group Page) , and after the somewhat underground “sport” of bolo fights began to disappear from deaths and maimings, rounded sticks replaced the bolos in fighting for money. (Not sticks shaped liked swords but rounded ones – something else I wrote about on the Presas page.)  Remy fought these fights for money in boxing rings, cockfight arenas and wherever betting groups might gather. He told us that after a while, numerous people approached him to teach them and their sons how to stick fight.

“But I am leff,” he told them. Left-handed. “And dey were right.” He said he could not teach them. They pushed the requests.

“But de money became so good…I become right.” He started to teach them the stick with his right hand. Much of it was longer range stick dueling (“of course, you could just hit de man in de head with a stick.” – he would often say, when discussing complicated moves.)

And as Remy has said often, the double sticks help teach the “other side” anyway.

In short, really short – lefty versus righty has always been a big thing in sports. The southpaw boxer. The lefty pitcher versus the righty hitter in baseball. Lefties are 1 in 10 people. This is an advantage for them simply because most sports folks and fighters have built up a “versus righty” repertoire, a library in their head, even like in their “subconscious” of what tiny steps and moves a righty does to hit, kick and position them. The most subtle increments are stored in the brain. We use them as tip-offs. We see less of these reps from a lefty, as there are less lefties.

“I become right. I become good.”

And he made a lot of money teaching righties. But still fighting too. (and he had a few jobs too. Working at a family shipyard and…not known by many, a barber.)

He would say in seminars about the money stick fights…

“Round one, I am right.
– Ding.
Round two, I am right.
– Ding.
Round three…I am leff. I win!”

His eyebrows would raise. We all would laugh. We got it.

Remy became as ambidextrous as possible. In close quarters, he could switch hands effortlessly and really foul up your brains. He taught this inside the newer tapi tapi. He taught this on the single stick versus double stick drills, as you must go single stick right and left-handed versus the double sticks. (Ernesto did this too.) These were Presas “leff” priorities which I can’t say I found “up front” in many other FMA systems.

(I remember one Inosanto seminar many, many years ago in Irving, Texas where, for about 2 or 3 hours on a Sunday, we did left-hand sumbrada. It freaked all the experts out. We became bumbling idiots)

“You must do boff leff and right!” – Remy Presas

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Hock’s email is HockHochheim@forcenecessary.com

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