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
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
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.
MMA – Mixed Martial Arts? Or MMA – Mixed-up Martial Arts?
The tabulators tell me that 2022 this will be my 50th year doing martial arts – having started in Parker Kenpo in 1972. I’ve always been looking for the best most realistic arts and systems through those decades, hunting for the next best thing, but for the first half of those 50 years, for about 25 years, I’ve done so rather poorly and confused. Mixed up.
From the 70s on I was working out with what was available, old school jujitsu, boxing, karate, police judo-defensive-tactics. Then in 1986 I starting with the Inosanto Family systems (Thai-JKD-Silat-FMA-Shoot fighting) and Presas Arnis. In 1990 I started Aiki-Jujitsu with a professor in Oklahoma. I guess I was spinning a whole lot of plates? But on some level, despite the differing outfits, patches and the nomenclatures, many times I noted I was often doing the same basic, good moves in different systems, despite the change of systems with a tweak here and there. Sort of a name-game change.
Makes me think of the Bogey movie song, “You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is…” But you really must remember that a “punch is just a “punch,” a “kick is just a kick? I recall Bruce Lee doing some Zen paraphrasing from the famous Zen Buddhist – “ Qingyuan declared that there were three stages in his understanding of the dharma. The first stage, seeing mountain as mountain and water as water. The second stage, seeing mountain not as mountain and water not as water. And the third stage, seeing mountain still as mountain and water still as water. Bruce modernized the phrase a bit, then replaced the nouns with “punch” and “kick.” He did this name-game switch often from Buddhist sayings.
I see my martial life that same 1, 2, 3 way that Mr. Qingyuan suggests, which leads me to my mixed-up-martial arts phrase and phase. Bear with me. You might see yourself in this dharma-dilemma-development?
For quite some time I played a name-game switcheroo. I changed clothes and mindset with various martial art class scheduling. Often in the same night! I can best describe this with two quick stories.
- Parable 1: Years ago in the late 1980s and early 90s, one of my favorite instructors was Terry Gibson, headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I would host him in Texas, attend his seminars up there and also visit him for multiple day private lessons. At the time Terry was considered one of Inosanto’s top five instructors (Terry has since passed). He was terrific. When there for privates in the daytime, one could attend all the night classes for free. There was a battery of them, an hour of this or that, JKD, FMA, Thai, Silat, etc. And I stayed for all of them from about 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. each night. Different students came in and out for their flavors and I recall the change of mindset and clothes for each one, even with the folks attending two or more of them each night. Me? FIVE of them. All the classes were mixed with careful instruction and some fighting. The Thai Boxing (in traditional shorts, etc.) was particularly rough and it was suggested that Thai sparring be limited in class to prevent statistical injuries and therefore it was mixed with lots of choregraphed Thai drills on pads. Yet two hours later, the Jeet Kune Do class (this one in gym clothes) sparring was wide-open, and anything goes. Same kicks, elbows, strikes, just not “Thai” in Thai clothes and no “shwoshing” mouth sounds, stance, etc.
Each of the classes definitely had a different mission, feel and goals. I’d got the vague idea back then that these things could be blended, especially via the Bruce Lee ideology I was trying to grasp, but they were not. I was also a PFS Paul Vunak instructor back in that day and Paul was very much on mission for the one blend idea. He only used FMA for skill developing methods, but he was trying to blend everything into one thing, one approach. Vu was a pioneer in his own way, a real shock treatment to late 1980s martial arts. I was all in.
By the way, this division of subjects is a martial arts school business model. More classes. More themes. More students. More outfits. More testing. More money. Nothing wrong with that – just saying. With many other instructors and schools in this business model, we studied to become one system-artist when doing that one system-art. MMA, the evolved business model became closed studies to learn different things – yes – but, inadvertently, keep them separate. Divided. Which, whether I fully realized it at the time, was NOT what I wanted, but I wasn’t quite “martial-mature” enough to realize it. I had no “eye” for it. (More on “eyes” later…)
- Parable 2: I was kind of trying to blend, but I was really off-mission. Mixed-up. Not clear. In my Texas classes that I taught from 1989 to 1994, I started out running the same multi-theme format on weeknights. Man, it was fun! People had fun! I had fun doing such a variety of martial arts too. Playing around with all kinds of stuff. I continued to see more of the basic similarities when organizing the class outlines. So much good stuff was the same wrapped in a different packages and lingo. Parts of the karate class looked like parts of the JKD class. What? As they say, you don’t really know something until you teach it. Some customers were in and out doing the mixed subjects, some stayed for all theme classes. Some customers got confused back then too. One lifelong karate student who sought me out only for self defense survival, asked me why did I show a complicated, Judo Gene LaBelle wrestling move for a sport tap-out. These little situations were popping up, jacking with my mission statement, things that belonged in one umbrella were popping up under another umbrella. And not the umbrella I really wanted. So, I wasn’t doing mixed martial arts really. I was doing…all mixed-up, martial arts. I was all mixed up (All this while I was a cop making arrests and realizing that fighting was more like checkers and way less like chess). In late 1993 I started organizing my mission better. I really started to recognize the off-mission sport material, the off-mission art material, the hypocrisies between the arts, and unnecessary, artsy editions. I’d been right on target with FMA since 1992 thanks to Presas Arnis, but these other topics? No. So, I worked on the blend. The REAL mix. (Oh, and by the way, this work is a never-ending assessment of search and destroy.)
I used the Who, What, When, Where, How and Why questions.
- Who was I? Who is the student?
- What was I really teaching? What did they really want? Really need? What is the generic, simple good in all of them?
- Where should I teach and what? Because differing places want or need different things.
- When should I teach and what? When do they understand what I am saying?
- How will I best organize all this? How will I teach it?
- Why am I teaching what I teach? Why are they here?
While turning the all-mixed-up to the mixed-blended, I have a lot of teaching stories for each “W and H” question from these last 26 years, the second half of the 50. I believe these to be informational, entertaining and educational stories, but book-length, and not good here for a short blog.
It should come as no surprise that in the big training picture, modern MMA (as in a blended “UFC style” With ground n’ pound, and I repeat WITH ground n’ pound), Combatives or Krav Maga formats evolved to fill in that anxious, wandering market place of folks like my early self, seeking the stripped-down blend, the best mix. It’s just business and filling the gaps. “Nature abhors a vacuum,” as they say.
Something much bigger is going on though. In the history of mankind, its overall DNA, a small group of people – us – struggle to keep fighting skills perpetuating, alive, for the drastic times that come and go, and keep us all alive. This genetic drive manifests in many different ways, like karate or combatives. It’s that big picture, so big we don’t see it, down to the smallest of pictures. You. You and the quizzical questions and choices in your head. Why do you do this stuff? Well, I just gave you one big DNA reason you might not have thought of. For some of us? It’s our inherent duty to mankind. We are the odd, weird ones, keeping this alive.
I certainly don’t regret all the mixed-up, past exposure, the blood, sweat and cussing since 1972, even though I wanted simple, generic hand, stick, knife and gun. But still, the background-depth, time and grade, experience is irreplaceable. Mike Gillette said once, “you are really paying Hock…for his eye.”
His eye? Eye? Look for a moment at my Australian friend Nick Hughes, currently in North Carolina, USA. Yeah, he teaches Krav Maga, and yeah, so does every Tom, Dick and Henrietta these days, every six city blocks, some at worst from just very quick certification courses. But Nick Hughes is a lifelong, skilled, multi-system trained, articulate, former military Legionnaire, international body guard, very smart, talented and also a champ kick boxer and boxer. He can teach any martial subject very, very well. All this wisdom and experience is the real deep foundation of his version of…Krav Maga. All this time and grade makes him irreplaceable. Depth. He has…an expert’s “eye.” and is several cuts above almost all the rest. I have often said, “If I ever had to build a Dirty Dozen? Nick Hughes would take up two slots.” There is indeed a savvy-wisdom you attain by toiling in the trenches for decades. But I worry that most people be around that long, they won’t dedicate decades of obsessive interest. How to we reach the most with the most? The needy with the needed?
I often peruse the internet martial arts pages and I read stories of 25, 30 to 45 year old martialists and martial artists and their compulsion to publicly write – as one might in a personal journey or diary – about this or that small martial epiphany. Been there, done that, kid, and I quickly get impatient and bored which is my flaw, because I have to remember everyone is on their own splayed and fileted journey. Their mission, however on or off it might be.
What is your mission in this dharma-dilemma? Are you…”martial-mature?” How’s your “eye?” Look, I want people to be happy. Do what makes you happy, sports, art, combatives. Mixed? Mixed-up? Fun? Comradery? Whatever. People even like all kinds of mixed-up, martial arts to fool around with! Just know where it all fits in a big picture. Your big picture.
The teacher’s curse, “Survival? Or addictive hobby?” “In the martial arts world – There is so, so much to do and so, so much of it is addictive, but so much of all that addiction is extraneous, superfluous, abstract, distracting and unnecessary. Yet still this curse – the mandatory basics become boring, no matter how utterly important it is to utterly master them and them alone. It seems we will never stop wrestling with this fight against boredom. The “art” of the survival teacher is to find the best, reduce the abstract and somehow trick-hypnotize-engrain the student into doing it…first, foremost and forever.
You can use your mature eye to take the “mixed-up” out, and to leave “mix” in. You can take things from a martial art that has a high percentage of success and NOT take the whole damn system. Or not? Just don’t be…off-mission, off your personal mission. In the mixed up, forked roads of martial dharma – the “eyes” have it.
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
A lot of American football coaches and players watch game films. I instead, have watched hours of football “how-to” training films to see how these players TRAIN. If you have ever spent time with me, you’ve heard me brag for years, decades even, on how American football training methods can be diced and altered to enhance, inspire and supply power-contact exercises for martial fighting. You’ve heard me say that a knife fight might not look like a movie duel, but might instead look like “football with a knife.” Same with sticks.
Hand fighting! Lord knows football takes from us and you’ll see Chinese, JKD and Filipino hand drills are used to develop what football already called “Hand Fighting,” (To the left, Tim Tackett is showing Cowboy great Randy White some classic hand drills decades ago. Tim is one of the earliest martial artists showing the NFL these types of work-outs.) You’ll also recognize some of the hand drills in the below videos I’ve listed. There’s also a drill in Football called by many, the Karate Drill, where one player tries to strike the chest at random of another and the other guy tries to slap the attempt away. One or two hands.
To me the offensive and defensive line of scrimmage, football battles cover some Aikido (because they are dealing with real powerhouse collision energy) on up to the UFC and MMA…and…yes, within it, ”trapping hands.” Trapping exists. I get a kick out of a lot of people dissing trapping because I guess they watch too many Jackie Chan movies? I don’t know. But the pinning, passing, pushing and pulling of trapping exists and I look for it in Football, boxing and MMA-UFC world. It might only go “one deep,” as in one beat trap clearance so to speak, maybe two. Three? Three might be pushing it. I started trapping in 1986 with the Inosanto family of instructors and FMA, but through the years I look to combat-contact sports as a foundation for reality trapping. What works? What can work? Boxing, Football, MMA-UFC. Fast, Short. Furious.
As with Football, line collisions are violent, with very quick trapping hands within. In the boxing, MMA-UFC world there are arm clearance, raw, ugly traps. Since I am obsessed with mixing-blending hand, stick, knife and gun wherever possible, I prefer to call them “invasions,” or invading____ . Like, “Invading Hands,” “Invading Sticks,” “Invading Knives” and, “Invading Guns” ( pistol and long gun). What pinning, passing, pulling or pushing of arms work in those realms. How are they alike? How are they different?
So, I take a hard look at football, hand drills-methods that enhance all that. The of quality football players, starting at college on up, is record breaking incredible now. These increases come from several methods, but two methods are clever drills and exercises for functionality.
One Quick Observation in and around on this subject. Australian football – or “Footy” is tough as hell, and like Rugby, sort of like soccer, are “chase-games” without the consistent line of scrimmage collision battles that can be reminiscent of, and can resemble a common collision in a fight, crime or war. Every football play starts with what a chiropractor might call, a small car crash.
Speaking of chases, I might add here that a high percentage, arrest-fight problem for law enforcement is chasing. Foot chasing suspects and tackling them down. Virtually no police academy or training covers or practices a Footie-Rugby-USA Football, chase and tackle. In my Defender-Police Judo course I do, but rarely because I need a matted runway and the “suspect” suited up for safety. And still, chase tackles are crazy and it is not very safe, especially due to the lack of conditioning and physicality missing in today’s new or even established police officers. Cops who’ve played, and still play with contact sports are better cops at this.
Second Quick Observation in and around this subject. A fad move today is teaching an arm drag to get outside of an opponent’s arms and then pivot around them to get a rear bear hug. In demos and seminars, many “show-ers” just…just end right there with the rear bear hug. They show no more. Huh? They stop there, as if, with the bear hug it’s…over? Nope, it’s just getting started. Yet naïve rookie, seminar attendees (usually gun guys exploring unarmed combatives) think its manna from heaven. Some instructors will show a follow-up. They demo a bear-hug follow-up solution and they will lift up and body slam the opponent to the ground, of course falling with them too, to enter into the world of non-stop, one-dimensional wrestling. Such is their brain-washing. Usually both these demo people are 30ish-year-old athletes. But when we look around at ourselves, at each other, differing sizes, ages and strengths, is a 150 to 250 pound body lift and body slam of the enemy practical for the masses? Hell no. I can’t pick up, least of all, body slam a 175 or 200 pound person! And anyway, I want to remain up as much as possible.
When pivoting to the rear, one could pass on the ubiquitous rear bear hug. Instead maybe try a whole variety of rear hits, kicks or takedowns where we might remain standing or at least knee high. I bring this topic up here because there are great, rough defensive line drills that use things like the “D-Line Chop,” (a trap) instead of a grabbing arm drag. In the movement there’s a follow-up shoulder hit, and quick pivot to the rear. And these are practiced in football-game-“hike”-tough drills that martialists should investigate. And, batting, zipping past, and around folks are also handy skills versus multiple opponents, where I add “imagine you are a running back” advice…(okay, okay, enough on rear bear hugs, that’s another big subject…)
A Third Quick Observation in and around this subject. American football obviously deals with face-to-face, frontal to frontal tackles, and not always chase tackles. They also cover power drills with pads to counter tackles, done in clever ways that any citizen should try and would enhance the subject, beyond typical martial arts classes.
In Summary, The Problem Is, His Arms! They are almost always are in the way. And they have muscles and seem to have a “mind of their own!” Here is a fast, short list of some football training drills I have collected on trapping and the “Football-Hand-Fight.” I can’t put videos in a book so I have to share them here. They incorporate Stop 3 Forearm Collision materials, and Stop 4 Shoulder Line collisions. Would you watch them for training ideas, adaptations, and inspirations?
For more diverse training…
- Top 3 Exercises To Improve Hand Fighting For Football Lineman -video Click here
- Football Drills – Defensive Line Workouts and Technique – video Click here
- Don’t be Afraid to Teach Your Defensive Linemen the Chop-Spin Trap Block – video Click here
- The D-Line “Drop-Snatch” – video Click here
- Under the Microscope: The Cross-Chop Trap Block- video Click here
- Bruce Lee, Jeet Kune Do and Football – article Click here
- Thai Hand trapping video, click here
More on this coming up in Hock’s Training Mission 3 Book, coming in 2022…
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.
Hocks email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
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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.
“Come on, COME ON!”
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.”
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
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.
Round two, I am right.
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
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@forcenecessary.com
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As taught to me from several FMA instructors from the Presas Family to the Inosanto family, going back decades, the classic “Chain of the____ (fill in the blank)” drills were an important stage in training progressions.
Chain of the Hand – cadena de mano
Chain of the Stick – cadena de baston
Chain of the Knife – cadena de daga
It essentially is blocking (as in hitting the attack very hard), then grabbing the attacking limb with your free/support hand. Or grabbing the attacking stick itself too, if that’s the case. Shoving the grab out of the way and hitting back with your hand, or your stick, or your knife. From….
From the outside right position
From the inside right position
From the inside left position
From the outside left position
From above, right or left
From below, right or left
It, in my opinion is usually practiced too cavalierly and too slowly and can create a false sense of speed and success versus fighting in real time for unenlightened students.
And, it might be best against a diminished fighter – one already cracked in the head or say – knee, or against one who is quickly out of gas. Or, is untrained and nonathletic, drugged, etc… Some might call it “second tier” options. But watch the guys who make a living teaching this like I have seen in the Philippines and they are VERY fast and can snatch a fast limb or a speedy stick with good success. In fact, when I was about 30 years old and doing this stuff all the time, I got pretty good at it too. But, it ain’t easy. And remember not everyone you fight is a speedy boxer or stick fighter. Have you seen the Youtube clips lately? Grabbing is not impossible.
The word “chain” is used in many martial ways. We hear it in everything from chain punching to grabs to machine guns. These concepts go back to Europe also, and passed through the Philippines, as you will hear versions of these “Espanyol-ish” terms back in Spain, Portugal and Italy. We are quick to credit the Philippines for a lot of stuff, but we shouldn’t be so quick. I have seen the move in karate, American Apache knife fighting. Or football even (even roller derby!). You want to call it Wing Chun trapping hands? You can! Tapi-Tapi? Sure? Looks like Balintawak? Yes. As Remy would often say “it is all de same.”
Chaining with weapons: You’ve hit the attacking limb so hard, he drops the weapon! Yeah. Bloody good for you (this impact is trained in a progression series). But, what if he doesn’t drop the weapon? Well, crap! But maybe you have at least diminished his grip with a little pain? But sometimes your impact/block STOPPED his incoming attack. Stopped it long enough to be grabbed. This grab, is…the “chain of…something.” If you have virtually stopped or really slowed down an incoming attack, you might have a chance to grab the limb.
This, as explained to me so long ago I can’t remember by whom, – that hand grab, that hand catch, is the first “link” of survival. The first link of the chain. Link-Chain. Get it? Thus the “Chain of Something” has an official name for a chapter in training lifestyles. Thank you very much.
Of course, the next step in the chain is to block or stop that incoming strike after YOU’VE been grabbed. Then you, then he, then you, then he, then, then. Then…then you have a system of study for hand, stick and knife. I use the universal, unforgettable, Combat Clock for angles of attack, but you apply your chosen hobby’s angle of attack system to play the the “Then-Then” game. This ain’t brain surgery or rocket science.
Many martial artists and systems use this chain concept. Remy used the “Chains” too, These close-up “Chain” events. This area of course, is just a segment of a fight. I think some stick systems spend entirely TOO MUCH TIME here at the expense of other problems (like stick dueling for one). In the olden days, Remy was a real mover and head-banger and he spent copious amounts of time making us swing sticks and hit as hard as we could at longer ranges. Ernesto too.
Remy was fond of showing things and then stopping, looking at us and saying to us, “Of course, you could just hit the man in the head with a stick, but I want you to learn the art.”
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com