Monday, June 24, 2013

Back and swinging hard!

It’s been a long hiatus since my last post here. But hey, man’s gotta focus on certain things at time. I had a terribly busy and hectic period during the second half of May and first half of June, which peaked in a jam-packed training week that included the first ever Astig Lameco Seminar of Roger Agbulos in Belgrade (hosted by yours truly) and the annual Training Above the Clouds camp with Alex Kostic (administered by yours truly) and private training in Jogo do Pao with Luis Preto. Tough but fulfilling experience!

This time, I’ll focus on the weapon based methodologies of Agbulos and Preto, while the insights from training with Alex will be a subject of my next post.

My faithful readers (yes, I love you all) know that my search for ways to enhance my training revolves around the attempts to functionalize the training methodology in such a way to maximize the effects of time and effort spent in training. In practice, it means that I am not in the business of training professionally , which in turn sets certain demands in view of available time for training. Being that my approach is directed at attaining certain standard of functional combative performance, and not just playing with martial arts for recreational purposes, it should put my “quest” into some perspective. And both guro Roger Agbulos and Luis Preto fit the bill perfectly.

First, Roger Agbulos devotes his teaching and training to working only on the aspects of Filipina martial arts he deems most directly applicable to the modern day needs – single impact and edged weapons, as well as empty handed defense against them. While his own command of some more traditional expressions (eg. double sticks, stick and knife) is awe inspiring, he believes it is most time-efficient to drop those from the curriculum. By the same token, guro Roger’s approach to impact weapons is actually hybrid, i.e. applicable to both true blunt weapons (clubs, sticks, batons) and longer edged implements, such as machetes. 

In order to further enhance the instruction and accelerate the results, he strongly emphasizes certain pedagogical and technical principles. Namely, when it comes to the selection of technical material to be taught, he looks to meet the following requirements:
Universally simple
Can be done in real time

On the other hand, the instruction of the techniques that meet the standard is done with close attention to structural detail and physics principles. The drills are put together in such a way to bring these to life and up to speed, while also helping to expose all the mistakes and weaknesses that need to be worked on and eliminated. To that end, guro Agbulos always has keen eye on the practitioners and is relentless in his insisting on doing things right.

Before training

All that said, it my utmost pleasure and with feeling of pride that I have been appointed a representative for teaching Asting Lameco approach to Filipino combative in this part of Europe J

Even though coming from a different cultural background of martial arts, Luis Preto shares a lot of the same principles in his teaching (btw, he kindly and open mindedly took part in the first day of the Astig seminar. Interestingly enough, guro Roger recognized him from the book on Jogo do Pau he owns, and written by Preto).

Preto seems to share the same urge about martial training that I do, and for the same reasons. Being frustrated with the failure of some his past instructors to effectively and efficiently impart knowledge and skill can completely break your will to stay with martial arts, or motivate you to work hard and look for the ways to change that. Fortunately, Preto is in the latter group.

Now, I was already acquainted with his thoughts on the subject, being an avid reader of his books, but it was extremely gratifying to see it embodied in his physical expression of the teachings. And speaking of the teaching, Luis’ progression is so logical and makes so much sense that it makes one wonder how come everybody’s not doing it? Not only is it beautiful for the reason of facilitating the retention of the material, but also provides tremendous help in identifying the problems and fixing them on your own.
Get it! Read it! Do it!

It was great seeing Preto even letting my wife (black belt in aikido, thus some past experience with wielding sticks and bokkens) come and play with the ides, and being able to immediately make her realize the problems with certain techniques and eliminate them almost immediately. And all that in les than 5 minutes!

On top of that, he has a personality trait that people either love or hate (of course, I am in the former camp), which is being absolutely straightforward in calling things what they are, when it comes to things he has passion for, in this case training. That makes him completely at ease with slaying and barbecuing a sacred cow or two and debunking all kinds of myths that happen to have become almost universally accepted “truisms” in sport training. To see what I mean, just check his blog.

So, what was the common threat that stands out with both of these fine gentlemen? I’d say that the most succinct fashion of putting it is – COACHING! In my mind, being a good coach means having all the tools and the knowledge to use them, but oven more so actually caring (or better yet, being passionate) about the performance and results of your students/athletes.

If you can, seek training with either (or both) of these brilliant teachers. Not only will you get to acquire some of the nice tools and learn how to use them, but also be inspired in your training and teaching.