Saturday, another stimulating cutlass class under the tutelage of N.B. The real meat of this style, from a martial arts perspective, lies in a sort of game that one plays with the opponent regarding level of commitment to a particular move. The attacker brings the trailing foot forward until it is abreast of the leading foot but then, rather than continuing the step, stands there stork-like, reserving the option to continue with the passing step or to reconsider and move backward into the starting position. The defender likewise executes half of a trailing step but then goes into stork mode: easier said than done since it requires good balance and steady nerves. If the defender continues with the rearward passing step and plants his foot, he has committed to a particular distance which the attacker can then exploit by shortening or lengthening his stride to land the blow. Conversely, if the attacker follows through and completes his step, the defender can lengthen or shorten his step accordingly to avoid being hit. There are many other aspects to the system, and many other drills that can be conducted, but the one described above lies at the heart of it, and is the most engaging from a sort of game theory standpoint.
Sunday, an Escrima master class with Rene Latosa, courtesy of Seattle Escrima Club. Escrima, among other fine qualities, is a useful corrective to typical sword-based martial arts. We sword geeks tend to be prissy about equipment. Swords have to be of such-and-such weight, made from such-and-such alloy, with a particular balance and geometry suited to the art in question. Our approach to learning those arts revolves around what T.W. would call system acquisition: learning by rote a repertoire of stances, steps, attacks, counterattacks, etc. All of which is well and good. Escrima, by contrast, has got to be the most pragmatic of martial arts, and the least fussy about equipment. In large part it is the art of defending oneself with found objects. As such there is no point in getting hung up in the system acquisition phase. Any overly refined system would stop being useful if you were not able to pick up the right sort of weapon at just the right moment. Accordingly, Escrima tends to revolve around development of certain principles and basic styles of movement that ought to be useful under just about any circumstances, and its weapon-based techniques tend to be extensions of fist-based ones, so that they are useful even if you find yourself fighting in an environment where there are no objects to pick up and smack the other guy with.
I may be misinterpreting the whole system, but that’s my perspective on it as a beginner viewing it from a Fiore-based standpoint.