Practicality of FMA systems

Discussion in 'Filipino Combat Arts Forum' started by kukri2, Jul 28, 2007.

  1. kukri2

    kukri2

    109
    Jul 28, 2007
    Hello.

    I'm new here. This is the first fighting forum I've joined. It was recommended by my instructor in Pekiti Tirsia.

    I have practice MAs in the past, and I would by no means consider myself an expert in any area of fighting. Nonetheless, I recognize a high level of proficiency in what I think is a functional system. Furthermore, I believe PT (and other weapons-based FMAs) has fighting applications beyond armed combat. I have just started to learn the system.

    That's my background and disclaimer.

    OK. I was on youtube today and ran into a couple of posts that referenced Matt Thornton of Straight Blast.

    Second disclaimer. This guy is top-notch, in all humility. He's great.

    Regardless, on his website, he state in so many words the FMA are useless as they are and speaks out against "kata". I don't like kata myself. I did Tang Soo Do for 4 years.

    Here is the article right here:

    http://www.straightblastgym dot com/problem dot htm

    Any views on this?

    What's wrong with knowing how to use a stick or knife in conjunction with other ranges of combat? Who ever said that a person should only learn knife-fighting?
     
  2. Joe Talmadge

    Joe Talmadge

    Oct 3, 1998
    Welcome! Would you mind editing this to include a working link to the article you're talking about? Would like to get a look at it before I respond, and SBG isn't the easiest site to navigate. Thanks!
     
  3. kukri2

    kukri2

    109
    Jul 28, 2007
    Sure thing.

    http://www.straightblastgym.com/problem.htm

    I understand the concept of aliveness. But aren't two-man drills just that? Drills. No one says you are going to use chi sao in a fight. It's a training technique!

    In a general sense, I think I have to mark down some of those comments to personality. Some people have a personality for not liking to wrestle, for example.
     
  4. Joe Talmadge

    Joe Talmadge

    Oct 3, 1998
    Gotcha. I'll tell you my view, preluding with the fact that I've gotten into hot water with senior FMA guys before on this. So I'll say that different people learn different ways, and that what I'm about to say is absolutely true for me personally (and has held true among nearly everyone I've trained with), but may not be true for everyone.

    First, I agree with SBG on flow drills, lock-and-block, vital templates, etc. I feel they are basically two-man kata, with all that that implies. No one spending a lot of time doing flow drills should turn up their noses at a traditional martial art that spends loads of time doing kata, because they are essentially doing the same. They consist of non-alive movements whose timing and distancing have very little bearing on combatives. Yes, these drills get you repetitions, but my experience is that for almost any movement or concept you're trying to develop, there can be developed a combative-style alive drill that will teach you the same concept -- and whose lessons are much much more applicable to combatives. In other words, I get it that these two-man drills are training techniques, but they are techniques that transfer extremely poorly to self defense; those who do them seem to simply ignore the fact that an alive two-man training drill can likely be developed to teach the same concepts with much more transfer.

    I also agree about the futility of tapi-tapi style unarmed knife defense techniques versus Red Zone, Stab, Die Less Often, etc. Techniques that work in flow drills versus techniques that work in alive combative drills and simulations.
     
  5. RenegadeMonk

    RenegadeMonk

    254
    Jul 28, 2005
    The topic regarding the validity of flow drills versus alive drills within the FMA has been going on for quite some time. From my experience, I can attest that both flow drills (Hubad, Tapi-Tapi, Sumbrada, etc.) and Alive training (such as Red Zone, STAB, etc.) are BOTH useful when taken into their respective contexts. Both can elevate a person's fighting skills when trained properly.

    In the FMAs, from years ago to this very day, many FMAs have centered their training in two-man flow drills. This was done mainly for safety reasons. Back then, it was far too easy to get injured wielding live blades and hardwood sticks in training and the idea of "sparring" with these weapons was considered far too dangerous. From what I understand, many of the old-school FMA masters considered drills their training, and real-life combat as, what we would call, their "alive" training. Back then, many masters fought regularly in either duels or battlefield conflicts when not in training. So, I guess in some sense for these masters, the idea of sparring never crossed their mind because they were fighting for their lives on a regular basis. Of course, this is not to suggest that many FMA masters did not spar in training...its just that sparring is not as common in many FMAs.

    The use of sequence-drills or pattern-drills has one primary benefit aside from that of repetition, which is that they allow practitioners to isolate certain techniques within a dynamic setting. I find that I can break my fight game into little bits and pieces (technique repetition, where to hit, etc.) and work on them individually within a pattern drill. While I could also work the same technique in an alive drill, sequence-drills allow for more fluidity and motion, which can develop other attributes such as sensitivity and coordination. For instance, I have found the Hubad drill to be very useful in refining the flinch response when training in close-quarters when the hands instinctively go up. Of course, one needs to train these drills with the intent of being able to apply the drills rather then simply go through the motions and practice the drills merely for show. These drills must also be trained alongside alive training drills in order to be truly useful. One cannot simply do nothing but flow drills and expect to be able to apply their techniques against an uncooperative opponent.

    The main difference between alive and flow drills are the energy and resistence in which the two execute their techniques. I find that many people who have done nothing but pattern drills tend to be unable to execute their techniques against a live, uncooperative, resisting opponent feeding their attacks with full energy. Alive training is essential for being able to understand the energy of a real attack.

    The "tapping" method of knife training in the FMA isn't meant to train the student to tap the knife away in different directions. The real meaning behind such tapping drills is to understand reference points of position and attack. Instead of just passing the knife back and forth, I've seen a lot of top FMA masters mix grappling and striking into the mix of the tapping drill. I think the following video clip I just came across illustrates this quite well: http://youtube.com/watch?v=95ezFtrhu2s.

    Train hard and God Bless,
    Mike
     
  6. kukri2

    kukri2

    109
    Jul 28, 2007
    Do you know of any videos that demonstrate a combative-style alives for stick/knife fighting?

    I think what's going to happen is that (my instructor is a solid practicioner) is that I'll have to supplement instruction to arrive at a place that is real.

    Same thing for ving tsun instruction.

    Thanks for the reply
     
  7. kukri2

    kukri2

    109
    Jul 28, 2007

    Sounds very reasonable. I keep thinking, in my limited experienced, that if FMA were taught like Western fencing, there'd be quicker progress and a leaner curriculum.

    Ideally, you would 'fence', but in varied conditions and circumstances-- not always at a ready, chambered position.
     
  8. RenegadeMonk

    RenegadeMonk

    254
    Jul 28, 2005
    Hey kukri. What exactly do you mean by arriving at a place that is real? I think I understand what you mean I just want to clarify.

    Again, we need to remember to take different arts in the respective contexts in which they were designed and developed. FMA is an attack-based method of fighting. One example of this became apparent to me when my good friend and training partner Tim went back to the Philippines to visit his grandfather. My friend Tim had no clue that his grandfather was a World War II guerrilla fighting against the Japanese with nothing more than his Bolo Knife at his side. His grandfather is an original FMA exponent and trained for many years in FMA before the Japanese invasion. Anyway, his grandfather demonstrated one attack pattern that he used against a Japanese soldier who tried to draw his gun on him. As the Japanese soldier reached for his sidearm, Tim's grandfather quickly drew the Bolo from his sheath and chopped the Japanese soldier's wrist in one motion, and followed up with a slash to the throat, killing the Japanese soldier quickly. No chambered stances or position, no dueling...simply draw, chop, and slash.

    Tim told me that the way his grandfather moved didn't contain any stances or chamered positions...when he demonstrated the moves, he simply ACTED. Did Tim's grandfather spar regularly? From what I was told...No, he didn't. Did his grandfather drill flow drills a million times? Again, no, he didn't. Did he practice alive drills regularly? No, he didn't. Again, as it is in many of the FMAs...the "alive" training came from real-world combat. Of course, not all of us can be a battle-hardened Filipino Bolo guerilla. This is why realistic training is important. Flow drills and alive drills can BOTH be considered realistic or unrealistic depending on how they are trained. Tim told me his grandfather trained the angles of attack and movements of FMA and simply executed those moves when his life was on the line. Real-life combat is different from sparring and drilling. Does it make sparring, alive drills, or flow drills any less valid or useful? Of course not. They each develop a different quality necessary for combat. However, we need to be honest with the fact that for most of us, real-life combat may never be something we'll have to encounter in our lifetimes (which I think is a good thing). However, training with the right mindset and methodology is of the utmost importance because we never know when we may have to use our skills to save our lives.

    ~Mike
     
  9. Norm'sTrainingBlades

    Norm'sTrainingBlades

    138
    Mar 25, 2007
    Personally I find flow drills a good way to teach a beginner a new technique or use it to focus on refining a certain strike. (Just as a boxer would work on hitting a heavy bag.)
    But after a practitioner gets the technique, it's time to move it into a more practical setting. This would be where the aliveness part comes in. People don't move the way you think they are going to all the time. You have to be able to switch up in an instant.
    In aliveness training, you don't start off by having someone that knows the technique apply it full on to a beginner. You take the time to teach it to them first, let them do it repetetively until they get it, then you start using progressive resistance so they develop the ability to use it against a non-compliant opponent.
    The same is true with JKD & Kali (FMA). You start them off with the basics, let them build the ability, and then you kick it up in the appropriate levels of resistance.
    Our grapplers at the school do it all the time. And the grappling comes from JKD which derives it from Kali.
    Kali is a lot more than just sticks or knives. It covers all sorts of areas from the sticks, knives, swords/canes/axes, double daggers, Filipino boxing, Filipino kickboxing, grappling, flexible weapons, and a whole bunch of other areas.

    I fully admit that I've seen other schools where they pretty much only tapped with the stick. Personally we don't train like that. We're safe, but the attacks have to be based off with the intent to actually strike your target. Otherwise you're just waisting time.
     
  10. kukri2

    kukri2

    109
    Jul 28, 2007
    Good question RenegadeMonk.

    Real to me would mean that in a fighting situation, you would handle yourself in the same way that you might drive through traffic. This would be an ideal situation.

    When I drive, there is little separation between me and my vehicle. When I want to go left, I go left. When I want to break. I break. I don't think about it, I do it. I don't have to think: OK, now press your foot down on the right pedal to stop the car. Do this at your current speed 40 yards from the object you wish to break in front of in order to not run into the object.

    Now practice this skill-- change lanes, get off on the right exit, etc.-- while on the freeway with traffic moving 80mph (I miss I-5).

    That's the best analogy I can come up with.
     
  11. kukri2

    kukri2

    109
    Jul 28, 2007

    Right. Exactly. Your desciption of Tim's granddad would be the ideal I'm trying to describe.

    Good stuff.

    I'd love to visit the Philipines one of these days. I lived 6 months in S Thailand. SE Asia is great.

    Thanks for the replies.
     
  12. kukri2

    kukri2

    109
    Jul 28, 2007

    Sure, you have to start somewhere. And the boxing analogy is a real good one. That makes sense. Having said that, and with maximum respect to Matt Thornton, I'm not sure where he's coming from in that article.

    I heard dumog is good stuff. I remember reading an article relating to JKD, and in the article, rather than refer to styles, you are looking a delivery systems for force and pressure. Savate is a delivery system for transmitting force using the feet and hands from a particular angle, for example.

    At any rate, I think integrated styles like silat and kali are a neat concept. There are very few systems with all ranges of combat. But, why not take what is useful? I plan on taking muay thai classes for the next 6 months to supplement the PT kali I'm learning, and start in on WT.

    How do you find your previous karate training integrating with FMA and JKD?
     
  13. RenegadeMonk

    RenegadeMonk

    254
    Jul 28, 2005
    I think I understand. So, in other words, by real...you mean full speed under pressure under any circumstances. If this is what you mean, then I hope I got it right lol.

    I think the definition of "real" needs to be re-evaluated. What is "real" in training anyway? Is it sparring full-contact with little or no armor with few rules? Is it point-sparring? Is it armored WEKAF sparring? Is it flow drill training? Is it live (sharp) blade training? Is it alive training.

    If you ask me, none of these are "real" in the sense that combat is "real". All of these things can take place at varying speeds, and none of them involve a life or death struggle. Instead, they are all forms of TRAINING. In the end, that is all that it is...training methods, each of which possess their own and varying degrees of realism. None of them ought to be discredited or deemed as unreal...because in a sense, none of them are truly "real".

    Of course, some training methods are more practical and realistic in training than others.

    ~Mike
     
  14. Joe Talmadge

    Joe Talmadge

    Oct 3, 1998
    I like to think of training as two parts. There's the technique-based work, which for me includes initially learning the technique, applying it in an alive drill whose rules are set up to favor using the technique, and then sparring. All of these are training techniques to get the strikes/counters/etc down, learn timing, distance, reflexes, etc. All of this is probably what you're thinking of when you talk about fencing-style training, including the fencing-like sparring.

    The other phase of training is combatives, which you would not normally do in a western fencing-style environment. Scenario training, etc., is also vital to your training, and teaches things that all of the above doesn't. What happens if the attack is surprise, what happens if the attack starts from close up, what happens if the bad guy's friend jumps in a few seconds later, what happens if he's armed and I'm not, etc.

    This distinction -- technique training and combatives training -- is just something that's been useful to me, I'm not claiming it's some set-in-stone classification. I think even if you practice alive, it's always tempting to solely focus on the more-structured and more-fun technique style training, including fencing-style sparring. The combatives training is really important to progress though; it's more difficult, so a good foundation in techniques is really important, but ultimately you want to work those techniques in a scenario that's less like sparring and more like an assault. I like alive training techniques for both phases of training, no flowdrills/kata for either.
     
  15. kukri2

    kukri2

    109
    Jul 28, 2007
    Excellent. It sounds like semantics, but there is a difference between an assault and sparring.

    Reminds of an article I read about a guy attending a kali seminar. He had blackbelts in various unarmed styles and was proficient with the old-style rapier. He pared of with a kali master and repeatedly scored touches using practice knives on this master's body and his safety goggles.

    The kali master repeatedly corrected the student saying he was performing the technique incorrectly, but the student reportedly scored. THAT is an assualt.

    I think that the student would not do as well against a practicioner with experience in alive training.

    I'm completely on-board the combatatives aspect of training. I understand. Fencing is an idealized circumstance.

    The comment that Monk made about his friend's grandfather says it all.

    thanks
     
  16. Norm'sTrainingBlades

    Norm'sTrainingBlades

    138
    Mar 25, 2007
    To be quite honest, I don't. The karate style used stance work that isn't practical. You don't move or fight in long stances like the katas have. You don't punch or block like that any more either.

    The JKD uses boxing footwork along with several of the strikes (jab, cross, hook, uppercut for example).

    Kali uses a more mobile footwork. Strikes are still similar for a reason that I'm not even going to get into in this forum. However the mobility was also a major factor for survival in my opinion. When you have the guerilla fighting methods that were employed in WW2, mobility is key. Two groups of people charging at each other is not as simple as sparring or even 'alive' training. It's a chaotic mix of bodies where your next opponent might be behind you dispatching your mate. You couldn't sit still for long at all. If you did, you were done.
     
  17. Joe Talmadge

    Joe Talmadge

    Oct 3, 1998
    Norm, that's the thing. A boxer working on a heavy bag is not analagous to flow drills, IMO. On the heavybag, he's digging in to use real power, he's working his cardio, the timing is not difficult but isn't perfectly paced and cadenced either. I would claim that something closer to hitting the heavybag or focus mitts in boxing, would be hitting the focus mitts with your training knife. That is a perfectly good training technique for knifework, particularly if you do some footwork, and jerk the focus mitt away when he telegraphs. But there is nothing in boxing training -- nothing -- that is analgous to flow drills, IMO.

    Okay, if you're truly using the flow drill just to burn in the initial technique, that's not really what I'm speaking about (although I do think there are better training techniques than flow drills even for that role). But most of the FMA schools I've seen seem to spend as much or more time on flow drills as on anything else.

    Absolutely, but you can progress through this beautifully without ever flow drilling, that's where I keep getting hung up. Flow drills are not like focus mitts or heavy bags, flow drills are not required to progress through the training lifecycle (just as they are not required in boxing or any other number of usable effective systems), and the timing and distancing of flow drills so screws you up that I can tell when I'm working against someone who has only been flow drilling almost immediately.

    Like I said though, if you're truly only using these drills to teach at the beginning, and it's working for you, that's not at all what I was about. There was one system I trained in briefly, in about 12 hours of training, I spent over 11 of those hours "learning" techniques through flow drills. That particular instructor was on the extreme side, but I've observed an awful lot of FMA classes where it seems like a huge percentage of the time in class is spent doing non-alive work. That's what I can't understand. Obviously, this is not true of all FMA schools, I'm sure I've been overgeneralizing, partially due to personal experience where my skill level skyrocketed once I found a school that dropped flow drills altogether.
     
  18. RenegadeMonk

    RenegadeMonk

    254
    Jul 28, 2005
    I do agree with Joe Talmadge...you do not need to do flow drills in order to progress to higher levels of sparring. You can do this wonderfully with alive training. Personally, I consider flow drills intermediate-to-advanced training. When I was in college training our FMA group, we found that training alive training formed the basis of what we were doing. We would learn the basic footwork, angles of attack, counters...when those were developed at a high level we moved right onto sparring drills (hand sparring, isolation sparring, etc.) It wasn't till much later on that flow drills were introduced, mainly to refine our footwork, sensitivity, coordination, and other combative attributes.

    In my experience, I've found that alive training mixed with flow drills leads to better results than doing nothing but alive training. I'm not saying you can't reach a higher level of skill without adding flow drills into your training regimen...all I'm saying is that flow drills really enhance one's attributes when balanced with a heavy dose of alive training.

    If you want my personal reason for using flow drills in my training (this is just my personal preference as to using it)...THEY ARE FUN. Sure, there are few things I love more than getting a glove, helmet, and stick/training knife and just sparring it out for a few minutes (actually, usually hours lol), but flow drills got a real dance-like aspect to them. They really help my athleticism, rhythim, footwork, coordination. IMHO, there are few things more enjoyable than performing a series of flow drills to a tribal beat on my Ipod player or my brother banging out a beat on his bongo drums on a sunny day in the backyard.
     
  19. Joe Talmadge

    Joe Talmadge

    Oct 3, 1998
    Agreed! That, I have no problem with, they are a blast and getting a difficult one down is extremely satisfying, as is getting really fast at un-choreographed flowdrills. And I don't discount how important it is for people to have fun in training, otherwise they often quit. I think those are sound reasons to do flow drills.
     
  20. AF1

    AF1

    274
    Apr 4, 2005
    It would probably be intstructive to look at the training methods of the Filipinos who succesfully used their art in combat during WWII, as it would be hard to argue that they couldn't apply their skills in an "alive" manner.

    RenegadeMonk already mentioned his friend Tim's grandfather. There's also Leo Giron; is anyone familiar with his approach to teaching?
     

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