Friday, January 26, 2007

Pencak Silat Observations

Rocco and I had a private class last night. It was really good. Mostly because I got to see Rocco put some things together, which as a teacher, is always cool.

We were working on explosive entries last night. This isn't really new, Rocco has been working on explosive entries for many months now. He's come a LONG way in being able to put his martial arts background into use.

Through this process of teaching Rocco and having to communicate the same things in many, many different ways, I've had the pleasure of learning myself and it's been real rewarding to see Rocco spring board off of what he's learned and be able to draw other conclusions about it. Most of them are not necessarily new conclusions but they are, for the first time, HIS conclusions and that makes all the difference when you are trying to understand something.

Last night the practice and the discussion ranged quite wide. It started with the hierarchy of combat that I've spoken about before, at least with some of you.

The hierarchy of combat is the recognition of the various possibilities that the initial combat relationship can start with and the various paths it can travel. There are at least seven major starting points for the hierarchy of combat within Pencak Silat Pertempuran.

1. Run Away - Able to see the escalation and avoid it altogether
2. Attack - Able to see the escalation and interupt it
3. Evade and simultaneous counter - Able to read an opponent and counter
4. Evasion with no counter - Able to read an opponent but not counter
5. Block with counter - Slightly behind in timing but able to counter
6. Block with no counter - Further behind in timing but able to stop attack
7. Get hit - Completely behind in timing unable to stop attack

To people outside of PSP some of these may not make sense or the order may seem out of whack, but for us, that is not the case. Within the context of operable combat, there are primarily 5 possibilities. You can see them by taking away the first and the last from the list.

From the perspective of training, PSP is primarily working at the level of option #3 - Evade and simultaneous counter. This is where the majority of what I teach is started at. Why start here? Because in reality, it is the highest form of defensive engagement you can be in. To move to #2 is to move to aggressor. That is not to say that #3 is passive and non-aggressive. To say that would confuse people - make no mistake you must be willing to take control in order to effectively work within the context of #3. However, it is still defensive in the sense that the attacker has initiated the attack - even though we are moving to take over the timing of the encounter immediately.

This can be confusing to people and the balance of intensity in training can be difficult to keep. On the one hand, someone is attacking you in a way that makes you defensive and you must react, however, if it is to fully have the effect it should, you need be agressive and moving in to the opponent in most cases and have the mindset of the agressor rather than the victim. This is often hard to simulate in training. One way to simulate is to put on headgear (full face cage) and gloves and do the drills with the intention of "clocking" each other. Doesn't need to be full power, but enough power to cause that little bit of adjustment necessary to bring the training up a level. I've seen it make a BIG difference in Rocco and Doug's training and it's really good for me too.

Now on with the rest...

You might be wondering why #4 is evasion but without a counter? Evasion is kind of whimpy and defensive isn't it? Very passive and risky. Well, it can be BUT imo, evasion doesn't have to be defensive, it can be offensive if you evade with purpose and if that purpose is to create the proper angle for a follow-up attack or to nullify further attacks by the agressor. In PSP we have one over laying principle for the system. Langkah dari batu ke batu or Stepping from stone to stone. So it's not always relevant that we get the thing we're after on the first go. Sometimes we have to be patient and play until it becomes available which can be 3,4, 10 moves later. (So what is it that we are after? Domination of the timing and the agressor - essentially the win - not the fight.)

So how does evasion do that? To answer, in my experience it is sometimes easier to evade an attack than it is to evade and counter. It is the matter of reading your opponents movements and having only enough time to evade but not enough time to do so well enough to counter in the most relevant way. It's the matter of hunredths of a second probably as it regards recognition of the relationship between yourself and the attacker. Yet, it is enough difference to make countering too slow. In these cases, you are best to evade in such a way as to cause the opponent to become unbalanced or over-extended. By doing this, you by yourself time to develop your counter. It may just be the thing that makes up that few hundredths of a second that you need. In that regard, it is a better situation than any block if done well.

This will need to be continued at a later time....

Hormat saya
Guru Stark


cikgu said...

nice blog.. i suggest you to learn senaman tua to get more feeling (rasa) in silat movement (langkah).

SilatBlogger said...

If you make it available to people in a way that they don't have to travel to Malaysia I would definately take a look at it.