Thursday, December 02, 2010

Instructor Series: Pencak Silat Pertempuran Ambidextrous?

We had a long conversation last night about pencak silat, training in basics, universal Truth, intuitive versus intentional learning paths, and various other tangential topics. It was really good.

I wish at those times that I had something to capture the conversation because there were many, many kernels in it that have taken me many years to learn and a good portion of which directly relate to why Pencak Silat Pertempuran is structured the way it is. Plus, it's the type of thing that can never be repeated because it's based on relationship to the people asking the questions and their responses of understanding or confusion.

In any case, understanding some of these major ideas will aid you as you study the system in knowing what the next steps are.

That said, here is one of the ideas in summary fashion:

PSP is NOT ambidextrous.
So why do you practice things on the left and right sides respectively? For one primary reason and a few lesser ones.
1. It is a system, intended to be available to all those who want to study it. Which is to say, that it is not strictly limited to right handed practitioners or left handed practitioners. Because of this, both need to be taught.
2. And that is because I teach everyone as though someday they will also teach.
3. Teaching both left and right sides demonstrates more clearly the principle of relationship and how changing that relationship changes the outcomes.
4. In a pinch you may HAVE to use your weak hand or leg to perform something—recognizing that it would be better on the "strong side."
5. Not all things performed on the "strong side" are actually strongest on that side. There are kicks that or strikes that you likely perform better with one side than the other and until you try it, you won't know which they are.

For purposes of combat it is of more value to be great on one side than to be average on both sides. You can pick the side.


Steve Breen said...

As a lefty, I've always had to re-adjust to the "right-handed world" whether it was in training or I was trying to use a pair of scissors! All techniques I was ever taught on the right [as tradition usually dictates], I spent time doing them bass-ackwards the other way.

When I was still actively competing in judo, I always initiated play from *my* strong* side as I knew up front that the other guy probably only trained with right hand dominant players. Made 'em think "wha' happened?" when they went sailing magically through the air.

When I first began studying Tai Qi, I asked the same question: "Why is the form only done on one side?" Mr Yi told me: "Who say you only got practice one side? I only teach you. Up to you to practice both side."

I've followed that advice ever since.

Sean Stark said...

Hi Steve - Yeah, that's exactly my experience. I think there is value in having some moderate skill on both sides but when it comes down to it, developing the skills on your strongest side to become even stronger is far more valuable.

I think we must have had the same Tai Chi teacher...

Sean Stark said...

Which, btw, I never did study the form on both sides, only the apps.

Steve Breen said...

It's really an interesting modality to do the form on both sides. I started out by doing things just a technique like "wave hands like clouds" by going left then right, then left then right ad nauseum. I would do successive "dragon creeps down" left/right until my crotch and thighs turned into butter.

I tried to do a given technique until I was comfortable doing it on the "goofy foot" side and only THEN would I try to string it together as the complete form.

Did I screw up from time to time? Yeah, sure.

What's been fun lately, for me anyway, has been using the lower art footwork of the Tai Qi yang style combined with the jurus satu upper art handwork. It's like being handed an entirely different color palette to play with! It's like going from an analog spectrum to a digital spectrum.

Once I get all the bugs worked out then I'll start learning it on the other side and see what kind of picture I can paint from there.

Sean Stark said...

sheesh... sorry for all the typos in my post.

Bill said...

I have a "lefty" student. It is interesting to have to instruct to the "Lefty" strong side as a "righty". It brings practical into reality and I find myself gravitating to said student to challenge myself.