Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Centered in Drill & Real Life by GM Ron Saturno

MySpace son-in-law was camping yesterday and it being a lazy Sunday, there was no one to work out with, so I sat down and pondered a few things and wrote them down. I thought a lot about the central position, its dangers and advantages. My definition of the central position is your being stuck between the left and the right hands and feet of an opponent. Angel Cabales was no fool, his instance upon our heavily emphasizing espada y daga training in our Serrada was not just because it was something to do, but something to perfect. His admonitions about facing an opponent blows as an example, was purely for survival value, but many times it is misunderstood. Facing blows was to help you survive an on-slought of swift and powerful blows. The admonition to face blows was to help you deal with getting caught in the central position and to get you out of that situation quickly.
If a person were to throw a machete blow over and toward the left side of my neck and I were to step inside and toward the blow and than performed an inside block: I do expose myself to his left hand and if the blow travels thru may be coming back from the other side and may find me with my feet and body out of position to deal with the new blow. If the opponent has a dagger in his hand, or decides to grab me: I am temporarily in real danger. I have willingly put myself into the central position. I may have put myself in this situation due to combat never allowing us to reply to attacks with textbook precision. We live in the real world, where attacks are sometimes met any way that we can deal with them. How can we turn this situation into our advantage? Angel Cabales felt that perfecting lock and block was a tailor made answer to this type of situation. First of all: The opponent's blade may be moving faster than our bodies can hope to move out of the way of the next blow in many instances. We have real issues and problems soon coming our way. Angel Cabales's answer was than "not" to "move" the body into a new position, by attempting to completely relocate it, but to use economical foot work to spin the body, or "twist" the body to meet the new blow and remaining in the same spot. Twisting our bodies is much faster than relocating it to a new position. We have to re-set our weight to take steps and every time we lift our feet leave ourselves vulnerable to attacks. It also takes precious time to re-locate our bodies, but twisting our bodies can be done via our heals or toes and this spinning can be done very quickly. We do leave ourselves in the central position when just spinning our bodies, but may be able to end the fight because we are hoping to get out of the central position as quickly as possible and if we do so, are in a much better position to end the fight. Facing all four corner's of an opponent, is simply dangerous.
I mentioned turning a bad situation into a good one. Using the right overhand machete strike to my left side of neck example: We stepped inside and are now facing the opponent's right side. I mentioned that he went thru and is than coming around with a strike to the right side of your neck or body, but "you" are still facing his right. You are weak on your right side. The safest way out is to "move" the body out of the way, if you can't immediately hit him. But, I mentioned that the body may be too slow to move to avoid the incoming blow, but it can be done, if we block or strike "while" moving the body and we do it in "one" direction, while doing so. If we step the body out of the way, we would need to step in the situationally dictated direction and block "while" stepping and all in one continuous motion and without hesitation and without any stops along the way. The general rule is that one of your steps to move your body equals one or more of your opponent's blows. This is a little understood rule by beginner's. If you just step without hitting or blocking and your opponent "is" continuously hitting, sooner or later he will get a hit in. But if we "hit" in conjunction with our stepping movements, we are continuously attempting to punish our opponent for trying to hit us. We step with purpose, hit with purpose, evade with purpose, spin with purpose. All in all, if we hit while steppng along with moving our bodies and understand angulation the next blow we throw may end the fight because of the superior position we put ourselves in, by going outside. Yes, going out side is safe. We should always be trying to move ourselves to a better neighborhood and that is usually outside of where we currently are. Remember we stepped out to get a superior angle on our opponent. If we just stepped out to avoid blows, we are hoping for luck to save us. Stepping out with purpose "makes" our luck. We don't have to stand around waiting for luck, when can make it for ourselves.
We can also simply sweep hit the other side in-coming blow using the example above. Sweep hit? Yes. The inside block we started with, is itself a sweep-hit to his right side. Any thing he could throw at us from his right side can normally be hit with a sweep-hit and the left side as well. Sweep hit means coming from the top down with your weapon and simply dropping the weapon "along" his side and just going down with the blow and it works for both sides. OK? He threw a blow to your left neck right? You struck his blow with a sweep-hit and he then comes around with a blow to your right side. You "don't" know if he will hit you high, medium, or low to your right side. All you know is that he's coming around now towards "your" other side, by starting your blade high and dropping it all the way down on his left side you can "catch" any blow he may throw, even feints, fakes-outs, abanico's etc. By starting your strike high and going low and facing the angle, there is no blow coming from that side that you can't block, if you time the hit correctly and strike hard. This is how you stop multiple hits, If you do have to block, pass another hit etc., you hit on the next blow. That is your focus, always make him pay for attempting to harm you. If you want his respect, hit him. If he's too fast and you want to slow him down, hit him. Is he big? Hit him. Did he bring friends? Hit him and then them. Is he talking shit with a weapon in his hand? Hit him, If no one is looking and you believe his threats are real towards you and members of your family, hit him. I do not condone violence, but hitting someone has a way of ending hostilities in your favor. I "am" talking about self defense. Anyone with a weapon in their hand and offering violence clearly meets the definition of a self defense situation.
I know that a lot of this is complicated to understand. But, what I wrote is very simple and direct. We want to treat multiple blows as one, quick blows as slow, powerful blows as weak and this normally can't be done without proper foot work and distancing. In the end: If you are in get out. If you are out, stay there. Developing a general feel for the situation really helps. Feeling out opponent's is a wonderful ability. In the end, quickly becoming a general and controlling the playing field, dictating the tempo and limiting your opponent's options may dictate the outcome of a fight. Make him or her fight your fight.
This one was hard to write. Many people practice to prolong fights. Either through frequent drills, sparring etc., and I myself love drilling. But, ending the fight within three blows should be "the" primary focus of training. It is said that you respond in real life how you've trained. If you train to prolong a fight you may respond this way when the bad times come. I once stood outside of a bar in San Francisco and watched my friend who could definitely kick my ass on most days, get his ass kicked by a much less skillful opponent. He blocked several punches and then stepped in with a reverse punch and "pulled it", because that is how he trained! The guy hit him with a relatively slow hook and knocked him down on his ass. Out came my little black book that I write important things down in, "Note: In real life you respond to a fight how you practice." There are a lot of guys making money teaching drills and I know many and like many of these very qualified men. I just wish the drills were pushed into usable techniques. I guess that we should go home and learn to use drills in real life situations, but many don't. They hope to use complicated drill techniques against simple blows. Good Luck.