Thursday, August 8, 2013

True Martial Ability ... by GM Ron Saturno

Manong Angel, "You are teaching me outside number one. I first step out to my left after he strikes to the left side of my neck or head and then I must swing my right foot back behind me to re-align my body. Why?" He could have said because "he" said so, but instead smiled and calmly answered my question. Manong Angel answered my question very simply, as he answered most Escrima related questions. He had an innate ability for answering (we felt) complicated questions very simply and that many of us (his students) found very perplexing. Answering my questions very simply was a blessing, because at times I was truly a dumb-ass. I found mystery in the very fiber of Serrada Escrima. Serrada was a deadly art form from a far off Archepalego. Small brown men with fabulous fighting abilities was fascinating. His art had mystical beginnings and hidden origins, yet Manong Angel's answers were never mysterious at all, but were simple, direct, always pushed effectiveness and were usually deadly answers to deadly questions. He always answered simply, but I have grown to discover that taking complex information and being able to distill the information down into simple answers, truly requires thorough knowledge of a subject matter. If you can't answer something very simply: You probably don't really understand the question, or the subject matter. This is where I developed my saying that, "Simple movements practiced over time become deadly". Utter simplicity in my martial arts was something that took years for me to understand and that I have yet to even begin achieving. Simple and direct beats complicated most of the time. Perfect basics are unbelievably hard to perfect and even harder to overcome. To me, a well thought out martial art has to be inherently fast by design, must be easy to apply, must have redundant movements, should not require great physical strength or speed and these are stringent requirements. Asking these things of any martial art is quite a request. Many arts propose that their arts posses these qualities, but unless the individual practitioner of an art fully understands a system's underpinnings and can display their art effectively: Their claims are just words. I didn't know of these things decades ago, nor even cared to know of such things. I just wanted to hit someone, before someone could hit me back. I needed to believe that Serrada Escrima possessed mystical powers and was unbeatable against any opponent. We live and we learn. What the years of practicing my art have done for me is to slowly bring me to the conclusion that "any" art form only provides a theoretical frame work to start from and that if we remain within the given arts basic guidelines, the art form can and will many times get us home safely, if the art is well thought out. Yet, at some point in any martial artist's growth: He must start releasing shackles and the restraints of his parent art and venture forth alone and at times, very lonely. He has to make himself the martial art and not have the art form make him. Any art form is just a guideline. In order for "you" to perfect your self: You must become the guide and "you" must perfect yourself. What someone said or did to help you perfect your self, how ever much appreciated, will never be truly understood by you, until "you" can fully decipher the true meanings of the words and movements given to you and this can only be done when "you" make the effort to do so. In the end,"You may not be seeking to pit your knowledge against your Master's", or seek to develop a new and more improved art and I do see where this may happen. I am talking about fully understanding the underpinnings of your chosen art form by empowering your self. When we can do this...when we can fully decipher a system's movements, theories, applications and taboo's, then and only then do we fully understand our chosen art's. If we can learn to understand the physics of movement, human physiology, human anatomy, psychology, strategy, timing, etc., of man: Than we can move within the guidelines of our system's, or choose to go outside the guidelines at will if needed, because we are "not" limited by anything or anyone, we will understand what few seek and even fewer achieve: True martial ability.