Throughout my notes I interchange between terms such as bolo, espada and espadín. Note that these all mean the same thing to me as they are all terms that describe the swords I use in my play. Espada is the general term for sword, the bolo (Filipino) and espadín (Spanish) are specifically the short swords which is what I choose to play with a blade between 15 and 18 inches in length.
There are only 2 core functions with the blade, the Edge for cuts and the Point for thrusts. It is very simple and should not be portrayed as anything more complex than that. The third function is the advanced manipulation variations of cuts and thrusts. However, it is the fundamental skills that become the true advanced skills.
The sword should be taught in four progressions.
Cuts have their pros and cons just as the thrust do. Cuts offer more protection for the fencer but takes more space and time on the offensive and counter-offensive. Thrusts a quick on the offensive and counter-offensive but provide less protection for the fencer. The fencer however, should not be in complete reliance in the weapon for protection. Awareness, Footwork and the control of measure together are the first line of defense and preservation.
The Cuts are the easiest to develop both physically and visually. They offer the fencer immediate protection as he/she learns to develop reaction into action. In Kali, it is not ideal to be reactive but, rather active in negotiation, decision and action. This takes a great deal of Visual Acuity development, the skill of tracking the blade and lines of the flow. The cuts are the easiest to begin developing visual acuity. As the Kali fencer's visual tracking becomes faster, more acute and advanced he/she are preparing to visually track the thrusts.
In the first use of the thrusts they should be taught agains cuts on the counter-offense and offense. This teaches the basis of seeing the thrust lines in an active way instead of beginning this tracking in a reactive manner.
The progression of training will set the standard of the fencer's potential in skill growth. This is the importance of a well organized system, curriculum and training continuum.
As I scroll through texts of past master teachers in the play of swords and blades and listen to interviews of today's and yesterdays best masters, I think I understand what they where expressing when it comes to not really wanting to teach.
I have been torn with this same conflict for a few years now. As I would love to teach and share the true skills learned, as far as I experience, the majority of people in the martial arts would not qualify to be a student.
Most Martial Artists today have been conditioned to be fools or perhaps majority simply don't poses the intelligence or is it more that so many people have become an ignorant product of their environments? Whatever the reason is I no long question why these masters had so few students. Even today, those who pass the true skills of these cultures have at best 2 or maybe 3 true students at most. This is for their lifetime.
I understand most are interested in the entertainment value they receive from the spectatorship. To fill a void or a lack of something inside themselves. They are not interested in the true skill development just the seemingly knowledge of the "True Skill."
In today's time the average martial arts student puts in 1.5-2 hours of training per week for 45 weeks out of the 52 of a year and at this rate they last an average of 6 to 18 months. Maybe this is acceptable for the simplicities of self defense training but, to develop the true performance of weaponry this is not.
I have tested this over many years now. When I teach bullshit people rave and praise about it. When I teach something true they choose skepticism and yet these people will criticize the "McDojo" scene. Seems to me what the criticize is what they are truly valuing and seeking.
The result of these experiments over the years have concluded to something a past teacher told me before when I asked him a direct question.
I asked this teacher, "why do people not see or want to train the true skills? His reply, "Why teach these people the true skills, they will never know the difference anyway."
In my personal experience, out of all the people I have taught over the past decade I can say without a doubt only a handful out of the hundreds are REAL students and REAL practitioners of the art. The rest are just passer buyers, looking to consume rather than invest.
This will lead to the inevitable loss of these true skills, principles and training methodologies, though it doesn't really matter anyway. People say they train martial arts for self defense, perhaps this is truly true. Either way life is more wanted than needed as the same goes for the skills of a martial art.
My study in the martial arts is mine alone. I did not begin this lifestyle in pursuit of entitlements and reputations. My interest has remained the same, the curiosity of the blade and of my ancestry. I do not study the sword in care of mastering it, I care about mastering only my life as for when it is over and death comes for my body I will exit with the most humbling experience.
I believe that no matter which path one chooses to venture they will all lead the individual to their same destination. There is no control of what the end is but, only control in how one gets there. It is my belief the blade is an integral part of human nature and nature itself. One should experience as much of nature as possible within this lifetime.
There is no culture above others in the subject of the blade. No matter the culture it comes down to the personal performance and ingenuity of the knowledge and experience. This is above the specific art itself. Live with virtue and value and performance and ingenuity are certain in personal growth.
My earliest introduction to the sword was from my early childhood. Call it "love at first sight," call it "destined to be." There is no practical reason why I continue to practice this today as I approach my midlife. I have spent too much time pondering upon this and keep coming to the conclusion, to ponder this is not a fulfillment of time used. In my conclusion, one does not need a reason beyond simply being human to study the sword.
My first exposure to training was through Kali (Filipino Martial Arts) I studied through great teaches from various systems and methods, however, questions where left unanswered and new questions would arise. Much of my study turned to methodology comes from primary research and study in Kali, Spanish and Italian swordplays which all are integrated into my personal blend of strategy, tactics, technique and methods.
I find all these cultures and practicing to hold pieces of truths to the greater whole as they all overlap one another both in performance and methodologies and history. Humans have been spreading this knowledge for millennia from father to child and culture to culture. It is my belief the knowledge of the sword belongs to no one and rather to the all.
I chosen to use the term "Kali" with no other word attached to it simply for 2 reasons.
Make no assumption, my method of the sword is not Filipino nor Spanish. It is ALL and it is mine.
I truly respect all of my teachers throughout my martial art studies and carry immense gratitude for what I have learned from them all but, I do not think it is correct to give them credit for the time I chose to put into my practice, as a believe no student should ever credit their teacher for the work they have done themselves. If it wasn't for the student, there would be no teacher.
My martial arts study is for my own gain and not in the interest of preserving any knowledge. Preservation is up to my students as I am set to die with my skills. I will teach those who are interested in learning from me but, not for preservation of knowledge reasons but, rather to carry forth my own personal study and for my student to experience and gain what they need and want from the sword.
I do not study this in anticipation of self defense or fear of loss nor death, I study this because I am simply alive.
Now that the foundation of my personal philosophy is clear I can continue.
It does not matter to me if another agrees or disagrees or critiques with anything I write in this blog. My experiences are for no one else other than myself. I share this for those who are curious about my personal approach and study of the arts, since "teacher" is part of my nature and ridicule naturally comes with this nature. I know that many who ridicule my approach practice my teachings in secret.