Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I ♥ Weapons

Last night (Tuesday) we had our second Escrima class. I really enjoy it. I also enjoy working with the bo staff (and Thursday night is Bo Night in class…Yay!)

I don’t’ know what it is about sticks that captivates me. Maybe it’s the fact that a 28” stick in each hand extends your reach. And a bo staff extends your reach by almost 6 feet! Don’t you find this comforting? As a 5’4” woman, I know I do.

I also enjoyed the class we had on using knives. Of course, we used rubber or wooden training knives, but I found learning the basic movements very interesting. I remember feeling like Jack Sparrow doing the swashbuckling like fluid movements. It was exhilarating.

We don’t train in guns, as we shouldn’t, but we do practice self defense techniques using rubber and wooden training guns in the attacker role.

But escrima and bo staffs are a sticking point with me. (Pun intended.) As I said earlier in this post, the extended reach these weapons provide holds some of the allure, but I am quite sure that is not my main reason of attraction to this form of weaponry.

When I learned the first bo kata, I didn’t even realize it was a kata. I just assumed that was the way you handled the 6 foot stick. But as I learned it, and went through the rhythmic movements, I realized it was actually kata – my favorite part of martial arts – and I started trying to practice it as such. One of our senseis showed Rose and I how to do the second bo kata about 3 months ago or so and she caught on pretty easily. She attributed that to her having been a baton twirler (Is”baton twirler” a PC term? J) But I just was not ready to learn it yet. I know that sounds like a cop-out, and maybe it is, but I’d like to think it’s not and that I truly was not ready or not in the right frame of mind to learn the 2nd bo kata last time because I’m telling you - I just couldn’t get it for some reason.

In our escrima training, I am finding a common denominator in working with bo staffs…that almost choreographed-like patterns of movement. Again, very similar to kata. A woman in my class with whom I was working last Tuesday and this Tuesday said she wishes we were trained in the bo staff in the same way we are being trained in the basic escrima movements. Starting with the first section of the bo kata, practicing it until we have that down, then adding in the next section, and just building until we have learned the bo kata in full. I told her to suggest this. It was a valid point. However, we only do one bo class per session – so usually maybe 3 per year total, whereas we are working with escrima every week for about half of our session – probably about 6 – 8 weeks or something like that. The frequency does make quite a bit of difference in how well you “take” to learning something new. I know that’s true with me and I think it’s safe to say that is probably a pretty universally true statement.

Whatever the case, kata is still my favorite part of martial arts, but I have to say, in finding how much I enjoy the elegance and kata-like qualities of escrima and bo staff, I would have to say the practice of these weapons are a close second in my book.

Since I have been in class, we have not explored stars or other forms of weaponry, but I think it would be a study I would enjoy. This is another one of those things that I love about martial arts – learning unexpected things about yourself through studying them. I would have never in a million years pegged myself as someone who would enjoy working with weapons.

And an added bonus - I still love to see the looks on people’s faces when, on Tuesday afternoon, I say I need to get going because I don’t want to be late for my weapons class.


Ikigai said...

Great post mam! I also <3 kobudo and weapons.

Can I throw out a couple of bo tidbits? You can impress your friends with this, just break it out in casual conversation-

The six foot bo is actually called the rokushaku bo.Roku means six (ichi, ni, san...), and shaku is an ancient japanese method of measurement (roughly a foot). Further, you needn't refer to it as "bo staff", since that's actually a little repetitive. It would be kinda like saying sai truncheon, or nunchaku flail.

I'm excited that you are taking to these weapons so well; I look forward to reading about your adventures with them.

Sorry to get all factoidy in your comments, I couldn't help myself.

Perpetual Beginner said...

Hee! Another convert!

Isshinryu uses three weapons: bo, sai, and tonfa(tuifa). So far I know one kata for each, and am learning our second bo kata. My bo and tonfas are the only really quality pieces of karate gear I own. The bo was a gift, custom made from osage orange. My tonfas are new, my husband made them for me from another piece of osage orange.

The bo is my favorite weapon thus far, but getting some better tonfas has much improved my opinion of them. I'll like them even more when I stop whacking myself.

Michele said...

I love kobudo. My favorite weapons are the bo and tunfa while my least favorite is the kama. The problem is that I started buying weapons (especially bo) like some people buy shoes. I have bo with different wood selection, diameter, color and weight. I have one bo that was made from a company that is now out of business. It was the cheapest bo I bought but it is my favorite. I have to hide it from my husband (he has broken a few).

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Steve said...

In my martial arts training prior to BJJ, we trained with weapons as well. I enjoyed the sticks more than anything. The weight of an escrima stick just felt good.

There's something very relaxing in doing sinawali for 20 minutes or until your arms feel like they're going to fall off. :)

Martial Arts Mom said...

We worked on bo katas last night. I am just having such a hard time remembering the proper order of just drives me nuts!!!(But I still love it!)

Diver Daisy said...

I miss playing with sticks!!!!

Martial Arts Mom said...

Diver doesn't have to be that way!Everyone thought you dropped for good and I set them straight Thursday and told them you'll be back next session - maybe even before this one is over. Everyone was happy to hear that - even Sensei said,"Oh, good. I thought she had quit for good." So, you just GOTTA come back soon!

m.a.l.s. (Him) said...

Aren't the sticks great? My wife and I love them! We study Modern Arnis part-time, about an hour and a half a week. I've never had so much fun getting bruises. I highly recommend you get "Modern Arnis" by Remy Presas. It really explains the fundamentals.

Martial Arts Mom said...

m.a.l.s. (him) - I don't want to sound "stupid" but is "Arnis" the practice of weaponry? Then again, there are no stupid questions, right? That's what I love about the martial arts community - everyone respects what others do know and even what they DON'T know. I will try to get a copy of that book. Thanks for the recommendation.

MALS (Her) said...

Arnis and Escrima (and Kali) are different words for the same basic art - Filipino stick fighting.

The difference is subtle and there are tons of variants (as many as the Phillipine Islands!) and which term you use is really depends on what part of the Phillipines your instructor (or his/her instructor) comes from.

All of the variants have a 26-30" stick of rattan (or white waxwood or whatever), which is really a substitute for a machete in real life.

Happiness is my white waxwood 26" stick in my hand and my (way better than me) instructor making me defend myself as hard as I can from being seriously injured. I must be insane - but I'm smilin'!

Coincidentally, I will be starting bo in about a week and a half as well!

--M.A.L.S. (Her)

Martial Arts Mom said...

M.A.L.S. (Her) - I love, love love bo! You'll love it if you like eskrima (or escrima) get the gist...