Stick Flow

It was a cold day yesterday as is today.

I stood on the balcony, going through moves from the single stick and double sticks. Somehow the swings got faster and faster, and before I knew it I was taking moves from here and there and just making up the sequences as I went along.

Tuhon said that the basics for flowing freely resides in drills such as the angles of attack, the loading positions, the single stick vs double sticks drills, etc. This is why we are urged to drill them by the thousands.

I don’t really know how many times I have practiced the drills. I just practice them.

Kali Progress Check

Today I took my iKali progress check with two fellow students on Zoom. Reflections of my experience :-

a) Just because its through Zoom doesn’t make it any less easy

b) You can never prepare enough. With this in mind I prepared for L1M1 and L1M2 flows. Better to over prepare than under prepare but even then be prepared to be surprised.

For example, I learned the L1M2 flow one way then later a slightly different version was presented. So I focused on the 2nd version as that was the one that was covered in the live Zoom progress check.

Today we did the 1st version. Fortunately, I had done the 1st version before. The difference was that in the 1st version the EH part came first but in the 2nd version the Blade X-factor came first. It was good that we didn’t do it as a continuous flow so it wasn’t much of a problem.

c) Watch the feeder!!! This is a very important part for doing progress check. In the Zoom class our flow always started by stepping to the right then left. For some reason when it came to DS X-factor we started with high X-factor on the left then on the right. Later this version was changed to right high X-factor then left X-factor which made it consistent with the other drills.

Because I watched the videos for the Zoom classes so I did two versions and settled on the 2nd version. Today out of habit I did the 2nd version when the feed was for the 1st version. In retrospect it didn’t really matter because the DS X-factor can work whether I stepped to the right or left. Only thing is when the 2nd high strike came I wouldn’t need to step.

All I had to do was slow down, listen, watched and respond accordingly. Because I didn’t slow down enough when we went through the SS counters the timing threw me off at first. I normally would practice as each counter do once. The first sequence we did today called for 2 reps each time.

Yes, watch the feeder, watch the feeder. You react the way you train. If today’s progress check had been a live situation instead of a test I might have been hit more than necessary because I didn’t always react as I should by watching the feeder.

d) One thing I have never really prepared for was to train with sweat on the sticks. Normally I would wipe the sweat off. Today I was momentarily caught with sweat on the sticks and the flow started so I had to carry on with the possibility of the sticks flying off my slippery hands. I adapted by slowing a bit and not hitting too hard but I still had to follow the feeder’s pace.

This is what I like about the iKali class. Nothing is dumbed down. We are held to a high standard even though its virtual learning. The content could have been lesser to make it easier but no, we have a good balance of content, quite a lot actually as Master Ace pointed out at one time, but it makes for a good push to make us learn better.

The Zoom classes for L1M3 begins next week and I will join in. Fortunately, Eastern Standard time is 13 hours behind so the class will only begin at 6.30 am.

iKali Training

Training in iKali : Art of Blade

I am offering to share my knowledge of iKali free to anyone who is interested to pick it up. The learning will be focused on gaining functionality via mutual beneficial (spirit of bayanihan) training to elevate each other’s skill. iKali training is especially suitable for kids and mature adults.

In general four areas will be covered :-

a) Double sticks
b) Single stick
c) Blade
d) Empty Hand

Training duration 1.5 hours in the south west area (near Yew Tee MRT) every Friday night 7 to 8.30 pm.

Requirement – bring a pair of rattan sticks (contact me for info on where to buy), water, wear a mask and comfortable clothing.

As per COIVD-19 Phase III requirements not more than 8 participants will be allowed. A physical distancing of 2m (i.e. 2 arms-length) between individuals should be maintained at all times.

If interested contact me via PM or leave a comment here.

Not Thinking 2

Another interesting info from “The Power of Not Thinking” :-….. imagining an action without executing it activates the same neural pathways.

Simply put, thinking of performing an action shows up in the brain as if the action had actually been performed.

I first read about this in a book, I think it was called Mind Gym. This explains why sometimes a good way to train arts such as Tai Chi is by sitting there and going through the movements mentally.

By constraining your outer physical movements you are forced to feel your inner physical movements. For example, the concept of Jing Yuen (劲源) is not easy to understand mentally but by stilling your body and using your imagination to do the movement process you can easily feel the Jing Yuen move and voila! suddenly a few more insights will come to mind.

I carefully observed Tuhon when I first learned iKali because certain things are different from what I had learned in CMA. I could ask questions but it would be more interesting not to ask and tried to learn by observing.

This book validated this learning approach in the story of how apprentices learn to build a minaret in Yemen without formal instructions or allowed to ask questions freely. One anthropologist called this “stealing knowledge with their eyes”. Tuhon Apolo said something similar about his learning from Grand-Tuhon.

Less is More

The FMA Bayanihan Sabayan Taho was held over Zoom on 12 Dec 2020. The seminar presented tons of information, so much so it was enough to drown me mentally 100 times over.

Thankfully, the video of the seminar will be posted up for viewing and learning. Instead of the raw video Master Ace will present the recorded video in a series of shorter digestible clips.

And what a great job he has done from the looks of the clips that have already been put up. For once I am grateful that the clips are slowly being put up as this will give me the time to look, see, remember, digest and retain something.

I dived in and had a look at the first clip of Tuhon Apolo teaching the basics of what Grand-Tuhon Leo T. Gaje, Jr had presented earlier.

Barely five minutes in I stopped watching. OK, that’s a lot of information. Let me stop and digest it before I come back for more. Less is more.

Dealing with the Unexpected

Peace is good. Violence is bad. But when sudden, out of the blue, unexpected violence such as this (click here for article) hits what do we do?


Dive for cover?

Fight back?

Call police?

Whip out the phone and start shooting video?

We can give all sorts of answers as to what we can do and want to do. However, the reality is until violence visits us and stares us in the face we can’t say for sure what we will actually do.

To paraphrase Tuhon Apolo Ladra, my teacher in iKali, it is what you don’t see that gets you. For example, you may be fighting with someone and chain punching him into oblivion until his buddy comes from behind and hits you in the head. Then your imminent victory becomes sudden defeat.

We can never be sure what violence and when it will come down on us, if ever. The only thing we can be in control of is our training, what we train, how we train, what is our skill level like, how is our reaction, and so on.

If you are attacked by a knife wielding person tomorrow what would you do assuming you can see it coming? Run? Can you? What if you can’t? What then? Fight without knowing how but at least you die fighting, right? Or fight with some idea as to what to do?

Just because I know Tai Chi does not mean I can handle a knife attack. That’s a fact. Fajing ability does not equal knife handling skill.

Tuhon Apolo said something else that makes sense – you can’t handle a knife attack if you do not know what a knife attacker can be capable of. I know some knife disarms before I learned Kali and I have seen videos of masters teaching how to fight against a knife attack.

After learning Kali knife method and strategies I would advise to run when you see a knife attacker and if you can’t then you better have a good plan that you have trained for when this day would come. I know I don’t which is why I must train.

I have seen videos where the person playing the attacker would do an attack and then wait for the master to counter. Is this realistic? My advice is learn how people in Kali use the blade and then assess for yourself if such counters would work. You don’t even have to learn advanced and fancy knife skills, just the basic skills would.

Your life is basically in your hands. Its not in mine and it is not in your teacher’s nor the police. When something like a knife attack comes you can either run or you have to handle and pray that what you know works. My prayer is simple – that I never have to use what I know. Until then I would follow Tuhon Apolo’s advice to hit 10,000 repetitions to ingrain the muscle memory and develop further from there.