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Complicated? Naahhh!

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Uncomplicating the Process
This topic came up again last weekend. What does simplification or uncomplicating mean? The conversation was leaning toward the many Filipino systems. For example, and using a family alias name or two, lets say we are confronted with these numbers:
Johnson Family Kali - Main drill has 5 angles of attack
Jones Family Kali - Main drill has 8 angles of attack
Gonzal Family Kali - Main drill has 10 angles of attack
Loredo Family Kali - Main drill has 14 angles of attack
Paso Family Kali - Main drill has 3 angles of attack
Presas Family - Main drill has 12 angles of attack
Many more for many families

Taking a good look at all these angles you would find several common denominators. The majority have attacks from above, right, left, and below. Not all, but most. Many of the attack angles resemble each other from family to family.

Yet, all are very limited. And, many double and sometimes triple up on the same angle and/or target. Many contain only one stab, the rest slashes! Many have no continuity or semblance to a common sense progression. Many work for slashes, but not stabs. Many ignore the variety of hand grips. Most ignore pommel strikes. It is an interesting study to dissect all of them from a big picture perspective.

Studying and memorizing ALL of them is best left for the true-blue, real Arnis/Kali buff. Someone who truly loves the subject and wants to know what every family does, as a collector's piece. Some Arnis/kali/Escrima students crave complication and crave multi-system study.

Someone else, most people that is, just want the most organized, effective approach to hit a guy with a stick, because they are interested in practical and tactical information. I fall into this category. That is why I processed all these angles and deduced that using the clock pattern is best for most people.

- insures top/bottom, right and left: 12, 3, 6, 9 on the clock
- easily allows for any needed nuisances of numbers in between the big corners
- works easily with all stick grips
- works easily with all slashes, stabs, handle strikes and blocks
- works easily with all hand grips
- offers a thorough attack system for a trainee to react to
- it is IMPOSSIBLE to forget! The Clock!
- this covers all of the families attack angles. Not one is missed or ignored.

Not only is this easier, it is less complicated. The essence of all the families put together. An official treaty. A simplification of ALL families. This is what appears in the SDMS Impact Weapon course and the single stick program of the Pacific Archipelago Combatives course.

Now, take this same equation and run any martial topic through a similar process. All the punches, the kicks, the gun shots, the throws, etc. Most people really want the essence of combat. A smaller percentage want a hobby-esque experience of their favorite subject. Stripping it down like this, removes the hobby, the mystique and destroys the fun for them.

Be aware of this, of the many valid interests of people.


By now, you all know my feeling about the infamous KISS method as a primary method of training. "Keeping It Simple Stupid," to me, means you're stupid, I'm stupid, the system is stupid and we will always remain stupid. I prefer Einstein's phrase - "keep it simple, but not too simple." And with that expression, he discovered the complexities of the Universe.
So much of solving the complexities of the fighting universe comes from the teacher's ability to "reach and teach." Simplify the complex with superior teaching methods. Reach into your student's brain and touch that unforgettable spot (see earlier entry on using the clock as a pattern base for an example).

To prove I am hardly alone in this idea, MANY top trainers find the KISS method just too stupid for its own good. Below, we have guest military and police trainer, U. S. Navy special warfare vet Ken Good of Stategos International in a short essay on this very subject :

"The KISS Principle as a Defense for Inadequate or Sub-Standard Training,
by Ken Good -

This is generally invoked when addressing a more complex system, yet it can be quite an obstacle to actual battlefield superiority. Let's take the principle to the Nth degree and see where it leads.

You are faced with having to dispatch an enemy at twilight. It is a one-on-one engagement to take place on relatively open ground. Both opponents are to start out at a distance separating them at 300 yards, and can initially barely see each other.

Each opponent has, on their respective tables, a few weapons to choose from. One combatant is constrained entirely by the KISS Principle; the other is free to choose his weapons based on the overall environmental considerations and the training he has invested in.

On the table are four weapons:
-a rock,
-a knife,
-a 9mm pistol,
-a 5.56mm M4 Carbine.
What would you choose? One set of tools requires an entire set of skill and knowledge to effectively employ and is exponentially more complicated, and the other is, well, simple....
Does anybody actually believe at this point in history that the United States of America is the dominant superpower because we followed the KISS Principle to the exclusion of all else? You see, in my opinion, the KISS principle is a strong consideration, but should never be the dominant consideration in the world of professional arms.

Skill at arms means exactly that...skill. Skill is the result of consistent, qualitative and meaningful training. There is no getting around that part of the equation. Just because one does not know how to leverage the extra capabilities of a more capable tool does not necessarily make that tool less useful to the more skilled wielder of that tool.

Don't get me wrong--at every turn we should look to simplify whenever and wherever possible. But let's not let the KISS Principle become an excuse to avoid the more complex tasks and training challenges we have to address.

Here is an example of a guy who took what I considered to be a fairly complex process and simplified it for me. Quite a few years ago, I learned to barefoot water-ski in less than 45 minutes from a guy who took a Bronze Medal in the X-Games. I could marginally slalom ski, but was getting pounded into submission trying to figure out how to barefoot. I had a several people try to show me how to barefoot previously, with dismal results....ouch.

A friend of mine set up the time and place to meet this X-Games star. I was uncomfortable, intimidated, if you will, to meet this guy. This was clearly out of my league. The guy recognized this and told me something I will not soon forget. He said, "Don't worry, you will be barefooting, in a few minutes...I am that good!"

I remember thinking, "Man, this guy is cocky!" Turns out, he was that good. During my lesson, he specifically stated that most people really do not understand the dynamics of what is going on with the skier and with the water.

He then gave me an incredibly simple pathway to achieve the biomechanics of what it took to barefoot. Like clockwork, one skill and exercise led and connected to the next. I went from the boom off the side of the boat to a deep water/rope start in less than 30 minutes. In 45 minutes I did some tumble turns and some pretty hard turns and wake crossings, in several cases, on one foot.

I was smiling from ear to ear...He was that good! He really was. It was not what I did, but what he knew and what he knew about how to train people in this particular process. He, no doubt, had taken years of experience, and hours and hours of practice, pain, and frustration and created an almost straight-line pathway to a higher skill level. He distilled it down to what needed to be done, no more, no less.

This is the essence of a good trainer. Skilled at what he or she does, skilled at taking highly complex tasks and making them as simple as possible, without compromising the integrity of the end result and required capability."

*** I agree 110% and Thanks Ken.


Worth re-reading,


and in my case, timely too! thanks

  Amen... The simpler the better.Too many people don't realize that the more time you spend on complex techniques you're doing yourself a great disservice. When the shit hits the fan, you're gonna rely on gross motor movements first. I train maybe 10 core techniques, different angles,entries,etc.I'm not opposed to tryin' out new stuff(in training) but on the spot...Nah, just can't risk it.First time on this forum, really enjoy the site! Really wish I'd signed uo sooner tho. Bought Jim Wagner's Knife from Boker. Now I feel like a schlump.


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