Day One Thoughts
Material covered: All forehand and backhand blows, basic distance management, side & overhead parries from a point-forward waiting guard.
Initial thoughts: Looks like my reaching out to the local stickfighting community worked. Most of the people signed up are AD folk, many of whom I hassled into submission. Of the four non-duello people signed up, one's a total newcomer (he's only done karate and bjj, so this is his first serious foray into weapon arts), one's our old friend Mike (he couldn't make day one, but he's fairly experienced so should be able to pick the rest up pretty quick), and the other two are local SE Asian stickfighters.
I feel for the new guy. The rest of us only have to repurpose our existing motor skills, he's got to learn a whole new set. It's very interesting to watch his learning curve though. Luis' environmental approach to teaching works really well. I don't know if the new guy realizes how much he's learning incidentally. His martial arts background also helps Luis correct him with a minimum of direction: it's not that he can't move his body the way it needs to move, he just doesn't know how (yet). As long as he doesn't get too overwhelmed I think this is going to be a great experience for him.
At the day's halfway point I was starting to feel a bit of tenderness in my hands, so I put on my gloves. I have a decent set of calluses on my hand from kettlebells and barbell work, but we've been swinging the stick around more than a lot. I suspect the guys that didn't heed the glove warning will not last the week with intact palms.
The day itself was an excellent start. Many many repetitions of basic strikes, many many repetitions of parries. Luis' approach is very natural, and flows intuitively. Sometimes too intuitively. "It really works," Jon said. "I don't always know how it works, but it really does. He just gives you one thing to do and all of a sudden it all comes together." Incorporating the stretch reflex into delivering blows really makes me think of the large duelling sabre molinelli, and they really improve the power of the blows. All of the weapon paths, along with Luis' mechanics, just make it so easy to blast into things with the stick. I've already nudged a few knuckles, mostly by accident, and I hope that we don't get any worse injuries than bruises.
I am fortunate. I have already read all of Luis' books, so the concepts are not new. I am fortunate as well for getting into strength training last year. Everyone was massaging shoulders and thighs when we were done, and I was just feeling gently spent. Just like the last time Luis was in town, it wasn't until towards the end of the day that I was really getting going. By Friday I'll really be having fun.
No idea what tomorrow's going to bring, but I imagine our parries will find their risposte.