Monday, October 16, 2006

Doblecada seminar review by Joshua

This is an excellent write-up sent by Joshua, one of my students who attended yesterday's seminar. With his permission, I'm posting it here. - Jeff


I wish more of us could have attended the Visayan Corto Kadena doblecada seminar yesterday; an amazing amount of information was presented in just those few hours -- enough to fill my practice hours for months, I would guess -- and presented in a way that was easy to understand (and I hope will be easy to retain).

The personal attention each person received from the instructors made the class a very efficient one (it seemed as if there was always someone close by watching and helping us adjust what we were doing, so it was possible to quickly "catch" the movements and techniques presented, and that let the class move quickly through the material), and the other students were a pleasure to work with.

The instructors stressed safety and precision, which seem to be trademarks of Sonny Umpad's guros just as they are with our classes, and they were very much hands-on, giving individual attention, adjusting posture or stance, explaining and demonstrating fine points of technique, and frequently working one-on-one, throughout the four hours.

The material they presented ranged from Maestro Sonny's inside roll through a series of techniques that build speed and power through leverage and spring-loading. From my perspective (as someone very new to this style), the Visayan double-stick techniques seem to stress extreme economy of motion, especially hand motion (which naturally brings speed), the development of power through spring-loading and leverage using one's own body and sticks as fulcrums (and also the opponent's body and sticks), and what I'll call "deceptiveness" -- in which body angling and footwork combine with line of attack and the economy of motion and the spring-loading that are built into the hand and stickwork, so as to make it very difficult to read the attacks; they seem to come out of nowhere. Although we worked with sticks, the instructors stressed blade orientation throughout and the seminar ended with a stunning espada y daga demonstration (using the sequence of techniques we had been working for the previous hour) that showed clearly why it is of such importance.

(I was fortunate in being able to practice this same sequence, using blades, with one of the instructors, Chris Suboreau, at the end of the class; he demonstrated some of the finer points and sharpened my understanding.)

There was also training gear available for purchase. One of Maestro Sonny's longtime friends, Kenny Gee, brought padded practice sticks and a piece of training gear whose name I don't know (I'll call it a quiet target and describe it in a minute), and one of the Visayan students brought high-quality aluminum training knives and swords.

The quiet target training device (I bought one and will bring it to our next Wednesday practice if anyone is interested in seeing it) is a 6' length of heavy canvas (I think) tubing about 3" wide, grommeted at both ends so that it can be hung from a hook or beam and held steady with a weight at the bottom. Inside it is what feels like heavy chain (see "comment" for correction of this). It allows for precise targeting and full-power strikes, and it's portable enough that it really could be hung almost anywhere. It looks like it can take the impact of "real" sticks just fine, but together with the padded practice sticks it's QUIET ... if you live alone in a wilderness this is probably not important to you, but if there are others nearby who might be affected by the repeated impact of a hard stick on, let's say, a 2x4 upright, the value of a relatively quiet target increases.

Overall, anyone who went would have taken away enough to practice and think about for a long time, and of course this barely scratched the surface. I hope that the Visayan Corto Kadena instructors will keep doing seminars! If anyone gets a chance to attend one in future -- I'd say, "Just Do It."