Monday, June 06, 2005

Monday, June 06, 2005

I've just been writing final papers for my classes in school and working out. Other than that, not too much new. Currently, I'm finishing up a paper about the colonial origins of the opium trade in Southeast Asia. It is interesting, as it goes into much more depth than the usual "British sell opium to China from India" line we all got in high school/college.

I started taking up an escrima/knife fighting class two Saturdays ago. Because of the seminar with Shiroma Sensei, I am very much interested in knife and gun self-defense. I'm not sure exactly what all styles it comprises. The teacher goes through various cycles of knife, empty hand and weapons. The teacher strikes me as pretty talented and certainly knows his way around a knife, which is my primary consideration.

My first class with him last Saturday was nice. We ended up doing some knife flow drill (possibly Silat?) where the person with the knife does about a dozen attacks and the defender...defends. I like this one because it is open-ended at the final move, meaning the attacker or defender can "win" depending on how well they respond. The focus was on body rotation without giving up any ground and blocks were performed softly with both bones of the forearm. From technique to technique, the defender was supposed to "ride out" techniques by matching the opponent's energy and subtly guiding his knife away from you. The drill was obviously more for flow than pure practicality, as all the attacker needed to do would disengage his hand and withdraw quickly and the defender would be left with a cut arm. Some of it was annoying, as I would push or pull to "feel out" one of my partners who then got up on a soapbox about the utterly passive nature of the defender in this aspect. He stated that when I was tense, he could use that to his advantage and cut me, yet when he tried, he could not. What he didn't realize is that I was the one actually manipulating him (crudely, I admit, I'm not some expert) by forcing a change in his energy, but whatever. Something about him just rubbed me the wrong way. He seems nice enough, but a bit to eager to "teach" when he isn't the best model to follow. I of course am perhaps guilty of the same thing, but I try to do it a bit more diplomatically. The instructor later on of course fell into the whole condenscending "Oh, you come from a very hard karate style so I'm sure you will have some trouble adjusting" line...which was a bit annoying considering the dual hard and soft nature of Shorin Ryu in all actuality. Regardless of how hard or soft I am (I consider myself aware of if not somewhat attuned to the soft nature of it all), he's got his facts a bit wrong. But I'm just there to be a sponge and soak up as much as I can, so I won't let any of that bother me. It will be interesting to see how things play out when it comes to empty hand...As some of them do (and the instructor teaches elements of) Wing Chun, I think they fall into the trap of putting it on some pedestal because Bruce Lee was supposedly good at it. But I digress. It is at least fun to have some focused knife training and a lot of my karate principles come in handy (as expected).

As for the future, pretty much all my papers and final exams will be done in a week from Wednesday. A few days after that, I will get to go to Kyoshi Perry's dojo and train there, which is something I look forward to. After that, I'll go to Glacier Park in Montana for the Karateforums.com gathering. Unfortunately, it seems a bunch of the people backed out and now I'm the only one going except for the host...(I bought tickets and all, so I'm still going). Either way, I'm sure it will be an interesting time and a chance to learn from one of the guys who really has his head on straight.