Refinement; the highest form of combative development

Discussion in 'Lameco' started by Guro Dave Gould, Dec 3, 2014.

  1. Guro Dave Gould


    There is much to be said about ones development in the Warrior Arts of the Philippines. Opinions vary as does specific reasoning for our individual involvement and aspirations regarding these Warrior Arts of ours. Some favor technique, combative principles and concepts while others place value in ability and actual effect which can only be revealed through countless hours of sparring or actual fighting. Even though learning and instilling a rigid curriculum of various technique, concepts and principles is very important, I feel that refinement is the highest level to be obtained in our efforts of realizing our truest combative effect. Therefore refinement is beyond essential in obtaining the highest levels of our system of Lameco Eskrima.
    Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite always spoke to me a great deal regarding our very far reaching and diverse curriculum in the Lameco Eskrima System and he placed a great emphasis in learning and assimilating the entire curriculum as we advanced through the system. However he always said that the proper foundation of combative attributes and well developed reactions was of most value. In Lameco Eskrima we do not have "advanced" techniques per-se, rather we have basic techniques which work well but are then refined to be more efficient by minimizing risk while maximizing gain in the same instance. This is what Punong Guro Sulite regarded as "advanced" technique in the Lameco Eskrima System, not doing more but doing less, not becoming more complex in our methodology but rather becoming more simplistic and to the point.
    When I was training the Lameco Eskrima System privately under the direct tutelage of Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite from 1992 - 1997 many things were revealed to me through my interactions with him during each training session between us. The vast majority of the more essential things came while sparring against him after each private session. This was not an easy feat to endure as I was always found out of position and he would counter right away leaving me to defend far more than be on the offensive. I used to blame myself for screwing up and felt that I did not have a full grasp of what he was teaching me but after countless sparing sessions with him I found that I was being maneuvered out of position on purpose by him and then made to pay for that mistake.
    I was told that I had to maintain proper distance, to pull back just outside of my opponent`s reach to protect myself from a barrage of imminent attacks and counter attacks as they were being attempted on my person, but not find myself so far out of range at any time that I could not take advantage of opportunity when it was exposed and made available to me in real time. Then he brought to my attention the importance of power, speed and timing. In their rawest form my basic attributes worked well but in their present configuration they were never enough to give me the edge when I would spar against him.
    I would always ask myself why I was always the one getting hit and I very seldom hit him with equal value? This is what he told me when I would say that I was not getting it: "Dabe, you learn more from training sessions which reveal to you specific areas where there is need for much improvement more-so than you do from dominant performances where you excel as opposed to struggle". By being forced to fail in my training with him at times forced me to self critique and investigate my failures. In doing so I found solutions to the majority of my issues and was able to see fault within myself that I never previously knew existed. This forced me to evaluate my performance on a whole different level and to appreciate what adversity and challenge brings to the training equation. He opened my eyes to my numerous weakness` in a way that I had no choice but to address them if I wanted to become a more effective fighter.
    Failure did not come easy to me and it made me swallow a huge amount of pride but once he opened my eyes and revealed my weakness` to me I worked at a feverous pitch to try and diminish my weakness` as I increased my strength. He told me that I had to refine my attributes to a very high level of efficiency. That my power was immense but I telegraphed when I struck at him, that my speed was sufficient but I was slow in perceiving and reacting to counter strikes as well as being slow in perceiving unexpected threats, that my timing was good but I had to time to center at the exact time that my opponents strike went from positive to negative, at the precise point where the strike went from being a threat and became opportunity at the very second that center was violated.
    So I began to refine, I became non-telegraphic in my striking without sacrificing speed and power in the process, I increased my physical speed by quickening my ability to perceive threats faster and process that information at a much faster rate which allowed me to initiate more quickly concentrating not so much on the rate of speed as being defined from the point of initiation to the point of contact but rather from the point of perception to the point of contact. And I refined my timing to the very point that the threat became opportunity and I began to counter immediately as soon as opportunity was perceived not allowing for wasted time that would allow my opponent to counter me before I could strike on target.
    The five levels in training technique, combative concepts and combative principles in which Punong Guro Sulite placed most value were: 1)- Learn. 2)- Watch. 3)- Perceive. 4)- React. 5)- Refine. He told me that when dealing with my opponent in random exchange I first needed to "learn" what to do to strike my opponent or to prevent my opponent from striking me. Then I had to "watch" for opportunities where I could strike my opponent. Then I had to "perceive" unexpected threats which left me vulnerable to my opponents counter attacks. Then I had to "react" to those unexpected threats as they would reveal themselves to me in random exchange removing them quickly so that I could re-engage my opponent in stopping him. Then I had to refine my movement, chiseling away all wasted movement and concentrate on the more essential components of what I did in an effort to make everything with which I responded not just effective but efficient, doing no more than was required in taking my opponent out quickly but not doing so much that I leave myself vulnerable in the aftermath of my reactions.
    Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite told me that when I learned and became proficient I then had to refine and become more efficient by doing less not more. Every technique, every reaction, every concept, every principle had to be refined to great efficiency if I were to be a great fighter one day. To this day I refine which I have discovered is a life long pursuit. It is daily decrease not daily increase which refines ones craft the most. Until I move at the speed of lightning and strike my opponent with the sound of thunder will I consider myself complete. Since both are just outside my probability right now I continue to refine and make myself more efficient.
  2. Aric_Ashgrove

    Aric_Ashgrove New Member

    Great essay and I think often overlooked topic starter! For me, in my progression in armed martial arts, I have had great success with the understanding of refinement in techniques. Firstly I mean in reducing to the ones that work for my body type build, and level of fitness, or what feels more natural and I tend to repeat instinctively in sparring. I have also definitely improved my economy of motion in training Lameco Eskrima with my hands/arms, with at least one noteworthy source of understanding, available to all being: PG Sulite's Essential Single Stick DVDs. However the one reduction, refinement or evolution that is going the slowest or hardest is my footwork. I have very strong and fit legs. The issue I have, especially in sparring is covering way too much distance. I am moved long out of range when withdrawing (though I have better control when closing distance). I favor long range in sparring, as it is my stronger suit, and resort to grappling skills when the distance is closed. In Lameco Eskrima particularly the two I need to improve would be Atras Y Abante, Pata Gilid, and Ilag Lihis. All of those footworks are used in HEMA (though differently named), which is the other family of martial arts I train as well. I do pretty poorly combining footwork in Palosutan as an example. So the point of my post here, is to gather any insights folks here may have in improving, or clever ideas for drills, or confessions of experience in their own personal development on this. Thank you for any help any one!
  3. Guro Dave Gould


    Aric-Ashgrove, you wrote: "However the one reduction, refinement or evolution that is going the slowest or hardest is my footwork. I have very strong and fit legs. The issue I have, especially in sparring is covering way too much distance. I am moved long out of range when withdrawing (though I have better control when closing distance). I favor long range in sparring, as it is my stronger suit, and resort to grappling skills when the distance is closed". Actually GM Jose D. Caballero, GM Antonio "Tatang" Ilustrisimo and PG Edgar G. Sulite all espoused that the line of engagement was the primary point of contention as opposed to just mere footwork. As a matter of fact all three thought that any footwork which required movement of more than 18 inches to be covered was too much distance to recover resulting from the fighter not maintaining the line of engagement well enough allowing too much distance to be placed between the two fighters. PG Sulite taught us to stay just outside of the reach of our opponents weapon, feet, hands or what ever the threat may be. By doing this you reduce the amount of deficit which has to be recovered just to get back to neutrality that being '"the line of engagement". PG Sulite moved more in terms of 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and full steps which would range between 2 inches to 12 inches and every distance in-between as this allowed him to inch forward to take advantage of opportunity as it was created and have to only inch back to get just outside of the reach of his opponent again. It does not matter if your opponent misses you by an inch or by a mile as long as he misses you, however if he misses you only by an inch than you have considerably less distance to move forward to take advantage of opportunity when it is exposed versus moving much further back where you will not be able to access that opportunity because you have to recover so much distance that by the time that you are close enough to take advantage of the opportunity it will be closed to you or removed altogether. That is why it is important to train in real time speed or as close to real time speed as is possible. The faster the attack the smaller the window of opportunity will be. As a matter of fact PG Sulite taught us that a "window" of opportunity was an exaggeration that only exists when training slow or extending your hand out for 30 seconds or more in compliance as opposed to striking with real time speed and power. Against real time strikes you will be required to counter not with-in a "window" of opportunity but rather with-in the "crack" at the bottom of the window as it quickly closes shut and with it any and all opportunity which was revealed and exposed to you in the process. The thing that takes the most time to develop, form and instill are the basic attributes which PG Sulite just called "combative movement" and developing a delivery system effective enough to deliver your deadly intent with success when it is required of you to defend life and limb on the streets. A lot of that is learning to move against an opponent and in addition to developing and honing ; speed, timing, power and position focusing much attention on determining proper distance and mastering the line of engagement, not against just one opponent but against as many as 5 as this will be closer to reality regarding how you may be forced to defend life and limb should you be accosted in the streets one night when you were other wise minding your own business. Learning to move with positive effect against a lone attacker is totally different than moving against 5 or more people on many different levels. Sparring is absolutely detrimental to your success if you want to become an effective fighter. The more that you fight the better that you will become, but in saying that there has to be a method to your fight game which diminishes brawling and replaces mere intent with positive results, each fight and each fighter becomes a testament to your combative effect learning all of the nuances of the combative equation and learning to dissect each opponent as you attempt to figure out and problem solve his energy and timing.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2014

Share This Page