Thursday, September 27, 2007

Defend Yourself at All Times ...


In a boxing match, when the referee is giving pre-fight instructions to the boxers, there is a line he always says as part of it: "Remember to protect yourself at all times."

What this means is just what it says: The bell might ring, ending the round, the ref might wave the other guy off, but if you drop your guard, thinking it is safe, you might get pasted right on the kisser.

This is a lesson I haven't quite learned in silat class, alas. More than once, I've gotten tagged after the (metaphorical) bell has rung, ending the round. My own fault, of course, for trusting my sneaky fellow silat players ...

Here's how it generally goes: There is an exchange. Sometimes it's a pre-arranged attack and response. Sometimes, it can come in the freestyle circle. We dance in, do our thing, and once it is over, I relax, heading back to my corner to repeat the sequence.

Now and again, the other player adds a little more to the end. After we are finished ...

Seems like most of the time this is a sweep, and for some reason, almost always is a sapu luar (outside sweep).

Cutting them slack, I'll allow that they were just a little slow to finish, or not able to do the set and stop it in time. Being a little less forgiving, I sometimes think they did it on purpose, just to see if it will work. (If you want to know if the thing will take down somebody who isn't expecting it, this is a way to check. If you do it right, it will.)

We haven't been working the circle lately, so it hasn't happened as much, but sure enough, most recent class, I got a nice little brush burn on the right elbow. I was all done, standing straight up, turning away, and my opponent added a little post-clash sweep. I wasn't prepared, not expecting it, and when I stepped out, whap! Right into the sand ...

It used to irritate me no end. Hey, we're done here! No hitting after the bell! You want me to show you how it feels next time? Because I surely can, and would be happy to do so, if you really want to know ...

But: I realized that I was ignoring the ref's instruction. That's the point of useful martial arts -- they have to work whether you are all prepared and expecting problems or not. And you must protect yourself at all times.

Now and again, this gets tricky; in order to allow somebody to do a certain technique a certain way, you have to, well, allow it. Where you might ordinarily block or counter or do nine other things, you don't, so that they can learn how to do it properly. 'Tis the nature of the beast: In allowing them the access to do this, you allow them access to do that.

Sometimes, they take the shot.

I mean, up to me, why would I let you get into a position to take me down with a beset dalam when I could mess that up by smacking you on the nose with a nice hard elbow, hey? Except that, we are here to learn, and it isn't a good idea to break your toys if you want to keep playing.

So it comes back to the old belief I've had for years. If I know you are trying to hit me and I don't dance or block it, it's my fault. I know how. And I ought to be sensitive enough by now to feel it coming ...

Ought to. Really ...

1 comment:

Michael B. said...

Dirty arts bro....I tell my guys the same thing...don't slack off in class or your gonna get cracked.

I learned these same painful lessons as well, I've been busted up, bloodied and broke down on many of occasion for not coming correct.

As Master Yuli says "move or die" and with him it means just that as all the training is done with a live blade...no room for half stepping there!