Sunday, February 10, 2008


In our silat class, we have had recently an influx -- well, okay, maybe not so much an influx as a few -- new students joining. Since the classes aren't separated into beginners and advanced these days, we have been incorporating the new guys, and necessarily going back over basics of our art.

Every time we go back to the roots, I see them in a new way; but what doesn't seem to change is that the foundations' primary importance. No matter how many bells and whistles you add, regardless of the "advanced" techniques, when push comes to shove, you are apt to do the things that you have practiced and trained the longest. Yeah, I could do them before, but revisiting them with additional time in grade gives them a new sheen.

Drill it enough, it sticks. I woke up yesterday morning, and while still in that warm-under-the-covers-don't-want-to-get-up half-doze, for some reason my first Okinawa-te long form popped into my head. I was able to go through it mentally from beginning to end. Given that it is eighty moves long, has been forty years ago that I learned it, and probably ten years since I have actually done it, I found that interesting.

Maha Guru Plinck sometimes apologizes to the long-time students after a class focused on the newbies, but he needn't do that -- I learn as much from showing the new guy how to do a foundation drill as I do being shown a new move myself. When you have to articulate it and demonstrate it, you need to understand it. Especially if you want to hew to Turner's Rule: "A thing may be explained simply if the teller understands it properly."

If you need it, the basic tool is likely to be the first one to hand and the most useful. No surprise, that realization, but good to have reinforced now and then.


Michael B. said...

Great post Steve and I do agree. I am of the belief that there are no advanced techniques or methods only advanced thinking. It's all basics and when crunch time rears it's ugly head basics are what we will cling to. As Master Yuli says "it is better to have 3 things you do extremely well than 300 you do so-so". basics, basics, basics!

Silatyogi said...

True! The foundation of the art and the basics is really the core of the art so its no prob to revisit them. In fact its my guess is that the real bad asses are the ones that master the basics.

Steve Perry said...

I don't know from bad-asses, being a sweetheart of a old fellow myself who would never harm anybody without just cause; still, seeing somebody really good at it move, you do realize that the core of principles is what holds all the rest up.