Friday, April 09, 2010

Me 'n' Sisyphus

Steve Rollert's Pukulan Trainer

You know the myth of Sisyphus, the son of the king of Thessaly, right? He was a clever, if bad man, full of hubris, and as punishment for his many sins when he died, he was tasked by the gods to roll a large boulder up a hill. Before he gets to the top, the rock always rolls back down, and he has to start over, and thus he is condemned to this labor forever. If you ever hear the term" Sisyphean Task," that's the referent.

Most recent silat class, I went to pair up with Edwin, as we start into another cycle of blade-against-blade. Guru's method is interesting. We learn a thing, leave and go elsewhere, and then when we come back to that thing again, we bring something new to it. Like building up a statue by using thin layers; eventually, you might wind up with a three-dimensional figure.

For this new, old exercise, one player holds the knife in the common grip, aka the saber; the other uses the ice-pick grip, aka, the ... ice pick grip. Maybe the ... Norman Bates grip?

Each hold its uses. According to our training, one gives you more reach and options; the other works better when you close, and we deem it a good idea to learn them both -- whichever way the knife winds up in your hand when activity commences, you probably don't want to be twirling it about when the adrenaline gets to flowing, and you need to be able to make do. (As Egon told the other Ghostbusters about crossing the particle streams from their proton packs, dropping your blade in a knife fight? That would be bad ...)

I like working knives with Edwin for several reasons. One, he is more skilled. He comes from a different silat background, has moves, and he's been doing the stuff for a long time. You learn more against a better player. (Easy for me -- almost everybody in the class is more skilled than I am with a knife.)

Two, Edwin is taller than I. I kid him, but he's about six and a half feet vertical with an eight-foot armspan. Or maybe it just seems that way. The point is, that a technique that might work fine against somebody your size or shorter might not work against somebody larger. And if it depends on reach, it won't.

The common grip is supposed to give you the reach over somebody using the ice-pick grip, but with Edwin using that with his foot-long practice blade and me with my shorter trainer, he's still got the reach on me. It does matter.

What you learn against somebody with longer reach and a knife is that you better get the block right or get out the way, else you will get stuck. Stab-bed ...

I have mentioned that I am not particularly adept and that I'm a slow kinetic learner. And I might never get that rock to the top of the hill. But if I can get it past the spot where it rolled back down yesterday, that might be as much victory as I can achieve. And if I get to the point where I can hold my own with Edwin? Then I'll have something.


Brad said...

Anonymous said...

Ever try the punch dagger grip?

Yes, I know it's risky.


Steve Perry said...

Only with a punch dagger.

I don't see any immediate benefit to it with a regular knife. As you say, it's risky, and it doesn't give you anything you can't get with a saber grip.