My name is Will, I have been a pesilat for a few years now, and like anything you work hard for you always want to improve. I have had struggles in my training as I work slowly towards my Pelatih test. I had done a small amount of martial arts before coming to PSP but I was hooked immediately. I had looked for Silat instruction elsewhere and there was not much that came of it until I got in touch with Guru Sean. He has pushed me towards success but it is my hard work that will get me there.
I have to really get my understanding of the physical mechanics and execution of this art to continue on my journey to Pelatih. Though I have made a lot of improvement in my Silat there is still a long way to go. No matter the art you study I feel like there is a lot that can be said about being able to identify your faults and figure out how to accept who you are and how that can work to your advantage.
To that end, I wanted to explore some of my struggles in training and it is my hope that you might also relate to some of them.
- Speed and Strength Before Skill
- Trusting My Training
- Training Methodically
- Recovery from Chaos
- The Flinch
- Stress Reactions
Trusting My Training
In my earlier times studying this art I had a harder time with trusting the material. Seeing an advanced student or an instructor do something ‘easily’ can be disheartening if you cannot yet do this. Some of our evasions seemed counter intuitive, so I would do something different and never yield success either getting hit, or failing the follow-up techniques, usually both. But asking questions and progressively working your way through the material you will become more successful in your endeavor. The two evasions that I had the most trouble trusting initially 1 and 5, are now some of the most useful in my current arsenal. Learning to trust that material really helped. The fact that you are here studying an art shows that you have more than a passing curiosity, this is a kind of faith. The material works, and as long as you work hard and have faith in what you are working towards, you will improve and gain success and skill.
Being methodical in my training, so far, is the most progress I have made in understanding my faults, and where and how to correct them or use them. I am very high energy, molasses slow forms don’t work for me but a slowish to medium paced form or slow with some zippy punctuation is a great way for me to feel the material. I drill mechanics especially in lankah and foot placement. I also pair most upper art with visualization to help targeting and form. My jurus-jurus, our version of forms, especially needed to be trained methodically. As they are where a vast amount of techniques can be pulled from. If my mechanics are not correct in my forms then I will most likely not be able to pull of a technique or movement at speed in a real life situation. Corrections to my balance and moving of my body weight, mechanics, flow and power generations have been made from this kind of training.
Recovery From Chaos
If you are getting hit in the head a lot that is the sort of chaos I am referring to. The point where you want to do something but you don’t even know what that is. The last Seminar in Florida really outlined this. Cover, defend yourself with elbows shields and move until you reach a position that is more comfortable for you to work from. That position is a set point it is like home base and it is the place you go to when you need to figure out how to get yourself out of trouble and start being trouble for the opponent. We were training this idea as a drill the other night. Were you recieve 3-4 blows, covering and trying to find a point to recover from and then you launch your counter attacks. It is dynamic and helps train this point quickly. In my head, the set point is one of the stones you step on when you cross the river. And if you fall in, it is what will save you from drowning.
I am still working through this if I am to be quite honest. I have, with help, started to identify flinch responses and stress responses. For me I will lean away from a punch as opposed to duck under it, if it just comes out of the blue. A low blow will hollow out more often then jamming it. My stress responses are to try and go physically faster instead of controlling range. I will meet strength with strength instead of working with proper mechanics. To work through these I have begun to make mental note of when they happen and then try and correct these behaviors to my advantage. If I lean or hollow out, go into entry 3 or 7. If I start speeding up too much I need to make space and move with proper timing. If I start trying to muscle something, it is a sign to relax and flow around the obstacle and not be so attached to the idea or small picture goal. These flinches are part of me, you have your own as well. See what good can come from them through trial and error.
(Physical) You only need to off line of a strike, not knock it out of the park with your parry. If you are already flexing hard you cannot a muscle more. However, if you relax, or have only gentle tension you then have the most options. Being relaxed, in my experience generally lowers your chance of injury as well. I have found that training with someone obviously stronger than me outlines what I am trying to say here the most. Why would I want to wrestle you, I need to use all the mechanics, technique and leverage at my disposal. I once was training with Guru Sean and he was helping demonstrate this point by using only strength when we ‘played’ the only thing that worked was my relaxing and flowing with proper mechanics.
(Mental) Some advice I received recently was to look for the things that mentally trigger my stress. Then think about what the preferred response is and constantly remind myself of my goal response. So like most of you when I am stressed I tense up and worry. This won’t help anything. If I am starting to feel like this it is because i feel like i am ‘losing’. If I just look for a different opportunity I can gain something better than the previous, don’t be too attached to an idea, things change. Also, I give myself cues. Mental cues or recognize stimuli that give me the undesired response ,so that I have more time and wherewithal to correct myself into a mental set point.
With all the growth I have had in the last few years I attribute most of my successes to consistent training and an analytical approach to self improvement. I have a very long way to go in this art but, with this approach, and the help of my peers and teachers, I will keep improving in this art I love. I am always open to the suggestions of peers, teachers and friends, all advice is welcome!
My Corrections to Training:
- Be honest and analytical with yourself.
- Drilling the material will help you see the results and trust what you are doing.
- Be methodical, do it slowly, do it OFTEN!
- Find your set points, they are home base, go home.
- Don’t be stronger than the big man, use proper mechanics and technique.
- Recognize when you are about to falter and use it as a springboard for success.
Pelatih Muda Michigan