Saturday, June 27, 2015

Dieter's Photo Lesson at the Zoo













(All photos by Emily)
This morning (Friday the 25th) after only getting a few hours of sleep Dieter (who’s staying at my house for the seminar) was up and ready to go.  Prior to his arriving in America I asked what else besides martial arts did he like to do and as it turns out we had a common interest in photography so we decided to go to the Ft. Worth Zoo to take photos and see the animals.  Emily who also has an interest in photography was also eager to go so we spent the afternoon at the zoo.

Right off the bat you could tell there is a huge difference between Dieter’s and my approaches to photography.  Dieter was outfitted with the packs for the various lenses, the adjustable tripod thingy, the sun deflectors on the lenses, all hooked onto his belt with quick release clips etc. etc.  Then there is me with my camera and my long range lens shoved in my pants pocket.

Who do you think got the best photos?  Of course Dieter.  He knew more about the subject, he was better prepared with the equipment, he had more control over his equipment (referring to adjusting his camera to different setting to get better results).  Once again Dieter was eager to share his expertise with Emily and I and he coached us on taking better pictures.

To me this is how we should approach our study of the martial arts and Modern Arnis in particular.  GM Remy passed onto us a living art, one in which there is room for growth and individualized expression in the art.  How boring would it be if we all tried to be Remy clones; if we all tried to speak with Remy’s tonal inflections, if we all tried to teach in the demo format that Remy taught in, if we all stayed with practicing only as we thought Remy taught it.

We were all there to practice taking photos and the subjects were the animals.  However we each had different animals or birds we liked to use as subjects.  We had different equipment with different settings all achieving different results in our photos and yet often times we were shooting the same subject.  Just like each of us learning a lock, or applying a lock, or a disarm, or a drill etc. etc.  Sure the technique might be the same but you could really tell a difference once it is applied, just like viewing a photo.  Some are photos are good but some are really WOW!  These are the ones that can really move you, just like most locks hurt but then there are those that put you on the ground with tears in your eyes.

It would have been boring if Dieter explained how to take a photo and then set it up, focused it and set the settings on the camera and stepped away and said “OK now go press that button” click.  Instead it was “Emily, do you know the Golden rule (referring to the rule of thirds)?  Here let me show you”.   Then after she took some photos he would say let me see and compare the pictures, make some suggestions and move on.  By the end of the day we all had a great time showing off the pictures to my wife and talking about them and again the education continued.

Through Dieter’s guidance today Emily and I learned more about operating my camera as well as how to take better pictures.  While it would have been fun (and probably painful) to play with arnis all day, and there will be plenty of that for us this weekend, taking a break from all of the martial art talk gave us a different lessons to be learned and fun memories for all.  

 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Datu’s not the best, he just does it different



But he's Freak en awesome at what he does
 
Last night Dieter as he was sharing his methods with me brought up that he doesn’t want me to say that he thinks he is the best or that his way is better, instead I’m to say simply they (Dieter and the DAV) do things differently.  I concur.  I get to play (or train) with a lot of different folks in the Filipino martial arts (FMAs) of all different skills levels from instructors to beginners and I know there are a lot of different ways to do things.  I can say confidently that Dieter does things differently and it makes a lot of sense, it hurts as well. 
 
As Dieter was getting warmed up after teaching me the lesson about not solving a problem that hadn’t been asked (read the first post about training with Dieter last night), he then went onto to explain how they (the DAV) block the low strike (the #9) to the knee during the Tapi drills.   Now I’ve been shown to hack at the hand, I’ve been shown to pull the capturing hand upwards to release, move off at an angle etc. etc. but he showed me to simply pull my hand downward and let my free hand act as a barrier to the other hand if needed.   Simple right?  But hard for me to pull off since I hadn’t trained that way. 

Dieter said “grab my hand” sure enough I gripped his hand and he pulled it right out of my grasp to block the strike.   In fact this release is what I had been teaching my beginner karate students as a release from a hand grab, I tell them to seek the door way (area between the fingers) and pull and sure enough this was the same concept.  I couldn’t hold on to his hand to stop the defense and yet when it was my turn, I instinctively went for the harder release by reaching for the capturing hand with my free hand (which as I described ended up with me getting wacked each time.  It took me a while to free up my thought process and to start to do the low line defense as he showed me, but once again it was simple and it made sense.

We go back to watching the video and he’s saying “good”,  “good”, “we do that too”, “exactly” and then “Oh no we do that differently grab your stick.”  He noticed I was feeding a back hand punyo lazily and told me this is why you are having trouble with the lock.  I was feeding the punyo more on a slightly horizontal plane instead of a more diagonal plane towards the face.  Now this was an adjustment of about an inch or two in the angle (or tilt) of my punyo feed and it made all of the difference in the world of trying to get the lock.  Then Dieter corrected me on the lock, “You must do this first (getting the punyo over the stick and pull in by rotating the punyo and starting to set the lock), then you must take up the space, and then you rotate your upper body” Wham! That wrist lock was set and my body was being jerked around trying to lessen the pain.  Wow that correction made all of the difference in the world in the setting of the lock.

More corrections followed after he watched the next lock on the video, and the next one after that and so on.  All of the corrections made the locks work better, which meant the locks were more painful and more secure and easier to apply and set up.  Later he sees me on the video showing a drill that involved thrusting on the forehand side (#6) and the reverse (#7).   “Oh we do that differently” and he explains how they (the DAV) thrusts in on those lines and how as the feeder you counter and set it up so that your opponent doesn’t get the chance to block.  Simple changing the angle of the entry, again but hard for me to pull off since I haven’t trained that way.  After seeing the tip of his stick dominate the center of my vision each time I tried to block his thrust it is pretty unnerving to say the least.  When I tried to show him how another person was countering that thrust from a different style.  Dieter says “yes you can do that, but how do you counter him?”  I think “Duh I don’t know”.  He then tells me “Enter” and he shows one counter, “or you can do this” as he steps off line and palis palis (passes) it from the outside and behind the strike, “or you can do this” and he shows another and so on and so on.

This went on for nearly two hours and he covered anything he saw me do on the video with a different way of doing the technique which in my view helped me make my arnis better.  I didn’t have one thought of “well I don’t think that will work” you know when you see something and in the pit of your stomach your going “ahhhhhhhh” while you look away embarrassed.   I’m so glad that Hidden Sword Martial Arts is sponsoring him for a full two day seminar, because I feel confident that not only will Datu Dieter help my arnis, but I think everyone will learn something that will help make their art better.   If we all get better then we all can help raise the bar for our training collectively.
I’m not saying Datu Dieter is the best, but………  HE is pretty amazing at what he does.

Boy Have I got it Wrong



Private Training with Dieter
 
I picked up my friend Dieter Knuttel from the airport last night, after having a light meal on the way home we came to our house and Dieter asked what our password was for the WiFi.  Duh I don’t know, I racked my brain, I couldn’t even remember setting up the password, so for the next 20 minutes or so I try and figure it out to no avail all the while feeling like an idiot.  Emily and Holly get home and we ask them and Emily’s says “Oh I got this” and gets him connected.  I was shocked but then Dieter said kids know this stuff because when they bring their friends over they all want to connect to the WiFi.  Simple statement and true, very logical and straightforward.  I had no clue that this simple straight forward, logical approach, to problem solving would set the tone for my arnis lesson later that night.

Dieter was use to traveling so he knew to push through wanting to sleep when crossing time zones, so when Holly needed to excuse herself to head to bed she warned me “He looks tired don’t keep him up!”  It was about 11:00pm or so.
  
“I won’t honey he wants to watch some videos, I’m not keeping him up.”  So I got the computer and we watched some videos I recorded at some recent camps.  I tried to set up the sound but Dieter says “I don’t need the sound I just want to watch.”  This should have been my first clue but I thought how will you know what we are doing?  (I’ve never claimed to be the sharpest tool in the shed, well aside from my family but….)  Anyway that’s when it hit me or I should say the stick hit me, obviously I still didn’t get the lesson cause it hit me again and again and again for the next couple of hours.  He just wanted to watch how I did things and help me do them better, he didn’t need sound, he just needed to observe what I did.

It started off with releasing his hand from grabbing my stick hand.  As we watched the video he said, “I teach it differently, we call it Stopping #1 and #2.”  I figured I saw this lesson at an earlier training camp so I had the correct answer to the problem.  Dieter says “Why do you release my hand?”
As I’m staring at him holding his stick above his shoulder I reply “To defend against getting hit on the leg.”  This is a standard response in the Tapi drills and we were just drilling on this Wednesday night in class based on his lesson from the Brevard camp in 2005.  “OK release my hand” he says.  So I go for it, WHACK he hits my hand, “Try it again” he tells me; so I got for it WHACK he hits my head.  It was a painful lesson cause he keeps telling me to go for it, so I do and I keep getting hit.

“Why do you release my hand?”  Now I’m confused, if I don’t release the hand I get hit in the leg, if I go to release the hand I get hit on the arm, if I go to release the hand and even make it I get hit in the head.  Dieter turns it around on me then.  “You release the hand only because I’ve given you a problem to solve (as in defending from an incoming strike), otherwise you don’t have to release the hand.  If the person has their stick up here they haven’t given you a problem to solve so you need to not provide an answer to a question that hasn’t been asked.  So why do you need to release the hand?  Hit me with it.” As he shows me that his face is open.

Dieter explained that they train with a different attitude, a different training methodology.  The feeder, the leader, or the driver in the above example is the one who is in control and must give the student the proper problem to solve, otherwise what happens is the student in going for the hand release is actually leading the drill at that time, because the instructor then would automatically feed the low strike since that is what is expected in the drill.  So everyone (as feeder’s) waits for the student to release, when actually the feeder is open for a counter, like the head hit by waiting.  So then he starts explaining to me their hand release and it starts to make sense but I’ll cover that in my next post.
Folks don’t make the mistake of missing the opportunity to train with Datu Dieter, we have him for a seminar for two full days this weekend and he showed me just the tip of the ice berg last night.  We are going to have a blast.