Posts Tagged ‘doce pares black belt


Sinawali: The Mechanics of Martial Motion

filipino-martial-arts1Filipino Martial Arts

Sinawali: The Mechanics of Martial Motion

By Michael Janich

July 2003

Pg. 54-61

Sinawali is a template for learning proper movement. It’s like the paint-by-numbers approach to artwork.

Sinawali, or double-stick training, is a practice familiar to many Filipino martial arts. In its most common form, two eskrimadors, each armed with two sticks, face each other and simultaneously perform an identical series of prescribed strikes, hitting their sticks together in various rote patterns and rhythms. Meaning, “to weave,” sinawali gets its name from the intricate, intertwining patterns of the sticks as they are wielded in these drills.

Although sinawali is practiced in many Filipino martial arts forms, most of this practice usually consists of simple mechanical repetition. At a basic level, this type of training is an extremely efficient way of developing form and programming motor skills. However, to the advanced practitioner, these amazing drills offer a much higher level of skill development and a true understanding of physical movement.

Joseph Simonet has spent years analyzing and refining sinawali drills to extract their deeper meanings. The founder of KI Fighting Concepts, a concept-based martial training institute in Wenatchee, Wash., Simonet has instructor-level ranking in kenpo karate, Indonesian pentjak silat, wing chun gung-fu, Yang style taijiquan, doce pares eskrima and eskrido. With more than 30 years of martial arts training to draw from, Simonet still considers sinawali drills a critical step in his eclectic KI Fighting Concepts curriculum.

“Like any form,” Simonet explains, “sinawali drills are designed to be a dictionary of motion – a means of learning and refining specific movements through structured repetition. As a learning process, they are excellent. But like any form, we need to remember that the material learned is what’s important, not the process.”

Mechanical, But Effective

Even at the basic level of mechanical repetition, sinawali training offers a number of significant benefits. First, because the student must move weapons in addition to his limbs, the paths of the movements are more visible and therefore more easily learned and corrected. The weight of the sticks also provides a form of resistance that helps the practitioner develop strength in the appropriate muscle groups while at the same time programming motor memory.

Since most people have a dominant side, training with matched weapons allows the weak side to “copy” the movements of the strong side, balancing the body and promoting the rapid development of weak-side skills and strength.

By working with longer weapons and striking stick to stick, beginning eskrimadors can train safely and develop their reflexes progressively by maintaining a long-range distance relationship with their partner. Once the basic patterns have been learned and the students are hitting consistently, they can increase both the speed and power of their hits, ultimately achieving full-power, full-speed hits in rapid succession with their partner. In the process, the also learn the importance of weapon grip and impact-shock management – critical but often-overlooked aspects of real-world weapon use.

Express Yourself

Although basic sinawali training offers a number of significant benefits to the novice, the real value of these drills lies in the root movements – and the practitioner’s ability to understand and creatively express these movements.

“The key to mastering any martial art form is the ability to appreciate and apply the physiological potential o fits movements,” Simonet explains. “This does not mean accepting and mimicking the one or two applications your instructor taught you. It means experimenting and looking deeper into the dynamics of the motion to extract its full potential.”

Simonet’s approach to sinawali training is a direct reflection of his Filipino martial arts lineage, which starts with his primary instructor, doce pares eighth-degree black belt Christopher Petrilli, and extends to Petrilli’s instructor, legendary doce pares grandmaster Cacoy Cañete. Both Petrilli and Cañete take a unique approach to sinawali, emphasizing the extreme close-range applications of this normally long-range style of training. The result is a higher evolution of the basic body mechanics of sinawaali that emphasizes unconventional strikes, particularly ones that take advantage of the punyo, or butt end of the stick.

For example, most Filipino martial arts practitioners of are familiar with Heaven Six, a basic six-count sinawali pattern that consists of a right angle 1, left angle 1, right angle 2, left angle 2, right angle 2, and left angle 1. In its standard form, all strikes are executed with a full stroke, hitting with the long end of the stick.

Close-Range Tactics

A more advanced version of this drill emphasizes close-range tactics and the use of the punyo as well as the main body of the stick. In this drill, the first and fourth strikes are executed almost like a hook punch – following the same downward diagonal angle, but with the stick tip down and across the body and striking with the face of the punyo just beyond the knuckles of the hand. The third and sixth strikes are also designed for close-quarter use and are delivered with the bottom end of the punyo. This is represented in partner training by striking wrist to wrist.

With one subtle addition, an even more advanced eight-count pattern can be created. After the first and fourth strikes of the above pattern, a close-range abaniko (fanning) strike is added, rotating immediately out of the punyo punch and striking with the long end of the stick.

The above variations of Heaven Six add two unorthodox but highly effective strikes to the practitioner’s arsenal: a downward smashing strike with the long end of the stick held horizontally and the obvious punyo-style punch. In application, these unusual strikes are devastating, hitting with amazing force from unexpected angles. These strikes also promote the concept of striking rapidly with alternate ends of the stick. This is a trademark of Simonet’s unique brand of stickfighting.

“To appreciate the full physiological potential of a motion, you need to look at the entire movement not just the strike,” Simonet notes. “In the case of sinawali patterns, the positioning of the hand as it chambers and prepares for a strike is often a structurally powerful and very useful movement. Rather than wasting it, we take advantage of it and make it into another hit.”

Long and Short of It

To further refine the ability to hit alternately with both the punyo and long end of the stick, Simonet uses yet another unique drill. In this drill, the practitioners begin with the sticks in their right hands crossed diagonally in front of them, chambered near their left shoulders. On the first count, they strike with an angle 2 backhand with the long end of the stick. Rebounding from this strike, they punch forward and upward with the punyo of the stick for count two. Chambering near their left shoulders again, on count three they strike wrist to wrist, simulating and angle 2 punyo strike. Chambering across the body yet again, they strike with a full angle 2 stroke for count four. The follow through of this strike leaves them chambered near their right shoulders for an angle 1 strike with the long end of the stick (count 5). On count six, they rebound and punch upward and to the right with the punyo of the stick, chambering near their right shoulders again. Count seven is an angle 1 strike with the bottom of the punyo, simulated by striking wrist to wrist. Chambering once again at the right shoulder, both partners strike with a full angle 1 stroke (count eight) that follows through to chamber at the left shoulder, where they are ready to start the drill again.

This drill may be performed with a single stick, as described here, or by alternating hands with two sticks. With practice, the eskrimador learns to rapidly alternate between punyo punches, strikes with the long end of the stick, and strikes or hooking actions with the bottom of the punyo.

In a close-range encounter, a simple backhand angle 2 strike to the head with the stick can now be instantly followed with a punyo punch to the throat, a backhand punyo strike to the side of the neck, and another full-stroke angle 2 strike to the head in just fractions of a second. Any blocks that an opponent may be able to insert to foil this flow are immediately “removed” by hooking the blocking hand with the punyo and pulling it our of the way. When fighting with single sticks, the non-weapon, or “live” hand continues the same patterns of movement as when armed with the stick, but now its function is that of tapping and clearing the opponent’s limbs. When combined with hooks with the punyo, the result is an extremely sophisticated and brutally effective system of close-quarter trapping, all based directly on sinawali movement patterns.

These are only a few examples of the advanced sinawali patterns that form the core of Simonet’s KI Fighting Concepts stickfighting curriculum. His entire program of instruction includes more than 100 sinawali patterns and variations, each of which this author designed to ingrain a specific set of body mechanics and motor memory. In addition to the drills themselves, Simonet’s teaching and practice of sinawali also requires that students be able to instantly flow from one drill to another. The motions required for these transitions offer yet another spectrum of movements and promote spontaneity and quick reflexes that go far beyond the rote memorization and mechanical execution of basic sinawali.

“Like any prescribed form,” Simonet says, “sinawali is a template for learning proper movement. It’s like the paint-by-numbers approach to artwork. By following someone else’s color pattern and brush strokes, you learn the mechanics of painting. Once you’re comfortable with them, you paint your own picture. Just as two people given the same paints and brushes will paint two different pictures, two martial artists will find different meanings in the movements of sinawali. Like any other true art form, in the martial arts, personal expression is the ultimate goal.”


Choosing a Knife- IKF June 2007

ikf-june-2007Inside Kung-Fu

“Choosing a Knife”

By Addy Hernandez

June 2007

Carrying a weapon for self-defense is a serious commitment. If you are going to trust your life to a piece of gear, you owe it to yourself to choose that gear carefully. When it comes to choosing a knife for personal defense, there are some specific qualities you should consider.

Strength tops the list of qualities that a good self-defense knife should have – particularly if it is a folding knife. The design, engineering and quality of execution of a folding knife lock all affect a knife’s inherent strength and its ability to withstand the physical stresses of powerful cuts and thrusts. A lock failure could cause a folding knife to not only live up to its name at the wrong time, but it could also cost you a few fingers in the process.

Functionality is another necessary characteristic. The blade style, shape of the point, edge geometry and sharpness all have a direct bearing on how well the knife actually cuts and punctures when employed in a high-speed defensive situation. The best way to understand this quality is through actual test cutting on targets that replicate the body parts you would be cutting with your style of knife tactics. For example, if you focus on disabling cuts that target the connective tissues of the arms and legs, you can make test targets using meat roasts wrapped in plastic (to simulate skin) and covered with clothing. If your knife performs well and creates the depth of cut necessary to hit your preferred targets, you’ve validated the functionality of your knife. You’ll also have a realistic understanding of the true destructive power of your blade.

Another aspect of functionality has to do with the shape and construction of the knife’s handle. A good knife handle must provide you with a secure grip and allow you to manage the shock that is transferred back into your hand during full-power cuts and thrusts. Slippery, poorly shaped handles can compromise your control of the knife and, in extreme cases, could even result in self-inflicted cuts. Imagine thrusting full force at a soft-tissue target and hitting solid bone. If the shape and material of your knife handle won’t allow you to positively manage that type of shock, you need to keep shopping.

Convenient carry must also be a prerequisite of a defensive knife. To ensure that the knife is available when you need it, it should be carried in a comfortable, accessible location on your body at all times. That carry position must work with all the styles of clothing and allow you to carry the knife in a consistent location on your body. Many knife collectors brag about their “rotation” of knives, and often have a different carry knife (or knives) and carry style for every day of the week. Knife players who truly understand self-defense, however, know that the rapid deployment of a knife is a critical component in effective fighting. Always carrying your knife in the same position is one of the keys to rapid deployment, since reflexes are based on consistent, repetitive actions.

Quick, reliable deployment of a knife begins with carry location, but there is more to it than that. That’s why “deploy-ability” – a combination of design characteristics that allow the knife to be rapidly drawn and opened to a ready position – is also an essential quality of a personal defense knife. For folding knives, this usually means a combination of a clothing clip and some type of hole, stud or disk in the blade that allows it to be opened with one hand. For fixed blades, it’s typically a synergy of knife and sheath design that supports comfortable concealed carry and a fast reflexive draw.

The final basic quality of a good personal defense knife is that it is legal to carry in the areas in which you operate. Research of the knife laws in your area – both state and municipal – will help define the types of knives and methods of carry that are legally permissible. In many cases, the terminology of the laws may seem unclear, but if you focus on key elements like blade length restrictions on double-edged blades and other specific characteristics, you can usually get a pretty good idea of what is and isn’t legal.

By choosing a knife that clearly falls within these parameters, you will not only be able to defend your life and the lives of your loved ones, but you will be in a much better position to justify your actions in court. And unfortunately in today’s world, defending your actions just as real a challenge as defending your safety. Do your research, choose your knife wisely and you’ll be well prepared to do both.


Inside Kung-Fu November 2002

ikf-november-2002Inside Kung-Fu

“Profile Addy Hernandez Taking Charge”

By Dave Cater

November 2002

Pg 136

Talk about your poster girl for high school’s “Most Likely to Succeed” honor! Addy Hernandez was as close to a can’t-miss as you’ll ever find at Chelan High School in Washington.

Homecoming queen. Honor roll. Class president. Cross country runner. Softball player. Martial artist. All while working two jobs to help support her family. Big things were expected of Addy when she started her freshman year at Eastern Washington University.

And she expected big things in return.

“I planned on studying personal training, physical therapy and philosophy,” she remembers, with a smile.

But expectations soon were met with disappointment.

While her body was in a classroom in Cheney, her mind was focused three hours away in an unstructured training hall that more resembled a scene from Walden’s Pond.

A year earlier, Hernandez saw a notice in a local newspaper announcing the promotion of martial arts instructor Joseph Simonet. It took three class before the eclectic master agreed to meet with the high school senior.

“I had to travel up this dirt road,” she recalls. “The sign coming up said, ‘Primitive Road.’ When I got there, he told me to hit him as hard as I could. I went to throw a right punch and then felt myself on the floor looking up. I said, “Cool, okay when do we start?”

Simonet turned to his newest student and simply said, “You’re in.”

That as the beginning of Addy’s year-long love affair with the martial arts.

“I didn’t expect it to affect me that way,” explains Hernandez, who was born in Michuacan, Mexico. “The power the discipline gives you is incredible. It was a fantasy for me to know the martial arts and become proficient and comfortable with them. It changed my whole perspective in life and that was largely due to my teacher.”

She sought the same transformation in college, but there was none to be found.

“When I left the martial arts and went to college,” she notes, “I thought I would find the same kind of teacher and philosophy. But it didn’t take me long to realize the professors and instructors didn’t share the same ideals. I had gone through such an incredible self-seeking journey in martial arts. After a year, I decided to make martial arts a career. Joseph and I became business partners and opened up our KI Fighting Concepts school.”

Hernandez, whose father, Lauriano, moved the family to Washington after the death of her mother, took to her new life with incredible energy and dedication. In just seven years, the 5-foot-3, 118-pound brunette has earned a third-degree black belt in Tracy’s kenpo karate; a fourth-degree in doce pares under master Christopher J. Petrilli; a seond degree in eskrido under grandmaster Cacoy Conete; a third-degree in KI Fighting Concepts (a hugely popular wing chun/pentjak silat/kenpo hybrid); and been certified as a tai chi teacher.

“Usually, fellow martial artists envy my position, because I live in the gym from morning to night.”

That’s no exaggeration. Addy begins each day with a 6 a.m. kickboxing class. That’s followed by a full day of privates, a kids’ class, group classes and more privates. When her martial arts days ends at 9 p.m., her personal day begins with weight training, yoga, Yang tai chi and long-distance running, where she is training for a marathon (26.2 miles).

“I like to take advantage of my youth,” she explains.

Hernandez, who has teamed with Simonet to produce a series of highly successful videotapes for Paladin Press, believes she would have still been successful in life without martial arts. But inside, something would have been missing.

“I think I would have been successful to a point, but without that understanding of myself and that take-charge attitude, I wouldn’t have been as far as I am now with anything I wanted to do,” she admits.

Name: Addy Hernandez

Birth date: June 30, 1976

Birth place: Mexico

Came to America: 1980

Hometown: Lake Chelan, Wash.

Siblings: 3 sisters, one brother

Started Martial Arts: 17

Arts Studied: Yang style tai chi, Kenpo karate, Doce pares, Wing chun, Pentjak silat, Kickboxing, Pankration

Instructor: Joseph Simonet

Height: 5-foot-3

Weight: 118-pounds

Belt Levels: 3rd degree in Tracy’s kenpo karate; 4th in doce pares; 3rd degree in KI Fighting Concepts (wing chun/kenpo/pentjak silat); and certified teacher in tai chi

Current Work: Teaches martial arts full time

Outside Loves: Gardening, pottery, working with bonsai trees, training for a full marathon

Career Goals: To make more martial arts videotapes and to continue studying and teaching martial arts. I also hope to be a voice for martial arts women everywhere.

Facts: Loves children. Also speaks fluent Spanish

10 Years From Now: “I want to establish myself and make a name for myself in the martial arts world. I also want to be the CEO of global e-commerce business.”

May 2018
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