Short-stick practice at Gasworks

Second to last park workout of the summer… we worked on some strength and balance exercises, and finished with working on hand-first timing with passing step.

The first set of drills are from my friend Vernon… his idea is that the escrimador should wield his weapon like a “carpenter wields his hammer”… he gave me some drills for improving heavy-ness, which led me to some musings on double-stick. The drills are essentially pushups done either on the vertical or horizontal, while balancing on the tip of the sticks.

  • Replicating the motion of a stab (rising from hip level or striking downward from temple level). Place two sticks against a vertical surface that has some texture (a tree works, anything where the end of your weapon can find some purchase against sliding). Lean your body forward so your weight is pressing through the weapons. You are up on the balls of your feet. Work the stabs slowly from high, and then from hip level, pressing your body away from the wall or tree. You can also do these against the ground, in pushup position on your knees or toes.
  • You can do the above stabs in sequence, transitioning from the high position to the hip position. How this works with your weight pressing in is the same as if you were doubling the hits. You don’t withdraw the stick much (or you fall; or your lose time). The transition is a shoulder rotation.
  • Same idea but replicating the motion of a strike, you hold the stick in a reverse grip and place the end against a ledge. This one’s easiest to do on your knees, with the sticks on the ground.
  • Right foot forward, brace the right stab against wall, set up pressure by powering forward with your legs and core. You are up on the balls of your feet. Left hand, hold the stick tip-high in a ready position, Work the right stabs slowly, maintaining your pressure. Think of the left hand as your balance failsafe, ready to brace if the stab slips off the wall. Think of this in the same was as facing off against an opponent. When striking with one hand, your free hand is up and ready to check or counterstrike should an opening present.

Then out to the walkway to work on hand-body timing with passing step.

  • #1 attack with passing step, thinking about throwing the hit forward and following with the body.
  • Same with #2
  • Work the hits striking to a leaf ¬†on a tree.
  • Same as above with hit doubling
  • Work with a partner who feeds you hits and you counterstrike (intermediate students delay responding and allow time for the interrupt strike). You push the feeder back each time.
  • Same as above with two sticks. Ending hit is a double stab… zone the double stab to the feeder’s trunk, then carefully place the tips on his chest and then check him back. Feeder relaxes, gives some resistance.

Coaching notes for the above

  • There are various components to speed. One is moving your body fast. The other is moving in a hyper-efficient way. The goal today in practicing hit timing was to work the latter. Body relaxed, half speed, 1/3 power, work on reducing time to landing the strike by thinking about hand-body timing.
  • Stick the hit forward (zoning) until the footfall. On the doubled hit, stick the last hit. Don’t withdraw your weapon until the footfall (you want to transmit the weight of the footfall into the hit).
  • Order of execution is important. First y ou throw the hit. Then your body follows. The step (if any) lands. Only then do you return the weapon to ready position. Negative timing is the opposite: first the body, then the weapon to ready position, and last, the strike. If you have negative timing you need to have serious fast-twitch all-out speed to make up all the time you have wasted.
  • Feeder uses hand-body timing. This gives the practitioner a challenging strike to deal with. The strike is challenging not because the feeder is landing it with power and speed, but because the feeder’s timing is correct and so the strike arrives very quickly.
  • When you are feeding and you get checked back, you keep your body in great alignment… as you are moving back you should be getting your weapons into ready position so you’re set for the next entry. Remember, order of timing!
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