Keep It Simple, Stupid (?)

Keep It Simple, Stupid (?)

(SWAT Training: Definitely NOT a Simple Endeavor)

Being a full-time teacher in the Filipino martial arts through my organization, Bayani Warrior (, I have been blessed to know some really awesome practitioners within the Filipino Kali community as well as the Combatives community. One of the most common situations I face when dealing with people from the Combatives community is that a lot of them feel that the Filipino martial arts are too “complicated” or “fancy” to work in a real fight. In all honesty, I cannot blame them. I have come across many Filipino systems that are very much focused on the fancy and aesthetic side of the art that does not necessarily pertain to real-world fighting. However, we also need to realize that fine-motor skills do play an important role in real fighting, and that we in the Combatives community need to be careful when it comes to regarding a fine-motor skill as “useless” in a fight. 

When I first started training in the Filipino martial arts, I realized that it took a great deal of coordination, footwork, and accuracy to be proficient at it. While many people found this frustrating, I found it to be fulfilling and enjoyably challenging. However, when it came to actually sparring and using the information, I found it difficult to pull off a lot of the methods I was learning in a live, real-time fighting environment. I then came across a lot of practitioners in Combatives arts that regarded the methods as useless. In fact, one of my early teachers in Kali became so disenchanted that he discarded the Kali program completely from his school’s curriculum, feeling that the Kali material didn’t work in a real-fight due to the high-level of skill it takes to pull of the methods in real-time.

About a year later, I came across a video for Atienza Kali in which they displayed their Mass Attack methods. It was honestly love at first sight, and I knew from then on that I wanted to be an Atienza Kali student. When I began training with Tuhon Carl Atienza (the head of the Atienza Kali system), I noticed that he was always able to pull off the techniques that I deemed as “too fancy” in real-time sparring. The crazy part was, he was able to pull of these techniques in a full-contact, all-out setting, without blinking an eye. He told me, “The word ‘fancy’ is a word people use to describe us because they are jealous that they can’t do what we can do.”  He continued to train me, and the next thing I knew, I was able to pull of these “fancy” and “complicated” techniques myself in sparring as well. I have also taught my students to do a lot of techniques that people consider “fancy” and they can pull them off in sparring as well.

When I began training in Sayoc Kali a little while later, I noticed they did a lot of exercises and drills that most labeled as “too complicated”. However, when it came to their blade work, their skills with the blade were the best I’ve ever seen. They could apply their skills both in light free-flow and in real time as well.

A few years later, I had a student who was a high-level SWAT/SRT cop in my hometown. He’s a true warrior who’s seen his share of action, and he told me that when SWAT or military have to practice room clears, it’s a highly sophisticated and complicated endeavor. However, with the right training, it can be trained to become second nature.

The above examples I have discussed bring forth one major point: While simple methods do work in fights, so-called “fancy” methods can work as well as long as they are trained right. The fact is that a lot of skill sets that pertain to Combatives or Self-Reliance require a great deal of fine-motor skill: reloading and shooting a firearm under stress, responding in a first aid capacity to someone who has been shot or injured, or protecting a loved one from multiple attackers are some examples in which “keeping it simple” is in reality….not so simple. It takes a great deal of training and time to get these things to become second nature, but it can be done. One can benefit greatly from learning how to do fine-motor skills in their training. 

A lot of people in the Combatives community feel that if you can’t master it quickly, then it’s useless. However, we need to remember the context in which Combatives is coming from. Originally, combatives was taught to police and military operators who didn’t have a lot of time to train in close-quarters fighting methods due to time and budget constraints, and as a result, they had to learn something effective and do so quickly. However, if one puts aside the right amount of time (which isn’t as much as people think) they can actually do more than they think they are capable of. Even something as common as a Brazilian Jujitsu Armbar from the Mount position is HIGHLY sophisticated and requires a great deal of training to pull off. However, we know that with the right training it can work in real-time. 

I’m not saying that one should forsake gross-motor skill combative methods for fine-motor skill methods. All I’m saying is that one cannot dismiss a fine-motor skill as useless in the realm of fighting. In reality, fine-motor skills are essential for developing a lot of Combative skill sets. If you want to take your Combatives to the next level, don’t shy away from doing things that may be dismissed as “too complicated”. You may find that your skills will increase with such training. 

Extraído de Bayani Warrior Blogs.
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