Day two started off like day one, with more ranging footwork. Master Whitson led us in pole standing meditation, but it wasn’t as long as we stood during the first day. On this morning, he had us switch to a different standing meditation pose – one with our arms hanging from our sides at a 45 degree angle and our posture sunk into a horse stance. My shoulders were burning from the pole standing and the workouts from the day before. When we switched poses, I felt the blood rushing along my arms into my hands. My palms became warm, and I was focused on how the blood was flowing in my arms. My quadriceps had a slight burn to them. I haven’t stood in a horse stance for a long, long time, but the meditation was worthwhile. I felt energized and centered as we started the day.
We then moved to working the elbow set with the open diamond footwork. Even after all the training I’ve done, I am still impressed by how the footwork and the upper body mechanics in the Filipino Martial Arts are like separate units that the student must mix and match. The simplicity of the footwork I’ve learned makes it useable when combined with empty hand or weapon applications. We worked the elbow set, and Master Whitson demonstrated the elbow set using Panatukan level two entries. These applications were fun to practice, and as I continue to ponder them, I’m starting to see the complex layers of learning inherent in the FMAs. At the same time, the student is learning footwork, upper body manipulation, entries from largo (long) range to corto (short) range and learning how to combine material from other parts of the CTS knowledge base.
Master Whitson then moved on to the Pangamot updates. In CTS, Pangamot is an empty hand versus stick drill that is taught very early in the system. Zach has added specific disarms to this portion of the curriculum. Pangamot is one of my favorite drills, and due to the variety of training partners, I was able to work with different energies to expand my understanding . We also played the drill, and I had the most success with an elbow collapse learned that morning. This collapse positioned the opponent’s punyo aiming at his own face. We worked some takedowns as well, including everyone’s favorite Puter Kepala.
Lunch that day had an easier feel to it since the tension involved with color belt testing was gone. Throughout lunch, I kept thinking about a particular set that I wanted to remember; so, I went back to the training room to find my notebook and record the set. I found the black belts working on their material for the test coming up that night. This test would feature first, second and third black belt material, and it is the first time anyone was qualified for the rank of third degree black. The class of 2010 was ready for their test, and one of Josh Ryer’s students nervously awaited his first degree black belt test.
The afternoon session was dedicated to learning the form for the battering ram. This staff length is from the ground to your solar plexus, and it is gripped differently than the walking cane that we learned on Day 01. The form was intuitive for the first eight strikes, but nine through twelve are a little harder to grasp. We worked our way through it, though. In CTS, the numbering forms that we learn are an organizational principle. One strike in the form could represent eight other strikes. While we were learning the battering ram twelve count, I heard Master Whitson describe angle 10 in a new way. It’s possible he’s said this before, but, for whatever reason, on that day it reverberated in a new way for me. Since camp, I’ve been looking at the other sets of twelve I’ve learned – single stick, sak-sak knife, double stick, pakal knife, espada y daga, walking stick, battering ram and staff. Each of the twelve have the same concept, which provides another layer of insight into CTS’s organization of techniques.
Like we did with the walking cane, we partnered up and worked some tapping drills that contained similar concepts . I really enjoyed the concept of scooping with the walking cane, and we applied it here. For scooping with the battering ram to work for me, my timing must get better. It seemed to me that there was less margin for error working with this stick.
The second day ended with the tests for black belt. Preston tested first with Josh Ryer as his training partner for the drills and sparring. Then the class of 2010 showcased their material, and Josh Ryer ended the night with another portion of his test for third degree black belt. It was clear that all of instructors had put a lot of work into learning and drilling their material. It was a pleasure to watch these tests. The material at those levels is complex; some of it I’ve seen, some I haven’t, but I definitely want to learn all of it. During the test, I couldn’t help but think that while in the color belt curriculum, I’m still learning to walk and that the black belt progressions are where the CTS student learns to run.
Congratulations to Josh Ryer of Ryer Martial Arts on his promotion to 3rd Black belt, to David Curet and Joel Daugherty of Ryer Martial Arts on their promotion to 2nd Black belt, to Russ Haas of the East Coast School of Self Defense on his promotion to 2nd Black belt, to Kevin Wagner of Gem City Martial Arts on his promotion to 2nd Black belt, Brian Brown of Atlanta Martial Arts on his promotion to 2nd Black belt, and to Preston Macready of Ryer Martial Arts on his promotion to 1st Black Belt.
During the testing, Josh Ryer helped his students. He partnered with Preston for the first degree drills and sparring; he worked with Joel Daughterty for the second degree drills and sparring, and then, Josh worked on his own material with the help of David Curet. Essentially, Josh re-tested over three advanced levels of CTS. This is a great example of Josh’s skill level, but it also highlights the leadership mentality that I’ve witnessed over the course of three camps and nearly three years in the system. Josh and all of the other instructors lead by example. The color belts who tested the night before performed well because they emulated the effort of their instructors. Iron Mountain camp is a collaborative environment where the art is more important than the rank. I haven’t noticed a lot of ego at Master Whitson’s camps or seminars. If I’m working with the advanced students, they don’t shut me down, continuously counter me or show off. What I do notice is a lot of laughter and a lot of training. This is why I respect Master Whitson, his students and the CTS art.