Springfield FMA is the closest member of the Counterpoint Tactical Systems family for us here in Saint Louis. It’s always a treat to go down there and train with that group. Mike Miller is a funny and talented martial artist. This was my first time I’ve got to see the group he’s leading down there.
Master Whitson started the day off with footwork. We built from the basics of reverse triangle to stepping the open diamond to side-stepping. Then Mike led us in the ranging footwork drill. After we completed this warm up, Master Whitson talked about the movements, why the linear forward and backward is not part of the drill and showed us a representation with sticks on the ground. He explained the ranging footwork pattern is found within the CTS logo and that this pattern represents the footwork for bladed training.
The CTS logo was created with each part representing a part of the training available in the system. Each time I hear Zach talk about an aspect of the logo, I learn something new about it. Learning something new about a familiar aspect of CTS turned out to be the theme of the day for me.
After the footwork lesson, Master Whitson began to cover the angles of his twelve count. We covered areas that I just started teaching. Since I have covered this before, I paid attention to how he was teaching so that I can better convey the principles to my students. I also noticed some things that are not covered on the curriculum sheet that I really enjoyed. The discussion of all the triangles that make up the body was very interesting.
After lunch, we finished up the lesson on the angles, and then we moved onto Pangamot. Pangamot is one of my favorite drills in the CTS curriculum. It is empty hand versus single stick defense. It is an important drill, and at this seminar, Master Whitson showed us how to evolve with the drill.
First, we covered the basics of the drill. Then we moved onto disarms, which are so fun. The seminar participants got to practice ejecting the stick towards another person. I find the disarms from the thrusts to be the most challenging. On a thrust, the length of the stick narrows to a point. It is difficult for me to pick this up because the smaller profile reduces the visual cues needed for depth perception. The thrust disarms, though, are the smoothest ones of the group. To me, they feel fluid as if I were matching my opponent’s motions.
After the disarms, we added in third hand principle, which at the beginning levels is striking. The footwork for pangamot is a side step motion. This footwork really sets up your body to unload powerful strikes on your opponent due to the torsion motion of the hips. My favorite strikes while training pangamot are a downward palm heel to the face, a downward diagonal elbow to the side of the head, and the forearm hack to the head. I am a bit of a headhunter and should work on other targets, but, as this drills takes place in corto (short) range, the head is just right there.
Normally, this is where I’ve stopped the pangamot training, but Master Whitson increased the complexity with an important baby step. The person swinging the stick was now defending the third hand attacks of the unarmed person. Then, Master Whitson opened up the drill to where both persons could throw third hand strikes. I had a question for Zach about this while we were training. For his answer, we played the drill. It was so much fun, but I was overwhelmed just trying to defend the stick and punching. I attempted to strike back a few times, and each was answered with a tap of the stick to my ribs or hips. The complexity level changed to just above my competency, but it was more fun than ever. I look forward to working more of that higher level pangamot as well.
We finished the day with some standup grappling, specifically the lock flow from that curriculum. This is curriculum that I tested over earlier this year, but there was more to learn. During the straight arm bar, Master Whitson showed something he picked up from Wally Jay’s material. When we did this move, he told us to say “Thank you, Wally Jay.” It is always great to end the seminar with some light hearted fun, and this seminar ended with laughter.
I tested for my brown belt in Cacoy Doce Pares under Master Whitson, and Mike had students testing for blue and red belts in CTS. The CTS red belt covers a lot of material from Cacoy Doce Pares – particularly, the close quarter sparring. This means I had two other students to work with. The test went well; I had a few bumps. When I tried to walk with the Cacoy Assault Set, it was the most awkward I’ve ever been in my life. I messed up two disarms. One I messed up because I had a detail wrong; the second I messed up from nerves. I was pretty happy with the Pengke Pengke that Evan and I worked together. Master Whitson tweaked the low strikes on our Pengke Pengke tapping earlier in the day. We integrated the improvement and rattled through the tapping very quickly. The sparring was a lot of fun, but the nerves of testing got to me. I didn’t relax during sparring, I was very tense. I wasn’t happy with my performance during sparring, but I definitely have some work ahead of me. Alec Helwig and Jeff Schmitz were great sparring opponents who pushed me. I can’t wait to spar with them again.
It was a fantastic seminar, and I learned a lot about familiar topics. It was great to see Springfield FMAs first students testing. Congrats to all those who passed their test. Thanks to Master Whitson for the great instruction, and thanks to Springfield FMA for their hospitality.