Saturday September 7th
After the meditation and footwork on day two of the 2013 Iron Mountain Instructors camp, gun disarms began. (To catch up on the 2013 Iron Mountain camp, here is the first post.) I started working with Evan Ringle, and it was good to train with him again. We used to meet once a week at a minimum to practice our Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS) curriculum, and it’s been strange not having that regular training partner. So, it was good to get a chance to work with him.Master Zach Whitson started off discussing his reasons for including gun disarms in this year’s camp. I do not know very much about guns. I’ve fired a few pistols in my life, but the majority of my experience is trap shooting with shotguns. So, this discussion was worthwhile to me. America is already a gun friendly country, and certain states are passing laws that give armed individuals access to more areas, such as bars. As martial artists who focus on self defense, we cannot ignore this. It is reality and must inform our self defense tactics. (Which, to reiterate, is to escape first and any other chance we can get.) I already think it is important to know your states laws for self defense, but it is also important to know your states laws on firearm possession and carry. Whether or not you agree with each state’s laws, they are a fact that we have to deal with, and knowledge only helps. After the discussion finished, the techniques began. On the first day, I was so focused on my Brown 2 test that I forgot to take any pictures. With my test out of the way, I remembered my camera, and I’m glad I did. I took more pictures during that morning than any other Iron Mountain camp in the past. I even got a few pictures with Master Whitson myself.This was, by far, my favorite portion of the camp. Like the knife vs. knife level 3 curriculum, this material incorporated many different aspects of CTS. Master Whitson continually talks about the block curriculum style of teaching around which CTS is built. He says that any block can be stacked upon, put beside, or set on top of any other block of curriculum. It is really hard to understand this principle when starting CTS, but one day, it becomes clear. Each block connects. I’ve began seeing that with the brown 2 curriculum and watching my teachers train for black belt. The brown 2 material is simply an expansion of the green belt single stick defenses, and those expanded concepts feed into the double stick tactics for black belt. That is just one example. It’s like learning to walk, next learning to run, then learning how to dribble a basketball, and after that learning to shoot a basketball. Finally, you put it all together to drive around your opponent for a jump shot. Will you be good at the drive and jump shot? Maybe, maybe not, but you pick it up faster because you’ve incorporated the building blocks needed for it before you attempt it. This is how CTS is organized. But it also works in such a way that the skills in the later part of the system fit into the drills from the beginning. So, the drills in the early stages DO NOT lose their effectiveness as the student progresses. These drills should grow with the student, and then it becomes play.
The gun disarms were similar to some of the joint locks, similar to knife tapping, similar to panantukan, and similar to Cacoy Doce Pares sparring. The gun disarms were also different from each of these. They were tweaked due to the rules that exist with the gun. For example, with the part similar to knife tapping, we were able to ignore a certain rule because you can’t draw cut with a gun. But, since the knife is a fixed length whereas the gun can bridge distances, some techniques that apply to the knife had to be thrown out. The techniques were tweaked from their original curriculum blocks to work with the gun, and those adjustments are the important parts. The key is also to have fun, and we have lots of fun at camp.Saturday afternoon, we reviewed the staff twelve attacks. Staff training is extremely good for the shoulders. The staff is defined as the length of your body. This review was good for Sunday morning’s lessons.
Saturday night was the black belt test, and that will be covered in the testing portion of the write-up. As I wrote up in Congratulations, everyone passed.
Sunday September 8th
The final portion of camp was Sunday morning. After that morning’s meditation, Zack split the morning into two sessions. For the first portion, we covered staff and spear segidas. These segidas are similar to the same segidas for single stick long range. So similar in fact, that when I go to work on the spear set, I have to first think of the single stick set. I enjoyed seeing more of the staff material; it reinforces and builds upon the single stick largo techniques. Staff/spear is a few years down the road for me, but I plan to work on what I know until that time.
The second portion of the morning was juego todos, or play all. It was sparring in any form. I played some long range, single stick sparring and also got a couple of rounds of Cacoy close range sparring done. I learned a lot from all of the sparring sessions, and I’ve incorporated those lessons into my current practice.
The end of camp always comes too fast. There is so much to learn and so many good CTS practitioners to work with. After the Sunday sparring, I was exhausted. The camp was another success this year. I learned a lot, trained hard, and enjoyed myself.
This camp was a turning point for me. The theme of this year seemed to be connections. I’m putting enough of the system together that the connections are becoming more apparent between the upper levels of the system and what I’ve learned so far. The 2013 Iron Mountain camp was also my first one as more than just a student. I’m now a club leader and teaching CTS curriculum. Hopefully, I can teach some of this advanced material in the future. After this camp, I feel like I’ve entered a different phase of my CTS journey. I’ve made it past the basics and am on a steady course for achieving my black belt, but these are just points along the way. The real virtues of Counterpoint Tactical Systems are the journey itself and those who walk with me.