Earlier this week, I tweeted a link to an old blog post – Curriculum Preferences – from two years ago. Russ Haas of Haastyle Martial Arts in Boca Raton, FL asked if this preference was still true. At that time, I had experienced empty hands, single and double stick, empty hands versus knife, knife versus knife, and a small amount of espada y daga. Since then, I’ve experienced more depth to all of those topics and dipped into learning gun disarms, staff – three sizes, and spear. At the time of that article, I had little teaching experience, and today, I have a much better perspective on Counterpoint Tactical System basics. So with two more years of experience and a little more breadth of training, is single stick training still my preference?
Yes. Without a doubt, single stick curriculum is still my preference. Knife, double stick, gun disarm, staff, spear, and empty hands training are all fun and enjoyable. They are important for self defense and to be a well rounded martial artist. I also believe that adding a wide range of study allows a deeper understanding of concepts. The concepts are viewed from many different angles through different tools.
Even with all of this, the single stick curriculum edges everything out in my preference. From solo training with footwork to the drills to the sparring, the single stick makes me the happiest as a martial artist. It can make simple, pleasing geometric lines in various angles, and it can twirl in complicated spiral patterns. My ear loves the swish of wind as a quick strike moves through the air. I spend a lot of time walking different footwork patterns matched with various stick strikes. The single stick curriculum is aesthetically pleasing. I can get in a more meditative state training with the stick and lose myself in weapon training. With a knife, I am mentally aware of the blade the whole time.
Corto range sparring from Cacoy Doce Pares is the peak of the single stick curriculum for me. I love teaching and sparring it – even when I’m out of my league. I feel like I make the most gains during this sparring. My focus is on relaxing, trapping, striking, and controlling my opponent. I may not accomplish all of those goals, but I make progress towards them. Even though my opponent is swinging a stick around my head, I also feel the most calm in this sparring. It is the best meditation that I have found because I have to be mindful of every moment. I have to pay attention to my movements as well as my opponents.
It will be interesting if my preference is the same in the years to come. There are more areas of CTS for me to explore, and my preference may change as I learn more. That’s what I love about the martial arts. There’s no one right answer. What aspect of your martial art do you prefer the most?