Stepping into a martial arts school for the first time can be daunting. There is so much unknown about the classes that it is worth learning what to expect. I decided to make this post about my local Counterpoint Tactical System club – Saint Louis Counterpoint Martial Arts, or STL Counterpoint. A prospective student can find the styles of martial arts that we teach, our history, and a bio on the club leaders elsewhere on this site. This post is about beginnings. The first class is an introduction to the art and to the club members. STL Counterpoint practices two martial arts – Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS) and Cacoy Doce Pares (CDP). Regardless of what we’re studying that week, the general instruction plan will be the same.
During the first class, a new student will be introduced to the eskrima stick, also known as a baston, garrote, or olisi. Focus is placed on learning the correct body mechanics when striking with the stick. We train in a relaxed manner that emphasizes form. This means that the student learns how to hold the stick properly, the various striking surfaces, how to generate power, and some angles of motion.
Filipino martial arts and Counterpoint Tactical System, specifically, are dynamic martial arts; so, the new student learns footwork as well. Angular footwork from traditional Filipino arts is introduced immediately. This aids in the self defense goal of escape whenever possible.
Again, form is emphasized during the first class. This means I talk a lot about proper body mechanics as the session progresses. We use a flexible, mutli-level approach that accommodates all skill levels, which means anyone can start at any time. Each class has an outline, but instruction responds to the student’s grasp of the material not a timeline.
My responsibility as an instructor applies the moment that training begins, whether the individual is a lifelong student or drops by for one visit. You can read what makes up my responsibilities here; it boils down to providing a high quality, safe learning experience.
Because CTS and CDP are rooted in traditional arts, STL Counterpoint does bow in and out of class. This gesture is a sign of respect between instructor and student – respect for the knowledge and respect for the effort given during class. Class is informal after that. Working with partners is essential to proficiency in the martial arts. We start working partner drills right off the bat. Questions are encouraged during training because they require deeper thinking about the art.
In any martial art, the question of safety must be addressed. At the start of class, we lend out protective equipment for the class. By focusing on proper mechanics, the student is learning to be a safe training partner. Drills proceed at a slow pace.
When’s a good time to start?
Now is the only answer to that question. Now is the best time to start.
The first week of instruction is free. Both Monday and Wednesday classes are free to try. We want prospective students to come in and experience a couple classes to see what we offer. In addition to free classes with STL Counterpoint, our partners at Team Kali provide free instruction during that same week.