So you want to learn Stick-Fighting

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Preparing for a fight, I like to be alone and visualise the win as I armour up. Mindset is key.

Where to start.

Find yourself a good Teacher

Depending on where you live, this is not always easy. There are plenty of people out there who claim to be stick fighting ‘experts’ but the truth is that many have not taught or fought in the Philippines. I believe that a good teacher will have trained in the country of origin of the martial art they teach; that is just my opinion. A good teacher will share their background and let you try a lesson or two with them before committing to paying for training. I am very lucky to have an amazing teacher who is highly experienced and has fought at many levels in more than 1 martial art.

I have always been picky when choosing someone to train under. When I trained in Muay Thai & Boxing I chose to have one-on-one training with someone I felt comfortable with as the local schools were more interested in making money than growing martial artists.

You need to do whatever it takes to find a good teacher. A good teacher will guide you along the most efficient path for learning. A good teacher will help you avoid developing bad habits. A good teacher will also give you not only coaching, but effective feedback.  You can’t identify what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong without an experienced teacher to help you.

A lot of training time will be done alone, and although you can train with a mate, read books, watch DVD’s or YouTube videos all day, but a good teacher is vital for learning. Do whatever it takes; find a good teacher before you even start.

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My amazing Guro (Teacher) Enzo Trigila

Train regularly

The most important work in your training vocabulary is CONSISTENCY. If you can help it, never miss class without good reason. Practice at home daily. Ask your teacher and senior students for feedback. Regular, short, focused training sessions are better than one long training session once a week.

To keep improving, you must train often and get plenty of sleep so that your brain can process the lessons properly.

Train outside of the Dojo

Don’t just rely on class time. I train 6 days a week. When I am not completing school work or sleeping, I have a stick or a training knife or staff or nunchaku in my hands, or, I am working the bag or in my gym. Time in class or with your teacher is for learning new skills, fine tuning skills, getting feedback and guidance. Outside of the Dojo, you must practice. Write up a weekly timetable and stick to it. You don’t need a lot of time. Even with 15-30 minutes a day is enough to keep you on point.

Time with a training partner is essential in FMA. I often train with my best mate Bailey. We either train at my house as I have bags and tyres and gym gear or we hit the Dojo outside of class time. I am lucky as my dad is the club Secretary and we can use the Dojo when nobody is around. We have even done sunrise sparring on top of a large hill about 10km out-of-town and in local parks around town. Training in different locations is great.

1536343026416003Me and my Best Mate Bailey at the 2017 WEKAF Australian Nationals after receiving our medals. We had to fight each other in the first bout of our age group. For 3 minutes we were enemies, but back to being mates directly afterwards.

Not only do we practice our drills that require 2 people, we use each other to analyse our learnings. You will grow faster when you have the insights of a mate supporting your own study. They will see things you do not see, and they will help you explore your own thoughts about the techniques and drills you are practicing.

Get some tyres and plenty of sticks

Hit tyres with your sticks. By hitting tires, you will learn to hit harder and you will develop your grip strength at the same time. Study what happens when the stick contacts the tyre and you will soon understand how to generate more power with more effective body mechanics.

Remember, sticks are a consumable and tyres are not kind. I have several types of sticks from WEKAF approved tournament sticks to thick branches I have collected in the bush to galvanised pipe and 3kg hammers. Don’t use sparring sticks on tyres as they won’t last. Find a good supplier and buy in bulk.

Practice your striking constantly. Instead of practicing once a week, practice once a day. Instead of practicing a set of strikes 100 times in a session, practice it 300, 400 or 500 times. This will help you build stamina, refine your accuracy and technique as well as condition your hands. Believe me when I tell you that your hands will be sore!

Challenge yourself; constantly

You need to challenge yourself and train at the absolute threshold of your abilities in order to improve. Training that allows you to improve your performance under stress is vital. Just make sure that you have a good understanding of the fundamentals before going too hard.

Start basic, then gradually add more pressure such as more speed or varied angles of attack. As long as you are improving, you can crank up the intensity. Training this way will improve your competency under pressure and I have found this perfect for me to prepare for a tournament.

Get the basics nailed first and work up to sparring. Don’t try to bite off too much and you won’t get frustrated and disheartened.

“If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time.” Zig Ziglar

Find your ‘warrior spirit’ and get your mindset right

The right mindset will make a huge difference in your development. You need to find the love for the challenge to become the best. Take your time as you will not become an expert overnight. When you hit the wall, take a breath, get your head straight and hook back in. Don’t let yourself be discouraged.

Things that work for me:

  • Never settle for good enough – always go for better.
  • Don’t ignore your weaknesses – build on them & they become your new strengths.
  • Find a way to keep going & overcome any barrier you identify.
  • Keep an open mind – you will never know everything – you will always be a student.
  • Chase knowledge – ask questions of teachers and more experienced students.
  • Stay healthy and get plenty of sleep.
  • Find a mentor and learn, learn, learn. ( I will post about the people I admire later)
  • Enjoy what you are doing – if you don’t get excited about training and learning then it probably isn’t right for you.
  • Goal setting – I plan on become the best in the world. That is the plan and there is no diverting from it.
  • Visualise your goals to help you get there – write them down – read them often – image what they will look like when you get there – make them vivid.
  • The most important thing of all is; NEVER GIVE UP.

I was born a warrior,13 weeks premature on a resort island in the Whitsunday islands with no hospital on August 4th 2003 (Yay! today is my 14th birthday). Then I was diagnosed with Pneumococcal Meningitis at 5 months and back on life support, and then, diagnosed with Epilepsy.

For me the first few years of my life were a battle. It hardened me up. Mum & Dad were told not to get “too excited” when I was born. The Doctors said I would probably not make it through the first night. Then I was told I would likely end up deaf and that my coordination would never be any good ……… When I received my Silver medal at the National Titles all I could think to myself was “Yeah, I proved them wrong”.

Cheers

Paddy

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