Category: Filipino Martial Arts

WEKAF World Titles 2018

July 18th – 23rd 2018 saw 4 of us from Sikaran Martial Arts Mount Isa compete at the 15th WEKAF World Titles at the Lahaina Civic Center, Lahaina, Hawaii. We had an amazing time, met some sensational people and competed against the best Filipino Martial Arts practitioners in the world.

We did the 12-hour drive from our home to the coast before flying down to Sydney and then on to Oahu, before finally arriving in Maui. All up it took nearly 3 days from our house to our Airbnb in Lahaina. Our Host Bebe has an amazing place and it was perfect for pre-tournament rest. Pool, Hot Tub, super comfy beds and aircon …. perfect!

Our group was made up of Dallas Farnsworth (Club President), my Dad Chris Roche (Club Secretary), Zane Street and me as the only junior competing from out Dojo. We joined up with another 21 Aussies to make up the WEKAF Australia Team.

L-R: Dallas, Zane, Me & Chris

The tournament was fantastic. I faced some very tough competition against seasoned competitors but overall was very happy with my results in my first World titles.

I came home with a Silver in Knife fighting, Bronze in Single Stick, Bronze in Kulata and 5th in Double Stick. In total, the 4 of us came home with 7 medals; Dad scored a Bronze in the 50+ heavyweight single stick, Dallas won Silver in Single stick and Zane did an amazing job to bring home Gold in Double Stick and Silver in Single Stick.

At the end of the tournament we were lucky enough to attend a seminar held by the Grand-masters. We had Grand-masters from the Philippines and also from Hawaii and we spent the day learning more about stick-fighting, Katjukenbo (Hawaiian dirty boxing) and a good amount of time on edged weapon defence and offence.

Edged weapon training with the Hawaiian Grand-Masters

We spent 2 amazing weeks on Maui before flying back to Oahu for a week staying at Waikiki and then stopped in Sydney for a week for my Birthday celebrations. To top of a great trip, I came home focused on my Sikaran Karate and completed Grading where I was promoted to Senior Green Belt 2nd Class …… 2019 will see me going for my Brown Belt!

My 3 x WEKAF World medals, WEKAF Australia medal & Sikaran Martial Arts ‘Most Focused Student’ award.

Now the focus is on the 2019 WEKAF Australian Titles in Melbourne in July 2019. I am training a few times a week while the Dojo is closed for Christmas but I will be back into full-on training in mid-January. Only 18 months until the 16th WEKAF World Titles in Cebu ……. I am bringing back Gold!!

My Journey to WEKAF 2018

So today I received my official letter confirming my selection into the Australian team for the WEKAF World Titles to be held in Maui, Hawaii July 18th-23rd 2018. I will be competing in both Single Stick & Double Stick divisions and so say that I am excited would be an understatement. Receiving this letter via email today suddenly makes this all so much more real.

Paddy WEKAF2017 was a great year. I won Silver at the WEKAF Australian Nationals, met some amazing Martial Artists who will become lifelong friends, achieved Green Belt, 2nd Class Senior in Sikaran and made selection for the Australian Team. I was pretty stoked to get some great grades at school also. 2018 will be an even better year as I focus on the road ahead in preparation for competition. My two main goals for 2018 are winning gold at WEKAF & achieving my Brown Belt.

What representing Australia means to me

To be selected to attend the WEKAF World Titles is something bigger than just yourself and your sport. You are a part of the Australian Team and that is just something that only happens every two years and you get to be a part of it! It is a pretty incredible thing to be a part of I believe.

To me it is an absolute honour to be able to represent my country in what it is that I do. It means that I am actually not to bad at what I love. And then to compete on the world stage to try and win a medal; well that is just a huge honour and I am proud to be a member of Team Australia.

The last thing I thought of would be representing Australia for anything really and this opportunity is really humbling for me. To be able to represent Australia is a real pinnacle in sporting achievements for me. This is such a great opportunity at my age to represent my Dojo and my country at the WEKAF World Titles.

What Next?

Training, training, training!

I have had a bit of a break over the school holidays, but this week has see a return to regular training every day. Mornings is cardio & strength and afternoons is stick work, karate and boxing.

Next week the WEKAF team from Sikaran Martial Arts Mount will commence pre-tournament training and that means I will be either at the Dojo or running up hills at 05:30am and then back in the Dojo in the afternoons for another session. That is 3 hours a day and I still need to maintain school in between training.

I guess all in all, it’s all the hard work that you put in and sacrifices you make that all come back to you in the end. Keeping focused on the end game, maintaining a positive attitude, taking responsibility for my own performance and being proud to have been chosen to represent my country will continue to drive me to not settle for anything less than gold.

I am a warrior.

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Some of my training tools

(above: If you are looking for good quality FMA gear in Australia try Tans Martial Arts Supplier. If they don’t have it they will do their best to get it. My wooden daggers, some of my sticks, nunchaku and kampican sword were all purchased from them. My Stix Arnis helmet is from Eljan Sports in the Philippines where I also buy some of my sticks, shorts & t-shirts)

Cheers

Paddy

Offence is often the best Defence

Apologies

Firstly, let me apologise for not posting for a while. I have been seriously flat-out with school work and the number of assignments I had last School Term was absolute chaos. I sometimes found it hard to get motivated to get online after spending all day on my laptop at school. I also have to maintain my training and so that will always come before the blog. I am going to dedicate time each week from now on to writing and so you should see more regular posts.

During this blog, I am going to write about an event that happened to me a few months ago.

Not all fights are in the Dojo

On my way to school one day a few months ago I was subjected to an attempted violent robbery. I don’t use the terminology ‘victim of’ but rather ‘subjected to’ as I do not see myself as a victim. Claiming victim status would give power to the people who thought that they had the right to attack me in an attempt to steal my new Mountain Bike.

I was outnumbered about 8-to-1. I was kicked off my bike as I rode past a group of teenagers and they attempted to steal my bike from me. It was fast and some of the people were twice my size. It could have ended badly; luckily it did not. I kept my cool, kept my bike and ultimately I did not get hurt (however some of them did).

It is amazing how a calm, focused mind helps you in times of high stress. This has been instilled in me by the excellent trainers I have had and also by my Dad who is a Military Veteran. Clear mind = clear advantage.

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It is important to be mindful that it is the attackers who ultimately decide the time, the place, and the method of the attack. This creates a considerable challenge for the person who has been targeted as they are already in a disadvantaged position.

For kids, women and the elderly this problem is compounded by the probability that there may be a considerable size difference in favour of the attacker whether that be in the number of attackers or the physical size/strength/possession of weapons of a solo attacker. Generally these people are gutless and use numbers and/or size and weapons to intimidate people and commit their crimes.

What would you do if faced with multiple attackers?

Take Control

Now, there are a large number of self-defence programs that offer simple-to-learn empty hand techniques from a broad range of systems like TKD, Muay Thai, BJJ or Karate. They are effective when the user is able to generate the power and targeting skills needed to neutralise a larger, stronger attacker.

In the context of self-defence, especially with a smaller frame, it is of necessity to quickly gain the upper hand or buy time to escape. Life is not a movie and the chances of fighting off a large group when you are on your own is often slim. It is better to win the fight by 50 metres than to wind up in hospital because you decided to stand your ground and take them all on.

I am not going to go into specific details of what I did on that day, but will say this; there is always a ringleader and if you stop them, then generally the group is lost. If you drop the biggest one and then go after number 2, the weaker ones will soon realise that they may be in trouble. If you can do this without showing any outward fear, or even speaking, they have no idea what they are up against.

On that day I did the minimum I needed to in order to effect a getaway without being injured myself. I made the person who was controlling the group my objective, I targeted that person, stopped them as fast as I could and that then saw the rest of the minions scatter. I was then free to continue my day at school before attending the Police Station to report the incident (after speaking with my Guro and my Parents).

I am not suggesting that everyone takes on their attackers. If you are not 100% sure in your own ability to fight back, RUN. There is no shame whatsoever in saving yourself from a beating.

Not all situations are equal.

Would I do the same again? I have no idea. Not all situations are equal just as not all solutions are equal. I had maybe 3 seconds to determine the variables and what I needed to do to stop the attack on myself. In this situation, I believed that I could engage these people and come out on top.

There isn’t a one size fits all approach and this is where my training in multiple systems became my advantage. Combining Sikaran and Muay Thai empty hand techniques as my defence was the last thing this group expected from a nerdy looking Catholic School boy with glasses ….. Never judge a book by its cover.

Employing the 3 Keys to self-preservation.

Staying on top and getting yourself out of a situation can sometimes come down to luck but If you make the decision to stand your ground then there are 3 vital elements to maintain that can assist to get you through:

BREATHE – Fear restricts breath. Practice breathing during your training and in situations that cause you apprehension and fear. Be mindful of your breathing when you’re feeling nervous and TAKE CONTROL OF IT. (I use the Elevation Training Mask 2.0 to assist me with my breathing training ).

MOVETOWARD the Attacker! It’s the opposite of freezing up or retreating, and it’s the only place where you can effectively harm them with a counter-attack. Moving into the attacker is not what they expect. Move forward NO MATTER WHAT.

FOCUS – Focus determines behaviour. If your focus is on not getting hurt, you will get hurt. That’s why people who drop to the ground and curl up in a ball on the ground get stomped on. Focus on HURTING YOUR ATTACKER, and you will increase the odds of defeating them no matter how big and strong they may be.

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Know your effective target areas and aim for them

Remember to always maintain your situational awareness when you are out in public and keep an eye out for tools that you can use if you need to defend yourself. Sticks, garbage bin lids, mobile telephones, school bags and keys all make effective impact weapons. I have a solid steel phone case that would I would not like to get hit with. We will discuss impact weapons another time.

Solid steel heavy duty iPhone case makes a great impact weapon

Cheers

Paddy

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

What is Eskrima

Eskrima, also known as Kali or Arnis, is the national sport and martial art of the Philippines. The three names are roughly interchangeable terms for the traditional martial arts of the Philippines (“Filipino Martial Arts,” or FMA) that focuses on the use of sticks, bladed and impact or blunt weapons, improvised weapons, and hand-to-hand (empty hand) techniques.

LEARNING ESKRIMA

When commencing the study of Eskrima we are first introduced to the art by learning basic stick exercises. We learn the basic 12 offensive strikes and once these are mastered we move on to the 12 basic defensive blocks.

Once a student is deemed competent by their trainer with the basics, the more advanced forms are taught. These include 2 sticks, one long stick, and the 2 handed staff. As students gain proficiency we are taught skills with knives, daggers, palm-sticks and various Filipino swords. In time we learn to combine these different weapon systems.

A really good page that I found talks more about the history of Filipino Martial Arts here The Grand History of Filipino Stick Fighting – Stick Fighting Sport. This page has some very interesting information and is written by a highly experienced instructor from the Philippines who states;

“The three key elements to learning Eskrima are fluidity, rhythm, and timing. There are very few sharp, sudden movements, only smooth flowing transitions from each movement to the next. The flowing skills are the most important and most difficult to learn and apply”.

It is very true that Eskrima is a flowing martial art. Two things that I have been taught is the importance of transitioning movements and the importance of being ambidextrous. It is vital to be able to flow from one hand to the other and maintain rhythm.  This also translates to me being a better Sikaran practitioner. Eskrimadors believe that hand-to-hand combat moves are similar to those with weapons and that is why these skills are developed concurrently. This helps me in Sikaran and I believe that Eskrima helps me to be become a much better martial artist overall.

BASIC GOALS OF ESKRIMA

Eskrima is primarily a weapons-based style of fighting. It involves inflicting bad, often fatal damage to opponents with the use of weapons and empty hand techniques as quickly as possible.

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Me (left – blue stick) in the gold medal bout at WEKAF 2017. It was close and I took home Silver.

WHY DO I ENJOY ESKRIMA?

Eskrima is a complete martial art. It doesn’t focus exclusively on unarmed self-defence techniques nor does it focus exclusively on weaponry. Students learn to interchange weaponry depending on its availability so they can fight just as well with a weapon or without it. It covers all the ranges of combat. Eskrima trains the student to fight at long range (with feet), medium range (hands and feet), and close range (elbows and knees). It also utilises wrestling techniques, wrenches, take-downs, sweeps, throws and pressure point strikes.

Students of Eskrima learn to use weaponry first. Most other martial arts teach weaponry only to the most senior students when they have reached a high level of proficiency in their art. However, weaponry learnt this way is never related to empty hand applications and students are taught specific techniques, rather than teaching integrated principles. The benefits of learning weaponry first is that it increases the co-ordination tenfold for empty hand applications (after all, weapons are merely extensions of the limbs).

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Weapons of Eskrima

Students are taught sparring right from the start. No time is wasted learning intricate footwork, or stances. The student is taught to spar at short range, long range, grappling range, and with a variety of weapons. Eskrima is probably one of the only martial arts where sparring against multiple opponents is successfully trained. 

Many techniques in Eskrima are lethal. Not many restraining techniques are taught since the art is grounded in mortal combat. Spirituality and martial virtue is attained independently by the students and not taught as part of the curriculum. 

Although I started with Muay Thai & Boxing when I was 8 years old, the past 2 years of Sikaran & Eskrima have seen my skills and my passion for martial arts increase significantly.

There is just something about stepping into the circle with sticks, getting in close, delivering some strikes and backing out only to go back in hard & fast that I enjoy. Each round is 60 seconds of what appears to be utter chaos, but to me it is a beautiful dance. A dance where speed, accuracy & technique outweigh pure strength. A dance that is often painful but one that I love with a passion.

Cheers

Paddy

Taking on the world!

I decided to start this blog because of my love of Martial Arts. I am an Eskrimador (Stick Fighter) and one day I will be world Champion. I’ve not written a blog before and so I hope that you find some interest in this.

My name is Patrick but most people just call me Paddy. I live in the Outback in north-west Queensland in a town named Mount Isa and I study Filipino Martial Arts with Sikaran Martial Arts Mount Isa. At my Dojo I train in Sikaran Karate & Eskrima. Prior to moving out here we lived on the coast where I studied traditional Boxing & Muay Thai.

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Where I live. 9 hour drive to the coast & 23 hours to Brisbane!
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2017 WEKAF Australian Nationals (me on the left)

In June 2017 I attended the World Eskrima, Kali, Arnis Federation (WEKAF) Australian National Titles in Townsville where I won a silver medal and ranked #2 in Australia for boys 14 years single-stick. In July 2018 I am heading to Hawaii to compete in the WEKAF World Titles as a member of the Australian Stick Fighting Team.

In total, 6 Eskrimadors from my Dojo were selected for the team and we are all excited about the trip.

Sikaran Martial Arts Mount Isa WEKAF 2017 Eskrimadors
Sikaran Martial Arts Mount Isa WEKAF 2017 Eskrimadors. L-R: Zane, Bailey, me, Enzo (Instructor), Loxley, Chris, Dallas

This blog is going to be about my love for martial arts and my preparation for the world title tournament. There may be weeks when I post daily and sometimes I may only post once per week. A lot will depend on my workload with school & training. I will post photos and videos of my training along the way.

I hope that you find some interest in my blog and I welcome any comments. I will try to respond to everyone who does comment.

Cheers

Paddy.

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The Outback Eskrimadors

2 Brothers on a journey to become Martial Arts World Champions

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