How the GGM Taught A New Student

How the GGM Taught A New Student

It is important to document how the GGM would teach a new student when they join the Pedoy School of Escrima. He usually left the teaching of the new students to his instructors; however, he was very specific about how he wanted them taught and would often lecture the instructors on what he wanted.

When a new student came to watch a class, the GGM and The Batikan would tell them: “No watching!” They felt that the observer might feel the art was too dangerous and wouldn’t come back, but if they immediately participated, it was more likely they would return for additional lessons.

GGM told us that the biggest mistake his instructors were making with new students is showing them too much in the first few lessons, confusing them and discouraging them from returning.

Here is how the GGM taught the first two classes for a new student:

First Day

  • Show the student how to hold the stick, with the stick flush with the bottom of your hand so the butt of the stick is not sticking out
  • Ready Position was next: how to salute and pray.
  • He would describe the patch and explain each word, the shapes, and the colors.
  • He would explain that escrima is the martial art of the Philippines and it’s a complete martial art.
  • He would explain how the Escrimadors and Escrimadoras fought the Spanish for 380 years and how Derobio adapted their strikes to be effective against the Spanish body armor.
  • In teaching the offence strikes, he wouldn’t show the foot work to the student until the student memorized each target for the 12 strikes first.
  • He spent a lot of time on the #1 strike, encouraging the student to hit with accuracy and not to ‘whip” stick or strike with a lot of power in the basics. The GGM emphasized that the key is to pull your stick way back and give the #1 in slow motion as if you are hitting your opponent with the intension of ending the fight with one blow. He taught the students that when you hit your opponent, the first strike should end the fight. The GGM didn’t want to see “whippy” short strikes; he emphasized that full strikes are always used in basics.
  • Each offensive number was done separately until the student learned it. After each new number, the student would have to return to the number one strike before going on to the next number.
  • The GGM was a right hander and would have a  lengthy discussion for the # 6 and the # 7s strikes. He was taught by the General that the # 6 was a poke to the right eye of the opponent and the # 7 was a poke to the left eye of your opponent. The strikes were developed to go through the opening in the helmets of the Spanish. He changed the strikes for the # 6 to poke the throat and # 7, in the early 1970s to poke the throat and the heart to avoid eye injuries.
  • GGM had such patience and would work with the student until each number was being done correctly and the targets were being hit correctly. He made sure the student was not striking with the back of the stick but was using the cutting edge of the stick as if it were a bolo.
  • Only when the student learned the 12 offensive strikes would he begin to teach the offensive foot work.
  • He would point to the school patch and explain that the triangle is the foundation of Derobio footwork. Then, he would draw a small triangle on the ground in front of the student and explain that in offense their feet begin at the two corners at the base of the triangle, step forward to the point for each strike, and then return to the original position.
  • He would also mention that the student should use a half step, knees slightly bent, with equal balance, keeping the knees together and never cross their legs.
  • If the student is right-handed, the offense footwork is easy to remember, because if you are right handed, remember “Right Hand -Right Foot” to begin your footwork. If the student was left-handed, the same thing applied: “Left Hand- Left Foot to begin your offensive footwork.”
  • He would then teach them how to balance their weight, turn their shoulders and pivot with their knees when they strike, always moving in slow motion.
  • Again, the GGM took one strike at time and once they got it, went back to #1 and proceeded through the numbers they had learned.
  • The offensive 12 strikes were the most the student would learn in their first class. If there was still time left in class, the new student would work on the 12 offense strikes for the reminder of the evening.
  • Just before closing, he would teach the student the “Pedoy Hand Shake” and tell the student about the tradition of shaking everyone’s hand at the end of class. He would stress the importance of the closing prayer and for the student to: “Thank the lord that they didn’t get hurt and they didn’t hurt anybody.”
  • The GGM use to say to the instructors that even if the student didn’t come back after the first class: “We are not the losers” because we have shown them that the Philippines has their own martial art.

Second Class

  • The GGM would be extremely happy if the new student return to class for the second lesson, for if the  new students did come back to class it showed him that they had the confidence to learn the art.
  • A complete review of the 12 offense strikes and footwork occurs before the student goes on to the basics defensive movements of Derobio.
  • The GGM would begin by stressing the importance of the student’s free hand and what position it should be in. The GGM favorite line on this subject was “Your free hand will safe your life and your stick hand will end the fight.”
  • Then GGM would draw the triangle again in front of the student, but this time upside down showing the student their footwork begins at the tip of the triangle and they are to step into their opponent at a 45 degree angle when they defend. If you are defending against a right hand attacker, you would step in with your left foot. Like the offense, you return your feet to the original ready stance before the next number.
  • The GGM would explain you always have to move in on defense so you could  strike your opponent back with all your might. The goal of Derobio is to end the fight quickly.
  • The GGM spent a lot of time on the first number of defense. He showed the student how to step in, using their free hand and how to use your stick to guide the blow by, thus never fighting against the opponent’s power. This technique allows a much smaller defender to subdue a stronger and larger opponent without fighting their strength.
  • The free hand for a right-handed student is used in the basics on the 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 12. It’s not used in the basics for the 2, 4, 6 and 11. Only in advance Derobio is the left had used for the 2, 4, 6 and 11. The GGM was very strict about when to use your free hand and when not to.
  • Learning the basics of the defensive movements took the whole second lesson and the GGM would never show anything else for the evening.

I always marveled at how patient the GGM when he taught beginners. I often thought that the way the GGM taught beginners was the same way General Ablen taught him.

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