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Training for Success with the Four Walls

Training for Success with the Four Walls

Recently, our level 1 Pekiti Tirsia students have been working on the Four Walls method (a.k.a Quatro Cantos and Apat na Paligid). Progress is good so far, but the key will be in their understanding.

We started the training with basic coordination and body mechanics. We then developed timing and proprioception through repetition of the entries. We added combinations to the entries and developed more dynamic movement - removing hesitation and artificial pauses. Once the coordination was right, we added reaction training to embed the skills in the student.

I have found that though very simple, the Four Walls techniques are often misunderstood. The misunderstanding often lies in the perception of how the technique will be applied. If you want to be successful, you must really understand the technique you are training. Any misconception in training will lead you to fail in application. As an instructor, it is my job to protect my students from this pitfall.

The Four Walls are counter-offensive techniques that apply a classic tactic of the Filipino Martial Arts - when the opponent strikes at you, hit his hand. Because we practice the technique most often by making impact with the stick (instead of the hand) as a safety measure, students sometimes begin to think of it as a blocking technique. This misunderstanding can lead to improper training. It can corrupt every practice session and ultimately derail the effectiveness of an otherwise very useful technique.

Students will begin to reach out to meet the incoming strike, rather than focus on striking into it. Footwork will go askew when the student attempts to make contact with the partner's extended weapon far away from the partner's hand rather than come in close and hit just next to it. The proper technique requires you reach with your footwork, not your hands. You attack into the attack. Don't try to stop it.

If your timing is bad or your accuracy fails you, then your attempt to hit the hand may become a deflection of the weapon (in fact, this is your backup) but the intent of the technique is to hit the hand. This intent is what qualifies it as a counter-offensive method when it is applied in response to the opponent's attack. A block or deflection of the weapon by itself is technically defensive and leaves more time for the opponent to recounter. Every drill should be structured so as to be a reminder that you are hitting, not receiving.

Proper mindset and an understanding of your tools are critical to making your techniques work. Kali - this is not just a simple study of how to hit someone, we are training tactical skills. The tactics related to each technique support it's application. Understanding the nuances of each is a must for your success.


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