Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Scott and Mushtaq Travelling Knife Show

A while back Mushtaq Ali Al-Ansari, wandering Dervish (semi-retired), martial artist, cook, knife-maker and many other things convinced us to go to the first PATH seminar run by our old Silat training bro' the writer Steve Barnes and Coach Scott Sonnon of RMAX. I have to admit we were skeptical. But we went, we learned a lot, and we were very impressed.

This time around Tiel had a shoulder injury and I was playing host, so we missed the seminar. We were able to make it to a special training event afterwards. Mushtaq and Coach Sonnon did what I hope will be the first of many knife workshops.

These days everyone has a knife workshop and a special secret sacred edged weapons combatives system along the lines of "Fear No Man. Add Inches To Your Penis." But Mushtaq is old and cunning and knows way too much about sharp things after decades of bumming around the world getting into trouble and learning local knife arts from the Mescalero Apache Reservation and Indonesia to Persia and South Africa. He's the embodiment of the Capoeira saying "Old holes have snakes in them." I'd never seen Scott's martial arts in person. On the other hand, he's a frickin' genius. His Sambo, Hardwork and other material are impressive. He's had the best training the old Big Red Soviet Sports Machine ever produced. It was worth a look.

I'm glad I took that look.

The first good thing was that there wasn't anything stupid. Ego just doesn't enter into what they do. It was simple (but not easy). It made sense. There wasn't any nonsense of the sort that can get you killed. It was lines of attack and defense, distance, timing, body mechanics and drills that you can build off of on your own. There were a few moments when I was afraid that the two very different backgrounds wouldn't mesh, but they did.

Mushtaq covered basic lines of motion, body mechanics and Silat knife fundamentals. Scott emphasized commonality of training, more body mechanics and the essentials of distance, timing and targeting. I found myself having saber and epee flashbacks which isn't surprising. Much of the Russian knife footwork is related to fencing. I learned a fair bit. Ideas like moving between rather than at the joints and sensitivity drills to minimize damage by moving with the attack were very thought-provoking. More to the point, people who have been and done like Terry and Bobbe left the seminar nodding their heads and smiling.

My only concerns were time and depth. Two hours wasn't nearly long enough for the material they were presenting. I've had a fair amount of exposure to Southeast Asian martial arts and Western fencing and was able to keep my head above water. Without the background it would have been hard to absorb that many important concepts in such a short time. And this stuff was deep. Some of the things they mentioned casually require a lot of time to bring out and mature. Without more time for explanation, demonstration and practice a beginner could get lost.

So yes. It's good. It's not perfect yet, but it was great for a first try. If they come to your area and you have an interest in bodywork, martial arts, or self protection you will find this valuable, especially if they expand the class to the length the material demands.

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