Knocking Down the Pins: CTS Training Simplified

Huh, sometimes I even amaze myself…

My boy, K.Wags, thinks that folks use the term “amazing” far too often. I don’t really disagree, but I’m convinced the analogy that I came up with in class last week fits all the criterion.Amazing

Surprise? Well, let’s be honest, the ensuing words of wisdom came directly from me, so…

Wonder? Wonder? More like WONDERFUL. Stay with me here; I have come up with an astounding, startling and breathtaking “Tale to Astonish” which compares our training model in the Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS) to a brand new version of bowling that would totally be totally fun and easy to learn.

Our staff at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy, and, really, all of us teaching and training CTS throughout the country, are very proud of, and love to pontificate about, our open training model, as set forth by our leader Zach Whitson, the creator of the system. This model provides for progressive resistance as one develops specific ‘attributes’ necessary for street survival and growth in the system. For example, at the beginning level, we train a set of passing drills that are fundamental to the application of CTS in the real world. Later, we develop a set of locks and takedowns that can plug directly into the passing drills when trained correctly. At the advanced level, we will train more advanced interceptions, enhancements, and counter attacks that will come in handy after students have committed to years of maturation and evolution in the system. This got me to thinking…

I imagined an AMAZING new game, something that will take your little ant-sized CTS game and expand it to a GIANT game…

Tales_to_Astonish_Vol_1_49 (2)

Prepare to be ASTONISHED by an AMAZING analogy of how your development in the Counterpoint Tactical System can work:

Imagine the game of bowling and it’s system of strikes and spares for increased scoring opportunities. In the traditional version, a perfect score of 300 is achieved by knocking all the pins down on every throw. Ten frames, twelve consecutive strikes wiping out all the pins. That is 120 pins in total for those scoring at home. Through the magics and trickery of how the score is kept in bowling, this equals 300 (#obviously).

Go Mike!

Wally-300

#Codyisaloser

 

This strikes me (#punintended) as a difficult way to learn to accomplish a ‘perfect’ affectation of the idea of knocking down ten pins. I would rather get great at knocking down one pin first, then two, and so on. Take it on faith that if I knocked down one, then two, then three, etc. finishing with three strikes in the tenth frame, that cumulative score would add up to 75, for knocking down 75 pins. Makes sense, right? This is a common score for your average seven-year-old league bowler?!?!?! What if the game was set up with one pin in the first frame? Knock it down and it counts as a strike (a ‘perfect’ accomplishment); in the second frame there are two pins and knocking them both down counts as a ‘perfect’ strike, and so on. Now, by knocking down the same 75 pins, you have achieved the ‘perfect’ (300) score.

Go you! (the CTS practitioner)

300

Master Z, as the founder and primary promoter of the CTS method, asks us all to pick up an ever increasing load. So does your boss, your spouse, and so do your kids. That’s how the world works. If you want it to be real, guess what, it’s gonna get harder (#yourewelcome). In turn, your accomplishments will have more value.

So, it’s pretty much understood that the most difficult part of training is getting started. Many think they have to accomplish everything right away, rolling perfect strikes every time. What I’m saying to all you new players out there is, take it one frame at a time and keep knockin’em down.

Hmmm, what if I actually trained to hit someone with a bowling ball?

See you on the mat! RH

Feature Friday – Follow Eric Primm NOW

Welcome to my Friday Feature, a weekly post designed to introduce to you some of the best and brightest students at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy (HMAA) and throughout the Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS). I’ll try to illuminate where their success comes from, what brought them to our Academy or into CTS, and discuss some of the challenges they may have faced along the way. If you are training with us yet, perhaps you will see yourself in one of the upcoming weekly features. If not, get on the mat already…

In my previous Friday posts, I have focused on a couple of great individual stories at our school, Tyler K. and Ezara S.. Last week, I presented a group of individuals that have had great success at HMAA, the ladies of the “Fight like a Girl” Defensive Tactics and Awareness for Women (FLAG) program. This week I am going to focus on one of our greatest promoters and almost definitely our best and most prolific blogger, Mr. Eric Primm of Saint Louis Counterpoint (maybe I’ll get a T-shirt out of this?).

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Eric Primm (w training knife) with Zach Whitson (w handgun)

I’m motivated to do this by the outstanding output and commitment to writing he has displayed over the years. Just today he re-posted about How to Be a Good Training Partner which he wrote a couple of years ago and it reminded me that he has been doing excellent work for a while now. I also noticed that it is a good companion piece for the article that I wrote last week about Haastyle FMA Training Structure.

 

So, I’ve been talking to Eric, who I like to call Shakespeare, for a several years about wanting to write more, and starting a blog, more specifically. He said “…you should be writing…” Now that I’m doing what I set out to do, he has been incredibly supportive and

Writing Avengers

Steve – Thor – Tony – Bruce

encouraging . His writing is smart and informative. As an Engineer, by trade, he can bring a more technical approach to certain material then you might see from, say, me. I also think it’s great that he kind of put his journey through CTS out there for the world to see. Here is a good primer about whence he came – How Grappling Led Me to CTS by Eric Primm. Eric has become an outstanding martial artist and watching him go through the ranks has been a real treat. To wit:

 

being-a-good-writerI highly recommend that you peruse the Saint Louis Counterpoint archives and FOLLOW Eric Primm’s blog (Facebook, Twitter, et al). Note: I have found that WordPress is a really good tool for learning, it’s a great tool for writers and the thing I love the most is they don’t send ANY spam, so when you subscribe you will only get what you ask for. Oh, and if you don’t follow me yet, you should …

See you on the mat! RH

Feature Friday – Ez-E

Welcome to my Friday Feature, a weekly post designed to introduce to you some of our best and brightest students at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy and illuminate where their success comes from, what brought them to our Academy, and discuss some of the challenges they may have faced along the way. If you are not yet a member, perhaps you will see yourself in one of the upcoming weekly features. We started just last week with an introduction to one of our Youth Phase II students, Tyler K.

This week I want to introduce to you my good friend Ezara–Ez-E (pronounced E-Z-E) as I call him. He contacted me for the first time, as I recall, way back in 2008. We exchanged several Facebook messages through the Miami Cacoy Doce Pares page . Ez was unable to begin

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Here’s me with Ezara and Bryan circa June 2014

training with me for a variety of reasons until 2011. I always use him as one of the examples of getting in to train when you are ready. This should not translate to eternal procrastination, just realistic expectations of time, finances, and desire.

I have students come to me for all kinds of reasons: health and fitness, the search for a hobby, and, of course, the desire to learn some form of personal protection. Ezara is one of THE most motivated students who has ever come my way, partly because he was the victim of a terrible assault that landed him in the hospital, and almost worse. Prior to reaching out to me, he had done a tremendous amount of research: he knew a bit about the Cacoy Doce Pares (CDP) system and found the best instruction in South Florida at HMAA. It turns out we had a common background. We both had trained extensively in Bruce Lee’s, Jeet Kune Do and Ed Parker’s American Kenpo Karate. The funny thing is, Ez actually came to me to learn CDP, a deceptively simple, easy-to-learn system that we train primarily for close quarters blunt weapons. We teach CDP in our youth classes, as well as having it as a main part of our Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS) program.

Here’s Ez-E, early last year, as he was preparing for his blue belt test in Counterpoint Tactical System…

Ezara is in his 50s, keeps himself in good shape, is happily married, and travels up from Hollywood as often as three times a week to train with me privately. He works as a professional musician with a nightly gig as the piano man at Runyon’s in Coral Springs. As a musician he needs to look after his hands, so HMAA training is perfect for him as we train safe 100% of the time. He’s awesome–so for crying out loud, put some bread in his jar. Like so many of us, Ezara has had some financial challenges through the years, but has always maintained his personal commitment to be able to protect himself should he ever be attacked again. Ez has very bad knees as a result of spending his younger days “on the boards,” amongst other things, so over the years we have had to modify some of the tactics to accommodate that limitation.

Well, it’s four plus years since Ez started training with me. He is a good friend, confidant, and training partner. He has helped to make me a better martial artist. Ezara was awarded his 1st degree black belt in Cacoy Doce Pares in October 2015 and is a red belt in CTS. Congratulations, Ezara, on your diligence and dedication to training. You are a fine example of what can be accomplished by a student in our adult program at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy!

See you on the mat…

Russ Haas

FMA Training with Music Will Make You Better!

bob_marley__you_feel_no_painSo we begin this week with an expansion of one of the points that was made in last weeks post “CTS is NOT for Everybody…”, if you haven’t read it, check it out. One of the points that I made was that the Counterpoint Tactical System (and Filipino Martial Arts training) may not be for you if you don’t like music. Now, of course, this is an over generalization, it’s clear, when we get together, that many of my CTShello-is-this-thing-on brothers and sisters are not only tone deaf, but one might wonder if they can hear any music playing at all? Yet somehow they still manage great success in their training. As for me, “it sure helps m’trainin’ when the right tunes are a’playin.” There are a couple of elements of my solo practice, and in group classes at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy, where I feel that music has been particularly useful by improving the process, and thus improving the results. That’s what we’re all about, right? Give a few of these ideas a try and let me know if you get the feeling.

Warm-up – The first thing that I do when I step on the mat to begin class is turn on some upbeat songs and this is the only instance where I, personally, will put up with “pop” music. Yeah, I’m taking one for the team here, although, truth be told, I have used this tool when training alone. It’s easier for everybody to get going on the mat when you transition with something you may have heard on the radio on the way over. It’s got to be something upbeat, maybe something that you can sing along to (in your head, I mean, nobody, nobody wants to hear you singing on the mat… **cough cough – Shaun – cough cough**. We’ll get some footwork done, maybe some push-ups, sit-ups, etc. 10-15 fifteen minutes, for me, that’s about my tolerance for this type of music. Here are some good tunes that we have used over the years for this purpose:

  1. Harder to Breathe by Maroon 5 (when they were tolerable)
  2. Poker Face – Lady GaGa (before she became the Queen of England)
  3. Misery Business – Paramore (a guilty pleasure)

“Pop” warm-up fails include Adele, Maroon 5 (new stuff), and ANY country music recorded this century.

Solo Weapon training – Every FMA practitioner spends a good bit of time where it’s just you and your tools. Many of us have weapon racks and displays where we keep our tools/ toys. In CTS and most other systems there are many striking patterns and defensive tactics that are to be practiced on the regs, in an effort to stay sharp (a bit of blade humor there for you). In my training, I always begin with straight up curriculum and work up to freestyle, sometimes going back and forth. I’ll grab a weapon and start to play, I use the music to give me queues. The music will tell me to speed up, slow down, change my timing, or change my weapon. For this type of training, I listen to drum music. Drum music can come from all over the world, in my collection, I have several Japanese taiko drum groups, Scottish, German, African, native American and several Latin drum groups. This type of music tends to vary rhythmically in tempo and time. The use of different percussion instruments and the sturm and drang nature of it can change what you are doing in an instant. Back in the day, I used to workout with Jason Bonham (yes, THAT Jason Bonham) and I was always hoping he would give FMA a try, alas, I did get his son in for a while, but never him. Here are some great drum corps that I listen to:

  1. Fushu Daiko (far and away my favorite)
  2. Wolgemut (German/ renaissance style)
  3. Albannach (Scottish drum corps)

Double Stick banging

“I don’t like to hammer out some nice sinawali’s to hard rock music.”

said no FMA player ever…

At HMAA, all of our Cacoy Doce Pares classes begin with pengke-pengke. For this double stick practice I reserve our best hard rock/ old school punk music. The slamming guitars and super fast tempo lends itself to pushing the pace, forgetting about the minutiae and, above all, don’t stop. The only problem is many of the songs won’t fill a two or three minute round, anyway, go, go, go!

Here are some of my faves:

  1. Bad Reputation – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (THE best)
  2. Run to the Hills – Iron Maiden
  3. Ring of Fire – Social Distortion (I love Johnny Cash, but this is the one you want)

This music is also great for pad work, oh, and, listening to every day…

Doce Pares sparring – Zach Whitson (the founder of CTS) and I always have some music on when we train. The best is when we throw some blues or reggae music on and spar in the way of Supreme Grandmaster “Cacoy” Canete. The chilled out vibe of some Buddy Guy or Muddy Waters blues records, I mean CD’s, I mean MP3’s; or the cool riddims of Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff or, of course Brother Bob really set the tone for a relaxed feeling of the movement of “Cacoy”. Try these:

  1. Peter Tosh – Live & Dangerous: Boston 1976
  2. The Rolling Stones and Muddy Waters – Live at the Checkerboard Lounge 1981
  3. Cyndi Lauper – Memphis Blues (2010)

For me music is as much a part of my life as my heartbeat or breathing and training is as much a part of my life as music, so let the music move you in more than your heart and your head.

So if you’ve come in off the street
And you’re beginning to feel the heat
Well listen buster
You’d better to start to move your feet
To the rockin’est, rock-steady beat
Of Madness
One step beyond!

Madness

Like Brother Bob says “one good thing about music, when it hits you you feel no pain.” For a bunch folks who are used to getting whacked with stick all day, well, that’s not nothing. So take advantage of the heavy heavy monster sound. Get on your feet and take your training ONE STEP BEYOND!

See you on the mat!

RH


 

CTS is NOT for Everybody…

Hey folks! Here’s my first shot at posting via Word Press so, I hope it makes you laugh, makes you cry and maybe makes you wonder WHY? Sheesh, I’m already Dr. Suess; thanks for reading, here goes…


So often, I find myself presented with questions like:

“What is the Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS)? “CTS Crest Hi res crop

“Can everybody do it?”

My responses run the gamut from “Are you looking to start training?” – “YES”; “Are you willing to do something great for yourself?” – “I want to, buuuut…”; “Are you willing to give it a try?” – “WHEN ARE CLASSES?”

You can do it

All that is really all that is needed for success in my program at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy is; 1) the desire and 2) the follow up action of getting on the mat. From that point on any reasonable person can see what CTS has to offer. The high percentage of people that do not follow through, and the sometimes STUNNING reasons why, are a subject for another article.

The premise of this article touches on possible reasons why someone that may try a class or two doesn’t follow through. It’s time to come clean; I’ve decided to put the truth out there:

The Counterpoint Tactical System is NOT for everybody!

Do NOT do CTS if…

  1. You need more drama in your life; you definitely should not be training in the Counterpoint Tactical System if you are the one who is alwaysSweet georgia looking for something or someone to bitch and complain about. CTS practitioners tend to stay cool and focus on the positive improvements that the training brings.
  2. You believe in “no pain, no gain”; the CTS training model is designed to build you physically from the ground up. Initially balance and stability are the focus of the training through the development of proper footwork. Check out my friend Eric Primm’s site for his regular Footwork Friday posts. Punching, kicking, wielding a weapon and evading all of these things are the foundation that we build upon. Do not practice CTS if you need to leave class bruised, battered and broken down to feel fulfilled.
  3. You like a “varied” wardrobe; yeah, well, like it or not, you will likely spend the rest of your days wearing tactical or cargo pants/ shorts and some type of black (maybe grey on “fancy” day) t-shirt, day in and day out (**except for you Val**). If you’re all about the traditional pajamas and belts, CTS is not for you.
    11221448_10207546918294233_1943202494923546113_o
    Counterpoint Tactical System first generation black belts circa 2013. L-R Kevin Wagner (Dayton, OH), Brian Brown (Atlanta, GA), Russ Haas (Boca Raton, FL), CTS Founder Zach Whitson (Charlotte, NC), Josh Ryer, Joel Dougherty & David Curet (Pittsburgh, PA)
  4. You need to do jump spinning 360 kicks; just NO…
  5. You need to keep every belief that you previously had about martial arts; most CTS students have had more than one strongly held belief about martial arts, and martial arts training methodologies disproved after practicing our “open training model” with progressive resistance training for a while.Are you serious
  6. You want to rest on your laurels; while CTS is still in its formative years as a system, it stands that training is an institutionalized part of the culture. From the top down, with CTS Founder Zach Whitson as our inspiration, virtually every, CTS black belt trains almost every day.
  7. You can’t embrace change; CTS is an ever evolving system that will change with the times as any, relatively, small group culture is prone to do. It will change as you age, it will change with improved teaching methods and technology. The CTS practitioner is never set on “cruise control.”
  8. You don’t love to laugh; it stands to reason, if you are going to spend so much time with your training partners, it has got to be fun. Make jokes; laugh. Make a mistake; laugh. Do something great; laugh. LAUGH, LAUGH, LAUGH… What If I Told You Missing SomethingThat about covers it, but it seems like eight is not the right number though, so let me add the following:
  9. You don’t like to train with music
    One good thing
  10. You have a fear of trianglesor you suffer from rhabdophobia (look it up).
  11. You don’t like to eat your veggieshealth is wealth!
  12. You don’t like the number twelvesee what I did there?

Maybe my next post will be about why we all SHOULD train in CTS?

That’s going to be long one, with a lot… of… words…

I’ll see you on the mat! RH