Sunday, March 9, 2008

Approaching the "Style" of CAAW III

After the section on parries, there follows a series of sections on the following topics: return attacks, counter parries, feints, passing the cane and footwork. Each of these sections covers its topic in isolation; there is no discussion of how the topic at hand is integrated with any of the other previously covered topics. Additionally, these sections are relatively abstract as they tend not to discuss a topic in a specific application to a defined situation, but generally, without a context. Essentially ACC lays out the principles, fundamentals or underlying concept of each of the topics covered, without yet presenting the “canon” techniques of his system.

Following the section on footwork, a series of sections are presented, the titles of which suggest that perhaps some concrete technical material is to be revealed: ‘Attack and Defense’, ’Defense to Front’, ‘Defense to Right’, ‘Defense to Left’, ‘Defense to Rear’, ‘Defense in Two or More Directions’. However these sections, far from presenting any specific curricula, discuss the tactical considerations of the three guards (Left, Right and Double), in the directions named in the section titles. Having reviewed the vast majority of the text, there are still no specific lessons, or concrete response sequences to deal with defined attacks.

In fact, there are but two sections left in the text: ‘Special Cases’ and ‘Exercises’. ‘Special Cases’ describes responses to specific situations that ACC felt require detailed consideration: ‘Off Guard, Front or Rear Grapple’, ‘Guard Against a Dog’, and ‘Guard With the Hat’. With each of these special cases ACC comes closest to the “If this happens, respond as follows”, recipe-like approach of a great majority of self-defense texts. In the ‘Exercises’ section ACC finally presents a number (36 or 37) of specific action sequences, which ACC describes as “but a few of the combinations that can be made” , however he does so without context, or much in the way of description of the specific application of the sequences.

It is this final section (‘Exercises’) where it becomes clear that ACC is following the basic structure of a Mathematics or Physics text, where concepts, principles and fundamentals are presented for the student, followed by “problems” or “exercises”, for the student to put into practice the material previously presented to create “solutions”. If we look at the introductory paragraph for this section, there is support for this premise from ACC: “their practice (the exercise) will give a fuller understanding and appreciation of the system.” Consider alsoA reasonable amount of practice will make self-defense with the cane an instinctive matter, should it be needed. “ Taken together with the statement in the beginning of the text that a teacher is “not required,” to acquire defensive skills, we see that ACC expects the student to formulate “solutions” by a study of the principles presented in the text.

It would seem that, analogous to the old parable from western spiritual traditions, ACC is teaching the reader how to “fish”, or think for himself, in order to come up with specific defensive solutions, instead of giving away a few “fish”, specific technical sequences.

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