Thursday, February 21, 2008

Approaching the "Style" of CAAW I

Cunningham’s education in the Naval Academy surely included coursework in mathematics, such as geometry and trigonometry, required for navigation of ships in the age before computers. It is beyond question that his civil engineering education was also heavily focused on mathematics, including geometry and trigonometry. As an engineer ACC would be used to formulaic expressions (equations) as a means of describing physical events, as well relying on abstract principles to understand seemingly unrelated phenomena, Newton’s Laws for example.

It is the position of this author that ACCs’ presentation of his system of defense with the cane is expressed in the formulaic and principled style similar to that of an introductory math, physics, or engineering text. This proposed approach differs from the common, “recipe” approach of many modern and early texts on self-defense, where the content is presented in the format of “when the assailant does X, you do Y.” In this proposed “formulaic” approach, material is presented generally or abstractly with little or no reference to specific application or situations. Underlying rules and principles are described which can then be applied to specific concrete examples, much the way a physicist can apply the concept of friction to diverse physical phenomenon.

ACC’s topical presentation and writing style regarding methods of attacking exemplifies this formulaic or principled approach. Just sampling the topic headings of the relevant portion of CAAW is illustrative of this style (outlining format added by author):

1. Kind and Direction of Blows

a. Jabs

b. Thrusts

c. Upper Cuts

d. Right Cuts, Left Cuts, Down Cuts

e. Diagonal Cuts

f. Circular Cuts

g. Back-handed Cuts

2. Character of Cuts

a. Snap Cuts

b. Half-arm Cuts

c. Full-arm Cuts

d. Swinging Cuts

e. Cuts in general

3. Points of Attack

ACC characterizes strikes abstractly, by direction, mechanical aspects of delivery, and then finally are targets (applications) discussed. It would appear that ACC is creating a classification scheme, or nomenclature, for cane or stick strikes, which is quite capable of being applied generally. If this was unintentional on the part of ACC, it still works well as a very comprehensive system of description for single-handed cane or stick strikes. For example, the “cinco tero” or “X” system common in many Phillipino systems can be described as a collection of diagonal cuts and a center jab or thrust. The “+” variation of the cinco tero is a collection of strikes comprised of left and right cuts, a downward cut, an uppercut and a center jab or thrust. (Authors note: having made the effort to apply “Cunningham nomenclature” to many cane, and stick, systems and I have found it a rather straightforward exercise).