Updated: Dec 24, 2018
Armadong Kali is a martial arts system with simple guidelines:
Attack before defence
No idle hand, no idle feet
Thought provoking process
Each of the guidelines has important practical consequences on the performance of the system and each one will be covered in their own article. The article you are currently reading focuses on the thought provoking process.
Thought Provoking Process in Filipino Martial Arts
First time I got practically exposed to teaching by thought provoking process was when I started to explore Filipino Martial Arts. At that time I already had a background of 15 years martial arts training, mostly in Karate, Kickboxing, Ving Tsun and Western Boxing. My reason to start training in Filipino Martial Arts was because I wanted to learn a pragmatic way of defending against knives or sticks. I did not expect, that I would get exposed to a new way of thinking, which would change the way I perceived the world.
Responsible for that change was what my FMA mentor called teaching by thought provoking process: Instead of giving forms or sets of movements to a student as prefabricated solutions, according to the thought provoking process, the system should be taught by letting the students experience practical situations in a safe and controlled environment and helping them to analyse, understand and solve the situation based on their own experience and logic.
When using the thought provoking process as teaching method, a person actually discovers and validates the system by their own personal experience and logic. In this process the teachers purpose is to help the students to continue refining their questions and to inspire them to stay active in searching for better answers.
The opposite of teaching by thought provoking process is teaching by forms (kata, poomse, drills,…). Teaching by giving the students prefabricated solutions (solo forms or two person sets) is pretty common in Martial Arts all over the world. In fact while writing this article I can only come up with Western Boxing and Western Wrestling as examples of well known Martial systems, that are not using those kind of forms.
So it seems forms are the predominant teaching method in most well known martial arts schools. And there are reasons for that: One reason is, that teaching forms is easy. No matter how small or big the training group, even in case of being disinterested, if instructors have a set pattern, form or drill, they will always be able to teach. Another reason for forms being used frequently is, that learning a form provides students a strong sense of accomplishment: "I memorised it" – "Yes, I got it". Learning and repeating forms is convenient and sometimes weirdly satisfying. In joke I refer to that as the Nike effect: "just do it" (no need to think).
TPP keeps the system alive and valid
If the system is taught by thought provoking process, then each generation of students not only reconstructs the system, they actually verify its truthfulness. As a result the teaching process keeps the system alive and valid. Teaching by TPP also gives the student the pride and confidence of having accomplished constructing their own system.
Using teaching by thought provoking process is a very powerful tool, that also has some drawbacks. One ist that the results are highly depending on the quality of the mentor-mentee-relationship. Each lesson requires a lot of commitment and honesty mostly from teacher and also from the student. Teaching by TPP is only possible in small groups, that allows for really personalised training. This, by the way, is the main reason why I teach Armadong Kali only in groups of five or less persons.
Thought Provoking Process a journey of self-discovery
Training by thought provoking process indeed is a process. It is a journey of self-discovery. It requires bravery, confidence and conviction.
It is about understanding: you are a unique and valuable original. You have to take care of yourself
Sometimes it seems, there are no simple answers: maybe it is because asking the wrong questions?
Sometimes there is frustration: training based on your own experience, intelligence and logic empowers you to turn your frustration and anger into constructive action.
It is about finding your every day courage.
Who do you want to become now?
Who do you want to be?
Armadong Kali and the thought provoking process will empower you to find your answers.