FoM: laying the foundations of movement
The seminar series „Foundations of Movement“ the Pekiti Tirsia Europe launched in 2009 was a new beginning. During the years before, Mandala Maginoo Uli Weidle, European chief instructor for Pekiti Tirsia Kali under Grand Tuhon Gaje, had taught the „More than Techniques“ workshops suitable especially for beginners and martial artists from outside the Pekiti Tirsia. In the IP (instructor program) meetings of 2008, it was decided that these basic seminars should be held by some of the many other experienced trainers our organisation can provide. Bernd Altenhöfer (Würzburg), Helmut Bauer (Bamberg), Martin Meissner (Reutlingen), Roland Roppelt (München) and Sixt Wetzler (Tübingen) were eager to take over this job.
We decided that the change in the trainer should also mean a change in the seminar concept. While the More than Techniques seminars had focussed on some of the key topics of the Pekiti Tirsia (during the seminar's progress often touching material from beyond the foundation level), the aim of the Foundations of Movement series - thus the new name - was to provide a sound understanding of the exact material the foundation level in the Pekiti Tirsia Europe consists of. In theory, someone who would take part in all four FoM weekends would know everything that is demanded to take the foundation examination (of course, „knowing“ and „being able to do“ are two things that, at least in Pekiti Tirsia, are only loosely connected).
Now: How to put this huge mass of material into a four-weekend syllabus? Could this be done at all, without neglecting important parts on the one hand or overstraining the participants on the other? It was clear that only with full manpower on the teachers’ side, we could provide what the Pekiti Tirsia Europe stands for: quality, not quantity. We were five trainers in the team, and any idea that the FoM seminars could be held by only one of us at a time was soon abandoned. Five trainers, that meant: while one would teach, the other four would be there among the group to help, correct, explain and exemplify.
So, this was the setup of our new seminars. But the most difficult thing we still had to do: How to organize the huge amount of knowledge we wanted to give insight to?
How to organize the knowledge
The foundation level material was split up into four coherent seminar topics:
„Triangles, open hands & fluid motion“ concentrated on the empty hands and double stick application of the single six movement pattern, and the development of powerful slaps as Pekiti Tirsia's primary body weapon.
„Solo baston – moving the single stick“ taught the basics of fighting with the single stick, mainly in largo and medio distance and based on the strikes of the Abecedario. Power generation, control of distance and fluidity of motion were the qualities we hoped to instil in the participants.
„Thrusts & slashes - knife basics“ was just this - the fundamental methods of counter offense against an opponent armed with an edged weapon. According to Pekiti Tirsia principles, evasion and escape were the first and most important things we concentrated on; but bearing the slogan in mind „One has to understand the weapon to defend against it“, the seminar lead us well into the basic methods of knife against knife.
Finally, „Falling & rolling, catching & breaking - basic dumog“ gave first insights into ground movement, holding without being held, joint manipulation and other fundamentals of that part of Pekiti Tirsia that is commonly (but, more than not, incorrectly) known as Kali wrestling. Also, that seminar contained a lesson in basic boxing and kicking - not typical for Pekiti Tirsia, but again, one has to know the enemy.
Appeal to Kali enthusiasts
A program like this seemed to appeal to the Kali enthusiasts; from the start, the seminars were fully and even over booked, and the waiting list was long - people were happy if we called them on the very seminar day to offer them a place that had just got vacant... As usual, the attending crowd was international: next to Germany, we welcomed participants from Switzerland, Austria, Czechia, Finland and even one from Greece, who had enrolled for all four seminars without any previous contact with Pekiti Tirsia (and, by the way, decided to come back 2010).
The first weekend of the series already showed that our new setup was successful. The response was enthusiastic, and it was great for us to see how much the group liked our concept. In this respect, it was especially important for us that absolute beginners as well as very advanced students - who had already fought in the Pekiti Tirsia Europe fighter league - reassured us how much new they had learned, or how much they had deepened their understanding of material already known.
Training was technical, due to the vast amount of material that had to be taught. But technical in Pekiti Tirsia does not mean „thirty locks in half an hour“. Technical training means building skill by repetition, slowly progressing in a given topic without ever losing touch with its basic applications. It is a great sight to watch 35 people on a 400m lane, doing their triangular footwork, swinging their sticks simultaneously, over and over again. But then, what is an application without power? Hammering the pads, breaking stick on stick, that is the kind of energy that makes Pekiti Tirsia come to life. The words of Grandtuhon were always with us: „Hit that goddamn tire!“ And so, that is what we did.
Of course, our art is not merely a physical system. It is a way of understanding and solving problems. Lectures were given, covering topics like the three guidelines of self defense (protect yourself - neutralize danger - destroy if necessary), the meaning of our salutation or - probably most important - the Kali philosophy: We believe in success, not in failure; in good health, not in sickness; in life, not in death (and, as Helmut included in his lecture, in friendship, not in hatred).
Measuring the result
Let us measure the result of our Foundations of Movement series by this philosophy.
Good health? Of course; even in strenuous physical training, nobody was injured (well, some blacks and blues and blisters on the hand are not considered injuries).
Success? If the feedback we got was not only meant to flatter us, people really learned something about Pekiti Tirsia, with their minds and their bodies. It should be mentioned that right on the evening after the last of the four seminars, Arun Treffz and Oliver Berli (trainers of the hitherto „semi-official“ training groups of Freiburg and Wuppertal) both passed their foundation level examination under Maginoo Uli Weidle.
Friendship? As always, this - at least to me - was the best thing about the seminars: the incredibly good spirit within the group, the great time we had inside and outside the training. Old faces who have been there for years, new faces that blended perfectly into our community - I hope to see all of you again soon.
And life? Oh yes, we are alive and kicking, believe us. We'll proof that 2010, when the action continues!
Author: Sixt Wetzler