Should Eskrima Be Taught to Children?
Let’s make this simple. No.
Now, the extended version of the answer:
Not real Eskrima. If you don’t know the difference between real Eskrima and age-appropriate Eskrima, chances are that you don’t know real Eskrima. Please don’t be offended. Most people come to this blog to have a Guro tell them like it is and not sugar-coat stuff. But I understand that many people want the fairytale version, and I’m just not it. If you want to have someone lie to you and act lovey-dovey and hold hands and take pictures, attend a damned seminar or go post on one of those online FMA forums. Put smiley faces, pat each other on the back, pretend to be impressed with all those choreographed dance routines they post on Youtube…
Here’s the thing. Real Eskrima–the stuff most of you like to brag that your Masters did back in the day of kill-or-be-killed death matches–is focused on how to cripple, injure, maim, or “off” your opponent. The stuff that’s age-appropriate is the stuff we see on Youtube; all the cute patty-cake drills that you could put to music and damn near win a cheerleading contest with.
Need an example? I was hoping you’d ask!
If you’re from this school or style–don’t get mad. I just went to Youtube and randomly pulled a clip and posted it. I didn’t even watch more than a couple seconds. Don’t need to. Because nine times out of ten, it’s the same stuff 90% of you guys do. And you know damned well, if you do fight–you’re not doing this stuff when you fight. And to be honest, if somebody came to you and said he only had 4 weeks to learn to defend himself I would hope that you would skip this garbage and go right to the meat of the art.
The real stuff doesn’t care how well you can “translate” a stick strike to a slash to the throat. It doesn’t matter if you can switch from one Sinawali drill to another randomly. The masters didn’t care how many neat one-handed disarms you could do, or how you could apply knife techniques to empty hand, or vice-versa. What mattered in real Eskrima was your ability to use a stick to crush a skull, use a small blade to kill an armed man, how well you could swing a machete strong enough to dismember your opponent, or how quickly you could grab something off your nightstand in the middle of the night and give an attacker brain damage through his eye. This is the stuff you shouldn’t be teaching children. If you want to teach a 12 year old patty cake drills and neat ways to spin your sticks, go for it. But the real stuff should not be taught to kids.
Does that mean kids shouldn’t be taught self-defense? Not at all. All children should learn some sort of self-defense. But what about pedophiles, you say? Well, as a parent, your job is to make sure your kid is never alone with one, period. If your kid is walking home alone from school, then I would say Shame on you. You need to make sure your priorities in order so that your kids shouldn’t have to learn to kill someone. Letting strangers take your 7 year old home from the ball game? Shame on you. Letting your 9 year old daughter spend the night with a friend from school with the teenaged brothers? Shame on you. Kids don’t need that form of self-defense, and if they do, you need to change their environment. Now, you want a kid to learn to use a knife you have in the house? Fine, but make sure that kid is also never home alone. At the same time, we do not want to arm our children with something they are not mature enough to discern when it’s time to use it or not. That is just too much pressure for a kid; before you know it, he’s slashing the school bully’s throat because he said your kid’s Mom wears combat boots.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve done two things: I am drawing a distinction between kid-appropriate Eskrima and the real Eskrima… AND I am saying that most of you are not doing the real stuff. Want to teach kids those “fun” drills they advertise in seminars and martialtalk posts? Go for it. But if you’re thinking of teaching a child the proper way to break a jaw and I’d say that you were crazy.
Hopefully I haven’t stepped on too many toes today.
On second thought, I hope I have. Take a look at your Eskrima. If it’s something that is not completely destructive in the hands of a kid, you might want to reconsider continuing on the path you’re on. Bottom line–don’t waste your time practicing shit that won’t send your opponent to the hospital or the morgue.
Thanks for visiting my blog.