BaHad Zu'bu Eskrima
This weekend my friend, Steve Van Harn and I took a trip over to Chicago to attend the first seminar given by Punong Guro Mike Blackgrave since his return from an extended stay in the Philippines studying with Grand Master Yuli Ramo.
I have known Mike for some time, and had wondered just a bit as to why he had given up practicing the arts he had been working with for the last twenty years (mostly Pekiti Tirsia) to take up a new art that most people had not even heard of.
With this intriguing thought in mind Steve and I piled into his truck along with assorted sticks and blades to make the three hour drive to the windy city.
The seminar was being held at the Midway Kodenkan, which is a very nice school that teaches Jujitsu, Kali, and Lua, the traditional martial art of Hawaii.
Working out at this particular facility was one of the things I was looking forward to. I had been hearing a lot of good things about this place for a while and I was looking forward to experiencing what was offered there.
I am happy to say that what I heard was in fact true. Midway is a very high quality school and would be a good place to start if one were looking for a place to train in the Chicago area.
Of particular note was the opportunity to meet John Bednarski, one of the instructors at the school. John has a well deserved reputation in both Kali and Silat and working with him was one of the real high points of the day for me.
Another pleasant part of the day was getting to see Bill Anderson again. Bill has been studying and teaching Kuntaw longer than most players in the US have been alive. He has not only "seen the elephant" he has run up and kicked it in the trunk a couple of times to make sure it was the right beast.
If Bill thinks something is worth his time you can bank on it being something of real value.
The day started out with Mike going over the Basics of BaHad Zubu.
First we learned the footwork, which is light and mobile. There is not much of the triangle stepping one finds in some of the Filipino arts, rather Might taught us his "floating footwork", which allows for taking odd and interesting angles quickly and unexpectedly.
Once Mike was happy with our understanding of the footwork we moved on to sticks.
Bahad Zubu stickwork is elegant in the sense that it gives simple movements and teaches how to combine them intuitively to accomplish one's task. One of the real joys of this art is that because of its training philosophy one can gain skill quite quickly. There is none of the "47 ways to hold a knife" or six billion angles to learn.
From stick we progressed to knife and then empty hand using all the same principles, so we did not have to add more "technique" in order to taste these skills.
My overall impression is that Bahad Zubu is a sophisticated, elegant martial art with a fast learning curve that is focused on combat application (rather than sport) and I would recommend both it and Guru Mike to anyone looking for serious FMA.