The year is certainly off to a great start. Just this past weekend we had our first seminar of the New Year, and it ranked up there as one of the best martial arts classes we’ve had in recet memory. As with almost all of our seminars, this one was strictly “in-house”. We’ve come to prefer this. Not only does it save time and effort on promotion (and all the BS that goes along with it), but since we all know each other and train together on a regular basis, we can up the intensity to a degree not possible with outsiders. Not to mention the fact that not everyone “gets” the admittedly crude and generally offensive nihilism that passes for a sense of humor around here.
We are very fortunate to be able to study with the real experts in their respective fields. Last weekend was no exception. We were again privileged to learn from Sgt. Stephen Renico of the Dearborn PD, who reprised his previous seminar with an outstanding follow-up of Tactical Shooting for the Kali Practitioner. In the spirit of confidentiality, I won’t really get into what we learned, but rather why we liked it and benefited from it so much.
First of all, Sgt. Renico himself is an exemplary martial artist in every sense of the word. A US Army Ranger and SWAT operator, he has established an impressive career in law enforcement that includes serving as an instructor for the Wayne County Schoolcraft Police Academy and also one of the most demanding SWAT schools in the Midwest. Add that he has ranked at #1 in marksmanship for his department since 2006 and that’s an impeccable set of credentials.
Renico began training with us in 2004 after attending one of our workshops with Grand Tuhon Gaje. He plunged full force into the study of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali, and last summer was promoted to the rank of Lakan Guro of the Bothoan Batangas Training Hall following a grueling test, becoming the first person to have earned that rank since our inception.
In the past ten years I have attended a number of classes and seminars on tactical shooting, and some were better than others. Most of them reminded me of a typical FMA seminar that focuses on “techniques and tricks” rather than a comprehensive framework of movement and body-mechanics – otherwise known as a SYSTEM. It’s not necessarily the fault of the instructor. If you brought together 10 guys with no background in Kali, and asked me to teach a knife-fighting seminar, what else could I possibly show them except for a few simple techniques?
To his credit, Sgt. Renico has applied his considerable expertise in tactical shooting to develop what I consider to be a perfectly sound ‘pistol sub-system’ within Pekiti-Tirsia (or at least our expression of Pekiti-Tirsia) based on the unique body mechanics and skill sets that we’ve already cultivated over years of training.
As a testament to this method, the crowning moment of the seminar involved one of our Kapatids who we’ll call simply ‘DM’. DM is recognized as being a highly skilled Kali practitioner who is arguably the worst shot in our group! With Sgt. Renico’s patient tutelage, by the end of the afternoon DM was moving, double-tapping, and scoring center-of-mass hits on the target without looking!
As I’ve said time and time again, Pekiti-Tirsia is not stick-fighting, nor knife-fighting, nor empty-hand fighting. It’s not techniques, nor drills. Pekiti-Tirsia is Mindset and Body-Mechanics. Kudos to practitioners like Sgt. Renico for understanding, adapting, and being able to transmit that very idea.