"Manong, what is the secret to Serrada?"
Angel Cabales answered, "Basics and Lock and Block".
He then said that I would get more out of the lock and block than sparring and I really loved to spar. Most of his students were trained in angles 1 through 5 first, then introduced to lock and block, then sparring after a while longer. The basics of Serrada have very subtle secrets. Many people just simply follow the dictates of our Master and have never taken the time to decipher the wealth of knowledge contained within the basic techniques. I will say that teaching is one of the best ways to unlock the "many" secrets within the basics of Serrada. This is one of the reasons that I try to teach as much as possible. In teaching I have to be able to explain the whys of my system. I have learned as much teaching Serrada, than in many other ways.
One of the very subtle secrets of Serrada basics is that the body moves a little and the hands move little, when we block and both in unison. The body is slow in comparison to the hands. So we need hand assists to clear the path of the strike. If we don't get the body out of the way, we'll probably get hit. I can honestly say that in most instances, when someone really means to tag you hard: If we don't move our body out of the way, their blows will either get through, or, in some way, effects one or more of our bodies axis's, which either slows us down, or prevents an immediate counter strike to punish them for attempting to strike us. Not being there to get hit, has a lot going for it. "All" of the blocks in Serrada, use the combination of body movement in conjunction with the hands, as a basis of the system. I would love to use examples, but since many are not practitioners of Serrada, probably wouldn't understand the explanation, when they don't know the block. The beauty of it all, is that most martial systems emphasize body and/or specific target evasion in conjunction with the use of their hands, to prevent getting struck by an opponent.
Another interesting thing about Serrada basics is the "slow" pace of blocking practice. Angel Cabales wanted very slow and precise basic practice. The slowness I believe allowed his students to put every moment in the students muscle memory. If we move slowly, we can feel the different stresses the movements places upon the body. We can feel weight shifts. We can begin to coordinate our movements with our breathing. If we took the time to teach our bodies to feel every nuance of the basic movements, then speed comes relatively easily. If we are honest, we are practicing moving meditation and is one of the reasons I feel that Angel Cabales had near perfect timing.
Another interesting part of practicing basics, was starting from a neutral position. All basics begin from a feet together neutral position. It is a relaxed position. A position from which we must immediately go from 0 to 100 mph. We were being trained to expect, the unexpected. We weren't trained to be in a set and ready position, but from a position of neutrality. This is really important. Unexpectedly attacked is how most of us will get attacked, if and when we do ever get attacked. Most bastards freely use the element of surprise to get the job done. Usually we won't be ready, so we must practice to be able to get into high gear, as quickly as possible. The feet together neutral position sends us a really subtle message. Expect the unexpected and be ready to move into high gear immediately. We are a bladed system. 2nd place, is a place they visit you in the cemetery.
There is a lot more to basics that I could have touched upon. But, let me say this. I can see the movements of Serrada people and tell how much their Master emphasized basics. The slow and properly practiced movements of Serrada helps make very good martial artists. If I see sloppy Serrada people, it is usually because they tried to push too quickly, too fast. Quality really is in the proper practice of basics. Basics in the end is what saves you. A weak foundation is not the way to build a house or strong martial arts. Please kiss a loved one. Hug someone in need. Forgive a trespass. There is no promise of tomorrow: One of the reasons we practice martial arts. God Bless.
My deepest gratitude to Master Ron Saturno for his kind permission in allowing me to repost his articles to my site. Photo Credit: Source pic - Master Ron Saturno.
You can contact Master Ron Saturno via:
Email: 5masterserrada@gmailNOSPAM.com (take out the "NOSPAM")