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I have recently begun practicing escrima, and I find it difficult to simultaneously wield two sticks while keeping co-ordination and rhythm.

Are there some drills I could do on my own to improve my ability to use both hands at once?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I don't practice Escrima, so you will have to adapt.

Practicing both hands starts in your daily life. (See: http://martialarts.stackexchange.com/a/66/65) Generally, be aware of when you are comfortable doing something with one hand, and deliberately trying it with the other hand instead. Examples:

  1. Move the computer mouse to the other side.
  2. Open doors with the other hand.
  3. Switch your knife and fork.
  4. If you hold things with your left while manipulating with your right, hold things in your right and manipulate with your right.

This will take a while. You do this while practicing your art. Over time, the movements in your art will show up in your day-to-day motions without conscious thought.

As for the art itself:

  1. Learn and practice half of the motion on your dominant hand first.
  2. Let your dominant hand teach your off-hand.
  3. Practice until your off-hand moves smoothly.
  4. Alternate the movements between the two hands until you can hand them off smoothly.
  5. Then do the pattern with both hands at the same time.
  6. Try to let go of both hands and allow a single motion to emerge. (Reminded me of this by Trevoke).

In the case of that figure-8 weaving pattern that seems common among dual-weapon techniques, I ended up spending six hours trying to get the rhythm. By this time, I'm already doing little things with either hand without thinking. In spite of that, that particular weave was still difficult ... probably as difficult as someone learning to play a piano piece where both hands play a different, phase-shifted melody line (like a Bach fugue).

I tried working off the video, but this did not go anywhere. Since I have skill at programming computers, I made up a notation system to describe the pattern. Then, I brute-forced it. I look at the notation and just moved my hands. (This might not work for you). Eventually, I'd have flashes where it gelled, like the weapons were weaving themselves. Then I became aware of it and it was gone. I would keep going until it gelled for a brief moment again. Eventually, I gave up, went to bed. when I woke up the next day, I was able to flow into the rhythm. The rest of the practice went into making things smoother, varying striking angle and blade facing, playing with footwork, etc.

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David H. Clements and Trevoke has some good stuff in their answers. Check them out. –  Ho-Sheng Hsiao Feb 10 '12 at 3:37
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Thanks! I appreciate the concrete suggestions, and I'll keep your and their advice in mind. –  RSid Feb 10 '12 at 19:12
    
"Switch your knife and fork." – Heathen. Where are your manners! :P Do yourself a favor and do this at home alone; this can ruin a business lunch. –  stslavik Feb 10 '12 at 19:47
    
@stslavik Hmmmm, not sure I'd want to do business with someone that takes offense so easily. ... (Actually... it'd be hilarious to meet someone who is offended by switching left and right. That's an interesting pathology I'd like to observe closely ... ) –  Ho-Sheng Hsiao Feb 10 '12 at 19:52
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You are right. Anyway, I read your answer again and it is actually very good. I only commented the coordination part in my previous comment. –  Tomas Jun 2 '12 at 10:31

I mostly agree with Ho-Sheng Hsiao's answer. The only real difference in how we do things is that we tend to practice offhand first, though we tend to do both in the same session back-to-back, but everything else fits with my experience on training coordination between the hands. I did want to add the following, since it is how I do this with two sticks:

Slow things down and work on getting everything right. Speed comes from repetition, so start by going slowly through whatever patterns you are doing. Work on getting the flow down and to keeping a consistent speed. Then, as you keep practicing, slowly increase that speed.

Then, past that, practice the motions daily. A bit like learning the piano: changing the overall speed of a piece while trying to keep the flow, focusing on basics and drills, and daily practice are a great way to get better quickly.

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Don't think of it as two sticks; think of it as one stick.

The human brain is not good at multitasking. You can only do one thing at a time, but you can do that one thing extremely well. As you get more comfortable with a simple task, you can make it more complex, and your brain learns to understand a more complex combination of movements as a single task.

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This is generally a good advice for two or more body parts: move them all together at once. On the other hand, my experience with that specific double-weaving pattern is that the pattern was too difficult to learn straight-up this way. YMMV. –  Ho-Sheng Hsiao Feb 9 '12 at 21:18
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That's a good point. I remember reading that some people can understand more than they can do and some people can do more than they can understand. I fall in the latter category - I just copy the weaving pattern and eventually my brain catches up. I think all the advice you gave in your answer is at the very least a great starting point. –  Trevoke Feb 9 '12 at 21:55
    
@stslavik Haha, nice little edit. –  Trevoke Feb 9 '12 at 23:30
    
It wasn't mine originally. It was a suggested edited by @Ho-ShengHsiao that was in two sentences because it was unclear. The semi-colon is the appropriate device for connecting those two thoughts. My edit was part of approving that edit. –  stslavik Feb 9 '12 at 23:32
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Good answer, but perhaps you should add how to think of it as one stick: just realize that when one stick hits, the other goes backward, and then focus on this "scissor" move. It is much easier to focus on this than to think about each hand separately. Helped me in the "heaven and earth" drill. –  Tomas May 30 '12 at 8:45

From the bits of Escrima I've done, there's usually a set of drills - "Heaven 6" and "Earth 6", you can do them with a partner or do the forms by yourself. Doing those will get your comfortable with moving both hands at the same time.

Mostly the trick is that you have to learn the movements to maneuver the weapons around your arms without hitting yourself or locking up your own flow. Doing those over and over will give you some basic movements that work well.

Once you have those in mind, the rest of it becomes variations or sections of it and it becomes a lot easier to do new movements or variations.

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