Jogo do Pau stick fighting came into my life in 1996, as this was the year Jogo do Pau stick fighting and I were introduced to each other by Jogo do Pau stick fighting grandmaster Russo.
This was the same year the Chicago Bulls and renowned sprinter Michael Johnson posted records many thought to be unbreakable, and 20 years before the world alarmingly woke up to the end .... of Brandgelina.
This goes to showing us that, despite our best of efforts to cling on to fictional certainties by abusing the use of the words forever and never, there are no absolute assurances in life ... except, of course, death (as for taxes, I bet everyone acknowledges it's not always that straight forward).
Nevertheless, still there are some common patterns to life, and my path in the Jogo do Pau way of stick fighting has been similar (if not identical) to that of most people, in that it has been filled with many ups and downs.
Such path as a Jogo do Pau stick fighting trainee and instructor includes plenty of events that might be worth writing about. However, now that the end of this path might very well be approaching, I got to think why I even got started with Jogo do Pau stick fighting in the first place?
Being Portuguese, some might speculate that I privileged the practice of a national tradition. In reality, the truth could not be further from that, as I've never been too sentimental about national stuff (which is probably good, since this way I don't need to worry about national pride going out of control and getting me into the dark side of the Force).
Having started martial arts years earlier in search for martial effectiveness, I became disappointed with what I found and bored to death with all the solo training that made up the bulk of the highly veneered traditional training. Adding insult to injury, being the stubborn prick that I am, I stuck with it until I either found a way to make it work or managed to find a better approach.
As the saying goes, tradition isn't what it used to be and, without any prior warning, I suddenly experienced through Jogo do Pau stick fighting that which my earlier martial experiences failed to provide: a down-to-earth practice I related to, together with the fun and satisfactory practice of free play (sparring).
By down-to-earth practice I mean that, when looking to improve something like targeting, Jogo do Pau stick fighting drills provided a target (genius, right? ... I bet you didn't see that coming). This, together with special nuances as to how to make use of the target, were a huge and welcome contrast, when compared to the previous experiences of solo practice (plus the added frustration of not getting it right when suddenly thrown into the full complexity of sparring).
Looking back, I find that the way your chosen practice leaves you feeling is, at the end of the day, all that matters: in that you either end up pleased (and excited for more) or frustrated (and starting to dread training).
Hence, the moral of the story for today is, if your practice leaves you bored and systematically frustrated, think hard on whether you should put up with it, since your time on this third rock from the Sun is scarce.
In doing so, look to figure out if it's your own doing (like not paying attention to explanations, setting unrealistic goals, etc) or whether the methodology you are submitted to sucks ... and I only hope you have the wisdom to distinguish between the two (easy pointer though, if most people in class suck, it is probably not the students' fault).
Till next time ... and wish you greatly satisfying workouts in the meantime!