Going into the first American Certification Training in The Approach, I thought I knew what to expect. Having trained with Eddie Quinn a couple of times, there were certain elements that were anticipated — extremely high quality instruction, great intensity, lots of hard work and blending of technical with the physical. The bar was set high. Very high.
Little did I know, I UNDER-estimated the quality and intensity of the training.
The short version is this: It was simply the best martial arts training I ever experienced. It is the most devastating self defense method I have ever seen.
The longer version. . . .
Training started on Friday afternoon, 2pm and went until around 8pm. The focus Friday was on the “traditional” Approach method. I would describe it as a blend of technical and physical. The one aspect that caught me off guard was how detailed The Approach really is. On the surface, it appears to be simple and in seminars, it is taught in a relatively simple fashion. Go to a 3 hours seminar and you have the basics down.
It was simply the best martial arts training I ever experienced.
The Approach is the most devastating self defense method I have ever seen.
I was taken back by the amount of details that were included. Fist positioning, hip movements, forward thrusting, precise angles to name a few. This speaks volumes to the originator of the art, Eddie Quinn. The masters always make the difficult seem easy.
Saturday was very, very physical. The topic was the new version, The Approach 360 and it pushed all of us to the point of being drained and exhausted yet brimming with enthusiasm and excitement. For me, the “star of the show” was the groundwork. In the past decade or so, groundwork has been an area of interest and of focus. I have taken many classes and private lessons from multiple teachers on the subject. Each in their own way, was great.
With all due respect, they all paled in comparison to what Eddie taught. His “version” of groundwork was Silat-based, characterized by creativity, flow and continual movement (similar to Systema). There are no set techniques at all, just movement. Attacking, powerful, movement unlike what I had ever seen. Though it is hard to narrow down my choice, this was the highlight in a weekend filled with highlights.
Sunday was in many ways, the most demanding. Though not as physical as the other 2 days, it was mentally and emotionally straining. Most of us practice in a pure, “clean” environment. Today, it was stepped up in intensity. Under intense pressure from both verbal and physical attacking, we were to defend ourselves via The Approach. It was one of the most powerful, realistic and rather unnerving situations.
It was also one of the very best. I found myself going to the “dark places” and having to fight from there. I have dedicated the rest of my life trying to shine a light into those dark regions and it was very uncomfortable to say the least, to visit such inner places with regularity and fight and attack with such rawness.
As mentioned, it was the best martial arts training I ever experienced. something special was experienced and I have no doubt that nothing short of magic will spring forth from this.
Words cannot express what a life-changing experience this was. I cannot even begin to express my gratitude to Eddie for this weekend, this great gift. I will always be grateful to him for this. . . my teacher, my friend.
Side Notes: Central FL Systema member and Dojo Cho, Neal Hamner attended and did a truly awesome job. He brought honor to Eddie, our Schools and himself. Congratulations on becoming one of the first Instructors in The Approach!
Also, thanks and congratulations to Neal, Dennis Cralley and Bill Clark on their outstanding efforts and achievements. We were friends before, but this weekend left such a deep impression and a connection between us that will never be broken.
Extra thanks to Bill Clark for setting this up. Much appreciation to Chris Ray for the use of his Krav Maga facility.
Thanks for the emails and texts from my friends and students at Central Florida Systema schools. I appreciated this a great deal.
Special thanks to my wife Lisa for exquisite photography and more so, for her continual support and love in my adventures.
Additional Thoughts: So much of Systema has its origin in The Approach and what Eddie teaches — 6 levels, spin out movements, breathing, flow and many, many others. Not only is it a perfect blend to Systema, but it is allowed me to understand Systema in a much different and deeper fashion. Again, I am most grateful to Eddie for this and look forward to bringing into my schools.