I had the distinct fortune of training with Prof. Salem Assli on Friday night in the art of Canne de Combat, French cane combat. This was the first time he had ever taught the art in the Pacific NW and over 25 folks showed their support at MKG Seattle for the seminar. My interest was piqued because of my Kali background and the fact that Canne de Combat is not that common over here.
The first thing that struck me was the emphasis on posture and structure. As if studying at the Paris Opera School of Ballet, Salem stated we could not learn the more advanced moves without perfecting our posture and technique. The fluidity and grace with which Salem moved was truly inspiring. His posture was never compromised as he demonstrated both basic and advanced techniques from Canne de Combat.
Salem is a good instructor building us in steps and making the participants repeat the basic five strikes over and over before having us partner up and work both very regimented drills along with more free form type exercises. This progression was very helpful in regards to remembering the movements that weren't so complex as they were different then what most are used to when working weapons (at least from a FMA perspective).
Technique wise the angles of attack were very familiar (only so many ways to swing a stick effectively) but the method of execution certainly was not. Breaking down the basics Salem was constantly reminding us of the difference between sport and self defense, demonstrating the variations with speed and intent! I must admit there is much more depth to the art then I originally gave credit and the fluidity in which Prof. Assli moved certainly got my attention. His understanding of range and distance was second to none. Very, very impressive!
My one and only criticism (was also my partners) was the incessant noise at MKG. Though an impressively large and well equipped gym, the background noise of another class on the adjacent mat, the hum of fans and fluorescent lights, coupled with the grunting and dropping of weights in the other room from the Crossfit class was truly deafening. To the point where even Prof. Assli stopped and asked if weights were being dropped above us! Often times I could not hear the instructions from the instructor. Not an environment conducive to learning, I can only imagine when classes are in full swing with all mats going!!!
A big thank you to Professor Salem Assli who visits Seattle every year to offer Savate seminars. Also thanks to Andy Wilson of MKG for hosting Salem. And lastly to my awesome partner Lara for making it easy to learn and train in a seminar environment.