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From ATA World Volume 20, Number 1 – Spring 2013
 

For 14-year-old Arturo Escamilla Jr., sensing the weapon is better training than watching with your eyes. “Focus on feeling the weapon – trying to hear and feel where you are,” he says.

It’s a tactic that has carried this straight-A student far in the last four years – to becoming one of the first Black Belts at Pride Martial Arts School in Chula Vista, Calif., and to earning a top-ranked spot nationally. “You just have to practice until you feel confident,” he says. In Escamilla’s case, it led him to earn second in Creative Weapons at World Championships in 2012.

“It takes a lot of difficult fine motor skills to work with the ssahng nats,” says Mr. Sean Berry, Escamilla’s instructor. That’s exactly what makes it fun for Escamilla: “I like doing my own thing, just free-styling with the weapon,” he says. “I try to make it look flashy and bigger because it is such a small weapon.”

Watch this video then try Escamilla’s signature trick – though we do recommend you try it with your eyes open first!

➥ “Practice blindfolded,” Escamilla says. You’ll learn how and when to sense the weapon in your hands and around your body. This body awareness is an important tool for a martial artist.

➥ Look for inspiration. Ssahng Nat champ Tyler Weaver did a demonstration at Escamilla’s school, and Escamilla remembers thinking, “I could use his moves to make something that is my own.”