Catherine has been with Urban Escrima almost from the beginning, so we are really pleased to be able to see what Catherine thinks of her training and the club.
Please introduce yourself, where are you from and what do you do?
I’m Catherine Webb. I’m from London (Hackney, to be exact)
and for half the year I write novels, and for the other half I’m a theatre lighting designer.
What type of books do you write and are you working on anything at the moment? Do you have a blog or website or something where we can keep up to date with your work?
I write fantasy books, with a bit of other stuff thrown in. I started writing quite young, so as Catherine Webb I’ve got a series of eight or so children’s books which sort of grew up as I did. Now I write mostly as Kate Griffin, writing books set in London. However, at the moment I’m writing something completely different – a detective story, set in 1550s Istanbul. It’s not my usual kettle of fish, but I have a massive soft spot for the Ottoman Empire (doesn’t everyone?) and the 1550s are a fantastic bit of history where the world is at once swashbuckling medieval, and simultaneously full of gunpowder and intellectual turmoil. I keep a blog –
www.kategriffin.net – which has all my information on it.
How long have you been training in Escrima Concepts and what grade are you?
I’ve been training about a year, and I’m level two.
Are you currently training in any other martial arts or have you done anything before?
I did a tiny bit of karate, and a bit of jiu jitsu while at university. My chief memories of karate was being shouted at, and having to crawl up the stairs to my dormitory room after Friday class, almost physically unable to bend at the knees. Jiu jitsu was better, but there was a lot of bowing, tumbling and wondering why the person I was supposed to throw bodily to the floor using only my hip and circular movement, had to be six foot five and weigh seventeen stone.
Why did you choose to train in Escrima Concepts? And what do you most enjoy about your training?
I chose Escrima slightly by accident. I was feeling very unfit, but knew that if I was going to get more exercise I wanted to learn something useful while doing it. I also knew I didn’t want to be shouted at by an angry Sensei again. There was an offer to do classes at the London Fields gym, and I saw Escrima on the list. After looking it up on the internet, it seemed a lot more interesting than other martial arts I’d tried, so I gave it a go, and have kept on giving it a go ever since!
I think there are two things I like most about training. The first is that, even within certain techniques, everyone does it in a slightly different way. I really appreciate this, as it both broadens your options and simultaneously forces you to learn how to read whoever you’re working with. For example, when sparring with one student, over time you come to notice that he’s good with his live hand and always steps through, which in turn forces you to change what you do. But when sparring with another, you realise that this student always does smaller, tighter moves, and doesn’t necessarily put in his live hand, or only does on certain shots. It’s such a flexible, friendly environment that you can actually get to think about, not merely what you’re doing, but what everyone else does and how that might affect you – and I really like that. The other thing I love is the technical nitty gritty; I really enjoy that moment when you suddenly understand how doing something simple, can lead to something devastating.
What do you feel is the most important thing you have learnt in Escrima
Get out of the way!!
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of taking up Escrima Concepts?
When I started, I used half a broom handle to practice getting comfortable with the movements in my living room, as training with any sort of weapon felt really odd for the first few weeks. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that seem trivial or daft, because they’re really not; and remember that if Nigel says something is ‘kinda… okay’ you can probably be really pleased.