The swashbuckling sound of blades clinking stops as Kirk Bowser drops his knife. He raises his hand to block an oncoming attack.
It’s an attack coming from his friend and mentor.
While knives and sticks might not be the favors most bring to a gathering, for Bowser and his friends they are required. The group practices Inayan Eskrima, a Filipino martial art that uses single-stick offense and defense; double sticks; knife training; and empty-hand defenses for the stick, knife and boxing.
The Fort Wayne man, 39, was introduced to Eskrima 20 years ago by a high school friend whose stepfather was trained in the art. And while he has tried other things, such as working out in the gym and karate, nothing has stuck with him like Eskrima.
“I like the peace of mind that comes with knowing how to defend myself in a hairy situation,” Bowser says. “I’ve always been interested in karate and kung fu, but once I saw Inayan Eskrima I knew what I wanted to do. It’s a great workout, there’s some good cardio training, and the camaraderie between the fellow practitioners is awesome.”
The workout: Inayan Eskrima
What is it?: “It Involves weapons training right off the bat, whereas some martial arts may save weapons training for higher levels,” Bowser says. “The art breaks down attacks by angles rather than actual techniques. … So if (a student is) attacked with a stick, a punch, a knife or baseball bat, their defense would follow the angle of attack instead of dealing with a specific technique.”
What’s your routine like: A session starts with drills that focus on basic defenses and movements before moving into other training such as lock and block, Panantukan and empty-hand fighting.
Difficulty: The moves can be a bit difficult – and intimidating – for a beginner but “Once students make it to the intermediate level the concepts and movements become a little easier,” Bowser says.
How often do you train?: Two to three times a week, schedule permitting
How long is each session?: “For our classes now, we usually work out about two hours per session.”
Gear and cost: Sticks: $3 to $5 per stick; training knife, $5; mouth piece, $5
Staying motivated: “My passion for Inayan Eskrima keeps me in it no problem,” Bowser says. “When people are swinging sticks at you it’s best to keep your head in the game, so to speak.”