Master's Nomination At The International Seminar 2008

It was at the EWTO international seminar at Langenzell castle in 2008, right after the mediaeval Escrima demonstration, when Thomas Dietrich and Bernd Hoyer were appointed the 5th Master's grade in Newman-Escrima - the outcome of years and years of hard work.

It is probably mankind's oldest question "why do we do the things we do?" that comes to mind when you take a look at the workload of Grandmaster Bill and his two master students, Thomas Dietrich and Bernd Hoyer. Countless hours of learning and teaching, of planning, organising and corresponding, incessant challenging and improving of one's own style of teaching, long travels, tight schedules and time pressure, and not to forget the inevitable phases of frustration - do come along with a title that sounds wonderful as it is.

It's in his book, in the many interviews and at every occasion to see him live and in action, when Grandmaster Bill delivers insight into his motivation to bring up this immense assortative and creative power that shaped Newman-Escrima as we know it today.

But what is the mainspring that keeps both our masters Thomas and Bernd going? I'm a very lucky person knowing both of them quite well (in fact, I have known Master Thomas for about 27 years!).

Actually, I find the question "why did those two, out of so many others, become masters?" pretty easy to answer - albeit the fact that Grandmaster Bill does not give away this title easily:
Both of them are working effectively, intensively and incessantly and they learn from their mistakes. That's it. Period. A ponderous tome: Page one "Practise", page two "Practise", page three … well, you get the idea.

They are two practitioners who improve constantly while still remaining humble. Master Thomas once said to me that Escrima is just a hobby of his. Yeah, right. In that case, my hobby is eating and drinking.

Even Grandmaster Bill now and then remarks on their appetite for training with a little smile "don't be so greedy!". And here we have the "external" explanation for such a lasting and intensive commitment: The grandmasterly input.

Any student will agree with this: Grandmaster Bill's uniqueness, his inimitable way of teaching, motivating and entertaining along with our system's constant improvement and upgrading is the very Newman-Escrima that we know and learn today.

So much for the similarities between the guy from the Harz Mountains and the Swabian. The more exciting part for me, as the beneficiary, is how to compare these two very distinct representatives of one and the same system. First of all, the physique (and last, since I will restrain my article on this feature).

On the one hand, there is Master Bernd, who is able to use his weight with a tactical precision and pressure, that gives you - as his opponent/victim - only one single chance to elude your own annihilation: Make sure you had some of this magic Gallican brew beforehand or simply know exactly what to do.

On the other hand, there is Master Thomas, who analyses and breaks down every single move he's excercising until - and that's the key point for both of them - the movement works out for him as a person who has to fight with less pressure, so the movement feels optimal and takes systematically into account all eventualities that could happen in reality. Simply masterly.

It is also those two Escrimadors that prove Grandmaster Bill's claim that Newman-Escrima can be learned by anyone, regardless of his/her physique. Simples.

Michael Welge 3.TG NE
Lübeck A.D. 2010
Translation by: The Navigator