Training Methods
Any student of Echani must be expected to be able to handle a wide variety of training methods. The art is difficult to learn and takes skill to master, but almost every school of Echani will teach in the exact same time-honored method in order to teach their students and transmit the style of learning from master to disciple.

The order of training during a student’s career goes as follows: first, a student will begin with some body conditioning. Then, a student will begin learning the core techniques to all Echani schools, which gives them a foundation to build upon what they learn in future. Next, they will begin by learning their school’s primary form, which introduces them to the concepts and tenets that the school revolves around. They are then introduced to the formative combinations of techniques employed by the school in order to develop responses to certain situations. This in turn will lead in to self-defense drills with partners as well as higher-level techniques, freestyle sparring and finally advanced training methods that may include weapons, more advanced-level forms, or even progression to secret techniques.

Conditioning of the body is arguably the most important and fundamental part of Echani training. Without the body being in good shape, there is no art; without the body honed, there is no mental or spiritual strength. As such, Echani training takes body conditioning very seriously. Some schools take this to extremes – half-day training sessions daily focused solely on conditioning for years upon years to achieve a perfect physique, and that method has certainly produced some amazing fighters. However, we will examine some basic training methods and the importance of conditioning.

Aside from basic exercises (pushups on hands, knuckles and fingertips, situps and crunches, plank position, cardio training, weight and strength training, as well as stretching for flexibility) there are a wide variety of unique training methods for Echani. As a more lithe, agile body type is preferred by the Echani style, much of the work done revolves around lean power. Some of these vary between schools, but there are two or three constants.

First and foremost is the ‘diamond skill’ – an exercise that works multiple parts of the body – wrists and arms and core strength. Put simply, it is a side-plank in which one foot rests on top of the other and the body is held up on the knuckles of the index and middle finger. Second is the use of bronzium rings – these rings weigh roughly a pound and are around an inch thick, and are placed on the arms, with more rings added over time. Exercises are done by moving through in low stances with palms facing up, forcing the student to develop good arm strength. Finally extended use of a low crouch/horse stance, for long periods, in order to develop leg strength, is one of the most traditional and famous exercises.

The other aspect of conditioning is hardening the body to take and deliver strikes by increasing resistance around nerve clusters. This comes in a variety of forms – body on body contact, such as kicking the thighs and shins or striking forearms together, driving hands through grains of rice, sand or small stones to toughen the hands, even simply being hit in the stomach to improve the ability to take a hit. Extreme schools will take these to higher extremes, such as striking the body with sacks of gravel or durasteel ball bearings at higher levels.

Put together, these aspects practiced constantly will make for a very tough body, despite the soreness a student might wake up with the next day or two afterwards. This conditioning will put a student at peak form, a requisite for Echani training.

Forms are the very basis of Echani schools. A form is, in essence, a self-contained fighting style that is comprised of a series of movements, which teaches not only self-defense techniques but also principles and ideas that center around that particular method of learning. For example, one family style may use all closed-hand techniques that focus on grabs and ground fighting, whereas another may focus on evasion and counter-striking. Each school or style will have at least one associated form, but very rarely more. Mastery of a form can take years, but being able to truly master a form and understand the complexities of the techniques demonstrates how well a student has progressed.

Whereas a combination is usually a sequence of between three to ten moves, a form can be anywhere from twenty techniques to one hundred, depending on complexity, and will incorporate all manner of moves. It can take any number of appearances, generally making use of most (if not all) of the techniques that the school practices, which can be taught in small sequences that link together to complete the entire form. Some schools have adopted common basic forms in order to teach a student the core techniques more effectively, and this is a growing trend amongst schools with many students. Many older and more traditional schools eschew this method to maintain the ‘purity’ of their school – both methods are entirely valid.

Thematically, a form can tell a story – a ‘self-defense story’ against imaginary opponents, if you will, and requires a certain level of focus and understanding of the techniques involved. From start to finish, a form requires total concentration and requires that the student devote their entire being to its execution. At its best, a form demonstrated by a master is graceful, powerful and inspiring all at once. This requires a real understanding of the applications of techniques – one technique can be interpreted multiple ways, which makes true mastery of a form a long road to travel. At high levels students are expected to demonstrate applications of forms, including multiple applications for individual techniques.

While every form for each school is obviously different, there are a few common ideas; mobility is preferred; rarely is a student of Echani ever found to be standing in one place for very long. Each form is intended to fight multiple opponents in different ways and develops the skills needed to react to a wide variety of attacks and scenarios. Finally, each form teaches a student to ‘finish a fight’, such that an opponent is guaranteed to be defeated.

Some forms can be performed with weapons – some are dedicated weapons-only forms. This is down to the individual school and their preferences, as well as the time they dedicate to weapons training.