unarmed striking covers in stickfighting
Lately I've been trying to add some more content to this particular subforum, since there's a lot of fighting-related topics that could be discussed but are not. My goal, though, isn't to come off as some guru passing on the truth, but to get some of the FMA etc memebers to think and post and get a good community discussion going (between all 5 of us or whatever).
If you've done any time in the Filipino arts, you've probably heard that there's a lot of crossover between empty hand and weapon stuff. This isn't just speculative- its a central premise behind the Dog Brothers unarmed material, and a lot of FMAs are composed of drills that can be done with or without weapons. Some will even insist that if that continuity doesn't exist, then the art is not legit.
I've run into some trouble with this concept here and there. I think a big part is that I come from a punching and kicking background (sanshou) which teaches some habits that I've been contemplating if I should keep or discard in favor of greater consistency. So, some thought on that:
In striking, a correct stance is used as a sort of passive defense- a stance with the hands up, elbows down, chin tucked and shoulders used in a defensive raised position. This prevents all sorts of awful strikes from hitting you in a compromised position. But do these details carry over to a weapon? Let's have a look at each element.
hands up: this is a pretty broad topic covered in the Alive Hand Positioning Thread, so I'll just skip that and let it be discussed there.
elbow down: in striking, a good way to defend against body shots is to slightly crunch and tuck the waist so that the elbow point blocks the incoming strike. This allows the hands to stay up high by the chin, so its considered better than using a downward forearm block kind of thing to defend a bodyshot. But in stick or knife fighting, you can't really stonewall as a legitimate defense- you'll just end up taking a whack to the bone or a knife to the ribs. Yet a stonewall block to a body strike with a weapon may still be better than taking that strike to the body, and keeping the elbow tucked will be useful if they feel like kicking. Is it important for the FMA fighter to tuck their elbow, the way they would in unarmed sparring? Or is it a bad habit? Or is it neutral? I'd say that the hand should be moving and ready to check but not shield, since forearms are targets, not shields. But from a different perspective, the elbows down is also good for general good striking mechanics and grappling reasons. What do you think?
Chin down: keeping the chin down keeps the protruding chin as a target and puts the spine in a better position to receive forward pressure, and puts the jaw in front of the throat. Weapon fighting is such a hit-but-don't-be-hit art that I wonder if these are a moot point- if a real stick or blade strike is coming in to the jawline area, is tucking the chin really going to protect you, or will the strike do similarly awful damage to whatever spot it hits? I tuck my chin in weapon fighting out of habit and out of concern for my throat mostly, but I could see how some people don't do this.
Shoulders up: I learned traditional kung fu before learning sanshou, and the shoulders were used differently (I know, its a ruleset not a style, but kung fu is tweaked to work for kickboxing + throws sometimes). In traditional pattern arts, shoulders are consciously held down in an effort to connect the body more. In striking arts, the shoulders are brought into play to passively defend against strikes to the face/jaw. Does raising the shoulders take away from the body connection when fighting with weapons? Does raising the shoulders provide additional defense when the offensive technique is a stick rather than a padded glove? Does it outweigh the benefits?
There are other things to consider in a discussion like this, but I think thats a good start.