1. #1
    Permalost's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
    San Diego
    street paddleboarding

    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.
    Last edited by Permalost; 11/28/2012 6:37pm at .

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by Permalost View Post
    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).
    It's something that is missing from nearly all FMA forums, so it's appreciated (by me at least).

    Like in the 'alive hand' discussion, my answers are going to vary, and are made in the context of Garimot arnis.

    Elbows down - in largo, generally the elbows are as down as the position allows. Some positions have the arm raised above the head, so the elbow can't be by the ribs. Keeping them down is not to protect the torso so much as to protect the armpit, and to make sure that the elbow doesn't stick out and become a target. In corto, my elbow is wherever the hell it needs to be to assist my hand or weapon.

    Chin down/shoulders up - I generally keep my head upright and shoulders relaxed. The slight protection to the neck isn't worth the restriction in body mechanics; I can still fit a blade into your neck/throat, and with a stick the temple is just as good a target as the jaw. Hell, I don't want to take a blade to the temple/ear/cheek either.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    On elbows up:

    Defensively in boxing/empty hand, you are using your arms/hands to guard your head at long range. In stickfighting, I am using my stick as a shield. If my hands are on my cheeks, my stick is mostly well above my head, and useless for defense shielding. For my weapon hand, I keep elbow down if I'm playing conservatively.

    At largo, I'm usually in a right lead, elbow down, but moving around to keep the lead hand from becoming a stationary target. When attacking or defending with a strike, my stick hand's elbow is up to get power. Motion helps to disguise this adjustment. My rear hand will be free to move around at largo, as it's in the rear with my stick shielding the front.

    At corto, I'll often switch to a left lead to bring my checking hand better into play. I've got to keep my left much tighter for defense and to keep it from being targeted. Very boxing-esque, elbow up and tight, hand close to face. My stick hand is now in the rear, and it will also be high (maybe even higher in a fully chambered position), ready to strike as my opponent is already in range.

    For knife, I stay in an ultra-tight boxing stance, elbows covering vitals, wrists covering neck, elbows in to avoid exposing gut or armpits.

    Chin down:
    At largo, not at all. People don't target the chin for a knockout in a stickfight. Being able to lean, evade, and fade out or in is too important because the range is so drastic.

    At corto, I will tuck my chin when I'm concerned about his left striking or slashing.

    Shoulders up:
    At largo not so much except when striking with power. Elbow is up, shoulder is up, then I whip it out dropping elbow to accelerate stick.

    At corto, yes. Once again to guard against his left striking or slashing.

    So all-in all, I think that at largo there is very little carry-over, but at corto there can definitely be some transfer. If I move in to corto (empty hand striking range), and I see someone with their chin up, I'll bait them with my stick then tee off with a left hook. Or I'll check them in the face, tip them back, and start spanking them low.


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