Archive for kabaroan
Once again, do an experiment with me. Get close to the bag (about 2 feet back) and hit it with the staff grip, both palms down, overleft. ["Overleft" is a term of GM Estalilla of Kabaroan describing a strike that comes from 10 or 11 o'clock.] You will find that you feel a stinging in your left palm.
Now try a different strike from the same distance. In this case, your right hand grips the stick or bat at the pommel. The left hand is about a third of the way up, palm up. Now strike overleft. You’ll find that you can hit harder, without the stinging.
Check this out from Cold Steel:
This webpage also has a video of the machete in action.
According to GM Giron, this weapon (which although it’s billed as African, has counterparts in the Philippines) is the inspiration behind the “kabaroan,” or “new” styles.
This is basically a machete on a stick. Given the weapon’s greater length, new techniques had to be originated to adapt to the weapon. Remember, you adapt to the weapon, you become an extension of the weapon, not vice versa.
This is simply the bladed form of Big Stick Combat. For the person who cannot own a firearm, I don’t see how you could do better than to have one of these for self-defense in the home. If nothing else, the deterrence factor (Do you really want to mess with that blade?) would be formidable.
James posts the following, and I thought it was something I should address as a separate post.
“When I first learned about FMA I could not understand how they could call long range a style or Elastico a style, to me all ranges and all strike styles should be within the context of a style and not a style unto themselves. I just believe in being a complete fighter.”
With regard to “styles,” the late GM Giron taught 20 or so of them. GM Giron can be seen holding “the master’s fan”
here. Each rib of the fan is a style in his system. This page also has a full listing of the styles. According to GM Estalilla, the 21st, unwritten style on the back of the fan was kabaroan.
Some of these styles on the master’s fan might be thought of as tactics, many of them based on environmental considerations. For instance, “De Fondo” was designed for times when you can only plant one foot solidly.
I remember meeting guys from one art that did multiple “styles,” Disalon and Decampo (Literally, “of the parlor” and “of the country.”) among them. Desalon was a tight, close-quarters style designed for indoors. Decampo was a broader style designed for the outdoors.
Another style was “tinulisan” (“to make like a bandit”), which was hit and run. In other words, a thief doesn’t have time to trade blow for blow, because the cops and enraged neighbors are coming, so he’s going to get in a quick hit or two and take off.
Some of the old Filipino stylists knew only one or a couple of “styles,” others might know multiple styles. While our goal is to be proficient at all ranges and in all environments, I try to give people “full faith and credit” for their system.
I’m careful to avoid the snobbery of some people, who if you don’t do single stick, double stick, wrestling, spear, knife, double knife, bow and arrow, empty-hands, rope, nunchaku, staff, etc., then you aren’t a “real” Filipino martial artist and your art is somehow lacking.
Reader Hernan asks about the role of evasion in Big Stick Combat.
The greatest application of evasion with the big stick is the late GM Giron’s larga mano style. In his style the
proponent maximizes the reach of the long stick by long stances, and stretching out to hit the opponent’s closest target, usually the weapon hand. The larga mano stylist may oppose the attack or blend/merge with it. Correctly applied, the attacker is trying to get at the long stick stylist, but can’t get anywhere close to him, and gets hit as he tries to get near. The lara mano stylist will pop in and tag the opponent, then fade back out of reach (retirada style).
I believe that the larga mano style is best understood in the context of a long, bladed weapon. GM Giron poses with a panabas, a machete mounted on a stick, and GM Somera’s larga mano video features him using a long sword. With a long blade, a hit at a distanvce can create a crippling injury, such as slashing an opponent’s wrist. The long blade cannot be grabbed.
With a long stick, though, the same dynamics of the long blade larga mano stylist may not apply. Strikes with the stick may not be incapacitating at long range, and the end of the stick can be grabbed.
Although larga mano is a valid style, I decided against including it in Big Stick Combat, for several reasons:
1) Larga Mano needs space, which may not be available in the city or indoors.
2) A long stick can be grabbed at a time when the larga mano stylist is stretched forward.
3) Larga Mano requires leg flexibility and strength (which makes it great as an exercise), which some people may not have.
4) Larga Mano adds a degree of complexity to a style. I opted for simplicity.
To the extent that I evade, I step out to the right or to the left, in what Filipino stylists call the “female triangle” (V).
GM Estalilla’s concept is not to evade, but to move right into the teeth of an opponent’s attack and merge with him while blasting him in the head. This is audacious, and certainly takes guts to execute it. My concept is typically similar –move directly into an attack, smothering it with overwhelming power.
Check out this video, especially beginning at 3:35 or so, when Master Porter executes several disarms. My point here is not to belittle these disarms, but to show, as GM Estalilla so often says, “For every move, there is a counter, and for every counter there is another counter.”
1) One counter to the stick disarms (or empty hand disarms, for that matter) of a baseball bat is to drop the butt end of the bat as you squat and drop your weight. An upright stick is on my logo in part because it is inspired by GM Maranga’s teaching, that once your stick is in the upright position, it is very difficult to disarm you. When your stick is in the horizontal position, look out! because you are vulnerable to disarms. This is another reason not to do horizontal strikes, or at least to be watchful.
2) Another counter is to let go of the stick with the left hand. In the stick disarm in which the stick is threaded between both arms, letting go with the left hand removes much of the leverage. GM Maranga teaches that at a certain point in a disarm or other stick technique you may find yourself in a locked or arms/hands crossed position –Get out immediately! Once you let go with the left hand, you can strike with it, say a gouge to the opponent’s eyes, and then regrip the bat.
3) One more counter is to spread the hands apart into rifle/bayonet grip. By sliding the left hand further up the bat you increase your leverage, particularly when coupled with returning your bat to an upright position.
First of all, let me say that if I had a short stick, or were unarmed (as James points out), I would do pretty much the same techniques as Master Porter. What I would like to discuss here are counters that the baseball bat proponent can use.
If we look at the counters, we see an assumption that a bat attack consists of
1) Wind Up
4) Swing, etc.
There is also the assumption that the baseball bat wielder has no offense at close range.
Note that in the first technique, the short stick proponent moves in on the wind up. If you have non-telegraphic strikes, there is no wind up for the opponent to close in on. If you properly maintain distance, your opponent must close a considerable distance in order to jam you. The faster your strike, through a lighter weapon (Try 17 ounces) and non-telegraphic, explosive strikes, the harder it is for the opponent to jam you.
The “recover” portion of the bat attack (as in swing, recover, swing, recover) represents the offbeat. Master Porter merges with a horizontal strike and strikes on the offbeat by jamming his opponent at the recovery phase. (I should also point out that merging is a technique prefered by long stick stylist GM Estalilla of Kabaroan.)
But suppose that I strike on the offbeat. Suppose I swing, kick, swing, kick, etc.; the opponent who leaps in on the offbeat must contend with a kick. Or, as I swing I can let go with one hand and hit with that hand, or stiffarm, so this pattern resembles swing, hit/stiffarm, swing, etc.
Furthermore, if I can hit powerfully at close range, I negate jamming techniques. On an opponent in close I can hit with a butt end strike, I can slam, I can go into a fan strike, I can hip check, or I can do an “ankle buster.” The more options I have in close, and the more I develop these options through practice at contact range, the harder it is to shut me down by jamming.
I’m glad to see the response generated by my last post. Anyone who agrees with me on everything I say probably isn’t thinking for himself.
Recapping, I believe in the importance of “cover,” of keeping one’s hands up to help protect the head, whether unarmed or armed.
Consider the following:
“Larga mano” (Or “largo mano”) is a long stick style in which the practitioner stretches out as far as possible to hit the opponent at long range. “Larga mano” is Spanish for “long hand. Perhaps the greatest exponent of larga mano was GM Giron. The larga mano styles are typically from Luzon, in regions like Pampanga and Pangasinan. For example, GM Estalilla is an Ilocano. He and GM Giron sometimes spoke to each other in the Ilocano language.
Generally speaking, stylists from the Ilocano-speaking regions of lowland Luzon tend to use long sticks, larga mano, and cinco teros, or the 5 angle striking pattern. Those from the Visayas (the middle of the country), centered in Cebu, tend to use short sticks and close range techniques.
As I have said before, even though GM Estalilla is a master of the long stick, he doesn’t do larga mano at all. As I began thinking about how I could advance the art of Kabaroan and the long stick, I considered adding larga mano techniques.
Eventually I decided against larga mano techniques for several reasons. I prefer to hit with two hands, and would rather trade greater power for slightly less reach.
Also, because of the greater extension (one’s body is streched forward) and one-handed grip, the wielder is vulnerable if the opponent gets his hand on the stick. As I thought about it, the larga mano style was rooted in a long blade. When swinging a long blade, having an opponent grab the end of the blade is not an issue. Also, a blade can still do tremendous damage even with the longest range strikes to the opponent’s lead hand, for example. See GM Somera’s video on larga mano to learn more about larga mano and to see him wield the long blade.
However, as I began training with two-handed strikes in bat grip, in which I am holding the stick like a baseball bat, with the right hand at the pommel and the left hand above it, I saw a use for larga mano.
Let’s try a striking pattern. Start with the stick on the left shoulder, gripping it with both hands at the pommel, left hand above the right. Strike with an “overleft,” using GM Estalilla’s term. (From 10 o’clock diagonally downward to 5 o’clock). Strike an overight, from 2 o’clock diagonally downward toward 7 o’clock. Strike an underleft, coming diagonally upward from 7 o’clock to 2 o’clock.
Now do an underight, moving diagonally upward from 5 o’clock to 10 o’clock. And here you run into problems. If you keep both hands on the bat, your left wrist gets crossed over at an uncomfortable angle. This is a very awkward strike. My solution is to go to larga mano, letting go of the left hand and swinging one-handed with the right. The underight strike is kept low to prevent the opponent from grabbing it. I also perform the strike while moving back and away, drawing the stick back up to my left shoulder, where the left hand regrips it.
I recently heard an interview of an FMA Guro who talked about using a short stick to be a great close-up fighter, and then getting the long stick to do larga mano.
I’ve seen a combined style art that does larga mano and serrada, I’m assuming with two sets of weapons.
Rather than adding up styles, let me suggest that a better approach is to synthesize. For instance, Combat Eskrima Maranga is a close range Balintawak style using the traditional short stick, but the late GM Timor Maranga realized the style needed a long range component. So Combat Eskrima Maranga incorporates long range techniques with the same stick.
The Eskrima Kabaroan system under GM Estalilla is a long range art with a big stick, but it also has close range bamboliya techniques with the same stick. GM Estalilla influenced me to incorporate the same concept into Big Stick Combat, a long range system with the ability to flow into short range and out again, all using the same weapon.
I’ve seen several Serrada/Larga Mano “combined” styles. The reason for this is that the late Grandmaster Cabales of Serrada and the late Grandmaster Giron of the Larga Mano style were two great masters and rivals in Stockton, California, which is ground zero with respect to the FMA in America.
The problem as I see it is that the two styles are irreconcilable. They are based on two entirely separate philosophies. It’s like ballet and football: you can do one or the other, but if you try to do them both, I’m afraid that both are going to suffer for it.
The challenge as I see it for martial artists is to synthesize what you have learned. Even though Combat Eskrima Maranga is an extremely close range style, I was able to apply many of its principles to the big stick.
The other challenge is to realize what can’t be synthesized. I cannot synthesize Tae Kwon Do or Tai Chi with Thai Boxing. I cannot synthesize sinawali or Serrada with the big stick. I know better than to try, or to waste my time working on something totally different from my core art.