Are You Fencing?
I was puzzled when I read of one reviewer who wrote that George Wallace, author of a stick fighting book, did not do “fencing.” When I saw the word “fencing,” I thought of two men fighting with swords. (By the way, the word “eskrima” comes from the Spanish “esgrima,” which means “fencing.”) But what the writer meant by the term “fencing” was two opponents fighting with identical weapons, like fencers fighting with regulation foils.
In the Wallace stick-fighting book, he has a long stick, and in the illustrations his opponent never has a long stick, too. This was an inspiration for my book and my combat thinking. I do not assume that my opponent on the street will have a stick like mine. I reason that he will most likely be unarmed, or have a knife, crow bar, or beer bottle, and that he may have friends with him.
I think this is a potential flaw in the Filipino Martial Arts. It makes sense in the first days of training that if you are learning to use a machete, that the instructor will also hold a machete to show you how to use it. The problem is that this becomes the norm.
If you have a 28 inch stick, your partner has a 28 inch stick. If you have a stick and a dagger, your opponent has a stick and a dagger. If you have a knife, your training partner has a knife. And so on.
Yet we can expect life to be filled with uneven match-ups. As much as possible, you need to practice long stick versus short stick, staff (or shovel) versus stick, hammer and screwdriver against a beer bottle, etc.
I used to train with Al Smith Sensei and Guro Ed Planas in Fresno, California. We’d come into the Fresno City College gym and just mix it up. We’d spar with fencing foils, staffs, sticks, nunchaku, knives, and mix and match. When I trained with GM Estalilla, one student had the long stick while the other student had the short stick, and then we switched.
Even if you have a preferred weapon, you not only want to learn how to use other weapons, but also step inside the mind of someone who uses them. In other words, when I had the short stick and sparred against the long stick, I could better understand the type of techniques and strategies that someone with a short stick is likely to use.
Try mixed weapon training. I think it’s essential to real combat fighting ability.
Note that the defender’s left hand is within range of the knife. His checking hand is in front of his weapon, leaving the hand vulnerable.
The abaniko/witik strike is weak. Just blast the knife hand with an overhand blow, preferably with a heavier stick.
Why is the knife wielder’s hand at his face? He should be grabbing the stick guy’s checking hand.