Are You Fencing?

Would this happen on the street?

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.

You don't want to be this close in stick vs. knife.

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.

Not Good

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.


5 Responses to “Are You Fencing?”

  1. Estoy de acuerdo contigo. Se puede esgrimir hasta con un tenedor.


    • Para mi, el problema es el entrenamiento que siempre esta usando armas iguales.

      Por ejemplo, si tu tienes tenedor, yo tengo tenedor. Al fin somos expertos del tenedor, pero de nada mas, o no sabemos pelear contra baston o cuchillo, etcetera, porque la unica cosa que sabemos es pelear tenedor contra tenedor.

  2. i agree that the flaw of FMA people is that we are training more in a “martial” art, instead of a “fighting” art. see, if they focus more on the “fighting”, then they will be able to “fight” with there sticks, and not “train” or “drill” with those sticks. there is too much stick-to-stick and almost no stick-to-face. if they focus on how to develop power, and how to land the hits to wear they want to land it, with as much power as they can, those “chopsticks” can do some damage.

    there is not a man around who would let a trained fighting eskrimador hit him with a rattan stick, even a small one. so its not the size of the stick but what you can do with that stick. each weapons has advantages and each one has weakness. the advantage of the eskrima stick is that we can hit with power and then hit with power again and again. the disadvantage is we cannot just hit anywhere to get an injury. the advantage of the cane or baseball bat is that you can hit with power to anywhere, and get an injury. the disadvantage is your recovery time is too slow and you cannot land a powerful hit and then do it again right away and you will need more space.

    so the question is, can you do what you do better than what he can do with what he does? in the martial arts, we have to ask this question and even try it out to see if we are right. when they dont do it all they have are theories, which is why FMA always have this question mark about it.

  3. Soy practicante del juego del palo de las Islas Canarias por lo que desconozco en profundidad la realidad de la escrima filipina. Con respecto a la discusión actual mi opinión es que todo depende del objetivo que se persiga. Todas las artes tradicionales van a darle a cualquier persona una idea muy precisa del uso del espacio, cómo calcular las distancias y preveer los movimientos del contrario. Sin embargo cualquier entremamiento de cualquier arte del mundo tan sólo puede recrear situaciones como si se estuviera en un laboratorio. Evidentemente, si su objetivo es el de estar prevenido frente cualquier agresión proviniente de un enemigo potencial en la calle sí que deberían entrenar con distintos tipos de armas y en situaciones muy distintas. Si su objetivo es tan sólo tener unos conocimientos que te puedan dar una ventaja en una situación de conflicto la forma de enseñanza tradicional es totalmente correcta.

    • Senor Hernandez,

      Muchas gracias por su respuesta.

      Estoy de acuerdo de que todas las artes marciales tienen valor. Muchas veces el estilo de pelear es un reflejo del ambiente. Por ejemplo, si vives en un llano, tal como en Argentina, probablemente tu estilo usa movimientos amplios de larga distancia. Si vives in Hong Kong, con tanta gente en un espacio muy pequeno, probablemente tu estilo usa movimientos cortos para pelear adentro.

      Para mi, la meta es siempre comparar mi entrenamiento y mi estilo con la realidad de mi vida y mi ambiente.



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