Defanging the Snake


Some martial artists are really on the bandwagon talking about “defanging the snake,” which is a phrase meaning to hit the opponent’s hand instead of his stick. Some teachers want to act as though this is high-level, super-secret info.

One well-known martial artist wrote a column saying how any “real” Filipino martial art stresses defanging the snake. He got straightened out by another well-known master (I believe it was Master Latosa) who said that defanging the snake isn’t necessarily the strategy of many Filipino martial arts, let alone the better arts.

GM Estalilla is dismissive of defanging the snake as the old hit-the-hand method. He told me of how when he was a young man in Mindanao someone he knew was walking through the jungle. The guy spotted a snake hanging down from a tree limb (This was common in Cotabato.), so he took his bolo and chopped off the snake’s head.

He walked a little further before noticing the severed head of the snake hanging from his hat, with its fangs embedded in the brim!

The moral of the story is that a dead snake can still be deadly. By the same token, if you hit the hand of an opponent swinging a pipe wrench, momentum may just carry that pipe wrench into your face.

Short stick styles hit to the hand because they are shorter, and can only reach as far as the hand. But with a longer weapon it is possible to play a bigger game, wherein you are hitting the opponent’s weapon and his body or head. Think about that the next time you hear someone talking about defanging the snake.


4 Responses to “Defanging the Snake”

  1. Rey Damasco Says:

    This is a good piece of thought. However, “defanging the snake” is not only limited to hitting the weapon hand but it also means decapitating your opponent. Be it hitting the hand, destroying the upper and lower limbs, breaking the head, disarming, ect.

  2. Rey,

    Good point. I think the key is to get away from the “hit-the-hand” mentality as some sort of super technique.

  3. So true! Hitting the hand is not the only way to defang the freakin’ snake! You can also hit hard the legs to immobilize your opponent, so to speak! Thanks for sharing your point of view to the world. We are on the same boat my man!


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