What Makes a Poser of the Week?

I had a reader say that he didn’t get the Poser of the Week I posted. After all, a stance was just a starting point.

As I thought about it, I realized that I haven’t explained what makes a Poser of the Week. To me it is obvious that the pose is ridiculous and will not work for real combat. Some readers are able to see the weaknesses of the poser stances. But other readers may not understand the criteria I use to judge an unrealistic stance.

Why does a stance matter? I remember showing my teacher, GM Maranga, an advertisement of two Balintawak “masters” taken from the local newspaper. GM Maranga took one look at the photo of those masters and said, “In that stance you’re already a dead man.”

Dead Man Posing: See Rules 1 and 3.

Many of the posers I feature may not realize it, but in those poses they are “dead men walking.” A stance either enables you to move, to defend, and to attack, or it stands in the way. If your stance is in the way of instantaneous movement, defense, and attack, you are cutting your own throat.

I'm holding an Ifugao ax, not exactly a street weapon. Am I fighting or posing with toys?

1.)  Do NOT Cross Yourself Up. This was a lesson drummed into me by my teacher Guro Ed Planas, who was also a student of GM Estalilla. We used to do knife techniques and counter-for-counter drills, and every time I crossed my arms or hands Guro Planas would gut me in an instant. When you cross your legs, you limit your mobility. It is easy for an opponent to check or strike one arm or weapon and trap both of your arms.

NO! I am crossed up and can't strike with my right.

With crossed arms you must uncross them in order to strike. The effective fighter strikes in one count -BAM! The ineffective fighter strikes in two counts -uncross, whap.

2.)  Do NOT Extend Your Arms. GM Mike Vasquez drummed it into me that I should never lock out the elbow, but leave even the smallest bend. But even more importantly in a stance, you will strike by extending the arm, and if your arm is already extended, you cannot strike immediately.

Once again, because his arm is “cocked” in a position to strike, the effective fighter strikes in one count -BAM! The ineffective fighter strikes in two counts –count one, bring the weapon from extended to cocked position, count two, strike -whap.

NO! I must bring up the right hand to hit. Should I be guarding my thigh or my head?

3.) Do NOT Limit Your Mobility. Your weight should not be all on the front foot or all on the back foot. Your legs should not be crossed (See Rule #1). You should not have a leg fully extended (See Rule #2). The best stance can be seen in boxing and wrestling –feet shoulder-width apart, weight evenly distributed, shoulders more-or-less square to the opponent so you can hit with either hand (not in a side horse stance). Your weapon hand is cocked to strike without telegraphing.

NO! Once again, I am crossed up, and can't hit effectively with either hand. One strike to the point where my weapons are crossed and I'm toast.

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