“Secrets” of the Filipino Fighting Arts
Words from a Modern-Day Warrior

Using a Skill-Based Fight Strategy

There are many ways to approach fight training, and one of my favorite methods is a skill-based fighting style.  Some fighters look at fighting analytically, and believe that if you drill specific responses to techniques, when the opponent attacks you with a back-hand hook (for example), you will automatically respond with the practiced counter. This is a valid form of training, but I consider it to be an advanced form of fighting that does you little good if the foundation is not laid first.

And that foundation is the Skill-Based fight strategy. This method requires the fighter to place emphasis on individual attacks as separate weapons and little else, besides a few combinations. In the Filipino arts, the method is terribly ignored in favor of more complex strategies that sell better on DVD and in seminars… and looks good in demonstrations. But a well-developed advanced strategy is useless without a strong base of strong punches, kicks and basic strikes. For the fighter, he must have these skills well trained in order for more complicated manuevers to be effective.

It is not a very difficult method. First, you must identify all the weapons you will have in your arsenal. This would be every strike you would use, every thrust, every block, every kick, every push, etc., even grappling techniques like disarmings and locks. Next you should find all the variations that these skills would be launched from and to. This includes rear hand vs. front hand, open stance vs closed stance, static opponent vs mobile opponent, and so forth. It seems like a lot, but the variations are very small from situation to situation, and simply need to be identified and understood in order for practice to be effective.

In case this is confusing, I will offer the following example:

Round Kick:

  • back leg round kick against standing opponent
  • back leg round kick against mobile opponent
  • back leg round kick against an attacking opponent
  • back leg round kick as an initial attack
  • back leg round kick as part of a combination
  • back leg round kick as the finishing move of a combination
  • back leg round kick to the leg
  • back leg round kick to the head
  • back leg round kick from the outside (where you are off the opponent’s centerline)
  • back leg round kick from the inside (where you are off the line, but inside his guard)
  • back leg round kick at close range

Each attack should address each of these situations because there are many slight nuances that will change from one situation and position to the other. They will mean a major difference between being accurate and effective most of the time and struggling to apply your attacks. Most fighters are unaware of the differences and can be thrown off by simply moving; it would frustrate even the most skilled fighter, if he is unprepared.

Now, once the list is compiled, one needs only to drill these skills to a high degree. We want to practice the techniques and their best applications until you are able to fire away with the appropriate attack when the opening presents itself. This is why some fighters seem to always hit their opponent regardless of what he does, while others have trouble landing. I think most fighters know what to do if you demonstrate a “what-if” situation to him, but most cannot execute it in real time. In fact, you would probably have to wait a few seconds for the fighter to try and think of what should be done, or to search his memory for the best answer. However, the effective fighter cannot afford this; all plans must be thought out in training and drilled to second-nature. This way, when a slight adjustment is needed, “the strike hits all by itself”.

Use 500 as a target goal for training and then make this a regular part of your training. I recommend having this as your blueprint for your students’ first 2 to 3 years of training, before getting into a bunch of complicated strategies and drills. It is difficult enough to simply land an abaniko to a moving opponent, than to consider doing so under pressure, with full power, speed and accuracy. Make sure your fighters are focusing on develop skill at each individual technique and he will have success at the higher levels of fighting.

Thank you for visiting my blog, please visit us again! If you like the Techniques and Fight Strategy section of my blog, then I’m sure you will love my upcoming book (Dec 2009) Mustafa Gatdula’s How to Build a Dominant Fighter in 12 Months, located on the Offerings page!

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