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

Stick as a Blade (For What’s His Face @ juno.com)

Is the stick actually a blade? When we practice Arnis, are we actually practicing Bolo techniques?

I don’t think so.

Can you swing a stick and call it a blade? Sure.

Are you using the same movements with your stick and “Translate” them to the blade?

You must be kidding.

This (translating) is a lazy way of learning to do everything under the sun without–well, learning to do everything under the sun. There are just too many variables to throw everything into the pot and call it “same-same”, because it isn’t. Sounds good, though!

The stick is a blunt-force weapon. It is made to hit bones, and if it hits meat, the smack will not injure unless it injures… bone. If we are talking about an upper arm or thigh, then you can forget it, if we’re talking about rattan eskrima sticks. Especially for you drill masters, because if you’re wasting training time on drills, I KNOW you don’t have good power in your stick strike. The angle needed to effect a good stick strike is completely different from the angle needed for effective blade work. For example, in order for the blade to cut deeply, you should have the sword to be 90 degrees to your forearm, and you make contact with the part of the blade closest to the handle first. For the stick, you will snap the stick from a 90 degree angle to almost 180 degrees, and the only contact you will make will be with the tip of the stick. Each weapon has a distinct way to use it, and they attack targets–even the same targets–in a different way. In reality, most FMA styles are either better suited for stick fighting, for a specific style of blade fighting (there is no style that is really just BLADE… there are many types of blades and they are all used differently), or for empty hand. Too many people try to be experts at everything, so they end up being mediocre at everything. Doing everything, but doing nothing well.

But then again, if you are spending most of your time with “sensitivity drills” (is this where you try to understand the cultural struggles of your opponent?) and “flow” (to be practiced once a month, for about 7 days), you aren’t of the same mindset I am from.

Sorry to bust your bubble, but a stick is a stick and should be used like a stick. A machete is a machete and should be used like a machete. A pinuti is a pinuti, and should be used like a pinuti. A fist is a fist, and should be used like a fist, not a pinuti.

There are other factors, like if you plan to use a razor-sharp sword, or if the blade you wield is thin (both of which results in a very weak weapon… you better not hit bone!), than makes that sword a little more stick-technique worthy. I’m not saying that some techniques are not universal. It’s just that some people have oversimplified the art to make up for lack of knowledge. And yes, many of your grandmasters just weren’t very knowledgeable. They came here as basically teenagers, with limited knowledge of the Philippine fighting arts, limited accomplishments and skills. So they made up stories about death matches and titles (“I was campion of ol de pilippines”…), and you guys believe them. After all, they are old guys and they were your first exposure to the FMAs, so I can’t blame you for adopting their stuff. But come on, use that brain, people!  Anyway, only some of the movements do really… ahem, “translate” into other weapons. But not many. Their knowledge of the arts was weak, and 40 years later, it was still weak. Let’s call a spade a spade. You learn more by studying more, not by hanging around the world long enough. So if an art is poorly developed, and no one gets the information needed to improve it, then 50 years later, it will still be poorly developed. But you can change that, just by thinking.

It’s far better to consult with a real expert, and learn more about those other weapons. Because for those who know, you sure do look silly, considering yourselves authorities, while questioning people who know way more than you do.

And while you’re at it, stop calling yourself “experienced” just because you’ve been in the art a long time. “Experience” and “longevity” are two different things. “Experience” in the fighting art means you’ve done a lot of fighting… with opponents, not classmates and friends. “Longevity” means you’ve been around the art, doing whatever it is you do in your dojos. The two are not the same, and your ass could be involved with the FMAs for 30 years and still have no damned experience. I don’t usually do this, but next time you come to Northern California, stop by my school. I have some beginning Kung Fu students that will smash you and your FMA empty hands. Trust me, you don’t want to mess with me or my Kuntaw guys. lol

But that is a topic for another article.

Hang around me, son, and I’ll show you the ropes.  Thanks for visiting my blog!

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