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

Banging the Groundhog

Here is a quick and easy strategy for you to try out the next time you train. This technique is a piece of our Singko Tiros style of fighting.

Have you ever seen those carnival games where you have a mallet and you are trying to hit the groundhogs that pop up through holes in a board? No matter how good or quick you think you are, you just can’t seem to win the big Teddy Bear!

This strategy reminds me of that game.

Most Eskrimador are taught to hit the hand. In stickfighting and knife fighting, it makes sense. But like the groundhogs in that game, it doesn’t make sense if the hand you are aiming for is allowed to hit you back. If those groundhogs had a mallet of their own–and they capitalize off your miss when you try to hit them–wouldn’t that game suck?

There are two parts to this strategy, and they are very simple to grasp and understand. The hard part is making the strategy a part of your regular set of fighting skills. Without much explanation, here is the fighting technique:

  • Your hand should never be in one place longer than a couple seconds.
  • Make sure that as you move your hand around, there is no pattern. What I mean is, you do not want the opponent to know where you will put your hand next.
  • Vary the positions of your hand to 6 positions in front of you. Identify those positions, and make them standard places to hold your weapon.
  • As your hand moves from position to position, you can either travel in straight lines, curved down or curved up, or “V” up or “V” down (which is an upside down V movement to the next position)
  • Have strikes planned for each of these positions
  • Have counter-strikes planned for each of these positions (in the event that your opponent attacks you in the position and he misses)
  • When practicing your fighting combinations, notice that your hand will always begin and end in one of the 6 positions. Plan a follow up attack after completing a combination.
  • Finally, learn to stick your hand out like a lure to draw an attack… and then have a counter planned for each type of attack used to take the bait

This is one of the core skills of the Ocho-Ocho system I was taught by my grandfather. It was originally not our technique, but was added to the Singko Tiro style he learned as a young man… the two strategies fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and they blended well. However, if you can find an expert of the Ocho-Ocho style, which is from the Visayas, there is much more to the technique than I am introducing here.

And the two basic parts?

  1. Moving the hand around to make it difficult to hit and drawing the opponent into more traps, and
  2. Developing the ability to put the hand into a striking position–one step ahead of the opponent, who has just been drawn into an unsuccessful attack–and having the ability to hit from any of the six positions.

Today, we talked mostly of the the first part. I would like to do a part II that will discuss the second part of the style.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

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