The Forgotten Side of the Filipino Fighting Arts, pt II (Finishing Off the Opponent)

Eskrimadors remind me of wrestlers who only train reversals and takedowns, or martial artists who only train for exchanges. We love our counterattack combinations, drills and disarms, but what about the lost art of finishing off the opponent?

Opponents just don’t drop dead because you’ve hit them. A strike to the knee does not result in a broken knee right away. A strike to the head usually doesn’t knock the opponent out on the first try. That strike to the hand won’t necessarily make him drop his weapon and beg for his life.

We must address the part after the exchange; the part where the opponent receives the (and realizes the effects of his) injury. Where his hand or forearm is now broken, or his clavicle has caved in, or he has been knocked down to the ground. Hopefully you aren’t looking to apply one of those neat wristlocks or choke him out. After all, you are holding a stick, my friend. What you gonna do with it?

No, seriously–what are you going to do with it?

You could use the famous “playing the drums” technique and just rap on his head until he passes out. Or you could do the famous Kenpo-style “finishing blow” and take two steps away and pose. Or you could get down on one knee and do one of those neat Gene LeBell/Wally Jay/Remy Presas/George Kirby stick locks.

Admit it, you don’t have a plan, do you? Don’t be ashamed. This is why I called the article series “Forgotten Side of Eskrima”; I had a good reason! Only the guy in the province has the answer, and your Super McGuro was too busy studying Dan Inosanto tapes for ways to keep up with the newest and popular ancient Filipino traditions, that he forgot about the real ancient traditions… Oh, am I being an asshole again? I’m sorry. Read on!

In the fighting art of Eskrima, you must think the fight through all the way to the end. I must admit that even I am guilty of focusing too much on the duel and the exhange and not giving the “forgotten side” enough attention. Without violating my promise to my students about teaching by blog, let me give you some of the general rules of finishing off the opponent. Here, we will address only the fallen opponent:

  • You will always use side-to-side strikings, not up and down. Up and down will get your stick stuck on the ground, your legs, and the opponent. Side-to-side will give you free range of motion, and ample room to generate finishing power.
  • Strike the parts of the opponent closest to you
  • Whether you are striking hands, ankles, knees, or head, use a strike that will break something
  • Use verbal commands on an injured opponent to get him to comply with you. This actually works in your favor: “Turn over on your back or I’ll kill you!” If he is injured enough, he’ll do what is in his power to comply. If not, he will resist and is not primed enough for following orders. When he is hurting enough to listen, then try those neat locks you got from the seminar or on youtube.
  • Don’t be too “traditional” that you are above grabbing the opposite end of the stick and jabbing one end into the opponent. Or smashing him with the butt of the stick. The idea here is not to remain within the confines of “traditional striking” (which these strikes are practiced by every “traditional” master I’ve met), but to use the most destructive strikes you can.
  • Ditto that last point for my favorite close quarters strike–grabbing the ends and then smashing the opponent with the middle portion of the stick
  • I prefer a feet side-to-side position, rather than one leg in front, for downed opponents. It keeps your feet out of the way in case the opponent tries to sweep you or grab your leg, and it allows you to get closer and lower to the opponent
  • Try rapid-fire, repetitive strikes. Trust me, it isn’t easy. In one of the only fights I have been in with a weapon as a young man, I flailed away on a guy using only one strike to the same place: his arm and shoulder. By the tenth or so strike, my shoulder and upper back had gotten tight. It’s nothing like practicing, try it. Execute 25 number one strikes (whatever #1 is in your system), full power, to the same target, as fast as you can. This is has been a staple in my own practice sessions now, for about 20 years.
  • Never forget that your Eskrima is for hurting people. Screw good grades, discipline, and whatever else the Karate schools say. Eskrima is made to permanently injure, disable or kill the opponent. When an opponent is down, you have not yet finished the job.

Hope you found this article helpful. Thank you for visiting my blog.


Author: thekuntawman

full time martial arts teacher, full time martial arts philosopher, and full time martial arts critic

2 thoughts on “The Forgotten Side of the Filipino Fighting Arts, pt II (Finishing Off the Opponent)”

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