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

Don’t Split the Hands

I want to tell you about a technique I learned to use on my own, which violates a rule that perhaps most fighters adhere to. It worked for me because I am a shorter fighter, and although my reach is at a disadvantage–my footwork allows me to make this work. This is especially related to the FMA fighter, as we are taught to fight off of angles, so this technique should fit right in with your existing fighting styles.

In boxing there is a saying that straight punches should “split the hands”. Basically, there is always an opening in the opponent’s guard when you learn to split the opponents hands with your own punch. Regardless of how your opponent holds his guard, unless your opponent is holding a “shoulder roller’s position” (George Foreman/Floyd Mayweather), he can only bring his fists together and the shape of his forearms will form an inverted “V”. When you throw a straight punch, you will aim for the opening in the forearms as high as you can, and force your punch to “split” his hands. This will allow you to hit the target although he tries to close his guard. Especially if you are fighting with gloves (gloves get slippery with sweat and are bulky and bigger than fists), this technique works well.

Well, let’s break from sparring and ring fighting and look at the real fight.

What can you hit? Are we only shooting for the chin, the mouth, the nose and the eyes? No. You can hit the throat, the collarbone, the side of the jaw, the side of the neck, the cheekbone, the ear, the space below the ears, the corner of the eye sockets, even the shoulders. With such great targets, there is no reason to limit yourself to just one method of using your straight punches.

Here’s the method.  Instead of splitting the hands, you will direct your punches in a straight line over the opponents guards, and behind his fists. This sounds awkward, but if you have a better position to fire from, then it is very easy. The difficult thing is to get there.

Look for my articles on Footwork, and you will see that I’m talking about. You want to maneuver yourself to a position where your front foot is behind your opponent’s front foot, and then shoot your punch to the target from behind or over his guard. So, instead of splitting the hands you will be punching around them. It is a simple concept and you will find that your landing ratio will increase; and you will frustrate the hell out of your opponents.

Here are some important and tips and rules:

  • mix up the targets. try not to become predictable because your opponent’s defense gets easier when you hit the same targets. blocking the ear is very difficult if you are not used to doing so in practice. pop him there a couple of times, then hit his shoulder–hard. then the jaw, then split the hands… you get it? make your punches land all over the place. in the rapid pace of a real fight, your opponent won’t have time to think or plan–so you will be even more successful–and then take him out.
  • always hit in 2s and 3s. I cannot stress this enough. it’s so easy to block one punch at a time, but 2 and 3 are nearly impossible.
  • mix your traps/checks and punches. this isn’t a boxing match. take a 1-2-3 combination:  instead of jab-cross-lead or jab-cross-hook, try a trap (the hand)-cross-hook. or a jab-check-lead. replace your second punch with hooking the opponent’s guard. or slap the hand. those things are very confusing to an opponent, and mainly because no one is doing them. what is everyone doing? exactly what you’re doing right now…
  • do you know why I don’t split the hands as much? because everyone trains to slap-block a punch. either it’s slap to the center with the front hand, or slap to the outside with the back hand. by hitting from the outside, your opponent is now experiencing something he hadn’t practiced much in training and sparring. so now you know.
  • if you were ever going to use a leg kick, now is the time. do it after popping your opponent with good, solid punches from a superior firing position–he will have no defense from it. why? because he is too busy defending from your punches.

There isn’t much to this technique. It is a simple one that you can learn in a matter of minutes, but it will take hours of sparring with it to do it with proficiency. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask. And if you are in the Sacramento area and either want to test this skill, or need a better explanation, or you’re just not convinced this technique works–make an appointment to see me, I’d be glad to show you how it’s done.

Thanks for visiting my blog. And don’t forget to check out my book, Mustafa Gatdula’s How to Build a Dominant Fighter in 12 months! Look for it on the “Offerings” page!

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