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

Ten Rules of Fighting

I have a list of “to-dos” that seem to never get done. Right now, I am heading to the school to work on a Mook Jong (wooden dummy) I started on in October. There are sets of techniques for the Mook Jong I learned from three different masters I had been wanting to consolidate since the 80s, but never really started working on until last summer–and that isn’t even done yet. Then there are the books I have half-written throughout my house, a few old instructor-friends who are waiting for me to organize a periodic “fight-night” just for us. Oh, then the guys at the gym are asking when the next “Fight Night” for them will be…

Last night, I recalled something Boggs Lao once told me, “Practice every day, you will be one step more to Mastery. Miss a practice, and you lose ten steps.”

Those who know me, know that I teach by maxim–and I either demonstrate on the student to make the point clear or I point to actual instances those rules are broken or upheld. All of this helps cement understanding in the student, and no teacher should teach something he is incapable of doing or pulling off in real time. (That’s a saying too, by the way)

Hey, what can I say? I hang out with old Masters!

So one of the book ideas I had is a book of these sayings–which is temporarily scrapped as I realize that most martial artists only like shiny things that adorn uniforms, walls or website bios. Although there are many who enjoy this blog, I am constantly asked for videos and clips they can watch. But you know me; we will do nothing of the sort! I have, however, recorded some DVD but only students and good friends will ever see them.  So, my new book will be a techniques book, complete with pictures for you visual types. That books, which I actually thought would represent some of my best work, is titled “Ten Rules of Fighting for the Serious Martial Artist”. I would like to share the 10 rules with very little explanation. If you want to learn them in detail, well… you know what to do.

Ten Rules of Fighting

  1. Learn to use simultaneous block/check/trap and attack. It’s a little more complicated than what most of you know as simultaneous “__-and-counter”. The main thing here is learn to use, not simultaneous…  The martial artist spends too much time learning to *demonstrate* technique, and not enough time learning to USE their techniques. I can’t count how many martial artists who know these techniques–many Wing Chun and FMA guys come to mind here–but can’t use them when they fight. The simultaneous clear-and-attack technique is a very powerful, difficult to stop technique. But in order to have dominating skill, you must learn to use it.
  2. Feet are the horse, hands are the arrows.  This is a Chinese saying that comes from my Jow Ga master, Chin Yuk Din. Although we kick more in Jow Ga than many other Southern styles, our specialty with the feet is to outrun the opponent; we can catch running opponent and use his lack of stability to finish him. In my school, the first thing we do is develop strong legs and agility in the feet. The job of the hands, however, is to penetrate the opponent’s defenses as sharply, quickly and accurately as a shower of arrows. Hopefully this visual will explain it better than I can.
  3. Steal the breath. This is also a Chinese saying, however, I only stole the title. When I mention “steal the breath” I am referring to the Kuntaw philosophy of striking the throat and the breast bone. This is an advanced technique whereby you observe the breathing pattern of a fatigued opponent and strike him with full force when he has just completed his exhale. I have used this technique in “friendly” sparring with superior opponents who were winded and I needed to level the playing field. It is difficult to accomplish, but when you figure it out, this is a miracle-worker. This is all I will say about this technique.
  4. The best time that is ideal for attack:  When the opponent is not ready and you are.  So self-explanatory I should stop here. But for those of you who can’t picture it, I am referring to having your figure on the trigger. If you or your opponent is at rest and not occupied, you (or he) are ready to attack. When doing anything else:  moving the hands, blocking, striking, kicking, readjusting one’s clothing or stands, repositioning… you are not. Make sure you are always ready and he is never ready. Most of the time you are fighting, you should be searching for this moment.
  5. Strikes at an opponent should be like the links of a chain. Also known as “Tie and Untie” in the FMA. Any gap in your attack is like a broken link in a chain. By keeping your attacks linked together on one rush, your opponent will not have an opportunity to launch his own attack. You should tie him up with his own defense, and by the time he is able to untie himself–you are out of range.
  6. Every technique has a counter. When studying a technique, you should learn what counters are most likely as well as possible. Then along with your practice of that technique, you should practice the counter to the counter of that technique. Doing this will give you the:
  7. Iron Defense, Loud Attack. The fighter must have a set of defenses like an iron wall–not only will the opponent be unable to pierce the wall, it would be injurious to try. Each time he attacks, make him pay for it. The attack should be as easy to escape as one can escape the loudness of thunder. One of my criticisms of “self-defense”-oriented martial arts is the reliance on defense as a means to end combat, rather than building a set of attacking skills that will shut down the opponent. Defense techniques to these folks is almost always practiced softly, and only a few have times when they practice under pressure. If you’re going to develop defense, make it impenetrable.
  8. Hit with the hips and shoulders, not the limbs. We should develop our strength in the arms and legs. However, we do not want to rely on the limbs for power. Learn to use the hips and shoulders when punching and kicking, and you will increase your output threefold. (Note: It is more complicated than shoulders=punching, hips=kicking. Try utilizing the shoulders for kicking and the hips for punching!)
  9. Enter with boldness. This has as much to do with mentality and training as it does with execution. One of the most dangerous mistakes a fighter can make is to hesitate. If you don’t attack or counter with 100% commitment, you give your opponent the opportunity to stop you. Even if you are not utilizing a full-power attack, you must be at 100% with something: power, distance, speed… Now, anything less than a well-trained or experienced and confident fighter will be unable to do this. Cultivate your fighters into the kind of fighter who can enter with boldness; they will never fail.
  10. When the arms touch, you can fight better blind, than the seeing opponent. If you are not familiar with sticky hands, you may not be able to understand this rule. When the arms touch, you should be able to sense the opponents’ next move through the arm or hand that is touching you. Often, fighters make moves–not by intention, but by happenstance–and the aware fighter will know it before the opponent even realizes it. What I mean is that many opponents rarely plan their next move. They hit with whatever feels natural, based on where their hands and feet are placed, where their balance is, where the opponent is as what he is doing, and where the opponent’s hands and feet are. If you have developed the heightened awareness of TRUE sensitivity (not the stuff done on youtube and DVD), your opponent’s intentions will be transmit through his hand/arm–and you will know before he even realizes what’s going on.

Whew! 1,360 words! We will stop here, and who knows? Maybe in the future I will actually write the book to fully teach these rules.  If you like this or any other articles, please check out the “Offerings” page off the main page and check out my books! Thanks for visiting my blog.

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One Response to “Ten Rules of Fighting”

  1. Greetings,

    Very good article. Thanks!

    All good wishes,

    robert


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