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

More on FMA Footwork

One of the weaknesses in modern martial arts is that the philosophy of fighting is no longer studied. FMA people either delve into fighting, they immerse themselves into philosophy, or they skip both and deal mainly with transmission of the art as a business–which I consider to be the worst of all. Regardless of the path most people take, there is not enough balance in today’s martial artist and much is lost through the generations. As I look around the FMA world, I see a centuries-old art, behaving as a brand new genre. Most FMA people today cannot give a history of their arts beyond the last 10-20 years. Almost none have their own fighting experiences to draw on as martial artists; and instead will either point to their occupations as proof of experience (cop, security guard, etc), point to their grandmaster’s experiences, or deny that actual fighting experience is relevant. Students are taught as well as promoted in mass, and very little is passed on while sitting at the feet of masters… mainly because today’s master must pack up a day after the seminar is over and get to the next city.

Pure arts cannot be passed down this way. “Have sticks, will travel” is the calling card of a fighter–not a teacher.

The result of all of this is that there is no longer a balance between knowledge, theories, experimentation and experience. On one extreme end of the spectrum, we have fighters who do little else besides fight. Most of these fighters rely strictly on courage, brawn and pain tolerance for their recognition of expertise. It doesn’t matter if the fighter was actually good at fighting–the only thing that matters was that he had the courage to fight among a sea of FMA “experts” too chicken shit to step on the mat. This is to be commended, but it isn’t good enough. Take today’s backyard brawler. Sure he’s tougher than most. He’s braver than most. But as Kimbo Slice proved, put him up against a trained professional who is just as tough, just as brave, but more knowledgeable–he will get destroyed every time. The FMA man of today rarely is of that caliber.

On the other end of the FMA universe is the “technician”/FMA choreographer who talks a good game and may even put together cute demonstrations, but can’t fight worth a damn. You know the type; ask him a question and he’ll talk your ear off for 30 minutes. He might show you a thousand disarms and cool drills, but deep down he knows and I know that none of that stuff will work in a fight. Makes for good advertising and youtube videos and entertaining seminars for guys who didn’t come to fight. But is there a place for him in today’s art? Sure, there certainly is. Like I said, it must be a balance. You have to take the technician’s ideas, the tournament competitor’s drive, and the tough man contest’s balls and find a happy medium where they interact and exchange and the result is a complete fighter with more than a few tricks, more than heart, and more than ideas.

Which leads me to today’s lesson, boys and girls:  Footwork.

FMA “Footwork”

I have always taught pieces of that triangle because I was convinced that I’m supposed to. It’s not how I learned, but so many people were doing it, I once thought I was doing it wrong because none of my teachers taught it. The student in me wanted to learn it properly. The young man in me was bold enough to question my own teacher’s wisdom. But the fighter in me had to put it to the test. The outcome of my research:  Pure garbage, and I’ve said it for 30 years and I’ll say it here. I will put my method up against any man’s method anytime. No man can defeat me using this triangle. I give you 30 seconds before you abandon your use of it for the duration of our match and switch to something similar to mine. Don’t get hurt trying to adhere to something just because idealistically, you think the FMA is supposed to have it. It’s silly.

Footwork has several purposes:

  • Keep you out of range of the opponent’s attacks
  • Get you into range so that you launch your own attack
  • Put you in a superior attacking position, where your opponent cannot defend himself and you have an advantageous position to attack him
  • To increase the speed, range and power of your attack
  • To give your opponent a difficult target to hit
  • To off-balance your opponent

None of the above is “To draw the shape of a stupid triangle with your feet”. Who cares about that stuff when you have these advantages?

I’ve written quite a bit on this subject already, and I’m not going to post a link. I want you to search this website yourself. I’ve written 500+ articles on this blog, and you’re going to have to work a little to get information. Hopefully you will discover new things about me, you, the arts in general, and my systems while searching. 🙂

You could also buy my books. It’s amazing that you will pay $100 to attend a seminar and do the same patty cake drills you did last time, watch the same demonstration you watched last time, receive the same certificate you got last time, and leave with the same fighting skills you had as last time–and all of that stuff is already on the internet… yet there is no other site like Filipino Fighting Secrets, and you won’t drop $29 for a book.

Now, before I go, a few extra tips:

  • Any weapons art worth its salt requires strong, flexible legs. I am shocked at how many Eskrimadors I meet who are physically weak. If empty hand fighting requires strength, and weapons fighting is more lethal than empty handed fighting–it only makes sense that stick and knife fighters have quick, explosive footwork that gets you out of harm’s way. We all claim that footwork is necessary, but most FMA folks I have met–including you Guro’s–are out of shape. Lazy, slow, not limber at all, and no stamina. If you did any kind of fighting, one would know right away how vital footwork and its development is to the whole equation. Your training must include plenty of stretching, explosive bursts forward and backward, and the ever-neglected sidestepping and flanking
  • Remember this simple equations:

(1) Strong, immobile stance for power + quick, explosive footwork for fighting

(2)  Stance =/= Footwork

(3)  100 lbs of force in a strike x 100 lbs of force in movement (ahem, footwork) = Deadly force

  • Responsiveness:  Learn to transition from a strongly held position into explosive movement and transition from quick movement into a stable, powerful stance to generate fight-ending power. Not many people can do this. Being mobile does nothing for you if you cannot stop on a dime when you see an opening and finish off your enemy. It’s more than “stop dancing to attack”. Those of you who fight know what I am talking about. Not only should you have fast light feet and strong, powerful legs; you must have quick eyes and rapid enough response time between when your eyes see the opening and you feet deliver you to the place you need to be and your hands can fly—-> before the opponent have change his position
  • Differentiate between attacking footwork, defensive footwork, and evasive footowork–and develop those skills individually
  • Remember this:  Don’t rely on tactics alone. Fighting is a complete, exact science with many possibilities, variations, and outcomes. Learn the concepts yes–but learn the strategies and theories as well, and learn how they are applied in fighting. It’s more than grabbing a partner and working things out. You must test these ideas out over and over and over, and train them over and over and over. By the way, this is not a “pass/fail” test; it is a “how does this work?” test. Once you have your tactics, concepts, strategies, theories, and research/findings–you need conditioning. If you have been doing these arts more than 10 years, and teaching, but you do not have a strong physique–you are most certainly doing something wrong. Sure, no bodybuilder’s physique is necessary to win a knife fight. But get out there armed with nothing but skinny arms, tactics and a flabby body, I guarantee you quick defeat even with your seven knives. Stop trying to avoid training!

You know, I do try to write without insulting my readers. But as I write, I am hearing my detractors and their excuses–as I have for the last 30+ years, and I so strongly disagree. Plus after 3 months of Donald Trump on TV I’m starting to not give a damn LOL LOL. You’re grown folks, sugarcoating won’t be heard. If you are interested in real Eskrima, come to this blog and I’ll give it to you. No it might not be what your Guro told you, but this is the real thing–including this article. You cannot have effective weapons fighting without strong, decisive footwork, period. And you won’t get it sitting in front of Youtube. Now get up and train.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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4 Responses to “More on FMA Footwork”

  1. Thank you for sharing this article.

    I am seeking – and continue to seek – a way to learn quality Filipino arts like you describe here.

    Straight up…here is my challenge. How best to learn in the absence of a close teacher? I could, of course, find a seminar, but you have highlighted the shortcomings of this approach.

    Thanks.

    robert


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