First let me say that I disagree with the FMA community about the existence of three ranges of Eskrima combat (“close”, “medium”, and “long”). In my opinion, for *fighting*, there are only two ranges–short and long. What many consider to be medium range is my definition of “long” range. I do not acknowledge the FMA community definition of “long” range, because that range is not really a fighting range it is a “safe” range. Sort of like two guys boxing. If they stay so far away from each other that they cannot hit each other, they are not fighting at all.
Next, the styles of fighting known as Largo Mano, Singko Tiros, and Ocho Ocho are essentially the same thing. I have studied all three, and have learned that they are merely terms for a specific way of fighting. Now, each teacher had his own methodology and approach to training and fighting. Yet the tactics and techniques of each style are almost identica. The only difference have been that each teacher claimed ownership of the styles and that they have minor changes to the techniques which identified the system rather than change the use. And example of this would be what is known as the roof block followed by the leg hit (we call it a number 3), performed by the Largo Mano fighter; while the Ocho Ocho fighter would simply use that combination as one side of his Figure 8 motion with the stick. And finally, the Singko Tiros guy has the same combination as a part of his Asterisk or Star-shaped striking pattern.
I am not a fan of teaching my art–not even teaching another master’s art–to strangers, but I would like to share some wisdom from this very effective fighting style with you.
What makes Largo Mano a unique system is that you must control the distance to keep the opponent at a stick’s length. This will prevent him from being able to grab your stick, grab you, or use his hands and feet effectively. Doing this will keep the opponent fighting with his weapons only, and force him to deal with your weapon. Because of this, Largo Mano is more of a power-striking style. Meaning, we do not emphasize the combination as much as we emphasize the destructive ability of the stick. Shorter ranged styles will emphasize the combination as you are setting up your opponent for the finishing blow, while in Largo Mano every strike thrown has the potential to be that blow.
The trick to controlling the distance is three-fold. First, you use footwork that cannot be cut off. This means that rather than using a back-and-forth style of movement, you will chose a semi side-to-side movement. The side-to-side movement is not really left and right, but rather it is like the minute on a clock–you will move to the side but keep your focus on the opponent. This type of movement does two things: it keeps you at an angle to your opponent and it keeps your opponent from remaining stationary. The angle is an advantage to you because your opponent’s natural ability to defend and block is altered because the strikes do not come at the same angle as if you were standing directly in front of him. Keeping the opponent from being grounded will prevent him from having 100% accuracy and power as he will constantly be off-balance and unfocused.
Second, you must use your free hand to keep the opponent from getting too close. In close range style, the free hand is used to check, trap and grab. But in long range Eskrima you do not have easy access to the opponent’s stick or arm. However, there will be many times in the course of the fight that your opponent will enter your safety zone and will need to be kept away so that your stick remains effective. Basically, the free hand is used to push the opponent as well as clearing the way for your strikes. We do not expect opponents to comply with us by staying at a distance. And due to the unpredictability of combat, you must quickly recognize each instance the opponent is too close and then deal with that occurrence to maintain superior range.
Lastly, you must utilize the strike to keep the opponent from getting too busy. Power striking requires a clear path to the target. The more an opponent moves and attacks, the fewer opportunities will arise for you to be able to take a good powerful strike. There are several ways to use this:
- snap the opponent’s hand each time it extends
- even when the opponent is too far to hit his body or head, attack his stick with a very powerful strike. This will make him hesitate out of fear for your power
- utilize the leg hit to keep him from getting too comfortable in his position
- attack his attacks. not just omitting blocks, but use powerful blocks to deal with his attacks
There is a fourth strategy and I will deal with it in greater detail later. And that strategy is to keep the stick off the centerline. When the stick is on the centerline, it is easier to follow and stop. But when the stick is far from the centerline, the opponent finds it difficult to block, check–even see.
Hopefully this article has given you some ideas for your own fighting style. Thank you for visiting my blog.