An edited version of this Article was first published in Rapid Journal within the Philippines in 2007 under the Title of: The Importance of the Empty-Livehand of Arnis/Escrima.
DISARMing the Best Weapon.
There are two ways I was taught disarms against a stick/weapon, in Grouped Balintawak.
One way of being taught disarms, is after the beginner has been taught the defensive/student side of the Groups One to Five. They then move onto the After Groups or the End Plays, such as the hitting point, butting, push and pull, and of course the disarms for the student.
In the beginner/student phase of the End Plays Disarms, some Balintawak Schools, while teaching disarms, do not teach to counter strike the head of the opponent. A technique that has been instinctively ingrained in the students reaction over ALL of his training to this point. But they are now told by some, “Don’t counter, go straight to a disarm”. I often find this disturbing. An inbuilt response is now thrown away?
The other and I consider most significant way for the attacker/instructor and what I also consider for the student to learn the ENTRY to disarms is in the Group Five Agak.
Doce Pares Influences On My Disarming.
I remember in my training and talks with Grandmaster Victor Cagadas of the Doce Pares. He was on the cusp of the late 40’s early 50’s Arnis movement in Cebu where many Doce Pares instructors finding their then current club system restrictive, went their own way, forming Balintawak. He told me of training with Timoteo Maranga, Venancio Bacon and Jose Villasin (early Balintawak people) and the way they taught and fought. He said (over a bottle of Tanduay Rum), “It’s all the same. Both opponents want to hit the other guy first and win”. Victor stayed with the Doce Pares until the early 1990’s.
Gagadas Doce Pares from Grandmaster Victor Cagadas of Bohol (now deceased), shown to me by the GM, and Henry Jayme, taught to block, grab, counter strike and then disarm. The Balintawak I teach for a student to disarm shown in disarming after the Groups 1-5, the End Plays, teaches to block-clip-counter and then disarm. Yes, I took some of my fighting ideas/methods from a Doce Pares Grandmaster. This cross fertilisation from different styles of Cebu Escrima was brought to my thoughts in full, with the last years of one great Balintawak instructor, Jesus Que. Jesus Que Sr. According to the then little girl that looked after him, Lucy Robson nee Mabalhin, Jesus Que was a tall man and handsomely Spanish looking, was according to some today, a Balintawak knife fighting genius. Jesus Que having no where else to turn while old and sick, lived his final years in the house of a Doce Pares Grandmaster, Celso Mabalhin. One of Celso’s Stick and Dagger Styles was very much Balintawak… but un–Grouped.
Anyway, Victor’s ideas on fighting and disarming simply made sense to me. His ideas on disarming were: If someone tries to grab your stick and you are not disorientated, why would you let them take it? He would say to me, “Why would you not fight back and stop your stick from being taken from you. You are angry and pissed off and most fighters will say to you, I will not let you take my weapon! You must be hit first, so the opponent has the chance to take your weapon away.”
Another of my Doce Pares instructors was Grandmaster Ciriaco “Cacoy” Cañete, who taught me aspects of his Escrido Doce Pares System. While his one–on–one sparring training is in many areas, different to Balintawak and even different to GM Victor Cagadas’, his training was shown to me, to be about controlling the opponents hands, both the stick and emptyhand, so you are able to control the opponent and strike the opponent first.
Part 6 coming up….