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Arnis, Escrima, Kali, (A-E-K) Pangolisi and Garote are only a small number of the many names that are given to the indigenous stick based, Philippine...

Arnis–Escrima-Kali? (A-E-K) Stick Based?

September 12, 2014

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Russell Balintawak Empty or Livehand – Part 6

March 12, 2015

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.

Back to the Balintawak Student’s Disarms.


As mentioned, several Grouped Balintawak schools in the End Plays, do not teach a student/defender to counter strike first to disorientate after a block/clip but simply to block/clip and disarm. What are the attackers/opponents doing when they are having their stick taken away? Watching, with their emptyhand index finger in their nose? This is what I call dummy training or crash test dummy training. After an initial attack/strike by the attacker, the defender is allowed to do all the moves and the opponent/attacker “is what?”, shocked and awed into immobilization. The defender/disarmer has two hands down by, or at the attackers/opponents stick or arm. The attacker has a live hand at his face (hopefully guarding his face, not chest) or at the defenders stick or stickhand, palmblock/breaking. If the disarmer/defender is concentrating on the attackers stickhand with both hands, doesn’t the attacker want to hit the defenders open, unprotected face with his emptyhand fist? A defender must block/clip, strike hard to disorientate and then disarm. This brings us to disarms, locking and punching with the emptyhand used by a Grouped Balintawak instructor/attacker.


Emptyhand Punching


The following abbreviated statement was said to me by one of the greatest known exponents and educators of Arnis/Escrima and Kali, (A/E/K) and said to others many times at a certain styles Martial Arts seminars I attended back in the 80’s.


“Over fifty percent of the knockouts came from the live or emptyhand.”


He was talking about his old instructors experiences and fights and I always wondered about it back then. I had been to, seen and trained in many schools but never saw their emptyhand knockout exercises, not even from their senior students. I often asked while training “Why do we not have or where are the drills that concentrate on emptyhand knockouts, why are we still spinning sticks?”


Maybe they kept their drills from me and others out of fear of the student obtaining too high a standard. A good Grouped Balintawak instructor however, while having a healthy respect for the student’s capabilities, does not fear the student knowing the drills. The instructors job is to teach the student how to fight properly.


Group Five – The Punching


The drills for the instructor/attacker in Grouped Balintawak that show the emptyhand punching drills are in Group Five, but are sometimes disguised, being bundled with initial counter strikes, then locking and/or disarm attempts. They, once taught in Group Five can also be now inserted into the previous earlier groups, to heighten a students training.


Group Five initially however, shows you, as an instructor/initiator how to enter a disarm as an attacker, how to lock as an attacker and how to punch as an attacker, while the other side teaches a defender/beginner/student how to nullify these attacks. The nullifying of the locking, disarming and punching techniques for the Balintawak Student in Group Five is of course employed by the defenders emptyhand. One hand simply counters the other. He grabs your stick/stickarm allowing it not to move. The student breaks the stick attack to the head or emptyhand disarm, then grabs/clips this instructors attempt to disarm or lock. The fight now turns into a tug of war. How is this tug of war or stalemate broken? One takes the gamble and trys to punch the head of the opponent, usually the instructor in Group Five, as by trying to disarm, he has the stick on top, or being the initiator has maneuvered his stick on top. The student cannot block the emptyhand punch with their stick, as it is under the instructors stick. The students emptyhand, leaving the attackers stick to guard/block the attacker’s emptyhand strike, along with ducking/weaving, manoeuvres the student out of trouble.




Part 7 coming up….


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