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10 Points of Contention in the FMA

1) The best defense is a good offense so blocking is an inefficient tactic.

2) Elaborate disarms don’t work in actual combat. Disarms are only incidental during the course of a fight and cannot be planned.

3) Abaniko strikes are not effective in actual combat because they lack power.

4) Thrusting techniques are useless with a stick unless aimed at the eyes or throat.

5) Stick grappling makes no sense because it’s easier to grapple without a stick.

6) Light weight sticks are not strong enough to hurt someone in a real fight.

7) Multiple strikes to the hand or arm will never happen because the hand will retract quickly after the first hit.

8) Padded sticks teach bad habits because people are too over daring since they don’t cause pain.

9) Stick and dagger tactics don’t work because no one is foolish enough to attack with a short weapon against someone holding a longer one or while a person still has a longer weapon at the ready.

10) Why train with a stick or sword because they’re situational and chances are you’ll never encounter a scenario where both you and an attacker are armed with either?

During the course of my training I have heard all of the aforementioned statements and/or questions. Do you have any points of contention to the points of contention?

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 1) The best defense is a good offense so blocking is an inefficient tactic.

I hear this one all the time. Bahalanamulti-style is primarily a largomano system from Leo Giron. But  sometimes you have to block because of the situation ie: no room, multiple striking, multiple opponents. etc. sometimes you have to switch up and move between ranges to set up your attack. I like to block and counter...but my ace in the hole is largomano! We train to block and were good at it..because sometimes you have to block!

That's why they always tell us....Block Hard!!

True Robert,

 It's easy to get complacent about blocking in a training environment and that's usually the time a hit gets in and you have a busted lip to help you get back on point!

I agree Terry!

No such thing as a block or a strike ;)  Almost everything can be  a block or a strike

I agree, all "blocks" are "strikes" and all "strikes" are "blocks". It all depends on how energy is applied. They are one in the same.

As usual, Zach, another great topic.  I pretty much agree with all of the above.  Of course, you could talk yourself right out of training all together if you keep going down this road.  I like to compare some of more esoteric training we do to "failure to stop" training we do in firearm combat training.  You may never need that disarm technique but what if?  Yes, I believe in taking out a guy before he gets off his first attack but I better be sure to know how to block if I miss.  Lord knows, I am not that fast anymore!  Thanks for the topic!  GLM


Your absolutely correct in my opinion Guro Lawrence!  To be honest, the reason I posted this discussion was to stir up some thoughts from fellow Filipino Martial Artists.  As we grow in the arts we come to realize that it all works if the conditions are right.  It's funny how our teachers taught us many things yet we don't hear them until much time has passed.  It's a good idea sometimes to reflect on the past because it's been said that it nourishes the future!

One I hear frequently is "Siniwali is just a warm up." 

Some points to consider regarding blocking:

Blocking or blocking hard is a basic technique - something that you may learn at first.

If you are going to block hard you are going to need 2 hands. 

Blocking is force vs force. How does a petite woman block a strike that is traveling over 60 MPH generated by a 200 lb. man?

A block will only work if you catch the stick in the right position. Some schools teach the student to use the last 2 inches of the stick to strike.

A block might work if there is only one strike, one target. What do you think is faster a block or a strike?

Largo mano in some systems is just hitting and no blocking.

True or undiluted FMA was created by Filipinos who in my opinion were and are generally smart (that is the nature of the Filipino population in general). They made their art effective by being able to overcome other cultures' strengths and honing their own strengths.

I have seen elderly masters of FMA  block but I have seen them relying more on moving out of the way (footwork) or going with the force (my attacker's strength becomes my strength).

Blocking can be taught to the young, the strong but what will be taught to other students not so young, not so strong?

Something I tell my group all the time. Frequently people fail consider age, gender, or size. Thanks Al S!

All of your points of contention are true and at the same time they are all false.  The problem lies in the fact that different people have different skill sets, physical strengths, weakness and pain tolerances.  The points of contention that you have mentioned are generalizations that some people view as fixed absolutes which can't/don't have any variations or deviations to the rule. As an example, would a thrust to the groin make sense?  I believe that it would particularly if one were not wearing a cup. 

Is it necessary or even possible for every stick strike to be made with full strength and power?  Abanico and witik strikes are useful and have a place in one's strike arsenal.  Over reliance on them is indeed foolish, but to not have them is in my opinion equally foolish.

As for stick blocking skills being " inefficient tactic...", it would seem to me that getting hit with a full powered stick strike is not a great option, when the option to block is available and could be done.  Should one rely on blocking to the exclusion of all other defensive options?  I don't think so!

I've heard all of these same contentions over the years and I take them as advisory cautions that I should consider as I work to improve my skills in every way possible.  Thanks for your post.


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