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During my last training session I noticed that one of my group members kept favoring his right side whenever the instruction was geared towards the left side. I said to him, “You appear to be one sided, most right handed fighters often feel awkward on the left side in the beginning.” But to my surprise he said, “Actually I’m left handed.” So basically, all of his previous instructors either forced him to use his right hand or never addressed the fact that he was left handed. I could imagine if the majority of Eskrimadors were left handed and forced me to use my left hand. I would be extremely frustrated that I had to favor my weaker hand over my stronger hand. Many experienced fighters are proficient with both their right and left leads when it comes to empty hand tactics but putting a stick or sword in the weak hand takes much more skill to overcome the awkwardness. It’s much like driving a car and being used to the steering wheel being on one side and then going to another country and being forced to operate a vehicle on the opposite side for the first time. Some may take to it quicker than others but most people would experience much difficulty for quite some time.

The basic numbering system can easily be mirrored for a left hander’s benefit but what about the other training drills? And do you make right handed students switch hands when performing drills in order to accommodate left handed students?

What’s your approach to training people that are left handed?

Respectfully,
Zach

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Leo taught everyone right hand first. In order to graduate from his system you had to learn it right hand. I'm not sure what the actual reasons for this, it might have been something as simple as it was easier for him to teach it that way. We have many left handed graduates and there able to switch sides and play left handed. Many of the right handed graduates will try developing the left side after graduation.

Hello Terry,

 I think a lot of teachers do it that way. Is that the way you approach it?

To be honest yes...when I am teaching the art as it was taught to me by my instructors...with that being said.. I do practice sparring left handed... but just the basic movements for block and counter, largomano, and to develop footwork, timing, distance etc.

I'm a lefty, when I started balintawak I too was taught right handed. I didn't question it much and now it is second nature to me and I think it has helped overall with my ambidexterity. I also think it is advantageous to have the checking hand as your dominant hand. When I started boxing I trained as a lefty so my boxing stance was very similiar to my balintawak stance which seemed to help when I started sparring. When I was first introduced to the speed bag my coach noted that my right hand seemed to perform better than my left when hitting the bag with only one hand. Either way I guess it's a good idea to train both sides, I've heard masters say "I train the right, you train the left" meaning practice your off side at home. I've still never spent equal time trainung my left and right side. I suppose the old mentality that it's better to have one really good side rather than two mediocre sides makes sense to me.

JSPEEDY,

 "I train the right, you train the left".  Great quote!  When I taught in Germany, one of my closest friends was left handed and I taught him as a right handed person.  He became very proficient with his right hand but when it came to his left, he had the same problems a beginning right hand person had.  I heard of a GGM who taught, I think the art is called "Lightning Scientific Arnis", or something of that nature.  Anyway, I heard he trained and taught left handed since he was left handed.  Is anyone familiar with this GGM and his style?

The way that I was taught is the basic numbering system had to be learned both right and left hand, and the panatukan combinations had be learned both left and right side. That's how I pass it on as well. I have a lefty student so he helps convince the others of the need to practice both. I do make all of us work basic drills both left and right handed.

Before working with my instructor Master Whitson, all of my double stick training led with the right hand and the left followed. Master Whitson alternating the lead movement with the right and left hands. It took more effort than I thought because the right hand kept trying to lead.

Certain aspects are still more right handed dominant. Now, that I'm working on double stick sparring tactics, I wish that I had learned the single stick tactics both left and right. I feel like that was my mistake for not working the left outside of class.

I had a chance to play with Mang Ben in Manila back in 2001. He did play left handed. I played right. Most of the students, teachers that I observed played right hand also. I went back in  late 2002 to meet with him again and I heard he was in the hospital. I heard that he passed shortly after my return to the states. He was a great escrimador and all the instructors & students were outstanding & willing to share their skill and knowledge with us.

   Great question Zach. Lefties should always train L primary IMO. I train my primary 1 style, my secondary another style. Secondary assist to the primary. This is non traditional. I come from a diverse background. All my drills are practice L and R though. Equal time. Each hand has a PRIMARY use, just need to train it that way. Works great. I have seen students spend to much time training trying to be proficient in both at the expense of their primary. They tip their hand, their movements are more rigid-They lack fluidity. I am not saying it cant be done its just that I dont have the skill nor the want. I have a new student who is going to prove to me he will do this. It is a good thing to have that drive and focus. This dog is to old, to learn new tricks.

 

When I began teaching Serrada, I had several left handed students.  Angel Cabales told me to train them right handed first, and the numbering of angles didn't change, it was the same area targeted regardless of hand.  After all, we're supposed to be an espada y daga system, so we should be using both hands anyway, with or without weapons. 

Function of the hands is specialized in EyD, so for lefties training right, their strong hand is gaining skill in checking, trapping, redirecting, thrusting, etc. while their weak hand gets stronger wielding a weapon. Meanwhile they learn the basic tactics and counters.  It's easier to learn when one can plug into the system first.  Expecting beginners to adapt to each other when one is out of sync is an extra task for everyone.  I'm all for ambidexterity, but get someone in the flow early and there's time for refinement down the road.In the end, it's a benefit to all when we can practice against both right and left dominant fighters.  

Lastly, from an historic perspective, soldiers have long trained the same sidedness to maintain gap integrity of the line.  

@ Jeff "The Stickman" Finder... great input sir!

If you have a great depth of skill on your right side and feel you can get the point across much easier, then I would teach with the right. As you mentioned, everything can be mirrored. The problem is time. Everything takes time. I would try to make sure that all of the students could train with each other. Many of them happened to be right-handed and when drilling, tend to favor the right. Trying to match up partners then having them switch can mess them up mentally if not all of the students are using the same side. Of course, the objective is to make sure that the technique is taught before the end of class. It is up to the students to practice right and/or left.

Yes that's right(or left?)!

It is really hard to use the opposite or the weaker side. But practice, and more practice, makes it better.

Not perfect though.

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