Abaniko is a great style to learn for scenarios where your back is against an obstruction or hazard. Uncle Leo used to tell us it was good for fighting up against a wall or car or other barrier. It's important to remember that "Abaniko" translates as Fan. This is both a metaphor and a practical application. With the Abaniko techniques, we use the side of the blade to redirect and propel the opponent's weapon off the attack line. It takes precise timing and accurate placement of the weapon to use the Abaniko style effectively. The finer points of the style include understanding body position as a function of foot work, torque application through foot/hip/shoulder rotation, and controlling the weapon to differentiate blocking from striking.
Footwork is seemingly simple but difficult to master. Our position to the opponent starts in Abierta (Open) stance where we face the attacker square and forward. The basic footwork is a lift off the heels, twisting into the direction of the attack and resettling back down to an anchored position. As the feet twist, so too do the hips and shoulders. Our drill includes feeding in the standard 1-9-11-2-5 of Cinco Terro and as the deliverer launches his #1 strike, we turn our toes left and into the attack, dropping our right shoulder under the strike. Meanwhile, our weapon is flicked backhanded into the obverse side of the attacker's weapon. This continues back and forth through all 5 strikes.
The best expression of torque is demonstrated in the meet and follow drill where we use a quick change of foot position to develop a strong counter strike to the opponent's weapon after meeting it with a solid block. In this portion of the drill, the student should understand the spiral compression of torque through the body that can generate very powerful strikes. Common mistakes in this drill include foregoing a strong initial block in an effort to get to the follow up quickly. This can be overcome easily if the deliverer simply hits through to the target. Weak blocks show up really fast.
Differentiating between blocking and striking becomes clear in the follow up drill. Once an effective Abaniko block has been made, the defender needs to quickly follow up with an Abaniko strike. This means that the student needs to learn to use different parts of the Bolo to effect these very different functions. The defender has to block with the side of the blade but strike with the cutting edge. They also have to strike effectively both in power and in targeting.
This is a very precise style and the drills can quickly devolve into ineffective and dangerously flawed actions. Deliverers often "short shot" in these drills which only results in the student learning to "defend" attacks that are not a threat. It can look great; with fast and ballistic movements that seem dramatic and exciting. But, it is a useless - and possibly dangerous - habit to establish. Another common mistake is trying to follow or track the attackers weapon. This often results in students giving up on the Abaniko technique and defaulting to blocks that look more like deFondo. Care needs to be taken to slowly build up speed and power so the techniques can be used effectively.
One important thing to remember for the Abaniko style is that this technique can be used not just defensively but also offensively. Done effectively, the Abaniko block can propel the opponent's weapon far to the opposite side which can create an opening through which the defender can escape to the attacker's blind side. Getting in this state of mind changes the defender from a victim just trying not to get hit to an effective counter attacker; the one actually in control of the action.