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I remember the first time I saw a home video of the late Great Grand Master Liborio G. Heyrosa demonstrating his art to some westerners at an undisclosed public park in the Philippines. He was sparring with one of his top students (no protection of course) and in between his blocks and strikes he would hit the punyo of his student’s baston at will, no matter what position it was in. Needless to say the spectators were more than amazed. My teacher often would demonstrate accuracy with a whip as he would choose a leaf on a tree and proceed to slice down that leaf with every hit. He also showed a device to me that he created to help him train for accuracy involving three wrapped golf balls supported by a cord that when struck it would cause each ball to rapidly move in various directions. The object was to strike the balls while they were moving, easier said than done…
In today’s FMA demonstrations such displays of accuracy are never seen. So is accuracy being neglected in today’s FMA, is it forgotten, or are the skills involved to develop accuracy being hidden by its instructors?

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Wow. Water's cold but refreshing. I'll be the first to dive in I guess. This is as usual a great topic Master Zach. In my experience accuracy was not an optional element. At Serrada ranges there is less room for mistakes. It was reinforced by my Guro and built in to the system of Serrada. Serrada is about precision. The Closing element both demands accuracy of the defended angle of attack(s) and assists it. Those who have done the drill for the first time know what I speak of. I for one don't feel I had lots of agility and speed moving in to my training but the focus on getting the angle of power right and executing the defense properly gave me the speed and power I needed. Now this would not have been possible without a focus on accuracy. I have seen some demonstrations of Serrada that leave a lot to be desired and I have seen some truly great ones and the ones that lack are the ones that lack the precision focus element. We had a lot of one-liners in training. Practice How You Play was one of them. Slop was allowed at the pool table not in stick play. I'd like to add another to the mix; Garbage In: Garbage Out. Watch a great boxer and you will see two fist-pistons precisely placed by angled footwork and leverage. Oscar De La Hoya is one of those for example. You get out what you put in. Show me an accurate Eskrimador and I'll show you a hard worker. Good Morning to you Sir.

Thank you Henry once again for your knowledge and helpful insights in the area of Filipino Martial Arts. The speed and accuracy in the Serrada style is something that I've always admired and something only few can replicate to near perfection.

Sincere regards,

Master Zach,

I appreciate the compliments to my comment and the Serrada style. I guess what I think is important about accuracy is that a focus on accuracy especially of the defensive stop and counterattack points can be a huge benefit to the beginner and intermediate student. A focus on this element causes one to focus on the how and why and interact with the physical feedback you get from the blows and angles. I think this can really accelerate one's training. Train Hard. Practice How You Play. Thanks for the great topic. Stay Sticky!

I have to agree with all of the comments, there is no substitution for accuracy. Over my 30+ years practicing Eskrima I have come across many instructor level practitioners that have great speed, power and very fluid movements, but are seriously lacking in weapon control and accuracy. My master: GGM Pedoy (1900-1992), used to say: The difference between life and death is less that an 1/8 of an inch. Which is in reference to giving a head shot, do you want to kill them or knock them out? His son Batikan Eduardo Pedoy (1946-2008) told me a story about his father that had happened many years ago. It seems the GGM and his son were tending their taro crops in Hawaii and their neighbor was diverting the stream water for his own taro, thus running the Pedoys crops dry. As the story goes the neighbor was sitting on a metal gate next to the taro fields and more or less mocking the GGM about taking his water. The Batikan said at one point the GGM Pedoy had had enough and stood up and smacked the neighbor right in the head with a sharp machete. The neighbor was wearing one of the old plastic white hard hats, the blow knocked him backwards off the gate and had shattered the hard hat. When the neighbor stood up, he had a bright red line on his forehead where the machete had penetrated the hard hat, but did not draw blood. Needless to say the neighbor never harassed the GGM again and the water flowed freely to both fields. So my question to all of you Eskrimadors and Eskrimadoras, do you have that level of accuracy, if not you should keep practicing, I know I am still striving for that level of weapons control.

Thank you Master Ron England for your feedback on this discussion.  Great stories and great analogies!  Punong Guro Krishna Godhania (Warriors Eskrima) told me once that he was playing palakaw (solo baston sparring) with his teacher and had a drop of sweat hanging from his nose, then suddenly the drop of sweat was knocked from his nose by his teacher.  He dismissed it as a fluke but when his teacher did it again he realized that it was no fluke.  Accuracy is very important in Eskrima in my opinion but the real key is knowing how to develop it to these extremely high levels. 

Very interesting, in our DeCuerdas School our GM states that we should strive and train for “SPACE” meaning Speed, Power, Accuracy, Consistency and Efficiency. While it makes for a nice acronym for remembering what our leader feels is important I am not sure if I have personally mastered the accuracy portion of this formula. If I am aiming for the hand and end up getting the wrist instead it is all good in my book so long as it forces a disarm and give me the upper hand to follow through; while striving for accuracy is a goal of mine, frankly I just haven’t dedicated the time to work on this aspect and have been focused on the Speed, Power, Consistency and Efficiency portions of the formula. With this being said, I believe most if not all of the FMA styles tend to have accuracy as being important and part of their roots, my guess is that with everything else in the FMA toolbox and then through in full time jobs and family, it tends to not get the amount of attention in training as it deserves. Sure we have conducted a few drills that focus on hitting a target, but those lessons don’t get practiced enough through repeated drills or training aids like the one you spoke of in the multiple golf balls. So to answer your question I don’t think accuracy is being hidden by instructors but rather neglected, and perhaps neglected by their students. Great post.

Thanks Michael once again for your honest opinion and assessment regarding accuracy.  I definitely agree with your assessments.  One thing I learned from my teacher is that accuracy just like endurance is easily lost through lack of practice.  My teacher was recovering from a heart attack many years ago and could not train for a year.  When he started training again he lost quite a bit of timing and accuracy but regained it through consistent practice over time.   The funny thing was when I was training with my teacher he was still recovering and considered himself about 40% and yet I couldn't hit him once while sparring and he was hitting me lightly where ever he wanted. Either I was a terrible eskrimador or he was truly a great fighter.  I like to believe the latter ;)

I can only answer for the demos I've personally seen or been a part of.  The teachers have been deadly accurate and emphasize it.

A teacher of mine used to say, why use a .44 when you can kill with a .22? Of course, the latter requires skill, accuracy but isn't skill development the raison detre of all martial arts. On another level, read a local paper or watch local news about attacks with weapons. Mercifully, most of these attacks turn out to be non lethal because the thugs don't use accuracy.

Only one person can be the biggest, strongest person in the world at a time. That means the rest must use skill and knowledge, a vital part of which is accuracy. You really don't want to be in my earshot when I go on about the damage protective equipment is doing to FMA. Once in a while is fine but constantly using it IMHO removes the sense of awareness regarding what each strike does and encourages power to the detriment of precision.

Look at the old men, mostly gone now, who fought in combat.


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