The Filipino martial arts begin with the student learning a weapon art, stick or blade, and translating weapon techniques to empty-hand techniques. In addition, each system refers to styles within the system which are an incorporation of techniques specific to certain parts of weapons or incorporation of related other arts. For instance, in a set of techniques we will explore here is one technique called “Punyo Style”. Punyo refers to the butt-end of a stick; Punyo Style uses this part of the weapon, and techniques in this style, as is standard in the Filipino arts, can be translated to empty-hand and knife techniques. Of course, it should be remembered that weapons in the Filipino arts are various, and almost any environmental object can turn into a weapon. Your own ingenuity will determine whether you can translate techniques to various weapons and use them effectively.
For this reason, students are encouraged to explore independently and find out for themselves how techniques can be translated from stick to knife to empty-hand.
Here, we will explore various techniques from DeCuerdas Eskrima, a Filipino blade-based art which is ultimately based on quick attack as defense (which we will not explore in detail yet. It is for another post.).
So, we will start with a Punyo-style technique, and we will show the stick-based technique and how it translates to an empty-hand technique. It is important to note that this technique is based on destruction of the opponent’s attacking limb, a common tactic in the Filipino martial arts, the principle being that if you damage what your opponent attacks with then you have nullified or seriously hampered his ability to attack.
Defender parries over-head attack.
Defender attacks opponent’s hand with long end of his stick.
Defender then thrust butt-end, or punyo, of the stick into his opponent’s fingers, possibly breaking them. It should be noted that a weapon multiplies damage done and power of strikes.
Defender strikes opponent’s forearm nerve with punyo.
Defender strikes opponent’s bicep muscle.
Using punyo, defender strikes nerve above the elbow or tricep muscle.
Defender does an abaniko, or fan, strike which is done with a twist of the wrist.
Defender “flips” the stick to deliver another abaniko strike to the head.
Finally, the defender continues his motion down to strike the opponent’s leg.
It should be understood that these techniques are fluid, they have a flow to them like all Eskrima techniques, so that there is quick uninterrupted motion. It should not be under-estimated, either, the damage the stick can do to hands and limbs. Old Eskrimadors who have fought full-contact bouts with sticks have ended battles with a single strike to the hand that so incapacitated their opponents that they couldn’t go on, even bleeding profusely from the wound.
So, next we will examine the empty-hand translation of the above Punyo-style DeCuerdas technique.
Defender parries a straight punch.
Defender inserts another parry and check. This could also be converted to a back-knuckle strike to the nerves on the back of the hand or on the wrist or forearm or a strike to the nerve above the elbow.
Here we see what was a punyo strike with the butt-end of the stick becomes an elbow strike to the hand.
Defender delivers a back-knuckle strike to the nerve on the forearm, the translation of the punyo strike to the same area.
What was a punyo strike here becomes an inward elbow strike. Notice how many of the punyo strikes become elbow strikes.
Defender delivers a back-knuckle strike to the nerve above the elbow.
Defender strikes with a horizontal heel-palm to the attacker’s jaw, chin, or cheek nerve.
Defender finishes with a kick to the thigh, knee or groin.
As you can see, the stick is just an extension of the body and the stick striking the leg can easily be turned into a low kick to the leg. There is great freedom in the Filipino arts, and students are encourage to be creative because in a real self-defense situation they will need to be.
In this next technique we will see how some grappling arts with the stick are translated from stick to empty-hand.
Attacker comes at defender with what is called a 3 line, or a horizontal strike to the mid-section. Defender blocks with his left arm and strikes the elbow joint with the stick.
Defender grabs the long end of the stick with his left hand and puts pressure on the attacker’s elblow joint.
Defender uses an arm bar to control opponent.
Defender delivers a strike to the head or neck.
As you can see, the stick is a versatile weapon and can be used for strikes and grappling, locks and even throws.
Now we will explore how this technique can be translated to an empty-hand version.
Attacks swings with a hook punch and defender blocks it.
Defender strikes with a heel-palm to the face.
Defender grabs his other hand and applies pressure to the opponent’s elblow joint.
Defender controls the attacker with an arm bar and brings his head down, breaking his height zone and so checking his weapons. Defender can deliver strikes, knees, or even administer a throw from this position.
Here we will explore a basic technique that incorporates some Sikuran (Filipino foot fighting or kicking style, using low kicks) in the empty-hand version.
Attacker comes in with what is called a 9 line in Decuerdas, or a low strike to the knee. Defender blocks with his left hand and strikes his opponent’s hand with the stick.
Defender delivers an abaniko (fan) strike to the head.
Defender strikes attackers leg with stick.
Now we will examine the empty-hand version of the technique, as stated, with the incorporation of the sikuran style which makes use of low kicks and buckling the opponent’s legs.
When opponent attacks, defender blocks and strikes the elbow join to injure it, using the other hand as added leverage for the break on the arm.
Defender strikes to the face, covering low.
Defender delivers a round-house kick to the thigh.
Defender delivers an inverted kick to the shin or calf.
As the defender’s foot lands, he positions it on the inside of his opponent’s lead foot.
Defender turns his body clock-wise and naturally drops a knee onto the back of the attacker’s calf, buckling his leg and using gravity and torque to add power to the move.
This concludes our algebraic examination of Eskrima translations from stick to empty-hand techniques. The point of an algebraic examination is to make the equation equal on both sides, the stick side and the empty-hand side. Additionally, it should be remembered that these techniques are not merely mechanical but also creative, which is necessary for spontaneously creating techniques, as can be seen with the sikuran extension of the last technique examined.
It is important to use your own awareness and logic to understand and create technique; in a real situation, it is necessary to engage this algebraic formula quickly and spontaneously, and this spontaneous response becomes easier and more readily engaged when you train the techniques and also train to problem solve and examine techniques.