The 5 pillars of training
by Dom Lopez
1. Eye training
The purpose is to be able to see the opponent’s strikes or moves at all times. Indeed after a time one can anticipate the opponent’s moves by learning to read body language. The way to achieve this is by fixing your eyes on your opponent’s chest at the nipple level. Take particular note of his elbows and his hips or knees. The reasons being, one can not move the hands without moving the elbows first. Likewise with the feet, the hips or knees has to precede the feet. In our system the body is turned all the time but the head is kept facing the opponent.
The numbering system represents the angles and levels of strike as well as a standard response for each strike. With sufficient repetition one can learn to see all strikes wherever it is coming from.
Forms are to martial arts what style of clothing is to fashion. In martial arts, forms are the ways in which components consisting of different body moves are employed in the overall mechanics we recognize as techniques. In the balintawak system, the form can be categorized into 2 regional parts.
A. Forms pertaining to the body
This is done by a quick turning of the hips, generally we face our opponent at 45degrees relative to his midline.
This is done by bending the knees to be comfortable, the feet distance may be widened at the same time. In the balintawak system the body is only bent forward for bambooing or when throwing.
Bambooing is a great equalizer; it makes height and strength of an opponent irrelevant. It prevents you from getting hit. But if there is contact like when you block your opponent’s strike, his power is already weakened at the moment of impact, as well at this point your opponent’s stability is compromised and ripe for the counter.
4a. Three point stance—(the tripod principle)
To execute quick turning and slumping at the same time, it is essential that you do it with only 3 points (the ball of one foot and the ball and heel of the other foot) other wise you’re bound to wobble or get off balanced. The feet are always parallel to each other.
B. Forms pertaining to the upper extremity
1b. Elbows are close to the body.
When extended the elbow should not be lateral to the line extending forward from the side of the body. The elbow is never fully extended with one exception and that is at the terminal moment of a strike. In the throwing techniques, both elbows are drawn towards each other to achieve a compression effect. Changing direction of the hand (palm facing up or down) is a function of the elbow. Elbows are used for striking, blocking, trapping opponent’s hands, turning, off balancing and throwing.
2.b Hands are kept relaxed.
The free hand is always open. In all techniques both hands are functional. One hand can be striking and the other guarding. Both can be guarding or blocking. Both can be striking. One hand can be blocking and the other striking.
Rhythm is the ability to synchronize ones moves with or against the opponent’s in order to neutralize him. Although possessing great speed is desirable in martial arts, speed is not analogous with rhythm. Rhythm is proper timing. Imagine a duet whether vocal or instrumental, if one is slower or faster than the other, the music won’t sound good. Nonetheless, in our system our cadence is very fast. You can develop the right timing to an instinctive degree by vast number of repetitions(10,000)times. Also a good trick to develop rhythm is to hold the stick with 3 fingers and at the moment of impact hold the stick tightly with all fingers. But the cornerstone to developing rhythm is to force yourself to relax at all times
To have optimal efficacy of your technique whether in defense or offense, your distance has to be exact. In the balintawak system the best distance is the corridas distance. This is where you are situated and can reach the opponent with the free hand. Sticking to the opponent is paramount in our system. To do this we employ bambooing and foot mobility.
This is the touchstone in the pillars of training. It is obvious that if you can control your opponent you win the contest. In the balintawak system control is chiefly done by the free hand. Techniques consisting of checking, hitting,pushing,pulling,blocking,hand trapping,disarming,and offbalancing, turning and throwing are done with the free hand. Occasionally the weapon hand is used for the above functions but mainly its utility is simple and that is hitting.