FMAT: Balintawak Footwork

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Balintawak Footwork
By Mono - Sat, 21 Jun 2008 01:42:19 GMT
Originally Posted at: FMATalk


Hi everyone

This is a matter wich has been toched only very briefly on the Forums so far and I would like to bring it up to get some further Information from different Instructors, Studnets and Practitoners of various Balintawak Lineages.

Its all about Footwork.

Basically I guess it is agreed that Balintawak uses mainly Linear Footwork in a Walking like method (one can argue and say sometimes the Stepping is based on the V with a very narrow opening - kind of Like they say in the Inosanto System that the Stepping Back and Forward follows the Lateral Triangle Pattern

Anyways. Having this said, my main question is targeted towards WHEN do you step Where and how to you Teach the Stepping?

My previous Experiences include the Following two basic Methods of Teaching:

a)As the Student, you only Step back whenever your Instructor steps forward and vice versa. Thereby you always maintain a Left-Lead to Left-Lead or Right Lead to Right Lead Position. Basically its a tool that teaches Maintaining proper Distance towards the Attacker and also teaches that stepping and Striking or Defending work independent from each other.

The Lineages I encountered this Method in were with Bobby Tabimina ans Ising Atillo(also The Remy Presas Line, if you count the Tapi Tapi as the pendant to the Palakaw/Padagan/Cuentada Play)

Some Examples:

Atillo Line (Demosntrated by Guro Dieter Roser from Germany):
(here with almost no Stepping) (Students Adjustment to the Stepping is rather poor (only a beginning Student), but I guess my Point is coming across)

Bobby Tabimina:
(legs are barely seen but you can see when a step is taken),
(very clean Stepping shown)

Modern Arnis:
(TapiTapi is shown here using rather few oft he standart 1-12 strikes but more oft he Butting, Trapping and changing Distances but you can see that the Stepping is same as above)

b) Second method I learned was the one where as Student you always step to Face the Stick on Defense (Strike coming from your left, left foot back, strike coming from your right, right foot back.) Later on this rule is diluted and broken. A nice description from a different discussion on this Forum I found was from Rich Parson:

The difference between the beginning students and the advanced students is not in the weight, but in the body and leg facing. In the beginning the student learns to step and face the incoming strike and then learns to block and counter using proper body mechanics and timing. Later one learns to just turn the upper body to face the stike, so now no leg movement is required (* unless one needs room and time to block or the attack is coing at the knee *), to block and counter. And the even later yet, the student is taught to not have to change the upper body facing and to be able to strike anywhere this way with out telegraphing the position of the next attack.
To me this Method is more focused on proper Body mechanics (shifting etc) and is a great method too.
Now I would liketo point out some of my experiences with those Methods during my Balintawak Training and Teaching and hope to read some personal experiences and thoughts, comments from all of you who are reading this as well :)

My Fight with the Balintawak Footwork:

Personally, having studied Modern Arnis several years prior to adding Balintawak to my Training, the a) Version was quite easy to do and comprehend on the Students side as well as the Instructors Side.

Starting with the Teovels Line also was not too hard to do the Basic Rule of Facing the Weapon was a common concept I was familiar with trough many different Blade Concepts / Methods I had learned in the Classicl Aspects of Modern Arnis and other Systems.

Also breaking those patterns here and there was not a big deal since it meant going back to a)

The Problems or Confusion to me began doing Agak Training.

Teaching the 1-12 was easy it was all prearranged. I first stumbled when going Random.

Every now and then I started falling back into my Free Play Method I was / am used to from MA Training so for example I was feeding 1, 5, 6 having right Foot forward WITHOUT Stepping on the 6 (as taught in the Basic Application) now that causes a Problem / Conflict if you tell your Student to a) always face the Stick with his Steps and b) always maintain the same distance to the Instructor

A Similar problem came up when doing the Groupings. Group one starts in the Position Stundent in right- Agak in Left lead. So all of a sudden you (as agak) are supposed to be in opposite lead to your Student but have o maintain the distance

So what happens is, you start applying shuffle Steps (hope this is the corret English word for it you step forward with the lead leg and drag the rear leg behind, keeping the same lead and vice versa). You can see this being used a lot and even in the 1-12 already by Teofilo Velez here:

What this did was, it created a Situation that was not achieved by the Footwork application as described in a) above Suddenly Student and Agak are opposite foot in lead (legs on the same side).

So what happened was, I learned that doing Agak using the b) Method was/is much harder for me in the beginning since I have to actively think about when I am allowed to step or which leg do I have forward so which strikes am I allowed to do? in order to not confuse the Student (From the Students point of view it feels so easy since you only react to the strikes as you have learned and the Instructor miraculously is in the right Positio or distance when you do your stepping)

For my personal Teachings I have found the following Progression to work for me (as Agak):

1.Standart 1-12, 1-12 going forward ony, 1-12 going back only, random 1-12 always using the Basic Rule Student and Instructor always same leg forward
2.Same as aboce using opposite Footwork (student and instructor opposite legs forward
3.Combining one and two by adding shuffle steps and extensive body shifting
4.Using Stationary Footwork (Student left and right lead, Agak same or opposite leg forward)
5.Combining all of the above and going completely free

When Teaching, I feel that the Students especially have problems when you ad the unconventional Strikes such as Abanico and or Curvada Strikes since you suddenly change sides with you attack but basically maintaining your Distance. How do you Teach this?

From my Point of view it feels quite hard to smoothly progress from the Prearranged Method into the complete Freeplay. (One of theusual questions is: Why use the rules at first when they dont workif the Attacker doenst move like this anyways?)

-How do you teach the Balintawak Footwork?
-Which of the above methods do you use? A) Maintaing same leg forward as Instructor or B) Facing the Stick Method?
-How and when do you start braking away from the basic rules?
-How do you set up or go into the same leg Forward Position and maintain correct distance (without confusing the Student!?)
-How and when do you start applying Abanico or Curvada Strikes and what Method of Stepping do you use/teach (for the Student and on the Agaks side)
-How do you work the Footwork in the Groupings? Do you always maintain the Prearranged Footwork or do you also apply them using (for ex.) opposite footwork If so, when do you start doing so?
-What Problema do/did you encounter during Learning or teahing Balintawak Footwork?
-How do you Progress from preset Method to Free Stepping?

Etc etc etc

I would be VERY interested in any thoughts, comments, advise, further questions or anything else that concers the Topic of Balintawk Footwork basically a very active Discussion about Balintawak Footwork.

There are so many Senior Students, Instructors, Teachers or very long time practitioners out here and I am hoping to get some Insights and new Ideas to further develop my own Game as well as Teachings in Balintawak!

Thank you very much already!!

Greetings from Germany!

Philipp Mono Wolf

P.S. Sorry for making you read this long Text I hope some of the Problems and Confusions I came across during my Training and / or learning to Teach Balintawak I was trying to point out are understandable (Since English is not my native language its sometimes hard to express what I am thinking not even considering that putting complex motions into writing is quite hard to start with if anything I described or asked is not understandable or too confusing, please let me know and I ll try to Re-Write what is meant)


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