Strike the hands ...or go straight to the head?

geezer

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I've experienced a few different branches of FMA, but my foundation was in GM Rene Latosa's PMAS Escrima ...which later morphed into Latosa Escrima Concepts, with my empty hands foundation in Wing Chun. One general concept that applies to both these systems is that you "go direct", that is you don't chase hands (or weapons), you strike to the core. The same is largely true with the DTE (Direct Torres Escrima) people I have trained with in recent years. That's why they call it "direct".

The idea is that a good fighter has many weapons, whether it's a blade, stick, hands, improvised weapons, feet elbows, knees, head, and so on. If you disarm him, but he is still mentally in the fight, he will just use something else. --Check out Dog Brothers clips for proof of this! After all, the mind is the weapon, the rest are just accessories. So if you disarm him, the fight goes on. If you shut down the mind, you end the fight.

Many other FMA groups repeat the mantra, "defang the snake" and take the contrary approach that if you can disarm an opponent, and better, if you can injure his hand, then you can easily end the fight. Here is a non-denominational video expressing this perspective:


Personally, I see merits and problems with both arguments, and In my own "PCE" system we take something of a middle road. More on my opinions later. What do you folks think?
 

Kung Fu Wang

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When your opponent's both hands are

- dropping next to his knee, you punch on his head and finish the fight. To chase his hand will not make sense.
- guarding his head and in your striking path, you will have no choice but to deal with his hands first.

The issue is when your opponent's hands are up but not quite in your striking path, should you deal with his hand first, or should you just punch to his face? IMO, if you think that your opponent may be fast enough to block your punch, it will be safe for you to "prevent his arm from interrupting your punch". To use 1,2 or 1,2,3 combo to deal with his hand is a good strategy.

In the following picture, your punch may have enough space to go through between his arms. But 99% of the time he can close that space when your fist arrive. It makes sense for you to use 1,2 combo such as

- left Tan Shou to move your opponent's right arm outward.
- right hand punch through his center.

It doesn't make sense to just punch through his center because your hand will hit on his arm first.

boxing_guard.jpg
 
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Monkey Turned Wolf

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If you have a weapon, I'm a fan of going for the hands first. I dont expect to end the fight there, but there's less risk in going after the hands than the head/'core' body target since you can still do it at distance*. So you get there hand first, and it now goes from armed vs. armed to armed vs. unarmed. Still a fight, but much more advantageous.

*This is assuming the person isn't rushing at you when you have a weapon. If they rush, this idea goes out the window.
 

Charlemagne

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Depends and the range first of all and timing second. If I am playing Largo, and/or the opponent has footwork, then I will work to take the hand. If I am bridging, I will try to take the hand on the way in. If I am close, or my opponent doesn't have very good footwork, I'll just go for the head, provided I can take his timing.
 
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geezer

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I think most of us are saying the same thing. Distance and position often dictate choice of target. I'm too old and slow to chase hands, so I try to get an angle and target center.

...But If I'm at larga mano, I will hit hands first, then "climb the tree" into corta mano and strike directo, to the head or body. The thing of it is, a lot of the time your opponent's hands and forearms are pretty much on the line between you and their center, so you don't really have to chose one targeting approach or the other. With the right timing, you may aim at at their core and take their hand out on the way in.

...This makes targeting a little simpler. As for levels... high or low, I go for what is least protected, trying to apply the longest weapon to the closest target. So with a stick, that will usually be their hand. Sometimes a knee. Maybe, I make it all the way in and can reach the head. That's good... ;)

Now I'm sure I left a lot out. Little help, please?
 

Kung Fu Wang

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The pole skill that I had learned when I was 11 is mainly to hit on your opponent's hands. The moment that your pole touch on your opponent's staff, you slide down your pole along his staff and hit on his fingers. In training, you use your pole to hit on a tree. You then slide your pole along the surface of that tree.

The Chinese sword also emphasizes on to cut on your opponent's sword holding hand. Your opponent stabs his sword toward your chest. You step back and swing your sword from down and up toward his sword holding hand.

In the following clip, most of the attack are aiming toward your opponent's hand (for example, 0.56 - 1.02).

 
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Danny T

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At largo range our primary target is the hand. We don't chase the hand, we attack the toward the core while timing the opponent's attack striking the hand. Secondary target is the knee or lower leg.

When transitioning through medio range we tend to use a follow the force method rather than a meet the force again the primary target being the weapon hand or elbow while striking toward the core. When the weapon hand is moving away from our angle we attack through the core.
 

JowGaWolf

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I've experienced a few different branches of FMA, but my foundation was in GM Rene Latosa's PMAS Escrima ...which later morphed into Latosa Escrima Concepts, with my empty hands foundation in Wing Chun. One general concept that applies to both these systems is that you "go direct", that is you don't chase hands (or weapons), you strike to the core. The same is largely true with the DTE (Direct Torres Escrima) people I have trained with in recent years. That's why they call it "direct".

The idea is that a good fighter has many weapons, whether it's a blade, stick, hands, improvised weapons, feet elbows, knees, head, and so on. If you disarm him, but he is still mentally in the fight, he will just use something else. --Check out Dog Brothers clips for proof of this! After all, the mind is the weapon, the rest are just accessories. So if you disarm him, the fight goes on. If you shut down the mind, you end the fight.

Many other FMA groups repeat the mantra, "defang the snake" and take the contrary approach that if you can disarm an opponent, and better, if you can injure his hand, then you can easily end the fight. Here is a non-denominational video expressing this perspective:


Personally, I see merits and problems with both arguments, and In my own "PCE" system we take something of a middle road. More on my opinions later. What do you folks think?
Fights are fluid. I don't think it's an "either or" concept. at any point in time the hand or the core, or some other part of the body may be available to strike when the other isn't. I think we often get in trouble in martial arts when we try to make things "one way or the other." If the opportunity comes, then take it. If it's not there move to the next target.
 

JowGaWolf

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The thing of it is, a lot of the time your opponent's hands and forearms are pretty much on the line between you and their center, so you don't really have to chose one targeting approach or the other.
This is true. We always need to deal with the lead hand but if it's not there, "hands that are lowered" then just smash the person in the face, If hands are in a guard position then you always need to deal with the hands first. This can be done either by physically dealing with the hands, or triggering your opponents hand to attack so that you can counter.

In terms of weapons in a stick. If you see that an opponent raises their attacking hand high to generate an effort to strike with a stick then it's possible to trigger the raising of the hand so that you can attack the core or the face before it comes down.
 

MJS

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I've experienced a few different branches of FMA, but my foundation was in GM Rene Latosa's PMAS Escrima ...which later morphed into Latosa Escrima Concepts, with my empty hands foundation in Wing Chun. One general concept that applies to both these systems is that you "go direct", that is you don't chase hands (or weapons), you strike to the core. The same is largely true with the DTE (Direct Torres Escrima) people I have trained with in recent years. That's why they call it "direct".

The idea is that a good fighter has many weapons, whether it's a blade, stick, hands, improvised weapons, feet elbows, knees, head, and so on. If you disarm him, but he is still mentally in the fight, he will just use something else. --Check out Dog Brothers clips for proof of this! After all, the mind is the weapon, the rest are just accessories. So if you disarm him, the fight goes on. If you shut down the mind, you end the fight.

Many other FMA groups repeat the mantra, "defang the snake" and take the contrary approach that if you can disarm an opponent, and better, if you can injure his hand, then you can easily end the fight. Here is a non-denominational video expressing this perspective:


Personally, I see merits and problems with both arguments, and In my own "PCE" system we take something of a middle road. More on my opinions later. What do you folks think?

I would say both options are valid. During some stick sparring that I've seen as well as participated in, I've seen shots just to the hands, I've seen a hit to the hand, followed up with a hit to the head, ie: abanico, and I've seen a well placed head shot.
 

gpseymour

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I've experienced a few different branches of FMA, but my foundation was in GM Rene Latosa's PMAS Escrima ...which later morphed into Latosa Escrima Concepts, with my empty hands foundation in Wing Chun. One general concept that applies to both these systems is that you "go direct", that is you don't chase hands (or weapons), you strike to the core. The same is largely true with the DTE (Direct Torres Escrima) people I have trained with in recent years. That's why they call it "direct".

The idea is that a good fighter has many weapons, whether it's a blade, stick, hands, improvised weapons, feet elbows, knees, head, and so on. If you disarm him, but he is still mentally in the fight, he will just use something else. --Check out Dog Brothers clips for proof of this! After all, the mind is the weapon, the rest are just accessories. So if you disarm him, the fight goes on. If you shut down the mind, you end the fight.

Many other FMA groups repeat the mantra, "defang the snake" and take the contrary approach that if you can disarm an opponent, and better, if you can injure his hand, then you can easily end the fight. Here is a non-denominational video expressing this perspective:


Personally, I see merits and problems with both arguments, and In my own "PCE" system we take something of a middle road. More on my opinions later. What do you folks think?
Like you, I see merit in both. In my FMA dabblings, I’ve seen both. In my JMA, there is more focus on controlling the arm/weapon, but grappling is primary in most of that. My personal approach is a matter of prioritization. If a weapon is there, I’d like to control it or the limb it is connected to. If that isn’t available, I’ll take a disarm, so the attacker doesn’t have the advantage of it. If that isn’t available, I’ll work on disabling them while they possess it. That is last, because I can’t be sure I can do that in one move.

If there is no (obvious) weapon, then I take whatever is available. Disable (strike) or control (grapple) will work.
 

Charlemagne

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This is true. We always need to deal with the lead hand but if it's not there, "hands that are lowered" then just smash the person in the face, If hands are in a guard position then you always need to deal with the hands first. This can be done either by physically dealing with the hands, or triggering your opponents hand to attack so that you can counter.

In terms of weapons in a stick. If you see that an opponent raises their attacking hand high to generate an effort to strike with a stick then it's possible to trigger the raising of the hand so that you can attack the core or the face before it comes down.

If I have the timing and am at the correct range, the head is the target, and whether or not he gets his weapon in the way is up to him. If I am ahead in timing and am close enough, his weapon is probably going to collapse anyway, if not, you tap it, break in, or break out, and continue. If I get him at zero pressure (aka, before he launches his strike), the hit to the head will be my protection. If I have the timing, but am at long range, the hand/arm/shoulder is the target, particularly if I am bridging out or bridging in.

Conversely, if I can't take the timing because my opponent is really skilled or because they have no structure then I'm going to focus on self protection most of all.

The problem comes in that way too many people do not understand timing and how to take it, or even how to know if they are ahead or behind. This is why you see so many mutual destructions in supposedly skilled practitioners when they spar.

It's also the reason that we spend so much time on just flowing with Five Attacks. We are working for the moment in time that we can snatch away the timing, or so that we can recognize when it has been taken from us.
 
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Charlemagne

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Like you, I see merit in both. In my FMA dabblings, I’ve seen both. In my JMA, there is more focus on controlling the arm/weapon, but grappling is primary in most of that. My personal approach is a matter of prioritization. If a weapon is there, I’d like to control it or the limb it is connected to. If that isn’t available, I’ll take a disarm, so the attacker doesn’t have the advantage of it. If that isn’t available, I’ll work on disabling them while they possess it. That is last, because I can’t be sure I can do that in one move.

In PTK (our branch of it anyway) the priority is as follows: Tap - trap - lock - disarm. If you can't do one, it's hard to do the other.
 

JowGaWolf

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The problem comes in that way too many people do not understand timing and how to take it, or even how to know if they are ahead or behind. This is why you see so many mutual destructions in supposedly skilled practitioners when they spar.
I totally agree with this. The most important skill set and the least used or trained.

We are working for the moment in time that we can snatch away the timing, or so that we can recognize when it has been taken from us.
I like this a lot.
 

marques

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In fighting, with adrenaline, I don't think it would be very effective. Anyway It could worth a try if a better target is difficult (but surely it is not my instinct).
In competition, it would be a useful tool. Arms become heavier after some strikes on them, so we can reach the head later.
In training, potentially yes. But without pain (because it is only training) I don't know how much it would be effective and the dynamics don't work.
Sometimes a heavier block/parry or very exceptionally trying to strike a specific point of arm or shoulder is all I have been done about it.
 

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The idea is that a good fighter has many weapons, whether it's a blade, stick, hands, improvised weapons, feet elbows, knees, head, and so on.
Agreed, a good fighter should be well trained in using multiple tools
If you disarm him, but he is still mentally in the fight, he will just use something else. --Check out Dog Brothers clips for proof of this!
The threat is reduced when your opponent is disarmed, not completely neutralized, but reduced. In the FMA system I study strikes are incorporated into disarms, we never go for the disarm alone. Other FMA systems do this as well.
After all, the mind is the weapon, the rest are just accessories. So if you disarm him, the fight goes on. If you shut down the mind, you end the fight.
If you break the accessories it reduces their ability to harm you. For example, if I use an elbow destruction and break his hand, that's one less weapon to worry about and will be very painful. He can no longer strike nor grab with that hand.
Many other FMA groups repeat the mantra, "defang the snake" and take the contrary approach that if you can disarm an opponent, and better, if you can injure his hand, then you can easily end the fight.
Defanging is a core concept in many FMA systems. "End the fight" is a very relative term. That will vary from person to person, some will quit after a little pain, others will keep going until they're unconscious. Functionality is functionality though, a broken hand is a broken hand. Meaning, regardless of how tough you are, if your hand is broken you won't be able to use it. That's what defanging means, regardless of how potent the snake's venom is, it's useless if he lacks the function of his fangs.
 
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geezer

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The threat is reduced when your opponent is disarmed, not completely neutralized, but reduced.

...If you break the accessories it reduces their ability to harm you. For example, if I use an elbow destruction and break his hand, that's one less weapon to worry about and will be very painful. He can no longer strike nor grab with that hand.

Good post! I agree with the points you made. What I'm seeing between the groups I've encountered is really more of a difference of emphasis, than one of core philosophy. For example, some hold that empty-handed guntings or limb-destructions are not as "high percentage" as a hard hit to the core. So unless it's a sure-thing, their strategy favors setting up the direct shot. But I never say anybody pass on hitting a hand if it was nicely offered! ;)

Weapons, even "weak" weapons, can change the percentages a lot. So something as inocuous as a palm-stick (translating to a cell-phone, pen, keys, etc.) used to injure an aggressor's lead jab, for example, can cause him to hesitate, flinch or drop his hand and create an opening.
 

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As my instructor points out (empty hand system) that most people don't "defend" their hands and it is a good distraction technique if you can punch the back of the hand. Anything that can buy you time or get their mind on other things works in your favor. Best case is that you jam up their fingers or break the small bones in their hand.

Works especially well when you have someone "pawing" or leaving their hands way out that have to be bridged to get to the body/head.

I have used it plenty of times and it has always worked well because unless you have had training where the hands are a target most people don't move them out of the way to a strike directed at them because they don't see it as a threat.

But, as others have pointed out if someone is holding them really close to the body then there are other options that may work better. Such as, striking directly to the head/body or striking the arm to temporarily "trap" or immobilize the limb to strike to the head/body.
 
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