One of the biggest mistakes you're likely to see in the Philippine martial arts is when a person fights with a knife in one hand and pins his free hand to his chest. Even worse is when the martial artist hides that hand. The Philippine arts teach that the hand is like a knife, so why not use it?With that free hand, you can grab your opponent, pull him or poke him. You can wrap a towel around it and block his knife attack. Take off your leather jacket, wrap it around your left hand and use it as a shield while you attack with your right arm.People also forget about their legs. There's nothing to stop you from slipping in a kick, a knee thrust or a leg-sweep takedown. Just because you cross-train in the Philippine martial arts doesn't mean you have to forget your background in taekwondo, hapkido or jujutsu.


— Julius Melegrito

  • To cover all the bases, practice your stick techniques with both hands even if you opt to learn only one-stick moves. Pay particular attention to strengthening your nondominant hand. Doing double-stick drills does that, as well as a number of other things. It also enables you to continue the fight if your dominant hand gets injured.
  • Taking that line of thinking to the logical extreme, make sure you also practice shifting from single- or double-stick mode to empty-hand mode in case you're disarmed.

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  • Real fights that involve sticks are very different from stick-fighting matches. On the street, you can hit your attacker with the punyo. Imagine driving the butt of the stick into a person's neck. The hard cross section, combined with the mass of the stick and your swinging arm, can lead to a knockout.
  • At a higher level in the Philippine arts, you learn to use your opponent's body to trap his stick. If you and your opponent are at close quarters in competition, often the referee will separate you to ensure that you both have enough space to maneuver. In a real fight, however, not having room to maneuver can be a good thing, especially for police officers facing stick-wielding thugs. Their goal is often to grab the enemy's hand and weapon.
  • For traditionalists, grabbing a stick is a big no-no because the stick represents a sword. In reality, however, it's not a sword; it's an impact weapon. On the street, it can take the form of a police baton, a bat or a beer bottle that's about to be smashed over your head.
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  • There are two schools of thought in the stick arts: The traditional one holds that sticks are for slicing, not hitting. The perception is evolving, however, and more people are teaching that sticks are just as suitable for hitting. It's more practical.
  • Fancy twirls are fine, but you should know that twirls come from slashing movements that originally used a blade. If you really want to slice, get a knife or sword and practice your moves. Reserve the stick for hitting. It's an impact weapon.
  • Once you've accepted that truth, you'll find that a wide range of objects can serve as substitute sticks. Police officers use batons and clubs. Civilians might pick up a water bottle or a flashlight—items you can carry on an airplane.
  • Most improvised impact weapons have essentially the same parts as a kali stick, even if you can't use them exactly the same way. For example, you can use the tip of your car keys like a dulo or a water bottle with its cap on like a punyo.
  • One of the forgotten tactics of stick fighting is using your opponent's weapon against him. If a guy is holding a bat near your face, you don't have to trap his hand. You can grab hold of the bat and maneuver it to shield yourself from any punches he launches with his free hand.
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  • Although the Philippine arts teach that a weapon is an extension of your body, the average attacker takes it one step further: He believes that his weapon is part of his body. He'll do anything to keep it. For him, letting go of the weapon means he loses his advantage. If you know what you're doing, though, his obsession with keeping it can become a disadvantage.
  • That's not to say you should immediately give up your weapon if your foe grabs it. Police officers learn a number of weapon-retention techniques for situations in which a suspect grabs their baton.
  • However, it pays to keep things in perspective. If an officer is fighting a guy and they're both muscling for control, the cop might want to let go and target the man's face with his fists. The element of surprise might make it easier to take him down and restrain him. Giving your enemy what he wants is sometimes the best way to defeat him.

About the Author:

Julius Melegrito is the founder of the Philippine Martial Arts Alliance. He operates a chain of schools in Bellevue and Omaha, Nebraska. His 3-DVD stick- and knife-fighting instructional collection, Philippine Fighting Arts, is available now.

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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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