Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Three is a Magic Number

In the version of the Filipino Martial Arts I've been taught, the number three comes up a lot.

Yep, Schoolhouse Rock.  See the whole video here.

It comes up so often that the most common symbol used in the FMA's is the triangle. We used it in our own logo for Mid-Cities Arnis.  We also considered various words for the number "three" when we named our school, but didn't come up with a combination we liked.

The reason the triangle is used varies, but mostly it represents the standard footwork we use - the male and female triangle.  +Eric Primm has an excellent series about footwork over at his blog (the tag is "Footwork Friday"), and sure enough, you see the triangle over and over again. [ED NOTE: The blog is down as of July 2018, don't click through].

In our classes at MCA, we've been working on various sets of threes, all coming from the same basic source concept of alternating hands in three strikes (then alternating sides - so it comes out to six strikes in a single "pass").

The foundation is brush-grab-strike.

This is where you take the lead hand and brush the incoming punch, the rear hand follows it and grabs/traps/holds the strike, and the lead hand then strikes the opponent.

Brush-grab-strike is not just a way to strike - it's also interpreted as a throw, which is how we've been talking about it as we've been teaching the empty hand Anyo Isa.

It is a key drill and technique in Modern Arnis, and something we do all the time.

Put two sticks in your hands, and brush-grab-strike becomes Redondo (or redonda - I was taught the word "redondo" but I think both terms are used depending on which FMA system you are in).

See it?  Lead hand, rear hand, lead hand.

Change the plane (from horizontal to vertical), and it becomes double sinawali - play with the targets, and you get Heaven 6, Standard Double Sinawali Standard (or Middle), and Earth 6.

The reverse of this becomes one of our combative responses - rear hand blocks, lead hand blocks or traps, rear hand strikes.  We sometimes call this "double tap".

Adjust "double tap" just a tad, making the second strike more of a pass, and you get basic hubad-lubad.

Put a stick in each of our hands in this basic hubad-lubad pattern, and it becomes what we call our Combative Response #5 (which used to be #4 - from Kombatan).  Same side block, pass with the other hand, and then strike with the original blocking hand.

Use a single stick, and our drill becomes block-check-counter.

Guess what?  You can do block-check-counter empty handed, too!

This is ALL off of the same basic concept of three strikes with both hands alternating - one, two, three.

There are tons of other "three" concepts in Arnis, but as you can see, just this single idea of three strikes alternating hands contains tons of material to work from.  From this foundation, then you start adding in other things, additional strikes, etc.

In the Filipino Martial Arts, three is truly a magic number!

How does the number "three" come up in your training?  Let us know in the comments!