• Jackie Bradbury

Little Details: Strike Mechanics

Before we begin, I should note that this post is heavy on the Arnis geekery. YOU ARE WARNED.

Once, while teaching a new student, I was trying to teach the very basics of striking and I wasn't quite getting through. I had to get creative in describing how the process of striking works, and through that process, I learned a lot about the topic myself.

This is the benefit of being an instructor and of working with a variety of people - not everyone sees or does things the same way.  Since this is the case, working with many different people challenges the way you understand how to do various techniques.

This particular student got me thinking about the mechanics of striking, specifically, targeting and angles in Presas Arnis the way I've learned it.

For now, let's focus on the high strikes - the forehand (#1 strike) and backhand (#2 strike) to the head, and the vertical strike to the head (#12 strike).

For the angle of the forehand and backhand strikes, we generally do it one of two ways.  Either diagonally across the body (red line 1/2(a) below) or horizontally (green line 1/2(b) below). We use the diagonal angle.  The direction of the #12 strike is represented by the yellow line.

Of course, you can alter your specific targets - nothing wrong with a #12 strike to the clavicle, for example, or a #1 strike to a hand. These are ANGLES of attack, not targets of attack.

With strikes, another key feature is that strikes are performed with the punyo (or butt end) of the stick "leading the way" as the strike comes, and as the target is acquired, the punyo moves past the target.

As you can see above, I am performing a #2 (high backhand) strike, and my hand (and punyo) moves past the target range (as represented by the red targets above).  In the picture above, I'm not finished with the strike in this picture, so the tip of the weapon must eventually land at any of the red targets to be "complete" (then you pull through or retract the weapon for additional striking).

An advantage of this striking technique - where you basically pull the weapon through the target - is that it applies whether or not you have a bladed weapon or a blunt weapon.

With a blade interpretation, you want to keep as much edge as possible against the target. With blunt, you want the tip to strike the target - either of which is accomplished with a shift in the angle of the wrist and hand.  Either way, the angle of the strike is basically the same.

Some Errors that I've seen with strikes are:

  • Striking too high  

  • Poor grip (open thumb)

  • "Fisherman's Cast" - the tip of the weapon leads to the target, versus the punyo

For kids, I'll use "magic wand" instead of fisherman's cast to describe it. One "Ridikulus" from Harry Potter gets the message through!

You'll notice that this technique also requires you to keep your wrist relatively locked in place, just like you'd do with an empty hand punch. This strengthens the grip and it helps prevent injury to the wrist.

So, if you're working on incorporating Arnis in to your training, I hope this extremely geeky discussion of high strikes helps!

Did I miss anything here about high strikes here?  I'd love to know!

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