Another excellent piece from Master Ron Saturno!!
As an Escrimador who has watched men come at one another with and without weapons many thousands of times, you start noticing certain patterns that you could take advantage of, if you know what to look for and how to use this information in your favor. It really does help to know the standard fighting methods of someone that you are engaging in combat with. Watch say a Balintawak player, they play close and are highly effective at what they do. Yes, they do other things in other ways, but watching these players in the park playing together on my last trip to L.A., allowed me to see that they are really good with sticks and getting up close and thwarting an opponent's ability to effectively move. The good players just wouldn't let their partners do much of anything. I wouldn't want to play their game, because they are better at it than I am. The last thing I'd want is to allow them to beat my hands bloody or crack my skull and very quickly I might add. I am using them as an example of a very quick and capable opponent. How could one hope to deal with such opponent's ?
First of all, I am giving all praise and respect to the Balintiwak Escrimador's. I am simply using them as the type of fast hitting, fast reacting opponent that would be very hard to deal with. I am complimenting them, not singleing them out for criticism or who I could defeat. I am brainstorming here and want any of those players to understand my using them is for what-if purposes and because of their highly developed skills. Hope we're understood.
If you are not engaged in direct contact with another Escrimador, it doesn't matter how fast he is, or what set-up he employs to clear the distance between you...he cannot hit you easily or repeatedly without moving his body "properly" into striking range, period. If and when he comes forward, he can come towards you faster than you can back up. If you choose to side-step, which may be your best movement choice, he can quickly re-align to strike you, but "not" quick enough, for you can hit first. We may be talking about fractions of a second. Angel Cabales did not worry about your weapons, he worried about your body position and alignment. The set-up before delivery takes a lot longer than many believe. Some set-ups are longer than others, but it's the body movement which is the most imortant part. They have to move their guns into striking distance. Until they can get their guns into striking range, all of their speed and power mean nothing. If you are standing still and anchored you "can" move your arms quite quickly, but if you have to take the fight to your opponent, you "must" move from the Earth and all telling blows come first from the "legs" are then directed by the waist and lastly transfered through the arms. Like a wave, there is a sequence and it takes time. By reading the legs, we can gain valuable fractions of seconds, which can allow us to almost know what a person is going to do before they do it. The beauty of it all, is that by watching the shoulders/chest area of an opponent, we can accurately guess their intentions and when they are attempting their attack.
Unfortunatly, two men engaging in combat are frequently overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information their minds have to process and we haven't even spoken about fear and adrenaline dump effects. That is why Angel Cabales focused upon ending the fight quickly, by being able to read an opponent's body. I have covered center-line control before and will not cover this topic , but suffice to say that you "can" control most opponent's attempts to strike you, if you understand center-line control. So, if we can effectively read an opponent's body when he chooses to come toward you and if we can control the center we can most likely live to fight another day. This is a large part of what Angel Cabale described as "timing". Many times we practice to continue the fight. We practice long drawn out combatives. We seldom practice to end something quickly. That is why many aspiring Escrimador's have such trouble in sparring matches, their timing is off! They practice for long fights and then enter matches where fights are decided in fractions of a second. They don't train against real power hitting and then are shocked when they attempt a Dog Brother match, where someone is really trying to knock their heads off. I can only hope that my information has cleanly passed onto this computer. It doesn't matter how frightengly they swing their weapons away from you. It doesn't matter how they yell, make sounds and faces: They "have" to bring the fight to you, by bringing their bodies to you. If we can learn to read the chest and detrmine our opponent's intended body movements, we can learn the ability to know what a person is going to do, before they do it. Knowing what an opponent is going to do, is the capstone of an Escrimador's career. When we block blows, we only block what the body took a considerable time to develop. The body is much slower than the hands. So watching the hands is not only dangerous, but ineffective. Many Escrimador's are worried about being hit, they worry about the weapons of their opponent. If they spent more time watching their opponent's bodymovement via watching their chest, they would have a whole lot less to worry about. Deal with the body and what it allows opponent's to do. The body is a lot slower than hands, but no-matter how fast a man is, his body is slower. If we can learn to position our bodies effectively in relation to our opponent, than something cannot be hit what is not there and someone cannot hit you unless you don't see their bodies coming, because the hands only come after the body. This is the second time that I've tried to talk about the importance of watching the body, by watching the chest. Just stand in from of the mirror and start taking steps and moving your weapons. You will start noticing chest and shoulder patterns, that over time can be reliably depended upon to determine if a man is stepping, twisting, bending, which leg is being moved, and arm movements. After many years the ability to read body movements can be counted upon to be reliably used in a life and death situation. Knowing what a man is going to do almost before he does is an ability that every Escrimador needs and should want in his bag of tricks.