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Filipino Martial Arts, Eskrima, and Lines of Attack

Updated on July 3, 2016
NateB11 profile image

I've been training in martial arts since the 80s, consistently since the 90s. I am a 2nd degree black belt in Kenpo Karate.

Introduction

In terms of self-defense, it is valuable to understand the use of a weapon because you may need to defend yourself against a weapon, need to know how to use a weapon, and use of a weapon can enhance your empty hand skills too; what can be done with a weapon can also be done empty handed, and your coordination and dexterity is enhanced even more by having to handle a weapon.

Filipino martial arts of Eskrima, Kali, and Arnis are to a great extent based in the use of sticks and blades, in addition to training empty hand technique which is cross-referenced to weapon use: For this reason, these arts contain a plethora of knowledge of weapon use, technique and principles.

So, for our purposes here, we will explore a basic principle of Eskrima, which is, Lines of Attack. In addition to understanding how you can attack with a weapon, Lines of Attack teach you how to defend against a weapon. Specifically for the purpose of this article, the Lines of Attack teach how to reasonably predict how someone will attack based on their position after they've attacked. For simplification, we will focus on just four lines of attack, although it should be noted that, in the Filipino arts, the lines of attack vary from system to system, some, such as Doce Pares and DeCuerdas (arts I've practiced), have as many as twelve lines of attack and defense and many more counters, follow up strikes, locks, throws, chokes, and disarms. However, we will be dealing here with (1) a high downward diagonal forehand strike, (2) a high downward diagonal back-hand strike, (3) a mid-section horizontal forehand strike, and (4) a mid-section horizontal back-hand strike.

It should be noted that these strikes can reasonably be predicted because they naturally and logically follow one another. For the opponent to execute any other strike than the one proceeding another in this logical sequence, would require him to go out of his way and waste motion, fail to use economical motion and so telegraph what he is doing: In which case, you will even more so see it coming. However, anything can happen. One of the important qualities of learning lines of attack is that it is a useful tool for drilling how to defend against specific attacks, as well as training brain and body how to attack, and all of the principles involved (for instance, in DeCuerdas Eskrima, baits are included in the lines of attack).

So, in this sequence, you will see how each attack is executed, which attack follows a previous attack, and how a defender can see each attack coming and defend himself.

Here you see Jamie attack with the #1 line, a high downward diagonal forehand strike, which Glenn catches with a roof block.
Here you see Jamie attack with the #1 line, a high downward diagonal forehand strike, which Glenn catches with a roof block. | Source
Jamie is then in a natural position to deliver a back-hand strike.
Jamie is then in a natural position to deliver a back-hand strike. | Source
So, Jamie delivers the #2, a high downward diagonal backhand strike, which Glenn catches with a wing block.
So, Jamie delivers the #2, a high downward diagonal backhand strike, which Glenn catches with a wing block. | Source
Jamie then comes in with the #3, which is a mid-section horizontal forehand strike.
Jamie then comes in with the #3, which is a mid-section horizontal forehand strike. | Source
Source
Jamie is naturally chambered to come back through with a back-hand strike.
Jamie is naturally chambered to come back through with a back-hand strike. | Source
So, Jamie comes back with the #4, a horizontal mid-section back-hand strike.
So, Jamie comes back with the #4, a horizontal mid-section back-hand strike. | Source

So, as stated, the purpose of using Lines of Attack is to understand how you can attack, understand how the opponent can attack, and to understand follow up strikes. The Lines of Attack vary from system to system, but they are merely a convenient way to study motion and how to stay steps ahead of an attack.

Example of Angles or Lines of Attack in Eskrima

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    • NateB11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Nathan Bernardo 

      5 years ago from California, United States of America

      I'm very familiar with the Bay Area, including San Jose, have lots of friends and family there. I will have to look him up.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 

      5 years ago from Southern California

      Nate

      You are welcome, he has been doing martial arts for over twenty five years.

      Last known area was around San Jose.

    • NateB11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Nathan Bernardo 

      5 years ago from California, United States of America

      Cool, ib. Maybe I should look him up, he might be teaching. Bay Area would definitely be a good place to look for this kind of martial art. I know a lot of the best Eskrimadors ended up over here in the US, particularly California. Thanks for the info.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 

      5 years ago from Southern California

      Nate

      A friend of my studied under some top ranking masters from there. I have lost track of him but he is in the Bay Area of CA, Mark Harrell.

    • NateB11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Nathan Bernardo 

      5 years ago from California, United States of America

      I believe you on that: For one thing, there are many Filipinos in that region, many came there as farm laborers many years ago. I have heard of a lot of Filipino martial arts down in Fresno and Stockton. Thanks for stopping by, reading, and commenting.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 

      5 years ago from Southern California

      Most of the expertise in these arts is found in Central California.

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