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Filipino Martial Arts, Eskrima, and Lines of Attack
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.
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.