Saturday, July 23, 2011


Through this cycle I have started introducing the concept of checking hands.  Checking is when your non-weapon hand taps or "checks" your opponent`s hands during your technique.  This is often inserted between weapon hits or strikes.

So in effect, one hand hits, the other checks, then hit/check/hit/check/hit/check until the opponent is disabled.
Checks are generally done to the opponent:`s arm while the subsequent hits can be anywhere.

Because in Kali the non-weapon hand is kept centered, it can easily be used to check or control the opponent`s weapon or non-weapon hands.  There are two main purposes of this checking principle:

1) Control the Opponent`s Arm
By using a checking hand, we continually pin the arm against the opponent`s center mass.  We keep in contact and can read any developing motion immediately.  While we are doing the checking with our secondary hand, our principal hand is delivering the strikes/hits.  This checking also disrupts the nervous system and prevents the opponent from moving the checked arm, since as we are hitting, we are also sending stimilus to that limb through the checking action.

2) Control the Centerline
Just like in chess, the key to most matches is to control the center of the board.  In fighting this means denying the opponent the ability to use the centerline and making sure we always have right of way on it.  Checking is an excellent way to do this since it places our non-weapon hand into the center, where in addition to checking one of the opponent`s arms, it can also quickly take control and misdirect the other arm if it moves, by virtue of the fact by checking we are already controlling the centerline. The opponent`s secondary arm must go either inside or outside of our checking hand, and either path yields a variety of easy solutions for controlling that arm and finishing the fight.  Checking is an important tool for monitoring and controlling the opponent`s non-weapon hand.

As beginners, we spend a lot of time focused on being able to effectively use our weapon hand.  However, we need also to be able to use our non-weapon hand simultaneously, and checking is one of the primary activities we perform with the non-weapon hand.  In our flow, the goal should be to have both arms able to contact and control the opponent at all times.  When we practice the various entries and follow-ups with stick, empty hand and blade, we should be mindful of the effectiveness of our checking hand and practice it dilligently.

Check it out!  In this video, you can see Guro Jon Ward and Guro Steve Klement are showing with Suro Mike Inay (RIP).  Suro Mike was one of Guro Fred`s teachers in Inayan escrima and renowed for being among the very best in the world.  Watch their hands carefully for good examples of checking.

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