Targets Dictate Weapons (diary entry)




My client is still recovering from a minor operation and still has stitches, so I decided to continue his dexterity training. This will hopefully serve as a good period of speed and technique attribute development.


We used handheld weapons to help dictate the pace and focused entirely on two angles of attack that are commonly taught as the first two angles in several Southeast Asian weapon arts. Angle one is a diagonal forehand strike and angle two is a diagonal backhand strike. They are often trained together and combined with other angles. We kept our attention on one angle at a time, training appropriate strikes. The emphasis of the lesson was to follow Mo Teague’s dictum, “Targets dictate weapons”. I would add, “Not the other way around”. Conventional mainstream martial arts teaching often begins with helping students develop their tools or weapons. A student learns how to make a fist. They learn how to stand. They learn how to throw a punch. Targets come in later. This is often at the root of ineffective techniques. By contrast, reverse engineering allows us to look at things from a creator’s perspective. Problem solving replaces wishful thinking. Whenever possible – and I appreciate that this isn’t always the case – I try to get a student to appreciate the problem or the target before we start selecting the right tools for the job. This prevents combat from becoming an abstract notion. Psychologically this helps as the student already is being made fully aware of the reality of the situation before he starts training a single technique.


By concentrating on one angle at a time and the weapon use was adapted. We threw a classic forehand percussive strike with a rattan stick. This was executed using elastic force and also with a slicing action, but each time the weapon travelled immediately back up the angle. We trained it against forehand, backhand and both strikes. Then we adapted using an edged weapon down the same angle, using a forehand slash, reverse grip slash, pickaxe grip stab and overhand stab. As an empty-handed attack we trained the hammer-fist forehand strike in guard, anchor punch and overhand punch from stand-up range and forward elbow chop in clinch range. Using angle two, used a rattan stick to counter forehand and backhand strikes as well as stab to the body. This was adapted to an edged weapon by using a backhand slash and reverse grip stab. Empty-hand used a backhand hammer-fist in guard and backhand elbow chop in clinch.


We finished by combining these two angles.


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