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I’ll preface these series of articles by saying that I don’t believe there is a “right way or wrong way” to do things in martial arts. There is only application. Can you make it work?
Bahad Zu’Bu is a unique style and some of the concepts make look “counter-clockwise” to others. In these articles I will attempt to explain my understanding of some common misconceptions people have (especially on youtube it seems 🙁 ) and to invite disussion too.
Mis-conception #1 – The Stick is held wrong
Part 1/2 – The Relaxed Grip
In Bahad Zu’bu the standard stick (28″ or 24″) is held with no punyo showing at all. At rest the stick is level with the edge of the hand and loosely held with the bottom three fingers. When the stick impacts on target the remaining two fingers encircle the stick and make a fist.
I think most people can understand the “relaxed until impact” concept. Many empty hand styes have the same concept when they punch. If you tense up for no reason you lose power. A relaxed strike with tension at the end hits harder and faster. Also, if you are continually clenching the stick for all your worth muscle fatigue will set in too.
Being relaxed also aids sensitivity and this helps counter dis-arms. Gripping the stick the way a baby holds a dummy also fixates the mind of the eskrimador on the stick. An example of this is when somebody grabs your stick. I have made the mistake before of trying to use my power to nullify this threat. In Bahad Zu’bu this is a painful lesson.
For us, if somebody grabs the stick you should let them have it. Not fighting force (again like many other arts) is another key concept in Bahad Zu’bu. The stick is not dangerous on it’s own. Like many other FMA’s we are taught that “YOU are dangerous”.
So, if the opponent directly grabs the stick you should give it to them. This doesn’t mean you should bow and offer it as a gift. You should use the opportunity to distract the opponent. When he directly holds the stick he is in effect holding himself leaving him un-prepared for your left hand, elbow, footwork, etc, etc.
Their eyes are on the prize – much like offering the queen up for sacrifice in chess because you know your next move is “Check-mate”. This is a nice way of looking at what Bahad Zu’bu is all about – the use of the “enganyo” or “bait”. GM Yuli drills into us that we should always bait, monitor and prepare our next move.
Finally, having the index finger and thumb free also allows you to distract, harrass and disarm whilst holding the stick. You can think of this like the pincers of a crab, or the antenea of an insect. For disarms the opponents stick will be perpendicular and make a cross with your own.
By only using three fingers to grip your own stick you can hold their stick with the same hand. You can also use the index finger and thumb to pinch your opponent. To my knowledge no pinch has ever proved fatal. However, it can be used to distract your opponent to set up your next movement. GM “Tatang” Ilustrisimo was said to be able to peel a coconut like an orange by just using his thumb and forefinger. A very painful distraction indeed!