Balance is an essential part of practicing the FMA. Arnis, Eskrima, and Kali preferring gross motor skills over fine motor skills have a different requisite about balance compared to most East Asian martial arts. This can be seen in the many counterparts of FMA in which it infrequently employs movements that require backward spine bending or single-leg stances.
Before discussing any topic, it is imperative to establish the definition of “balance.” For the purpose of this article, balance means the ability of a person to move anywhere with equilibrium even when presented with imbalance-promoting factors.
Center of Gravity
One of the first things to consider in developing one’s balance is knowing the center of gravity of the body. While in a motionless position, a human’s center of gravity is found approximately the anterior to the second sacral vertebra (bottom of the spine).
We presume that the two feet are placed on the ground when practicing Arnis, Eskrima, and Kali. Unlike other East Asian Martial arts, the preferred stability in Filipino Martial Arts is dynamic and not static. The primary goal here is to maintain stability while defending or attacking.
According to Dan Inosanto, the Filipino-American martial arts instructor and Bruce Lee’s sparring partner, The major concern of any martial arts is to support the movements that are parallel to the surface. Any upward movement is augmented by the surface, and downward movements utilize gravity for support.
If one or both feet are off the ground, momentum is the result (The Filipino Martial Arts Know Now, 1980).”
How to Fight with an Eskrima Stick – The Three Elements
You can adjust three elements to achieve this goal. The first is the base of support – the arnisador’s feet. You can increase stability by broadening your base of support done by widening the stance and increasing the distance between both feet.
4 Unique Eskrima Workout to Build Arm Muscle Strength
You're just ten minutes away from strong, well-conditioned arms. Begin workout here!
A wider course stance would mean sluggish mobility while a narrow stance would mean quick mobility yet less stability.
The Second Element of Good Balance
The second element is aligning the line of gravity of the body to the base center. Visualize this by imagining a straight line running across your body from your head to the groin. Aligning this gravity line to the base center can be done through postural adjustment such as keeping your head upright or straightening your back.
The Third Element of Good Balance
The third element is lowering your center of gravity to boost stability. Essentially, this is an unconscious movement for whenever an individual felt that his or her balance is disturbed; the person instinctively bends his or her knees to lower the center of gravity. However, like in the previous element, a lowered stance reduces mobility.
Another factor that impacts stability is the size of the fighter. A large fighter has much greater stability due to his large mass compared to a small stick fighter.
Why you Need Good Balance
The primary objective of understanding the principles of stability and balance is to fortify a fighter’s own base as well as to know how to destruct that of the opponent’s.
The Destruction of Balance in Escrima Stick Fighting
Destroying the balance of your opponent and making him fall will yield numerous advantages in an Eskrima fight. Throwing an enemy to the ground could cause some injuries, particularly trauma, that can lower his fighting abilities.
Disrupting the balance of your enemy is not that difficult if you know and understand structure according to stability and balance. The main idea here is not to go toe-to-toe especially if you are facing a large foe, but making the most of leverage points.
For instance, walking is controlled falling, wherein the balance is achieved while moving using the rhythmic shifts of your weight between the right and left foot. However, disrupt that rhythm by hitting a foot before it hits the ground, the person falls very easily.
The foundations of Balance
The majority of people would want to fight standing up-right, which means that their center of gravity is resting on two legs – the foundations.
Aside from visual calculations, we maintain balance via a fluid found in the inner ear. Along with sensitive hair cells, this fluid detects and moves around based on gravitational pull. Therefore, striking your enemy on the ears with your palms is an extremely efficient way of disrupting his balance.
As previously mentioned, the desired balance in FMA is dynamic, not static. This quality can only be improved by practicing “live” with a partner on different types of terrain.
Traditional Methods of Performing Filipino Martial Arts
One traditional method performed in FMA is to practice on half coconut shells. It sharpens balance as the body learns and adapts to achieve the proper equilibrium and structure on various bases. This ability to attain balance is connected to the student’s kinesthetic sensitivity level, fitness, strength and his relaxation ability.
Check out this video to see the moving balance of Filipino Stick Fighting in action: