Thoughts on the Live Hand from 2006

Discussion in 'Dog Brothers Martial Arts' started by Crafty Dog, Nov 9, 2018.

  1. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    As one gets older it can be interesting to see how one's thinking has and hasn't changed over the years:

    Here's this from 2006:


    The Live Hand
    by Guro Crafty (c) DBI 2006

    Woof All:

    This matter of the live hand is one of interest to me. This is how we organize the thinking in Dog Brothers Martial Arts. Naturally, it is A way, not THE way.

    For me it began with noticing that Top Dog frequently based his initial impressions of someone's movement in great part upon the quality of the movement of their live hand. For example, his first comment upon seeing some footage of GM Tatang Ilustrisimo doing single sword that PG Edgar had given me was "Great left hand!"

    At the time I thought it odd, but gradually came to understand this as a matter of the whole body working as an integrated whole.

    Top Dog relentlessly commented on my dangling live hand. I took to calling it the "limp" hand so as to provoke myself into doing something about it ;-)

    Over time I came to see three common types of weakness with regard to the live hand.

    a) the limp hand
    b) the "Errol Flynn"-- flapping about behind the fighter as if he were some deranged version of Errol Flynn in a sword fight in a pirate movie
    c) the "frozen hand"-- locked into position somewhere, often on the chest, with that whole quadrant of the body being shut down.

    As a teacher, my particular bias is to install things correctly from the very beginning-- my sense of how people learn is that it can be very difficult to change first habits. For example, my son's pre-kindergarten teacher sat facing her students when she taught them to write and thoughtfully drew her letters so that the lines would appear to them as drawn top to bottom, left to right. Of course to accomplish this for herself she was drawing the lines bottom to top and right to left. My son cleverly saw this and learned to write exactly as she did: BOTTOM to TOP and RIGHT to LEFT. Arrrgghh. Naturally his handwriting was terrible.
    Arrrgghh. The struggles we have gone through to get this out of his system have been considerable. Arrrgghh.

    Because of the strong emphasis on bilateralism in DBMA (quite a subject in its own right) we seek to get two birds with one stone by teaching/learning single stick motions on the complementary side first (e.g. a righty would learn the motions with his left hand first). Apart from the benefits in bilateralism from this approach in getting the complementary hand able to move well when called upon to act in the dominant function, it also makes for the practitioner used to using well that quadrant of his body when the stick is moved to the naturally dominant side (a transposition which occurs easily and quickly when moving from complementary to dominant side, but not vice versa). In other words, even though only the dominant hand is holding a weapon, the primary modality is that the live hand moves just as much.

    It is only at this point (i.e. the achievement of an integrated live hand) that long and short motions are trained in their own right. (As conceived in the theory of DBMA, single stick is a subcategory of long and short-- the live hand being the short.) As some of the previous posts have pointed out in this thread, important issues must be solved in order to not slash or
    stab oneself. For the moment I limit myself to pointing out that, for
    example, a worthy ice pick stab requires the complementary hand to act well in the dominant function-- in a manner very similar to throwing a ball and this teaching/learning methodology is designed to install just such a skill.

    This is not the only way to go about it. Guro Inosanto, whose first three areas are single stick/sword/etc, double, and Long and short, has commented more than once that for Manong John LaCoste that L&S was the first area, double the second, and single the third area and has said that if he had it to do over again he would do it as Manong LaCoste did.

    I've never heard him explain why, but my guess is that when we learn single first, the disparity between the dominant and complementary hand tends to be increased, but if we learn L&S first, the complementary hand is fully integrated with the dominant from the beginning.

    The Adventure continues,
    Guro Crafty


    This is my idea of a good live hand in single stick:

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