In Modern Arnis, we emphasize the usage of both the left hand and the right hand. This is largely because Professor Presas was a lefty who trained his right hand in stick and blade techniques. Over the course of his life, he became quite proficient with the stick in either hand. In facing a left hand stick fighter such as Professor, right handed stick fighters often did not know how to deal with left handed techniques. For this reason, the left hand was Professor’s “ace in the hole.”
Professor emphasized the practicality of learning both the left and right hand in Modern Arnis. What if one of your hands is injured? Why not switch to the other hand? For most students, learning left handed techniques is often awkward. With practice, one will become increasingly comfortable in using the left hand.
However, ambidexterity in Modern Arnis goes beyond which hand holds the stick. Ambidexterity in the use of the check hand is vitally important. If you are holding the stick in your left hand, you had better make sure that you are using your right hand as an effective check hand. As noted in a previous post on the check hand: “Examples include using the check hand to check an opponent’s attack, holding his arm, deflecting, punching, baiting, feeling your opponent’s movement, disarms, lifting and clearing, grabbing, pulling, off balancing, joint locking, and so much more.” The check hand can assist in misdirection, broken rhythm and timing as well.
Feel like going into the rabbit hole yet?
As one can see, merely holding a stick in the left hand does not really scratch the ambidexterity surface in Modern Arnis. While learning how to wield stick in the left hand, one must simultaneously learn how to use the right check hand and use the aforementioned multiple concepts. The check hand often will guide your stick response. At other times, the check hand may effectively set up the opponent for an empty hand technique. The possibilities are endless.
That’s touching only upon the “offensive” side of the equation. The use of the check hand, whether it be the right or the left, is vitally important in defending oneself and initiating a counter attack.
To become equally proficient with the right and left check hand takes years of practice.
So yes, one can claim “I can fight with the stick in my left hand.” That’s all well and good but can you use your right check hand? If not, a vital tool is being ignored. Ambidexterity means so much more than just which hand the stick is in.