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Recently, I read “The Straight Lead” by author Teri Tom. Hands down, this is one of the best martial arts books I have ever read. In summary, this book describes the history, science, and mechanics of the core punch of Bruce Lee’s JKD, the straight lead. The author is a student of Ted Wong’s and writes regular columns for “Inside Kung Fu” and is a very talented writer. Unlike the vast majority of the “how to” martial arts books on the markets, Ms. Tom goes into detail the science (notably using Newton’s Law of Physics) of the straight lead and illustrates the science with numerous illustrations and photographs. She provides a fascinating insight into Bruce Lee’s development of this punch and reveals that Bruce based this technique largely on Western fencing and early 20th century boxing. The result was the development of a non-telegraphic punch that combined speed and power. She starts with the proper stance, progresses to footwork, the mechanics of the punch and finishes with the delivery of the punch, all the while, explaining the scientific foundation for each aspect of the straight lead. I highly recommend this book.

While this book does not directly talk about Filipino Martial Arts, it does illustrate a concept that many FMA practitioners have long known and that is the most difficult attacks to defend against are thrust type of attacks (like angles #5, #6, #7, #10, and #11 of Modern Arnis) for the reason that it is difficult to detect and defend against such attacks. Like the straight lead, thrust type of attacks are difficult to see. For example, it is extremely difficult to detect a #10 thrust (to your left eye) as you don’t see as much of the cane as you would for a #1 attack. Likewise, there is not much time or margin for error for detecting and defending against a #5 thrust to the abdomen, particularly if you are in the medio or corto range. On the other hand, you have a better chance of success against angles #1 through #4 for the reason that they are easier to see. For those reasons, the thrust type of attacks deserve extra attention in the dojo.


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