One of the major concepts of Modern Arnis is footwork. In short, proper footwork creates favorable angles for the player.

To do this, we utilize 45-degree footwork. By utilizing proper footwork, we can protect our centerlines while attacking an opponent’s centerline. More importantly, protecting your centerline is an essential function of this concept. Likewise, positioning yourself to attack his centerline is critical as well.

A superb example comes from this phenomenal video analysis of Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns.

If you are not able to view this video, click here.

Note that the video makes the following points:

  1. Proper footwork prevents your centreline from being exposed;
  2. The great boxers maneuver so that their opponents are squared up, thus exposing their centreline;
  3. Look closely at 5:42. Hearns’ footwork resembles the two-step footwork of Modern Arnis;
  4. The last part of the video, starting at 6:15, discusses protecting the centreline.

I have previously discussed this topic. However, that post delved only into the technical aspects but not the tactical and strategic reasons for proper footwork.

Let’s take palis palis to explore this concept further.

The original video here.

As Alex attacks with angle #1, I sweep his cane and wrist to the other side, while stepping off to the side. At this point, I have the positional advantage.

To be more precise, see the image below. You will notice that Alex is in no position to attack my centerline. In contrast, because of my footwork, I can now attack his centerline with a #5 thrust.

Positional advantage of palis palis against Angle #1
Woo! I have the advantage over Alex!

I will argue that one difference between boxing and Filipino Martial Arts is that, in addition to footwork, is the body torquing required to make a technique work. Body torquing does not work well without footwork.

One example is the execution of the abanico corto technique.

Original video here.

Note that I step with my right foot and, simultaneously torque my body to execute the abanico corto technique. At the end of this technique, I end up perpendicular to Dref and occupying his centerline.

An even better example is the abanico corto technique against angle 1.

Original video here.

You will notice that I step to the left with my left foot while executing abanico corto against Alex.

Take a look at the end of the technique. Unless Alex immediately counters, Alex cannot attack my centerline. On the other hand, I have him dead to rights. 🙂

End of Abanico Corto against Angle #1
Alex is at a severe disadvantage here.

Some Modern Arnis techniques can be utilized to either expose your opponent’s centerline or to protect yours. And this can be done simultaneously.

All the techniques in the world do not mean a thing unless you are aware of both yours and your opponent’s centerline. Ideally, you should simultaneously expose your opponent’s centerline and protect yours.

And this means moving to achieve those aims. As mentioned above, proper footwork creates favorable angles and favorable angles, in turn, should expose your opponent’s centerline, while protecting yours.

Why is the centerline so important?

Wing Chun players like to point out that many vital points exist on the centerline and that the most effective way to shut down an opponent’s attack is by attacking his/her centerline. I have often told my students that attacking an opponent’s shoulders, arms and legs do not cause as much damage as attacking the centerline.

In weapons oriented arts like Filipino Martial Arts, protecting the centerline is even more vital. I would rather take a hit on my shoulder than on my head. I’d rather get cut on the forearm than get stabbed in the aorta, conveniently located on the centerline.

Regardless of whether it’s martial arts or boxing, all the more reason to be aware of your centerline and MOVE!

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