“Stealing the lead” is a term often discussed in the context of tapi tapi. “Stealing the lead” means that one player has reversed the momentum of the other player and is driving on the other. In other words, one player has, in the blink of an eye, gone from a defensive mode to be on the offensive.

In the simplest terms, if the opponent presents his/her stick, you can steal the lead, usually by grabbing the other’s stick.

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The above video provides two examples of “stealing the lead.” The first example of stealing the lead is the standard clear.

Notice how Alex uses his left hand to clear my stick away? He has stolen the lead here and is now in the driver’s seat. Knowing when to take the offensive requires a fair bit of practice. The flow drill demonstrated in the video is one way that I teach the students how to “steal the lead.”

The second example provided in the video involves the backhand clear.

This time, I’m stealing the lead from Alex. Before I did so, Alex was in the driver’s seat. I need to flip the script here and go from being on the defensive to driving on Alex. The backhand clear gives me the opportunity to steal the lead.

Once you know where and when to steal the lead, you can then work on the timing. If you can predict with certainty the next move your opponent will make, you can time your steal to your advantage. Master Chuck Gauss provides an excellent example in the below video.

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Master Chuck makes it abundantly clear how following the stick or clearing Andy’s stick can result in devastating counters. Aside from the technicality of stealing the lead, do you get a sense of the mentality involved in doing so? This skill requires a certain mindset. If you are in a “defensive” mindset, the chances of pulling off a steal will be minimal.

On the other hand, if you possess an aggressive mindset, like Master Chuck in the video, stealing the lead will become second nature. Having said that, this concept requires practice. With practice, you will acquire the mindset to turn the tables on your opponent.

Along with the mindset to steal the lead, this concept also involves sensitivity to your opponent’s movement and energy. Otherwise, how will you spot the opportunities to steal the lead?

In conclusion, stealing the lead is an essential Modern Arnis skill, enabling one to turn the tables on an opponent, leading to a potential finish. Without this essential defensive skill, one will have a hard time dealing with a skilled opponent.

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