Professor Presas used to say:

Do not get hypnotized by the stick.

What he meant by that was that, too often, people would get too caught up in using their rattan canes and forget about the importance of their empty or check hand. Sometimes it is referred to as the “alive” hand as it keeps you alive. This is especially important in corto range fighting systems like Modern Arnis.

The sensitivity developed through the use of the check hand is of singular importance in developing effective responses and counters to any attack launched by an opponent. 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.

While you are learning the various striking, thrusting, butting techniques with your stick, you must, at the same time, learn to develop your checking hand. In other words, you must develop BOTH the weapon hand and the empty hand. They work in concert; otherwise, one will not become adept at self defense/fighting.

An example is how Professor Presas taught the Six Count Drill. He always emphasized the use of the check hand in this drill. At the most basic level, you’re learning to insert your empty/check hand as you execute your stick technique during the course of this drill. As one will learn very quickly, if you don’t use your check hand in conjunction with proper footwork, you will suffer the consequences!

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