Every attack will have a counter, to which it will also have a counter. One can counter a strike, a lock, or a punch. The late Professor Presas often said “you must counter” or “you must counter the counter.” While this topic is related to the “Going with the Flow” concept, I will attempt to delineate between the two in this post.
I will focus more on the mental component of this concept rather than the technical aspects. The reason is that the technical elements will be too similar to the “Going With the Flow Concept.”
Implicit in Professor’s admonition to “counter the counter” is that the Modern Arnis player should possess mindset to counter any technique. The player, ideally, should think about counters when training with a partner.
That said, developing this mindset takes time. Seeing and practicing concrete examples of this concept helps as well. When I first started in Modern Arnis, intellectually, I understood the concept of “counter the counter.” But, like many beginners, I had difficulty actualizing the concept.
Ultimately, this means learning concrete counters from an instructor or a senior in the art. Attending classes, camps, seminars, training with a partner, taking private lessons, or watching videos will help develop your counter game.
On a regular basis, I will teach a class focusing on counters. Most often, I will use the Modern Arnis disarms as a base from which I can teach counters.
If you are not able to view the video, click here.
In the above video, I demonstrated four counters to disarm #1. My students will learn a few things:
(1) Ideally, counters should be executed without muscling through it;
(2) Usually, several counters are available to most attacks;
(3) The earlier you can pull off the counter, the better;
(4) Relaxation is key.
For me, giving my students concrete examples of the counter concept is key.
If you are not able to view this video, click here.
With respect to disarm #2, I demonstrated three counters. Additional concepts for counters include the following:
(1) If you grab the opponent’s cane, you have a fairly decent chance at a counter;
(2) If you can switch your cane to the other hand, you usually can counter;
(3) Let your opponent’s energy guide you to the appropriate counter. Relaxation is key for this.
Beyond the technical aspects of the counter for counter concept, why should we focus on this?
I would argue that it would be a mistake to assume an attacker is unskilled or inexperienced. Might it be better to assume that the attacker is either experienced or is skilled? By practicing counters, one will be better prepared for the unexpected during an encounter.
This brings us to the question: how do you develop proficiency in countering an attack or going with the flow?
Obviously, you need to train as much as possible to achieve proficiency. This means attending classes, training with different partners, attending seminars, camps, watching videos, and experimenting. In other words, you have to get down and dirty.
A word to the wise: start with one or two counters against a basic disarm for all 12 angles. Take your time in building the counter for counter knowledge base. Apply this to all areas of Filipino Martial Arts and you will slowly gain proficiency in the flow and counter for counter. Soon, you will be able to counter many types of attacks.
As the great boxing trainer Freddie Roach once said, “It’s a lot easier to counter when you know what punch is coming.” Ditto for Filipino Martial Arts! If you know what your opponent is going to do, you can counter!