Last week, I wrote about 3 Ways To Grab The Cane in which I offered ideas on opportune times to grab your opponent’s cane in the context of tapi tapi play. Grabbing the cane is often referred to as “stealing the lead” in some Filipino Martial Arts circles.

“Stealing the lead” is a relatively simple skill to learn. Grab the cane and you’re in charge. The trick is to look for the right time and opportunity.

But what if you don’t want your opponent to steal the lead? What if you want “to keep the lead?”

Ah, that requires elevating your skill level and possess better timing than your opponent.

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One of the Bamboo Spirit Flow Drill teaches this skill at a basic level. On the surface, this drill teaches the student how to counter their opponent’s attempt to clear their stick. On a deeper level, it’s really about keeping the lead.

For example, take a look at this:

See 0:43 of the video

Alex is attempting to clear my stick and, thus, steal the lead.


Who does Alex think he is? 


Ahem, anyway, in the above video, I end up “keeping the lead” by countering Alex by using his cane against him. For those in Modern Arnis and other Filipino martial arts, this is not exactly a big reveal. However, to new students or to those without much experience, this is an important skill to learn, albeit on a more basic level.

On a more advanced level, I would not give Alex the opportunity to grab my cane in the first place. Why stay in one place long enough to allow your opponent to grab your cane? If you play with someone who is moving constantly with speed and superb timing, it will be difficult to grab their cane. In essence, by constantly moving, they are keeping the lead.  Below is a good example.

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By moving constantly, GM Vedua is able to prevent his son from stealing the lead and thereby remain in charge. With time, experience, and lots of practice, ways to steal the lead against a faster opponent can be found.

Sounds like an arms race, doesn’t it?

You steal the lead, I’ll find a way to keep the lead. Then you find yet another way to steal the lead. I’ll find a counter and keep the lead. So on and so forth. All of this action can occur in a blink of an eye.

The fascinating thing is that stealing and keeping the lead isn’t necessarily limited to grabbing your opponent’s cane. Mind-bending, eh?  That’s for another day. 🙂 

As Professor Presas used to say all the time “you must counter the counter!”

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