By Jeff Patterson 6/29/09
The foundation of escrima training starts with a good stance (pagtayo). A good stance will allow for powerful and effective offensive and defensive maneuvers. Some stances will be used more for offence or for defense and some are used mostly as transitional positions giving you the option of moving from attack mode to defensive mode and changing up the rhythm. It is easy to show someone the basics of individual stances for escrima training, but they take years to master. You will need to know how to do the stance stationary, moving all directions, in combinations with other foot work, under pressure, changing rhythms etc… Mastering the many different stances and foot work used in escrima training are extremely important with building a solid foundation for escrima and in other martial arts. Here are some of the basic stances used in escrima training.
One of the most commonly used stances in escrima training is the forward stance. The feet are approximately shoulder width distance apart and an average to long step forward with one leg. The rear foot heal is off the ground for mobility and the lead foot is either straight forward or slightly turned inward. Knees are bent for stability and strength weight will be approximately sixty percent on the lead leg forty percent on the rear leg (this is just a general guide weight is always moving with changing rhythms and elevations to set up attacks and counter attacks). The forward stance in escrima trainingis very effective for power striking, good for mobility and changing to other stances.
The back stance has the same foot positions as the forward stance but the weight is more over the rear leg. This stance is used more for defense and allows you to launch counter attacks. When using this stance with your escrima workout make sure to keep the front knee bent to avoid injury and to stay more mobile.
The cat stance is often used in combination with the back stance giving you more room to yield the attack. This is a short stance that allows for quick movements, space to yield and the ability to counter quickly. The feet are approximately shoulder width stepping a half step forward with the lead leg touching the ball of the lead leg foot. Ninety percent of the weight is on the rear leg and only ten percent on the lead leg. This makes it easy for you to move the front foot without changing your weight. With the cat stance you are not near as stable as the forward or back stance, but it does have a place and is proved to be effective with escrima training and other martial arts.
The horse stance in escrima training gives you power for defending attacks from the side. You are in a wide two shoulder width stance feet slightly out about ten to twenty degrees, knees are bent and weight is low and equally distributed. This stance also limits the number of vulnerable targets on your body exposing only one side to the opponent. This stance however is weak in mobility and makes it difficult to be quick on your feet. Escrima training is very fluid and important to have good mobility so the horse although effective for its purpose it not seen as often as some of the other positions.
The cross stance is used mostly as a transitional move in escrima training. Good for angling away from the opponent and for counter attacks. Step forward with one leg and turn the foot out ninety degrees looking the direction of the lead leg foot. The front foot carries about seventy percent of the weight. This stance is not very stable and best used as a transitional stance.
This covers some of the basic stances used in escrima training. It is important while training to focus on these positions they will help you to be more rooted in your stance, increase your response time, give you powerful striking ability and make your defense more successful. So through whatever movements you are learning always come back and evaluate your stances to see if you foundation is strong through the movements this will make your escrima training have more meaning and depth. Remember, with training your goals are what you make them if you put in the sweat and hard work and focus you can do almost anything.