The Bantay Kamay also called the hand or the living hand, is the secondary weapon of the Philippine Kali.
You can see it as an auxiliary weapon to be used in combination with the primary weapon for:
- to check,
- to monitor,
- to trap,
- to block,
- to cut,
Examples include the “empty” hand when using a single stick or the dagger when fighting with the sword and dagger.
In a Solo Stick situation (single stick), it is the empty hand, the dagger in the hands of Espada Y Daga and auxiliary in the secondary stick in Doble Baston (double sticks).
The living hand is the opposite hand which does not contain the main weapon.
If you are right-handed, it is the left hand and vice versa if you are left-handed.
It is called viva because it is actively used in combat as I said before to carry out fundamental actions in combat such as control, for blocking, for striking, for stopping (check) and as a support for disarmament.
In many of the techniques, the living hand is the greatest contribution to the success of the technique.
Guro Dan Inosanto often says in his internships that:
“If you ask a good Eskrimador to emphasize the important aspect that makes his work effective in combat, he will most likely respond to the use of the living hand.”
In his own book “The Filipino Martial Arts”, Dan Inosanto refers to himself as a “living Hand” in Eskrima, mainly talking about the fighting against the Spanish sword where he reads
“During the Spanish kingdom in the Philippines and in combat situations where the ancient Filipinos fought against the Spanish with a single sword, the” living hand “played an important part in confusing the Spanish fencing.”
When an Eskrimador wields long arms and court, as in the case of Espada Y Daga, which is a technical aspect that has been borrowed from western fencing, the “living hand” is the hand that holds the shorter weapon.
In the West, historically, the dagger was originally used mainly for parrying.
Related to 16th century fencing techniques, Aldo Nadi in his book “Nadi on fencing,” he wrote, “most of the parades were done with the dagger, or moving the body out of the line of attack.”
Very often, the living hand is the one that holds the opponent’s armed hand or the arm in position after the defensive movement that has stopped or deflected the shot and is, therefore, a fourth position close tool.
It is the transition between the fighter’s defensive movement and his counterattack.
Without the live hand that holds the opponent’s hand in a “safe” place, his weapon could easily be returned again before you have time to make your counterattack.
During the Spanish kingdom in the Philippines and in combat situations where the ancient Filipinos fought against the Spaniards with a sword, the living hand played an important part in confusing the Spanish fencing.
This was demonstrated in the southern Philippines where the rulers remained for 366 years without ever falling under the Spanish kingdom.
When the live hand is not used, it is generally held near the center of the chest.
The use of the living hand (Bantay Kamay) is developed during the free flow drill exercises.
The Bantay Kamay you have to use it to do many actions and it is very versatile:
- Pigil (Jamming) – Stop a shot or an attack.
- Paayon (Flowing – Go with the force) – Deflect or redirecting a shot.
- Suntok-Tusok (Punch or Thrust) – a secondary attack during the attack of Staff Only or other weapons during the contact of the sticks or other weapons. Also known as Sogo (spear hand attack). It could also be a punch.
- Dukot-Batok (Head Lock or Grab) – A grappling technique or a throwing technique during the clash / contact of the two Solo Bastons. It can also be performed in multiple weapon situations using the Punyo (the final part of the stick or the pommel of the sword).
- Sampal-Kalawit (Palm Strike or Hook) – a palm stroke or a technique that takes a take down during the contact of the Solo Bastons that engage themselves. It can also be performed in a multiple weapon environment using the blade part (near the handle) of the stick or weapon.
- Saplit (Centrifuge Disarm) – a complementary technique that leads to disengagement or disarming the opponent’s weapon or weapons.
- Concierto (Coordinated – Tandem Weapons – Hands) – a blind side or internal technique that uses the Bantay Kamay in coordination with the primary weapon to perform a simultaneous counter-attack and control.
- Hawak-Sunggab (Hold or Grab) – the hand restraint system arms the opponent for the subsequent execution of a counter or disarm. the opponent’s armed hand retention system to execute a blow or a disarmament.
There are many other variations and definitions regarding the use of Bantay-Kamay, but I simplify them in two general classifications:
1) Salisi – (Starting direction)
a. Salising Papasok aka Salisok (Starting direction – Inside, aka Ops-in)
b. Salising Palabas aka Salibas (Starting direction – Outside, aka Ops-out)
Furthermore the movements are classified as:
– Planchada (Horizontal)
– Aldabis or San Miguel (Diagonal)
– Bagsak or Bartikal (Vertical)
2) Concierto (Coordinated Movement / Tandem)
a. Papasok (Inside)
b. Palabas (Outside)
These classifications describe the relation of the aggressor’s blow to himself.
If the arm or weapon of the aggressor is pushed towards the body of the same aggressor, it is classified as inward (inward) and vice versa external (Outward).
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