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The Fifth Element and the Five Ways of Attack

Updated: Feb 9, 2021


Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. When you know yourself, but you are ignorant of the enemy, your chances of winning or losing are equal, and for every victory will come a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you are certain to be in peril in every battle.

The Art of War, Sun Tzu



There are many ways to approach tactical training. In this short article I attempt to distill and synthesise strategic concepts from traditional Filipino, Japanese, and European Martial Arts. Specifically, I draw on Bruce Lee's (JKD) Five Ways of Attack (inspired by his analysis of Boxing and Fencing strategies); link it to various traditional tactical approaches found in the Filipino Martial Arts (borrowing heavily from the terminology used in the late Guro Tony Somera's book on Giron Escrima); and combine it with the Japanese Five Element Theory (particularly as articulated by Stephen K. Hayes).

THE EARTH ELEMENT (DIRECT COUNTERATTACK)

Controlling Positioning

Hand Immobilization Attack (HIA)


You are immovable, holding your ground (Defondo), dominating the centre, and defending the borders of your territory, smashing down or blocking the path of any attacks (Pisada), and repelling anyone who would encroach upon your space; thrusting the second they move (Songkete); or smashing through barriers designed to stop your advance (Pakusog). Your solid defences are experienced as impenetrable.