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  • Writer's pictureRobert Parkes

Three Ways of Largo Mano

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

In the Filipino Martial Arts different systems of Eskrima are often defined by their emphasis on methods of fighting applicable to a specific range. For example, Balintawak is frequently defined by its emphasis on "Corto Mano" (literally "Close Hand") or close-range fighting techniques, where you are close enough to hit the opponent's head or body with the butt of your stick, and your free hand is deployed as a tool for parrying, redirecting, jamming, etc. Likewise, Estokada De Campo is known as a "Largo Mano" (literally "Long Hand") or long range fighting style. Frequently, De Campo 123 Original will also be placed in the Largo Mano camp, though it often doesn't stay in Largo Mano range as a fight progresses, but tends to move in offering a barrage of "meteoric strikes" to end the exchange.

However, it is worth noting that there are different ways of understanding what is meant by Largo Mano, and exploring three of them is the purpose of this blog post. We often talk about Largo Mano as if it is:

(1) simply a range of combat (the distance at which I can hit the opponent’s hand with my stick but not yet his body); or

(2) as a style or fighting / combative tactic, in which we “defang the snake” (strike the weapon hand) before closing to typically finish the fight by striking the head.

We rarely talk about Largo Mano as:

(3) a way of using the body, akin to “Long Fist” in Chinese Martial Arts, where even in Medio Mano or middle range (the distance at which I can hit the opponent’s body with my stick) or even Corto Mano (the range at which I can make contact with the pommel of my weapon), we can use body weight shifting and a lower stance, to continue to strike with the last three inches of our weapon. In this situation, using a "long body" and a "lower stance" we can ensure powerful strikes even while in close range (you can see this in the San Miguel Eskrima system, for example); and many Largo systems will also use some form of long body or body weight shifting "Lastiko" (Rubber Band) method as the equivalent of the boxer’s bob and weave to evade, or to adjust striking distance.

You can see elements of this third way of Largo Mano in the movement of Master Jomalin Caballero in the video below, particularly in the way his body sways from side to side and his knees remain bent.

When understood in these three ways, Largo Mano becomes (1) a range of combat; (2) a combative style or strategy; and (3) a way of using the body despite the range one finds oneself in. In the sparring video that forms part of this post, there are elements of all three forms of Largo Mano being presented during the exchange.


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