Bantay-Kamay (lit. guardian hand) is the secondary weapon in the
FMA. In a Solo Baston (single stick) situation, it is the
empty hand, the Dagger hand in Espada y Daga and the
auxiliary/secondary baton in Double Baston.
The live hand is the opposite hand that does not contain the main weapon. If you are right handed, it is your left hand. It is referred to as being alive because it is used actively in combat for checking, blocking, striking, and as support to the disarms and locks. In many of the techniques, the alive hand is the major contributor to the success of the technique.
Guro Dan Inosanto once said, "If a good Escrimador were asked to point out the singlemost important aspect that makes his fighting work, chances are he would refer to the use of the alive hand."
Most often, the alive hand is the one that holds the opponent's weapon hand or arm in place after the defensive motion has stopped or diverted the blow and is, therefore, a close-quarter tool. It is the transition between the fighter's defensive motion and his counterstrike. Without the alive hand holding the opponent's hand in place, his weapon might easily return again before the fighter has time to make his counterstrike. During the Spanish reign in the Philippines, and in combat situations where the ancient Filipinos fought against the Spanish in swordplay, the alive hand played an important part in confusing the Spanish swordplay. This was especially true in the southern Philippines where they were unconquered for 366 years.
the alive hand is not being used, it is generally kept near the
center of your chest.
Use of the Bantay-Kamay is developed during free-flow drills. The Bantay-Kamay may take the following functions/actions:
1. Pigil (Jamming) - stopping a strike or attack
2. Paayon (Flowing - Go with the force) - redirecting a strike
3. Suntok-Tusok (Punch or Thrust) - a secondary attack during Solo Baston or Multiple weapons drill/engagement. Also known as Sogo (Spearhand attack).
4. Dukot-Batok (Head Lock or Grab) - a grappling or throwing technique during Solo Baston engagement. May also be executed in Multiple Weapons environment by using the Punyo (butt or pommel).
5. Sampal-Kalawit (Palm Strike or Hook) - a palm-strike or hooking technique leading to a take-down during Solo Baston engagement. May also be executed in Multiple Weapons environment by using the blade portion (near the hilt) of the stick or weapon.
6. Saplit (Centrifuge Disarm) - a complimentary technique leading to disengagement or disarm of the opponent's weapon(s).
7. Concierto (Coordinated/Tandem Weapons/Hands) - a blind side or inside technique that uses the Bantay-Kamay in coordination with the primary weapon to execute a simultaneous counter-attack and control.
8. Hawak-Sunggab (Hold or Grab) - the restraint of the opponent's weapon hand for the subsequent execution of a counter or a disarm.
There are many more variations and definitions regarding the use of the Bantay-Kamay, but they can be classified under two general classifications:
1. Salisi - (Opposite Directions)
a. Salising Papasok aka Salisok
(Opposite Directions - Inwardi, aka Ops-in)
b. Salising Palabas aka Salibas
(Opposite Directions - Outward, aka Ops-out)
in addition the movements are classified as :
- Planchada (Horizontal)
- Aldabis or San Miguel (Diagonal)
- Bagsak or Bartikal (Vertical)
2. Concierto (Coordinated/Tandem Movement)
a. Papasok (Inward)
b. Palabas (Outward)
These classifications are descriptive of the relationship of the counter to the attacker's striking arm. If the attacker's arm or weapon is pushed towards the attacker's body, it is classified as inward and vice-versa.
"The live hand is the real weapon." - Dan Inosanto