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Author Topic: Bilateralism  (Read 12600 times)
Power User
Posts: 42556

« on: December 13, 2004, 08:00:56 PM »

Woof All:

From a recent thread on the Eskrima Digest:

Guro Crafty

Turning to the subject at hand,  be it left or right,  I misplaced the issue
with Kim's post but IIRC correctly the gist of it was that many people may
talk ambidexterity but not walk ambidexterity.

This, as far as it goes, is true.

Briefly reprising points made here over the years:

1) Whereas single lead boxing structures (e.g. a righty always having the
left foot forward) develop both sides of the body, single stick structures
as trained by most people tend to increase the difference between dominant and complimentary sides.

2) Fastest initial results may come from working single stick in standard
lead.  IMO this tends to lead to physical imbalances over time.  For many
people double stick takes substantially more training time before good
results are obtained in fighting.

3) People tend to avoid true ambidexterity work because it messes with the ego to work the complimentary side in the dominant function.

4) If the disparity between dominant side and complementary side has been increased by working single stick dominant side first, it becomes even less likely for most people that they will ever really go to work on the complimentary side in dominant function because it will be an even larger "ego bubble pop" to do so.

5) A common response to this ego chatter is to think that matching siniwali drills (right meets right, etc) show ambidexterity.  Under pressure, such training often reveals results exactly as Kim comments.  This is, I think, because in the drills that most people do, the complimentary hand is, in effect, slip streaming the coordination of the dominant hand.  My sense of it however is that true skill is best achieved by the complimentary side of the body being trained in dominant side movement BEFORE the dominant side learns the movements in question.  This explains why lefties who must undergo learning on the right side first in order to "fit in" over time often produce stellar ambidexterity results.  Those of you familiar with Chad Stahelski, may use him as a good example of this.

My own experience was that as I began sparring in 1986, and then fighting in 1988 was that I could not really manifest double stick at all and I didn't bother trying for many years.  After my serious knee injury in 1992 I had about 18 months of recuperation during which time I invested some focused time working single stick in my left hand.  Around 1995 I gave fighting siniwali another go, and although the results showed things that needed work, it went well enough that I entered into several years of fighting only siniwali. I now have a strong preference for siniwali.

I have put considerable thought into this for Dog Brothers Martial Arts.
(BTW, as we define it, empty hand is a subset of siniwali)  DBMA has as its mission statement "To Walk as a Warrior for all One's days."    This
includes developing the physical skill sets for 360 situations, amongst them ambidexterity and bilateralism and siniwali is an important part of this work.  The teaching syllabus is organized so that these skills are taken to fighting level in a lot less time than it took me to figure it out. smiley

So far it seems to be working for several of my fighting students who are
manifesting the material very nicely

Crafty Dog.

PS:  QUESTION:  My understanding is that monkeys do not have dominant and complimentary sides.  Why is it that we do?

Woof All:

Responses interspersed:

> From: "" <>
>> Subject: Re: [Eskrima] Lefty, Righty, Ambidextrous, Matched and
>  Unmatched, and bilateralism
> Reply-To:

> Marc, I got to say that's an inspiring post.

Tail wags.

>, , ,  Sometimes you have to put your ego down.  I also admire working your working to improve even while you were recuperating.  I've been >wracked by one injury after another recently and that's good the hear.

Few things will mess with your ego like having your complementary side work in the dominant function-- combining stick and footwork is another.

The art and science of working around injuries is an important one,
especially the closer you play to your peresonal limits.

> A question:  When you say "sinawali", do you mean the kind of sinawali
pattern that people are used to (not necessarily the drills, but the
>motions) or is 'sinawali' here used to mean 'two sticks'?  Without giving
the store away, could you be more detailed about the lessons you >learned?

I am using "siniwali" here in the common and imprecise American usage of the term i.e. to mean "double stick".  It is my understanding that in the
Philippines the term is used to refer to "weaving" motions.  However, just
as Brazilians often use kimono to refer to a gi, in the US we often use
siniwali to mean double stick.  I suspect we do it because the foreign word
sounds cooler than "double stick" smiley

As for lessons learned, they are numerous and lengthy.  Perhaps another day.

> >PS:  QUESTION:  My understanding is that monkeys do not have dominant and complimentary sides.  Why is it that we do?
> Like you said, I'm often surprised where this list goes.  I would think
that it is a development in tool handling ability.  I think that hand
>dexterity goes hand-in-hand (pun intended) with the development of
intelligence, conceptual ability and speech, and that takes some rationing
>of brain reserves , , , .
> Why not develop the non-dominant hand?  I'm thinking it's a conservation of effort thing.  Most of us can use the non-dominant hand, just without as much dexterity.  I'm picturing a cave man flintknapping a stone tool: he (or she) can hold one stone in the non-dominant hand - in a multitude of positions - and let the dominant hand do the fine-tuned work, and things work just fine.  Same thing with weaving baskets, tying >knots, etc.

Certainly the idea of conservation is plausible and accords with principles
of evolutionary biology, but I'm wondering if it is more a question of
specialization of functions-- dominant and complementary as you point out in your next paragraph:

> It could also be that one-sidedness allows one to use one handed weapons easier.  Think of one of our ancestors throwing a spear.  Having a dominant side "knowing" it was the popropellant fource and the non-dominant side "knowing" it was a bracing force would be an advantage in >that middle range of our development when we were walking upright using tools, but not using language too well.  When you look at films of >apes attacking each other with branches, you don't have that same sophistication.  And, evolutionarily speaking, it would be far easier to hard->wire that in (with little downside, since for most of our time on the planet writing has not been widely used) than to set up a caveman dojo to >churn out cromagnon black belts in spear throwing after just five years.
> I also wonder if there's something about the division of the brain into
hemispheres, although one would think the motor part would be able to >
function indepdently.>

Hmm interesting point; this had not occurred to me.  Preliminary follow-up
question: Do (some or all) monkeys have hemisheres or is this distinctive to humans?

>All this is, of course, my being speculative.  If you're really interested,
I think Feldenkrais writes about this in some of his books.

Anyone able to narrow this down a bit?

> From:
> Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2004 17:31:10 EST
> To:
> Subject: [Eskrima] Re: Kim's lefty repsonse
> Reply-To:
> Hi Doc,
> The instructor I mentioned was Dan Inosanto, and yes, I was present.
> > I'm not for or against anybody on this point, just telling it from a
>lefties point of view; it is sometimes hard to relate to something unless you live it.  I am left dominant (both in strength and reflexes), and would never presume to have a righty train with his left as his dominant hand just because I'm not a right-hand dominant person.  I always ask a new student which hand they are most comfortable with before they begin training with me. My reasons for this are that righties often assume that it's just a matter of having the lefty put the stick in their right hand and train it this way from the beginning, and this will make a "righty" out of the person.  It doesn't work that way, trust me.  "Handedness" doesn't just refer to "hands"...we are also right or left dominant eyed, and this must be taken into consideration as well.

I think Guro Inosanto is left eyed BTW

> In the end, I find it's always best to let nature take it's course, which I
>believe was the cornerstone of the training, and later teaching, of one
>very famous martial artist....
> Kim Satterfield

This too makes sense.

Just in case it is necessary, a point of clarification:  I am not seeking to make righties into lefties or vice versa  Rather I seek to have movements learned on the complementary side.  In my experience, when learned in this way they are always natural to the complementary side and transpose readily to the dominat side.  Motions learned on the dominant side do NOT transpose readily to the complementary side.  At any rate, our goal over time is to have the option against any one opponent, be he right or lefty, to fight matched lead or unmatched lead and in 360 situations, in that there may not be time to select the preferred side, to not require having a particular side forward
as well as being able to play for field position in any direction.

Concerning empty hand, in the 1980s I thought I was doing well with
ambidexterity because I sparred using both leads.  Upon honest reflection I had to realize that this was not so.  When in Jun Fan or Kali single stick modalities,  I put the strong side forward, and when in Muy Thai or Savate modalities I put the strong side in the power position.  I agree that the dominant side will virtually always be better than the complementary side in the dominant function, but I still want to have, for example a humdinger of a left cross when fighting out of Right Lead against a Righty in Left Lead. One of the purposes of the approach I have outlined is to develop this.

This perhaps addresses the point made in this post:

> Subject: [Eskrima] Re: lefty/righty
> Hi Crafty,
> , , ,  BTW,  one of my major shortcomings in my training was to rely too much on my "left-side forward" stance, and carry it over to empty-hand.  I boxed for years, but still put the left side forward due to a very serious shoulder dislocation early in my career.  I had a helluva a left jab and hook, but had to think to get the right cross to fire.  I put twenty plus years into just drilling the right cross, but it still lags a bit.


> As for why monkeys have no dominant side, who knows, maybe they have both sides of the brain working as one unit, but don't want to give up the secret...

In which case maybe they are just making monkeys out of us , , , smiley

> Kim Satterfield

Crafty Dog

PS:  About 6 months ago I started taking Djembe Drum lessons (the Djembe is a drum from west Africa).  My teacher is pleased with me progress and feels that my double stick training has been of tremendous benefit to me in this endeavor.  He is a lefty and early in the process noted that I was playing as a lefty too.  He asked if I was a lefty too, but I replied that no, I am a righty.  So he asked me to play righty.  Thinking to apply my double stick theories I resisted but he insisted, only to discover that I did better as a Lefty in 4/4 rhythms, but better as a Righty in 6/8 rhythms.  Either way, it seems that I have above average abilities to play with my complementary hand in the dominant function.  In the long run he feels the ability to work with either hand in the dominant function will allow for higher level drumming.
Posts: 21

« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2004, 01:06:23 AM »

Hi I am a lefty and i find it much easier to a technique with on both sides of the body if I started the technique on the right, and i find i don't need to train the left any where near as much i can get away with doing half of what i do on my right and be equal if still not better on my left than my right. It is an instant advantage in sparring. As everyone else is basically stuck on one side. even with stuff they have drilled for years.

I have heard that one of the differences in men to women is the amount of connections between each side of the brain. One side controls left the other right. As a result most women do not have a distinction between left and right and often get them confused. kind of explains their ability to multi task, where as men tend to be more focused, tunnel vision, one track mind. Opens the door to all the jokes about guys not being able to find something in front of there face.

Have you found a difference when training women vs men?

I agree with the theory of training complimentary side first, even if it is not to perfection, as this will create a more relaxed and fluid approach later on.
Posts: 41

« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2004, 02:34:34 PM »

I broke my hand in August.  I was forced to use my left and train with it.
I gotta say, I am happy with the results.  For my first fights, I went all lefty and was happy.  Obviously, I would rather go righty, as that is my dominant side, but I really love the idea of being ambidextrous (sp?).
Sometimes an injury is a blessing in disquise.
When I lift kettlebells, all the top guys say to use your weak hand first, then the dominant one.  
Posts: 11

« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2004, 05:33:44 PM »

Being a relative newcomer to FMA, I can't really comment with any degree of expertise about handedness while wielding a baton. Having said that, I have a pretty long background in boxing, and am used to fighting with my non-dominant hand/side forward. Translating into using a baton, it feels unnatural to me to have it the other way I typically don't. In other words, I am A@@ backwards??? But it feels more natural. I feel more powerful using my dominant hand though??? Either way I am only able to focus on using one baton at this point, regardless of which hand I use. I would rate my footwork as "better than average" too either way.
I guess I am curious if anyone else has had the same or similar experience and if it ever evens out, or am I forever fated to be a "south-paw stickfighter"??
Power User
Posts: 42556

« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2006, 09:04:24 AM »

I recently saw that in Sonny Umpad's Balisong book that he too teaches the complementary hand the single weapon motions first for reasons that are quite similar.
Power User
Posts: 197

« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2006, 12:15:32 PM »

Quote from: Crafty_Dog
 My sense of it however is that true skill is best achieved by the complimentary side of the body being trained in dominant side movement BEFORE the dominant side learns the movements in question.  This explains why lefties who must undergo learning on the right side first in order to "fit in" over time often produce stellar ambidexterity results.  .

very interesting thread.
lefty here. i find the above in my case spot on. unofortunatelly i am still trying to make my orthodox stance in boxing/kickboxing as efficient as my southpaw.

thai70 hi, hope to see you this saturday along with everyone else. no i will not let you go righty either.
Dog Robertlk808
Power User
Posts: 544

« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2006, 02:28:29 PM »

Prof. Remy Presas was left handed by nature, he started training with the right handed to make it easier to teach right handed people which reminds me of that scene from The Prince Bride:

Inigo Montoya: You are wonderful.
Man in Black: Thank you; I've worked hard to become so.
Inigo Montoya: I admit it, you are better than I am.
Man in Black: Then why are you smiling?
Inigo Montoya: Because I know something you don't know.
Man in Black: And what is that?
Inigo Montoya: I... am not left-handed.
[Moves his sword to his right hand and gains an advantage]
Man in Black: You are amazing.
Inigo Montoya: I ought to be, after 20 years.
Man in Black: Oh, there's something I ought to tell you.
Inigo Montoya: Tell me.
Man in Black: I'm not left-handed either.
[Moves his sword to his right hand and regains his advantage]

And although I do not have concrete proof of how it helps in other ways,
due to the quick recovery of his motor skills after brain surgery, the doctors believed that it was due to the fact the he was able to use both left and right equally.

"You see, it's not the blood you spill that gets you what you want, it's the blood you share. Your family, your friendships, your community, these are the most valuable things a man can have." Before Dishonor - Hatebreed
Big Ash
Posts: 7

« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2006, 05:01:42 AM »

A few years ago whilst I was active in judo comps I read a book called "The martial art of wrestling" by Matt Furey. In the book he advocates learning a technique on your non dominant side first.

I practised this for a while and found that not only could I now fight effectively from both leads but my bilateralism improved by learning new techniques from my non dominant side first. I have just started applying this to my stick training and although it feels uncomfortable and awkward I can see the benefits once again.


"The more you SWEAT in training..The less you BLEED in combat!"

Heed the call -
Power User
Posts: 42556

« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2010, 10:36:18 AM »

Impressive display here of bilateralism on guitar
Power User
Posts: 42556

« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2011, 04:36:42 PM »

« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2011, 10:44:41 PM »

My college karate teach firmly believes that you should develop different moves and skills for each side of the body because they come off better with less confusion while under stress.

I don't have a very strong opinion on it myself, other than that when I have trained the complimentary side first I certainly found it helpful.
Power User
Posts: 42556

« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2013, 05:39:04 AM »
Power User
Posts: 42556

« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2015, 06:50:06 PM »
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