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Higot Hubud Lubud

Higot Hubud Lubud

We’ve noted elsewhere in this site that there is an incredible variety to the different Filipino Martial Arts.  Despite that, certain drills have become widespread, verging on universal among FMA practitioners. 

Perhaps chief among them is higot hubud-lubud, often just called ‘hubud,’ and usually translated as “to tie, untie, and mix.”  This is a medium/close-range drill, typically cited as a method to teach sensitivity.  Although it is most definitely a weapon-oriented drill, it is typically done empty-handed, and works very well in that role.

Here’s the general format:

A aims a right slap at B’s head.

B blocks with his left hand.

B uses his right hand to redirect A’s hand to his outside right.

B traps A’s hand with his left hand.

B responds with his own right hand slap.

And then the cycle repeats, with A blocking, redirecting, trapping and counterstriking.  

In Siling Labuyo Arnis, we view hubud primarily as a ‘possibility generator’, in the sense that a partner is feeding you strikes from various angles, in various combinations, and is actively trying to outfox you while he does it.  Although the format of the drill is fairly set, you don’t have any control over what your partner will do next.  

Unless one intentionally switches the feed to the opposite hand, the strikes always come from the same hand – which makes sense when weapons are employed.

The basic flow outlined above can be integrated pretty quickly, so we start to change elements of the drill – another common factor in FMA.  Many of these changes can be done to almost any drill, so even if you aren’t involved in a Filipino Martial Art, you can try this to liven up a night’s training.

Some Possible Changes

  • Different strikes – although the slap is the default, straight punches, elbows to the face or bicep, body hooks, and uppercuts are used as well
  • Switching hands – unless a switch is made, the drill will always repeat on one side.  There are several different ways to switch sides.
  • Insertions – while one hand is busy, there are plenty of opportunities to strike with the other hand, to various targets.  Alternately, add in a kick to the shins, in virtually any point of the drill
  • Break the rhythm – a key in FMA.  Rather than setting and keeping the same rhythm, the occasional ‘stutter’ has the capacity to really mess up a partner’s response
  • Crash the range / Open the range – hubud primarily works in the medio range, so a useful change is to either step out to largo range (forcing a change of drills), or to crash in to corto/clinch range (again, forcing a change of drills)
  • Change heights – although hubud is usually done standing, it can be done kneeling, sitting, with one partner on his back and the other in either the guard or mount position
  • Switch from arms to legs – once on the ground, the same drill can be done using the same motions but with the legs in place of the arms.  As well, it can be legs vs. legs, or legs vs. arms.
  • Add or mix weapons – have one or both partners with knives, swords, sticks, two knives, etc.
  • Break the drill entirely and go into sparring, and then try to go back into hubud.

There are essentially an infinite number of options just waiting to be discovered.  The more one can introduce variation to how the core training is applied, the easier it is to deal with a new situation.  Learning how to use your techniques against the widest variety of variables is a great way to develop and integrate them.

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The Basic Feed
Although there is a wide variety of possible strikes, the initial practice makes use of a slap or chopping motion to the side of the head



Grey strikes, White Parries

White moves his right hand into position…

…to manoeuver Grey’s arm out of the way

White presses down with his left hand as a controlling measure

Still monitoring Grey’s right, White prepares a strike with his own right hand

Grey parries White’s strike and the drill repeats with Grey blocking, passing, trapping and counterstriking.