Kawit, empty hand, checking hand, the good hand. Terms i have heard to describe the weaker of the two hands. I know there are many styles of FMA that focuses on different aspects of the style such as footwork or power or even the ranges. There are even styles that teaches doble sobliti (double stick) first. All I believe are important. And what I believe to be more important is the kawit hand or empty hand. As practitioner we know that we differ from the other Martial arts by the teaching of weapon first but another “hidden” aspect is the checking hand. The checking hand although more predominantly taught to media and corto fighters it is essential to us. The empty or kawit hand is there to manipulate our opponent by placing their weapon wherever we choose, by controlling the tempo and the be able to generate a large amount of force in confined spaces.
The checking hand allows us to not only the obvious which is check the opponent’s hand but to control it as well. With our checking hand we can manipulate our opponents weapon hand and their body. And if your checking hand is sensitive enough you wouldn’t even need to look at your opponent but because you have a tactile connection you already know what he or she is going to do just by the feel of their weapon hand.
Another aspect of the kawit hand is controlling your opponents speed. Because you manipulate your opponent you can set them up to move their body is a position where it would take them an extra 4-5 seconds to reset while only taking you 1. So to your opponent it looks like your faster but in reality you just made them slower.
One of the biggest critics against corto style fighting is the lack of power. Because they’re not enough space to generate the proper velocity to ensure maximum damage. But excecuted correct you can us your checking hand to move your opponent towards your weapon while your weapon is moving toward your opponent. Thus generating twice the amount of power in less space.
As you can see the kawit is a strong weapon min any FMAers arsenal. And to sum it up here is what I tell my students.
“Your weapon hand kills your opponent, the other one saves your life.”
-Francis T. B. Serrano
Guro Visayan Legacy Association