Larga mano addresses long range distance, i. e., when the opponents cannot reach each other without a decent step forward. The phrase is similarly used in Filipino Escrima and there are complete Escrima styles which only practise larga mano. Some of our larga mano training concepts and exercises are inherited from Escrima, however, there is a difference in the techniques. Largo mano Escrima is usually practised with a stick of about 80 cm length which is assumed to be a proxy for the kampilan. The kampilan is a single edged sword with a grip for two hands, but it is light enough to be wielded with a single hand. In fact, the typical larga mano techniques are performed with just one hand to increase the reach, and two handed techniques are mostly only used to finish off an opponent who has already been disarmed by strikes to the hand. Because the medieval longsword is longer and heavier than the kampilan, we practise all larga mano techniques with two-handed grip.
While larga mano Escrima is traditionally practised with wooden sticks, we use padded longswords, which allow to apply more power and speed in the strikes to the hands. Alternatively, wooden longswords and kendo gloves can be used, which requires more care to keep head and body out of the opponent’s reach.
The numbering of strikes is basically the same as for cerrada (cf. chapter 3), however, the low strikes (number 3 and 4) may be tilted diagonally upward and not exactly horizontal like in cerrada. Thus, the strikes are as follows:
Note that most Escrima styles discriminate five strikes (school of cinco terros), where the fifth is a thrust, but the numbering of 1–4 is different between styles.
The larga mano strikes are performed in long reaching swings with the point behind the body at the start and end of a strike. This is very different from the more compact cerrada strikes, which start from a block position and end with the blade in front of the body
In the exercises listed below, strikes are denoted by the number and steps are indicated by an arrow: ↑ means a forward step and ↓ means a backward step. For a step with the left foot, the arrow is to the left of the number, and vice versa. There are also sliding steps where first the rear foot moves half a step close to the front foot and then the front foot moves forward half a step, so that at the end the body has moved one step forward with still the same foot in front. This is denoted like ↑1↑.
Four steps forward, four steps back:
Partner A steps forward several times and with each step strikes to the head or body of partner B with the denoted strikes. At the same time that A steps forward, B steps back to keep his head and body out of reach and strikes to the hands of A. The angle of these counter strikes is not prescribed (as number 1, 2, 3, 4), but rather free and B should experiment which angles are most efficient to hit the opponents hands while keeping his own head and body (and hands) save. However, like the attack strikes, the defense strike has always to be in line with the body turn due to the stepping. E. g., if the left foot steps backward, the body turns to the left and thus the strike has to be from right to left.
Here the direction of the counter strike is against the direction of the attacking strike. Both partners start with the left foot in front, as indicated by the symbols before the colon.
The sequence is repeated ad libitum with roles reversed each time.
Here the direction of the counter strike is the same as the direction of the attacking strike. Partners start with different feet in front, as indicated by the symbols before the colon. The last (5th) attack strike is a low number 3 to the leg. While the attacked leg steps back, the counter strike is a long reach strike to the top of the head, a little bit pushed like a kendo strike. This is called a Scheitelhau in the terminology of Liechtenhauer’s Meisterhaue (cf. 5.2).
Note that A ends up with the right foot in front and B with the left foot in front, so that they can repeat the sequence with reversed roles.
These drills comprise a sliding double step, first rear foot, then front foot. All drills start with both partners left foot in front. There are two rows written for each drill. After two repetitions of the first row (second repetition with reversed roles), both partners end up with the right foot in front. Then the second row is repeated two times. Thus, every two repetitions, rows are swapped.
The attack strike sequences from all drills in sections 4.3, 4.4.2, 4.4.3, and 4.4.4 can be put together to form a solo practise sequence. With exception of the Scheitelhau from 4.4.3, we do not include the backward motion defense strikes, as their angles are not prescribed but to be developed by the practitioner.
There are two parts of the form, the first part with only regular forward and backward steps and the second part comprising also the sliding double forward steps. At the end there is another lane of regular back steps to return to the start position.
The second part can be practiced on its own in a cyclic manner as a complete larga mano striking exercise. Here, in order to perform the exercise in limited space, the steps with the attack strikes are no longer all forward like in the drills. The first part is included in the form in order to reflect the complete larga mano curriculum.
The first part starts with the left foot in front. This is just like the cerrada form ended, thus you can start with the cerrada form (cf. 3.4) and directly continue with the larga mano form.
Recall that 3l denotes a low number 3 strike to the leg; Sch denotes the Scheitelhau. The first part brings you four steps forward in total. This provides an appropriate starting point for the second part.
The second part is represented by the eight four strike sequences below. Each sequence starts with a step backward, then two steps forward (the second one a sliding double step, cf. 4.4.4), and finally a step backward. Then the next four strike sequence starts with another step backward, as denoted below. The first sequence starts with the left foot in front.
Taking the first and and the second strike of each four strike sequence as one double combination and the second and the third as another double combination, this comprises all double combinations. These combinations can also be practised in cutting tests.
In order to get back to the starting position, we conclude the larga mano form with four backwards steps as they occurred already in the first part:
When all the larga mano drills (section 4.4) have been mastered with some fluency, the student can proceed to larga mano free flow. Like in cerrada free flow (section 3.5), the partners attack and defend mutually.
In larga mano, the distance between the partners is so large that a strike to the head or body requires a step forward. Thus the attacker steps forward (either with a regular step or a double sliding step, cf. 4.4.4) and executes a larga mano strike number 1–4 (cf. 4.2) to the head or body. Maintain body unity by correctly synchronizing strike direction and footwork, i. e., if the strike is number 1 or 3, the right foot steps forward, if it is number 2 or 4, the left foot steps forward. Regardless which foot is in front before the attack, the attacker can choose any strike by applying the correct foot work (regular step or sliding double step).
While the attacker steps forward, the defender steps backward (always with a regular step) to keep his head and body out of reach and simultaneously strikes to the hands of the attacker, like in the drills. Similarly to the attack, strike and step have always to be synchronized (cf. 4.4.1).
During the larga mano free flow, each partner steps alternating forward (regular or double sliding step) and backward (always regular step) all the time. These repeated reverses of body movement direction can be quite exhausting in the beginning, but with improving foot work and balance (and stamina), it becomes successively easier.
There is an advanced variant of the large mano free flow where also attack strikes to the legs are allowed. These should be countered with a Scheitelhau (cf. 4.4.3). Either control the contact or use head protection.