A hundred people or more have asked me this. This past Saturday, after Charles got done schooling Erique and I on the mat, Erique turned to me and asked in frustration why he was taking so many head shots?
The most important thing a stick fighter or sword-machete fighter can do to limit head shots is to increase the amount of time his weapon is in high guard and also how often his moving weapon passes through high guard.
This single issue is so important it is the only one I will discuss here. After you fix your X pattern we’ll move on to other causes for permitting head contact.
Every FMA style practices some kind of X or Figure-Eight flow drill. More FMA work in mixed styles and self-defense oriented styles tends to be done with knives rather than sticks. This is true of Kali and escrima in general and is one area where Arnis [stick, named after the competition jacket] styles have an advantage with extension weapons.
The X-pattern with a knife tends to flow almost horizontally [this accesses those bilateral lung stabs and carves his thrusting hand up], as if the X were laid across your chest, with the cross-segment at the solar plexus.
When this X-pattern is used with longer weapons your weapon ends up out to the side too often. With longer weapons you want that thing in high guard either over top or on either side of the head as often as possible. Closed gates on this level must be achieved as often as possible, with your footwork taking care of your low gate and your mid gates addressed with beats and checks from above.
Recall, that with a knife, the body is just as much a kill as the head, but with a stick, the head is the only kill shot.
So, when stick or long- blade fighting, never stroke two beats in a row to the mid and low gates and make your point of reference and return the shoulder-crown area [high gate] on one side or the together. Your X-pattern should be vertically elongated, not laterally elongated.
Any time you go low, return high.
Any time your stroke sequence carries your weapon away from your power points [top of head, shoulders, elbows, hips] or access gates, fix that stroke and find it a port closer to home.
This does not mean that the hand is always high. Your hand need only return to the hip and the weapon will still cover your neck [with a machete] and your head with a stick.