My teacher was very fond of the number three - The Trinidad he called it, and threes certainly appear as a consistent feature, not just in martial arts but in the whole human experience - waltzing, triangles, gua (trigrams), ba-DUM-cha ...... and on.
Sonny broke training down into 3 main flows -
1st flow - mostly out of range and picking targets by momentarily jumping into range and out again - the target is mostly hand and arm.
2nd flow - all about bridges, fighting from contact, either from an offensive or defensive move. Target is now more body (and head), but arm and hand too, as secondary.
3rd flow - considered the highest level, and only possible to understand after working through the first two. The main target is the body (and head), but there is no blade to blade contact, in fact the blade is held purposefully out of play, either down, or back, never tip out between the players. The entry/opening is created purely from body movement and blade manipulation in space, and the blade purely used to cut. (There is sometimes blade to blade contact on the exit, but not necessarily.)
3rd flow, as an idea, makes a great deal of sense when you understand the poor quality of the materials used in some of the original Filipino weapons, though all swords, even of the highest quality, tend to eschew edge to edge contact to preserve the brittle cutting edge. It is, however, hard to achieve, and feels incredibly counter intuitive.
(Just FYI - Some FMA systems train using the flat or the back edge to parry or block. Sonny used them too, but often preferred the angle of the edge bevel. He also always 'rode' the power of the strike to lessen the impact, even force to force.)
I was thinking about this yestarday at Sabre class - a classic 1st and 2nd flow system - with the blade always held tip forwards, guarding the space between the players. I asked my teacher if the 3rd flow game makes an appearance at all in this context, and he said not really - not that it's impossible to hit with no contact, but that it rarely happens.
So .... what are the parameters of the 3rd flow game? What dictates if it is an option, if it makes sense or not?
Size of weapon? Space? Weapon design? Context?
It does not makes sense in a point sparring sport where double hits don't count or right of way wins out, and it has to involve weapons with an edge, not purely stabbing/poking weapons ... and there must be 360 degree possibility of movement ...
I've seen it in samurai movies of course, and the single clean cut seems
to be held as a central aesthetic of Japanese swordsmanship ... and I
was taught it as the highest level of the Visayan Corto Kadena game
..... so ...... between the Japanese and the Filipino systems we have single handed - single edge - short swords, and double handed - single edge - long swords, both possible, also in battlefield and duel. Cane seems to fit the bill, and perhaps shorter stick too .....
Outside the parameters I have tip only weapons and double weapon ... maybe.