What Do You Do When You Don’t Have Your Stick?
A: Thai boxing.
Some Filipino martial artists try to apply weapon techniques to bare hands. I think this is a poor idea. I don’t try to do long stick techniques with a knife. I don’t try to do long stick or knife techniques with my bare hands.
But some martial artists want to brag that their art is everything. “Stick, knife, machete, bare hands –it’s all the same techniques.”
To get a sense of how idiotic that is, try this: “Blow gun, spear, chainsaw, wrestling –it’s all the same techniques.”
I think martial artists who try to derive empty hand techniques from weapon techniques are like the Chinese, who tried to come up with fighting techniques for humans from watching animals. This doesn’t mean that all Chinese kung-fu styles are bad, but I do believe it’s a faulty premise.
Fighting like a snake would make more sense if you actually were a snake. Fighting like you were holding a machete would make more sense if you were actually holding a machete.
On the other hand, the Thais started with a different premise: What is the most effective technique an unarmed human can use? Those techniques were then tested in real combat, both in wars against neighboring countries as well as brutal full-contact matches.
I could try to invent some empty-hand fighting techniques by studying the machete, or the big stick, but why reinvent the wheel? Thai boxing is proven in combat. When Thais first fought kung-fu masters, even the Thais were shocked at how poorly the kung-fu fighters did.
Real matches serve as a laboratory to evaluate the effectiveness of the two premises: fighting techniques based on animal strengths or fighting techniques based on human strengths. The answer is clear.
When Filipino martial artists will get into the ring and compete with their techniques, we can evaluate their effectiveness. Until then, I will stick with Thai boxing.
Note: I studied Thai boxing with Khru Paul Metayo of Fresno, California, and Khru Ike Villaflores in Dumaguete, Philippines.