Toward a More Realistic Espada y Daga

Espada y Daga is Spanish for “sword and dagger.” In this method the practitioner has a long weapon, such as a sword, machete, or stick in the dominant hand, and a shorter weapon—almost always a knife– in the other hand.

Espada y daga is not as impractical as it may seem. In many localities it is legal to carry a knife. If you have a stick, and you carry a knife with you, you are ready to go. I almost used my eskrima skills in real life combat only once, and that one time I had a stick in my car and I always carried a folding knife, so when I got out of the car, I had a stick in my right hand and a knife in the left.

There are a lot of very pretty espada y daga techniques. If you go onto You Tube you can see plenty of them. The basic pattern is the “expert” ties up the opponent’s stick, say with a snake disarm, then counters the opponent’s knife thrust, with the end result that the attacker is completely crossed up like a pretzel. There are also techniques where the opponent leads with a knife thrust, or the combatants trade stick blows, then knife thrusts.

But the question needs to be asked, “Are these realistic techniques?” “Are these smart techniques?”

If you look here, you see two guys practicing espada y daga. It looks like nothing, but this is realistic. If the opponent has a stick and a knife, are you going to get in close, and risk getting stabbed, or stay out at a distance? The whole purpose of the knife is to keep the opponent at a distance –anyone who rushes in to disarm you is going to get cut. You are not going to lead with the knife, either, because it’s too easy for the opponent to use his reach advantage with the stick to blast your knife hand.

The one time it almost came down to real combat, I had a stick and a knife as I was chasing a purse snatcher across an Albertson’s parking lot. I didn’t know it at the time, but he had a pruning knife. Although you can’t really stab with a pruning knife, it has a wicked curved blade like a sickle, which will tear you up in close.

So what was the better strategy?

1.  To close in and try to tie up the opponent’s arms while hoping that a photographer from Black Belt magazine comes by to get a picture of my wonderful technique, with the possible downside of getting ripped up by a pruning knife.

2.  To hit him with the stick from a distance, where he cannot possibly use his pruning knife against me, and stab him if he gets past the stick. The downside here is that I will never do espada y daga seminars or DVD’s, and people will go to sleep during my espada y daga demonstrations.

Once you eliminate the fancy moves, you can do espada y daga with almost anything, like a beer bottle and a folding knife, or a hammer and a screwdriver.

I was just reading on someone’s website about espada y daga “takedowns.” My idea of an espada y daga takedown is to hit someone in the head and watch him slump to the floor.


4 Responses to “Toward a More Realistic Espada y Daga”

  1. […] have previously written about how I think the espada y daga techniques commonly taught, with the eskrimador getting in […]

  2. […] course, a car can be used as a weapon. Maybe you remember me writing that the only time in my life I ever came close to real combat, I ran over a purse snatcher who was on a bike. But a […]

  3. Jamiir Ali Says:

    i agree with the notion of disarms in espada y daga..its pretty during demos but even the late gm illustrisimo and supreme gm leo t. gage shunned them and preferred cutting off the offending limb rather than an attempted disarm.

  4. I’ve seen some of the major styles or should I say the more well-known styles exercise stick/sword and Dagger tie-ups however if you have ever sparred with someone with a stick/ sword and Dagger you know it is next to Impossible to do a stick and Dagger tie up and that it is more practical to go hand hunting with the stick/sword but I will say that some of the stick a dagger techniques I have seen from the cabales serrada lock and block drill seem very practical and I have noticed that they shy away from such tie up techniques…i remember reading an article from GM pat marinas of the pananadata arnis system who replied “i do not practice stick and dagger tie ups because i love my skin too much “when asked about the subject.

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