Archive for espada y daga

Master Ted Lucaylucay

Posted in Masters and History with tags , , on January 11, 2011 by bigstickcombat

I met the late Master Ted Lucaylucay and spoke with him several times. One story he told me

The Late Master Ted Lucaylucay (on left) and one of my teachers, Tim Evans Sensei

stands out.

Master Lucaylucay lived in a very rough neighborhood in Los Angeles, in a home as part of an extended Filipino family. Next door were some neighbors who were fond of big parties. One night the neighbors threw a huge party and cars filled the streets, blocking off the driveway where Ted lived, so no one could get in or out.

Well, Master Ted decided he needed to talk to the neighbors next door so people in his house weren’t trapped. But there was a large crowd next door, the music was loud, and the booze was flowing (perhaps along with other illegal substances). It was a raw-looking crowd in a tough neighborhood, and there was no telling how they would respond to his request to move their cars.

So Master Ted came prepared. He was carrying his short stick and knife, in a Filipino style called “espada y daga,” which is Spanish for “sword and dagger.” Now only once at a seminar did my friend and I see Master Lucaylucay give a glimpse of what he was capable of, and I can tell you that it was jaw-dropping. I would not confront Master Ted with any weapon, let alone a stick and a knife.

Master Ted went up to the neighbor’s door, prepared for the worst. He wasn’t brandishing his weapons, but he wasn’t hiding them either. When the neighbor opened the door, the party was in full swing, and Master Ted politely asked if they would move their cars.

The Late Master Lucaylucay. Why yes, I'd be glad to move my car, sir.

To his surprise, the neighbors immediately agreed to move their cars, without any protest. As Master Ted returned to his house, he was thinking to himself how threatening he must have been, and how his mere presence and warrior’s self-assurance had caused the otherwise troublesome neighbors to fall in line.

It was in the midst of these thoughts of self-congratulation, walking back home with his stick and knife in hand, that he happened to look up.

“When I looked at my house,” Master Lucaylucay told me with an amused smile, “there was a gun barrel sticking out of every window, pointed at the neighbor’s house. I thought I was all bad with my stick and knife, when what the neighbors saw was my whole family and a house full of guns pointed out all the windows right at them.”

Like a true master, Master Ted had the humility to see his own failings  and to laugh at himself. This story has an important message for every martial artist –don’t believe your own press. And there’s nothing wrong with having a little backup.


The Back-Up Knife

Posted in American Arts, Technique, Videos, Weapons with tags , , , , on October 29, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Spyderco Wave Endura

Reader Sir James sent me the following e-mail:

Hi Darrin,

I was laying on the couch watching Hurt Locker and there is a scene where one solider is sitting on top of another in the mount and the one on the bottom pulls out a knife. This caused me to pull out my knife (Lone Wolf T2) which has a point down orientation and required a fair bit of manipularion to open from my prone position.

Now I know that a point up orientation is better for self-defence from when I used to carry a regular Spyderco Endura, and that got me to thinking about my newer Spyderco Waved Endura. A folding knife with a Waved feature opens (with a slight bit of practice) as you draw the knife out of your pocket because the hook catches onto the corner of the pocket. If not done right, it can lead to an open but not locked knife but that is where the practice comes in.

So for a folding knife to use from being on the ground I’d recommend a knife with a Waved feature.

In order of speed:

1. A fixed blade in a no-snap kydex sheath.

2. A locking folder with a Waved feature.

3. A locking (one handed) folder with a blade up orientation.

4. A locking (one handed) folder with a blade down orientation [This being the least desireable.]

Opening Directly from the Pocket

In reviewing the latest Dog Brothers video many fighters carry a back-up knife that they pull after the opponent has closed. In my correspondence with reader Tommy, we are both in agreement that the back-up knife is a serious option for the long stick stylist.

The question is, do you want to surprise a closing, grappling opponent with your blade, or should you make your blade visible to deter him from closing?

In my opinion, the real purpose of the knife in the espada y daga method is to keep the opponent from closing. The old “grab the stick” technique employed by so many masters becomes harder when a knife is involved. Rushing somebody with a stick and a knife no longer sounds like such a good idea.

Espada y Daga Revisited

Posted in Commentary, Other Stick Methods, Princples and Theory, Weapons with tags , , on March 17, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Let's See, I'll Just Cross Myself Up Here and...

Master Gatdula has a great post on espada y daga over at Filipino Fighting Secrets Live. What I like about this post is that it got me thinking. I’ve been mulling over the ideas in the blogpost, and I may eventually change my mind, but it’s made me examine what I’m doing and what makes sense.

I think the FMA is in danger of stagnating, as people repeat the same techniques, make the same assumptions, and train in the same unrealistic ways. The FMA is also in danger of becoming a caricature of itself, with outlandish costumes, exotic titles, and showcase weapons.

Master Gatdula’s points in italics are followed by my thinking

  • Spend more time practicing attacks than defenses. This is a WEAPON, not a shield!

Agreed. If you go on defense against a guy with two weapons, you’re in trouble.

  • Drop the silly knife while you’re at it. It’s your weak hand–develop it as a multi-use weapon. If it’s holding on to a knife, you have just eliminated any possibility of grappling with your opponent. You can’t grab him, you can’t full him, you can’t hold him.

This is the view of all of the Cebuano masters, that the fighter is better off with a free hand than with a second weapon. Since I am not a grappler, and prefer to hit over grappling, I prefer a second weapon or a two-handed weapon.

  • And nine times out of ten, you will probably never have a knife in your hand at the same time as a stick. You’d probably be more likely to be fighting with light sabers.

If you carry a knife on you, and carry a stick, a stick-and-knife scenario is not that far fetched. One of the few times in my life when it almost came down to real combat I had a stick and a knife. I would agree, though, that a stick-and-knife versus stick-and-knife scenario is extremely unlikely. You might as well plan on maneuvering your opponent into the path of a falling meteorite.

  • I doubt that you’ll have many reasons to kill a man. If you ever found yourself in a situation to fight to the death, drop the stick, put the knife in your strong hand, and gut your opponent quick.

I carried a knife for years, but you really need to think through the implications. Are you prepared to kill somebody? What are you going to do when there is a fight, but using a knife is not warranted?

Here Master Gatdula is raising the interesting strategy of abandoning the stick and focusing on using the knife. The reasoning is solid to me. I think the reason why this is a valid strategy is that the typical short stick lacks stopping power.

  • If you have subdued an opponent while you have sticks in your hands (you and your opponent) and you haven’t taken your opponent out by the time he knifes you in the belly, you’re going to die. Practice running-before-you-bleed-to-death technique. You aren’t going to catch your opponent’s blade with your stick.

This is sound advice. A knife is dangerous, and can get you killed. A stick-and-knife scenario is no less dangerous.

I Just Can't Get Enough of Crossing Myself Up!

  • Try this reliable, old trusty fighting strategy:  Stick and move. Attack your opponent, and then move.

The problem here is the “lock and block” training method. Master Gatdula mentions it earlier in the post. In lock and block, the feeder throws a stick strike, and freezes in a solid stance. You (or Grand Tahong Bukowski) do an eighteen move sequence. The feeder now throws a thrust with the knife, and freezes in a solid stance. You do another twenty strikes.

In real life those two strikes with the stick and dagger will come in like a 1-2 boxing combination, ba-bap! Your first move had better not be to block. You need to shut down the guy with the knife immediately. A good way to do that is to be mobile, move to the opponent’s outside, and either strike at long range or take him out with a head shot.

But I see these guys who want to move right into the teeth of a stick and knife attack and try to block, counter, block, counter, etc. In my view that’s insane. By staying mobile and out of range, you are able to confront just one weapon at a time.

Lessons Learned

Posted in Commentary, Other Stick Methods, Princples and Theory, Real Life Combat with tags , , , , on March 4, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Do You Really Want to Close Against This Guy?

Do You Really Want to Close Against This Guy?

In my last post I talked about how I view the real-life combat videos not as a form of entertainment, but as a necessary means of learning what real combat is like.

GM Latosa rightly pointed out that anyone who gets enjoyment from watching others suffer really is lacking as a human being. I remember when I taught at a hellish school in Fresno how the students were always unhappy. Students hated school, hated reading, hating teachers, hated writing, hated other students, and hated other ethnic groups (yet were quick to complain about racism, whether real or imagined). Soon I learned that when I saw students gleefully running on campus, beaming with sheer joy, it was because they were racing to see a fight, and the spectacle of seeing one student hurt another (and the more injury the better) was the only time on campus that they were ever really happy. It sickened and depressed me.

From the video the other day I learned a lesson. I am beginning to see a pattern emerge. When people fight against sticks, they tend to close. If you are getting hit with a stick, your instinct is to get in close where the stick cannot hit effectively, and where you can either tackle or choke your opponent, or wrestle the stick from him.

As a practitioner of the big stick, I expect the opponent to close. I am waiting for it.

But when people fight blades, they keep distance. This was evident in the machete video. Several men got relatively close to the machete wielder, but were very careful to stay just out of range. One guy could be seen wielding a box to help form a barrier between him and the man with the machete. No sane man is going to rush someone with a knife or a machete.

While you may not be able to hit like a stick with a machete in close, the simple act of sliding the blade along an opponent who’s hugging you can cause gruesome damage. There isn’t the safe inner zone against an edged weapon like there is against a stick. (My goal with the big stick is to work to eliminate an inside “safe” zone for an opponent.)

When I was was in Fresno I saw some guys demonstrate a style called “tinulisan.” A “tulisan” in Filipino is a robber, and as they explained the style, the concept is that you are like a thief. You don’t want to stay and wrestle. The cops are coming and you don’t want to get into a long, drawn out fight. You don’t want to get cut, or injured, which not only is a hassle, but makes you easy to be identified. As a thief, it is business –you’re going to get in a couple of quick shots, preferably at long distance, and then run. This seems like a sensible style when faced with a knife or bolo-wielding opponent.

I think this is the great fallacy being taught. Although I disagree with close-range combat as a preferred fighting method, it may make sense against an opponent with a stick. However, against a knife or sword, I believe that a close-range strategy is insanity. I also think that human nature, a preservation instinct, will keep a person from closing in on an opponent with a blade.

I have previously written about how I think the espada y daga techniques commonly taught, with the eskrimador getting in close and trying to tie up the opponent’s arms, are not just impractical, but are downright dangerous.

I think it’s time that we look at the body of evidence with regard to how people act in real combat, and adjust our training accordingly. Especially against a blade, I believe the long range strategy makes the most sense.

Toward a More Realistic Espada y Daga

Posted in Other Stick Methods, Princples and Theory, Real Life Combat with tags , , on December 23, 2009 by bigstickcombat

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.