Archive for Kuntawman

The Filipino Spear –Bangkaw

Posted in Masters and History, Weapons with tags , , , on January 13, 2011 by bigstickcombat

The Filipino Spear --Bangkaw

Today I have something you’ve probably never seen before, no matter how long you’ve been in the FMA. File this under rural weapons of the Philippines.

Kuntawman argued for including other weapons besides sticks in Filipino Martial Arts competitions, including the bayonet:

Yes, the Bayonet. Maybe some of you from the province forget that our old men taught this weapon as part of the Eskrima we studied. Some of us are actually embarassed by this weapon, as if the Bayonet made our systems look “country” and unsophisticated.

This post raised the idea in my mind of spears or pole weapons in the province of the Philippines, particularly the Visayas (central Philippines) where I often travel.

In a rural home in Cebu I spotted a weapon that at first resembled a spear, a long pole about five feet long with two barbed spikes at the tip. I thought it was for fishing. It was explained to me that the late grandfather used to go into an abandoned house and catch bats!

The idea was not to spear bats, per se, but to jab the barbed ends upward as bats swirled around. The barbed prongs would ensnare the bats outstretched wings.

Why would you catch bats? To eat, of course. Filipinos will eat almost anything, and grandpa liked his bats adobo style.


Hero of the Week: Victor Perez

Posted in Commentary, Weapons with tags , , , , , on November 29, 2010 by bigstickcombat

In the article Victor Perez is called a “good Samaritan,” but it’s more accurate to describe him as a hero.

Hero Victor Perez

An 8 year old girl was kidnapped from in front of her home in Fresno, and an Amber alert was issued.

When Victor Perez recognized the kidnapper’s truck from a newscast description, he jumped in his own truck and chased the suspect. Victor kept cutting off the suspect’s truck. Then he saw the kidnapped girl’s head pop up into view, and the gang member push her head back down.

Eventually the gang member released the girl and sped off. Victor stayed with the girl and reassured her. He dialed 911.

A massive police dragnet snared the fleeing hoodlum. Who is now under arrest for a number of charges, including kidnapping and –sadly– sexual assault.

Not everyone has the courage to confront a gang banger like Victor did, but being prepared helps to boost your willingness to confront a criminal, in addition to putting the odds in your favor in the event of violence. Luckily, the kidnapper didn’t have a gun, but would you be prepared for that eventuality? Suppose the kidnapper you corner emerges empty handed, or with a knife, are you armed?

The Kuntawman has suggested putting a knife on the seat, that you can grab as you “reach for your wallet.” We’ve previously discussed tire knockers, long armed ice scrapers, and even the concealment of knives and guns in your car (Check out this post based on Amo Guro Blackgrave’s wisdom.)

If you cannot carry a gun legally inside your car, one option is to carry it in your trunk. Even if it is unloaded, it is quick and easy to load a magazine into an automatic pistol and rack the slide. The scenario is:

  • pop the trunk via the driver’s seat latch,

  • move to the back of the car, keeping the car as a screen between you and the perp

  • get behind the axle (the most solid and protective part of the car)

  • load the gun and fire as necessary

Another option, mentioned by Mas Ayoob, is to ram the attacker with your car. Anyone who targets you in your car with a gun is fair game, as the number of cops who have shot and killed criminals who try to run them over will attest.

Be Open

Posted in Commentary, Masters and History with tags , , , , on February 2, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Sonny Umpad was slight and quiet. How many underestimated him?

Kuntawman wrote of guys coming into his studio and dismissing him out of hand because he doesn’t teach “kali.” What a loss. And how many other martial artists and would-be martial artists pass up great opportunities to learn because they aren’t open?

I frequently travel to Cebu City, Philippines, so I decided I wanted to find an eskrima teacher there. My eventual teacher, GM Maranga, is not the best known. He doesn’t have an international organization. He doesn’t have a fancy uniform. We met in the living room of his humble home, and we train a small room of his house. He does the short stick, and I’m not a short stick stylist. But of all of the masters I met, he was the only one who would pick up a stick and spar with me. And he’s taught me a lot.

My friend and I used to train in eskrima while karate stylists practiced on the other side of the gym at Fresno City College. One black belt was teaching a takedown when the teenager he was demonstrating the move on said matter-of-factly, “I can counter that.”

The black belt made the mistake of thinking he couldn’t learn from a kid. After all, he was a black belt, right? “I doubt that. You couldn’t possibly…” the black belt confidently countered.

What he didn’t know at the time was that the kid was a state wrestling champion. The wrestler easily countered the takedown and took the black belt to the mat.

The black belt was given yet another opportunity to learn. Instead, he continued to bluff. “Ah , yeah, well, I could have hit your throat as I was falling.”

I once met up with a wrestling coach at the high school where I taught. I’m not a wrestler. I’m not big on grappling. But a high school wrestling coach showed me several dirty tricks, several legal although excruciating holds, and how one devious wrestler used a standing choke to take out opponents in matches!

In this blog I take positions. I make judgments. I may step on some toes. But don’t think that I don’t respect the abilities of others. You can learn from the high school wrestling coach. You can learn from the old man at the boxing gym, or the veteran cop. Bruce Lee learned a lot from old fencing books, which were the foundation of Jeet Kune Do.

How many underestimated Buster Douglas?

A friend of mine is a farmer in Nowhere, Idaho. On the farm next to him is an old guy who used to be an army hand-to-hand combat instructor. The vet doesn’t wear a gi, isn’t a black belt, doesn’t have a studio, hasn’t been in Black Belt magazine, and doesn’t know kali. But he kicks ass, like the time he broke the collar bone of a guy who tried to attack him with a knife.

Yet if I told you my teacher lived on a farm in Idaho, would you be impressed? Would you dismiss him out-of-hand?

If someone says he can counter your move, or wants to point out a weakness in your system. Listen. Bruce Lee had developed his methods of attack when he was forced to face the fact that a counter-puncher could defeat his style. So he accepted the truth and took it up a notch.

Take advantage of opportunities to learn, which may come in ways that you hadn’t expected.

Weapons Trade-offs

Posted in Commentary, Other Stick Methods, Princples and Theory, Weapons with tags , , , , , , on January 9, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Cop with Old School Billy Club

Words of wisdom from Kuntawman in response to one of my posts:

There is not a man around who would let a trained fighting eskrimador hit him with a rattan stick, even a small one. so its not the size of the stick but what you can do with that stick. Each weapon has advantages and each one has weakness. The advantage of the eskrima stick is that we can hit with power and then hit with power again and again. The disadvantage is we cannot just hit anywhere to get an injury.

The advantage of the cane or baseball bat is that you can hit with power to anywhere, and get an injury. The disadvantage is your recovery time is too slow and you cannot land a powerful hit and then do it again right away and you will need more space.

Kuntawman here alludes to the balancing act involved when choosing a weapon. In my opinion, the short stick –especially the short rattan stick– is too light to be counted on to stop someone. Kuntawman talks about a “trained fighting eskrimador,” and I think this is an important distinction. GM Maranga hits very hard with a rattan stick, but on the other hand I’ve seen tanods ( something of a Philippine neighborhood rent-a-cop) with rattan sticks and thought, “I hope you’re not all that’s standing between me and the public, and some maniac with a knife.” A trained fighter can make the light stick work, but given lower levels of skill, I think the heavier club, like the old style police billy club, will be more effective for the average person.

Kuntawman is right again that the baseball bat presents trade-offs. While the bat is heavy enough to cause damage, it can be slow to launch and even slower to recover. While it has the advantage of reach, it can be awkward in close. The key is to choose the lightest bat possible, to practice blasting things, and to train to hit hard in close. One of my drills is to stand with my nose touching the heavy bag and launch into a flurry at contact distance.

Theory vs. Blowing Someone Up

Posted in Commentary, Other Stick Methods, Princples and Theory with tags , , , on January 8, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Kuntawman made some really good points in response to my last posts. His comments are in italics, and I respond

People have to understand, that a weapon is a weapon, a blade is a blade, and that’s it. A stick is a stick and a punch is a punch. Too much theory in the arts, so they don’t have no idea how to kick somebody’s ass with those weapons.

For me, this is a big problem in the arts, and a realization that I have made. When Filipino martial artists work slowly, they can work very elaborate and sophisticated counter-for-counter moves. I think this may be what Kuntawman refers to when he talks about “too much theory in the arts.”

I think the problem is that during real life combat, or even realistic sparring, you can’t really apply these techniques. Look at the fight videos, from the Dog Brothers on down. Especially when the fight is full contact with heavier sticks, attacks become simpler and more direct, and so do defenses.

I agree that the flaw of FMA people is that we are training more in a “martial” art, instead of a “fighting” art. see, if they focus more on the “fighting”, then they will be able to “fight” with their sticks, and not “train” or “drill” with those sticks. There is too much stick-to-stick and almost no stick-to-face. If they focus on how to develop power, and how to land the hits to wear they want to land it, with as much power as they can, those “chopsticks” can do some damage.

The point I see in the above paragraph ties in with my thoughts earlier on simplicity and directness. What I think Kuntawman is saying is that you’re better off working on power, speed, mobility, accuracy, and fighting know-how by sparring, than by spending hours bogged down in slow motion “If he does this I can do that,” and elaborating long strings of moves ending in locks and takedowns.

We’ve all seen it done. The opponent throws a blow (and I know what’s coming). After throwing the blow he is frozen like a statue. While he stands paralyzed I block, check, strike three times, pass the weapon, strike 5 or 6 more times, move to his back, wrap the stick around his arm into an armlock, move the lock up into a choke, twirl him around and then drop him down.

But wait, I’m not finished. On the ground I now wrap his arm around my leg, using my leg to apply an armlock. I flip him over on his back. I lock his other arm with my other leg, and reapply the choke I had when we were standing. This is very impressive at demonstrations and sells seminars and DVD’s, I’m sure.

When I trained with GM Maranga, we did a defense and one strike, not 85 strikes.

For me, the number one skill is the ability to hit some one hard enough –not to hurt him– but to obliterate him.

I can’t have someone with a knife go “Ouch!” The lights have to go out entirely.

If I hit an addict’s arm or leg I don’t care if he feels pain –that arm or leg has to stop working.

Whenever you have two sticks and you're attacked by a meth addict with two sticks, this would come in handy.