Friday, May 23, 2008

Eskrima Stick fighting - Philippines Martial Arts

This is yet another video series from the television show from History Channel where Jason Chambers a professional Martial Artist and Mixed Martial Arts MMA competitor and Bill Duff professional football player and wrestler travels to different countries where the deadliest of the Martial Arts are practiced. These two guys travels and visits some martial arts training schools and camps that has produced champions and also visits and trains in the jungle camps where these deadly arts are taught and practiced in a tougher manner and not for sports or demonstration purpose.

In this videos we will see Hosts Jason Chambers and Bill Duff travel to the island nation of the Philippines, to learn about the violent and even deadly form of Martial Arts known as Eskrima. Jason & Bill will travel from the ancient forts of Cebu City to the rice patties of the Manalanga Mountains and to a military base in the capital of the Philippines, Manila, in order to learn the stick and knife techniques that were used to kill famous Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 and to destroy the terrorist organization Abu Sayef, also known as Al Qaeda, in the mid 1990's. At the end of their journey one of them will have to fight against a 5-time world Eskrima champion.

Eskrima is a one the most complex and dangerous martial arts of the world. In the Cebu city both the guys get to watch a demonstration of the stick fighting in the smelly crowded streets of the city. Two fighters with the stick in their hands, moving fast attacking and defending each others, looks more like a real fight than a demonstration as the people from the market place gathers around them to watch the fight. Even Jason Chambers a pro fighter asks a onlooker if it was real. The answerer however says, 'This can become real very quickly.' Indeed looking at the intensity and the speed of both the martial artist one can say he is not joking.

Jason says the streets and hot and smelly and the crowd wants blood and bruises from the fighters demonstrating the Eskrima stick fighting. They meet a guy called Gerald who happens to be the trainer of both these fighters. He stops the fighters as the intensity of the fighting increases and make sure that the fight does not get real. He has a challenge for the two hosts of television show. He says, 'If you guys train hard enough and you guys get good enough, I have a fighter for you to fight.' The fighter is Eskrima National champion, who would give them an ultimate test after they travel and train hard enough.

Eskrima is believed to have evolved in Philippines from Chinese Martial Arts and Malaysian martial arts form brought to them from the traveling traders. As local fighters fought and interacted with these other cultures, they corporate various fighting styles in their own fighting system. This is what Grandmaster Javed Khan has done in developing Khan Do Kwan, under whom I took many martial lessons.

Initially the art was practice among many groups, each group developing their own style of fighting. It was even used in the group or the gang fighting. It was until 1930s that a unified system was born, when twelve of most greatest master decided in the city of Cebu, to join their forces and formalize the style of Martial Arts. They called themselves Doce Pares, which means twelve heirs. They brought this martial art in sport and today as many as two thousand hundred
Filipinos trains in this form of Martial arts. Sport Eskrima matches, where both the competitors are heavily padded with the safety equipments are held throughout the islands of Philippines.

Jason and Bill trains in one of the gym where the martial artist are training with sticks and daggers and knives. Jason says that fighting with the stick is like extension of the hand. Same principles and body movements apply the difference is that your hand gets and extension, and extension that has more lethal strike and which does not get hurt or feel the pain. The sticks are made of light fibrous wood. Here we get some video tutorial of Eskrima stick hitting and blocking, locking and trowing techniques. great ones. Also the locking and throwing technique called Labai is shown in a computer animated graphic tutorial. That is at the end of the video clip.

Some interesting comments on the first video from you tube below

Please post the mma episode, i really hope to watch it! thanks!

* this show is aswome.:)

* anyone know of a site to learn this? There;s zero chance of someone in my town teaching this so if there's no self-teach-website I'll have to buy dvds

* but the thing is it is not promoted by the authority. like twentius said more people prefer judo, karate and other foreign martial arts. there are very few people who appreciate our very own martial arts.. :D

* don't know, I think it's pretty well appreciated. Most universties I know have a club/varsity for it and it was a pretty popular class in my university. I think it just doesn't SEEM as appreciated because while foreign martial arts classes for kids are offered pretty much everywhere, there aren't nearly as many classes in Arnis/Eskrima. But then I don't think you could/should let a 12 year old loose with a wooden stick anyway.

Still, I'd love it if it was recognized even more!

* I think foreigners are more motivated to learn our art than fellow Filipinos...
Instead of just learning karate, judo and taekwondo in university gyms, why don't we promote ours... :-)

* Thanks for uploading this episode. I will like to learn this art since I am Filipino.

We move on to next video clip below

Jason and Bill practice some stick movements. Practicing with the sticks looks a little more complex than bare hand practice of Martial Arts. While moving the stick the movement restriction of hand due to body joints is not there, the sticks has more freedom for varied moves. Then they get some lesson from the grandmaster teaching in that particular gym. He says don't dance when you hit, (Is Muhammad Ali, listening to this?). Well this is totally a different ball game than boxing. The master continues, 'don't dance, this is not dance studio, this is martial arts studio.' as Jason gives a smile to that statement. Than grandmaster Bonifacio gives very important lesson which not just applies to Escrima stickfighting but also to all the martial arts techniques, combat sports and even for other sports like baseball, tennis, cricket, golf etc. He says, 'When you are hitting, you have to follow through. Now when you hit and don't follow through then the strike is not as powerful as when yo follow through. Then he demonstrate two powerful and fast blows with the stick on the heap of tires, with a very good follow through.

The they head towards a temple associated with a great sage and a philosopher Lao Tzu. Here in the temple they take lesson from grandmaster Joe Borces. Joe Borces demonstrate a technique with grace and speed of a master. Very difficult to make out what he did until asked to slow in slow motion, which he does with explaining every move by breaking them in parts. The moves include defense and offensive moves. Once again we get a video tutorial of escrima with computer animated graphics of disarming the stick fighter before delivering the offensive blow. Great move and would require much practice drills so that it becomes a part of nervous memory system. After the training sessions, Jason leaves with the comment, 'One day we hope we would be half as good as you, thank you.' Both the guys bow to the master

They travel in a modified military jeep used for transportation, a weird vehicle according to Bill and Jason quite comfortable in the same. From port of Cebu they travel through waters to Negros Occidental, to take lessons in Martial Art called Kali. In rice paddies beneath the mountains they meet Leo Gaje, a worlds leading practitioner of Kali.

They are led to a paddy field, filled with water and mud, the environment where the ancient Kali was practiced. They are made to throw long bamboo sticks as spears are thrown run through the muddy waters get them and return only to throw them back and run after it again. The drill is demanding and exhausting as running fast through the muddy waters takes much effort. It's a wicked test of balance and endurance.

Next they are made to work on the upper body by striking hard on the water with the long bamboo sticks. Well the lower body and the aerobic endurance is not spared as they have to run through the same muddy waters while doing it. Pretty exhausting training method but building great endurance and stamina. Hit hard is the shout they hear all the time during this drill. Then with the short sticks slashing through the waters with the sticks.

After the Spain defeated them, they outlawed all Martial Arts. Forced to go underground local warriors incorporated the styles of local Martial Arts in variety of ritual dances. The Spanish were somehow convinced they were traditional ritual dances called Kali, in reality these dances were tightly choreographed sparing movements of Kali. When the Spanish got out the Kali Masters took the art out to towns and in the rice paddies. A deadly form of martial arts was born which relied on grappling and locking techniques like wrestling. Which could result in broken arms, legs and even necks.

Some interesting comments from yo tube for the second video before we more to the third one below.

"This is not a dance studio!"
LOL... Jason got nailed...
I didn't know Phillipinos had such a high level of English! They needed translators in almost every other place they went in the far east...

* First! This was great! I do this type of training in JKD!

this video starts with something interesting an unexpected. They train like their ancestor did, using a 1600 pound buffalo as a sparring partner. a buffalo is brought in the rice field. Jason does not understand using a buffalo as a sparing partner and ask the reason for the same, somewhat concerned. The answer is more interesting :-), 'If you can take down a four feet guy you know I mean this two feet person is easy to take down.' A trained Kali fighter grabs the buffalo from his neck and tries to take him down on the floor, the buffalo resists with all it's strength and does not go down, it's body weight is too much to bring down by a small man. Bill looks happy to see this heavy buffalo won he says. Bill is heavy too the reason for his happiness.

Even if this techniques are not enough to bring down a buffalo they are more than enough to bring down a man. The we get to learn a technique called Baliog Pamali a very effective and powerful technique when you get to grab opponents hand. A great computer animated video tutorial for the same Kali technique, which can leave your opponent paralyzed or dead.

Next they travel to meet and train under grandmaster Nick Eliezar. He is one of the finest stick fighters in the country. He moves his body and stick with grace, speed and power. Again we get a chance for online lessons of Martial arts stick fighting. A video tutorial from grandmaster and also computer animated graphics for the Escrima stick fighting technique called Pangilog. A deadly lethal technique, requires many training drills i guess, to execute it with grace, speed and accuracy as all techniques need. The move includes grappling, locking and intense offense after the same.

They move to Manila, to the modern day warriors to learn some more Eskrima Stick Fighting techinques. They visit special group of military marine forces in the capital city of Manila which is fast growing. The general is asked the name of terrorist with whom these military guys are in encounter with and who were responsible for death of tourists and many Filipinos. The answer comes, 'Here in Philippines we call Abu Saiyyaf and others call it Al Qaeda. These fighters use double edged knifes instead of the sticks. Here we get a lesson to unarmed combat move very simple and very effective. The technique is called Palamut and we get to see a video tutorial for the same, with the online lesson of this martial art technique.

Some interesting comments from utube for this video clip before we move on to 4th one

* eskrima is cool

* seriouslty he'd be like "hmm group of farmers coming towards me..oh not again..."

* GM Eliezar is incredible. This was a higlight of this episode for me.

The general demonstrate few more moves on Bill. Like the we learned in the third video clip, his moves are short and effective.

Then they travel to Badian, in the jungle camp to train for few more Eskrima stick fighting techniques, under grandmaster Dionisio Canste. The moves of the master are graceful while he moves two swords in the air, standing on a bamboo bridge over a stream. He welcomes Jason and Bill to what he calls mountain quarters. The master shows them the beauty of the place, but warns them to be careful as they gonna be sweating it out. The grandmaster shows them a ritual sword dance. The master explains the whirling movements of swords in the ritual dance. He says you can get more opponents with the whirling movements rather just slashes with the sword or swords. 'Some people think it's for show, but it's not.' he says. The grandmaster has been practicing this art for 60 years.

Jason and Bill finds a nasty challenge when it was their turn of practicing the martial arts moves. They were made to stand on the bamboo floats to practice. Very difficult to balance while practicing or without it. They join few doing the same, whirling the sticks while on the bamboo float. Bill finds it really tough with flies everywhere. This grandmaster pits Jason and Bill against each other for the very first time. Jason has the edge as he has background in stick fighting, probably Jeet Kune Do. They go through some rigorous training drills. All the time the training drills look a lot of different than we see in the empty handed martial arts like Tae Kwon Do TKD, Karate or Kungfu. The blocks are taught too and in TKD or boxing or MMA training we are taught not to extend are arms much for block, as it opens up some area making it vulnerable for other attacks that could follow. In stick fighting there in not option but to reach for the block, if you don't want to move away.

The training continues as the grandmaster forced them to train in natural environment to condition their selves. Training drills in flowing water, beating the trees to work on the power of the blows. Bills says, 'I thought gym was tough, this was worse.' But they could feel their skills and endurance improving.

Some comments fro youtube from the 4th video clip

* im not one too use a weapon in a fight, but this looks about the best and most practical weapons fighting technique ive ever seen...

* it is considered one of (if not the best) fighting techniques on how to defend yourself with and from a knife.

* this is so much bettter than the discovery channel version fight jason had eskrima background

* I wonder if the Ilocos or Pangasinan has their own style of stick fighting?

The fifth clip somehow refused to buffer on my laptop today after repeated trials. But it should be for their final fight with the champion and reading the comments it says Jason was chosen as with the Muay Thai, and he was good with the little training he had in Eskrima stick fight even tough he never looked close to winning.

Some comments from you tube from the last video

* i hate and love jason chambers simultaneously. hehe... he's too proud of himself. but it's still ok because he's a great martial artist (not to mention, the most handsome man i've ever seen.)

* I think it's better to learn how to fight with your body instead of using weapons, but anyway I like Kung Fu and all the weapons they got, here I don't find it that cool to use just a stick.

* That's a great episode there.

* this Is why tkd teches to keep the fist closed, or at least tight... less chance of a broken finger

* jason chambers is Jeet Kune do and MMA, he had a previous experience in stickfighting. Listen carefully. He was chosen to fight not Bill, because he has experience, that's it

* I think their conversations are too scripted. They obviously made that decsiion before they shot. its cool though. Jason chambers is a good martial artist

* a broken finger; lol, I don't belive; he wont to break the fight becouse he had enough :)

* That is what I call real courage...Jason is mentally very strong

* see when he gets disarmed the Filipino makes a little faint to his head, right after he gets the stick from the American. If it was a real fight he would have knocked his block off. Also after each tangle the American is backing up but the Filipino is always advancing. You couldn't say he held his own

* After minimal training, I think that Jason did very well. No, he did not even come close to winning. But he didn't quit and I think in the end he earned the respect of not only Perceval, but of the tuhons present at the match. Good job, Jason.

* after each episode I watch, I want to learn a different martial art. what torture! one life, sooo many styles...

* damn it look hella painful
couldnt even watch it

* Really awesome that the Philippines has their own martial art style. I appreciated for you to upload this episode.


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