Black Belt - - KARATE WAY - — An­to­nio Men­doza

Ex­cerpt From Black Belt’s First Major Cov­er­age of FMA: July 1967

The great Span­ish ex­plorer Fer­di­nand MagelODQ ZDV WKH ÀUVW :HVWHUQHU to have the mis­for­tune to run up against the self-de­fense weapons of the Philip­pines. Mag­el­lan and his crew were on their his­tory-mak­ing voy­age around the world when they stopped in the Philip­pines in 1521. $IWHU D VKRUW EXW YLROHQFH PDUNHG VWD\ 0DJHOODQ·V FUHZ set sail again and even­tu­ally ar­rived back in Spain to FRPSOHWH WKH ÀUVW JOREH JLUGOLQJ YR\DJH LQ KLVWRU\ EXW they landed there with­out their cap­tain.

Mag­el­lan never made it any far­ther than the small is­land of Mac­tan in what is now the prov­ince of Cebu, sev­eral hun­dred miles south of Manila. There, he ran LQWR D ÀHU\ FKLHI QDPHG /DSX /DSX ZKR UHIXVHG WR sur­ren­der to the would-be Span­ish con­querors. Armed with rattan clubs, tabaks DQG ODQFHV /DSX /DSX DQG KLV men fought off the Spa­niards, hu­mil­i­at­ing and killing the proud Mag­el­lan at the end of the bat­tle.

The use of rattan clubs in this bat­tle is in­ter­est­ing. The weapon is an an­cient one in the Philip­pines and cer­tainly the oldest mar­tial arts weapon still used for self­de­fense and sport in th­ese is­lands.

The par­tic­u­lar form of self-de­fense with th­ese sticks is called arnis. (It is also re­ferred to as es­crima in SpanLVK $UQLV LV WKH 3KLOLSSLQHV HTXLYDOHQW WR :HVWHUQ VW\OH fenc­ing or Ja­panese-style kendo ex­cept that arnis is usu­ally fought with two sticks, one in each hand.

The longer stick, which is about 30 inches in length, is usu­ally held in the right hand. The shorter stick, about 11 inches, is held in the left hand. Thus it can be seen that arnis bears cer­tain sim­i­lar­i­ties to the form of self­de­fense called es­pada y daga, or “sword and dag­ger,” which used to be a fa­vorite style of fenc­ing in Europe and es­pe­cially in Spain.

How­ever, the Euro­peans used sharp steel blades for their swords and dag­gers, of course, while the Filipinos used only sticks. But the great ef­fec­tive­ness of a stick against the sword was demon­strated not only in the HQFRXQWHU ZLWK 0DJHOODQ·V PHQ EXW ZLWK ODWHU 6SDQLDUGV who came in force.

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