Dropping Bombs, Kuntaw Style
I was in the Philippines to bone up on my kuntaw, the nation’s art of hand DQG IRRW ƘJKWLQJ
My instructor du jour was Frank Aycocho, a master based in Manila. He was ϐ list of martial artists to track down in country, and I was looking forward to getting some training time with him.
! ǡ " Aycocho demonstrating several throws that involved using your foot ǯ Ǥ you have his foot off the ground, he ǡ - ! $ " your shoulder to knock him to the ! Ǥ $ ! ǡ he said, you can unload a kuntaw hand technique or three.
I already could tell it would be an eventful session. KUNTAW TEACHES " ǯ attacked, you should move away from the force using circular motion. However, the art acknowledges that meeting force with force when you attack Ǥ - ǯ ǣ ǡ ϐ " $ strike him under the arm, below the Ǥ ǡ ϐ - ! ǡ Ǥ ǯ " ǡ - Ǥ
ǲ ! !ǡ ! " ǡǳ Ǥ ǲ " bend down and strike or grab, but this will destroy his balance. It will be very " Ǥǳ AYCOCHO SAID he believes that most ϐ ! ǯ ! " ϐ ! Ǥ ǲ $ ǡǳ Ǥ ǲ other in the face for 12 rounds, and ! ǯ ! " Ǥ ǯ Ǥ " " ǡ should concentrate on throwing a ! " Ǥǳ
$ more effort to body shots, rather than ! ǡ ϐ - ! $ ! Ǥ ǡ - cho showed me how to duck under an ǯ ǡ to my waist and turn my entire body " ǡ " ϐ ! ǯ ϐ ! Ǥ ǯ know it would be a devastating blow.
ǲ ! ǡ ! " ! " - ! " ǡǳ he said.
I WAS SOMEWHAT surprised at what came next: Aycocho began hauling all the furniture out of his kitchen to create a makeshift dojo. Then we proceeded to roll, working our way through a variety of wrestling moves and submissions. I found him to be abnormally strong and quick, especially for a small-stature man of his years.
“If a grappler shoots in, the best defense is to strike him,” he said. “You should hit him with a perfect hook under the armpit or in the side of the head or the ribs. You can also punch the triceps and disable his arm. Or when he shoots in, you can take a step back and hit him in the face with your knee.”
The tactician in him was surfacing. “You have to anticipate his movement,” he said. “You punch just as he is shooting in.”
Switching gears slightly, Aycocho continued: “If you think he will shoot on you instead of moving back and away, move forward with that knee to the face.” AYCOCHO EXPLAINED that kuntaw practitioners prefer to keep their kicks below the knee for the sake of practicality. He himself has developed several self-defense techniques that entail kicking the side of the knee, then following up with a stomp kick. “If you know real striking power, you can dislocate the knee,” he said.
The master admonished me to never throw shots that leave me open to a counterattack. “Don’t use any technique whose outcome is not defense of your position,” he said. “If you punch at me with a straight punch, you should know that I can break your arm. If you do a hook elbow, you should know that I can snap your arm.”
The instructor then demonstrated what he meant: I threw a slow-motion punch, and he slapped the upper and lower sides of my arm simultaneously. It could break the elbow, he said, and I believed him.
When I punched at his head, Ayco " ϐ ! ribs, followed by a stomp to my foot, because I had given him an opening. He quickly grabbed my heel and hit me in the solar plexus with his shoulder, ! " Ǥ ϐ ǡ the kuntaw master took my knee across his chest and did a simultaneous kneebar and heel hook.
It was becoming clear how kuntaw practitioners think about self-defense. They don’t like to be vulnerable, even if it’s for a split second, and they like to make sure their strikes are aimed at just the right target at just the right point in an altercation.
“In the UFC and boxing, they use prolonged strikes and punches — too many strikes,” Aycocho said. “They hit too much without knocking the man out because the delivery is not right. If you punch in this manner, it doesn’t have enough force, but if you punch in the concentrated manner [that kuntaw teaches], you can put anyone down.”