Drop­ping Bombs, Kuntaw Style

I was in the Philip­pines to bone up on my kuntaw, the na­tion’s art of hand DQG IRRW ƘJKWLQJ

Black Belt - - DESTINATIONS - E\ $QWRQLR *UDFHƗR ϔ - Ȁ ! # # Ǥ

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.”

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