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Apr 14

Function Precedes Form
By Fernando “Bong “Abenir III



Martial arts were developed in order to find practical ways of dealing with self-defense situations. Every aspect of the techniques being used is supposed to be functional and whatever is outside of that simple concept is discarded. The approach must be simple, efficient and direct. No fancy movements, no dancing around, do not beat around the bush. But instead go right thru the heart of the problem and do what is necessary in order to survive any given situation. Whether you’re up against someone with a knife or a gun or fighting with bare hands all your response against attacks should be fast and decisive. Not bothering too much about how well you execute your techniques and how good your form is just as long you are able to land on your target effectively and the result is being able to survive that situation. In a street fight this is all that matters (most street fights are ambush attacks anyway so just be ready to fight back)


My teacher Mohamad Hadimulyo often told me that although practicing forms, postures and other aspects found within the art of Silat are essential in becoming a complete martial artist, one should never forget that function should always precede form and not the other way around. He always reminded me that it’s about getting results. What good is it even if you executed a beautiful move but were unable to hit the target? It is not about how good you look in performing your techniques but rather how effective you are in landing your blows. When you kick…. kick hard and fast! When you punch….punch effectively and swiftly! Don’t dance around or concocting some kind of weird stance before doing what you have to do. Always remember that the fastest way to connect two dots is by drawing a straight line. (Although Pencak Silat has a lot of dance like movements which has very deep meaning attached to its cultural roots, Pendekar Hadimulyo was referring to the use of Silat in a real fight during this particular conversation)

It is a sad fact that many of the martial arts being introduced and taught to the public had created a false sense of confidence to its practitioners by teaching them techniques which hardly resembles a real self-defense situation. Too much emphasis is given to the practice of complicated and unrealistic moves that will surely result to the one using it either hurt or even dead on the streets. Many techniques shown and taught by instructors in popular martial systems require a lot of unnecessary and fancy movements with the intention of making it look beautiful to all spectators in order to draw them in becoming students and thus making a profitable business out of it. Although I do believe that it is good to draw a lot of enrollees to your gym in order to run things smoothly, I still believe that we should always be responsible as instructors by giving out correct information to our students by teaching them what is functional on self defense situations against what works only in the movies. Romy Macapagal on his seminar at our gym in Don Bosco said that one must have good technique because good techniques even if employed unskillfully will work, but bad techniques can look good if they are performed skillfully. My teacher Tony Diego of Kalis Ilustrisimo once told me that fighting on the streets is about survival and never about winning. This is not some kind of tournament wherein winning is the mindset, but rather on how to survive that encounter. And by survival he means that you either end up overcoming your assailant or finding yourself beaten up on the ground but managing somehow to survive due to quick thinking which may even mean running away out of that situation. As the wise saying goes “Live to fight another day!” 

Principles in Abenir Kali System

-Don't waste moves, be flexible. A parry which does not incorporate an attack is wasteful movement.
-The defense is an attack, an attack is a defense
-Hit,hit,hit until the opponent is no longer a threat to your safety.
-Avoid wide movements but use centerline theory in order to deliver your blows without telegraphing your attack as well as your defense.
-Wrist locks and disarming techniques are only incidental. A hit could cause a disarm that only counts as 1 beat which is faster and more practical to use than complicated locks during a heated encounter especially against multiple opponents.
-Hand techniques should correspond with your footwork.
-Hit the nearest and the open targets presented to you.
-Only engage in a fight if no other option or escape in order to avoid it is possible.
-Run if you must, fight if you must, whatever you do, do it decisively and quickly.
-The most important aspect in a fight is how to survive.
- When you kick…. kick hard and fast! When you punch….punch effectively and swiftly!

For Inquiries about Abenir Kali you may contact the author thru Cp# 09272787260 abenirbong@yahoo.com
YouTube: Abenir Kali
Gym located at Don Bosco Technical College
736 Gen. Kalentong St. Mand. City

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