I've heard and read from many sources that the martial arts practice the PI was woven into dance to mask it from the Spaniards during the colonial period. Does anyone know of any research based articles that document this? There are some dances that seem obviously related to FMA (sakuting and maglalatik for example), and a few that seem to have potential as footwork drills (such as tinikling and singkil), but I'd love to know if anyone out there has access to any documented evidence about this.
Human Weapon --- Escrima ( Catch it on "you tube") does allude to this in the one of their segments ( there are five segements), where they discuss how there was a need to mask their movements and also there is a show on BBC (Mind, body, and Kick ass moves -the hidden fighting system,it is also on You tube) where SGM Ernesto Presas Sr. as well alludes to the fact that filipino martial arts were derived from these early dances. Peace, Don
All existing cultures have survived wars and many celebrate / honor the warriors that made their survival possible in their dance.
Thai, Okinawan, Hawaiian and more have aspects and sometimes even "secrets" of the fighting arts in their dance.
I do not know of any documentation for FMA (I'm not a deep FMA practitioner btw).
If you want to learn a wealth of information regarding the hiding of the "mother arts" in dances while in plain view of the colonial Spandiards, I highly suggest that you speak with Gat Puno Abon "Garimot" Baet regarding the Moro-Moro bataylas. All Garimot students are taught the basics of these "battle dances" and they are a unique, separate form of Arnis in and of themselves.
Gat Puno Abon will provide you with information on these Moro-Moro dances and the others that you mentioned, as well. Applications of the arts can be found in almost all of the folk Philippine dances -- even the female's pandango sa ilaw (snaking movements and redirection)...
Have a great day and happy training
Christopher "Alakdan" Cabantan -- student of Garimot Arnis
As written by Mark v. Wiley there really isnt much of a true wriiten history of fma. More of what has been passed down instructor to student. some thing distorted and exagerated. I know in my studies over the last 37 yrs. ive heard from many different instructors different ideas on the subject. I do know at my school we pactice several different stepping techniques that are suposed to have been used in dance that have very practical application to combat. Great question! I am certain of the application of what would seem to be dance but have never seen any real written history of details, other than the metion of the art being hidden to preserve it.
This is well known in all martial arts and fighting systems generally. Also weapons forms were probably the first katas, forms then empty hand forms began to come into the martial arts around the 1930s, karate for example, the tonga, sai ect. So one area of research could be the karate systems, in okinawan, called te for example, and try to treace links back to the FMA systems.
In conversations with dancers, it's interesting to me that they are going through a similar process of understanding the roots of their art. So many stylized renditions of Philippine Dance (especially representations of dance from the Southern Philippines) have been presented that the "stage version" is often taken as the authentic. The martial roots of some of the dances may be obscured because of this. Some of the dancers I've spoken with recognize that many of their movements can have martial application, but overall they don't seem any more knowledgeable about the connections than we do in the martial arts community.
@ Christopher Cabantan - thanks for the link to the GAT website. There is some great info there. I'd love to hear a little more about how the basics of Battle Dances are taught to Garimot students, and how they augment your training.
I agree with Raul; if the purpose was to hide the arts in the dances, you won't find documentation. The man to speak to is Gat Puno Baet, who comes from a long line of arnisadores and moro-moro players. Here's a review of Gat Puno's book:
Review of the book Larong Moro-Moro: the Shroud of Arnis de Mano, by Abundio S. Baet, copyright 2010.
This book was written to explain the history and practice of the moro-moro (a socio-religious play in the Philippines containing mock battles), and its connection to the Filipino martial arts. The author is a lifelong practitioner of the Filipino martial arts, and has played in the moro-moro in the province of Laguna. He also comes from a family of martial artists and moro-moro players going back at least five generations. It is from that perspective that he writes about the moro-moro.
The first couple chapters are an introduction to what the moro-moro (also called the zarzuela, komedya, giling-giling, pangtanghalan, panayaw, or cinaculo) is and how it developed. The author then gives a history of the Filipino martial arts of southern Luzon, from the development of the Doce Pares in the 1800's, to the Siete Colores developed during revolutionary times, it's use during World War II, and today. A translation and meaning of the terms arnis de mano, escrima, and estocada are given, along with their origin in the moro-moro. The next couple chapters deal with the practice of Arnis and Escrima today, and the value of competition.
The next section covers the fundamentals of the moro-moro: weapons, grips, basic stances, a numbering system for striking, and pamamaltacia (or carrenza), which is both an artistic display and a form of sign language for making and accepting challenges. Then we get to the heart of the book, which is a description of the batalyas of the moro-moro from Laguna. The batalyas are numbered sequences of strikes, blocks, and associated footwork which are used to display mock combat during a presentation of the moro-moro. The first ten batalyas are show with single stick, and with stick and dagger. These two thorough descriptions are spread out over more than 100 pages, with a picture and text description of each step. Additionally, the first batalya is shown with double stick, spear, and stick and shield.
The last section of the book covers the exploits of the author's family, who have all been arnisadores, moro-moro players, and fighters. Starting in the 1800's with his great-great-grandfather, who helped to organize rebellion against the Spanish, it continues to his great-grandfather, who used the moro-moro to travel to the Visayas and help spread information for the revolution. His grandfather fought in seven death matches, the last one leaving him bedridden with an injured leg for years. His grandfather, uncle, and father all helped the guerrilla fighters against the Japanese in World War II. The chapter ends discussing the training and some of the fights of the author's father, and finally the author himself. At the end of the book is a 6-page glossary of Tagalog terms, and a short guide to numbers in Tagalog.
This is the first information to see print regarding the connection between the moro-moro and Arnis and Eskrima. Additionally, the author brings fresh information regarding the origin of the arts and integration of Spanish fencing. Furthermore, there is a wealth of information about the history of the arts of Laguna and southern Luzon, including information on the Doce Pares of Laguna, which is separate from, and predates, the Doce Pares of Cebu. For any one of those reasons alone, this book is invaluable for anyone interested in the history of the Filipino martial arts. All of them together make this book a must-have.
This is a great topic and vital to the history and continuation of the understanding of FMA. Many aspects of the "native" dances of the various peoples of the Pacific basin contained martial movements. Sometimes these "martial movements" were in the native dances by accident and sometimes they were in there by design to preserve or hide the movements from the forces that were invading their country. I had a 3rd generation Hawaii Filipino student in my class in 1995 and we were practicing flow and redirection drills with knives. At some point in the class we were discussing what we were doing and he confessed that as a young boy growing up in Maui his mother had taught him the "candle dance". He went on the say that at the time he did not think much about it, but it hit him at that moment in class that the movements that I was showing him were very similiar to the "candle dance movements" that his mother had shown him 20 years earlier. We must also understand that while having martial movements in dances can preserve these martial movements, it can also change them so they are not as "combat effective", in reality no one dies on stage! I had some stage actors in my classes many years ago and their speciality was stage sword play, their movements were so wide and flashy that it left them open to easy counter attack. I look forward to more conversations on this subject and I encourage anyone that is involved in the Filipino Martial Arts to research the connection between Filipino dance and the martial movements. Long live Eskrima.