Buno is a Tagalog word meaning wrestling it is an empty hand fighting system developed by the indigenous people of the Philippines Islands. There are literally hundreds of styles of Buno practiced throughout the Philippines.However, the Harimaw Buno formerly Harimaw Lumad (King Tiger Wrestling) style was particular to the Mangyans, of Mindoro, Island and Aetas Tribes in Infanta, Quezon in Luzon Philippines. Harimaw Buno was the Preferred name by Gat Puno Abon "Garimot" Baet the founder and Grandmaster of the Harimaw Buno Federation.
Grandmaster Falipe "Garimot" Baet is the person responsible for bringing Harimaw Buno to the Laguna provinces. He studied Buno under his father's tutelage at the age of eight and continued his training in Calapan, Mindoro under two Mangyan Buno masters from 1946 through 1950.
The two masters were members of the Hanuno Mangyan tribe. Their style of Buno was regarded as a jewel of their culture and as such, was forbidden to outsiders. However, Grandmaster Jose "Uti" Baet would pave the way for his generations to come five years prior. Grandmaster Jose "Uti" Baet, father of Felipe, defeated the top two practitioners of Buno, brothers Guimo and Tino Lait, during the Harimaw Buno Competition in Umiray Infanta, Quezon before the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in 1940. The superiority of his skill was such that the two brothers were defeated without injury. In their lifetime, it would prove to be their only defeat in over 20 years of active competition. Out of respect, the two brothers agreed to train his son Felipe, in secret if necessary.
At the age of 16, Felipe was directed by his father to seek out the two Mangyan brothers. The trip to Calapan, Mindoro would be a long one so Felipe gained the company of his best friend, Ruben "Ginto" Madrinan in his search for the Hanuno Mangyan tribe. His initial encounter with the Hanuno tribe proved to be less than encouraging. His request to study with them was rejected by the "Apo" (head tribesman) because he was an outsider. Fortunately, the lait brothers would come to know of his presence in the village and the identity of his father. Surreptitiously, they arranged for him to stay in the next village and train him as one of their own. Felipe underwent intense training with the two brothers for four years. He worked as a spear-fisherman at night and practiced Lumad (the Hanuno word for Buno) during the day in the hidden valley of the Mindoro Islands.
Buno, as a matter of course, is an empty hand practice. Although the knife, spear and bow and arrow play significant roles in hunting, the only true weapon of the Buno practitioner is the lubid. The lubid is a course twisted length of rope approximately four feet long, worn around the waist. Prior to his trip to Mindoro, Felipe was educated in the use of this unique weapon by his father. The training focused on disarming, subduing, and controlling humans. His time in Mindoro focused on the hunting of animals. An animal was often brought down, restrained and kept barely alive using the lubid. Hunting forays often meant several days walk into the forests. From a practical point of view, carrying a live animal back to the village was easier than carrying a dead one and the freshness of the meat was preserved. Training primarily involved tying different kinds of knots, quickly and under duress.
With his training complete, Felipe became an undefeated Buno stylist in Calapan, Mindoro. His prowess as a master stick fighter was also established as he went undefeated in stick fighting competitions in the area. In 1950, he left Mindoro to return to his hometown in Paete, Laguna. This was, however, after overcoming a very strange occurrence during his stay with the Hanuno Tribe.
During his second year of training, it happened that a tribe woman became enamored of Felipe. In order to assure his presence, she cast a spell to prevent him from ever leaving. as time passed, Felipe confided in his friend Ruben Ginto that his eyes seemed to percieve an impenetrable barrier surrounding the area perimiter. Although aware of the magic at work, he could do nothing to counter it. When the time came to leave, he would require his friend's assistance to dominate the mental apparitions. Ruben would eventually lead Felipe away with a blindfold securely fastened over his eyes under the cover of the night.
Upon his return to Paete, he encountered many challengers eager to see just how good the son of Grandmaster Uti Baet had become. He easily defended all opponents. In a short time, he became the local champion of track and field events, Bunong Braso (arm wrestling) and Pintal Braso (finger wrestling). He would later join the Paete Arnis Club, a group of veteran stick fighters, and organize Arnis De Mano tournaments at every town fiesta. He remained an active stick fighter, maintaining an undefeated status in Laguna, Batanggas, Cavite, Rizal, Quezon, Bataan, and Mindoro. He was known throughout the provinces as "Hari ng Pitong Kabundukan" (King of the Seven Mountains).
In 1972, he began to instruct the Baranggay Police (village police) in stick fighting and Harimaw Buno techniques. He would later incorporate Buno as a part of Arnis De Mano hand applications. He believed that in order for Eskrima fighters to be complete, the theories and techniques of grappling, empty-hand and weapons combat must be mastered.
It should be noted, that for the most part, Felipe kept the core elements of his buno training a family secret thereby holding important elements of the system in reserve for his family's own protection.
For balance, mobility and endurance, the student is made to walk through stiff mud while on his knee
For balance, endurance and perfection of breathing technique, a sack of rocks is tied to the student's body. He is then made to wrestle an unimpaired opponent in various levels of water: waist-high to overhead depending on the student's ability.
This type of training addressed balance, lower body strength and endurance. Two canoes are brought together in parallel fashion, but not tied of fixed in any way. The student is made to stand in the front, one foot in the prow of each canoe. As the vessels are propelled forward, the student must hold them together. Note: as may be expected, the rower in each boat makes no effort to ease the student's difficulties, often paddling to seperate the boats.
This type of training addressed the use of proper stances and balance. Two wetted bamboo poles are straddled across a fast-moving river. The student is made to continuously cross the river on the poles, gripping with his toes,and using the proper footwork. Loss of balance results in a river ride that can easily carry a man more than a mile downstream before he can make shore. He then must return to the poles to try again.
Methods of off-balancing are emphasized in this type of training. The student is made to wrestle a pygmy carabao (indigenous to Mindoro isnland only) barehanded. The goal is to take the animal to the ground by any means.
Proper rolling and breathing technique are both emphasized in this drill. The student is presented with a wooden log approximately 6 feet long and 160 pounds in weight. He is then made to roll, holding the log pressed to his body, in water approximately knee-high in depth.
The student is taught to climb trees very quickly and jump from heights greater than 12 feet. His ability to perform this exercise is continually challenged.
Arnis (Weapons) Training
The student is made to learn, practice, and apply in combat the Doce Pares style of Arnis de Mano.
Although unexpectedly common, a good days' work on the farm further tests the student's endurance and patience. It also re-enforces established footwork patterns which are just as useful on the farm as they are in combat.
The student's skills were periodically tested in a ritual manner. This usually involved the hunting of wild boar, deer or snakes without weapons. Performance during these tests was used to gauge the students level of achievement.
US Buno Federation
In 1989, the Philippine Martial Arts Garimot System USA International was founded by Guro Abon "Garimot" Baet. This was the first formal school of Arnis De Mano, established for the progressive study of Harimaw Buno, Mano-mano, Balisong knife fighting, Eskrima, and Hilot (Filipino Healing Arts). One of the goals of the Federation was to promote Buno as a wrestling/Grappling art and to someday promote competitive traditional Buno tournaments open to all martial artists.
During Guro Abon's time of training, mastery of weapons was considered a prerequisite to the study of Buno. However, mostly due to the preponderance of material associated with Arnis and Buno as seperate studies, he elected to seperate the two into mutually exclusive organizations. In july of 1993, the Laguna Arnis Federation International was created in honor of his home town and the annual unpadded stick-fighting tournaments sponsored there under the Garimot System banner. Simultaneously, the US Harimaw Buno Federation was founded for the exclusive purpose of promoting the original art of the Mangyan people as a discipline onto it's own. To this end, modernized instructions have been created to aid in the teaching of the most ancient form of sport martial arts in Philippine history.
The original Harimaw Buno is still practiced by some native Filipino masters. The myriad of techniques employed by these masters, in the standing or ground position, stand apart from those used by more recognizable martial arts. Unusual training methods and emphasis on ancient battle-proven techniques make the Buno master more than a formidable opponent. Recognizable characteristics of Harimaw Buno include limb locks, joint locks, choke holds, head cranks, precision striking, muscle grabs, minor/major pressure point tactics and "biyabit" techniques (come-along maneuvers).
Today, Buno is utilized by law enforcement officers around the world and highly valued by martial arts' masters of all styles and systems.