FMA boxing and western boxing...

Discussion in 'General' started by KrissOfSweden, Dec 15, 2005.

  1. Batang Sugbu

    Batang Sugbu New Member

    I concur with the foregoing! Let me add..and let me be straightforward about it. This story has no basis in fact and obviously fabricated to give a more "Eastern flavor" to Western boxing. I grew up in Cebu City, am still living in Cebu City considered the capital of eskrima and boxing in the Philippines and I've watched and talked and boxed since childhood... all I can remember from the great Cebuano boxers of yore like Flash Elorde, Tanny Campo, Kid Independence, Francisco Balug, Tony Jumao-as, Carl Penalosa, Tito Gonzaga, etc. was that contrary to what Inosanto et al are espousing, it's the reverse. These boxers were influenced by American hall of famers like Gene Tunney, Joe Louise, Sugar "Ray" Robinson, Kid Gavilan, Jersey Joe Walcott, Sonny Liston, Willie Pep, Sandy Sadler, Floyd Patterson.

    Panantukan is a non-existent martial art in the Philippines, likewise Kino-mutai (spelling deliberately changed ot give it a more oriental motif) by Paul Vunak. Kinomotay in Bisaya translation means - squeezing fight or mashing game. it's derive from the root word Komot, to squeeze. Among Cebuanos it also connotes a fight among women or homosexuals - not a deadly martial art but a sissy game!

    IMHO, I like WEstern boxing the way I learned from the great American boxers! These exotic sounding martial arts like Panantukan and Kinomutai have been fabricated long before the internet revolution. Their story tellers took comfort in the fact that in those days long before broad band, no one would be silly enough to go through the arduous job of digging into libraries to refute the veracity of these stories - like the kali urban legend!
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2005
  2. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise Senior Member Supporting Member

    Batang Sugbu,

    Basically this is my understanding as well. However I do not mind
    to much what Paul Vunak or Dan Inosanto did. I understand
    that really, they just wanted to have a different name to
    distinguish themselves. Whether it is right or wrong is certainly
    not for me to judge. More a case for Dan Inosanto's Filipino peers to judge than anyone else.

    Having trained many times in the past with Dan I have always
    found him to be a very good seminar teacher and a genuinely
    open person with his martial skills.

    As to the boxing, I am sure that possibly some western style
    Filipino boxers have influenced other non-filipino boxers and
    I would expect that it is vice versa as well. I am still open to
    discussion on this subject and would be interested to see
    what evidence or information anyone could possibly dig up.

    Brian R. VanCise
  3. JohnJ

    JohnJ Senior Member


    Naming sub-systems is not an issue. It was more on whether such arts existed in the Philippines...their autheticity? Since they are NOT indigenous to the PI, it would be only right to point it out. The Kino Mutai stories became the brunt of jokes, sarcasm and was even found insulting by some of the Manongs and students back home. You are correct, it is not for anyone to judge but such claims are obviously more hurtful to the culture it supposedly stems from.

    John J
  4. Nanalo74

    Nanalo74 New Member

    Well, once upon a time Westerners considered kicking sissy fighting also. Does that make it ineffective? Should we all take kicks out of our arsenal because we don't want to be considered unmanly?

    You contradict yourself by first explaining the root and definition of the word, squeezing or mashing which could also mean pinching, then saying it is a sissy game. Kinomotay or Kino Mutai or Kinomutai (what difference does the spelling make) may be considered unmanly by some but it works. It hurts like hell and it is effective. I've used it. I've had it used on me. I've tossed 275 lb. men around just by grabbing a little skin on their bicep or neck.

    So maybe I'm womanly. But I can whip some ass.

  5. Nanalo74

    Nanalo74 New Member

    To continue,

    Paul Vunak did not invent the term Kino Mutai, nor did he invent the system. He learned it from Dan Inosanto, who in turn learned it from Johnny Lacoste. He was taught that when you get in close you can pinch and bite to control your opponent.

    Grabbing an earlobe to bring a guy in close for an elbow or pinching a guy's bicep so he won't notice the shot coming in from the rear hand is very effective when in close range.

    Panantukan is the Lucaylucay family boxing system. That's what they called it so that's what Dan called it. Most Filipino Martial Art systems are passed on through the families from one generation to another. What they decide to call it is up to them.

    My instructor, Barry Cuda, trained with Dan Inosanto for 9 years and says that Dan picked things up from the various people he trained with over the years. He never claimed to invent anything, he merely passed on what he was taught and those that he taught used the terms that were passed on to them.

    No one is saying that these techniques are universally taught in the PI nor that every system uses them. This is what Dan was taught by his instructors and this is what he blended together for his system. As for the names, well I'm sure if we took a poll of the various FMA systems represented on this website we would find that one technique has several names depending on who you ask and where they are from. Does that mean that they are wrong or that the technique doesn't exist just because another system doesn't use it?

    Besides, what difference does it make what you call it? All that matters is that it works and it keeps you alive.

  6. JohnJ

    JohnJ Senior Member

    Allow me to interject as this topic has been discussed before on several forums in the past years. The issue is not a matter of whether or not the techniques taught are effective. The only issues were whether the so called arts of panantukan, kino mutai and others were indigenous or authentic fighting methods from the Philippines or arts that evolved or were developed elsewhere.

    With the abundance of various dialects in the Philippines, a misuse of words will easily be taken out of context and such connotations can be found absurd, humorous or just plain offensive to Filipinos and their culture. And this is why many have chosen to speak frankly. By no means are the comments meant to discredit the efforts of certain individuals but rather to provide accuracy as to which arts evolved in the Philippines vs. those which were not. I am sorry to be redundant but quite often people miss the point because exchanging dialogue in forums are often gray and clarity is missed.

    Thanks for pointing this out although I am familiar with the story some may not be. I would like to point out that that from my experience such tactics are not meant to control but rather stimulate a flinch or response as a distraction. By doing so, you can either better position yourself or set up your opponent for more hurtful methods.

    If I recall, panantukan/panuntukan, kino-mutai and others were in fact being labeled and promoted as authentic Filipino methods. Some of the stories that surfaced from kino-mutai aside from pinching & biting were that the Manongs would spit in the eyes of their opponents with liquefied tar from chewing tobacco.

    Does that mean that they are wrong or that the technique doesn't exist just because another system doesn't use it?

    No. However, we must all be more considerate of various cultures and the pride that some people let alone practitioners possess. We must be open to the ideas that what has been shared before will not always bare truth. And I think with the growing popularity of FMA around the world and the many systems now finding its way out of the Philippines, we will see various issues and the myths and fables (i.e. decuerdas tunnels) that accompany them slowly deteriorate.

    John J
  7. wes tasker

    wes tasker New Member

    I've always wondered something about the term "panantukan" itself. Is it possible that this word came into being from either Manong LaCoste or one of his teachers as a contraction of either "paggamit ng suntok" or "paggamit ng suntokan"?

    Also, I do appreciate the points Mr. Jacobo made in reference to the many "myths" of the FMA, and I also am glad to see them start to fade. I'm not sure how wide spread some of the adherents of panantukan claim it was/is in the Philippines - but is it possible that the particular method imparted by Manong LaCoste was only practiced by one or two of his teachers? Same for the art practiced by Manong Lucaylucay?

    As an amateur hoplologist, the whole panantukan case is interesting to me, and I appreciate the information so far on this thread. Thank you.

    -wes tasker
  8. tonyr1967

    tonyr1967 New Member


    I don't think anyone can be certain what, if any, influence filipino boxing has had on western boxing...but somethings certainly changed during the 20th century.

    My first post!!!
  9. Sun_Helmet

    Sun_Helmet Junior Member

    My uncle introduced me to the great Flash Elorde when I was a child. My uncle was a boxer and also one of Flash's best friends. He was the ninong of Elorde's son, who used to visit my family in the states. My strongest recollection was the trophy room of Elorde's, it was filled with boxing related medals, trophies and belts.

    Flash Elorde's father was a well known eskrimador. All the boxers who trained with Flash would hang out and ask his father to show them some moves. So Flash grew up with FMA in his blood and heritage. His father's specialty was the long and short.

    Muhammad Ali was quoted in print and on tv during the Thrilla in Manila about his admiration of Flash Elorde. Ali was younger so he knew about Flash's fights.

    Flash is still considered in the top tier of his weight class of all time by RING magazine, not an easy achievement considering the high caliber of fighters in that class.

    Filipino boxers BEFORE Sugar Ray Robinson are captured on film showcasing their footwork and rhythmic movement against European champions. There was a distinct stylistic difference. Some Filipino boxers would get warned in the ring because they would use a flow of a hook turning over into a backhand which wasn't allowed in the ring.

    It may have nothing to do with JKD terminology, but Filipino boxers of that time certainly knew what eskrimadors were and how they moved. I believe them to be smart enough to use whatever advantage they could absorb from their own martial culture.

    Sayoc Kali
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2006
  10. Sun_Helmet

    Sun_Helmet Junior Member


    Viewing some old films of Pinoy Boxers you can see the distinct stylistic contrast from their Western opponents. As much as books and articles describe the action, the footage speak for themselves.

    Now this is not to say other fighters moved this way based on their country of origin, but suffice to say the footage does SHOW an English/Western fighter versus a Filipino in the early era of Boxing as the sport we know today. I haven't seen footage of Filipino fighters of that era moving like their English/Western opponents, nor English/Western boxers moving like the Filipinos.

    1923 World Flyweight Championship
    Pancho Villa - Filipino versus Jimmy Wilde (World Champ)

    In the past there were comments of the lack of blocking evident in European fighters. What I saw here is that Wilde would use his hands to try and deflect blows, like a fencer parrying attacks, but Wilde was rather unsuccessful due to Villa's agility and the way Villa over powered Wilde's stance, a probing left hand lead guard that extended out from Wilde's hip. Wilde's stance reminds me of some sabre fencer's low guard. The Filipino Villa would launch himself with power shots that went right through some of Wilde's defenses. It indicates to me that Wilde's guard was perfect for fighting someone who had a similar posture but not too effective against the Filipino's explosive crouching style. A style that is evident today with Manny Pacquaio.

    In turn, the Filipino Villa would 'absorb' Wilde's punches in a semi crouch turtle guard that looked like Ken Norton's "peek a boo" style decades later (an influence?). This nullified a lot of Wilde's punches and Wilde kept delivering them at the same spots as if he could not adjust from his training's installed muscle memory.

    Villa's guard is different from Wilde's. Wilde used the low held lead left, a bit out from the hips variety that another English fighter uses in the next fight I saw that was filmed a decade later. This open low hanging guard indicates that it was a very popular European boxing stance that lasted over a decade and was probably used before then as well.

    So in contrast - Villa's arms were tucked close together and Wilde's were held out. FMA teaches to keep the arms close to the body to keep them from getting sliced up. European fencing teaches to keep a tip held out, which works great if one has a long sword or edged weapon with a point.

    Now, I don't know if it is Villa's Filipino empty hand experience coming into play, but he does deliver 'illegal' type blows in this match which are backhands flowing after his right hook. It just flows right back after his hook and thumps Wilde a few times. So it's a half beat shot. Wilde even complains to the ref and shows him what Villa is doing. Villa does it pretty fast and tight on few occasions that the ref misses it. Those who train in FMA use this flow in weapons and empty hand work.

    Villa won the fight.

    World Flyweight Championship 1937
    Small Montana (aka Benjamin Gan, he's the Pinoy) versus Benny Lynch

    If ever Filipino 'footwork' may have influenced Ali this is a good evidence of it.
    Gan has a smooth subtle rhythmic bounce to his timing which is very reminiscent of Ali. His jab, especially as he slides away looks much like Ali's. Jab - stick and move.

    The Englishman ? Lynch would hold his lead left straighter, extended farther from his hips similar to Wilde's above.
    The Filipino Gan's left lead is tucked ala Ali's along his side.
    Surprisingly, Gan even does a slight 'Ali' shuffle as he zones out of the punches, DECADES prior to Ali popularizing the move.

    Lynch would come in with a nice lunging left then pop back on his feet. His bounce was after the fact...very different- like a fencer getting out of the way after a lunge and recovering from the movement. Linear. He establishes this more as the fight wore on. Otherwise Lynch was the flatter of foot.

    Gan would be bouncing prior to striking ala Ali. Then slide back and bounce away. The bounce was more a timing gauge as it set up his shots rather than recover. This explosiveness and bouncy rhythm is again reminiscent of the earlier Filipino boxer.

    Decision goes to Lynch. Gan looks like he abandoned his earlier smooth style and stood flatter- perhaps fatigue set in. No one looked badly hurt in the fight.


    One detail really stood out- the way the boxers acted on the ring. They would shake hands prior to the bout as they entered the ring as if to meet for afternoon tea or something.

    Sayoc Kali
  11. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    It's really interesting to read about the specific differences in the Western and Filipino approaches to boxing. I'd like to see someone puclish a serious study of it. Everyone argues about who influenced whom in boxing (as in otehr arts), but I wonder if an historian could really tease out the truth?
  12. Silence_sucks

    Silence_sucks New Member

    The way it was explained to me was that the Filipino martial arts being a weapons based system and the empty hands components no matter what they are called being derived from knife and other weapons work meant that hand positioning and foot work was based off the knife work. The hands up to protect the neck like in tapi tapi, to not present a target to the knife and the foot work based off the evasiveness needed to deal with the knife in largo mano range. The more diverse angles and types of strikes used in the empty hand component was also attributed to the knife. All this you probably already knew.

    Up until around the time when the G.I.'s did stay in the P.I. boxing used the the London rules of bare knuckle boxing which lacked the diversity of strikes and footwork that is seen in western boxing today. It was explained to me that because of the Filipinos knife influenced version of boxing that the concept of footwork, hand position and the different angles of strikes became practiced in western boxing.

    Now I'm just taking this on the word of my sifu and Guro Inosanto but the correlation between the presence of the knife influenced Filipino empty hands and the introduction of the foot work, hand positioning and additional strikes into western boxing would logically indicate that there was some Filipino influence on western boxing.
  13. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    JV Tuazon.

    Quijano: A different kind of physician

  14. Fan the Madman

    Fan the Madman Circles with Knives

    Very cool article.

    Question for you. Traditional arts guy with CMA and FMA background (i.e. me) has opportunity to get alot of one on one time with a master-class boxing coach (35+ years experience, multiple golden gloves and olympic levels coached, nationals etc.).
    What (not IF.. I already know I should eat hearty) would you advise looking at in the boxing curriculum/training especially hard, from the viewpoint of improving one's FMA understanding and flow?

  15. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Sharpening my jab and esp. cross were big for me, and I fire the live-hand cross a lot more now when tied up in stickwork!
  16. mabagani

    mabagani Pendato

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