Why Espada Y Daga...from the PTI newsletter

Discussion in 'Pekiti-Tirsia Kali' started by Jack Latorre, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. Jack Latorre

    Jack Latorre Siyam

    Here's yet another article from the PTI newletter that may help some folks understand some of the different contexts with which to view their espada y daga. It is written primarily to PTI members, of course, but concepts are fairly universal that any FMA practitioner can glean something from it hopefully.

    Coaches Corner: Why Espada Y Daga?
    Jack A. Latorre

    If one looks at how the Filipino Martial Arts are marketed and portrayed, you will see that many instructors/schools will promote and advertise using knife, single stick and double stick. Occasionally one may see espada y daga being touted, but it is a rarity. Yet so many instructors/schools include it in their curriculum. Sometimes it is included merely as a "preservation of history"…sometimes others will show it in case you carry a collapsible baton and a pocket knife. In any event, espada y daga is commonly viewed as esoteric by the general public, and even by some Filipino martial art practitioners themselves. There are systems who have espada y daga, but it is merely single stick and it is coincidental that a knife is being held in the other hand. Do the research and you will see it for yourself.
    It has been said by a number of Pekiti-Tirsia instructors (most notably Mataas Na Tuhon Gaje and Tuhon McGrath) that the two "crown jewels" of the system are its knife and its espada y daga. Yet many who wish to study the system generally come to train primarily for knife (understandably so) and for single stick. The assumption is that those are the two most practical parts of the curriculum for most practitioners. For many, those two curricular parts are quite practical. But many who have trained for some time in Pekiti-Tirsia and have a discerning eye will see espada y daga with a knowing eye and a grin. There is much more to this part of the curriculum than either "historical preservation" or the need to carry a stick and a pocket knife at all times (not a bad idea though…). And with the right kind of attention to training, it is all very practical.
    There are three "levels" in the PTI Espada Y Daga , each referring to the orientation of your knife in contrast to your opponent’s knife. Level one has both you and the opponent with your knives held in sak-sak (hammer grip). Level two has you in pakal (ice pick grip) and your opponent in sak-sak. Level three has both participants using pakal grip. Why is this format important? It allows the practitioner to see the pros and cons of using a particular grip against a similar or different grip that your opponent may use. And if one stays in the system long enough to see some of the rest of the curriculum, then one will readily see that these pros and cons regarding the knife are echoed in the Solo Daga curriculum. Why is that important? Because any time any new information can be sensibly linked to any previous information learned, then both the new and the old information become reinforced and more likely to be made functional. Therefore, the practitioner can improve in his knife work from training in espada y daga as long as he works intelligently to link the two curriculums together.
    Each level in the PTI Espada Y Daga curriculum has its own set of attacks. The attacks are really a combination of strikes utilizing both the espada and the daga, which emphasize not only the good body dynamics of how to strike, but how to strike with a particular strategy in mind in a given range. Both the motions of the espada and the daga have a synchronicity reminiscent of double stick, but with a different kind of agility afforded by the relative "shortness" of the daga. And to have a realistic use of the daga in espada y daga "fighting", one has to be made aware of the close range that the daga can only be used in. In one sense, one learns some basic "rules" for the espada-hand and another set of "rules" for the daga-hand. There is an introduction to what one can and cannot do…should and should not do…for either weapon hand. So once again, if one trains intelligently, one can easily make correlations to Doble Baston (in terms of the offensive/counter-offensive "interweaving" of the weapons) and to the functionality of footwork regarding range and evasion.
    Each level has its own set of correlated disarms…disarms against the espada and disarms against the daga. The Espada Y Daga Disarms teach how a particular grip has a particular feel against either one of the opponent’s weapons. The mechanics of a disarm are usually shown against a particular attack, although more practice and guidance will reveal how similar mechanics are used against varying attacks. The obvious linkage is not only to Pekiti Disarma, but to Doble Disarma as well (particularly the knife translations).
    Contrada theory in PTI has often been likened to a light-caliber machine gun…that the Contradas often make use of multiple strikes in varying scenarios. Contrada theory is often very aggressive and has the added feature of allowing the practitioner to abandon a given technique or flow into another technique if things do not happen "according to plan". The Espada Y Daga Contradas in each level of PTI Espada Y Daga are essentially two-man "forms" that teach some of the permutations that could happen in an altercation and some of the potential "answers" that the practitioner has at his disposal. In the Contradas, the practitioner learns many entries…and hopefully the entry itself will end the confrontation. One would prefer to end the confrontation with a simple strike from the Solo Baston Sub-System. But Contrada theory analyzes some of the possibilities in combat if the entry itself does not have the desired effect or Murphy’s Law rears its head. The daga hand may take on many roles within a Contrada…it may assist the espada in the entry…it may be the primary offensive tool as the espada becomes defensive or creates subterfuge…it may take on a defensive role by disarming or jamming the opponent…it more than likely plays several of these roles within the confines of a single Contrada. So why is this important? Much is said about the modularity and redundancy of the Filipino martial arts…that learning a technique with one weapon is the same as learning the same technique using another weapon (e.g. how Doble Baston translates to Mano Y Mano). What one learns with the daga-hand in espada y daga almost always has some translation with the alive hand. Therefore, espada y daga truly can help the practitioner in their Solo Baston work. The alive hand becomes much more aggressive…akin to the work seen in the third set of Solo Baston Recontras. It also can help a practitioner prepare for he counter-alive hand work seen in Solo Baston Alphabito. In fact, much of the curriculum for Doble Daga directly correlates to what happens in Espada Y Daga, with some modifications. And if movements can be correlated to Doble Daga, there must be some correlation to Solo Daga, and hence Mano Y Mano. Once again, intelligent training done with honesty and intensity will reveal how these pieces of the curriculum connect…and how Espada y Daga training can and should be linked to everything else one does in the system.
    If Contrada theory is the PTI equivalent to a light-caliber machine gun, then Recontra theory is the twelve-gauge shotgun, alternately loaded with buckshot and slugs, with a bayonet fastened to the barrel. The PTI Espada Y Daga Recontras are also two-man "forms" that answer some of the questions regarding what may happen in a combative engagement, just like the Contradas. The entries and techniques found within the Recontras are aggressive (like the Contradas counterparts) and "bullying" in feel, but also more timing-dependent. Also characteristic of the Recontras is that they are not as technique-dense…they generally shorter and more to the point. Another hallmark of most Recontras is that they have "finishers" which can be best described as contemptuous in feel…that the opponent did something particularly heinous and, therefore, deserved a particular punitive act. Again, why the importance here? The Recontras help various things. Because they are, in fact, very timing-dependent, one is forced to work on that aspect if a Recontra is to be done successfully. If timing is not made paramount, either the practitioner is made particularly vulnerable to counterattack, or the practitioner simply should not attempt that type of entry (an opt for something more Contrada in feel). Any aspect of combat is largely affected by timing, and the Recontras underscore that. Also, larger practitioners may find the techniques here more to their liking because of the "bullying" aspect. And similarly to the Contradas, the daga-hand learns many functions…being defensive, being offensive and just being "mean". As a lesson in comparison, try translating the techniques from the Solo Baston Recontras Set 3 into Espada Y Daga (Pakal) and it becomes a lesson in modularity. Conversely, try translating any Espada Y Daga Recontra into a Solo Baston execution.
    All of this is part of the "art" aspect of this martial "system". The system teaches the "how", "when" and "why" aspects…the spontaneous manner in which this information is utilized becomes the "art". And any degree of spontaneity in combat requires proper and intelligent practice…and lots of it. It is one of the duties of the diligent student to not only learn the techniques in the system and find the contexts that make each one functional, but to see how outwardly disparate parts affect each other because in reality, they are related in one way or another.
    To paraphrase Guro Omar Hakim many years ago, "Leo would tell us that all Pekiti-Tirsia is is angle 1, angle 2 and footwork. What he wouldn’t tell the general public is that there is a billion different ways to do angle 1, angle 2 and footwork." What I believe he meant by this is that once you understand how to do one, two and footwork, you can figure out how to strike with other methods with footwork (like the other cuts and thrusts). And once you figure those things out, then you can figure out how to defend against those strikes. And if you can figure those things out, you can figure out how to do it with two sticks. And if you can figure that out, then…you get picture, hopefully. All this to say that all roads came from "one, two and footwork", so naturally there are core mechanics to all techniques, no matter how diverse those roads are now. One of the many great things about the Pekiti-Tirsia curriculum as a whole is that one does not have to do all of the research and field testing. Much of it was done for you. But the key thing here is that you should do as much research and field testing as you can. Then you can verify your findings (or not) with those who came before you. And learn lots in the process.
    What seems to be an overwhelmingly large system becomes just that more digestible if one starts making the connections between blocks of instruction. And what would seem like an impractical weapon combination to train in can now become the new "lens" to view the rest of the system with. It is this critical lens which helps define how this system really is.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2008
  2. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    The system I study has very little EyD in it--really just a token passing drill--so what we know of it we have largely had to learn on our own by experimentation or by looking at other systems. Yet, we often say that using two weapons of dissimilar length at the same time is one of the hardest things to do! But we do often throw punches with our "live" hand and consider that that could be a knife stab. It doesn't get in much by way of slashes, but does give us something.

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