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The Crippling Kicks of Escrima

by Mark V. Wiley The warrior arts have long been the backbone of Filipino society. In fact, it is the practice and preservation of these arts that has kept the Philippine archipelago from permanent domination by a foreign power. The Philippine martial arts escrima, arnis de mane, and kali are still widely practiced today. ltho!gh edged, impact, and pro"ectile weapons form the n!cle!s of these fighting systems, their respective kicking methods are essential elements of their effectiveness. #!ring the $paniards% &''(yearspl!s domination of the northern Philippines, weapons were banned and the warrior arts were forced into secl!sion. The weapons systems were practiced and preserved, however, in dances set to native rhythms, which were often performed for the $paniards% en"oyment. )ne s!ch dance, the sin!log, clima*ed with a mock sword battle, while the bibabayan dance resembled a skirmish between two gro!ps of men who brandished swords and shields. Whereas the Filipino weapons systems were preserved in dance form, warrior kicking methods were disg!ised in games. $ipa, a game often played by Filipino children, consists of a rattan ball that is kicked into the air and m!st not be allowed to hit the gro!nd. +icking techni,!es are employed by team members to keep the ball airborne. $ikaran, a more combative game, involves two men who attempt to kick one another o!t of a small circle. fter one opponent has been kicked o!t of the bo!ndaries, a new opponent enters the circle and challenges the victor. The Filipino weapons and kicking methods were event!ally integrated into one complete system thro!gh clandestine training. The Filipinos discovered that by adding kicking techni,!es to their e*isting weapons repertoire, they co!ld effectively overcome an opponent versed only in weaponry. Panan"akman, the name given to these combative kicks, has proven to be an integral part of the escrima system in partic!lar. While not as aesthetically appealing as, say, the flashy kicks of tee kwon do, panan"akman techni,!es have proven especially effective for diverting an opponent%s attention and disr!pting his timing and balance, which then affords the escrimadoran opening to attack. ltho!gh panan"akman incl!des more than a half(do-en kicks, they are variations of "!st two techni,!es. sipang paharap/front kick0 and sipanggabiakid /reverse kick0. The primary targets for the sipang paharap and the sipang pabiakid are the opponent%s instep, the front and back of the knee, the calf, and the thigh. The kicks foc!s on the opponent%s lower body beca!se they are likely to be str!ck by the opponent%s weapon if delivered higher. lso, an attempt to lift the foot higher than waist level co!ld res!lt in a loss of balance and timing, which can prove fatal in the fast and !npredictable world of weapons combat. 1sing a form of 2triangle2 movement, the escrimador skilled in panan"akman is able to change positions fre,!ently, with no apparent shifting of his !pper body to telegraph his intentions. The escrimador !ses stomping techni,!es to create a 2broken2 rhythm that keeps the

opponent distracted !ntil an opening is established. )nce an open target is fo!nd on the opponent%s legs, the escrimador delivers a kick and ,!ickly follows it !p with either another kick, or a hand or weapon techni,!e, !ntil the skirmish is ended. #iligent practice and perseverance are needed to ens!re proper development of panan"akman techni,!es. 3y repeatedly e*ec!ting the kicks d!ring empty(hand and weapons se,!ences, they become second nat!re and will prove to be efficient elements of an escrimador%s overall arsenal. Proper post!re and balance are a m!st d!ring the e*ec!tion of panan"akman kicks. Inferior balance or post!re ca!ses kicks to lack power, and leaves the escrimador in an awkward or !nstable position, which can res!lt in his defeat. In panan"akman training, emphasis is placed on creating, and adapting to, vario!s timing patterns. The escrimador can deliver the kicks by themselves in a steady rhythm, or they can be !sed with a broken rhythm and delivered in combination with weapons or empty(hand techni,!es. Timing is developed thro!gh sparring drills. Proper balance is developed thro!gh specific kicking drills. )ne method has the escrimador stand on one leg and kick a target for an e*tended period of time while maintaining his balance. nother method is a two(man drill which incl!des triang!lar footwork. This drill incorporates the sipang paharap and the sipang pabiakid within the framework of a 45(step pattern. Proper timing and balance on the part of the escrimador, co!pled with the s!dden e*plosiveness of the kicks themselves, are the reasons for panan"akman%s effectiveness. nd while there are many effective kicking methods in the martial arts, only escrima offers s!ch destr!ctive kicks while sim!ltaneo!sly skirmishing with weapons. It is no wonder, then, that the Filipino warrior arts are among the deadliest combat styles known to mankind.