Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Panantukan, a street-oriented fighting system

What is Panantukan, and what does it have to offer you and me?
I was recently exchanging tweets with Sam Guthrie, a martial artist, and Twitter buddy regarding the utility of the various martial arts with respect to defending the Western boxing jab – something which I contend many Asian systems have trouble. He related that he taught one Kali class where they covered approximately thirty responses to the jab, and send me this Inosanto video as an example. (Forward to approximately 4:00 to start viewing that particular part).

Inosanto is covering some of what he calls classical Panantukan responses to the jab technique. I have to admit that though I have some training in Arnis, a Filipino martial art utilizing bladed or blunt weapons (commonly trained with sticks), I had little exposure to Panantukan, which, according to a non-authoritative source, Wikipedia, is “the boxing component of Filipino martial arts,” and “a part of eskrima.”

I state my experience to make sure that you understand that I am not an expert, or even student of Panantukan. I am, however, what I like to think of as a practical martial artist, and can see what I believe are the benefits of the system.

First of all, any system which has, as the Wikipedia entry states, a variety of “street” techniques such as elbows, knees, shoulder strikes, head-butts, low kicks, and knees, has a lot going for it. If it has the inherent flow of the Filipino stick arts, known as Kali, Arnis, Escrima, and the like (hereafter referred to by Arnis), then it has all the makings of a sophisticated and practical system.

I posit “practical” because it blends the ability to handle knifes, sticks, clubs, and any weapon of opportunity with the ability to content in any striking range whether an attacker has a weapon or is unarmed.

As you know, I’ve posted repeatedly about the disadvantages of sport systems which have descended from true martial arts – including the Taekwondo, BJJ, Judo, or even Kendo. I acknowledge that all of those arts have their practical aspects, and even some variants that preserve the original, or intended, martial techniques that are against the rules in the modern sport. I refer to the most commonly practiced though – they are stripped of the techniques which are most effective in combat. Arnis is the same, in that there are sport tournaments with protective equipment and rules which reduce it’s effectiveness. Overall, however, the sport aspects are less practiced and emphasized, at least in the US, in my opinion.

Instead, the average Arnis practitioner studies his art for the effective techniques, or the art itself, as classically taught, which is combat-effective. Fewer, though, seem to know the empty-hand aspects known as Panantukan.

I would recommend that anyone who studies the Filipino art of the stick, sword, and knife would be well served by checking out, and learning whatever he can about the entire art – I know I will whenever I can.

Comments or questions? Pass em along, and I’ll try to get answers!

For more information:
Wikipedia on Panantukan
TDA What is the relationship of sport judo to unarmed combat?
TDA The Martial Art vs Sport Debate
TDA Training for Sport vs Training for Combat
TDA When Arts Become Sports
TDA If it's against the rules, then it must work!
TDA Why Are Martial Sports Superior?
TDA Enhance Your Empty Hand Speed
TDA Ain't none of it is real!

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Sam Guthrie said...

Great post, Nathan. I really respect your openness and curiosity about all the arts (not to mention your obviously formidable knowledge!). One other very cool element of Panantukan is how most of its techniques fit seamlessly into the structure, footwork and basic movement patterns of boxing. So if you have a decent parry, slip etc., many of the Panantukan motions, at least the punching & kicking range stuff, entries etc. (if not the more exotic follow-ups), flow right in with superb economy.

Another beautiful thing about Panantukan is how it compliments Wing Chun in 2 ways. 1) Wing Chun prefers to "stick," a fine skill, while the checks, parries and traps of Panantukan are all "non-stick," so to speak. A time & a place for each, so good to be fluent in both. 2) Wing Chun likes centerline, while Panantukan stays off of centerline, angling and zoning off to the sides while striking. In my experience, holding centerline isn't always great if my opponent is bigger than me, so then it's nice to angle off and attack from there. (My cockamamey theory is that, in China, most people back then were of more similar size...Musashi notwithstanding).

One last cool connection between Wing Chun and Panantukan: Both arts feature simultaneous evasion (block, parry, slip, whatever) of incoming attacks WHILE striking, instead of "1,2"—"evade and then counter."

Thanks again for a thought provoking post!

BTW, my instructor (back when I was regularly training!), Rick Faye, has amazing DVDs on Panantukan, packed with an astonishing wealth of material. Highly recommended.


Nathan Teodoro said...

Thanks for the comments and video link. I love the flow of FMA, and the obvious devastation it can cause, while being beautiful stylistically. If that makes sense...
I know what you mean about WC, too - I trained in Canton WC, and it was different than anything I'd ever done, and counter-intuitive, but effective. The Panantukan does seem to have the fluid flow of a good boxing style, mixed with the stop-hit of WC/JKD.
Thanks again!

Escrima Sticks said...

awesome video of Mr Danny Inosanto. Filipino Boxing has always caught my attention and its great its still being taught around the world

PananToucan said...

Good to see the FMA getting some props!

Been training JKD/Kali of the Inosanto lineage for a few months now and coming from a Krav Maga background I was surprised at how effective it all is (although I'd agree it has a bit more of a learning curve than the krav).

I think FMA fits very well into the general spectrum of JKD for the reason the above poster mentions - i.e. it integrates well with western boxing and WC.

Our 2nd-in-charge is also a decent thai boxer so we tend to integrate clinching too along with a bit of BJJ style submission grappling (usually once a week) so as we have a bit of ground game too.

Admittedly, I'm far from an accomplished martial artist but I feel my eyes have ben opened the last fewe months to a whole new world I didn't know existed. I'd heard of all the MMA, Smabo, Bjj, MT, WC, etc but the FMA were a bit of an enigma to me until recently. Seems a lot of instructors keep a lower profile, although that could just be me speculating.

For example, my sifu currently has 14 students and has firmly stated he will stop when he reaches 20 to maintain strict quality control...

Anyway, I'm digressing now. Was a good read/video.

Anonymous said...

I have the greatest respect for Dan Inosanto, after all he's extremely well versed in a white variety of martial arts and he produced great teachers such as Ron Balicki, Paul Vunak, Eric Paulson... Panantukan is a great art for the street since it's basically western boxing (which is already formidable and more practical than a lot of flowery, eastern arts) combined with everything that is forbidden in boxing (cfr. Rick Faye), I have been training in it on and off and what I like most is the concept of gunting or scissors: destroy or damage the limb he's attacking you with, limiting his defensive & offensive potential and breaking his concentration through pain control before moving in with your own attacks. The fact it's very compatible with knifework as mentioned before is a great asset since you won't be blocking in a way that will get you sliced up in case you misjudged or just didn't see the opponent was attacking with a blade instead of empty hands. Another big plus is that it can be learned fairly quickly (with hubud the techniques are literally drilled into you with hundreds of reps in only a few minutes), especially if you already have a base in boxing or escrima. In sparring I try to use gunting as much as possible and while it obviously doesn't do anything with the gloves on (with the exception of the siko or elbow gunting which can damage even through the standard boxing glove) and an unknowledgeable opponent will just shrug it's great to know you could do serious damage with this stuff in reality, while keeping yourself relatively safe (it's far easier to get hit when you're attacking the face or body than the limbs).

In short: I love panantukan and it can give you the advantage against better boxers or kickboxers since a few good hits to the limbs will slow them down enough to make the situation managable and will buy you the split second needed to mount a succesful counter-offense.

Good article,


Nathan Teodoro said...

Zara: Great comment. I think what many of us have in common are those styles that use high-rep training methodologies - Arnis, Panantukan, JKD, Wing Chun, and boxing are great examples, as you say. Regarding the weapon or limb destruction, one of the reason my students and I would use boxing gloves is to apply those without actually destroying our partners! Our goals are not to "win" the sparring match, but to develop good habits and technique. Great point again. Thanks for the comments!

Anonymous said...

Training the guntings with gloves is good for interactive practice & sparring, when learning form and technique it's important to do it bare handed since you need to hit fairly accurately and you need confirmation from your partner (it smarts it works). Don't overdo it though: going home all black & blue isn't fun and you can get badly damaged with a full force hit. At the end of the day these skills do need to be practiced in sparring, like you're advocating, and for that protection in the form of gloves or armguards are great.

I like your blog, it's quite practical and for the most part in line with my own thinking.

Tc and have fun,


Anonymous said...

Btw, if you're interested in learning more about panantukan I can recommend the filipino boxing series (3 DVD's) by guru Ron Balicki: chockful of info, great depth and nicely presented and filmed. You won't be dissapointed. Balicki is the son in law to Dan Inosanto (married to Diana Lee Inosanto) and a full instructor under Dan in JKD, kali, maphilindo-silat and a few other arts. Again: highly recommend.


Nathan Teodoro said...

Zara, thanks for the recommendations. Take care- Nathan

Bleh said...

There is no one in my area that teaches Panantukan, unless I go elsewhere to another city, but doing that is not possible for me because of work.

Is it possible to learn from the DVDs and practice it at my martial arts school that I go to?

Any information about learning and being able to teach the Art would be greatful. Thank you!

- Joseph