Pinoy Martial Arts on the Rise

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  • When we speak of martial arts and other methods of close combat, what immediately comes to mind are familiar Eastern disciplines like judo, karate, jiujitsu and taekwondo. Here in the Philippines, the martial arts discipline of arnis is popular and is taught in schools. But there are two lesser known martial arts disciplines that are slowly but surely being discovered by Pinoy martial arts aficionados: Pekiti-Tirsia Kali and Yaw-Yan.

    “Ang Yaw-Yan ay hindi lang isang martial arts kundi isang paraan na maging isa kang mabuting mamamayang Pilipino,” said Rey Yap, founder of Yaw-Yan Buhawi, mixed martial arts.

    “I have been doing this since 1978. The name Yaw-Yan is derived from the last syllables of the words sayaw ng kamatayan. Binuo nito ng aming grandmaster na si Napoleon Fernandez noong 1972. Mahabang panahon niyang pinagaralan kung paano niya ilalabas ito at ano ang kabuoan. Grandmaster Fernandez came from different kinds of disciplines. So he came up with Yaw-Yan, Sayaw ng Kamatayan, na parang nagsasayaw ang gumagawa nito but it is deadly. Every time a fighter of Yaw-Yan strikes an opponent, it is deadly,” explained Yap.

    It was back in 1972 when the martial arts discipline of Yaw-Yan was first made public and from then on, it reaped a string of success in the now popular sport of kick boxing in the Philippines. Grandmaster Fernandez is a Filipino and he has always stressed that he established Yaw-Yan for the Filipino people.

    “Its movements, its strikes at sa bawat atake, nababagay siya sa Pilipino kasi ang Pinoy ay maliit, payat at ang karamihan ay magaan. Sa pagaaral ni grandmaster Fernandez nito at nung itinatag niya ang Yaw-Yan, nakabagay talaga sa mga Pilipino ang mga galaw at pagatake. Pang Pilipino talaga ito.

    “Ang Yaw-Yan kasi has a lot of kicks, napakaraming sipa ang Yaw-Yan. Ang pinagkaiba ng Yaw-Yan sa karamihan na martial arts disciplines ay mayroon siyang strikes na parang pumapalo. Para kang may dalang arnis. Doon kinuha ni grandmaster Fernandez ang idea na ito kasi he is also a grandmaster of arnis. So imagine na wala ka hawak na arnis at ang gamit mo ay mga kamay mo para gamitin mo na arnis,” said Yap.

    “Even now, mayoon mga Yaw-Yan followers na gumagamit ng bolo punches kung tawagin namin, na sumusuntok tapos pumapalo gamit ang kamay at braso. At kapag nakita ito ng mga tao, nagtatawanan sila kasi parang galaw daw ng binabae o bakla. Pero ang nakakatawa ay by the time na maghiwalay ang dalawang fighters, duguan na ang kalaban. Just imagine that you hands have gloves while the arms are bare. So ginagamit mo rin yung mga braso mo at talagang pinapatigas namin ang mga ito sa training. Hinahataw naming ito sa mga matitigas na bagay,” explained Yap.

    “So iyon ang mga advantages ng Yaw-Yan sa karamihan na martial arts. Mayroon siyang movements na pababa, mayroon siyang patagilid, mayroon papasok at mayroon pataas at paikot. Hindi puwedeng hindi ka ma-inlove sa Yaw-Yan kasi this is a Filipino martial arts. Nung panahon noon, pumasok ako sa ganitong uri ng trabaho kasi gusto ko matuto ng martial arts at unti-unti kong naintindihan na ito ay gawa ng isang Pilipino. Ang pananaw namin ay sumikat ito sa Pilipinas at tangkilikin ng mga Pilipino kasi para sa Pilipino ito,” said Yap.

    “Ang nakakalungkot at ito ang katotohanan, dahil sa naging pangngalan niya na Sayaw ng Kamatayan, hindi namin ma-penetrate ang mga schools. When we visit schools at sabihin namin na magtuturo kami for free, hindi namin ito ma-penetrate at dahil sa pangngalan, ayaw ng mga schools ito. Paano namin babaguhin ang pangngalan ng Yaw-Yan? Ito na siya at dito sumikat ang Yaw-Yan.

    “Kaya nakakalungkot because hindi namin ma-penetrate ang mga schools so hirap na hirap kaming ipropogate sa Filipino people na itong Yaw-Yan ay sariling atin at mga galaw nito ay pang Filipino,” said Yap.

    Yap stressed that when someone practices Yaw-Yan, learning this truly unique Pinoy martial arts is only secondary. The very first thing that a child will learn is the discipline of Yaw-Yan. He explained that “kung anak ka man, maging mabuting kang anak sa magulang mo. Kung asawa ka, maging mabuting asawa ka sa asawa mo. Kung tatay ka, maging mabuting tatay ka sa mga anak mo.  Yaw-Yan is not only about martial arts at alam ito ng lahat ng members ng Yaw-Yan Buhawi. Palagi ko ito madiin na ipinapaliwanag sa kanila na ang Yaw-Yan ay makakatulong sa pagharap mo sa buhay. Kung wala ka pang pamilya at nagkapamilya ka na, malaki ang maitutulong ito kung paano mo itataguyod ang pamilya mo.”

    “Sa pagharap ko sa bawat isa sa kanila, sa mga members ng Yaw-Yan Buhawi, kung paano ko irespeto whether mahina siya matuto o mabagal man siya matuto, kung paano ko siya pinagtiyatiyagaang turuan, paano ko sila binibigyan ng oras ay makikita nila kung ano ang disiplina ng Yaw-Yan,” Yap explained.

    When he put up a gym for Yaw-Yan Buhawi back in the late 1970s, Yap had no money in his pockets. “Tulong lahat ng estudiyante ko at sila ang bumili ng mga kagamitan at tulong tulong namin nabuo ang gym. Tatlong beses na ako lumipat ng gym, mula sa maliit, palaki hanggang sa nandito na ako sa gym namin. Lahat ng mamahaling gamit sa gym namin ay donasyon ng mga estudiyante. So hindi ko kailangan ng pera pero nakakapagturo ako and every time I make money from our gym, binibili ko ng gamit para sa kanila.”

    “Kapag nararandaman ko na ang isang estudiyante ay walang pera at pumunta siya dito sa gym at hindi naman siya dekotse, sasabihin ko sa kanya kung ano kaya niyang pambayad at mahalin niya yung martial art na ito. Alam lahat ng estudiyante ko iyan.

    “Hindi talaga ako sumusuko na ipropogate itong Yaw-Yan. Naniniwala ako sa lahat ng mga naging fighter at estudiyante ko. Meron at meron pa rin magpapatayo ng gym at ipapangalan nila ay Yaw-Yan,” said  Yap.

    By Jose K. Lirios

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