Jeet Kune Do Filipino Kali Athens Greece

Greek version of the web-siteEnglish version of the web-site



Bando History: Overview

The primary Burmese martial arts system practiced today is "Bando." The word "Bando" is a hybrid, composed from the Burmese "Ban" and the Japanese suffix "do"; it is generally held to have three primary meanings:

1. A "way of discipline";

2. Systems of defense;

3. The art of fighting, or combat.


Bando is a composite or synthesis of numerous traditional personal combative systems from Burma. Bando, as it is practiced in the U.S., was introduced in the late 1950's by Maung Gyi, and is promulgated today in the U.S. by the non-profit "American Bando Association, Inc."  Maung Gyi is now known as Dr. U M. Gyi, after earning his doctoral degree. He serves as the Grandmaster of American Bando. Although he retired from leadership of the ABA recently, he still maintains a vigorous, rigorous teaching schedule with students across the U.S.
A date of 1968 has also been reported as to Bando's introduction in the U.S., but this refers to the later-created American Bando Association, as opposed to the first classes instructed by Dr. Gyi.

For the broad purposes of this article, we can identify three key periods of time in the evolution of Bando as we know it today. First, it is generally held that Bando traditions practiced in the U.S. today by Dr. Gyi's students can be traced to around the time of Christ. Second, it is thought that the first Bando traditions became more readily recognizable around 300 A.D. The third milestone date is the exposition of what could be recognized as "modern" Bando around 1,500 A.D.

Bando Banshay

Bando's Beginnings

As indicated earlier, some writers contend that Bando's beginnings can be dated to the time of Christ. This view holds that the Bando system promulgated in the U.S. today ("Hanthawaddy Bando") evolved initially as the indigenous fighting system of the Pyus of Northern Burma. Subsequent contact with traveling priests, merchants, and diplomats of the Roman Empire, Ceylon, India, Tibet and China greatly influenced the philosophical and technical evolution of combative systems in Burma.

For example, Roman contacts in the area have been verified by archaeologists as early as 132 A.D. Documented visits from Roman ambassadors occurred in 97 and 121 A.D. These records compliment the grace, elegance and hospitality of the ancient Pyus. Chinese contact (T'ang Dynasty), a visit by Marco Polo and other influences have been corroborated.

The early and advanced development of Burmese civilization is also well-known. The famous pagoda city of Pagan has been referred to as early as 108 A.D., but there is considerable skepticism as to this date. In any event, the splendor of the kingdom remains uncontested.

The Ayegyi warrior-monks (First Burmese Empire 1057-1287 A.D.) added philosophical and religious aspects to the evolving Pyu combative systems. These monks also contributed sophistication in certain physical aspects of the system (while maintaining its combative orientation). Dr. Gyi has begun to teach the Bando Monk System (see discussion later), a remarkable “non-violent martial art”.

The Pyu monks are believed to have been highly skilled in boxing, archery, sword and stick fighting. Some historians speculate that these monk arts may have been influenced by Chinese systems. A recent (twentieth century) change in these systems came with the infusion of the warrior codes of the Gurkhas into Bando, along with emphasis upon use of the famous Gurkha short-sword, the kukri.

The Pyu monks taught various systems at either Ghaza Khunit Kyaung (Seven Schools of Arts) or Kho Kyuang (Nine Schools of Arts). Royal princes, noblemen and military personnel all received formal training in martial arts at these schools. Up to the era of King Thibaw, the last Burmese king (1878-1885 A.D.), warriors who were highly skilled in the martial arts were designated as "Royal Boxers." Their names were recorded on the Royal treasury scrolls. Hence the term "sport of Kings" for Burmese Boxing (or "Letwhay"). Full Members (black belts) of the American Bando Association are entitled to wear the Royal Boxer’s Ring.

When compared with its status as the Sport of Kings, the art of Burmese Boxing today is all but extinct in Burma (now called Myanmar), according to the reports of visitors to Burma in the 1980’s and 1990’s. It is no longer practiced by professional boxers whose time is chiefly devoted to training. Instead, farmers and peasants in rural areas box on festival days, but their lifestyle and economic condition does not allow for full time training. This contrasts dramatically with the situation in Thailand relative to Muay-Thai.

Given the declining state of traditional full-contact boxing in Myanmar today, Bando boxers in the U.S. do their best to carry on the traditions of Royal Boxers. Each November, the ABA stages an annual Kickboxing Tournament in Columbus, Ohio.

The Mongols Invade

The grand civilization of the first Burmese Empire was devastated by Mongol invasion of Genghis Khan in the 13th century; it would take the Burmese some 200 years to restore peace and unity. Despite the clear military superiority of the invading Mongols, the Burmese resisted against all odds.

After suffering ultimate defeat at the hands of the Mongols (including the fall of Pagan), the Burmese continued to harass and attack the conquering Mongols. One is reminded of the resistance in Afghanistan following the Soviet invasion of that country. With the assistance of the fierce Shan tribesmen in Northern Burma, the Mongols suffered a particularly punishing guerrilla war across the mountains of Burma.

Dr. Gyi Letha Yoga

Rise of Post-Mongol Burma

A Second Burmese Empire was established during the lifetime of the warrior-king Bayinnaung (1551 A.D.). However, after his death, the kingdom disintegrated. It was not until 1758 that a third warrior-king, Alaungpaya, successfully and fully reunified the nation. He was killed at the siege of the Siamese (Thai) capital of Ayuthiya. He had already expelled the French and burned the British trading posts. Alaungpaya's son continued the war, and, in a savage act of revenge, conquered and devastated the Siamese capital in 1767 A.D.

The pagodas, temples, relics and irreplaceable cultural artifacts in the capital were decimated as the rampaging Burmese sacked the capital.

Dr. Gyi points out that to this day, the Burmese people carry the guilt of this cultural atrocity. The virtual demolition of a great cultural and religious center was an act of unrestrained vengeance.

Conquered by the British

After repulsing forces from China, the Burmese then pressed West into India, seizing Assam. There, the Burmese encountered an immovable object directly astride their path of conquest: the British Empire. Three bloody Anglo-Burmese Wars resulted: 1824-26, 1852 and 1878. Losing these wars, Burma became a subjugated Asian Colony of Britain, annexed to India.

With this accomplished, the British set about ruthlessly suppressing indigenous Burmese combative systems, both empty-hand and weapon-oriented. This action was calculated to inhibit rebellion, but it also nearly destroyed the precious cultural artifact of indigenous and highly-developed Burmese combative systems. This process is not unlike the suppression of indigenous martial arts on Okinawa.

Burmese Martial Arts Go "Underground"

Prior to World War II, Burmese combative systems had been generally termed "Thaing," with at least nine major systems, each linked to the primary Burmese racial/ethnic groups: Burmese, Chin, Chinese, Indian, Kachin, Karen, Mon, Shan and Talaing, each with a different manifestation of the art. Nonetheless, these systems had been driven "underground" for nearly a century as World War II approached.

Only a select few were taught the arts in secret by the Masters, so the young could carry on the knowledge of the past. In the land where Bando Boxing had been the "Sport of Kings", it had now become a criminal act. Under Sections 109 and 110 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, imposed by the British, Burmese "Letway" boxers and Thaing/Bando practitioners were classed as "vagrants" and "habitual criminal offenders."

Rescued from Oblivion: The Military Athletic Club

As the clouds of what would become World War II hung over Asia, the British authorities in Burma permitted small scale martial arts training under government sponsorship and rigid controls (in order to prevent the spread of these disciplines into the populace as a whole). This was accomplished through the establishment, in 1933, of the famous "Military Athletic Club."

The Club was first formed by nine Gurkha officers (including Dr. Gyi's father, U Ba Than Gyi). These nine men were determined to restore full vigor to the ancient fighting arts of India, Tibet, Burma, and China. The group also was intent upon integrating some aspects of Japanese arts. As of 1966, information on the Founders of the Military Athletic Club was as follows (ages as of 1966):

Yogi Abehanada Indian, 76 years old, retired near Darjeeling, India

C. C. Chu Chinese, 80 years old, returned to mainland China

A. K. Khan Pakistani, 69 years old, retired in Karachi, East Pakistan

U Zaw Min Burmese, 70 years old, retired in Tongoo, Burma

G. Bahadur Gurkha, 79 years old, retired in Darjeeling, India

Saw Ba U Karen, 66 years old, retired in Insein, Burma

Dowa Naung Kachin, 71 years old, retired in Mogong, Burma

Boji Mein Sa Arakanese, 63 years old, retired in Rangoon, Burma

U Ba Than (Gyi) Burmese, 81 years old, retired in Twante, Burma

Guruji Gonju Bahadur was the first Chairman of the Club. Initially, beyond the Founders, there were some 90 members. In 1936, selected non-military men were allowed to participate due to their high level of martial / combative knowledge and skill. In 1939, total membership was increased to 300.

The training in the Military Athletic Club was extremely stark, rugged, brutal and realistic. From the perspective of today’s legal environment in the United States, such training is inconceivable. For example, it is reported that 15 members collapsed and died during a series of incredibly rigorous training drills. Some 33 members are said to have died of injuries during the group's annually staged private combat bouts.

Lord Mountbatten (then High Commissioner of His Majesty's Imperial and Colonial Forces in Asia) reportedly attended one of these tournaments in 1937. After viewing these life and death contests, he is said to have made his historic remark: "Beautifully brutal art . . . I'm happy they're on our side." General Orde Wingate is said to have called the members of this private military club "Bando Bastards."



During the same time, small sects of thama (ones who use Burmese fighting arts) trained secretly in the Hanthawaddy district and elsewhere. Burmese youth movements of the 1930s also used these combative systems for the purpose of defying the British and to emphasize the nationalistic ideology which was becoming more prominent.

After the successful invasion of Burma by the Japanese, Burmese nationalists were genuinely happy the British had been driven in disarray from Burma. The Japanese encouraged revival of Burmese combative arts. The humiliating British defeat is well described in the literature: Belden, (1944), Slim (1957), and Segrave (1943), are but a few of the popular "I was there" descriptions of those desperate days.

In Burma, a "trust Japan" campaign for gaining the confidence of the populace was instituted throughout Burma. From the perspective of the martial arts, the key organizations were the East Asia Youth League and the Japanese-Burmese Budo Association During this time, some Japanese influence was added to the Burmese arts, particularly from the arts of Aikido and Jiu-Jitsu.

The Japanese Occupation: "Independence"

On January 22, 1943, Premier Tojo of Japan announced that Burma would be given her freedom and independence. This was looked upon by many Burmese citizens as final deliverance from the British occupation and its concomitant oppression of their own culture. Instead, a puppet government was installed by the Japanese.

The new government was determined to establish an unbreakable grip on the populace. Its most horrifying tool was the use of the Japanese Secret Police (KEMPETAI). The KEMPETAI's actions seemed to be deliberately modelled after the Nazi Gestapo. The KEMPETAI shocked not only the Burmese, but many high-level well-educated Japanese military personnel. Thus, initial admiration and support of the Japanese turned into hatred. Burmese troops led by General Aung San eventually joined the Allied cause.

The Japanese staged a major offensive to conquer India, using Burma as a base for the attack. After some of the bloodiest battles in Asia, the Japanese were defeated. (V-J Day remains a holy day for American Bando practitioners.) The Japanese suffered as many as 150,000 dead, wounded and missing.

Bando article by Dr. Karl J. Duff

Source: American Bando Association








  Bando Lethwei

Bando After the War

U Ba Than Gyi and the Systemization of Bando

Dr. Gyi's father, U Ba Than Gyi, became a key part of the post-war Burmese government. A brilliant scholar and masterful martial artist, U Ba Than Gyi had played a key role in the establishment of the Military Athletic Club in pre-World War II Burma. Now, he would find himself in an ideal situation to further the goals of the Military Athletic Club: U Ba Than Gyi would become the director of the Burmese program of physical education and athletics. To Bando's great benefit, U Ba Than Gyi seized the opportunity to travel throughout the country under the auspices of the government. He sought out masters of the martial arts throughout Burma from many styles and systems.

The British had originally suppressed the native Burmese martial arts, as had been the case with the rulers of Okinawa. And, as was the case in Okinawa, the indigenous Burmese martial arts had not disappeared altogether. Instead, masters and families had kept the suppressed systems alive in secret. Now, U Ba Than could travel the nation openly and confer with these living legacies.

U Ba Than was particularly interested in organizing the knowledge of the surviving masters in Burma. Their arts had been preserved within close-knit family structures, or perhaps disguised for preservation in the form of folk dance (as in China and Okinawa), or in forms of entertainment, such as the theater and the opera, as in the Chinese opera. In addition, some clever progenitors had hidden the essence of some systems in the guise of sports activities, channeling aggression and conflict into an arena between two men as opposed to training groups to undertake resistance against the government.

Dr. Maung Gyi

Dr. Maung Gyi

Eventually, martial artists from many styles came to visit the Elder Gyi's (U Ba Than Gyi’s) compound and demonstrate their various systems. Those demonstrations were very demanding. "Masters" who could not perform on their promises faced a series of aggressive "reality checks".

For example, Dr. Gyi relates the story of one "master" who claimed his martial prowess would allow him to defeat ten attacker simultaneously. A test was arranged by the Gyis at a soccer field. Ten attackers were arrayed against the "master". The "master" was simultaneously attacked by all ten.

Dr. Maung Gyi & Guro Dan Inosanto

Dr. Maung Gyi & Guro Dan Inosanto

Resurgence of Bando Boxing

As he undertook to gain widespread credibility and acceptance across stylistic, racial/ethnic and class lines, U Ba Than organized the traditionally brutal and savage indigenous Bando Boxing, in an attempt to make it safer and to reduce injuries and fatalities. At that time in the early post-World War II period, Bando Boxing was not yet "Westernized." The Thais, however, proved less resistant to change and fairly readily westernized Muay Thai.

U Ba Than Gyi's son, Maung Gyi (Dr. Gyi), was a participant in these bouts. These brutal experiences made an indelible impression on Dr. Gyi. To this day, he insists that Bando be highly effective in combat.

Reviving Bando Boxing was a critical way to establish credibility for U Ba Than Gyi with the "underground" martial arts culture. His involvement in the Military Athletic Club and his force of personality all combined to uniquely qualify U Ba Than Gyi as the man who could elicit the essence of the underground systems from the remaining masters.

One enormous problem facing U Ba Than Gyi was the difficulty encountered in resurrecting and reviving systems without offending the holders of the knowledge. A keen political balancing act was needed to satisfy the demands of surviving "traditional" masters, heads of family systems, various monk sects and ethnic groups. Thus, as U Ba Than traveled the country and contacted a growing network of such persons, he interviewed them and gained their confidence gradually.

As he began to perceive the nature of what had been driven underground, U Ba Than Gyi concluded that a real part of the Burmese culture had been threatened with extinction. In Burma, the martial artist lived as a critical part of the society. Not only could one punch and kick, but was a kind of “Renaissance Man” or "Renaissance Woman."

The Burmese martial artist was, traditionally, in addition to being a repository of knowledge concerning methods of harming or killing the individual, a repository of knowledge concerning health and medicine. Frequently, martial artists were indigenous medical practitioners to whom the community turned for treatment from illness and injury.

Moreover, the martial artist in Burmese society was sought after by the populace for his or her understanding of nature, animals, plants, the elements, geography, language and customs, as well as historical fact and cultural traditions. Frequently, because of their advantages in these areas, they were called upon to act as arbitrators of disputes, or as judges. Thus, the Burmese martial artist, prior to the British suppression of the arts, had served in a highly respected position in the society. Therefore, the presence of the martial artist in a community or in a given situation, was the presence of a person of wisdom (a physician, herbologist, scholar, warrior, philosopher, jurist) and was the symbolic infusion of great power and justice into a community environment or an inter-personal or inter-group transaction.

Recognizing this, U Ba Than Gyi gave these surviving masters the deference they deserved, and asked that they share with him, for posterity, their knowledge. The reaction to Gyi's shrewd and genuine inquiries was outstanding; some 200 masters met with him, taught him and demonstrated their methods, disclosing the history and context of their heritage.

The Common Thread: "Principles"

As he pursued the laborious process of systematizing this huge body of evolved knowledge, U Ba Than began to realize that, despite varied origins, purposes, outward manifestations and historical contexts, all martial systems shared, at their root, certain immutable and common principles. He also noted that there was an inevitable overlap between related (but not identical) systems.

For example, the Cobra and Viper shared many similarities, as did the various cat systems, such as Black Panther and Tiger. It was just this sort of organization of previously disconnected and inchoate knowledge that was U Ba Than Gyi's great contribution, achievement and breakthrough.

U Ba Than asked this question: How do we share this knowledge with other interested individuals in a limited time? Many of the systems included as an integral part of their existence a rich and complex body of legend, myth, religious practice and encrusted tradition. These qualities required years, even a lifetime of study in order to assimilate the system.

As he engaged in cultural archaeology, restoration and preservation of the Burmese martial arts culture, the impossible task facing U Ba Than Gyi was this: how do you test the validity of the myth? He began to sort out family legends, stories, myths and traditions which could not be verified, and began to reduce his information to a system of principles. He left his son volumes of encrypted notes on the systems and principles he unearthed.

Animal Systems: A Repository for Principles

U Ba Than Gyi began to see that once these foundational principles could be discerned, articulated and removed from needlessly mythic contexts, a hierarchy of principles, strategies, tactics and techniques could be constructed. This would provide, he reasoned, a coherent, comprehensive, and consistent approach to martial disciplines across virtually all stylistic lines. The Elder Gyi established this structure. He organized, sifted, and classified his tremendous wealth of knowledge gained from hundreds of masters over many years.

In U Ba Than Gyi’s approach, a set of combative behaviors was termed as a system. The system dealt with offense, defense, counter-offence and the like. The system consistently utilized the pervasive and sound underlying principles Dr. Gyi’s father had discovered to formulate reasoned responses within a chosen context. For example, this meant that a large and heavy man chose Bull or Python.

U Ba Than Gyi removed other indigenous components of the behaviors which he felt were not necessary to understanding and manifesting the underlying principles. An example of these "removed" components could be beliefs in numerology, astrology and various superstitions.

Instead of creating a new mythology, the Elder Gyi took what we might recognize as a very Western and scholarly approach. He utilized the animal systems he constructed as a composite framework for particular strategic thoughts, tactical decisions and physiological weapon selection. But why did he choose animal systems to be the expository mechanism for his unique synthesis of fundamental cross-style principles? Why not a geranium style?

The answer remains rooted in myth shared cross-culturally down to the present day in numerous cultures, and across racial/ethnic boundaries. For example, there is the powerful German Eagle (and the American Eagle), the Russian Bear. Further, family crests in Europe feature animals of certain types as symbols for the family unit.

Dr. Gyi explains that we can only conclude, therefore, that a fundamental and powerful part of the human psyche is clearly fascinated with and identifies with animals.

U Ba Than Gyi chose the animal systems as unique repositories of the various principles for a wide variety of reasons, not the least of which was a three-fold analysis of why martial artists had instinctively imitated animals historically. First, there seemed to be a mystical attachment to certain animals along historic and cultural lines which increased the likelihood of students undertaking rigorous training to master the system. Second, we are humans feel awe for these animals and the grace of their motions. Thirdly, we feel that by acting as an animal, we escape from ourselves and in turn liberate ourselves from societal strictures of behavior and response. We liberate our instinctive levels of personal physical capabilities, what other systems may attribute to chi or ki.

The Fundamentals of Animal Systems, Fundamentals of All Systems

Dr. Gyi's father would lecture, focusing on the fact that he had discovered three pillars of all systems. First, all martial systems go through a problem solving process. The practitioner asks the question: how do I solve the problem with the resources I have?

Second, all martial systems (by definition) deal with a rule making process. The Elder Gyi would argue that all systems, even military ones, had some fundamental rule-making process. For example, a soldier in combat would possibly face a situation where there could be an issue about killing apparent non-combatants (children with grenades in Vietnam, for example). What are the rules?

The third pillar U Ba Than Gyi articulated was the fact that all systems require their practitioners to make choices within the broader context of rules, as they complete the problem solving process.

In addition to these shared conceptual processes, Dr. Gyi's father also argued that these processes yielded a well-defined set of common physical aspects in all systems, ways in which the combative equation could be solved. For example, all systems, to some extent or other, have HOLDS, BLOWS and THROWS. Judo emphasizes grappling; Tae Kwon Do emphasizes kicking; Western boxing emphasizes a limited arsenal of hand techniques.

Going even further, Dr. Gyi's father realized that all systems could be viewed from one of three intentional viewpoints. That is, the ultimate context or application of the system could be identified. Once this was accomplished, its conceptual processes and physical manifestations could be mapped and studied. These intentional/contextual perspectives indicate that systems can have one (or more) of these three elemental objectives: AESTHETICS, ATHLETICS or COMBATICS.

With these three sets of three analytical tools a complex three dimensional analytical system for dissecting and reconstructing systems to serve a variety of purposes can be created. It now becomes more apparent that the breadth of U Ba Than Gyi's contribution to the martial arts stretches far beyond the Bando system. These analytical tools can be used with increasing sophistication to understand systems and to facilitate communication between systems. They are the heart of the Bando animal systems.

Personal Combat As Metaphor For Larger Conflicts

Although Dr. Gyi's father sought to eliminate unnecessary cultural artifacts from martial systems, he did not seek to have these systems exist in a moral or philosophical void. Elder Gyi discerned that martial systems inherently dealt with three types of conflict: conflict with others, conflict with nature, conflict with self. Today, most martial arts deal only with the first type of conflict, and in a very limited way (sport rules, etc.) These systems omit political and other solutions.

Bando has, historically, dealt with all three in a comprehensive fashion, realizing human limitations in each category. For example, in addition to the "conflict with others" issue, we must also realistically think of conflict with nature. How does our art help us in that regard?

Most martial systems ignore the national or group levels of conflict. How would we deal with these? Bando in its richness considers this, too, but realizes the individual may have little immediate control over the final decision in such conflicts as whether or not a nation/tribe will engage in warfare. Thus, we seek to determine ways in which we can constructively function in that environment. Bando also seeks to study and understand and to properly function in a group conflict of smaller scale, such as family or extended family issues. All this was a part of the traditional Burmese systems which U Ba Than unearthed and systematized. Therefore, many families preserved these traditions as means of dealing with and surviving conflict. This survival tradition was deeply linked to family and group/tribe existence, so U Ba Than faced nearly insurmountable barriers in getting the older holders of this knowledge to share it. Nonetheless, he accomplished this after years of travel and effort.

Choosing A System

Dr. Gyi asked U Ba Than Gyi how one should select a system in which to train. U Ba Than's reply was to choose NOT the system you liked best intellectually, but rather to choose the system most suited to you physically. One's physical potential must mesh with the animal, or the student must move on to another animal system. The animal systems are rich and diverse enough so that each student can find a "home" in at least one system. The system should not harm the student's body.

Once the student finds a "home," certain techniques in the system require an enormous amount of "regularities" (that is, consistent and persistent drilling, conditioning, and execution) to build the required reflexive muscle memory. These "regularities" give the student skill and self-confidence, as well as a sense of belonging in the animal's tradition.

Hanthawaddy Bando: A Summary

By the end of the 1940s and the early 1950s, U Ba Than Gyi's efforts had begun to flower. He had systematized a number of approaches into a distilled and internally consistent style called "Hanthawaddy Bando". This system is by no means all of Bando or all of Burmese martial arts. It is, as Dr. Gyi calls it, a piece of the larger puzzle.

Bando Comes to America

Dr. U M. (Maung) Gyi is the son of U Ba Than Gyi, and was sent to many grandmasters of the various Burmese systems and disciplines by his father, in order to learn and assimilate the teachings his father had systematized. Dr. Gyi also competed in the brutal Bando Boxing bouts staged by his father's organizations in Burma. Dr. Gyi found himself in Washington, D.C. during the early 1960s.

At that time, the Japanese systems were openly recognized and practiced in New York, Washington, D.C. and Korean Tae Kwon Do was also coming to prominence. The American martial arts community was begun by servicemen returning from the Orient, such as Chuck Norris and Joe Lewis and others. They shared the skill and knowledge they had acquired overseas with the American public, which was responsive to this new art from the East.

The early American martial arts scene was distinguished and noted for its lack of commercial undertakings for profit and exploitation. Americans like the competitive aspects of the arts, and also felt it was exciting to learn the mysteries of the ancient East. Then, commercial schools were established in the wake of movie sensationalism. They provided mystic misinformation and stereotypes, such as the magic death touch, etc.

Dr. Gyi was a pioneer in the establishment of non-commercial martial arts in the U.S. He served as a chief referee and tournament director for many major tournaments and events in the 1960s. He served on the Board of Directors of the United States Karate Association (USKA) and of the Professional Karate Association.

Dr. Gyi served as referee at the famous 1975 Bill Wallace/Joe Corley fight in Atlanta. He is noted and recognized as a founder and pioneer of the American legitimate martial arts community, along with other names such as Richard Kim, Robert Trias, Peter Urban, Don Nagle, Henry Cho, Jhoon Rhee, Joe Lewis, Chuck Norris, Ed Parker and countless others.

Today, Dr. Gyi’s Bando is taught nationwide, and thousands of students train or have trained under the demanding tutelage of the Grandmaster or his students.

Evolution of Bando in the U.S.

Dr. Gyi originally taught what might be viewed as a very Japanese-oriented martial art, because this was what the American public in the early 1960s understood and was ready for. The earliest training in Bando occurred under Dr. Gyi in Washington, D.C. in the late 1950's and early 1960's. The training was stark, realistic and hard. Bando tournament fighters developed a reputation for fierce rushes and strong, heavy contact. A number of Bando pioneers date from this period, such as Rick Niemera, Joe Manley, Lloyd Davis and Dr. Geoff Willcher.

Dr. Gyi then moved to Ohio, pursuing his doctoral degree in communications, which he earned after a three year period of study. At this time, many of the Washington, D.C./Maryland group of black belts also relocated as they finished college or found new career interests, and the nationalization of Bando was underway.

As the level of skill and conditioning in Bando practitioners increased, Dr. Gyi introduced Burmese Bando Boxing in the 1970s as a brutal full-contact arena for Bando practitioners to expand their knowledge of endurance, power and mobility. The 1980s saw Dr. Gyi open up training in the various animal systems to Bando black belts, as a means of perpetuating the underlying principles he has set out for us, based on his own knowledge and training. Dr. Gyi also began to teach deeper aspects of the kukri and dha in the 1980s.

In the 1990s, Dr. Gyi began to introduce grappling (Naban) and meditative and health aspects of the system (Monk system), as well as additional animal and weapons forms -- always stressing combative use and efficiency.

Now retired from his career as a university professor, Dr. Gyi concentrates on passing on his Bando knowledge to his students, both old and new. With new-found freedom of time, he travels the U.S. teaching practitioners of Bando and other systems about the global, universally applicable martial principles presented in his Bando system.

Dr. Gyi has encouraged his students to think creatively about martial systems and to continue to expand their understanding of how fundamental Bando principles operate and are applied. As a result, substantial body of literature has emerged on topics such as strategy, tactics and stepping.

More recently, he has begun to share more openly Bando's esoteric and demanding Monk System, a "non-violent martial art" based on altruistic spiritual and ethical principles. Dr. Gyi has continued to reaffirm the fundamental qualities of Bando by stressing speed, surprise and style (intelligently and efficiently designed actions accomplishing the design purpose of the art).

Bando article by Dr. Karl J. Duff

Source: American Bando Association