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Espada Y Daga


Espada Y Daga means “
stick and dagger”, but the expression is used by Filipino Kali instructors to refer to any fighting in which one hand holds a long weapon and the other a short weapon. This unique idea of fighting with a short and a long weapon simultaneously is an offshoot of the Filipino warrior mentality!

It is one-upmanship”, noted Kali instructor Dan Inosanto says. “In the Philippines, if the opponent was empty-handed you got a knife. If he had a knife, you got a knife and a stick. If he had a knife and a stick, you got a knife and a sword, and so on”.

There are dozens of Filipino styles, most of which include some variation of the “
short and long”. Many different combinations of weapons fall under this heading, including the practice of Espada Y Daga with a shield in one hand and a sword, stick or dagger in the other.

Inosanto teaches his students to ply the art of Espada Y Daga with several different combinations of weapons, including the sword and dagger, cane and dagger, shield and sword, and shield and dagger. “
You can put a book in one hand and a broomstick in the other and the art will still work”, Inosanto asserts.


Espada Y Daga Traits

Espada Y Daga contains both knife and stick fighting concepts. The movements are combined simultaneously in a whirlpool of action.

Kali instructor Paul Vunak claims Espada Y Daga is one of the most challenging aspects of the Filipino systems. “
In the Philippines, if there is a hierarchy in weapons in terms of efficiency and difficulty, Espada Y Daga would be right up there”, he notes. “It is one of the more intricate, if not the most intricate, of the weapons methods”.

Filipino stylists pay special attention to the “
Ranges” of combat. When without weapons, they concern themselves with the following four fighting ranges: kicking, punching, trapping and wrestling distance. When, however, Kali practitioners are armed in the fashion of Espada Y Daga, the distances for combat expand to include stick and knife fighting.

Stick range begins at the distance in which fighters are able to strike each other’s hands and arms with the weapon. Because of the average length of Filipino sticks, this distance is considerable. Knife range, on the other hand, begins at the much closer point in which fighters are first able to gash each other’s hands and arms with a relatively short blade.

But fighters armed with both stick and dagger make use of a third distance known as “
hit-and-cut” range. Hit-and-cut range is the distance at which a fighter is in close enough to slice his opponent with the knife, but no so close that he is unable to clobber him with the stick.


Attributes
& Special Functions

You can break Espada Y Daga down into two sections, one training and one functional”, Vunak states. “In the category of training, Espada Y Daga has more drills – intricate drills – than in just about any other aspect of Filipino combat”.


This is true mainly because of the fact the Espada Y Daga practitioner must simultaneously accommodate two different weapons and cope with three ranges of combat. Espada Y Daga techniques are tricky and take a great deal of time to master, but the result is a fighter whose speed, timing and “
range flexibility” are greatly increased.

Learning to deal with short and long range weapons at the same time is practical in many ways. It teaches body movements, footwork, “
zoning” (moving away from the enemy and into position for a counterattack), evasion, and attack methods that apply to many aspects of empty-hand combat, including kicking, punching, trapping, and grappling.

Filipino stylists training in Espada Y Daga learn early to dodge the deadly tip and edge of their opponent’s blade. Once they have learned to deal with the stick and successfully dodge the knife, getting out of the way of a boxer’s rear cross is comparatively simple.

 

Training Methods

Filipino stylists use many training methods to teach the principles of Espada Y Daga. Among the most important are Contra Sumbrada, Numerada and Cerrada.

Contra Sumbrada is a counter-for-counter training method. In this drill, students participate as equals: one attacks, one counters, back and forth in rapid succession. “Over time, you can triple your reflexes with the Contra Sumbrada method”, Kali instructor Terry Gibson says. “Contra Sumbrada is a vehicle to get the martial artist to a higher overall speed and skill level”.

Bill Wallace has one of the fastest kicks in the world, traveling about 60 miles per hour”, Gibson adds. “But even an average Espada Y Daga student’s stick with be moving faster”.

Numerada means “one side feeds”, and is an extremely important part of the Espada Y Daga training infrastructure, as well as one of Gibson’s favorite drills. “The Numerada exercise adds elements of complexity to the stick and dagger workout, including zoning and footwork”, Gibson states.

In the Numerada exercise, one partner is designated the “trainer”. He stands in the middle of a circle and “feeds” the “student” an attack. The student uses footwork and zoning to move along the circumference of the circle while defending and counterattacking.

The defender can move in either direction, and may travel as much as one-half the circumference of the circle. The trainer can attack with any number of stick and dagger combinations, along any angle. “
It is an excellent drill for developing footwork, zoning – evasion skills, and capture techniques (traps, tie-ups, etc.)”, Gibson notes. “Numerada also teaches students to defend against multiple opponents”.

The training method known as
Cerrada requires one partner to “feed” the attack and restricts the other to a defensive response with no zoning. Its purpose is to further enhance a practitioner’s reflexes and speed.

Any combination of Filipino weapons may be used in Contra Sumbrada, Numerada and Cerrada training, or with any of the other Filipino training methods. Furthermore, the principles which make Espada Y Daga work are the same universal concepts which govern the entire Filipino Kali art, including empty-hand fighting. “
You learn possibilities in these arts, you don’t always learn set responses”, Gibson claims. “Cerrada, Numerada and Contra Sumbrada are versatile training methods; there are thousands of techniques possible with each method. Kali is a warrior art. That is why Espada Y Daga has evolved into such a high level method”.

As Inosanto says, “
Espada Y Daga is not about fair play; it is about winning and survival and one-upmanship”.

 

History

The Espada Y Daga is a system or a technique that was developed and perfected in the Philippines. The focus of this method of fighting is to be able to go in and out of long, middle and close ranges to trap up the enemy and kill. Though, it is a fighting method indigenous to the Philippines, one of the inspirations for it's evolution is said to be European Western Fencing, mostly Spanish; as you can see by the Spanish name of "Espada Y Daga"! One of the few long lasting cultural and martial influences the Spanish conquistadors left with the Filipinos was the Spanish names to some of the techniques and the names of the fighting systems popularly known as Kali or Arnis or Eskrima. The Filipinos imitated the Spanish version of Espada Y Daga and soon found the weaknesses working a way to make the offensive moves complicated so Spaniards could not counter it.

To be able to coordinate such skills with a sword and knife together consisted of many hours of training drills for the development of the proper reflexes and good flow in using two weapons for parrying, checking, scooping, thrusting and slashing. Included in this training was the incorporation of geometrical footwork, body angling for evasiveness to be able to close in and attack without being killed. Various locking, and takedowns from Dumog are normally added once a student has demonstrated good fighting skills. Both the Espada and the Daga are employed at the same time with beautiful looking weave like movements are very deceiving and quick to finish the job!

 

The study of Espada Y Daga improves one’s single stick skills by improving the aggressiveness of the Alive Hand (or free-hand), since the Espada Y Daga knife hand is trained to be more offensive. Espada Y Daga movements translate nicely into double knife techniques, both in Pakal (ice-pick) and Sak-Sak (hammer) grips. Double knife techniques can also translate into single knife techniques…

Espada Y Daga
, also known as "Punta Y Daga" or "Olisi Y Baraw", is a modern discipline of Kali and the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) believed to be influenced by Spanish swordsmanship, in particular the Spanish style of Side Sword & Dagger used by the Conquistadors who invaded the Philippine islands in the 16th Century, and not the Rapier and Dagger styles used for dueling and self defense purposes by the Spanish upper classes as was once believed.

It is believed that the indigenous peoples who were sympathetic to the Spanish rulers were enlisted into the Spanish forces to help fend off regular invasions from the Muslim pirates from Mindanao and Sulu. Once recruited into the garrisons it is believed the Spanish Friars and commanders taught their fighting skills to the native recruits, who in turn adapted this style of fighting and combined it with their own indigenous fighting skills.

Espada Y Daga discipline of Kali
art focuses on engaging an opponent(s) in Close (
Corto),
Mid (Medio) and Long (Largo) ranges.

 

Typically the stronger or dominant hand (usually the right hand) will hold the long weapon (sword or stick) and in many styles will serve as the primary weapon. The weaker hand (usually the left hand), or off-hand, wields the short weapon (dagger or knife) and is used for both offense (thrusting and sliding) and defense (blocking, checking and locking).

Training typically begins with drills teaching coordination of the two weapons in striking and checking patterns. The incorporation of footwork, body angling, locking, and takedowns are normally added once the student has demonstrated competence in their application of the basic patterns/sets.

Training Espada Y Daga is generally precipitated by Solo Baston (single stick) and/or Doble Baston (double sticks), with Mano Mano (empty hands) and Dumog (wrestling) being taught to advanced students. The number and variation of the disciplines taught will vary by
Guro (teacher) and style.

 

 

Photo below: Grandmaster Floro Villabrille (1912-1992) in an Espada Y Daga stance.

Floro Villabrille Espada Y Daga

Photo below: Grandmaster Angel Cabales (1917-1991) in an Espada Y Daga stance.

Angel Cabales Espada Y Daga

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Espada Y Daga