Question by ez_e91: Did Filipino Martial Arts Revolutionize Boxing?
Came across an interesting article that I wanted to share with you all.
This was originally published in Inside Karate.
Did Filipino Martial Arts Revolutionize Boxing?
The stunning footwork of today’s greatest fighters, including Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, may have been the product of Filipino fighting principles honed on the island of Hawaii.
By Lilia I. Howe
Over the years, there have been many valiant attempts to link Asian fighting arts to modem spoils and/or forms of combat. Most of these can be charitably described as “reaches” or pure speculation. However, in one case, there is strong historical evidence that a Southeast Asian fighting system may have had a profound effect on Western boxing specifically the Filipino martial arts, known variously as kali escrima and arnis.
Despite the aura of mysticism an “ancient” lineage gives a fighting art, Western boxing predates most Asian martial arts. Pugilism was practiced in a refined art form in ancient Greece several hundred years before the birth of Christ, whereas most classical Asian systems evolved after the birth of Christ. Many arts, such as karate, are products of the 20th century.
Although there has been some speculation that the Greek arts were the origins of refined Asian combative principles, the stronger evidence suggests that India was their place of origin. Spreading northward into China across the Himalayas, the Indian miartial arts evolved into what we now know as chuan fa (fist way). At the same time, sailors, merchants, and traders carried their knowledge of fighting arts south, throughout the Mahajapayit empire, a vast chain of islands consisting of modern-day Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, and the Philippines. Western pugilism evolved in a similar fashion. The Greek culture had a profound influence on the Romans, who conquered the known world. Hand-to-hand fighting was regularly practiced by soldiers and gladiators, who required a knowledge of how to stay in combat when disarmed. This evolved into the sport of boxing.
East Meets West
By the beginning of the 20th century, Western boxing was both a sport and an art form. Fighters would generally chamber their hands in a straight-up position; fists pointed upward covering the face, elbows tucked into the body, the fighter would drive his blows in an “uppercut” into the body of his opponent Old pictures of such greats as John L. Sullivan depict this fighting stance.
Fights consisted mainly of “exchanging blows.” One fighter would strike the other, then the other would hit back, and this process would go until one fighter lost consciousness or was too hurt to continue.
As anyone who has ever seen even an amateur boxing match knows, the boxing of today is radically different. Boxers generally employ a 45-degree angle positioning of the hands, and jabs and crosses are driven to the target. Sophisticated footwork patterns often save the day, and, rather than exchange blows, a defensive strategy of drawing and countering and blocking and countering is used.
“Gentlemen” Jim Corbett is generally regarded as the first scientific boxer. Not a powerful puncher, he defeated Sullivan using footwork, evasions and timing. Corbett’s successes caused boxers to approach their art with a new respect for strategy over power. This created fertile soil for the most significant event in the history of Western pugilism.
Boxing changed drastically in a cultural exchange during the early 1900s in one of the greatest ethnic melting pots in history — Hawaii — a relatively lawless territory. Fights frequently occurred, and one’s survival often depended on one’s toughness. Asian immigrants passed on their knowledge of martial arts to their sons, hoping it would ensure their survival.
Since fighting skills were so highly valued, Hawaii produced many fine fighters. One such fighter was Lucky Lucaylucay, amateur boxing champion of Kaui and Honolulu, son of Buenaventura Lucaylucay, a Filipino immigrant who had become the professional boxing champion of Kaui and Honolulu.
Lucky Lucaylucay saw the melding of Filipino martial arts and Western boxing firsthand. “I remember, there were two types of boxers in Hawaii in the `20s,” he recounts. `There were the Americans, who held their fists at an angle, used footwork, bobbing and weaving, and used continuous motion in their techniques instead of just `trading hits.’
“The English style of boxing would almost always lose to the Filipino style. It was just vastly more sophisticated.”
Lucky maintains that the Filipino style of boxing is a direct derivative of Filipino pananh-kan (pugilism). “Filipino arts start training with weapons because it’s more likely you’d be attacked with weapons. The empty-hand motions come from weapons moves. In the case of boxing, the hand moves come from the moves of the dagger.
“In the Philippines, the preferred method for knife fighting is with the blade po
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Answer by Ken Stauffer
boxing revolutionized boxing. it states within the article, pugilism has been active since before the birth of christ.
What do you think? Answer below!