Filipino Martial Arts Influences Modern Boxing
Thu, 11/19/2009 – 13:14 — SuroInay
It is often said that modern boxing owes much of its beginnings to Filipino Martial Arts. In the Philippines, where fighting in the streets of Manila is still common today, fights are hand to hand as much as knife or club to hand. The Filipino people have a rich tradition of unarmed and armed combat, and during the time when Marquess of Queensberry Rules of Boxing were still famous the U.S. Navy came to the Philippines to set up shop.
During this time it was common to have many more than 12 rounds per match. The guard position used in boxing at this time was suited to pawing or back knuckle type punches. Slipping, bobbing, and weaving were not common at this time either. Matches were more a slugfest to see which man was manlier and could endure more hits. There was a definite skill set involved, but not quite the same as is seen today. When the west started going off to the east, Asia specifically, the use of body angulations and more radical footwork began to become more prevalent. Dodging as a skill set became more common. Couple this with boxing greats such as Jack Dempsey, and you start to see more refined body mechanics used in order to deliver even harder punches with minimal risk involved for the aggressor. In Lilia I. Howe’s article “Did Filipino Martial Arts Revolutionize Boxing?” it is mentioned that Escrima champions and boxing champions of the Hawaiian Islands influenced Muhammad Ali’s famous dancing footwork.
I often heard these stories, however I never really spoke about it, having not corroborated information myself. Many years after I began teaching I came across Prof. Esmailzedeh whom teaches Dan Zan Ryu Jujitsu in Oakland Ca. His instructor was both a Ju Jitsu man and a Navy boxer, and related stories to Prof “E” about how the Heavy Weight boxers on the ship were not affected much by the boxing style of the Filipinos, however, the Light Weight boxers were having a hard time dealing with so much bobbing and weaving.
Hard fact is often difficult to come by in the Martial Arts community at large, but it stands to reason that the martial skills and tactics of other countries would affect each other through maritime activity. This has been the natural communicator of ancient peoples up to modern times. Where people go and meet, they share. FMA is a direct result of Asian commerce from as far back as the Middle Ages or further, and European Imperialism. And so, Modern Boxing appears to be no different.
Suro Jason Inay