Veteran martial arts teacher Daniel Sullivan exudes passion as he promotes Filipino “dirty boxing” also known as panuntukan among practitioners of Filipino martial arts (FMA).
The 54-year-old American master holds teaching credentials in Bruce Lee’s jeet kune do, muaythai, Majapahit silat, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, savate and FMA.
“Panuntukan or dirty boxing is part of Filipino martial arts. It’s boxing-based but there is more to it,” Sullivan told The Manila Times in an interview at the Fitness Factory Gym in Jupiter Street, Makati City where he periodically teaches.
“More of a self-defense system with a boxing structure. It is a Filipino boxing system for the ring and there’s also a method for the street or the real world. It came from John LaCoste who’s one of the instructors of my instructor, who is Dan Inosanto.”
Inosanto is known to the martial arts world as the late Bruce Lee’s Filipino-American protégé.
Sullivan said he learned panuntukan from LaCoste and Inosanto.
He explained that according to his teachers, there was already a boxing system in the Philippines even before the Americans brought western boxing in the early 20th century. Sullivan said that the Philippines’ boxing system was based on the movement of double dagger and double-palm stick of arnis, escrima and kali collectively known as FMA.
“Johnny LaCoste converted to Islam so he could learn the Filipino Martial arts in Mindanao, where it was only taught to Muslim people. He learned different styles of silat during that time. It’s similar to pencak silat. He mixed it with his Luzon and Visayas boxing style in what he called the panuntukan.”
Panuntukan can be mixed with any self-defense system. According to Sullivan, it is one of the best self-defense systems because it’s a boxing-based and no one would argue on the efficacy of boxing as a striking art. Panuntukan also includes a lot more techniques than just punches.
“It got boxing, elbows, knees, eye gouges, head butts, foot sweeps, submission holds and anything goes how to finish the fight as soon as possible,” he added. “Pretty as much as anything goes, no rules whatsoever.”
Sullivan said that Filipino boxer Ceferino Garcia even used an FMA technique, which he called “bolo punch” to knockout Fred Apostoli to win the world middleweight title in 1939.
“According to theory, Ceferino Garcia made the bolo punch famous, a name of a sword in Filipino. He knocked out Fred Apostoli with just a single bolo punch to win the title,” Sullivan said. “Bolo punch is legal and that’s one good example of Filipino martial arts being utilized inside the boxing ring.”
Dirty boxing techniques can also be used inside the mixed martial arts (MMA) cage enhancing the arsenal of any MMA fighter. “There are a lot of stuff that you can use in the MMA cage but you can’t use it in the boxing ring.”
“A lot of techniques in Panuntukan that we can use in MMA cage are very effective because we have drills and stuff we do.”
Sullivan believes that the addition of panuntukan will enhance any martial art.
“It is helpful to those who are doing it in competition. As far as traditional martial arts goes, I think it is great thing to add it to your karate whatever it is to make it practical for self defense.”
Sullivan said that its Southeast Asian character differentiates his method from western boxing and other boxing styles. Sullivan has been teaching panuntukan since 1990. “To me, it is silat-based and mixed with boxing. It’s more different out there.”
Silat is endemic in Malaysia, Indonesia, southern Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and southern Philippines.
Despite his diverse martial arts background, Sullivan said that FMA would always be on top of his list.
“If I have to pick one only, I will pick Filipino Martial Arts,” he said. “The way I learned it from Dan Inosanto and Johnny LaCoste, is the most complete martial arts I’ve ever seen.”
“It includes the entire spectrum of weaponry plus very effective empty hands and so a boxing system, a grappling system and a close range infighting system. I think that is the very best core of practical self- defense, such a beautiful art.”
He narrated that he fell in love with Filipino culture in 2006, going back and forth the United States and Philippines beginning 2011 until now. “As far as the culture goes, my teacher Dan Inosanto is a Filipino historian and his Filipino father is a historian too.”
“I read hundred and hundred of books about the Philippines and Dan Inosanto has been sharing me the Philippine culture since 1985 that’s what drilled my interest,” he said.
“When I came to the Philippines, I met the very friendly people and I fell in love with the culture even more.”
“I’m here in the Philippines in honor of my teacher Guro Dan Inosanto and the Filipino teachers who came before him to repatriate their methods of Filipino martial arts to the Philippines where it was born,” said Sullivan.
He traveled to Manila several times in 2011 to train intermittently with Kalis Ilustrisimo Grandmaster Antonio Diego until the latter’s death in 2014. “But I kept coming back after Mang Tony died.”
Asked if he already used panuntukan in a real fight, Sullivan said, “I got several self-defense incidents in my life. I always got out of the situation and not hurt very bad.”
Sullivan is regularly conducting panuntukan seminars in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Thailand. Sullivan can be reached through his websites www.warriorsartsalliances.com and his Facebook page.
“I’m happy with my students right now. They learned very fast. Martial arts is in their blood,” he concluded.
JOSEF T. RAMOS