• ESPADA Y DAGA: THE WAY OF THE SWORD AND DAGGER

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    The attacker delivers an overhead strike with cane. Punong Lakan Garitony Nicolas (left) blocks the strike using an upper X block with his cane [representing the sword]and his dagger.

    The attacker delivers an overhead strike with cane. Punong Lakan Garitony Nicolas (left) blocks the strike using an upper X block with his cane [representing the sword]and his dagger.

    The Espada y daga or sword and dagger fighting of the Filipino martial arts (FMA) is a borrowed concept from Western swordsmanship. There are historical documents proving that aristocratic Filipino youths were exposed to systematic tuition in European fencing in the early 18th century. One of these is the Real Cedula por la qual‘ su magestad funda un colegio de nobles Americanos en la diudad de Granada, a decree by King Carlos IV of Spain, telling of a creation of a college in Granada for educating American and Philippine youth of noble birth. Fencing is part of the curriculum that was taught in the said institution. If the espada y daga influence entered the FMA during this period, then the source would most probably be the rapier and dagger methods of the West. In both Filipino espada y daga and Western rapier and dagger methods, the sword is considered the major weapon while the dagger just play a supporting role. “You must know that the unaccompanied sword is the queen and foundation of all other weapons, yea, that to delight therein is as, and more useful than, to do so in the others,” wrote fencing master Capo Ferro in his 1610 masterpiece Gran Simulacro.

    Espada y daga is basically a method of fighting with two unevenly sized weapons, is one of the most challenging modality of the FMA (the other prominent two are the solo baston and the doble baston or sinawali). Among the benefits of espada y daga training are the increased coordination between the left and right hands as well as timing and distancing. The last two mentioned components are very important in being able to insert the cuts and thrusts of the dagger in between the large movements of the sword.

    In the photos above, Punong Lakan Garitony Nicolas, the founder of Modern Arnis Mano-Mano Filipino Martial Arts demonstrates an espada y daga combat technique.

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