Saturday, June 21, 2008

KAMAO: Triangles of the Fist

Yes, anything-- a weapon, a human body, or an environment -- can be reduced to or mapped out with points. Since points are the smallest units that can be applied to a space, a body part, and a weapon, triangles are used. In a quick, fast combat or fight, points are hard to see unless one is a master and has a "martial eye"-- an ability to see an opponent as a whole, inside-out, and vice-versa.

In the Philippines, we call such ability as karunungan for Tagalog, kamauhan for Cebuano and Bisaya, for my dialect, katigaman. It is basically knowledge. Kamao for instance in Cebuano means knowledgeable but in Tagalog it is a fist. Marunong in Tagalog is bright or smart, but in my dialect, it means cunning, crafty, and astute. These Filipino words show that traditionally the way of fighting has always been viewed and practiced as knowledge by Filipinos.

Some might argue that my analysis is just a mere linguistic coincidence and has no relationship at all. In Philippine languages, words that sound or spell almost the same are related-- example, ibon (bird) and ebon (egg), baha (flood) and bahas (dry), suba (lake) and subo (boil), and many more. Linguistics and etymology are some of the effective ways of studying culture and tradition.

For a fist, it is definitely tough to see it as a mass of points specially if it is moving and swinging. Connecting three points as a triangle is a way of magnifying a target. Instead of hitting three points, one can hit the entire triangle. A fist has two important triangles and a special one- small, medium, and big. They are all targets and sources of force.

The small one is composed of two forefinger knuckles and a thumb knuckle. It is the force that keeps a fist solid and strong. Even an Okinawan fist does not entirely curl a forefinger and force is emphasized in that triangular part. A good fist is a tight one-- when you really see a triangle.

The big triangle, composed of a little finger knuckle, a forefinger knuckle, and a wrist bone, is the force that controls an entire hand. If that triangle is weak, its fist is weak, and one is prone to bone injuries. Drills with sticks are good for strengthening that triangle.

There is a medium triangle but it is not used often but only for soft tissues like areas around the eyes, both hollow sides of the nape, and fleshy part of the neck where lymph nodes are usually felt. This force is from a secondary knuckle of a protruding middle finger, a forefinger knuckle, and a little finger knuckle.

I have tried researching about this strange-looking fist. So far, I have found no specific name for it but Filipinos know and use it. In my dialect, we call it with a generic word
lupot or lisit-- meaning stuck out. Personally, I want to call it banoy (eagle or eagle's beak)-- the Filipino version of phoenix eye fist.

In suntukan (fistfighting), the best way to intercept a fist is with a fist but with a technique. Fist-to-fist or knuckles-to-knuckles banging works but if one has weak hands, bones, and muscles, most likely he will break his hands. The best way is to attack or punch a triangle of a fist, the origin or reservoir of force. If the punch is straight, hit the big triangle from the side, and if he swings, target the small triangle.

To counter a force, one has to use a force. To know and neutralize an opponent's force, one has to learn how to reduce him to triangles, and later if he masters the concept, he can see points or matrices while fighting.