BRUTAL, FAST, SIMPLE, AND TOTALLY EFFECTIVE by: Kenny Willis Jr. (as told by Sifu/guro, Billy Bryant)
In recent years Martial Artist throughout the western world have been exposed to wide variety of southeast Asian Martial Arts. Muay Thai, arnis, kali, buno, bando, kuntao, and silat, are a few of the arts now gaining popularity in the United States and Europe. Kuntao is a southern Chinese word (Hokkien) used to describe many of the Chinese empty hand methods of fighting, and properly translated it means as fist way. The term fist way can also be found in such methods as Kenpo and chaun fa. Silat is generically used to cover a large spectrum of Indonesian martial arts. According to the martial arts historian and scholar Don Drager; there exist over 157 methods of silat. Bryant was told by his instructor that there exist more than 300 various styles of silat. According to Bryant Kuntao migrated into Indonesia approximately 3,500 somewhere from the Hokkien providence of china. This happens sometime during the 16th century. Since being imported into Indonesia there has been inter-marriage between silat and kuntao. Hence, it emerged in the Philippines as kuntao silat. Because of the cultural differences of the Filipino people, kuntao evolved into a significantly different art than practiced in China or even Indonesia. In the Philippines it became a part of the warrior arts. Totally efficient and totally brutal! It also picked up many principles and concepts from the Filipino war arts called kali, eskrima, estocada and the arnis. Kuntao silat as taught by Luis Amador Oliverez was originated during the late 1930's and was conceived after researching and combining the arts he learned during his childhood. Bunot (grappling), Sikaran (kicking skills), Espada Y Daga (sword & dagger), Kuntao and Malaysian Bersilat. Oliverez's father Jesus was an accomplished Eskrimador who had spent several years in Malaysian. His mother Mei Ling Tiusang was highly skilled in her families southern Kuntao system. During his adult life Luis Oliverez combined many of his familie's methods into his own personal method of fighting and called it Cadena de Mano, or chain of hand. As the name denotes Cadena de Mano is an extremely fast empty hand art. Every technique is a series of overwhelming attacks directed to various targets of the body. The art is explosive, no nonsense, devastating, brutal and easy to learn. There are no gaps in its movement no wasted motion. Every part of the body is a potential weapon, knees, head, hips, shoulders, elbows and foot etc. However, many of it's concepts and theories of motion are derived from the study of the Blade, Single Stick (solo baston), the intricate motions of Espada Y Daga (sword and dagger) and Sinwali. One can not fully understand "CDM", nor evolve without training in the weapon Division of this art. Especially when it comes to Blade Awareness. Sinawale-motion Oliverez taught that the basis of defense can be found in the motions of Sinawale. There lies the soul of one's understanding of defense, he would say; If one understands the Sinawali, and weapon can be used in a whirlwind of motion. The hands can attack, lock and bridge the gap with little or no effort. Oliverez also believed that knowledge of the blade taught a natural progression from defense offense. But it doesn't end there! From the blade, particularly the knife, one learns intricate trapping and empty hand skills. One learns gunting and how to destroy your opponent's limbs. Oliverez believed that the blade should be foremost on a Cadena de Mano practitioner's training program. The blade makes all things equal in a fight, Oliverez often told Bryant. It is the protector of life! So Bryant spent many years uncovering the truth about the mystical blade. Hence, Bryant developed the theory of movement alternation. Quentada four corners Oliverez taught Bryant that the body should be broken down into four corners for attack and defense. Within this square exist zones of sanctuary. If one placed a circle within the square you can easily find the zones of safety. Also included in this quentada exist certain lines of attack. The lines include cerrada line, bulon line, ablao line, baliis line and the centro line. In stick fighting this is often refered to as cinco teros or the five deadly strikes. The cinco teros is prominent in Pangasinan. Terrada line deals with strikes to the head but, should also include the neck. Bulon line deals with strikes ranging from the left shoulder to the right knee (angles #1-#4). Ablao line is the diagonal angle ranging from the right shoulder to the left knee, (angles #2-#3). Centro line is the center and Oliverez felt the center line was of the utmost importance. One should learn to penetrate the center line of one's opponent and keep your opponent from entering your center line. On the baliis line attacks are delivered from the waist down. The lines of attack becomes scales for one to develop equations or natural combinations. It is like a formula for developing your own technique or finding your flow. By understanding the quentada one' learns to interpret the motion and understand motion. Oliverez taught Bryant to see motion for what is really is. No matter what your opponent holds in his hand, the motion will be the same. The baston (stick) has no life but as soon as your place it in your hand it be comes one with your personality. Alternation Movement alteration is one of the many concepts found in the structure of CDM. Many modern day practitioners of Filipino martial arts teach that the transition from weapon skills, to empty hand skills can be translated the same way. However, the movements of the blade to stick has to be altered to some degree in order to find the most efficient means of technical excellence. The movement of the stick covers a larger range of motion, and the knife covers a smaller range of motion. Skills of the hand are more practical and efficient when following the patterns of the knife. Therefore, some logical alteration must be made when translating weapon skills into empty hand comparisons.
Drills Like the drills of eskrima where two practitioners square off and flow from one technique to another; the CDM practitioner has many two person drills designed to develop sensitivity, flow, coordination, trapping, and counter to counter skills. These drills assist one in discovering the flow and uncovering the truth, which is different for each Cadena de Mano practitioner. the gunting/siko drill is one of the drills students spend hours on, learning to intercept, attack the nerves in the arms, while your partner intercepts and attacks with a series of elbows before repeating the sequence on his side. These two person counter to counter drills are perhaps the most significant difference from what we are doing and what other groups are doing. Students enjoy the fun found in the sumbrada drills when practicing eskrima. Sticks are moving at high speed; one can feel the intensity of each blow and properly perform with a creative mind, the drill can give one a thrill! This same thrill can be achieved via empty hand two person drills. You get to feel your partner's energy. Thrive off it, respond to it, create and control it. Professor Oliverez said that through the drills one learns the truth about oneself. Your truth is not my truth. Our hearts are different. What CDM means to me, won't hold true for you. Each practitioner must find his/her own flow. Special skill development Bryant explains that Oliverez had some very unconventional training methods. He would have this large sheet on the wall. On the sheet was this sketch of a man. The man had buttons sewn on different vital points of his body. The idea was to sit in front of the sheet and focus in on the buttons (vital points). Close your eye's and memorize their exact locations. Next one should stand in front of the sheet with eye's shut and rapidly touch the buttons that represent vital points. To make this exercise more challenging, one had to attack each button with the appropriate hand technique. Such as; some buttons should be with the fist and others with the fingers. To deliver fast finger jabs and relaxation Oliverez would have Bryant repeatedly strike at a candle until he could extinguish its flame with a finger jab, punch or smashing hand. Other training exercises consisted of hanging sheets of writing paper from beams and putting one's finger jab through the center of the paper. Oliverez felt that one's opponent should feel the attack and not see it. The hands should move like lightening but, attack as water! Meaning, water fills every opening it confronts, the hands should touch every opening your opponent presents to you. Make the way and travel the path is one of the concepts every CDM man tries to follow. This concept is interpreted as meaning: once you make a situation happen, then follow the natural paths that are available for attack. The merger of Martial Arts from three nations with the theory of Filipino Martial Arts has made CDM one of the most sophisticated fighting systems in the world. It is ironic that an art such as this could come out of the mind of a small man born in pangansinan Philippines. However, the legacy was left to an extremely talented man; known by many throughout the united states, Billy Bryant, called sifu by his students. If not for the efforts of sifu Bryant this art would never been available to the public. Luis Amador Oliverez was a very humble man, always giving credit to the masters so the past, but he was selfish as well! He lived a secreted life and never meant for his method to be exposed to the world. Hopefully Bryants endeavors to present CDM to the world will not make it's founder turn over in his grave. Bryant says he was fortunate to be Oliverez' only full time apprentice, his friend, son, sounding board and successor. An element that is beyond price.