A Tradition of Mastery in the Use of the Whip and the use of Flexible Weapons
By Tom Kier and Jeff Chung
The whip is considered to be the most enigmatic of flexible weapons presented in Filipino martial arts systems. Usually misrepresented as a flashy demonstration piece or non-practical weapon. A thorough, practical curriculum in the correct use of the whip, coupled with a progressive training regimen that is invaluable to honing a student’s blade skills is long overdue. In the family system of Sayoc Kali, the whip has long been a staple of training, and a weapon whose use has been thoroughly explored and developed, as a complete system of combative effectiveness… always in conjunction with the use of bladed weapons.
Originally used as a herding tool, its chief advantages are its ability to be controlled, and the distance with which it could be used effectively, as a weapon that has both flexible, and devastating high impact characteristics. No one knows exactly when the whip was first introduced in the Philippines. For sure, the whip has a long history of use in the Sayoc Kali tradition. As chronicled by Yale history professor William Henry Scott during the Mankayan-Suyoc period, the tribesmen were recognized by the invading Spanish forces as exceptional cattle herders in their initial interactions.
When used properly, the whip’s flexibility as a weapon, or as a semi-rigid tool covers both close and long ranges. The specific use of the whip would dictate the characteristics and dimensions of a given whip. Because of such specificity of use, the original members of the Sayoc clan would often braid their own whips, which as one could imagine, would be a very meticulous task. But by deciding beforehand, how the various whips would be used, the positioning of weight could be optimized to allow for specific purposes.
Today, only the licensed and certified instructors of Sayoc Kali learn the family methods of whip preparation. The Sayoc Kali instructors use a custom style nylon waxed whips. These are used due to their moisture resistance, they are also maintenance-free, not requiring any oiling, and are more affordable than the best leather whips currently found on the market.
Characteristics of Whips
In the Sayoc system, there are two types of whips…depending upon the materials and general purpose of their design. Some whips have been made of materials similar to vines. These types of whips are easily cut, however, their purpose was to bind or entrap opponents. Other whips included a more solid, and much less flexible core – designed for assailants who potentially wielded a bladed weapon, and these whips resisted ease of cutting. These particular whips are designed to rend or remove flesh from an opponent.
In Sayoc Kali, the more flexible whips are often used with edged attachments at the distal end. These types of weapons are NOT to be used repeatedly, the concept behind a whip such as this is to strike once, and then move in to finish the opponent. A more flexible weapon outfitted like this is meant to impale or tie up a target. Other examples of whip-like tools are the yo-yo, and related weapons similar to bolos; with weights attached only to one end. More flexible whips are also used for tying opponents up, garrote techniques, herding off an opponent’s escape and off balancing.
Whips may come in assorted lengths. Shorter whips have a faster action, and permit more rapid arm movements in their manipulations. These shorter whips are better for multiple hits, and allow the user to easily reacquire the target, following release of the tip and length of the whip during a striking sequence..
Longer whips, in excess of 12 feet, utilizing greater body mechanics and arm movement during use. They require a longer period of time to reacquire targets, but the advantages are a greater reach and distance from the ‘gunting’ ranges. In addition, the greater length, allows for extra flexibility for tying up multiple opponents.
The Training Approach
Initially, practitioners are presented with different types of whips and construction techniques. The knowledge of grips to be used on the handles of the whips is reviewed along with the safety protocol and preparation of training.
Following this, practitioners are taught various types of strikes. There are circular as well as linear hits.
As in the Sayoc Kali blade work, templates or striking targets are taught and presented to teach concepts of use, striking patterns. Concepts behind potential combative usage of the whip are also included. The templates define different types of strikes, such as circular vs. linear hits as well as combinations with multiple cracking. Wrapping, and cutting are also presented. One of the most intense principles of Sayoc Kali templates, are front and back templates…most people are aware of using a given template to one aspect of a target, but are NOT aware, of other templates within the original templates shown, allowing for greater options, and flexibility. Tuhon Chris Sayoc is now releasing this type of information to the general public. The whip as taught in Sayoc Kali allows for complete 360 degrees of perimeter use, including techniques taught from the ground, as well as in the air.
Finally, the whip is presented as a tool, to be used in conjunction with projectiles. While the whip is typically used in an aggressive posture, the empty hand reloads and delivers projectiles. The free hand is also used to defend, should an opponent manage to get within the range of the whip’s length.
Ultimately, all of the above is presented with a thorough understanding of footwork, to help guide the practitioner of fighting distances and ranges of combat with a whip. It is important for a whip practitioner to know how to close in on an opponent…students are taught which angles they can approach a target on, the power arcs and how practitioners reapply strikes of the whip from these different angled approaches. In addition, it is taught how practitioners can lure an opponent closer, permitting only the angles of approach that the whip users choose, to apply various defensive tactics.
Some tactics involve the use of the startling audible ‘crack’ of a whip. The strikes and wraps may be done quietly, or loudly. Naturally, quiet noises are used, when practitioners do not want to alert others to their presence. These types of strikes are often used to wrap or to hack an opponent. Loud strikes are used when practitioners are cutting the target or opponent, by opening up blood vessels, and spraying the blood around the opponents. In addition, the loud cracking whip techniques may be used to obliterate any offending obstacle in your path.
Advanced practitioners are taught tactics where the whips may be unleashed completely, or how different parts may be cut off following a strike or a bind- to create a shorter weapon, with the advantages of having a shorter weapon at an optimum time.
After much of the aforementioned training is completed, the students are taught how to actually hit and cut objects and targets. Practice is done on the use of the whip in movements designed to wrap around extremities.
Ultimately, practitioners improve their skill training by applying the whips ambidextrously. Different lengths and types of whips in either hand, double hand whip templates, other types of tactics, training and strategies are taught as well.
In Sayoc Kali, today, the whip is used extensively as a training implement to assist in developing strength and ability with the use of projectiles. This training is the bridge between fixed and fluid grips to projectile release grips. The proper whipping action, teaches the Sayoc whip practitioners, the correct arm and muscle memory to work in a way that is increasingly flexible and less rigid. This type of arm movement, when used with appropriate hand positioning and grips, allows for the best application of projectiles.
What necessary characteristics are required of a Sayoc whip practitioner?
Only those members who possess speed of use and understanding, have precision, accuracy, determination and, a positive and controlled, hungry attitude will find success in managing to become effective with the whips and flexible weapons of Sayoc Kali. Physical characteristics such as a strong shoulder complex, conditioned elbows with supporting musculature and flexibility are necessary to success. Physical conditioning is a vital component to optimum whip training. Children and young people often do well with whips due to a lack of associated training overlay.
It is obvious that there is a full breadth of knowledge available on the use and application of whips and flexible weapons. In the Sayoc Kali tradition, the whip has held a special fascination and emphasis, and such knowledge has until now been jealously guarded from the general public. Currently in the Sayoc family tradition, only those members of the Sayoc Global Instructors Association are taught the use and methodology of the whip. However, at this time, Tuhon Chris Sayoc is seriously considering open presentation of the introductory aspects of flexible weapons training, as an adjunct to their already revolutionary system of edged weapon training and tactics.
For further information on the Filipino Combat Whip of Sayoc Kali, Contact:
Sayoc Global, LLC., P.O. Box 1053, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004-1053 Telephone (610)316-3310 or email firstname.lastname@example.org