sword preferences?

Discussion in 'Filipino Martial Arts' started by themorningstar, Sep 14, 2004.

  1. Bayani

    Bayani Valued Member

    Great posts gentlemen. I'm impressed at the depth of research you as practitioners are taking especially from non - Filipinos but the shared passion for this art shows and transcends nationalities. :)
  2. Pat OMalley

    Pat OMalley Valued Member

    It's like anything in life Bayani, when you know something works and is honest in it's approach then you tend to appreaciate it in every aspect.


  3. Spunjer

    Spunjer Valued Member

    here's a page or two from 'swish of the kris':
    Mohammedan conquests from Arabia reached India and Sumatra about AD 700. Thence the religion spread slowly across the Netherlands East Indies to envelop all of the islands of the East Indian Archipelago. Sumatra was converted by 1200, and Java came under the influence of Islam by 1500.

    It appears that in the year 1380 the first Mohammedan missionary, a noted Arabian judge named Makdum introduced the religion to the Philippines. The ruins of the mosque he built at Tubig-Indangan on the island of Simunul are still to be seen.

    Later, about 1400, the Rajah Baguinda continued the work of Makdum. The remarkable campaign of this missioner ended on Sibutu Island where he lies buried today in the village of Tandu-Banak. The work of Baguinda appears to have been confined to the islands of the Sulu Archipelago. To Shereef Kabungsuwan is credited the conversion of Mindanao.

    The followers of Mohammed were zealous in spreading the faith. They conquered Asia Minor and Africa. Then the robed priests entered Europe, first by way of Spain and through the Red Sea southward to Madagascar and eastward to India. No hardship was too great, no people too savage. From India, the Star and Crescent were carried to the Malay Archipelago. A Mohammedan settlement was established in Borneo as early as 1400, and Malacca was penetrated in 1276. The Portuguese Moluccas was converted by 1456.

    The early Mohammedan missionaries were a sturdy lot. They came into raw countries without ships or armies or governments to back them. They must be numbered among the most sincere disciples that any religious faith has produced. They sought nothing but the privilege of converting the unbeliever. Gold they wanted not. Trade routes were not the object of their search. They came alone into the heart of one of the most savage countries on the globe, buoyed high by a faith which protected them well.

    They had all the fanaticism of the Spanish priests without the accompanying greed for gold. They were the most purely altruistic preachers in the world. Their utter sincerity inspired the confidence of their savage hosts. The priests of Mohammed were among the most potent spreaders of civilization in the history of man. Their religion did not tear down and strip and destroy as that of the early Christians. The priests of Mohammed brought culture and writing and the arts, and they added these things to the culture they found in their new lands. They were not destroyers, but were satisfied to improve the old culture.

    And so to the island of Simunul came the missionary Makdum in 1380, to land unarmed and unafraid in the group of brown krismen who came down the strip of white beach to meet him. The Moros were puzzled and in awe of this man who came unannounced among them, asking nothing but the privilege of being heard. The iron of the Koran had arrived to fortify the souls of the Moros.

    Through the islands spread the word of the man who told of the true God and of the warriors slain on the field of battle, reclining on damask couches with houris with "large black eyes."1

    The Mohammedan missionaries found a receptive field in Mindanao and Sulu. The tenets of the martial religion of Mohammed appealed to the warlike instincts of the Moros. Through the islands sounded the new battle cry, "La ilaha illa'l-lahu." There is no God but Allah.

    The year 1450 marked the coming of Abu Bakr. Abu married Paramisuli, the daughter of Baguinda, and upon the death of his father-in-law, Abu succeeded him in authority, later proclaiming himself as the first Sultan of Sulu.

    The Sultanese carried on though the years, and it was during the reign of the sixth Sultan that Governor De Sande sent the first expedition to Jolo in 1578.

    The attempted Spanish conquest of Mindanao and Sulu was an accident of history. It is doubtful if Spain would have seriously considered the occupation of these islands could they have known the difficulties attendant upon the subjugation of the Mohammedans.

    Mohammedanism in the Philippines preceded the Spaniards by only sixty years, and the northern islands were but lightly touched by the priests of Islam. The only conquest effected by the Spanish arms was among the pagan peoples of Luzon, Panay, Cebu and other of the northern islands. The Mohammedans remained unconquered to the end.

    When Legaspi blasted the Moro Rajah Soliman from his fortress at Manila in 1571, he destroyed forever the prospect of a united Mohammedan state in the Philippines. With this defeat of Soliman, Catholicism came to the northern islands, accompanied by a great withdrawal of the Mohammedans to their strongholds in the southern islands. Spain's original foothold in the Philippines came through conversion of pagan tribes and not after contact with the Mohammedans. The conversion of the north was a simple matter, and it was accomplished by very little bloodshed. The easy reduction of the pagans inspired by the Spaniards with false confidence when they first began the assault of Mindanao.

    The Spanish conquest of the northern islands was a repetition of the conquests of Mexico and Peru. The conquistadores met with little resistance. Legaspi, with four ships and about 600 men, reinforced at times with levies from Mexico, successfully reduced the north in a period of eleven years.

    Juan de Salcedo, a valiant gentleman and veteran at the age of twenty-four, successfully explored the island of Luzon (larger than Mindanao) with a force of forty-five men. History has neglected this remarkable soldier, who should take his place alongside Sandoval, the "terrible infant" of Cortez. Salcedo led his tiny company of ill-armed troops through the swamps and jungles of Luzon in safety, to finally die of fever in 1576 at the age of twenty-seven.

    In pre-Spanish times the Manila Bay region was known as Lusong and was held by a Mohammedan force under the leadership of Rajah Nicoy. Manila was defended by a cotta, or fort, constructed of nipa and bamboo. The Mohammedans were there as missionaries, their station being surrounded by pagan hill men.

    Nicoy was succeeded by Kanduli, who in turn gave way to Lakanduli. Lakanduli claimed descent from Alexander the Great. The ruler at the time of Legapi's conquest was Soliman, who had succeeded Lakanduli. Soliman, a Borneo prince of royal blood, was killed in the unsuccessful defense of the cotta of Lusong. His death destroyed the Mohammedan state in the north.

    At Mambarao, on the central island of Mindoro, a Mohammedan pirate stronghold remained so well defended that it survived until the late eighteenth century, to be eventually wiped out by a strong naval flotilla from the base at Cavite. With a few exceptions, however, we find the Moros retreating to the south, where the three strong states of Maguindanao, Sulu and Zamoboanga were established.

    On the Sarangani Island, at the extreme southern tip of Mindanao, the Moros built a great slave trading market which supplied the harems of the East. Organized and systematic raids were made upon the northern islands and the Moro buccaneers took captives from the very wharves of Manila.

    Shortly before the death of Legaspi in 1572 we see this truculent soldier coming to grips with the Moro corsairs. On one of his expeditions Legaspi surprised and captured a Moro prao after a savage battle. Forty-five Moros defended the prao against an equal number of attacking Spaniards. In the engagement that ensued, the Spanish boat was boarded by the pirates who, kris in hand, defied the arquebuses of the Spaniards. The shattering close-range fire of the Spaniards exterminated the pirates before many could come to close grips with the Spanish soldiers.

    After witnessing the ferocity of the Moros' attack, there must have come to the old soldier forebodings of the disasters which were to meet Spanish arms in Mindanao, for we find in Legaspi's official report of the battle the following statement:

    "I have been assured that they fought well and bravely in their defense was quite apparent for besides the man they killed, they also wounded more than twenty of our soldiers."

    During the early days of the conquest, Spain was in no condition to carry the wars to the Moros in Mindanao. The Moros brought the war to the Spaniards. In 1574 a Moro fleet of one hundred garays and one hundred small praos, manned by more than 8,000 warriors, attacked the city of Manila. All of the resources of Spain were called upon to beat this attacking force, and Manila was saved after a savage defense which cost the lives of many Spaniards. The Moro charge into the cannon fire of the fortified Spaniards resulted in an enormous loss of life before the order was given to return to the pirate ships.

    Violent and repeated pirate raids required the attention of the Spanish soldiery, and they were badly pressed by the Moro raids during the consolidation of the northern empire. In spite of these attacks from the Mohammedans, the subjugation of the northern pagans rolled on to a successful conclusion. One by one, the tribes of Luzon and the Visayas fell before the Toledo blades of the Spaniards.

    With the conversion of the northern islands complete, and the consequent development of the Missions, a restless desire for expansion came, intensified by the goadings of the militant priests.

    In the closing years of the sixteenth century the Spaniards turned confidently to Mindanao and Sulu. The Padres were now eager for martyrdom in Mindanao. The northern islands were conquered, converted and subject to tribute and forced labor.

    The time had arrived to teach the Mindanao Moslem a lesson!

    that's just it, pat, the spaniards barely step foot in mindanao; not enough time to collaborate with the natives. here's a link that you might enjoy:
    and check out 'swish of the kris' by vic hurley. i believe this book was written in 1927.

    i really doubt that this was from a moro collaborator. this kris is 'newer' meaning it can't be older than 1900. there are certain tell tale signs to look for on how to age a kris sword. during that time (1900), the moro were already under the american subjugation, so that's another hint. did you know that there's a possibility that there are more antique kris here in the u.s. that they do in the phillipines? a national dealer estimated that thre's at least 600,000 krises here! majority are brought back as souvenirs by military men durring the phillipine insurrection (love that word!). researching the history of the sword itself is very hard unless it has some strong provenance attach to it.
  4. Esgrimador

    Esgrimador New Member


    Here's the link to some good articles on this specific subject. The first one by Celestino Macachor is especially fascinating (and it has apparently been updated and expanded):


    I hear ya, bro! :)


  5. Esgrimador

    Esgrimador New Member


    For what it's worth, the above description by Hurley is a total distortion of Legaspi's actual account of the battle in question. For starters, this incident took place in 1565, so it was not "shortly before the death of Legaspi" (on the contrary, it took place at the beginning of his time in the Philippines). Also, Hurley's account makes it sound as if the Moros boarded the Spanish vessel, but it was the other way around--the Spanish boarded a Moro junk. In addition, Hurley suggests that the Spanish depended upon their guns, but Legaspi gives no indication of this in his account--all he says is that the Spanish and Moros exchanged some shots, before the Spanish grappled with the junk (yes, the Moros had firearms too). Indeed, what ultimately happened was a classic, Spanish-style naval operation, where the enemy vessel (the Moro junk) was boarded, and the affair was settled at hand-to-hand. The Spanish soldiers would have fought with swords and daggers, and they may also have used their arquebuses as clubs during the melee (this was certainly done in Europe). Here's Legaspi's own words concerning the battle with the Moros:

    "From this island the fleet directed its course towards Butuan, a province of the island of Vindanao; but the tides and contrary winds drove us upon the coast of an island called Bohol. Here we cast anchor, and within a small bay of this island we made some necessary repairs to the flagship. One morning the almiranta sighted a junk at some distance away. Thinking it to be one of the smaller praus, the master-of-camp despatched against it a small boat with six soldiers, after which he came to the flagship to inform me of what he had done. Seeing that he had not sent men enough, I despatched another small boat with all the men it could hold; and the master-of-camp himself with instructions how he was to proceed, reached the boat and junk, which were exchanging shots. The junk seeing that the boat contained so few men, defied them. When the second boat arrived it found some of the men wounded, and that the junk had many and well-made arrows and lances, with a culverin and some muskets. The junk defied the second boat also. Shouting out in Castilian, "a bordo! a bordo!" ("board !board!") They grappled it, and on boarding it, one of our soldiers was killed by a lance-thrust in the throat. Those aboard the junk numbered forty-five soldiers. Fourteen or fifteen of them jumped into a canoe which they carried on their poop deck, and fled. Eight or ten of the others were captured alive, and the remainder were killed. I have been assured that they fought well and bravely in their defense, as was quite apparent; for besides the man they killed, they also wounded more than twenty others of our soldiers. In the junk were found many white and colored blankets, some damasks, almaizales 96 of silk and cotton, and some figured silk; also iron, tin, sulphur, porcelain, some gold, and many other things. The junk was taken to the flagship. Its crew were Burnei Moros. Their property was returned to them, and what appeared, in our reckoning, its equivalent in articles of barter was given to them, because their capture was not induced by greed. My chief intent is not to go privateering, but to make treaties and to procure friends, of which I am in great need. The Burneans were much pleased and satisfied with this liberality displayed toward them, thus showing how fickle they were."

    This shows the inherent dangers of relying only on secondary sources.


    Last edited: Dec 29, 2004
  6. Spunjer

    Spunjer Valued Member

    so which one do you suggest is right; a spaniard's account or an american account ?:sarcasm:
  7. Esgrimador

    Esgrimador New Member


    Spunjer, the point is that the only first-hand account of the battle is Legaspi's. Vic Hurely clearly had access to that account (he quoted briefly from it), and yet he still chose to essentially fabricate his own version of what happened (as to why he did this, I have no idea).

    The Spanish accounts tend to give credit where credit is due. When the Spaniards encountered difficulties against any Filipino tribes (Moro or otherwise), or against Sino-Japanese wako corsairs, they noted it in their writings. They did the same thing over in Europe, when writing about the Moors and Turks, etc. You have to keep in mind that the Spanish were a martial people too, and they clearly had respect for the fighting capabilities of their enemies. Legaspi showed praise for the combative abilities of the Moros even when he defeated them.

    Now of course the Spanish were arrogant. They displayed a lack of understanding of the various cultures they came into contact with, both in the Americas and Asia. They displayed prejudice--a contempt for other cultures and creeds. That was a common attitude in the 16th and 17th centuries. However, the Spanish were a military culture, and that meant that an enemy's fighting ability transcended cultural differences on at least some level. A Spaniard might hate a Moro for simply being a Moro, but he'd still concede that the Moro could fight with the best of them.

    Because of the above, I see no reason to question Legaspi's description of the battle against the Moros.

    I do, however, question Hurley's version. His description doesn't match up with the only primary source available concerning this naval action, and that's something that cannot be ignored. For a long time, there has been a tendency to portray the Moros as some sort of martial supermen, but the fact is that they weren't supermen--they were simply skilled, tough, and fanatical. They also usually had the advantage of fighting on their home turf.


    Last edited: Dec 29, 2004
  8. Pat OMalley

    Pat OMalley Valued Member

    You also have to remember that no matter who the invador is, there will always be some sort of colaboration between the invador and some of the locals for several reasons, one of those reason may boil down to just greed.

    Look at Magellan, he was killed by Lapulapu and his tribesmen simply by keeping up his end of the colaboration with the Raja from Cebu, this was made so the other Raja could gain ownership of the straights between Mactan and Cebu, and the Raja converted to Catholosism as his part of the colaboration.
  9. Esgrimador

    Esgrimador New Member


    It is indeed a "passion"--I find eskrima/arnis fascinating for a myriad of reasons. The fact that a weapon-focused martial art has retained its viability into the modern age is compelling in it's own right. FMA differs from most other current martial arts in this regard. Most other martial arts that feature the use of weapons have been reduced to what is essentially performance art.

    I also personally strongly identify with the Pampangans and other Filipinos who fought for the Spanish. The reason for this is because I am half Italian, and my Italian ancestors likewise fought for the Spanish, during the same time period--the 16th and 17th centuries. Like the Filipinos, the Italians had to deal with Spanish prejudice and arrogance. However, also like the Filipinos (Pampangans, etc), the Italians were valued by the Spanish for their fighting abilities.

    Most of the Italians who served in Spanish armies were from the south--Naples and Sicily, otherwise known collectively as the "Kingdom of the Two Sicilies".

    And, considering my nationality, perhaps I should change my username to Schermitore. :)


  10. Spunjer

    Spunjer Valued Member

    maybe to portray them as supermen? good point, tho, esgrimador. bottom line is there are sooo much myths floating around (in the states and even in the phillipines) about our history and martial arts. by narrowing it down at least close to what really happen, that should be good enuff for the time being. i think one of the biggest problems are pilipinos' fatalistic attitude and crab in the bucket mentality. it is so sad that you rarely hear or see pilipinos outside of the martial community saying how proud they are of their race or were they came from. i hear some flips passing themselves as hawaiians. fliggah pleez...

    btw, thx for the links. it's very enlightening...
  11. Esgrimador

    Esgrimador New Member


    I would venture that the biggest single reason for invaders collaborating with the locals would be a distinct lack of manpower on the part of the former. The Spanish were at their military height during the 16th century, but they were also spread extremely thin. By the time they established a solid presence in the Philippines, trouble was brewing in the Low Countries, where the Protestant Dutch (another formidable martial culture, btw) were planning to rebel against the Spanish. The following 80 Years War was brutal, and really taxed Spanish resources. At the same time, the Spanish also had to cope with Turkish naval threats in the Mediterranean, and English naval threats in the Atlantic and abroad. These likewise put an incredible strain on the Spanish Empire.

    When Legaspi went to the Philippines in the 1560s, he had roughly 300 soldiers under his command. To illustrate what a small number this really was, all you have to do is note that 300 men would barely have filled out the complement of fighting men on board a single Mediterranean war galley from that period, and during the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, there were some 200 war galleys in the combined Spanish-Venetian-Papal fleet!

    I suspect that Cortez would never have been able to conquer the Aztec Empire without the judicious support from the Tlaxcaltecs. I think it is likewise clear that the Spanish would not have been able to maintain a presence in the Philippines without Pampangan support, since there were never enough Spanish soldiers to send there anyway.


    Last edited: Dec 29, 2004
  12. Esgrimador

    Esgrimador New Member



    That's a real shame. I think the Filipinos have such a dynamic culture. I'm currently reading Scott's Barangay, and it is really fascinating (plus, it took me forever to find that book!).

    Anytime, bro. :)

    Both Macachor and Nepangue make some great points in those articles.


  13. Son of Escrima

    Son of Escrima New Member

    Heavier or...


    I was wondering which do you prefer... a heavy, medium or light weighing sword?... i know the categories are ambiguous and somewhat subjective... sorry for that... but i want to see what you all prefer in terms of power, speed etc... also, what length of sword do you train with?


  14. Spunjer

    Spunjer Valued Member

    for me, it's not as much as the weight, but rather the balance. for instance, i thought barongs look clumsy as heck. when i acquired my first one, it just proved my point. but when i got my second one, which is an older type (pre1900 maybe), that sword is so balanced that i feel like i can swing it all day. for some reason it doesn't feel point-heavy. it's odd, but even for a novice like me, i can tell the difference. i can just imagine how that sword would be on a skilled moro's hand. scary thought :eek: :eek: :eek:
  15. YODA

    YODA The Woofing Admin Supporter

    I really like the two Ginuntings I had shipped over from the PI.

    The balance on these is VERY nice!

    Attached Files:

  16. Bayani

    Bayani Valued Member

    They are my favorite too. Good balance and recovery , cuts quite well. It was made in mind as a fighting blade and that particular maker is the same maker for the ones used by the Force Recon Marines. The balance feature and cutting ability of the blade was very much taken into consideration in it's development. Many conficurations of ginunting swprds were made before the one pictured was the final length and dimension.
  17. Esgrimador

    Esgrimador New Member

    That ginunting of yours is beautiful.

    The ginunting has that forward "set" of the blade, which aids in chopping strokes, as well as in-line thrusts (the forward-swept blade of the talibong functions in a similar fashion).
  18. Silentblade

    Silentblade Silent Death

    Pretty nice, aren't they? I have one too. I love its balance and perfect maneuverability.


    (Filipino Sword!)

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 30, 2004
  19. Bayani

    Bayani Valued Member

    Silent Blade, I noticed serial numbers on the ginuntings we have.."itak Pinoy" keeping track of the amount of ginunting it makes?
  20. Silentblade

    Silentblade Silent Death

    I'm not really sure. Maybe since our Ginuntings came from the supplier of blades of the Philippine Force Recon Marines they have to keep track of them like firearms because our model of ginuntings are the standard issue. And we know this is not just an ordinary "machete" for flora and fauna.

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