Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ron Saturno - More about Espada y daga

This is the second in a series of articles by Master Ron Saturno on Espada y Daga. In case you missed the first article, please read: 


More about Espada y daga. When I was in Japan I took some courses from stateside schools. One distance school was University of Maryland and another was L.A. City College. I took a history course from a Ph.D. who was a spy during WWII in Europe. He had a permanent limp from being shot in the leg. He was a very knowledgeable man and interesting as hell to listen to. Somewhere in our conversations he let it be known that he was a practicing blade man. In fact, he was the first non-Japanese to be given a license to teach the blade. He was a walking database of the Japanese bladed arts. He took me into the museum that he was the curator of and allowed me to get a much closer look at the swords. Many of the blades were hundreds of years old. He explained the very structure of the blade and how the blades were bendable and even breakable, if used incorrectly. I guess that I was destined to be a blade man. I have been very lucky to have been exposed to many great swordsmen.

He explained that the blade of the Samurai, although many inches long, had a sweet spot about 10" or so down the blade, going back towards the handle. He explained that if we can put the opponent's body within that zone and if we strike with reasonable power and with body follow through, the blade will be allowed to do its job. With FMA sticks of an average length of about 28", this would put the sweet spot of those sticks (blade orientation) of about 6-10" down the stick, at or about 20". For me, this puts the spot in the perfect range of a fuller sized Barong and I love it. Of course, with a stick we can do a lot of tip flick strikes, etc., that shouldn't be attempted with a blade. But, I am blade oriented. If we do the same math with the daga, the sweet spot would be the proper( usage range) length of a sometimes preferred, shorter length Serrada stick. This knowledge makes the daga a comfortable use weapon for a Serrada man, because a Serrada man's constant use of the daga length weapon, allows him a good working knowledge of distance control.

What comes out of this, is "my" preferred weapon(s) and length(s). What also comes out, is that because of the sweet spot of our weapons, we may have to be much closer to our opponent's when striking than many may now believe "necessary". The shorter (daga) weapon used in traditional lock and block's sweet range is typically about the length of a man's arm from armpit to wrist, armpit to shoulder distance of about 24-26". Which just happens to be a reasonable trade-off range with the common 28-30" rattan stick lengths which are currently popular. What I am saying is that Filipino's may not be so dumb. Maybe, there are reasons for 28-30" sticks being popular! What is important to me is that FMA practitioners take the time to study their craft and have a reason for each and everything that they do, in practice and in real life! Remember that if we strike outside of the sweet spots of our weapons, we can bend and even break blades, even the good ones. So, we must take the time to completely understand the nature of our craft, like professionals. Remember professionals get paid: We don't want to pay for our mistakes with our lives. All of the knowledge we pick up should be used to constantly improve our chances of survival, in a combat environment. It is about searching out our own destinies. We don't search to add cumbersome thoughts and movements to our personal arts. We study and learn to remove as much as possible. We want to be mean and lean fighting machines. In hope this post in some way, gets the wheel turning about the nature of lock and block. There is a lot there my friends, but in the end it is about finding out who is faster! Past all of the bullsh!t and hype: If I hit you first I am faster, period. Doesn't matter how I got there first.

Other articles by Master Saturno:


My deepest gratitude to Master Ron Saturno for his kind permission in allowing me to repost his articles to my site. 

You can contact Master Ron Saturno via:

Email: (take out the "NOSPAM")
Phone:  209-513-8027



back to top
Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillion Steps