Espada y Daga: Filipino Fighting Skills & Spanish’s

Espada y Daga

Arnis is a traditional sport of martial arts in the Philippines, and a skill set to use a lot of powerful and ruthless weapons. Originally, that are designed to deliver a biggest amount of damage on the slightest move. One of those great and mighty weapons is the Espada y Daga, a powerful and lethal combination that every martial arts warrior knows and appreciates.

This fatal system is based on a set of coordinations of 2 weapons, a sword and a dagger, a set that is only used by the most experienced fighters who don’t hesitate to slay their enemies.

Origin of Espada y Daga

As the name suggests, the origin of this lethal weapon is Spanish because it literally translates to “Sword and Dagger”. However, most of people now consider it as a indigenous system of the Philippines and the traditional Filipino warriors.

Although the Filipino history involves some old variations of Espada y Daga, the technique was further developed by inspiration from the Spanish conquistadors. The conquistadors  are well-known in using the swords in fencing and sword duels. In the past, they already created an effective sword and dagger system that came from many rich sources. Then it also includes the essence of the traditional mighty Filipino warriors written all over this set.

The aim of this set is to fight efficiently at long, middle and close ranges by trapping the enemy and neutralizing him when necessary. The system was originally inspired by the European fencing that came to the country with the Spanish conquistadors. Even after they left, the weapon remained as a trademark of the traditional Filipino fighting system known as Arnis or Eskrima.

Espada y Daga weapons

Filipino Edged Weapons (ginunting on the left, and three talibongs).

The art of Espada y Daga

Using a sword and a knife together required a lot of training to be able to master the basic reflexes needed to use them efficiently. Warriors needed a lot of drills and training to be able to know how to approach the enemy strategically. The training also involved spending significant time training on the footwork. Besides, the right angles that should be used when you are attacking an enemy using this set.

Using the Espada y Daga is not a piece of cake. You need to make sure that you are spending enough time for training to approach the enemy with such a lethal weapon. But you should remember one important thing! You should not be overwhelmed by using a sword and a dagger and getting close to the opponent without getting killed.

The blades of the Espada y Daga are usually very sharp and straight for precise slashing and cutting. Traditionally, Filipino blacksmiths make the handles in a way so that they don’t just look pretty. However, they also allow the warrior to hold them at close range without being in danger.

How to use Espada y Daga

If you want to master using Espada y Daga, you need to be ready to devote some time for the task:

  • Taking the practice seriously and giving it enough time will enable you to use it properly.
  • Most probably, the dominant hand will hold the longer weapon, the sword. In most cases, this will be the right hand and will be used to attack the opponent as the primary weapon.
  • The other hand will hold the shorter weapon, the knife or the dagger.
  • This weapon will be used to offend the opponent in thrusting and sliding or to defend in blocking and locking.
  • The synchronized use of both weapons is of the utmost importance. Without a proper coordination, the two weapons will be useless and even confusing to the person using them.

Basic Training

The basic training of Espada y Daga begins with drills teaching the necessary coordination between the two weapons. See video below.

This video explains some of the most basic moves that practitioners need to master at the beginning before moving on to the next levels. The drills usually combine checking and striking patterns.

After learning the basic exercises, the training will involve adding the footwork and the strategic angling. In addition, that will also include locking down the opponent and charging. Trainee will practice this step once they has mastered the original and basic sets. The duration of the basic training and the addition of more advanced technique will depend on the preference of the guru and the progress of the student.

Below is another video that explains the use of the double reverse knife grip.

The training needed to learn how to use the Espada y Daga is divided into 3 levels. They are mainly different in the knife grip orientation.

  • First level, both the practitioner and the opponent will hold the knife in the hammer position, which is known as the sak-sak technique.
  • Second level, the practitioner will hold the knife in the icepick grip which is known as the pakal. As the same time, the opponent will keep it in the sak-sak grip.
  • Final and third level, both of the practitioner and the opponent will hold the knife in the pakal position.

The training aims mainly at raising the efficiency of the non-dominant hand. In fact, it might be a real problem if that faces warriors who practice different forms of the Arnis.

Conclusion

Espada y Daga is not something from the past.

This merciless lethal combat technique has survived through the centuries and is still popular by the artists of Arnis. This combat system involves a lot of training that will incorporate the use of the sword and the dagger simultaneously. The coordination between two weapons is not an easy skill to learn but is a real characteristic of the mighty Filipino martial artists.

Robert Sterling
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Teaching, Friendly, Young, Passion. Always wanna go up & down. Hey, you gotta live, do you?  

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