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Gabriel "Flash" Elorde
Also known as Pangamot, Filipino Boxing, Mano-mano, Panantukan
Hardness Varies
Country of origin Philippines Philippines
Famous practitioners Gabriel "Flash" Elorde, Francisco "Pancho Villa" Guilledo, Ceferino Garcia, Manny Pacquiao, Estaneslao "Tanny" del Campo, Buenaventura "Kid Bentura" Lucaylucay
Olympic sport No

Suntukan is the boxing and empty hands striking component of Filipino martial arts. It is also the Filipino term for a fistfight or brawl. In the central Philippine island region of Visayas, it is known as Pangamot or Pakamot (also pronounced as pangamut and pakamut due to Cebuano language pronunciation quirks). It is also known as mano-mano and more informally, sapakan.


The term suntukan comes from the Tagalog word for punch, suntok. The Visayan terms pangamot and pakamot ("use of hands") comes from the Cebuano word for hand, kamot. Mano-mano comes from the Spanish word for "hand", mano, and can translate to "hands" or "hand-to-hand". The phrase "Mano-mano na lang, o?" ("Why don't we settle this with fists?") is often used to end arguments when tempers have flared in Philippine male society. Sapakan which comes from the Tagalog slang for punch, sapak, is also used, but more in reference to brawls and fistfights than actual fighting systems.


Suntukan is not a sport, but rather a street-oriented fighting system. The techniques have not been adapted for safety or conformance to a set of rules for competition, thus it has a reputation as "dirty street fighting". It consists of upper-body striking techniques such as punches, elbows, headbutts and shoulder strikes. It is often used in combination with Paninipa, the kicking aspect of Filipino fighting which includes low-line kicks, tripping and knee strikes to the legs, shins, and groin. Common targets include the biceps, triceps, eyes, nose, jaws, temples, groin, ribs, spine, and the back of the neck.

While many Filipino boxing champions such as Estaneslao "Tanny" del Campo12 and Buenaventura "Kid Bentura" Lucaylucay34 practiced olympic and sport boxing, they also used pangamot dirty street boxing which is distinct from Western Boxing5. A particular trait of Filipino boxing (as opposed to Western Boxing) is that instead of standing and trading blows with an opponent, suntukan practitioners typically circle constantly to avoid getting hit and look for openings, just like with knife fighting. According to Kid Bentura's son, FMA pioneer Leodoro "Lucky" Lucaylucay: "...if your practice is based on knife fighting, you have to become much more sophisticated with your footwork, evasions and delivery because one wrong move could mean death... ...Filipino boxing is exactly like knife fighting, except instead of cutting with a blade, we strike with a closed fist."67


Even though suntukan is designed to allow an unarmed practitioner to engage in both armed and unarmed confrontations, it easily integrates the use of weapons such as knives, palmsticks (dulo y dulo) and ice picks89. These weapons can render suntukan's techniques fatal but do not fundamentally change how the techniques are executed. Weapons in suntukan tend to be small, easily concealed and unobtrusive. Thus, suntukan minimizes contact with the opponent because it is not always known whether an opponent is armed, and knives are very often used in fights and brawls in the Philippines10111213141516. As such, parries and deflections are preferred over blocks and prolonged grappling.


Suntukan is also a part of Eskrima and is theorized to have evolved from Filipino weapons fighting because in warfare, unarmed fighting is usually a method of last resort when fighters are too close in proximity (such as trapping and grappling range) or have lost their weapons. Aside from this, some unarmed techniques and movements from certain FMA schools are also derived from the weapon-based forms of eskrima. In Classical Eskrima, the terms Mano mano, De Cadena (Spanish for "of chain") and Cadena de Mano (Spanish for "hand chain") are more often used as the names for the empty hand components of their formal systems as suntukan is the generic Filipino term for fistfighting. Aside from punching, the suntukan components in Eskrima includes kicking, locking, throwing and dumog (grappling).

It is interesting to note that a number of Filipino boxing champions are also known to have practiced eskrima. World champion Ceferino Garcia (regarded as having introduced the bolo punch to the Western world of boxing) wielded a bolo knife in his youth and developed his signature punch from his experience in cutting sugarcane in farm fields with the bladed implement.17 Legendary world champion Gabriel "Flash" Elorde studied Balintawak Eskrima (under founder Venancio "Anciong" Bacon)18 and got his innovative, intricate footwork19 from his father, "Tatang" Elorde who was the Eskrima champion of Cebu 71820 -- footwork from eskrima which has been adopted by many boxers, including his friend Muhammad Ali721, by transitivity, Bruce Lee who was a big fan of Ali and again by transitivity, Manny Pacquiao who is a big fan of Lee2223.


Speed, flow, and rhythm

Suntukan emphasizes speed in striking, with the intent of overwhelming the adversary with a flurry of attacks. Indefinite combinations of different strikes are strung together continuously to make successful defense a relative impossibility. Many strikes in suntukan are said to be performed on "half-beats", or in between the major strikes of a combination, so as to disorient and overwhelm an opponent, increasing the opportunity for more devastating attacks. An example of this could be performing a swift slap or eye strike after throwing a jab with the same hand in a standard jab-cross-hook combination; the eye strike both disrupts the defense against and masks the incoming cross. Sometimes, low-line kicks are often executed between boxing combinations to further injure and disorient the opponent.


The angles outlined in eskrima are incorporated to evade and parry incoming strikes and to attack the opponent from an outside angle where they are less able to defend themselves. Constantly switching the fighting lead allows for the exploitation of attack while maintaining flow. The fighter will often use a finishing strike or kick in a combination to step into the new lead. Footwork is of utmost importance for these techniques, so in some systems, much time is invested into practicing stick-fighting drills and combinations.


Moves which immobilise the limbs are called gunting (scissors) techniques because of the scissor-like motions used to stop an opponent's limb from one side while attacking from the other side. Suntukan focuses on countering an opponent's strike with a technique that will nullify further attack by hitting certain nerve points, bones, and muscle tissue to cause immediate partial paralysis of the attacking limb. Common limb destructions include guiding incoming straight punches into the defending fighter's elbow (siko) to shatter the knuckles, or striking the incoming limb in the biceps to inhibit the opponent's ability to use that arm for the remainder of the fight. Gunting focuses on destroying the opponent's ability to wield their weapon. This term derives from the word "scissors" in Filipino, Malaysian and Indonesian. In Filipino martial arts, gunting can be done by cutting the hand or wrist with a pair of blades (hence the name), but it can also be done with a single blade or with the empty hand by striking nerves and tensed muscles.


Suntukan also borrows moves from dumog (upright wrestling) which twist and turn the opponent's body with the goal of exposing a more vulnerable area, such as the neck, jaw and temples. This is accomplished by the use of arm wrenching, shoving, shoulder ramming, and other off-balancing techniques in conjunction with punches and kicks. For example, the attacker's arm could be grabbed and pulled downward to expose their head to a knee strike.


Panantukan (possibly a contraction of "Paggamit ng Suntukan" or corruption of Panuntukan, both meaning "use of boxing", and often erroneously referred to as Panantuken) is the name attributed to the empty hands and boxing system introduced by Lucky Lucaylucay and Floro Villabrille3 to the Filipino martial arts component of the Inosanto Academy lineage in the United States. It's said that originally, Lucaylucay wanted to call his art Suntukan, but he was concerned that it would be confused with Shotokan Karate, so he used the term Panantukan instead.24252627 The term is virtually unknown in the Philippines and is more used in Western Kali/Eskrima systems of Filipino-American origin.

See also

Further reading

  • A Guide to Panantukan, the Filipino Boxing Art, Rick Faye, Cambridge Academy Publishing, 2000


  1. ^ Estaneslao “Tanny” del Campo - A Legend In His Own Time, Krishna Godhania
  2. ^ Remembering Filipino Great "Flash" Elorde Ronnie Nathanielsz,, Jan 2 2008
  3. ^ a b Ted Luycaylucay Final Interview, Steve Charlson, Inside Kung Fu magazine
  4. ^ FMA Pulse - Characteristics of Filipino Boxing Perry Gil Mallari, October 20, 2010
  5. ^ Western Boxing vs Filipino Boxing, two similar but distinct arts?, Krishna Godhania
  6. ^ ESPN Sports - A look at the history of boxing in the Philippines Don Stradley, June 25, 2008
  7. ^ a b c Inside Karate Magazine - Did Filipino Martial Arts Revolutionize Boxing?, Lilia Inosanto-Howe
  8. ^ Abante - Agawan o Holdap?
  9. ^ Abante - Ngitngit kinambalan ng ice pick
  10. ^ Pilipino Star Ngayon - Ex-boxer na hindi kaya sa suntukan, pinatay sa saksak
  11. ^ Pilipino Star - Grinipuhan, tinarakan sa leeg...
  12. ^ Pang-Masa - Tinalo sa suntukan, rumesbak ng saksak
  13. ^ Remate - Ungos sa suntukan, nadale sa saksakan
  14. ^ Abante - Panalo sa Suntukan, Grinipuhan!
  15. ^ Remate - Kuya grinipuhan ng bunsong kapatid, tigbak
  16. ^ Rappler - 'Male pride' led to fatal stabbing of American in Makati Carlos Santamaria, Nov 26, 2012
  17. ^ The Manila Times: We should focus on boxing
  18. ^ a b Dog Brothers Forum:Filipino Martial Arts and Boxing, see comments by Sayoc Kali instructor Rafael Kayanan (user Sun Helmet )- Kayanan's uncle was the good friend of Elorde and user "antoy" about Elorde's Balintawak lineage - his batchmates were Baltazar "Iti" Gumapon, former Mandaue City Mayor Pedong Ouano and TUCP (Trade Union Congress of the Philippines) honcho Democrito Mendoza
  19. ^ YouTube: Carlos Ortiz vs. Flash Elorde II fight footage, November 28, 1966
  20. ^ FMA Talk:Sayoc and Pekiti as they are now, Rafael Kayanan (see comments by user Sun Helmet)
  21. ^ PhilBoxing - REMEMBERING ‘FLASH’ ELORDE, Ronnie Nathanielsz, Sun, 25 Mar 2012
  22. ^ I Am Bruce Lee (2012 Documentary)
  23. ^ YouTube: ES News - Bruce Lee & Manny Pacquiao, interview with Bruce Lee's friend and sparring partner Leo Fong
  24. ^ Panantukan Book Review
  25. ^ Martial Talk: Filipino Boxing Ernie Lake, Inosanto/Lacoste Kali instructor
  26. ^ Filipino Indonesian Combatives History Ben Fajardo, Nubreed Fighting Systems
  27. ^ Mousel's MMA Academy Forum