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'Sikaran is a distinct Filipino Martial Art that involves hand and foot fighting. As Sikaran is a general term for kicking which is also used as the name of the kicking aspects of other Filipino Martial arts, this article discusses the distinct art which is specifically practiced in the Rizal province that focuses almost exclusively in kicking.
Sikaran is a simple but intense martial art game that originated from the town of Baras in the province of Rizal. According to the forefathers of Baras, it had been practiced long before the Spaniards came to the Philippines in the 16th century.citation needed
It is noted that like most Filipino martial arts, Sikaran has no written history as most Filipinos from the lower classes during Spanish colonial times were barely literate (free public education was only introduced during the American era) and it was passed orally from generation to generation.
Like many Filipino martial arts styles, it has been endangered as it does not have as many practitioners as the more mainstream martial arts. Like Modern Arnis, in the mid-20th century, it had to adapt certain structural aspects of the more well known art of Karate like the belting system, choreographed forms or Katas and uniforms to make it more appealing other Filipinos and be more accepted internationally.1
On the Third Asian Karate Championship in 1966, Sikaran was accepted as a distinct Filipino style of fighting, by the Asian Karate Association headed by Korea’s Dr. Kwai Byeung Yun, with the concurrence of Master Koichi Kondo of the All Japan Karate Federation, Master Hwang Kee of the Korean Tang Soo Doo and China’s Master Chua Tiong Ki. This once in a lifetime event was witnessed by Philippine Senator Ambrosio Padilla, Antonio delas Alas, president of the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation, Colonel Jose Lukban, president of the Philippine Amateur Judo Association and several high-ranking military officers. Also in attendance were Cipriano Geronimo, last Hari of Sikaran and several Sikaran elders from Baras and surrounding towns. In recognition of this achievement, the Philippine Sportswriters Association vested on Meliton Geronimo the Sportsman of the Year Award.
Meliton Geronimo, who codified, organized and elevated Sikaran from an ancient system to a modern fighting art was awarded the title of Grandmaster of Sikaran with the rank of 10th Degree Red Belt. He was vested the Order of the Eagle (Agila), the highest award in the Asian Karate Association. Some people were insistent on calling the art Philippine Karate professing that it has been influenced too much by Karate. Some contend that it should be called Modern Sikaran to differentiate it with the Sikaran of old, because foreign but similar fighting arts have debauched its distinctive style. Meliton Geronimo, maintaining that this is neither a new nor a different art, but a natural evolutionary progression of the centuries-old art of Sikaran, resisted to use a qualifier and retained the name of the art the way it has always been since the 19th century. It may have seemed an insignificant matter to some, but to Meliton Geronimo, it looms large on the horizon of the future of SIKARAN. He strongly declared that the art of Sikaran that he is propagating is the same art his grandfather propagated in the 19th century. He emphatically stressed that nobody can improve on perfection of the centuries-old art of Sikaran. He emphasized that what he improved on is the “packaging” and “presentation” of Sikaran.
Working together, Meliton Geronimo, his younger brother Jaime Geronimo and Emmanuel del Espiritu Santo Querubin, with the encouragement and wisdom of Sikaran Haris Cipriano Geronimo, Melencio Bigasin and Manuel Ocampo and Arnis de Mano Grandmaster Daniel Rendal, formalized the syllabus of the techniques and curriculum of Sikaran. Likewise, terminologies were translated and other words were coined in line with this curriculum.
In 1969, Meliton Geronimo and Emmanuel del Espiritu Santo Querubin’s Terminologies of the Filipino Fighting Arts received the approval of the Institute of National Language and the Department of Education, bolstering the identity of Sikaran as an indigenous empty-hand fighting art of the Philippines.
In the same year, Meliton Geronimo and Emmanuel Querubin published two Sikaran Instructional Manuals.
From 1969 to 1972, Meliton Geronimo and his senior instructors, Jaime Geronimo, Emmanuel del Espiritu Santo Querubin, Angeles Sanchez, Rodrigo Espiritu, Ramon Valdenor and Serafin Pangilinan, were assigned to train Republic of the Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos and the Presidential Security Command in SIKARAN.
In 1970, the Asian Karate Association was disbanded to give way to the creation of the World Union of Karate-do Organizations (WUKO) the ruling body of Karate in the world. It was unfortunate that Master Koichi Kondo was no longer around to witness the culmination of his dream. Master Koichi Kondo died prematurely in 1969. The Karate Brotherhood of the Philippines became an original signatory member while Meliton Geronimo and Emmanuel del Espiritu Santo Querubin were designated lifetime founding signers of the WUKO charter.
Meliton Geronimo, has gained worldwide recognition as a martial arts leader and the Philippines, through the Karate (Sikaran) Brotherhood of the Philippines, has emerged as a powerhouse in the international Karate scene. This personal glory was bothersome for Meliton Geronimo. With the formation of WUKO, Sikaran was being identified too much as Karate instead of the distinct Filipino Fighting Art that it is. Apprehensive that Sikaran may lose its identity over the international acceptance of Philippine Karate, Meliton Geronimo, shortly thereafter relinquished his position in the World Union of Karate-do Organizations (WUKO).
Energized by the enthusiasm of the Sikaran elders, Meliton Geronimo devoted all his time and energy in the propagation of Sikaran. Sacrificing his personal stature as a pacesetter in the Karate world, he dropped all reference to Sikaran as Philippine Karate and propelled the Filipino Fighting Art to its rightful place in the international martial arts scene. Adopting the ancient rules of Sikaran competition, Meliton Geronimo set tournament protocol making Sikaran a modern and exciting competitive sport. Sikaran is now practiced in several countries in at least four continents and is universally recognized as the Filipino Fighting art that it is.
After retiring from the Philippine Air Force, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Meliton Geronimo was elected Mayor of the town of Baras in the province of Rizal. His first official action as Mayor was to acknowledge Baras as the birthplace of Sikaran. A similar resolution was also passed by the provincial government of the province of Rizal. Geronimo also erected a monument of two Sikaran fighters in a biyakid position, adjacent to the multi-purpose gymnasium that he also constructed to be home of Sikaran.
Sikaran and Meliton Geronimo are synonymous and nobody can rightfully claim to have learned the art unless they learned it from Meliton Geronimo or his disciples. Unfortunately, unsuspecting people are being bilked by self-proclaimed “masters” and even “grandmasters,” who after hearing about Sikaran, cleverly put together some hand and foot techniques and call their art Sikaran.
Meliton Geronimo, still actively oversees the affairs of the Kapatirang Sikaran Ng Pilipina (ruling body of Sikaran) and the Kapatirang Pandaigdig Ng Sikaran (World Brotherhood of Sikaran), composed of several affiliates from all over the world.
With Meliton Geronimo at the head, his two most senior and ardent followers stand by his side. Jaime Geronimo, his younger brother and second in command and a master in his own right, attends to the technical affairs of Sikaran as an international sport and is now the Chief Instructor of the Kapatirang Sikaran Ng Pilipinas. Emmanuel del Espiritu Santo Querubin, now based in the United States, continues to independently propagate Sikaran as a fighting art.
There is only one recognized Sikaran genealogy and that is the Geronimo lineage. There is only one Grandmaster of Sikaran accepted by the Sikaran elders and that is Meliton Geronimo. There is only one Filipino Grandmaster sanctioned and recognized by the Asian Karate Association to hold the rank of 10th Degree Red Belt in Sikaran and that is Meliton Geronimo.
On April 29, 2009, Senator Manuel "Lito" M. Lapid introduced Senate Bill Number 3193, also known as the "Sikaran Martial Arts Act of 2009." The act is to promote indigenous Filipino martial arts and to develop Filipino martial arts fighters into international champions. Among other items, the act also calls for the integration of Sikaran as a subject in the Physical Education curriculum natonwide. The act is pending approval at this time.2
Sikaran has its own distinct kicking styles.3 The signature Biakid kick is executed by pivoting to the back in a complete turn, much like a spinning hook kick or a reverse round house in other martial arts styles and targets the side or back of the head while the practitioner is in mid to punching range.
The degree of effectiveness subscribes to two classifications: "panghilo" (paralyzing blow) and "pamatay" or lethal kick. Obviously the first aimed at less vital parts of the physique, while the target of the second includes the heart, neck, head, groin, and spine, all highly vulnerable parts.
Footage from the Last Man Standing UK TV series episode on Sikaran (YouTube link, uploaded by the Sikaran group featured) shows how the style practiced in the province is done differently from Tae Kwon Do and Karate.4 There have been questions on the art of Sikaran as being native to the Philippines or being borrowed from Karate and Tae Kwon Do, but as can be seen in the Last Man Standing footage, to the farmers watching the sport and cheering on the sidelines, it is simply an ordinary sight common to their particular village, much like Sabong (cockfighting) is in the rest of the Philippines.
It has been said that Tae Kwon Do "stole" the signature Biakid kick technique from Sikaran as a tournament technique after the Japanese and Koreans saw it used effectively by Sikaran players(Meliton Geronimo) during their debut in the inter-Asian Karate tournaments in the late-60's.5 This is supported by the fact that spinning heel or hook kicks were not used in competitions by Korean players prior to the 70's.678
Sikaran utilizes only the feet as a rule for sport, and the hands are only used for blocking. The player uses his legs 90% of the time and his hands 10%, and only for blocking or parrying blows. Violation of this injunction, especially in tournaments, is ground for disqualification.
The entry of Sikaran in tournaments, particularly those of international caliber, presaged certain modifications, if innovations, of its original rules, like the setting of a time limit and widening of the fighting area into twice the size required of the original arena, and the wearing of armor for safety reasons as it is played full contact and bare-chested with no armor or groinguard in the original province. (Filipino martial artists from more modest means generally have no such access to these Western accessories)
- Meliton C. Geronimo Sr. (AKA "Most Courageous Fighter" Award 1964; Order of the Eagle 1966; 10th degree Red Belt 1966)
- Rodolfo Cagawan (AKA Champion Coach 1965)
- Tony Ferrer (AKA Champion Coach 1966)
- Bernard Belleza (AKA Champion 1965)
- Emilio Galicinao (AKA Champion 1965 & 1968)
- Eddie Miraflor (AKA Champion 1965-66)
- Greg Agaloos (AKA "Most Courageous Fighter" Award 1965)
- Jimmy Magbanua (AKA Champion 1966)
- Ariston Bautista (AKA Champion 1966)
- Amando Diaz (AKA Champion 1967-68)
- Antonio Gamiela (AKA Champion 1968)
- Jaime Geronimo (AKA "Most Courageous Fighter" Award 1968)
- Patrick Lim (AKA Champion 1969)
- Meliton S. Geronimo Jr. 9th DBB (Vallejo, CA USA)
- Jose M. C. Diestro 8th DBB (Campsie NSW, Australia)
♦ Datuk Tom Hussein Sulit 8th DBB (Calgary, Alberta Canada)
- Jaime Torres 9th DBB (Winnipeg, MB Canada)
- Elisio Manaois 8th DBB (Baras, Rizal Philippines)
- Henry Bio 8th DBB (Beverly Hills, CA USA)
- Vic Ferrer 7th DBB (Saskatoon, SK Canada)
- Dante Alambra 7th DBB (Winnipeg, MB Canada)
- Edward Brown 7th DBB (Norwalk, CT USA)
- Elpidio Seletaria Jr. 6th DBB (Hercules, CA USA)
- Osias Banaag 6th DBB (Delano, CA USA)
- Emmanuel Querubin 5th DBB (Oakland, CA USA)
- "History: 1946 to present". Sikaran Pilipinas.
- "Techniques of Sikaran". Sikaran Pilipinas.
- "Last Man Standing Season 2 episode 7 - Sikaran: Kick-fighting in the Philippines". BBC Television.
- "PDF of scans from old articles and albums from the Asian Karate Association of the 60's".
- "How to Perform a Spinning Hook Kick". WikiHow.
- Bob Duggan. "The Hook Kick". The Society of Hwarang.
- Sang H. Kim. "Analysis of Taekwondo's Spinning Kicks". TurtlePress.
- A Dying Art – Sikaran, Art of Philippines Foot Fighting, Emmanuel del Espiritu Santo Querubin - Black Belt Magazine, April 1966
- It All Began 800 Years Ago, Emmanuel del Espiritu Santo Querubin - Black Belt Magazine, June 1966
- PDF scan of a Sikaran article and Asian Karate Association albums from the 60's and 70's