Students at Iron Crane learn three advanced stick fighting forms. Two of these forms, “Thousand Sticks” and “Thunder Meets Earth”
are described elsewhere. The third, “Anyo Tres” has a history worthy of discussion here.
In the early 1980’s, stick fighting arts were just becoming known in
the continental U.S., particularly on the West Coast. In retrospect, given their current popularity, it’s difficult to imagine there was initially considerable resistance to their spread.
One of the pioneers of
the stick fighting arts was the late J. Cui Brocka, operating from his Dojo in Tacoma, WA. Among his students was Sensei David Bird, who eventually became his ranking successor. Both Sensei Brocka and Sensei
Bird worked diligently to spread the art of Arnis throughout the Pacific Northwest, and Sensei Brocka reached even beyond, setting up programs in Europe, particularly Germany. As far as I know, their schools were
the first to split time equally between empty hand, and weapons arts, feeling each complimented the other.
Sensei Brocka re-enlisted for officer training in the U.S. Army, and left the Northwest, passing his
mantle to Sensei Bird. For David Bird, it was an uphill battle. There was resistance to the stick fighting arts, and their effectiveness was routinely questioned by the martial arts establishment of the
time, read that to mean the holdovers from the first generation of American Masters. Bird eventually took his show on the road, doing demonstrations where ever invited, teaching seminars throughout the region,
promoting full contact performances, and creating rules for safe tournament competition.
His objective was to keep Arnis before the public eye, until the public could see past the prejudices of the past, and
evaluate this incredible art on its own merits. Yes, it required considerable personal sacrifice, without renumeration. To that end, he devised the very first (to our knowledge) performance level stick
fighting form. “Anyo Tres” is a masterpiece of movement, splicing the flow of Arnis and the dynamic of empty hand fighting into a Kata capable of winning tournaments. Even then, the battle was uphill,
with Bird presenting near flawless executions but leaving the ring with less than average scores. His was a new direction, and old ways were slow to change.
In time, the establishment came around. After
several years, enough people were doing Arnis, and performing with Anyo Tres so that it became universally accepted, and even began to score regularly at competitions.
Sensei David Bird still lives on Washington’s Fox Island. Next time you see him, thank him.
Anyo Tres (Stick Form #3)
For further demonstration and detail on how we teach the form today,
Thousand Sticks (Stick Form #4)
For an overview and explanation, click here.
Thunder Meets Earth (Stick Form #5 - Two Person Form)
For a full breakdown on this two person form, click here.