Students at Iron Crane
learn three advanced stick fighting forms. Two of
these forms, “Thousand
and “Thunder Meets Earth”
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
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
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
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.
Tres (Stick Form #3)
further demonstration and detail on how we
teach the form today,
Sticks (Stick Form #4)
overview and explanation, click here.
Meets Earth (Stick Form #5 - Two Person
full breakdown on this two person
form, click here.