• Rizal in Duels & Martial Arts: More than Just your Ordinary National Hero

      I started as practitioner on the art of “Eskrima”, the indigenous Filipino Martial Art more or less 17 years as of my counting. As I advanced, I also learned the richness of its culture based on the different stories of its origin, where their authenticity needs to be verified.

      My first orientation of the art was a training with my close friend in the Lapunti Arnis de Abanico style which features the technique of the double stick amara, wielding it as if you are waving a hand fan. Its grace and art propelled me to let my love for the art grow. I also learned other techinques like Balintawak Eskrima. But let me gear you towards the focus of this article as I won’t be talking about the art itself. I would in some other time, considering the growing popularity of this art around the globe, thanks to the Filipino Grand Masters who introduced it outside the Philippines.


      Anyway, because of my love for this martial art, I did my in-depth researches. And with my personal searches, I have come across a very good piece of information that once, a very influential man of this country was also a practitioner of this art that I so love.

      Rizal: More than Just a Doctor and Writer
      151 years ago on this date (June 19, 1861), Francisco Rizal Mercado and Teodora Alonzo y Quintos welcomed their seventh child into the world at Calamba, Laguna. They named the boy Jose Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda. Of course, we all know him as our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. His writing and his devotion to the country has led him to become the Philippine national hero, opening several debates as to why this wasn’t given to Andres Bonifacio or those who really shed blood for the country.


      Unknown to some, Rizal was not just a doctor and writer. He was also a sculptor, a painter, a novelist and most especially, he was also a swordsman and a highly-regarded one at that. He was a body builder with a vast experience in wrestling and judo. These might come out as great physical achievements coming from a child who was regarded as sickly and weak. Rizal got his first orientation on martial arts from his Uncle Manuel. He taught Rizal the art of buno, a Filipino-style wrestling.

      Rizal Against Bullying
      In his “Memorias de un estudiante” Rizal described how he beat a bully in their class despite his being short on height. Rizal wrote: “The son of the teacher was a few years older than I and exceeded me in stature … After beating him in a fight, I gained fame among my classmates, possibly because of my smallness.”

      Rizal’s Gentlemanly Duel for Lovel
      Rizal honed his skill on fencing and shooting while he was a student at Madrid practicing with the Paterno brothers Maximo, Pedro and Antonio. Rizal’s mastery of sword and as a marksman was put to the test when he challenged Antonio Luna on a duel. Rizal having lost Leonor Rivera entertained the thought of courting other ladies.

      While a guest of the Boustead family at their residence in the resort city of Biarritz, he had befriended the two pretty daughters of his host, Eduardo Boustead. Rizal used to fence with the sisters at the studio of Juan Luna. Antonio Luna, Juan’s brother and also a frequent visitor of the Bousteads, courted Nellie but she was deeply infatuated with Rizal. In a party held by Filipinos in Madrid, a drunken Antonio Luna uttered unsavoury remarks against Nellie Boustead. This prompted Rizal to challenge Luna into a duel. Rizal made Luna to choose his weapon of choice be it a gun or a sword. Knowing Dr. Jose Rizal as a master in both weapon and with intervention of their compatriots, Antonio Luna apologized to him thus averting tragedy for the both.

      Rizal the Martial Arts Tutor
      While adept in western arts, patriotism of our National Hero was apparent as far as martial art is concerned. While being exiled at Dapitan, on the island of Mindanao, Rizal stayed there for four years, teaching at schools and encouraging agricultural reforms to the natives. As an expert on the art of stick fighting, Dr. Jose Rizal taught arnis, known also as kali or eskrima-- a weapon- based training that uses stick (rattan) as a primary tool. This was one of the subjects he taught to the young boys of Dapitan during his last days.


      It was also in Dapitan where a Frenchman, Juan Lardet, was challenged by Dr. Jose Rizal in a duel after the Frenchman accused him of cheating in a business deal. However the Frenchman declined in accepting the challenged and retracted his accusation after being advised by a Spanish Commandant of Dapitan who knew well of the fighting capabilities of our National Hero.

      Rizal's words-- Pen is mightier than the sword, is in fact, a credence on both accounts to Rizal. In my humble opinion, he might have chosen to fight with blood-- he could if he would. But being the gentleman that he is, the strength of his pen and his words did a lot to this country far more than we can imagine.

      As a proud practitioner of the art, I am proud to say that Rizal is my idol, for all he did for this country and so much more. On your birthday today, we, the future eskrimadors, raise our bamboo sticks in adoration and pure pride to our national hero.

      In behalf of iSTORYA.NET, Happy Birthday to our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.

      By: Diego Salvador
      iSTORYAn League of Writers: Culture & History
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      Comments 17 Comments
      1. Yayy's Avatar
        Yayy -
      1. berting007's Avatar
        berting007 -
        Grabeh.. This keep me thinking, he could have been a fine commander general or some sort.
      1. Franky1piz's Avatar
        Franky1piz -
        martial artist d.ay ni c rizal..idol.
      1. Diego Salvador's Avatar
        Diego Salvador -
        Quote Originally Posted by berting007 View Post
        Grabeh.. This keep me thinking, he could have been a fine commander general or some sort.

        that is truly possible berting007, but the views of Dr.Jose Rizal with regards on the revolution is different on the views of Andres Bonifacio. While Bonifacio opted on arm struggle our national hero prefer education before we the Filipino people worthy of liberties...on one of his journal it reads:

        " My countrymen: I have given proofs, more than anybody else, of desiring liberties for our country and I still desire them. But I place as a premise the education of the people so that by means of education and of labor they might have a personality of their own and make themselves worthy of liberties....I do condemn the savage uprising which dishonors us, the Filipinos, and discredits those who may advocate our cause."
      1. Scott Bernard's Avatar
        Scott Bernard -
        Cool! I had also basic to intermediate knowledge on Balintawak Style when I was in high school. I hope to review and practice it again, someday...
      1. jangska's Avatar
        jangska -
        hwow. kuyaw sad diay tos rizal. karon pako kahibaw ani da. nice info ts.
      1. Diego Salvador's Avatar
        Diego Salvador -
        Quote Originally Posted by Scott Bernard View Post
        Cool! I had also basic to intermediate knowledge on Balintawak Style when I was in high school. I hope to review and practice it again, someday...

        You should Scott Bernard, because regardless of the style it is something that we can be proud of...it is our very own art which is sadly to say that young Filipino generations doesn't know about it...I hope there is a Rizal heart in you Scott Bernard that is eager to share the knowledge of Eskrima which is now part of our culture...

        As Grand Master Remy Presas Jr. of the Modern Arnis said:

        "When you talk to a Filipino who knows Arnis, you are not talking on the art itself but you are learning the culture."
      1. franzyap's Avatar
        franzyap -
        COOL! more than your ordinary national hero.
      1. fire2k8me's Avatar
        fire2k8me -
        naa na d.i tay superman sa pinas.. hehehe
      1. THE KID's Avatar
        THE KID -
      1. randymunz's Avatar
        randymunz -
        mura ug ma_ingganyo ta aning eskrima da kay idol sad raba nako siya.
      1. cebudoneforyou's Avatar
        cebudoneforyou -
        Pen is always mightier than Sword. Intelligent and Smart jud na Manong Jose dah..kat on nya mi arnis pod. asa ta pwede ka skwela ani?
      1. Labrador2's Avatar
        Labrador2 -
        I just want to share about Rizal first account from his family Members them self. Rizal having a lot of girls and well built body... I dont think so...

        Radaic's Rizal

        A Victorian hero is one's ultimate picture of Guerrero's "First Filipino." Ante Radaic's "Rizal from Within" is, on the other hand, modern man - anxious, nervous, insecure, ill at ease in his world, ridden with complexes, and afflicted with feelings of inferiority and impotence.

        The key image is of the child Rizal, as described by his sisters Narcisa and Maria to Asunción López Bantug: "Jose was a very tiny child. And his head grew disproportionately. When he began to walk by himself he often fell, his head being too heavy for his frail body. Because of this, he needed an aya to look after him."

        Radaic believes that Rizal was aggrieved by his puny physique. Whether the hero was really smaller than normal, the significant thing is that he thought he was, during the impressionable years of youth. In his "Memorias de un estudiante", written before he was 20, references to his size recur obsessively:

        "The son of the teacher was a few years older than I and exceeded me in stature… After (beating him in a fight) I gained fame among my classmates, possibly because of my smallness … I did not dare descend into the river because it was too deep for one my size… At first (the father at the Ateneo) did not want to admit me, perhaps because of my feeble frame and scant height … Though I was 13 going on 14, I was still very small."

        Other people are seen in relation to his height. His teacher in Biñan is "a tall man"; his professor in Manila is "a man of lofty stature"; and most poignantly of all, the young man presumed to be suitor of Segunda Katigbak, Rizal's first inamorata, is "un hombre alto."

        There's evidence that Rizal had reason to be self-conscious about his physique. His brother Paciano decided against enrolling José as a border at the Ateneo because (this is from Mrs. Bantug's account) he was timid and small for his age." And Father Pastells of the Ateneo wrote that Rizal failed to be elected president of the college sodality because of his "small stature."

        His sisters recalled that he insisted on joining games -- like the popular game of "giants" -- for which he was too weak and small: "He grew up pathetically conscious of his short stature and fragile body, he made great effort to stretch himself out in his games, and he was continually begging his father to help him grow. His little body did not permit him to compete with boys his age but stronger than he; so he withdrew into himself. Nevertheless, the tiny lad went on craving to become big and strong. He persisted in playing the game of 'giants.' His Uncle Manuel, seeing the boy's avidity for advice on body building and pitying his eager envy of tougher boys, took him under his care. A strong man full of vitality, he sought to part the boy from his books and to satisfy his craving to develop his body. He made the boy skip, jump, run; and though this was at first hard for the frail boy, he had so strong a will and such anxiety to improve himself that, at last, the will won over the flesh. He became lighter and quicker of movement, and his physique more lively, more robust, more vigorous, although it didn't grow any bigger."
      1. mr.a's Avatar
        mr.a -

        [The message you have entered is too short. Please lengthen your message to at least 10 characters..
      1. charlesvince's Avatar
        charlesvince -
        nice ni asa ta pwede mag pa endrol ani?pang self defence ba
      1. gierome's Avatar
        gierome -
        si rizal na walang malay. the hero has his own style. arnis is his sport.
      1. niegel's Avatar
        niegel -
        kibaw sad diay na mangamot si rizal sah hehe

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