Espada y Daga

Espada y Daga is a modern discipline of Eskrima and the Filipino martial arts (FMA) believed to be influenced by Spanish swordsmanship, in particular the Spanish style of Side-sword and Dagger used by the Conquestadors who invaded the Philippine islands in the 16th Century, and not the Rapier and Dagger styles used for dueling and self defence purposes by the Spanish upper classes as was once believed.

It is believed that the indigenous peoples who were sympathetic to the Spanish rulers were enlisted into the Spanish forces to help fend off regular invasions from the Muslim pirates from Mindanao and Sulu. Once recruited into the garrisons it is believed the Spanish Friars and commanders taught their fighting skills to the native recruits, who in turn adapted this style of fighting and combined it with their own indigenous fighting skills.

The Espada Y Daga (Sword & Knife) is a system or a technique that was developed and perfected in the Philippines. The focus of this method of fighting is to be able to go in and out of long, middle and close ranges to trap up the enemy and kill. Though, it is a fighting method indigenous to the Philippines, one of the inspirations for it’s evolution is said to be European fencing, mostly Spanish; as you can see by the Spanish name of “Espada Y Daga!”

One of the few long lasting cultural and martial influences the Spanish conquistadors left with the Filipinos was the Spanish names to some of the techniques and the names of the fighting systems popularly known as Arnis or Eskrima (sometimes spelled Escrima). The Filipinos imitated the Spanish version of Espada Y Daga and soon found the weaknesses working a way to make the offensive moves complicated so Spaniards could not counter it.

To be able to coordinate such skills with a sword and knife together consisted of many hours of training  drills for the development of the proper reflexes and good flow in using two weapons for parrying, checking, scooping, thrusting and slashing. Included in this training was the incorporation of geometrical footwork, body angling for evasiveness to be able to close in and attack without being killed.

Various locking, and takedowns from Dumog are normally added once a student has demonstrated good fighting skills. Both the Espada and the Daga (sometimes spelled “dagga) are employed at the same time with beautiful looking weave like movements are very deceiving and quick to finish the job!

Espada ‘y’ Daga is originally a Spanish term literally translated as “sword and dagger”; this discipline of the FMA focuses on engaging an opponent(s) in close (Corto), mid (Medio) and long (Larga / Largo) ranges (see main article on Eskrima).

Typically the stronger or dominant hand (usually the right hand) will hold the long weapon (sword or stick) and in many styles will serve as the primary weapon. The weaker hand (usually the left hand), or off-hand, wields the short weapon (dagger/knife) and is used for both offense (thrusting and sliding) and defense (blocking, checking and locking).

Training typically begins with drills teaching coordination of the two weapons in striking and checking patterns. The incorporation of footwork, body angling, locking, and takedowns are normally added once the student(s) have demonstrated competence in their application of the basic patterns/sets.

Training Espada ‘y’ Daga is generally precipitated by solo baston (single stick) and/or doble Baston (double stick), with mano mano (empty hands) and dumog (wrestling) being taught to advanced students. The number and variation of the disciplines taught will vary by guro (teacher) and/or school/style.

The Cabales Serrada Eskrima and Doce Pares Eskrima styles are well known for their focus on their teaching of Espada y Daga. In particular the San Miguel Eskrima of the late Momoy Canete is considered to be one of the oldest styles of Espada ‘y’ Daga taught today.

Many other styles have been known to teach Espada ‘y’ Daga in their curriculum with the degree of focus on the subject varying from style to style.