Sikaran is a distinct Filipino Martial Art focused heavily on heavily on foot fighting and played as a game by farmers inside circular arenas in the middle of rice fields.
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 1500s.
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-1900's, 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.
Sikaran has its own distinct kicking styles. 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. 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 during their debut in the inter-Asian Karate tournaments in the late-60's. 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.
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)
- Ka Rumagit
- Melencio Bigasin
- Manuel Ocampo
- Bonfacio Geronimo
- Meliton Geronimo
- Jaime Geronimo
Origin and History
SIKARAN is a form of Philippine Martial Arts whose history dates back to the early 1500's before the Spaniards came, It is the art of foot-fighting where the farmers use their strong legs to drive the partners outside the designated line (pitak). Rice fields about 25 sq. ft.
Sikaran is just a pastime of the Baras Rizal farmers who gathered during the festival after a good harvest season. Doing it constantly made them develop skills that would eventually be marked by effectiveness such that other martial arts could hardly compare, or so claims its most ardent exponent. Of the practitioners, some went on to discover certain skills in combat that made them deserve the honor of being called "Hari"(champion). These are no longer around. As most of them have succumbed, their secrets interred with their remains and never imparted, having chosen to keep it to themselves and not to teach it to anyone else. Indeed, secrecy is essence of martial arts and this is true in any system.
The early Sikaranista (farmers) session commences with the drawing of a circle on the ground. The acknowledged talent of the lot, by reason of his superior skill is often obliged to concede a handicap, thus he positions himself inside the circle and trade kicking talents with one who stays at the circle's rim. The objective is for the combatant outside to dislodge the contestant within. The rules are really that simple. In the case of vein, he would agree to a number of opponents who form a circle. Should the man within be driven out of the circle, it signifies defeat and, correspondingly, humiliation. If the game's continuation be opted, another pretender takes the place of the dislodge practitioner and the same procedure is repeated.
Once in a while, and this seems unavoidable, a session witness a mischief-prone contestant who makes it a point to step on a carabao waste (buffalo) dung prior to a competition, if only to dirty and to defeat the opponent.
The Baras-originated method of foot-fighting in its original form No time limit is observed. Combatants call for time out if they became so exhausted as to be unable to go on some more or when troubled enough. No discrimination regarding sex. Both male and female may indulge in it, should they so wish.
They have a vernacular name for a Hari. He was awarded Ias Agila (for his impressive agility), acknowledged as the foremost padamba (jumping front kick) exponent. That he could leap as high as six feet is definitely a testimony to an awesome power.
So also was awarded classified as Hari, a fellow reputed to crack husked coconuts with his steel-like shins. On the other hand a Hari also boasts of the singular reputation of knocking out (T.K.O) a carabao with a single hammer biakid.
SIKARAN and Sipa are both Tagalog terms for "kick" but with a notable difference: the former is a noun, while the latter is a verb. Deriving from sikad, Sikaran like the biakid, pilatik and damba. And came to be known as an indigenous martial sport in the tradition of arnis, kali, dicho, buno etc.
Sikaran utilizes only the feet as a rule for sport and for combat, self-defense and this is what makes it distinct, the hands are never availed of in the sikaran. If they utilized at all, it's only for defense, the player uses his legs 90% of the time and his hands 10% only for blocking or parrying blows. Violation of this injunction, especially in tournaments, is ground for disqualification.
The rationale behind this has something to do with the role of the feet whose significance has yet to be fully appreciated. It is the largest part of the body, aside from the fact that it nurtures the largest bone as well as the most massive muscle.
Sikaran have its own share of kicking styles. The "Biakid" the classic kick is executed by pivoting to the back in a full or complete turn about manner. 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.
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, widening of the fighting area into twice the size required of the original arena.
Sikaran finds a no more vigorous exponent than the last descendant Col. Meliton C. Geronimo (ret. PAF) and ex-mayor of Baras Rizal. Who conducted a research and perfected on the art and to the extent of organizing clubs for the purpose of teaching the art to anybody, who would care to learn it, as well as to spread its popularity. His attachment to sikaran is understandable and was awarded as Martial arts masters' pioneer and legend hall of fame. Baras is the venue of his childhood and Cipriano Geronimo. Geronimo's father, past 100 years old and known as the "LAST KING or HARI of the past century", handed down the game to Meliton, To ensure that Sikaran would not fade into oblivion. The younger Geronimo founded the Kapatiran Sikaran Ng Pilipinas in 1958 now named as WORLD SIKARAN BROTHERHOOD OF THE PHILIPPINES.
In Korea, Master Hwong Kee of Muduckwan, Master Doctor KaiByeong Yun, Master Koichi Kondo of Japan Karate Association, Kung-fu Chinese Group and Master Meliton C. Geronimo, organized the Asian Karate Association in year 1961. Sikaran made an international debut and it was made possible when the organization committed to its promotion and propagation, Kapatiran Sikaran, got affiliated with the aforementioned Asian Karate Association, under the banner of Karate Brotherhood of the Philippines. SIKARAN has been "Battled-Tested" in the most Asian Tournaments. Meliton C. Geronimo won as individual champion in 1964 Utsunimiya Tochegeken, Japan and also awarded by the Eagle award during the first Asian Tournament. Thereafter he headed, coached and became the Chief Instructor and the head of the Philippine Teams that participated in the succeeding Asian Karate Tilts. Among the champions who used the Sikaran Style were the late Bernard Belleza, 1965, Emelio Galiciano 1965, Ariston Bautista 1968, Amado Diaz 1967, Jaime Geronimo 1965, Antonio Ganiela 1968, and Herminia Agapito was the lone female participant in the First World Karate Tournament in 1970 in Tokyo, Japan. In 1972 Paris, France participated by Marlyn Compuesto and Militon C. Geronimo.
Under Geronimo's Tutelage, the RP Team introduced the Sikaran Style in the Six Asian Karate Tournaments. The Philippine contingents to these tilts received awards for being "BEST FIGHTING TEAM" for this feat. Geronimo was awarded the REDBELT 10th Degree by the Asian Karate Association in 1966. The award was for Developing a "DISTINCT STYLE OF ORIGIN." he was further cited for introducing into the world a new style of an ancient Art in the light of the modern sport of Sikaran and proves its effectiveness as a fighting method.
The REDBELT signifies that he was the originator and Master of distinct Style of Martial Art and there can never be another Redbelt holder in the same school.
Master Geronimo explained that he used the word Karate (KARATE BROTHERHOOD OF THE PHILIPPINES) to indicate his school/Style (Sikaran) and to affiliate with the Asian Karate Association and the World Union Karatedo Organization. Which were the first and the only affiliated martial arts school in the WUKO. "But I was inactive in Karate because Sikaran is really a different form of Pilipino Martial Art" Says Master Geronimo. Sikaran uses the feet in offense and Defense. The hands are used only for parrying and balancing.
Today, Forty two years after the WORLD SIKARAN BROTHERHOOD OF THE PHILIPPINES was founded, SIKARAN had already taken roots in Canada, United States, England, Australia, Saudi Arabia, West Germany, Qatar, Palestine and New Zealand. Program reports are sent by WSABP instructors, from those countries to Sumulong Hway, Antipolo City, Philippines, WSBP Headquarters.