BUNO - Filipino wrestling system

Wikipedia Article

BUNO is an indigenous past-time game in the Philippines especially in the Luzon region. The game goes like this, the players write a circle on the ground (preferably on a sand surface) around 3-4 meters in diameter. The rules are whoever (1) goes down on his back flat on the ground losses the bout, (2) goes out of the circle three times loses the bout, (3) taps the ground, or yell a “tama na” or “ayoko na” (in English, “stop” or I give up”), or screams due to pain for whatever caused it during the game loses the bout. As you can see in the three major rules mentioned, the play is very physical, but short of getting into a real fight.

Normally, there is no referee and only the players or the spectators (belonging to either one or both players) may stop the game based on the above-mentioned rules. The players start the game on a standing position; both are holding each other’s shoulders or upper arms. At the “go” signal, the players start to wrestle amidst the noise and excitement of the spectators. Everything goes during the bout except for intentionally hitting the head or the groin. BUNO is played game without the use of training mats or any protective gadgets even if the kids were playing, but still everyone enjoys it. Normally, players wear shorts or loose pants and bare upper...exciting eh? Why bare upper? Because, after the game they just wash their bodies and faces then wear back their clean shirts and go.

This play is very common in the school or in any past time gatherings in the villages. It is also a common sight to see father and son, siblings, or friends playing BUNO in the backyards, picnic areas, and beaches. GM Marc learned from and practised BUNO with his father, Ingkong Marcial, in their mountainside family vegetable plantation.

Now let us go to the real-fight where BUNO is normally applied. If there were conflicts between two people, or two groups, BUNO is somewhat the solution to settle things. This is a better alternative than having a bigger fight, which may involve bigger crowds from conflicting groups. For the kids, this is an easy way to settle conflicts without involving their parents or siblings. For between groups, they would settle the conflict by selecting the best fighter for each group and have the two fighters fight. After the fight, both groups would just go home. The victorious group rejoices while the loosing group goes away tamed and quiet. In most occasions, the conflict between groups is settled after a bloody fight. I said bloody because there is a big tendency that injury may occur. This is already a real fight and no longer a play. There is also a chance that a rumble may occur especially when the excitement of the fighters spill over to the two camps. Well, in the Philippine setting, that’s normal!

Holding of shoulders or arms as the first move applies to the children when they play BUNO. For youths and adults holding the shoulders or arms is optional. Trapping and grabbing of opponent's arms and shoulders become the first move. Players are no longer stationary, but moves around the circle and wait for the right timing to jump over to the opponent. Throwing is an integral part of BUNO.

BUNO is taught and played with techniques and finesse. Full observance of due care so as not to injure the sparring partner or oneself is a must though sometimes even how careful the players are, accidents happen. Though BUNO is an indigenous past-time game in the Philippines, it is actually a recognized martial arts style and discipline, which if applied effectively during fights, becomes a formidable life saving self-defense system.

Nobody could singly claim that he or she is the founder of BUNO. But, anybody may claim that he or she is a founder of BUNO of his/her own style because BUNO is for everyone who wants to learn and practise it either for oneself (personal protection) or for sharing it with others (teaching). BUNO is an indigenous art of Filipinos and no matter what the others might say about it either a pro or a con, BUNO, if effectively applied during fights, just like the other ground fighting arts that persist and evolve from generation to generation, is a formidable style and definitely may save your life.

The following are the few of the basic moves of BUNO.

B1 (on left side) and B2, on their feet, face each other with a distance of around 1 ½ arms length, feet apart around 1 ½ to 2 shoulder width, and placing each others hands on other’s shoulders.


(The following 3 moves must be executed in sync and with speed) B1 slides left hand to B2’s upper arm, squeezes B2’s bicep, while dropping the elbow and puts his arms weight on B2’s left arm. A little pulling force is also applied; lightly sliding right hand to B2’s shoulder/arm joint with a pushing back to left motion; right foot sliding forward one-arm length


(The following 3 moves must be executed in sync and with speed) B1 puts his left body's weight to B2's arm, pushes up his right shoulder, steps his left foot a bit farther back-left; B1 continues with this motion to drive B2 to the ground


(While B2 is on the ground) B1 stoops down and uses his knee to pin B2's right arm; B1 delivers a stomping kick to either the groin, right pelvic bone, floating rib, or to B2's solar plexus.

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