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Global Training Report



Dumog: Filipino Wrestling

By Paul Vunak

Reviewed by Roberto Pedreira


Dumog is the "art of moving a body from point A to point B", Paul Vunak explains. The techniques of Dumog are few, and simple, and they work. They can be summarized as moving the body by either pulling or pushing on the upper arm, or by using the head as a lever--where the head goes, the body must follow. 

The arm techniques are not mysterious. Tai Chi uses push arm techniques (they do work), and so do some Brazilian Vale Tudo fighters. Wrestlers use pull-arm techniques as a matter of course, and judoka do too, although they grab cloth and use their legs for tripping at the same time. The head controlling techniques can be found in traditional Jûjutsu, Hapkido, Muay Thai and Silat, although there are variations in approach and grip. So there's nothing really revolutionary in Dumog. But Vu presents them clearly and concisely (in his inimitable way with the English language) and shows how to combine them with various other arts.

The arm pull can be done from either inside or outside. Inside works more efficiently but exposes you to chokes so it might be best to work from outside if you have a choice--in any case, beware of the choke. The idea is simple: from inside, grab the man's right wrist with your right hand and extend his arm. Now lay your forearm in his inner elbow and rotate counterclockwise in a standard whirlpool pattern. It is similar to a judo maki komi (巻き込み) movement.  The outside version is pretty much the same thing: grab his right wrist with your right hand, lay your forearm on his inner elbow, but this time rotate clockwise. Be careful of your face, because his forehead is probably going to smash it. Vu teaches this as a bonus. According to him, you jerk the man's face into your headbutt. However, what we see him doing is the opposite, Vu jerking the man's forehead into his own face. In other words, you have to be more careful with this one. However, it certainly works. Of course, you have to get the grips first. But getting the right grips is the hardest part to executing any throw.

The push-arm is a weirder looking technique but it is based on the same anatomical idea, which is that if you can straighten his arm out, you can use it to  break his balance and then move him from point A to point B, as Vu says, or from point B to point A, if you so may desire. It becomes a handle that you can use for leverage. Even Mike Tyson won't be able to hurt you, Vu promises (of course, he doesn't put it in writing). The push-arm technique requires you to  grab the upper arm around the triceps and shove it up into the shoulder socket. Since there is no more "give" left and you are making him light by lifting him slightly off the floor, he will be easy to move in any direction, provided that you keep the upper arm bone tight. This is a Tai Chi technique and now you know why it works (not chi power, but anatomy and gravity). Some people will think this is a somewhat useless technique. How do you grab a tough guy's upper arm (you'll probably need both of your own to do it) to move him? 

Here's how, and more importantly, here's when. Ricardo Liborio showed it to me during one of his visits to Tokyo. You are tied up with a tough opponent, a wrestler no doubt, because wrestlers are tough, and he has a Thai style tie-up around your neck with his right hand. Since your hand is therefore on the outside (otherwise you'd be the one with the hook), you can easily seize his right triceps with your left hand. You now lever yourself out, (using your right hand to brace against his massively muscled chest if necessary), and grab his right wrist with your right hand. Your hands should be facing the opposite directions in such a way that you can straighten his arm out. Now you simply turn into the angle described above, which is basically close to his back, and push. He will (probably) stumble off balance with his legs crossed, and you will have a perfect opportunity for a beautiful double, or a nice clinch from which to apply an uki waza into a mount, or, if this happens to be your gig, you could land some uncontested leg kicks. 

If it sounds unrealistic, try it. Liborio swears by it.

Vu spends a fair amount of time on set-ups. Like, how do you get your hands on a guy who is trying to hit you?   Anyone who knows Vu will be able to guess that the methods he recommends are (1) hubud, (2) straightblast, and (3) gunting. He is assuming that the man will attack with a jab. "We equate everything off the jab", Vu says. 

In reality, a jab is probably the last punch you'll see in a bar or on the street or in a jungle hell somewhere in the Pacific or up in the DMZ. Vu assumes the punch will be a jab because that lets him enter with a gunting. A gunting is a knife slash to the opponent's attacking arm--an example of "defanging the snake". Vu does it with his knuckles instead, hoping to take out the nerve. It might work. Vu thinks so. You wouldn't risk much by trying. The problem isn't what you risk, but what you sacrifice, which in this case is the opportunity to use that right hand for more devastating purposes. Here it seems that Vu is teaching you to do something because he likes doing it, because he is good at doing it, or because he is pretty sure you don't already know it, rather than because it is the best thing to do. But as always, you be the judge. Discard what is useless.......   

"Normally, in a fight, we're going to use Wing Chun to get in", Vu says. The straightblast is supposedly a Wing Chun concept, or at least a Jun Fan concept.

I don't comprehend Vu's fixation on the straightblast. No matter how you rationalize it, these are arm punches and can't generate enough power to deter or hurt anyone that could possibly be a threat to you. As a distraction, maybe, but it seems an inefficient one at best. After you open the door with a lead hand, why waste the golden opportunity to throw another wimpy punch when you can drop a heavy cross on the man's jaw? 

Hubud is a different matter. But even here, hubud is a way to clear obstacles, or rather to reposition oneself relative to the adversary's weapons,  not a way to grab incoming projectiles. The most obvious and the best application of dumog is probably when grabbing his limbs isn't a major problem because he is attempting to grab you and you therefore obviously know where his arms are going to be. This is the situation Liborio discussed. This is when you can make dumog work for you (incidentally, aikido, which is useless in vale tudos, works very effectively in such situations).

But what if one of my arms is caught and I can't use it? (Actually, that can only happen if you don't grab him back). This is when you proceed to the devastating arts of head dumog. The head is the best dumog "choke point" according to Vu. It is certainly a versatile one. Unlike wrist locks however, it is not difficult to grab the man's head (actually, the jaw is the best place), and you only need one hand to move his head. 

Incidentally, the defense against all dumog and related head controlling techniques is 100% effective and very simple: keep the cervical spine, i.e., the neck, straight.

The tape is about 50 minutes long, but there is relatively little material on it compared to Vu's earlier classic series--basically variations on the three dumog techniques of pull from arm, push on arm, and twist head. However, it has to be said that seeing everything done from many angles and entries aids comprehension and Vu is entertaining to listen to, in a whacky sort of way. Vu has apparently taken acting lessons and gotten his hair styled and seems to be going for the Tinseltown look. 

Vu doesn't look particularly impressive when he executes most of the moves. However, in view of his great contribution to American martial arts during the 80's (he taught people to glove up and make contact and essentially, to learn from the boxers), and to the fact that he studied for years with Rickson, Rorion, Royler, and Royce, long before anyone outside of Southern California ever heard of them, I'm not going to hold this against him. 

I will decline to comment on Vu's recent Black Belt Magazine article on the art of biting and his recommendation to practice by gnawing on large chunks of uncooked beef. I don't know if there is a connection or not, but on "Head Butts, Knees, and Elbows" (tape #3 in the JKD Streetfighting series), Vu concludes the tape with footage of him beating the hell out of various fruits and vegetables. It certainly demonstrates that these techniques can be devastating against food. But as Bruce Lee might have said, "food doesn't hit back".




 Above, Igor and Alon demonstrate the dumog head twist positions.


 Below, Igor and Alon demonstrate the dumog arm pull positions.




(c)2001, Roberto Pedreira. All rights reserved.

Revised November 1, 2009.

Updated May 7, 2015.

Minor edits February 17, 2019.








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