Stick fighting defence is as diverse as the culture where it originated. I recently have the privilege of knowing notable stick fighters from different parts of the world and discovered stick fighting styles that are effective as they are unique. One of those unique sticks fighting moves and styles is the one practiced by Esgrima Lusitana Cascais – Jogo do Pau Association.
The Portuguese traditional martial art in the Casais region trains with the long-stick and combat baton for self-defence. As part of Portugal's identity, culture and history, the art has evolved and been adapted as a contact sport and self-defence system to suit the needs of modern practitioners.
My interview with Professor Ricardo Moura elaborates more on the art; its essential principles, stick fighting training methods, and efficiency of Esgrima Lusitana.
So read on…
Stick Fighting Sport: Tell us something about yourself and your martial arts background:
Moura: My name is Ricardo Moura – Cinta Preta, (Back Belt) 1st-degree Professor in Esgrima Lusitana – Jogo do Pau Português, President of Esgrima Lusitana Cascais – Jogo do Pau Non-Profit Organization.
I started at age 5 in Judo, and followed on and off until my twenties, I practiced in a competition level but wasn't a fan of actually entering competitions and preferred the self defense aspects of training.
I followed the learning process of graduations but found it very satisfying helping my master to teach the younger classes. Eventually got a 1st-degree monitor level, to support my work in the teaching the young classes.
With some brief experiences in other Asian martial arts, I decided to devote my time into learning the Portuguese Traditional Martial Art – Jogo do Pau Português / Esgrima Lusitana, my motivations at the time were mostly around the physical aspect of training (getting back into shape) and the learning of a national martial art.
I discovered an efficient combat martial art, a very technical and developed martial art, tested until recently in real fighting scenarios, some of withed actually happened after I started practicing.
After 5 years, I was already helping my Master to teach younger students and participating in multiple demonstrations, workshops courses.
Today after 10 years of practice, I'm in charge of my own club, the Associação Esgrima Lusitana Cascais – Jogo do Pau one of the most active national clubs, and I am one of the most graduated members of our technique.
Stick Fighting Sport: What makes your style of Esgrima Lusitana unique?
Ricardo Moura: I teach Esgrima Lusitana – Jogo do Pau (Lusitania's Fencing – Portuguese Stick-fighting) a traditional fighting style with long sticks, that was kept in the popular tradition and passed on from master to student, for centuries, mostly in the rural areas of Portugal.
Its origin is unknown. but we can find some similarities in medieval European sword fighting, especially the long heavy swords, its impossible to say that one or the other was the original, but none the less, Jogo do Pau is still alive.
Today is one of the few traditional martial arts that is still effective in real combat, the reason is simple, up until 45/50 years ago it was still very much used for self defense in rural areas, where people still use a long stick fighting techniques to help march.
Training was done with more regard for effective fighting then personal safety, and after 1 year an athlete was a “Made player” and was expected to be able to defend himself. All attacks were (and still are) done to the body and all defenses had to be effective, wood sticks, no protections. There were 2 rules that were very clear and illustrative of the training skills necessary.
1. attacks to the body are done without control, attacks to the head are controlled.
2. the fault is always with the player that gets hit, he should have defended better.
Today there are more safety procedures, but the effectiveness is not disregarded, all attacks are still done to the opponent's body, and most of our training focus is still defense.
Most training is done with wood sticks, without protections. However, we do include protected training and competitions, its a reasonable compromise to avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital.
Stick Fighting Sport: Did you ever have real-life encounters where you have to use your martial arts?
Ricardo Moura: No. There were some challenges made to our school during my training career, but our master took it on himself to clear any doubts, and send all challengers in search of medical attention.
I found that the more people are aware of the impact and consequences of there martial arts training, the fewer conflict situations they enter.
Stick Fighting Sport: What is your main purpose for teaching martial arts?
Ricardo Moura: Keeping a traditional Portuguese martial art alive, and having people able to practice an invaluable and unique cultural tradition.
To be able to defend myself and my own in a potentially violent situation.
To practice and exercise my discipline my mind and body
To see the development of my students; their ability to and develop skills based on what I teach them, and to see them grow as individuals and martial artists.
Stick Fighting Sport: How do you see your martial arts legacy in the future?
Ricardo Moura: My objective is to be responsible for the creation of a self-sustainable organization that will keep our martial art alive, and the technique of my master Nuno Russo (Escola do Santo Condestavel – Esgrima Lusitana). The technique I learn and teach.
I started in Cascais alone, but I'm not alone anymore, we created a Non-profit organization devoted to supporting our work.
I have no plans to finish, so let's see how far we can go.
Stick Fighting Sport: What is your message to aspiring martial artists, especially those who want to learn stick fighting?
Ricardo Moura: Start today. Learn enough to understand every movement you are doing and repeating. Question everything, do not believe in absolute truths. Martial arts have to be effective, test them. Understand them, become an intelligent individual as well as an intelligent martial artist.
Have fun. Its a lot of work, mental and physical, but its suppose to be fun!!! Not easy.
Professor Ricardo Moura continues to teach the art of Esgrima Lusitana – Jogo do Pau Português in Portugal. As he said, he has no plans of stopping and share the art to others for as long as he is capable. Such is the passion of a man who loves and believes in his art.
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