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Yaw Yan, the Muay Thai of the Filipino kali

Yaw Yan Yaw Yan, the Muay Thai of Philippine Kali.

If you follow the blog you know the important space I give to the study and practice of Filipino martial arts,a passion of mine, and when I discovered the Yaw Yan (Filipino Kickboxing) was something particularly intense especially when you are also a Muay Thai practitioner and find a strong interconnection with a Filipino martial art that you care deeply about.

The interconnection between different martial arts is something that has always fascinated me, finding the interconnection rings between the various arts to make them unique beyond the name and functional to their personal style and art.

Yaw Yan is a hard-style Filipino martial art reminiscent of Muay Thai and San Shou.

It was probably developed by Arnis as the blows are similar to the movements of Arnis/Kali/Escrima.

Typical of Yaw Yan is his torsional hip movement and
spinning back fist,
as well as the downward cutting of his kicks, such as scorpion kicks.

Yaw-yan also differs from Muay Thai because its practitioners can pull their attacks from long distance.


Yaw Yan History

You might think that this art has been practiced for centuries but in reality the creator of this style Napoleon A. Fernandez or “Master Nap” is still alive to this day (2018).

Developed in 1972 by Napoleon A. Fernandez,Yaw Yan is a hard-style Filipino martial art reminiscent of Muay Thai and San Shou, but with as many kicks as in Taekwondo (about a ratio of 70-30 between kicks and punches).

Napoleon A. Fernandez founded and created the Yaw Yan way back in 1972, just 46 years ago.

Fernandez was obsessed with martial arts, in addition to various Filipino martial arts, he studied Jeet Kune Do (J.K.D.), Karate, Eskrima,Aikido, Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jutsu (favorite).

From his studies he decided to combine these martial arts and create the best possible style for the average Filipino body structure.

Yaw Yan greatly influenced the kickboxing scene in 1970 and then in 1990 the mixed martial arts scene both in the Philippines and around the world.


The shots used

It’s a fighting style 8 contact points that he uses to hit fists, elbows, feet and knees.

The term Yaw-Yan comes from “SaYAW ng KamataYAN” which means “Dance of Death“.

Yaw Yan practitioners are expected to “lead their lives based on each meaning of the Yaw-Yan seal.


The Seal: the Yaw-Yan Symbol

Yaw Yan, the Muay Thai of the Filipino kali Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

Another in-depth analysis of the meaning of the symbol that we have already talked about before that was also explained well by Master Nap during one of those gatherings of advanced disciples in the old Yaw-Yan temple in Quiapo.

Master Nap emphasizes that we lead our lives based on each of the meanings of the Yaw-Yan seal.

All lines on the Yaw Yan logo show Yaw-Yan’s principle of non-resistance, what Yaw Yan practitioners commonly call “go with the flow“.

The lines do not flow continuously and smoothly, with others or independently alone.

The first outer black circle is thicker than the second black circle or other lines.

This circle means the infinite power that embraces all being, without beginning and without end.

This outer circle means our shield,we have rightly affirmed this in our belief“God is my shield”.

The second circle is white, inserted between the first outermost black circle and the second black circle.

This means secrecy.

Everyone has their own weakness and strength, Yaw-Yan practitioners are no exception to this. This circle also means our faith when we say, “Faith is my guide.”

The third circle is another black circle; this means Organization and Honor,the organization that binds all the Yaw-Yan brothers and sisters together.

Give due respect and obedience to our Grand Master, as well as to your older brothers and sisters.

Address the founder as “Master” and your older brothers and sisters in art as “Lord” and “Lady” respectively. Remember to say “poand “opo” and be kind to everyone, including your younger brothers and sisters in art.

This traditional hierarchy within the organization, common to our Filipino customs and values, must be observed at all times.

The blue circle, the red ellipse, and the white space are all directly connected to this third circle, this to remind each of us that the most precious treasure of life itself is our honor.

So, let’s say in our creed:“Honour is my wealth.”

There are 3 main colors within the black circle which means the same meaning as the flag of the Philippines – White for peace which can also mean truth or purity,Red for courage,and Blue for loyalty.

White means peace; it covers the greatest colors of red and blue to remind us to always be at peace and to live in harmony with others. White also means truth or purity; when we say — “Truth is my luck,“that’s the color that comes to mind.

Red means courage and preparation,always ready for what comes. The space it occupies on the seal also represents 40 basic kicks.

This color has an elliptical or eclipsing shape.

Imagine this to resemble the bamboo tree of the Philippines – when it is young, it boasts of reaching the sky, continues as it grows, but gradually over time as it ages it humbly bends forward.

This is the same as the common learning process not only in all martial arts, but in life in general.

Blue is synonymous with loyalty and fidelity,it is close to red and also occupies the space next to white.

The space it occupies on the seal also corresponds to the 12 bolo strokes.

Note that this color is located on a round circle humbly smaller than the other circles – where it started, continues endlessly.

It is directly connected to the larger circle, and means loyalty to the organization.

Yaw-Yan’s members are loyal to the brotherhood, the organization, and its founder.

When you became an advanced disciple, you were not given a belt that you can easily take from your life, but an indelible mark that you carry with you wherever you go, meaning you are part of the whole.

They are expected to willingly accept the boiling iron mark, renouncing your ego and fears, to pledge your loyalty “Once Yaw-Yan, always at Yaw-Yan“.

Subsequent circles indicate:

Infinite Power (the outer black circle), Secrecy (white circle between the first and second black circles) and Organization and Honor (second black circle), respectively.

The latter represents the traditional hierarchy within the organization, common to Filipino customs and values, which must be observed at all times.

The blue circle, the red ellipse and the white space are all directly connected to this third circle, all reminding Yaw Yan practitioners that the most precious treasure of life (more precious than life itself) is their honor.

One of their expressions is that “honour is their wealth.

All curved lines and colors – black, white, red and blue … represent the declaration of belief — “Yaw-Yan is my weapon.”


Yaw Yan Ardigma and his tradition and lifestyle

The Yaw Yan promotes discipline as much as most martial arts, and if I don’t respect certain rules you will be turned away from the Dojo and the rules apply both in the dojo and away from the dojo. (Yaw Yan Label)

  • Don’t drink
  • Smoking is forbidden
  • No gambling
  • Don’t provoke quarrels
  • Well-groomed and clean (hair tied, nails cut, clean clothes)
  • Arriving 10-15 minutes early
  • Cell-phone off (Inside Dojo)
  • No jewels (Inside Dojo)
  • Prepare the Dojo (helping with sweeping, fixing mats, etc.)
  • Bring the necessary tools (gloves, padding, etc.)
  • Treat other students/elders with respect as your family would treat
  • Having sex only with your important partner and in moderation


What is Yaw-Yan?

Yaw Yan

It looks like a Chinese art, the movements slightly resemble those of Thai-Boxing and Korea’s Tae-kwon-do, but the origin is strictly Filipino.

Yaw-Yan is considered the deadliest martial art in the Philippines.

The recognized creator of Yaw-Yan is Grandmaster Napoleon A. Fernandez, originally from Quezon Province, himself an undefeated all-Asian and Far-East Kickboxing champion.

The word Yaw-Yan comes from the last two syllables of “Sayaw ng Kamatayan” which means “Dance of Death”. This is a tough name suitable for this Filipino martial art.

Yaw Yan’s Fighting Style is extremely aggressive, the standing fight is very similar to that of Muay Thai but with fewer hitches and emphasizing more the long-range attacks and the reasoning behind this is that Yaw Yan is specifically designed for the average of the Philippines .

The Yaw Yan fighter’s ideology is“The best defense is the best attack”.

This makes a Yaw Yan fighter extremely dangerous, not to mention the fact that they also have rather unique kicks not used in most martial arts.

Many Yaw Yan fighters are known for breaking the femurs, ribs or jaws of fighters inexperienced in Yaw Yan techniques.

In addition to the berserker’s superior fighting style, Yaw Yan also focuses on takedowns and grappling that give them an edge over non-grappling martial arts.

In my opinion this style of martial art is more reminiscent of the MMA of Muay Thai, contrary to popular belief, a more aggressive/kick-boxing variation of MMA.

Contrary to popular belief, Yaw-Yan is not purely a pure sport without martial arts. It is a complete martial training with body-mind coordination and testing of a lasting indomitable spirit.

In addition to physical training, it also involves the mental disciplines of concentration, concentration, readiness, flexibility, endurance, speed and continuity.

Students train for a real confrontation and real fights – in or out of the ring.

Advanced Disciples must go through a rigorous ritual of practice and discipline consisting of effective full-contact sparring, hitting bags, and flexibility exercises.

The elbows (siko), knees (tuhod) and shin (lulod) are used in much the same way as Muay Thai.

Yaw-Yan practitioners must learn 45 basic kicks,advanced disciples must be able to perform and apply complex advanced kicks that require great dexterity, flexibility and mastery.

Most of these advanced kicks are a “punishment” kick that always surprises unsuspecting opponents.

Yaw-Yan Back-kick, Yaw-Yan overturned stomp thrump overturned and the famous scorpion kicks were some of these kicks made popular in the national cinema by action stars Boy Fernandez and Rey Malonzo, both Yaw-Yan experts.

Yaw-Yan practitioners are also skilled with Filipino blade weapons such as balisong and bolus.

Blade weapons are simple extensions of hands.

Forearm attacks, elbows, fists, palms, and combined hand movements are empty-handed translations of bladed weapons.

There are 12 bolo shots that have been modeled by Arnis/Kali/Escrima, the armed art widely used in the Philippines.

These shots have a continuous fluid movement similar to Western boxing, but incorporate Arnis’ art.

Fighting, fighting with the land and fighting with knives have always been a part of the Philippine martial arts and have always been incorporated during Yaw-Yan’s practice period.

Yaw-Yan is a transformation of ancient Filipino martial arts and a modern competition sport with a high emphasis on practicality and real confrontation.


The devastating “Mountain-Storm Kick”

Yaw Yan, the Muay Thai of the Filipino kali Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

Mountain-storm kick has been much discussed as who originated it, even whereiand when it was thought, but “the mountain storm kick” Yaw-Yan is many times more effective than the circular football of karate and is very effective if not better than circular football.

It is an execution that to see it is very fluid and effortless, seemingly light from those who see it, different is to the part that receives the blow that can not believe its destructive power.

The mountain-storm kick it looked similar to the circular kick of thai Muay Thai, except that the leg is pulled upwards and passed at full force quickly with a continuous downward cutting movement of the shin as they twisted their hips, rather than simply through the rotation and opening of the hip.

A carefully placed “mountain storm kick” has left in many competitions most opponents who have suffered it with agonizing pain and very often taken away due to the inability to walk.

Yaw-Yan fighters are known to have broken their opponent’s strong femur, if not their ribs or jaw, with a mountain-storm kick… an unpleasant gift to cherish for life.

Yaw Yan


For those who bothered to note, a name has been practically a constant in local and national mixed martial arts tournaments: Yaw-Yan, short for Sayaw ng Kamatayan or Dance of Death.
Yaw-Yan came to prominence in the Philippines in the 1970s when its fighters mowed down many opponents in kickboxing tournaments.
To an inasperated or inexe savvy observer, the Yaw-Yan might appear to be just another Muay Thai-like kickboxing method, but the perception reinforced by the concentration on kicking techniques (70-30 ratio of kicks and punches) and the type of Muay Thai shorts worn by Yaw practitioners Yan is mainly for comfort, it is not for fashion.
It is interesting to know that Yaw-Yan delegations have participated in international Muay Thai tournaments, as in the recent 3rd World Muay Thai Championship in Bangkok, giving their best and getting great results.
Yaw Yan

The magic that created this art

Yaw-Yan was officially founded in 1972.

It is a very aggressive and harsh fighting style created by Napoleon “Nap” Fernandez, born in Quezon province eight decades ago.

He will turn 82 on August 17.

His first self-defense teacher was his father, a magician by trade who not only taught his son the art of the magician, but also the Japanese martial art of Jiu Jitsu from the age of seven.

His father wanted him to follow in his footsteps and pull the rabbits out of his hats but he was infected with martial arts that “bit him hard” and became the path of his whole life and has followed that path ever since, running away from home when he was 13.

Like the great Bruce Lee, you can call Fernandez an innovator and iconoclast.

He was not content to interrupt his martial arts study on Jiu Jitsu.

Yaw-Yan’s senior students admit that they wore a gi in the dojo and had taken karate lessons.

Like its founder, the Yaw-Yan has evolved into what it is now – an unpretentious economic system that teaches its adherents to hit and hit hard.

Hands, elbows, feet, knees are used to strike.

Whoever hits the fastest and the hardest wins.

Ps. Although for me it is always the rule that“Who hits the fastest and the hardest wins” but precision beats power and timing beats speed.

A favorite tool to help Yaw Yan practitioners do this is the sack that affects the practitioner of Yaw-Yan, the legend.

Most martial arts styles use the Western boxing bag to get students used to hit.

Take the usual boxing bag, remove the rope that suspends it from the ceiling, multiply it 50 times and you have the bag hitting Yaw-Yan.

Even the strongest of the attackers will be shocked at first sight of the training bag that is hit by the practitioners of Yaw-Yan.

This forces Yaw-Yan practitioners to strike hard and accurately.

The recess on the side of the bag testifies to the thousands of blows he received.

If a person can do it to a huge stationary sack, imagine what that same person can do to a human being who weighs 50th less.

It was not unusual until 10 years ago for Yaw Yan martial arts clubs not to be invited and challenge other clubs for fighting sessions.

Full-contact sparring sessions.

Yaw-Yan clubs have had their fair share of these challenges, and Yaw-Yan veterans still boast of the free and humiliating lessons given to those intrepid adventurers.

But such a robust technique of self-defense should be accompanied by a deep respect for the other and a degree of responsibility and moral integrity.

A discipline not only physical but also in life.

Even today at the age of 80, Fernandez still trains every day.

Being a believer in a good diet, preferring fruits and vegetables to meat, helps to explain its health and longevity.


No Royalties for Yaw Yan founder

Perhaps imagine that the founder of a famous martial arts system has enriched himself with his creation. This is not the case, and even the Philippine Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) would attest to Fernandez’s humble finances.

Schools across the country that bear Yaw-Yan’s imprint don’t exactly pay Fernandez’s fees. He gave the full management of his school in Bulacan to someone else.

With so many Yaw-Yan schools around, some that may even be derived from its direct, as shrapnel from the same tree, Fernandez has decided to affion the title of Ardigma (Arnis Mandirigma) to those that have its imprimatur.

By collecting different techniques from other martial arts and adding his own, Fernandez has created something unique to call his own and that he shares with everyone interested in learning it.

Fernandez really is an artist.

Not just a martial artist.

He is also an illustrator and a painter.

He is both expert in destruction and creation.

It can “rearrange” your face or draw it on canvas.


Yaw Yan and His Degrees

Unlike most martial arts, Yaw Yan has no belts to rank students.

It is your skills in the ring that define you and earn you recognition from the teacher and other students.

I really like this concept and personally I prefer it over the often used way to pin more money from students” although traditionally most martial arts had few belts unlike some dojo nowadays that manage to squeeze in 20 belts until you get the black belt.

I consider this way to be wrong and unethical towards our pupils.

Not to mention the “martial artists” who boast of having a “black belt” after a year, as if the black belt were something aesthetic to show off.

Although Yaw Yan has no specific ranks, there is a tradition called branding.

The mark is the seal of the Yaw Yan emblem to demonstrate your commitment to martial arts and it is not a tattoo but it is a real hot marking

similar to those used to mark cows and have the emblem burned on the skin, a real scar!.

Some Dojos require you to do this if you want to continue training while others let you choose freely if you want to place the seal on your body.

It is not a joke or an un practiced tradition and for practitioners it is a sign of pride, something they seek and wait to receive with anxiety.



I think this could be a beautiful martial art to practice for those who are passionate about Filipino martial arts but not only, it could be an interesting cue for those who practice Muay Thai.

The study of different arts but with similar characteristics always leads to a technical and methodological growth of one’s art going to highlight merits and improving its defects where there are.

Have a good trip to this art!

Stay Tuned!

Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport


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Written by Andrea

Con una passione per la difesa personale e gli sport da combattimento, mi distinguo come praticante e fervente cultore e ricercatore sulle metodologie di allenamento e strategie di combattimento.

La mia esperienza abbraccia un vasto panorama di discipline: dal dinamismo del Boxing alla precisione del Muay Thai, dalla tecnica del Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu all'energia del Grappling, dal Combat Submission Wrestling (CSW) all'intensità del Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

Non solo insegno, ma vivo la filosofia di queste arti, affinando costantemente metodi e programmi di allenamento che trascendono il convenzionale.

La mia essenza si riflette nell'autodifesa: Filipino Martial Arts (FMA), Dirty Boxing, Silat, l'efficacia del Jeet Kune Do & Kali, l'arte della scherma con coltelli e bastoni, e la tattica delle armi da fuoco.

Incarno la filosofia "Street Fight Mentality", un approccio senza fronzoli, diretto e strategico, unito a un "State Of Love And Trust" che bilancia l'intensità con la serenità.

Oltre al tatami, la mia curiosità e competenza si spingono verso orizzonti diversi: un blogger professionista con la penna sempre pronta, un bassista dal groove inconfondibile e un artigiano del coltello, dove ogni lama è un racconto di tradizione e innovazione. Questa sinfonia di abilità non solo definisce la mia identità professionale, ma dipinge il ritratto di un individuo che nella diversità trova la sua unica e inconfondibile voce e visione.

Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport!


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