A Book Review of “The Art of Throwing: Practical Instruction For
Better Techniques,” Tuttle Publishing, Vermont, USA, 2007.
In the interest of full disclosure, I met Punong Guro Amante “Mat” Marinas, Sr. sometime in the 80’s, when I had the good fortune of attending a couple of his well-attended seminars in both southern and northern California. I remember the seminars and the lessons vividly. In a recent email exchange, PG Mat politely claims he remembers me from the sea of faces of people who have attended his seminars over the years.
Inevitably, I have mentioned his name often in the articles I have written about Filipino Martial Arts. I have, at one time or another, proclaimed him one of the top living masters of Filipino Martial Arts (FMA), one of the most prolific writers of FMA, and one of the most knowledgeable and technical professor emeritus of FMA in the field of weaponry.
After reviewing his most recent opus, his tenth book, called “The Art of Throwing” published by the prestigious Tuttle Press, I have no choice now but to proclaim him the foremost martial scientist of Filipino Martial Arts. He could well be the only one.
For those reading about PG Mat for the first time, you need to understand that by profession, he was a real-life professor of engineering at a university in the Philippines (Adamson University in Manila). As such, he is well-versed in the laws of physics including corollaries and concepts such as kinetics, force, torque and other technical components of physics.
And why is this important, or at least pertinent to FMA? Because all weapons and their utilization as practiced in FMA, as well as other martial arts, are governed by the laws of physics.
When you swing that #1 strike with a stick, a diagonal strike to the left temple of your opponent, also known as “tagang San Miguel,” all the laws of physics kick into gear. The size, length, heft and point of impact of the stick, the speed, distance and momentum of the object contacted, and the body mechanics of the delivery of the weapon including torque, angle and speed all now conspire to make your strike to be effective, mildly effective or not effective at all.
As an engineer and scientist, PG Mat can tell you the force per square inch of that “sweet spot” of the stick hitting its target, measure your speed and angle of delivery, and probably calibrate the effective range and power of your strike, taking into account the movement of both striker and strikee.
These physical laws and corollaries come into greater play in the case of projectiles, or weapons thrown. Depending on the projectile, the following physical aspects come into play :
(2) Methods of throw
(3) Mechanics of the throw, including spins and rotations, as well as factors that affect the mechanics of the throw including the design of the weapon, environmental conditions, and even your mental and emotional frame of mind
(4) Throwing distances
An interesting feature in this book is the graphical use of the learning curves to measure and attain effectiveness with a throwing weapon. For example, a learning curve can tell you how soon you can stick your knife consistently at the target.
The weapons or projectiles examined include the following:
(1) For Filipino martial arts—the spear, the bagakay (darts), the VM bulalakaw (knife) and the VCM palakol (ax). All these weapons were designed and created by PG Mat.
(2) For the Japanese martial arts – shurikens, three-pointed shaken, four-pointed shaken and various many-pointed shakens.
(3) For the Chinese martial arts – flying darts, golden coin darts, the steel olive (also known as the Chinese flying olive), and flying stickers.
(4) Other throwing implements – the Western dart and the boomerang.
For those of you that have a penchant for statistics related to a publication, here are a few:
Number of pages : 114
Number of photos : 128
Number of learning curves : 21
Number of computer sketches : 41 (all done by PG Mat, using Corel Draw)
Number of throws made for statistical information presented in book: 1,300,000
Time span to throw 1,300,000 times: 14 years
Actual time for throws: 3,500 hours
Distance covered to and from target: 1,600 miles
Height of cardboard targets used for the 1,300,000 throws if they were stacked on top of each other : 120 stories.
Lest I may have given you a wrong impression, this is not just a scientific dissertation or esoteric exposition of the physical laws as applied to weapons that are thrown. This is a hardcore martial arts book to improve your ability to throw a weapon, whether for sport or self-defense, regardless of your style.
PG Mat throws (no pun intended) the scientific explanations in to give you a better understanding, and therefore improve your throwing ability. And yes, also because he is a martial scientist in addition to being a martial warrior.
Now excuse me while I revise my articles about PG Mat to include the sobriquet, martial scientist of Filipino Martial Arts.
If you would like to order a copy of the book, write PG Mat at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Tell him I sent you, and that you want him to autograph your copy.
Copyright, Jay de Leon 2007