What is Bando
The word “Bando” is a Burmese term. Various etymologists express their views toward the word differently. Some say that it originated from the Chinese, while others claim that it came from India, and then there are those who propose that it can be traced back to Tibet.
There are also numerous interpretations of the term “Bando”. Different linguistic and ethnic groups define and interpret the word differently, and often some Bando schools emphasize only one aspect of the Bando Discipline, such as that of an empty-hand system.
Generally, the term “Bando” means:
1. Way of Discipline
2. A system of Self-Defense;
3. The art of empty-hand fighting or combat
For the purposes of the American Bando Association, all the above meanings of the term “Bando” shall be used and combined into one. “Bando” will, therefore, have a meaning equivalent to the Japanese term “budo”, the Chinese word “wu-su” or the English term “Military or Martial Systems”.
The Bando Discipline, as practiced in the United States under the guidance and direction of Dr. U Maung Gyi, actually is a synthesis of a number of older Burmese systems. The term “Thaing” was used to describe a self-defense system practiced for hundreds of years before the British occupation in 1885. There were at least nine major systems equated to the basic ethnic groups who studied the art. These groups included the Burmese, the Chin, the Chinese, the Indian, the Kachin, the Karen, the Mon, the Shan, and the Talaing. Each ethnic group interpreted the art differently. With the diversity of the systems, came various terminologies for the naming of the systems. Some groups used “Thaing” while others referred to the art as “Bando”.
“Thaing” (Bando) refers to a number of smaller systems comprising the whole. Of these systems there are two groups; armed and unarmed. The unarmed group includes traditional Hanthawaddy Bando, Bama Letwei [Bando Hard style Boxing], and Naban [wrestling/grappling] The armed systems fall under the term “Banshay”. The armed styles involved include stick fighting [short lengths to long staff], sword fighting, knife fighting, spear fighting, gun fighting, and archery.
Some practitioners, like the Shan swordsmen were devoted to the perfection of only one art, in their case, the Burmese sword. They performed what was known as the Shan Sword Dance, which required the swordsman to spin two swords about his body in a fast paced frenzy, showing control and grace. Such “purist-style” training reflects Chinese influences.
Sayaji U Ba Than Gyi is credited with including the kukri fighting systems and Gurkhas warrior values into Bando. Such action is indicative of the absorbing quality, and international flavor of Bando. A fundamental principle of the Bando Discipline is the belief and practice of adapting, refining, and exploring the best possible methods of defense and incorporating these into Bando.
The Bando style of the American Bando Association [ABA] is an all-inclusive system, incorporating the many and diverse empty-hand systems, with the many and diverse weapon styles. This combined style is characterized by the term “Bando Discipline”.