The Black Eagle Society
Formation The Black Eagle Society was founded in the Summer of 1996. The inaugural meeting took place in a wood in Barnet, North London. The meeting had been arranged by Pat O’Malley and Simon Wells (of LaPunti Arnis de Abaniko) who first tried to get this format of fighting off the ground back in 1992, also in attendance at this first meeting of the Black Eagles were, Jonathan Broster, Shiraz Hussain and two of Wells’ students. Pat O’Malley and Simon Wells are known as the two original founders of the Black Eagle Society. Simon, after only a short time, left the group leaving Pat in sole charge of the organization which still hosts events to this day.
Name The name Black Eagle Society was chosen to pay tribute to the influence on the founding members of the Lapunti Arnis de Abaniko style because both Pat O’Malley and Simon Wells were training with Lapunti at the time, the emblem of Lapunti shows a black eagle clutching two sticks. The group’s first logo was designed by Jonathan Broster and shows a cartoon eagle holding a stick in its winged hand. The motto of the group is “Vera Est”, Latin for: “It is real”. The cartoon eagle logo was later replaced with a Celtic designed eagle to also depict the fact that the group originally comes from the Celtic region of Great Britain.
Rationale The group was formed in response to the desire among some members to move beyond the WEKAF style, armoured stick fighting events and incorporate a higher degree of realism in the bouts. The rules and equipment used were, and remain, minimal. Curiously, no winner is declared after each bout; instead, it is for the two contestants and those watching to draw their own conclusions and learn what they can from the match.
Rules & Equipment Put simply, each fighter should be able to walk away from the bout as friends. Bouts are fought over one three minute round, with either fighter having the right to end the bout at any time. Each fighter wears a headguard of their choice (routinely a WEKAF helmet), light gloves, such as cricket gloves (if desired) and a groin protector. The rules permit any thrust or strike with one stick, two sticks or any combination of wooden weapons, together with any punches, kicks or other blows, as well as throws and ground-fighting techniques.
Membership At the inaugural meeting it was decided that full membership of the group would be open to those who had participated in no less than three separate official Black Eagle meetings.
Since its inception many other Filipino martial arts styles and practitioners have participated and many top FMA notables including John Harvey, Phil Norman and Neil McLeod have participated in society meetings on previous occasions.
Comparisons An interesting comparison has at times been drawn between the bouts of the Black Eagles and those of the Dog Brothers. Where the Dog Brothers have a heavy grappling influence, by way of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there has always been less emphasis on ground fighting in Black Eagle Society bouts, where striking, fast stick handling, blocking, footwork and evasion tactics of the traditional Filipino martial arts have been more evident. More importance is placed on the use of the weapon and all in the Society accept that if there were no headguard and the stick were to be replaced with the more traditionally used sword, grappling would very seldom happen in a real Eskrima Kali Arnis bout. All players (as the participants are known) try to stay as close to the traditional Eskrima Kali Arnis as possible, unlike the Dog Brothers who are known to mix various arts from other countries in to their format.
Anniversary Celebrating it’s 12th Anniversary, April 15th 2008 will see the biggest ever meeting of the Black Eagle Society. This is the UK’s Original NHB FMA event with just head gear, light gloves and groin box that has over the last 12 years attracted many top UK FMA practitioners.
With each bout timed to a maximum of 3 minutes the meets are open to all serious non egotistcal FMAers who wish to test their skills up against like minded afficianados of the Filipino martial arts. This meeting will see both novice and expearianced Black Eagle Society members coming together to enjoy that days sparring. This event is only open to those FMAers who wish to participate in the days sparring matches, no casual spectators allowed.
All players may also video both their own and other bouts on the day.
The event will be held in Dartford, Kent. Venue to be announced in the new year to all those who wish to participate.
If you would like further details, get in touch.
Pat O’Malley Co-Founder of The Black Eagle Society. http://www.rapidarnis.com/