An Indigenous Art – A Versatile Art

by Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje Jr.


The Filipino Dumog is a very rare art today. Dumog can be found mostly in the Southern part of Negros Island and in the island of Panay in the province of Antique. This can be found in small barrios mostly farmers where Dumog became a past time, an entertainment and a form of survival.

According to one farmer I came to have personal discussion with, Dumog was a normal practice used by the farmers to catch the Carabao by the horn to control and wrestle down. To control the Carabao, the rope is entangled around the neck or at the nose rope holder made of rattan hooked to the Carabao’s nose. The rope is used to pull the Carabao to brought to a place where a farmer makes them rest.

The act of controlling the Carabao catching the horn and wrestling down to the ground is called Dumog. A Dumog expert has a well-built body with sturdy legs and broad shoulders. His legs are spread far apart when he walks and normally he doesn’t wear shoes. To build the legs for strength and resistance, the mud pit (a knee high) is the training area. A farmer dip both feet into the sticky mud and take a high stride moving in circular motion until the mud is softened. It could take hours but that builds the legs as strong as the legs of the Carabao after several months or years of training.

This is done as an exercise. For the Arms and Shoulder, the farmers cut a strong branch of a tree and tried to bend it until the branch either breaks or bends. For Power Push, the farmer will position himself in front of the big tree, sometimes a coconut tree and use the legs to balance and both hands push the tree. The farmer moved around the coconut tree and execute a vigorous push and repeatedly doing until the farmer felt tired then he stopped.

For the Hand Grip, the farmer takes a rope and ties the other end against the tree and while holding the end of the rope, the farmer turns around in full force.

The Head Butts, the banana tree is used as the object, but the head butting is started by running towards the direction of the banana tree, the head hits the banana tree with vigorous force that sometimes the banana tree falls down and that ends the training for the day.

The Dumog has a lot of foot work, namely the squaring/parallel footwork (the Baka) the Footwork (Panikang) the feet twisting (Palubid) strong footage (Pamigas) footclipping (Pangipit), forward push (Pasudsud), foot deflection (Palapas) Lampasu, (foot drag), foot smashing (Panglinas), footbar (Pangligwat), ability to balance and deliver vigorous throw (Haboy). Dumog has sophisticated hand work called Pangamut which will be explained under the technical fighting structure.

During the celebration of the Saints, to include the Thanksgiving ceremony for the first harvest of the rice field, corn fields, several entertainment are prepared for the big show. Like Carabao race, Horse fight, Dog fight, Cock fight (Bulang), Spider fight, Sipa (kicking contest with chicken feather wrap with cloth and a peso coin inside). The Sipa takraw (a volleyball by using the feet). The Kali fight using the hardwood (Lampusanay), leg wrestling (pi-ol) then the Dumog.

Winners are given awards, a dozen chicken eggs, a fighting cock, a sack of rice, a sack of corn, one gallon of coconut wine (Tuba), bunch of bananas, 2 dozens of coconut fruits and many others. These entertainment sports were considered cultural in nature but what count most is at the coronation of the Queen in the evening, there are contest for the native dances like the Tinikling (bamboo dance) the Maglalatik (coconut shell dance), Pandango sa ilaw (candle dance), the Itik-itik (a bird dance.)

Dumog is considered as a natural sport and a natural ground combat fighting art. In most cases, if there are feuds between family against family, the first to be called to be the middle man to pacify the trouble is the Dumoguero because the presence of the Dumoguero scares everybody. Some will always say, “Don’t kid around, the Dumoguero, he will plaster you to the wall or the Dumoguero will plant your head into the ground”. The presence of the Dumoguero during fistfight or a drunkard turns wild, the situation will be settled immediately.

There was a story about a stranger who became the guest of a family in a barrio. This man happens to be a thief. But in the barrio people are always very accommodating and very hospitable. Of course the stranger was easily accepted and he was able to win the sympathy of the barrio people. Then one evening, someone had shouted that he lost all of his money he kept under the pillow. Money from the sale of rice that day. Then immediately without delay, the headman of the Barangay hit the empty can and everybody gathered asking what happened and they were told that the stranger had something to do with the lost money.

They looked for the stranger but they couldn’t find him within the vicinity. Then suddenly a small boy came running shouting that he saw a man running toward the town probably to take a ride with a passenger bus or to go somewhere. Without delay, the Dumoguero ran towards the town and when he reached the town, he went to the passenger bus and he found the stranger hiding at the back of the bus. He immediately caught the stranger by the collar of his shirt and brought him outside the bus.

He dragged him to the ground in front of many people. First he held him by the head and he applied pressure to the neck area so he can confess to tell the truth. Then his pockets were searched and there they found the stolen money.

Dumog Conditioning Techniques

Foot Padding (Kahig)

The right foot/left foot is moved in circular motion slightly touching the ground clockwise and counter clockwise until balance is gained with one foot standing, repetition in several hours.

Foot Drop (Posdak sang Tiil)

The foot left/right is drop to the ground, to temper the foot and to condition the motion that during the collision, the feet must be planted deeply not to moved by the opponent.

Hip Balance (Paninghawak)

Hip balance is done by squatting position with both hands placed on both hips. The movement is to be in circular motion.

Sturdy legs (Katin-katin)

Down motion in slow motion from the squatting position and bringing the body in slow motion a repetition of 12 counts.

Frog Jump (Liktin)

Both feet are brought together and with a lifting motion then drop both feet in squatting position.

It is always the principle in Dumog that in the event of encounter if it is a combat challenge the enemy must be completely paralyzed or incapacitated. There is a complete determination to win when challenged is called for by another Dumoguero. It follows into the cultural practices of the early forefather based on the Philosophy of Kali, “One must believe in life not death, One must believe in success not failure, One must believe in good health not sickness”.

In the last 15 years of my in and out visitation to Indonesia and the Philippines, even when I was still in the United States and from 1989 up to the present time now that I stayed most of my time in the Philippines and traveling to Asian countries, my activities were divided 50% research about the Malay related art of Pentjak Silat, Bersilat, Kuntao, Pangamot and the Dumog.

Since the Philippines was one of the major archipelagos of the Indonisus Continent that once belong to the Sri-Vijaya Empire and the Majapahit Empire, the presence of the technical elements related to the fighting arts were noticeable. For instance in Indonesia, one of the Silat styles is called Menang Kabaw. It is a half-way low fighting silat and ground fighting silat with the purpose of rushing towards the enemy by using the head and the whole body to smash the opponent pushing into the solid wall or foot of a tree until he collapse and falls to the ground.

The Dumog techniques are similar to Menang kabaw. As a matter of fact, the word Kabaw is an Ilonggo term, meaning Carabao or in short Kabaw. There are interrelated techniques in each art that speaks the continuity of the art with relationship to the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Madagascar. There is much deeper history in the next issue.

Pangamut (Hands/Interlocking/Counterlocking)

Hubad-hubad Pasugat – Counter Release, Release and Recounter

Uyat sa Li-og (Neckhold)

Neckhold can be done either by left had or right hand. This motion is executed when there is an opening by the opponent during the positioning either as a bait or actual opening entry.

Uyat sa Abaga (Shoulder hold)

Shoulder hold from neck hold, the hand slides to the shoulder area in preparation to insert the hand over the back and down to the armpit.

Dungan/Kapot sa Li-og (Hold together)

Both hands are placed over the neck area and both hands are brought to one shoulder for controlling the balance.

Singa Sag-ang (Snapping the chin)

Either the right hand or left hand holds the chin in rapid motion applied as a snapping motion in order to out-balance the opponent.

Tulod sa Dug-han (Pushing the chest)

Both hands slide down to the chest from the neck or shoulder area, then with sudden motion apply the rugged push to the chest with continuous dragging motion until the opponent is brought to the corner or section so that he cannot move.

Uyat sa Butkon (Hold the forearm)

To hold the forearm with right or left hand in preparation for arm leverage throw.

Uyat sa Bati-is (Grabbing the lower leg)

This is applied in case the opponent is off-time, the timing must be precise during the time of execution. This is the most difficult part during the Dumog.

Dumog as a Sport

Dumoguero positioned their heads placed on each left shoulder. Both players put their two hands at the back. The players during contact can immediately used the technique to outbalance each other.

Action takes place when one of the Dumogueros moved his arms by touching the opponent’s neck, shoulder, arms and body. Then immediately the planned strategy is applied without hesitation. Then the action takes couple of minutes sometimes little longer, depends on the skill of the Dumoguero. What happens in between the time when both Dumogueros are preparing for action? There is a interacting exchanges of (Yawit) Anting-anting. The one with powerful (Yawit) anting-anting demoralizes the opponent with lesser power and the action starts.

It is a must in a Dumoguero that physical strength must be developed at the same time, the power of the Mind and all components will be developed to re-enforce the physical deficiencies.

Counter Combative Art

The use of the Pangamut, the art of deadly empty hands.

The tempering process

The hands are tempered by slapping the banana trees and for hardening the hands are smashed by slapping into the bark of a tree. This bark of a tree is freshly cut with the juice still fresh became the useful medicinal liquid that will help to harden the hand. Selection of this tree is only known to the Dumoguero.

The hacking process

The forearm is hardened by tempering against the banana tree and accelerated to the branch of a tree. This branch is from a tree that is considered as one of the families of the medicinal tree. During the hardening, while the forearm is smashed against the branch, the juice of the bark is medicinal that helps to harden the forearm.

The Elbow hardening

This is a special training which is done only on the beach. Immediately after the low tide, the Dumoguero goes into the shoreline and find a suitable place for him to practice. The sandy portion after the high tide is ideal for elbow training. The elbow is brought high above the head and with vigorous force, the elbow together with the body is trapped into the sandy portion and is being repeated by using the left and right elbow. During the dropping of the elbow to the sand it creates several bruises that causes pains caused by the salt water that enters into the cuts. This feeling of pain conditions the Dumoguero to take the pain and while doing so the mentality of the Dumoguero is to take the pain at the same time encourage him to hit more the sand believing that the pain will go away. After the vigorous training and the elbow is already bleeding, then a medicinal oil is applied to the cuts.

Hardening of the Hand Blade

The hand is thrust into the soft sand while the sea water is flowing into the area where the Hand Blade is thrust. The purpose is to penetrate the sand by using the thrust to go deeper and deeper. This is done in the middle of the day where the Sun is drying the sand to be very hot. The thrusting of the hand is continuous until the feeling of numbness is attained. At this point both hands are dipped into the medicinal herbal pot for several hours. After the numbness is removed then the hands are wrapped with thick clothes for keeping the flesh and the nerves safe against water or air that may cause bad effect into the hand blade.