Martial Arts for Real Life

Ian Sanchez

The video is chilling. A woman carrying a shopping bag is walking down a vacant street at night, shops are closed, a couple passes her, but it is clear she is oblivious to the man trailing behind.
It is only when her stalker makes his move and pounces, holding her at knifepoint that she reacts. The unnamed British woman manages to escape, but the video – CCTV footage that caught every minute of the would-be kidnapping, was harrowing enough to make it go viral last year.
Then there was the woman at the Houston Walmart parking lot who, thinking she was helping a motorist with directions was instead assaulted, her purse snatched out of her unsuspecting grasp.
These types of horror stories are enough to make women, who are nearly four times more likely than men to be a victim of stalking in the United States, stay indoors and stick to shopping on Amazon.
Not so, says Ian Sanchez, a local martial arts grand master and certified anti-bully instructor whose own style of martial arts, Sik Paldakan Do, takes real-world scenarios and flips them on their head.
“Nobody points a gun at your head and then has a conversation. When someone pulls a gun, they shoot right away,” said Sanchez, who worked for 15 years as a bodyguard in his native Philippines. “They don’t wait for you to do your martial arts technique. You’re gone.”
On January 21, Sanchez will be leading a workshop based on Sik Paldakan Do, a reality-based self-defense program at the Qi Dojo IX at 7377 Monterey Street, where he also holds regular classes.
A combination of the Chinese martial arts he learned as a kid with the lessons got on the job as a bodyguard to high-profile politicians, celebrities and businessmen in the Philippines, Sik Paldakan Do aims to make students more aware and prepared to confront any type of threatening situation.
“Martial arts for many people is learning how to punch and kick,” he said. “But the real meaning of martial arts is knowing yourself, which is everything.”
A hot-tempered child, martial arts gave Sanchez self-control. To the victims of bullying or domestic violence he teaches, Sik Paldakan Do gives them confidence and the strength to avoid and walk away. Or, if you have no other option, stay and protect yourself.
“The only person who can solve your problem is yourself,” said Sanchez. “If you see a person and the situation doesn’t feel good to you, trust your feelings. If that person approaches you, we train on that scenario.”
If that sounds a bit unconventional, it’s because it is.
Sik Paldakan Do, which translated from Tagalog, means: “the way of the fainting kick,” is not based on classical martial arts like judo or jujitsu.
“In my system, we adapt to what the situation is right now,” he said.
Sik Paldakan Do uses surprise and simple yet powerful movements to throw opponents off their guard.
As a bodyguard, Sanchez was hurt, and almost killed when he tried to follow rigid martial arts techniques. His ability to adapt and improvise saved his life.
“People have asked me, ‘why do you call it ‘reality-based’ self-defense?” he recalled. “Its because I learned over the years that there are two types of self-defense, one that works and one that doesn’t.”
How that plays out in training is entirely up to the student. Your only available weapon is a purse? He’ll show you how to use that to great effect. A violent ex-partner follows you into the kitchen? Forget the knife, which can be taken and used against you – pick up the frying pan.
“There is a technique on how to use the pan, how to hold it, when to strike and where to strike,” he said. “Everything is really timed.”
But the first part, adds Sanchez, is to be emotionally prepared.
“If you are afraid, you can’t use your skills,” he said.
A husband and father to a 2 ½ year old daughter, Sanchez said it’s become his mission to empower women and others in his community.
“Women are entering military and training in combat. For me, the only thing that matters is teaching them the right technique.”
Sanchez started developing Sik Paldakan Do when he was nineteen and started teaching martial arts. His career would put him in front of black belts, Blackwater security guards and top executives looking for a new way of honing their fighting skills.
Always more interested in confronting practical situations than practicing forms, Sanchez said he found something that was “more than punching and kicking and blocking.”
“My program is like having ‘no program,” he said. “It’s like a store. The store doesn’t know what you need, you do. And in my program, I am the store. You want to box, we’ll box. Kick, we’ll kick. You need survival skills? We’ll cover that.”
“I’m like the jack-of-all-trades of martial arts.”
Adult reality-based self-defense / Sik Paldakan Do. 4-6 p.m. Saturday, January 21. 7377 Monterey Road. (209) 389-3663.