Free Fighting System
In the USA, Bando is divided into 3 major divisions:
1. Empty Hand Systems
2. Stick Hand Systems
3. Sword Hand Systems
With the Empty Hand Systems, there are also 3 sub-divisions:
1. Free-Fighting Systems
2. Grappling [Naban]
3. Animal Systems
Types of Free-Fighting Systems
1. Full Contact Fighting- This type of fighting is was called the 9 weapon system where 2 hands, 2 elbows, 2 feet, 2 knees and head were used. These events were held in an open field. This type of fighting is called Letwei.
2. Light Contact Fighting- This type of fighting was a regulated form of sparring where full blows by hands and feet to the head, body and limbs were not permitted. Bearable punches and kicks were allowed.
3. Non-Contact Fighting- This type of fighting was called Shadow Fighting where an individual, a pair or a group performed various techniques without touching each other.
Meaning of "Free-Fighting"
Within the rules and regulations established by the officials of the ABA, 'Free-Fighting" means:
1. Participants are Free to demonstrate the traditional techniques of offense, defense and counter moves continuously without interruption by the officials [within established rules].
2. Practitioners of Bando Animal Systems are Free to display their respective animal techniques during sparring [within established rules]
3. Practioners of Bando are free to fight in any open karate tournament sponsored by other martial arts systems of Karate, Korean, Chinese, Thai, etc. as long as they strictly observe and respect the rules of the tournament.
Purpose of Free Fighting
There are 3 major purposes of Bando Free Fighting Systems:
1. To cultivate self discipline, physical fitness, strength, speed and stamina, balance and agility of movement.
3. To cultivate sportsmanship and respect during sporting competition against opponents from the same system and/or from other martial arts systems.
3. To cultivate the mind, body and spirit for potential combative and/or self-defensive situations.
Bando Free Fighting Championships
Bando Free Fighting Championships have been held in Washington, DC, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, New Jersey, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.
Bando National Championships are held every year on the Memorial Day Weekend to honor America's veterans of the China-Burma-India Theatre of World War II.
Since 1980, Bando Nationals extended its tribute to the veterans of the Korean War, Vietnam War and Gulf War.
The first Free-Fighting nationals, commonly referred to as the "middle-style" Nationals was held in 1978. This annual Free-Fighting Nationals, which is held on Memorial Day weekend, gives Bando Free-style fighters a chance to meet and compete under rigorous rules, including round-robin fighting. As with any competitive fighting arena, excellent conditioning is a must for these events.
The Free-Fighting Nationals provide a forum for form competition [kata] in Bando’s stick systems (long stick, short stick) and bladed systems (the Gurkha kukri and the dha). Empty hand forms from various Bando disciplines are also involved in the form competitions, including Bando’s animal systems and drill teams.
Typically the Free-Fighting Nationals weekend finishes with a seminar from leading Bando Masters so that students from across the nation can have the opportunity to meet and train with Mahasayaji Gyi’s direct lineage students. On rare occasions, the Grandmaster himself will conduct a seminar.