Bultong – The Filipino Traditional Wrestling Style
What is Bultong?
Bultong is an intense style of wrestling that is widely used throughout the Philippines. Though it is practiced in a multitude of places in the Philippines the art has failed to make an impact to the Western world.
There are few if any schools teaching Bultong outside of the arts native country. The reason for this exclusiveness with the art is unknown. It could be because no masters in Bultong have journeyed outside of the Philippines and brought the art to the outside world.
If a school for Bultong started teaching classes in another country is could potentially take off from there. This would then lead to the art spreading and becoming more well known outside of the Philippines.
However taking the art to other countries may not lead to more practitioners showing interest in the art. This is due to the fact that the art isn’t very useful as a means of self-defense.
As a result of this usage, the art is primarily used in competition as a means of entertainment. This is similar to the way Pehlwani is widely practised throughout India and mainly used in competition.
Pehlwani is still practised somewhat outside of India though unlike its counterpart Bultong. There could be room for Bultong in the sporting though in other nations. Just like how many come out to watch western wrestling.
History of Bultong
Even though Bultong isn’t widely known or regarded as one of the cornerstone forms of wrestling its history does date back a long time.
Bultong is seen as one of the oldest forms of wrestling that is still practiced today. Due to its great popularity throughout the Philippines it is hard to see this history stopping anytime soon.
Tournaments are still regularly fought throughout the nation. It is seen as a sport that is extremely difficult to master and an entertaining event for the community to watch.
Bultong falls into a class of wrestling styles formally known as belt wrestling. In the art the goal of the fight is to knock the opposing fighter over by only grabbing their belt. The fight takes place in a confined area with both fighters wearing traditional belts.
Once the fight commences both fighters must attempt to knock the other fighter down by lifting them from the belt. This is what differentiates Bultong from other wrestling styles as it requires immense strength.
A fighter in this art must be able to move around and stand their ground whilst trying to lift an opponent by the belt to knock them two the ground.
In other forms of wrestling fighters can be taken down through grappling and tripping. This goes against the rules of Bultong and thus the art is one that requires weight training to master.
The ideal fighter in this art should be heavy but that weight should be primarily muscle. Terrific arm strength is also needed to lift opponents whilst leg strength is required in order to stand your ground.
Arm defenses may also be used though to move the arms of an opponent attempting to lift you by the belt. After learning of this concept it is clear to see why the art struggles to make an impact outside of the Philippines.
The art cannot be used as a form of self-defense or as a means to attack an individual. The only use of the art is in competition against another person who practices the art.
It is because of this even if schools were opened elsewhere in the world they would struggle as there wouldn’t be competition. Schools would have to compete internally taking the enjoyment out of the craft along with the element of community as a school.