Those who made the road
Dr. Maung Gyi
American Bando Association
I have known Dr. Gyi since before safety equipment
was even in the mind of its inventor, Jhoon Rhee’s. Bare hand and
feet were the norm, with no contact rules. At the time I thought my
students were the only warriors but to my surprise, Dr. Gyi’s team
was very proficient.
Dr. Gyi began his training even
before myself, about 50 years ago. During these times any
tournament, if you could find one, featured demonstrations by the
head of each group. Breaking was a major part of these meets. All
breaking followed the hard material breaking practice; concrete,
wood, cinder blocks, ice, etc. Dr. Gyi caused me great mental
anguish by breaking an item that I could not – a simple child’s
balloon, a feat that I could not duplicate until recently. Dr. Gyi
would punch the balloons with his closed fist breaking the balloon
Dr. Gyi is a true gentleman of
karate. The following biography was part of Dr. Gyi’s induction in
to the Okinawan Isshinryu Karate Hall of Fame, hosted by George
Iberl. This does not do him justice in my opinion but is as much as
you could get from a very humble Dr. Gyi.
Grandmaster Dr. U. Maung Gyi,
was born in Mandalay, Burma, the son of the late Grandmaster U Ba
Than Gyi. Dr. Gyi has studied Bando and other martial art systems
from numerous masters. Notably among his teachers were Grand Master
Genju Bahadur, a Gurkha warrior of the first and second world wars,
and Gogen Yamaguchi, often referred to as “The Cat”, of Japanese
As a follower of Bando, Dr. Gyi does not limit himself to any one
martial art. A master of both the empty hand and weapon hand, he has
studied Kempo, Isshinryu, Shaolin, Judo, Aikido, Jui-Jitsu, Tai Chi
Chuan and western boxing.
Dr. Gyi has founded the American
Bando Association in 1960 in Washington, D.C.
The ABA is a non-profit World
War II Memorial Organization to honor the veterans of the
China-Burma-India (CBI) Theatre of W.W. II, the Korean War and
Vietnam War; to pay tribute to the 1st Burma Gurka Rifles (and the
10th Burma Gurka Rifles 1890-1946); and to preserve the combative
arts practices in Northern Burma, Southwestern China and
Northeastern India during W.W. II.
The ABA holds three events
annually on Memorial Day, VJ Day and Veterans Day.
INTRODUCTION TO BANDO
Bando is a Burmese martial art.
Despite the Chinese influences,
Bando is credited as a style of armed and unarmed combat native to
Burma. It is an assimilation of Karate-like striking and kicking
techniques, Judo-like throwing techniques, swordplay and fighting
with knives, spears and sticks.
There are numerous
interpretations of the term Bando, and different linguistic and
ethnic groups hold to diverse translations. It is generally
interpreted in three ways:
"way of discipline"
"systems of self-defense"
"art of fighting or combat"
Some Bando groups have combined
all three translations in one, making it similar to the Japanese
term Budo (stop conflict), the Chinese word Wu Shu (war art), or the
English terms military arts or martial arts. Some etymologists
believe the term Bando derives from Chinese, while others claim
Indian or even Tibetan origins. Bando is also called "Thaing."
There are many styles of Bando,
but most follow basic instructional patterns. The art emphasizes
initial withdrawal followed by an attack outside the opponent's
reach. All parts of the body are employed in these attacks, and once
the initial technique is delivered, grappling and locking techniques
are used. Techniques are learned first through formal exercises in
some systems and only later through sparring.
When the Japanese invaded Burma
in 1942, they encouraged the practice and proliferation of Bando and
influenced it by exchanging techniques from Judo, Jujutsu, and
Aikido. After World War II, Bando was furthered through a large
number of competitions.
Bando was introduced in the U.S.
by Dr. Maung Gyi, a college professor who began teaching the art on
April 3, 1960, in Washington, D.C. Later, Bando classes were
formally conducted at American University until the fall of 1966.
Dr. Gyi organized the American Bando Association on June 15, 1968,
at Ohio University. Members present at this initiation ceremony took
a blood oath.
The International Bando
Association was officially formed on March 9, 1946, by U Ba Than,
then director of physical education and athletics for the Union of
Burma. The IBA was organized in honor of those servicemen who fought
and died in the China-Burma- India theater of World War II.
Maung Gyi with
Standing: George Iberl (left) & Harry G. Smith (right)
Seated: Maung Gyi
(left) & Ed Mc Grath (right)