By: Hari Osias Catolos Banaag
Sikaran is contact sports game, contest or tournament using both hands and feet to parry the attack of the opponent which is usually a strategic kick. Sikad is a Filipino root word for Kick thus Kicking used as an active Verb translates to Sikaran. This ancient sports was popular among the Farmers in the Village of Baras, Tanay and Morong in the province of Rizal east of Metropolitan Manila in the Philippines even before the Spanish Conquest of the Philippine Archipelago on March 16, 1521 when the Islands was discovered by Ferdinand Magellan. This sports uses both feet to gain points while the hands and arms are employed to parry the incoming foot blows.
The rich history of Rizal province traces Sikaran as an ancient game of Rice Farmers that was discovered from their daily routine farming activities to ease the boredom during their idle moments from their backbreaking work in the rice paddies. Youth farmers and farmhands were the first ones to play the game by kicking mud on the faces of their playmates using their feet eliciting much laughter and enjoyment whenever a tiny dirt lands on their target while other farmers watch from a distance.
Farmers from the Village of Baras, Rizal were credited as the first Sikaran initiators and players of the foot and mud game until the nearby Villages of Lagundi and Morong adopted it and called the game “Paninggara” which literally means Parrying in their vernacular dialect.
The game is usually played during the land preparation stage of rice farming when farmers would irrigate the barren farm to soften it up and prepare the area for plowing, harrowing and eventually planting the Philippine staple food. Rice paddies are submerged in ankle-deep waters for easy grubbing and plowing using farm animals such as Carabao (Water Buffalo), Cow and Horse to draw crude farming implements. The muddy area serves as a wide arena for playing before rice-transplanting, thus attracting the playful mood of youth farmers who engage in mud kicking. Early stories that were told and retold say that God-fearing people during those days do not have the courage to hurt others so much so that the game of mud-kicking would only limit them to hitting the clean clothing of their fellow farmer and that body contact that could hurt was always avoided. The one who has the soiled trousers are, therefore, the losers of the game although no scoring system was ever agreed upon then until such time when bigger chunks of mud could already be kicked to the direction of the body and would make one fall down.
As Sikaran evolved into a popular Farm Game more rules have since been mutually agreed upon by those who are interested to play it. Initially, a player who is hit by a big slice of mud in the body and fell down on the paddy loses until it was agreed upon that the player who fell three times loses the game, thus the early scoring system was already recognized by the players.
As the game gained popularity among the farmers, the kick style that was commonly used evolved into variations. These kicks were derived from the helpful farm animals. By constant day to day observation, the farmers learned that the frontal Carabao Kick was very strong and the “Sikad-Kalabaw” came into the picture.
When the Carabao Kick (Tadyak Kalabaw) was already a popular kick, the farmers also observed that the Cow, of all Bovines, could kick sidewards. This unique kicking characteristics of the Cow was carefully studied and included in the existing variety of styles in kicking mud. The farmers foot soles, during those days, were callous and wide as they wear no shoes nor slippers and would step barefooted over barren soils and grassy and muddy surface in those days. A bigger and wider foot, therefore, would give a Sikaran player the edge over an opponent who has a smaller feet. Soon after, they also discovered the powerful horse kick delivered backwards.
Interestingly, the three-point system was adopted from the popular Spider Quarrel wherein two Spiders of the same size would be pitted against each other using the broomstick (rib of the Coconut leaf). The spider that will fall from the stick three times loses.
The frontal stance of the players using the Carabao Kick remained as the most popular form and technique until the players learned to turn sideways to avoid being hit by the kicked while delivering a sideward or backward kick and at the same time parrying to counter. The forward and backward format of the game has since adopted the sideward technique.
The first tournament was called “Patas na Labanan” (Fair Game) wherein two players would play against each other. Since their playing techniques were limited to frontal and sideward kicks, they have since improved and developed a variety of turns and started using the horse-like backward kick. The first three major kicks learned from the main farm animals were, therefore, the most potential techniques that they have since develop to improve their skills. When during the early discovery of the game, players would only engage in frontal kick, they have since learned to turn sideways and could deliver the backward kick without necessarily turning in front. Players have also learned to employ several techniques to distract the attention of their opponent so that they could freely attack.
They have since developed the quick spider frontal attack, the Carabao kick, the cow sideward kicks and the horse backward kicks as the major elements in playing Sikaran. Accidents do happen that sometimes a player would be hit by a direct contact in the stomach whenever a back kick is delivered and the player who is hit would gasp for breath and fall. This contact has amazed the crowd. Over time, they have learned to develop more variations of the game which has already gained popularity province-wide until it eventually became a major attraction during big gatherings and celebrations of feast days. A native dance called Tinikling requires dancers to dance between two bamboo poles being clicked together. It would train dancers’ feet to be quick to avoid being caught in between the poles and help in the training of Sikaran Players.
The farmers who are focused in playing Sikaran would then go to the fields early in the morning to train how to kick mud using various techniques. They continued to research and observe the movements of their farm animals and have since become conscious in preparing their body condition preparatory to the game. Plowing the paddies and following the animal-drawn implement was a good foot and leg exercise/training as their feet and legs are submerged in knee-deep mud. They ate more vegetables and fruits to gain stronger bodies and maintain good health.
The primary industry of the inhabitants of Baras Rizal aside from Paddy Rice Farming and Upland Farming (Slash and Burn farming in the mountains called “Kaingin”) is Fishing along the Laguna De Bay, a large body of fresh water rich in marine resources. Baras Village is bounded by Barrio Lagundi. This adjacent village has since adopted Sikaran as their farm game and would often compete with Baras Players and meet to play the game at the different places in the Villages of Baras, in Pulo, Patadyang, Suro-Suro, Ulahan, Basud and Kalang Batong Malalim- large farming villages with large rice farming paddies. Women have since caught interest in the game and have started competitive games of their own. Men have become more aggressive in playing with the entry of women in Sikaran competition.
Another game or competition in Baras during those days was the popular “Karera ng Bangka” (Boat Race) which eventually waned because not everybody could afford the cost of a boat and the river was so small for competition. It was not developed like the Sikaran.
Over the next decades, the “Patas na Labanan” (Fair Game) was developed with more innovations. The age, sex, body size (height and weight) was already considered as factors in Tournaments. The rules would include accumulation of body points. They do not use the three fall rule or the Spider Quarrel three-fall rule because players have since been quick to parry blows at the same time dodge incoming attack. The players changed the rules of the game and adopted a new point system.
A new variation of Sikaran has also emerged when the players agreed to a formal version of the game. The “Partida Laban. This new variation will pit two players inside a circled area in the paddy. Whoever could land the first kick in the body inside the circle wins. The player who gets out of the circle loses. The winner stays inside the circle and will be challenged by a woman player who will play outside the circle while the prior player is limited within the limits of the circle. Within a certain time, if the woman player fails to drive the player inside the circle outside , then the player inside the circle stays inside and will eventually be declared Champion. But there were also women who fight men inside the circle and eventually win. These women-players have become the inspiration of men.
Then the variation of “Labo-Labo Matira Matibay na Labanan” (Mix up, the toughest Rules) was also played. This was played inside the circle by three to eight men who could not efficiently kick due to the limited space. The ones who goes out of the circle loses and the toughest that will be left will be the Champion.
Origin of Sikad Biyakid or Biakid ( Sickle Kick )
The Mix Up Variation of Sikaran has now inspired Sikaran Players to ponder on a new challenge to improve their capabilities. They must develop a fresh technique of delivering a kick given a limited space inside a circle. They have been confronted with the reality that the four commonly used kicks can only be executed efficiently if ample space is available inside a given Tournament Arena.
During harvest Season, Palay produce are usually partially underwater making it hard for the farmers to Scythe the trunks of the palay. The technique is to separate the palay trunks and harvest it by cutting a grip of trunks upward. This technique of harvesting palay given a limited space was conveniently adopted as a farming practice whenever the palay stalks are immersed by water.
The technique was studied and was proven to be very deadly in delivering a new kick. The foot is pointed downward and and the body is bent while they kicked upward usually hitting the upper torso or head of the opponent. The Biyakid Kick was introduced in the new world of Sikaran Competition.
Today, Sikaran is fast gaining popularity worldwide. It was recognized as a Filipino Contact Sports by the Department of Education, Culture and Sports and has been taught and played in various countries in Asia, Middle East, and Europe. Its main headquarters is in the United States.Its current Federation Officials are now working to have it recognized by the Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Olympic Committee in line with their continuing grassroots development program.