Martial arts: Yaw-Yan founder passes away at 92

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 30 2018 07:20 PM | Updated as of Jan 30 2018 10:29 PM

From Bienevict Ocampo Reyes’ Facebook page

Filipino martial arts legend Napoleon “Nap” Fernandez, who founded the martial art Yaw-Yan, has died. 

Fernandez, an undefeated all-Asian and Far East kickboxing champion, passed away Sunday at his home in Bulacan.

He was 92.

In 1972, Fernandez founded Yaw-Yan, which meant “sayaw ng kamatayan” or “dance of death.” 

Henry Kobayashi, one of Fernandez’s students, said the martial arts master developed the system specifically for Filipinos.

“Itong Yaw-Yan ginawa ni master para sa mga karaniwang Pilipino na hindi malalaking tao. So gumawa siya ng techniques na babagay sa typical na body frame nating mga Pilipino,” he said in a phone interview with ABS-CBN News.

“Sabi kasi niya kahit maging blackbelt ako ng kahit anong martial art, ‘pag masmalaki ang kalaban ko at pareho ang skill level namin, matatalo ako. Kaya niya ginawa ang Yaw-Yan.”

He added that Fernandez did not conform with the belt system typically used in other martial arts.

“Si master hindi naniniwala sa belt system. Progressive ‘yung program na ginagamit niya, p’wedeng matutunan ang advance techniques depende sa kakayanan mo,” said Kobayashi.

Fernandez used to hold quarters in front of the old Center Theatre along Quezon Boulevard in Manila. They later moved his school at the Ana Building near Far Eastern University. 

“Nung nasunog ‘yung Ana Building noong 1989, nagkawatak watak na yung buong grupo ng Yaw-Yan. Doon na nabuo ‘yung iba’t ibang Yaw-Yan schools,” said Kobayashi, who belongs to the Hybrid Yaw-Yan school.

Fernandez will be given a tribute at Loyola Memorial Chapels along Commonwealth Avenue in old Balara, Quezon City.

His remains will be cremated on February 1.

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