Following a couple of friends at a street joint to have a few bottles of beer, I wasn’t expecting to spend the rest of the night talking about Martial Arts. Specifically, I had a briefing of what to expect if I worked out with the Hybrid Yaw Yan boys.

But for a place called “Spaceship”, which is basically a street eatery confined within walls covered with silver insulation and ceiling with pasted posters of old vintage Filipino action movies, what’s not to expect? 

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So what did I learn about Hybrid Yaw Yan from Dax Cutab, Joma Mendoza and Paolo Mabanglo?

How did this martial art emerge?

I learned that the original Yaw Yan was started by Master Napoleon Fernandez in the 70s. It was short for “Sayaw ng Kamatayan” or Dance of Death. It was developed specifically for the Filipino taking into consideration the height and size disadvantage given the natural physical build of the Filipinos. As an example, when they execute the spinning back fist, they allow the whole forearm up to the back of the fist itself to hit the target. This means that they aim from the forearm so that when the target moves back to avoid getting hit, there is still a chance that the back of the fist hits the target.

Hybrid Yaw Yan is basically a striking martial art that is largely concentrated on offense wherein offense becomes the defense.

Paolo Mabanglo goofing with May Masuda, Jiu Jitsu world champion

Paolo Mabanglo goofing with May Masuda, Jiu Jitsu world champion

Dax Cutab practicing the flying knee kick with clinch

Dax Cutab practicing the flying knee kick with clinch

Why is it called Hybrid Yaw Yan?

Over the years, there have been few students of the original Yaw Yan school that ventured to establish their own school and modify their fighting styles. “Hybrid Yaw Yan” was then developed by Sir Henry Kobayashi. They added “Hybrid” to signify that the original striking fighting system has been modified to be a more complete and effective fighting system that includes wrestling and grappling.

What does its logo mean?


Instead of rewriting the whole thing, might as well copy what it says on their facebook page. It’s quite lengthy but this is when it becomes really interesting. This is the actual definition:

“This is the Meaning of the Hybrid Yaw-Yan Seal:

A Triangle means stability just like the Pyramids in Egypt. Even if the wind of change blew in any direction, still… Hybrid Yaw-Yan can stands.

The three Stars symbolize the three fighting skills our students must learn to become a well rounded Fighter.. they are Striking, Wrestling and Grappling….

The word Hybrid was placed on the opposite side of the word Yaw-Yan, to symbolize that Hybrid Yaw-Yan works and fights hand in hand together with Yaw-Yan Brothers. Also, the meaning of Hybrid is “Mixed” a combination of two or more fighting styles.

The word TEAM KOBAYASHI was placed under the official seal of YAW-YAN to symbolize that this team will do everything in its capacity to bring back the old glory of Yaw-Yan and uplift it to its former position as the Philippines’ DEADLIEST MARTIAL ART.

The first outermost black circle is thicker than the second black circle or any of the other lines. This circle signifies the infinite power that encompasses all being, no beginning and no end. This outer circle signifies our shield, we aptly affirmed this on our creed “God is my only Shield”.

The second circle is white, sandwiched between the first outermost black circle & second black circle. This signifies secrecy. Everyone has its own weakness and strength, Yaw-Yan practitioners are not an exception to this. This circle also signifies our faith, when we assert – Faith is my Guide.

The third circle is another black circle; this signifies Organization and Honor, the organization which binds all Yaw-Yan brothers & sisters together. Give due respect and obedience to Master Napoleon Fernandez, the only creator and Originator of Yaw-Yan. as well as to your elder brothers and sisters. Address Yaw-Yan Founders and Instructors as ” Sir “. Remember to say “po” and “opo”, and be polite to everyone including your younger brothers and sisters in the art. This traditional hierarchy within the organization, common to our Filipino customs and values shall be observed at all times.

The blue circle, the red ellipse, and white space are all directly connected to this third circle, this is to remind each of us that life’s most valued treasure more valuable than life itself is our Honor. Hence, we say in our creed – “Honor is my Wealth”.

There are 3 main colors inside the black circle which signifies the same meaning as the Philippines’ flag – White for peace which can also mean truth or purity, Red for bravery, and Blue for loyalty.

White signifies peace; it covers the largest color than red and blue to remind us to be always at peace and to live harmoniously with others. White also signifies Truth or Purity; when we affirm – “Truth is my Fortune”, this is the color to come to mind.

Red signifies bravery and preparedness, always ready for what is to come. The space it occupies on the seal also stands for 40 basic kicks. This color is on a sort of elliptical or eclipsing shape. Imagine this to resemble the Philippine bamboo tree — when young, it boasts to reach the sky, it continues on as it grows, but gradually in time as it aged it bends humbly forward. This is the same as the learning process common not only in all martial arts but life in general.

Blue stands for Loyalty and Allegiance, it is next to red and also occupies the space next to white. The space it occupies on the seal also stands for 12 bolo punches. Notice that this color is on a humbly smaller round circle than the other circles — where it begun it continues without end. It is directly connected to the bigger circle, signifying loyalty to the organization. Yaw-Yan members are loyal to the brotherhood, the organization, and to its founder. When you became an advanced disciple, you are not given a belt which you can easily take off your waist, but a branded mark you carry with you wherever you go, signifying that you are a part of the whole. We willingly accept the hot iron brand, giving up our ego and our fears, to pledge our loyalty “Once a Yaw-Yan, always a Yaw-Yan”.

All the curving lines and the colors – black, white, red and blue… stands for the creed declaration – “Yaw- All lines on the seal show the non-resistant principle of Yaw-Yan, what we commonly refer to as go with Yaw-Yan is my weapon.”

Joma Mendoza with Ms. Masuda

Joma Mendoza with Ms. Masuda

How is it like training in Hybrid Yaw Yan?

Anyone who wants to learn Hybrid Yaw Yan is welcome to their gym. For as long as you have the humility to absorb new knowledge and skill, you are welcome. People who train at Hybrid Yaw Yan come from all walks of life. Everyone who enters the training gym for the first time are considered students. It doesn’t have to eb a very stiff training environment. You can go there for fitness, You can go there to learn how to fight. You can ask specifically which type of fighting you want to learn first – striking, wrestling or grappling.

One thing they made sure is that there is a great deal of camaraderie in their community and they know how to have fun too.


So over a few bottles a beer I got to know this Filipino Martial Art known as Hybrid Yaw Yan. Enough of the stories, I think it’s time to pay a visit now to their gym and have a taste of the Hybrid Yaw Yan training.

Let’s go!

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