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bandoBando History:

For an extensive history of Bando, please see the American Bando Association website (http://www.americanbandoassociation.com). A brief history of Bando follows here.

Bando originated in Burma, and the roots go back thousands of years. The word itself has multiple meanings, but in the usage here, is similar to the Japanese term “Budo” or the English term “Martial Art”. It also means “a way of discipline.” Functionally, we sometimes interpret it as “The way of the disciplined warrior.”

The ancient roots of Bando (and of Burma) reflect the region’s placement near India, Tibet and China. These countries cultures, philosophies, and arts influenced the development of the Burmese people, and of their fighting arts.

The modern history of Bando reflects the wars between Burma and Thailand (Siam). These wars led to the development of highly effective combative arts with sticks, spears, and swords – as well as the brutal boxing arts of Lethwei (Burmese Boxing) and Muay Thai (Thai Boxing).

The British Colonial era in the 1800s also influenced the development of Bando as it drove much of the training of the combat arts underground.

When Japan invaded Burma in the early days of World War II, the Japanese actually tried to restore some of the native fighting arts, and the Japanese introduced their own arts, as well. But many indigenous Burmese people joined the Allied fight against Japan.

U Ba Than, Dr. Gyi’s father, along with many other masters, formed the Military Athletic Club to restore and preserve the indigenous Burmese fighting arts. They managed to convince many masters to share and contribute their knowledge and the tribal, regional or family systems to be preserved. U Ba Than recognized that there were many commonalities and that the individual arts could be grouped into a systemized whole around those common elements.

Dr. Gyi brought Bando to the US in the late 1950s. He originally taught a few students, including Joe Manley, Lloyd Davis, and Errol Younger, in Washington, DC while he pursued his academic studies. These men became known as fierce fighters and competitors in the open martial arts tournaments of the time – and some of them proved their skills in the real world, as well. In time, Dr. Gyi relocated to Ohio, where he became a professor at Ohio University, and still devoted countless hours to training Bando students. Training at his farms in Ohio became something of legend!

In the mid-1980s, Errol Younger and Joe Manley were convinced to train a group of students in the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC. These students became the Northern Virginia Bando Club, and included Debby Kirkman and Jim Sheeran. In time, Debby and Jim became responsible for leading the class where they had started their training – which has become Piedmont Bando of Northern Virginia.