(Kala, Kalajengking, Alakdan, Vrischika)
We'll look a little at the scorpion and its biology and anatomy, its psychology and hunting and defencive habits and we'll also look at how that relates to the tools we as martial artists have and can use in real world combat.
The Scorpion martial material is all but lost now in a lot of Indonesia and as to whether it ever existed in Malaysia is debatable and is the realm of the scholar the best source of surviving Scorpion material Ive found comes from the Myanmar (Burmese) Bando systems in their various forms.actually it was Bando that I was first exposed to the Scorpion system. A teacher I studied with for a while also exposed me to some African and Khmer arts which also included Scorpion techniques.
Also Ive personally added mannerisms and techniques gleaned from my own expression from watching studying my own scorpions, in the way they hunt and fight.
It is my opinion that as Scorpions are so widespread throughout the jungles of Asia that all the indigenous people would once have used aspects and mannerisms of the scorpion in their fighting arts
The Scorpion is an arthropod and part of the arachnid family of animals an ancient creature, it is almost entirely armoured and armed with a fearsome array of weapons two powerful claws Pedipalps used to hold prey whist it is eaten or if a struggle ensues it utilises its trademark tail metasoma tipped with a venomous barb or Telson to inject a powerful neurotoxin to paralysis the prey so it can be summarily eaten.
As far as behaviour the scorpion is a naturally defencive animal spending most of the day hidden in borrows or under logs etc but at night the scorpion is a ruthless predator feeding on small inverts but in some cases small lizards and mice will be taken.The scorpion as very sensitive hairs on its feet and on the outside of its claws which can pick up the slightest vibration of prey moving past, through the ground itself.
Once startled the scorpion will about face turning on a dime to face its threat head on, with tail and claws raised in a threatening manner if that doesn't intimidate the threat the scorpion will pull in its mouth and head parts cover itself with its large claws and lower its tail so as to form an almost tessellating armoured target an amazing animal.
As a mannerism, we can take the reactive and aggressive defencive nature of the scorpion as a mindset should we run into confrontation. Like the scorpion we as humans in a "civilised" society do not seek out trouble and we are happy to be aloud to busy get on with our own lives but should we be faced with a situation we cannot get out of and violence is the only option left open to use we can be aggressive and direct in our defencive reaction to the foe as we know the best form of defence is attack and as long as you abide by the use of reasonable force and you feel like your life or that of your family or friends is in grave danger then react like the scorpion.As scorpions are obviously devoid of cognitive thought they react instinctively to a stimulus, whether it be a feeding response or a defencive response to a threat, there is no thinking, no "well this guy is really scary and holding a weapon, and what about the legal ramifications of XYZ, if he doest this specific technique coming from this specific angle on this certain day of the week" or whatever.. basically all the things that would get you killed if your life depended on it and a real trap a lot of martial artists fall prey too. no. the Scorpion reacts to the stimulus with lightning speed and then stops and goes about its business as if nothing happened.That said scorpions know instinctively when to run and hide and wouldn't fall prey to things like pride or huberous another flaw of many fighters. When its time to split... split!
Scorpions are very direct in their attacks seeking to rely on their armoured assault to crash through the threat utilising its claws to immobilise and tear its prey while it engages its classic over head stinger to en-venomate the target which is then eaten alive and torn to bits. Ive often feed my Scorpions and watched in fascination as the insects are picked up smashed down on the sides of tank or floor and pulled apart little limbs scattered around the place like a scene from Starship Troppers or something its great..... (yes I know I'm sick and need to get out more!) LOL
Obviously we don't have a armoured carapace eight legs huge claws and a large tail tipped with a venomous barb, we`re human right?, well we do have certain tools at are our disposal, which we can use to mimic the attributes of the scorpion.
To mimic the lack of a chitin armoured body the scorpion stylist will use the elbows and knees in a couple of ways. Firstly the elbows are used in a wedge like manner to help deflect oncoming blows to the upper body as it drives forward, not to unlike the way the beak is used in the Garuda sub stystems, seen most recently in the Keysi material. My Pukulan Cimande brothers will know this as "The Principle of Body armour". Using various shields to cover the upper body whilst the knees cover the lower levels. Our attacker throwing in blows will find them impaled and deflected in such a way that we give the impression of being armoured.
Secondly the elbows and knees are used defensively to impale oncoming blows, but these are not used with the same mentality of say Kali or Escrima the MO is that of driving forward relentlessly, not of staying in a knife range and Gubting-ing blows as they come in. Obviously once the scorpion stylist as gotten to close range the elbows and knees are used directly as weapons to the opponent in a more conventional manner , but that said still with the forward moving emtherysis.
As we mentioned the scorpion will use the claws to immobilise its prey and to pull it limb from limb.
the claws are used in a pinching and squeezing manner to various nerve centres and plexus`s of the limbs and body to cause deep pain in the limbs this is the scorpion players way of trapping by using the foes nervous system against him. These pincher like attacks can be used offensively too to the clavicle region or the windpipe and groin followed almost always by a strike to finish the confrontation with a direct downward type nerve strike which if so desired could be fatal think of this as the tail being employed in a direct downward arch to inject neurotoxin into the prey to paralyse whilst the claws and teeth finish the job.
The knuckles are also used either to pinch at the skin, or nerve bundles or to strike them like the extended knuckle punches used in classical Chinese and Japanese arts.
The Tail and Sting:
The material and expression we use in the utilisation of the tail are not like those used in some of the more "theatrical" Kung-Fu styles and movies where crazy flexibility allow for the legs the express the downward arch of the tail strike. We use a far more practical and pragmatic delivery system of the arm to mimic the deadly sting. With this we have much more control and accuracy to deliver the strike with the fingers angled like the Telson of the scorpion to the dangerous nerves plexus`s of the neck throat and clavicle regions. Also should we miss and or the opponent doesn't stand still and let us deliver a very impressive over the headkick, were not caught on one leg bent over backwards like something from Cynthia Rothrock scene ,)
(Showing my age there I know LOL.)
Lastly for this article the teeth are used offensively to bite off parts of the opponents face and neck and or to hold them still, through pain compliance whist the sting or punching elbow is utilised.
ClosingSo in closing we`ve looked at the basics of the scorpions anatomy and mentality as applied to psychology and real world combat / defence and some of the main tools used to mimic and punish a potential threat.
In the next article on the Kala we`ll look at some picture examples of various scorpion strikes and some pics and clips of some basic applications and Langkas or footwork and stepping of this fascinating and deadly animal. Till then, play hard and train safe ,)