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|Bando: Burma's Art of the Boar|
|Part 3: Controversy|
Bando owes its popularity in the USA primarily to the work of one man, college professor Maung Gyi, Ph.D. Upon emigrating to the US in the 1950's, Gyi has been recognized as the most prominent instructor of bando in the West. Many who have trained with him laud his combat ability and his extensive knowledge of techniques. Gyi, having trained in Chinese gung fu and judo in addition to bando, says he used his skills in combat in several wars.
Gyi's statements have been disputed lately by some veterans groups. Gyi, allege the groups' sites, is a fraud--he did not serve in the combat units he claims to have belonged to, or in the conflicts he cites. Since all sources acknowledge his martial arts expertise, even his detractors, it seems odd that a martial artist of that stature would have to resort to lying about his military record. In some ways, the issue of Gyi's military record resembles another eminent martial artist's claims of military experience--Steven Seagal's. Seagal, at one time one of the highest-ranking American aikidoists, purports to have worked for the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the Vietnam War. Naturally, the CIA won't confirm or deny his claims, and it's hard to prove either Seagal's or Gyi's claims, one way or the other.
Judged on their merits as martial artists, though, each man has excelled in their art and passed on much knowledge to many students. And undoubtedly, the world would know little of the art of bando at all if it weren't for Maung Gyi's teaching.
Knowledge of bando is even more limited because of the current political state of affairs in Burma, now known as Myanmar. Because the free exchange of information is not permitted by the Myanmar government, knowledge of arts like bando will still remain secluded to that region.
Nevertheless, bando remains a highly effective martial art, one that serves its practitioners well in terms of breadth of techniques and adaptability to different fighting situations. As we explore more "secret" martial arts of the world, we'll post our findings here at About Martial Arts.
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