Bando pronounced bàɴdò, is a defensive style of thaing focusing on animal-based techniques. The earliest meanings of the word were self-discipline, self-development and self-improvement. Later, it came to mean self-protection or self-defense. Bando is sometimes mistakenly used as a generic word for all Burmese martial arts but it is actually just one system.
As with most Asian martial arts, all bando schools start off by teaching the basic stances and footwork. This preliminary stage of training lasts for several months and in some cases the first stage may continue for years, depending on the instructor or the style. In the second stage of training, a series of blocking and parrying techniques is taught. Bando prioritises defense over offense so that the student will be able to protect themselves, should the need arise. The third stage involves the learning of offensive techniques. Most of bando's techniques are taught through forms or aka which may be performed solo or with a partner.
Forms and techniques in bando are based on the movements of animals, probably through the influence of animal styles from India and China. Such routines include the boar, bull, cobra, leopard (or panther), monkey, python, scorpion, tiger, deer, paddy bird, and viper. The moves in each pattern are characterised by the animal which they imitate. Thus the python form includes crushing, strangling and gripping moves, the tiger form involves clawing and ripping, the viper form stresses flexibility while the deer form develops alertness. Some masters teach the black panther style as a combination of all the other animal forms.
Bando generally leaves the initiative to the opponent and relies heavily on countering maneuvers. When a bando exponent is attacked, they first withdraw and then begin the counter-attack. "Middle-style bando" is perceptive/responsive. Once the threat has been evaluated it is possible to respond with an appropriate counter, so too is destroying the opponent's weapon. If the adversary's hand or foot is broken for example, the conflict is effectively ended. Bando practitioners generally aim for the body but the head, shoulder, elbow, knee, and foot are all used for offensive purposes.