Pinoy MMA community mourns the passing of Yaw-Yan founder GM Nap Fernandez

gm nap yaw-yan

Yaw-Yan founder, Grand Master Napoleon Fernandez, has passed away at 92 years old.

Fondly referred to by his students as “Master Nap,” Fernandez founded the Filipino fighting style known as Yaw-yan, which derives its name from the last syllables of “sayaw ng kamatayan” or “dance of death.”

Before he founded Yaw-Yan in 1972, Fernandez was an undefeated All-Asian and Far East kickboxing champion. Little did he know that the martial art he’d founded would affect so many lives in a positive way.

Today, there are over 50 Yaw-Yan schools in the Philippines and abroad. And many notable Pinoy fighters and coaches, in either BJJ or MMA, found their way into martial arts thanks to Yaw-Yan’s appeal. The art has also helped communities keep youth out of trouble, offering them a productive environment where they can train and build character.

GM Nap and his art have touched many lives, and it comes as no surprise that many are affected by his passing.

“For 40 years you have been a great part of my life. Not only mine but also my family’s. I’ve had incomparable and fond memories while I was under your wings. Some filled with hardships and trials. Even then, it warms my heart to come back and remember each one,” Master Rey Yap, head coach of Yaw-Yan Buhawi in Marikina, shared on social media.

Former URCC lightweight champion and long-time Yaw-Yan practitioner Carl Sabeniano also mourned the passing of GM Nap. He posted:

“I owe my martial arts journey to you where I walk until now…you and your teachings will NEVER die, it is etched into the hearts and minds of the students that carry the symbol and teachings of have changed lives, you took care of homeless children trained them and made them into great fighters and great men. It is an honor to be, even for a brief moment, be trained under you..
Maraming salamat Grand Master Nap, paalam…”

Countless other students, fighters, and coaches have expressed their gratitude for Master Nap’s teachings. There’s no denying that even after Fernandez’s passing, Yaw-Yan’s lessons and impact will live on for generations to come.

Photo via Jerry Legaspi’s Facebook page

Gab Pangalangan

Gab Pangalangan is a former collegiate national Judo champ and the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of You can find his other works in the Philippines' leading magazines and websites.
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