Welcome to Filipino Fighting Secrets Live Blog!

Welcome to the Filipino Fighting Secrets Blog! All the content on this site is written by Filipino Martial Arts Master Mustafa Gatdula. Master Gatdula is the founder of the Typhoon Philippine School of Martial Arts. Also known as “thekuntawman“, he is well-versed in many martial arts disciplines and styles, and possesses a wealth of knowledge and insight. Armed with oftentimes controversial opinions and insights in the Filipino arts, articles on the Filipino Fighting Secrets Live blog are sure to get you looking at your training and philosophy from a fresh new perspective. This blog was created to give us a platform to air rarely-heard views and share our ideas of the practice, the teaching, and the application of the martial arts. Please subscribe and bookmark this page, as we will post a combination of edited postings as well as original writings from one of the most interesting and outspoken of the modern-day warriors!

We feature articles about training, philosophy, fighting strategy, and video review. In our “Observation and Insights”, you can read commentary about a variety of topics concerning the martial arts. There are two new sections that we are adding to our blog:  A video review section (look under “categories“, to your right) and books you can order from Master Gatdula. There is a ton of good, useful information that you won’t find anywhere, and they expound in greater detail much of what is contained in the articles we present.

For those interested in learning to become an FMA teacher, Master Gatdula will be offering a residential FMA Instructor Candidate program in Rizal, Philippines. This is a full-time program to train future teachers in the Filipino arts of Kuntaw and Eskrima as well as the Jow Ga Kung Fu style. For more information, please visit our Train Full-Time page.

Please visit the “Offerings” page (click the link, or to your right) and check back periodically for updates!

Thank you for visiting!

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96 thoughts on “Welcome to Filipino Fighting Secrets Live Blog!”

  1. Thoughts from you post in the the digest. Good thoughts- I am amazed how close you are to my own thoughts. I strongly believe in pushing my students and everyone gets tested at levels. I can say that my students are good. I even take my students to non-FMA events and compete. Because we compete in others we had to adopt belts- I see them as levels of knowledge- I just watched two of my orange belts beat out green belts from other schools.- Yes I competed too, in the black belt division for weapons and forms, I took 1st place and Grand champion. I agree with you, get out and push your self and your school.

  2. Love what you write. I ve been training privately for over 4 years now and its nice to see that there are some people on the same page of teaching and training in FMA and other styles… . I am working on being able to teach my art but i am not wanting to water any of it down to make a buck. it is a big honor to learn from my teacher and from what he learned from his teachers. I feel so much of martial arts is dying out with many martial arts masters and legends who have lead the way in many styles. who will keep the fire going before its to late. Keep true to the Art my Brother in arms…..

      1. come find me out then,the day I am gonna see you,you are gonna have the worst day in your life,You have no idea how many kali fanatics I have seen,and all of them were pussies,choreographed assholes were what they were,if you got the guts come and my find me,here goes my address,East London,Hoxton Sq.,you ask someone stationary about me,and I will appear,if I dont hear from you in 1 month,I will think you are scared.

  3. I’m very interested in FMA…. I train in Arnis. There are a few good schools where I am. I don’t believe any FMA should be watered down to suit other nationalities. I’m Australian and I really want to learn a proper style of Arnis/Eskrima/Kali not one thats been changed to suit America or Australia etc.

    Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying anything against any style of FMA. I love FMA and I don’t want it to become lost because people change it to suit other countries methods of teaching, training. For example…. I have been told that Modern Arnis was developed by Remy Presas to suit American society… less of the knife work and more on stick because American society frowns on the knife as a weapon. Correct me if that is incorrect.

    I will keep reading your blog and posting.

    Thank you.

    1. thank you for your comments, i think what GM presas did was make it easy to learn and easy to certify in. it was good to get people to know about filipino martial arts, but what it did bad was water down the art, and make people lose respect for arnis as a combative art.

      i recently heard another master say, that the art will change, according to the needs and desires of the people in the country where the art lives. this kind of cultural affect on the arts is good, and can show the world how adapting are our arts. the only problem is when the art lost its effectiveness and respect for those that do the art. so, where one country, the people need the art for defense, and another one, they need the art for killing, and another, they need the art to exericse the people, that is okay, this is how arts evolve, even when it evolved into the culture of another country.

      thank you for the comments, and keep them coming please!

      1. Don’t get me wrong GM Presas is a great man and deserves respect for what he did. I understand that an art must adapt but it must not lose its roots.

  4. Very good blog. In particular I find your stance on Sinawali agreeable. I have found a lot of guys who have practised patterned stick on stick on stick drills are not able to switch out of these striking patterns when fighting. Their timing of counters seems to be concentrated totally on the opponents stick rather then breaking inside or outside and attacking the flesh.

    For me broken rythym stop hitting to either the hand, elbow, head is preferred.

    Look forward to reading more.

  5. I am a 4th degree blackbelt master instructor in Tae Kwon Do and Tang Soo Do. I have been involved in the martial arts for over 35 years now. I have been training in FMA for almost 4 years now and I am very interested in the history and fighting techniques of the art. I am now teaching at Master Joe Corley’s American Karate School in Marietta, Georgia.

    Anything you can share I come with an open mind and open heart to learn.

    Thanks so much,

    Always a student of the martial arts,

    Eldrige Holloway

  6. I also am a Northern California instructor who does not want his students engaging in padded FMA engagements. I stress realistic applications. I am a Full Instructor in Jeet Kune Do/Kali – Inosanto lineage. I am interested in hearing your views about combat and training. Respectfully, Sifu/Guro Oliver.

    1. I have seen one student of Guru Dan who went to train the raw blade w/ him. A student of another school brought pads and armor, they put it on and to my surprize Guru Dan’s student, maybe 15 years older, demolished him with superb technique. I believe in tradition.

  7. i have been following your posts for nearly a decade. i love your insights into the martial arts because you bring a level of realism and practicality rarely seen. i’m also glad to see that you and your students are bringing your posts from the many forums to one place. your students must feel fortunate to have access to this knowledge.

  8. Guro Gatdula

    I am attempting to save every article on your blog, because I appreciate your wisdom and knowledge. I would just like to give you kudos. The forum posts do you no justice because you run into haters and those with less experience in the art who argue points they know little about. There are many FMAers out here who see your points and look forward to each and every post, and I anxiously await your book. Thank you for sharing with us “puti” round-eyes!


  9. this is a very good blog. lots of wisdom for senseis of the art and students also. i look forword to every new article you write, thank you.


  10. Glad I found the site. I have over 20 years of martial arts training, mostly Japanese and Korean styles, but some FMA/IMA stuff too. Your philosophy is very close to what I believe, and its nice to see a pure, authentic master giving up good information like what I’ve read so far. Please keep up the good work!

  11. I had the pleasure of meeting about a year and half ago. I really enjoyed the chance to watch a class one Saturday and felt connected really connected. I’m currently deep into Aikido training but, still think about training with you someday. Till then I’ll be reading your blog with enthusiasm and interest.

    Thank You.

  12. i received your book Friday and read it immediately. it was eye opening and very informative. i would like to thank you for sharing it and the articles on this website. will be looking forward to reading any other books you release in the future.

  13. Garo !
    Read your book ” How to build a Dominant Fighter in 12 Months ” and think its GREAT ! Its the kind of book one wants to reread every few months to make sure one is focused in the right areas. Its filled with gut wrenching no-nonsense wisdom.
    When I get back to Sac.along with continuing my twice weekly Escrima class,the small tiger training dvd has sparked an interest.
    In case you post this reply on your blog, I want to address the readers who may have doubts concerning your opinions,beliefs, and sincerity. Guro Gatdula is the real deal ! If you feel you have what it takes or you have children who are interested in competion fighting and want to be the best, then, the Typhoon Philippine School of Martial Arts in Sacramento is for you. Don’t expect a big fancy stylish school,though. Know that everything you need is there.


  14. Good to see your still at it moe. The school looks good, and this site looks good too. Love the articles man. Keep knocking people on they behinds let them know whats up with the real arts. I see you repping DC out there in cali! Vinnie from Simba

  15. The most useful and valuable FMA resource I’ve yet seen online. Excellent educational articles, you don’t hold back, do you. Glad to find it.

  16. Hello Mustafa/Maurice! Ran into your students at Anthony Goh’s and heard all about what you’ve been doing! All grown up now and have developed into quite the master teacher! For those who don’t know, we who watched you grow up have been calling you the “young master” for years. Always impressive, always in top gear! I am very proud of you. Now-back to reading…

  17. Refreshing to see a Filipino Master sharing a side to our arts no one gets to see. I think we have enough drills and flashy demos, and they just don’t embody what our arts have to offer. Ignore your detractors sir-you have many more fans and readers who love your philosophy!

  18. I just ordered your new book, and I am looking forward to reading it. I purchased “dominant fighter” a year ago, and although I was somewhat disappointed with how short it was, you do have a lot of truth in there. After reading it several times since first receiving it, I find myself using almost everything you recommend. Today, I now understand why some people either rebuke you or are in love with your work. Keep it coming Master Gatdula. You are pure genius!

  19. Kuntawman, this blog is a course in martial arts philosophy. I’ve learned a lot in the last hour or so that I’ve been reading articles. Wish I had found a teacher like you 20 years ago! Back to reading…

  20. good day to d author of fighting with largo mano.im from d phil.you sound like a local or i mean a local or native pinoy living here or perhaps an enlightened escrimador ,taught by maestro or giya that is not yet diluted or adapted to d change of time or community.i hope many of our brothers in arnis world will see this horizon .it will open up more windows for them to improve their art.largo mano in your term,in our system we call it largaan is not really about distance but rather a safe area or quarter,or concept of fighting in d safest,most lethal and quickest possible time.by d way we measure our stick by letting d student stand straight and let d tip of d stick or baston in between feet and mark d stick near the umbilicus.cut it there and u got ur larga stick.try doing ur moves and you will feel d real largo way.i am obliged to share so that d old school or what arnis should be can stay and will be given to those who would like it that way.anyway whatever they call it no one can deny,it is our very own Pilipino Arnis.Mabuhay at palaganapin pa ang arnis mga escrimador.Salamat sa Diyos

  21. Master Gatdula, just wanted to let you know that your work is greatly appreciated-and much admired. You are an inspiration, thank you for keeping our FMAs strong and traditional.

  22. I just wanted to say that I really like your blog and while I don’t study any Filipino Fighting Arts, I find that a lot of what you write is applicable in all martial arts.

  23. Kuntawman,

    Thankyou for your articles on the philosophy. I have just started learning about Arnis and a lot of your philsohies resonate with me.

    Last night I watched a series where two fighters did a crash course in Arnis over 5 days and had a “traditional fma fight”.
    The show was called “Fight Quest” and I was wondering if you could give your opinion about the show?

    -Jon Dunstan

  24. Greetings from Baltimore Md, I knew you when you taught in Reisterstown, MD, your friend Tobias was one of my teachers. I’m very happy to see your still out there doing it! I remember you as a young guy with big ideas, great skills, and lightning quick hands and feet. We still talk about you and the sparring sessions, and all the lessons learned just by sitting around talking about fighting and the martial arts. Brother you were wise for someone your age and I know you’re even deeper today. We are still in the old spot, but I know teach at my church (just a small group). If you ever get out this way please stop by, we’d love to see you and have the students see you. It would be crazy to see you fighting in the seniors now, I use to see you fight as a teenager! HOTEP.

  25. The typhoon martial arts website has been suspended. Are you still teaching Jow GA? Please email me some contact info. Thank you.

    1. I concur actually! I live in the D.C. area as well, and am a part of a martial arts club operating out of NVCC community college. It’s open house to anyone interested in attending, though we are less than 10 people currently, and of multiple martial arts.

      We would love to have you come visit us. I know I certainly would.

  26. i must tell you that this is the first blog which i’ve read for six straight hours. And all of your opinions have changed me. It rocked whatever core i thought i had and strengthened it with a healthy does of doubt. I am currently undergoing the 45 days of training from one of the blogs i’ve read from you. thanks. keep the pot boiling!

    – paolo jerome d. cristobal, lower elem teacher

  27. Hey I love Filipino martial arts and Filipino culture. but I am frustrated with FMA as a whole becuase the majority simply us FMA is a marketing scheme to make tons of money off of gullible people. It is always focused on seminar fees, yearly membership, testing fees, instructor certification fees and other nonsense. The quality of teachers is a joke and are usually taught by out of shape fantasy larpers who want to think they are jungle mercenaries. Most simply learn a few drills and that is it and they then think they are combat ready. It turns me off.
    I dont think video testing or internet courses are wrong and IT IS POSSIBLE to learn and be good in them. but the testings are silly since anyone is allowed to pass pretty much. I do not have any FMA teacher and I learn on my own. I wish there was one FMA organization that allowed distance learning, yet did not charge an arm and a leg to join and test. FMA is designed for rich people in the USA. And Philippines organizations are also copying the American model and making people sign up into a “brotherhood” and pay tons of money just to stay involved.
    It is unlike Taekwond or Karate where you earn a black belt and keep it for life, and also pay for training, not for membership. I only want to pay for actual training, not a yearly membership and a “free” t-shirt. I hope some Filipinos masters see this post and listen to me!
    Also I live in Alabama and we are very limited on FMA choices, we only get what mcdojangs offer from corporate FMA cultlike organizations that are all about money. Also, the popular MADE UP STYLES by kuing fu guys etc who claim to have their own stick fighting and knife style becuase the trained a year or 2 in FMA and think they are qualified to do so.

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  29. Hello Guro, it’s good to see you on the net. i would just like to say that since you left the area i have only seen a small hanful of martial arts teachers at your level. this is not to put anyone down, but when you have triained with the best, the standard is too high to appreciate other masters. Hopefully one day I can make it out to California to learn from you. I’m still training, learning modern arnis and spent 3 years studying kenpo. I’ll always remember how you trained us and everything you taught about what the martial artist life was all about. Your students should appreciate the kind of master you are. You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and I really understand that it applies to martial arts teachers as well.


  30. Good day! I know this is kinda off topic nevertheless I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest authoring a blog article or vice-versa?
    My site covers a lot of the same subjects as yours and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other.
    If you are interested feel free to shoot me an e-mail.
    I look forward to hearing from you! Excellent blog by the

  31. I enjoy your blog and your posts on Humility on the Martial Arts, but one question… what if your teacher is non-humble to the point of being abusive? I think I did the right thing by leaving, and would like to tell you my story privately to hear your opinion, but I’m curious exactly where instructors should draw the line between arrogance and respect. Your advice is appreciated.

  32. Have to admit I wasn’t ready to hear about my beloved FMAs talked about in such a way, but the more I read, the more I realize this is real-deal. Thank you for the eye openers! Signed, a Seminar Junkie

  33. You have a lot of insights here sir. I saw some of your articles from FMA Informative and you got me sold right there. I’m trying to read each of the articles. I just noticed the category bar on the side, and there is a lot! It really confirms it does not matter how many techniques you know, it’s how you do it, and do it whole – heartedly! Looking forward to your new articles! Thanks, pugay!

  34. Hi
    Got your email. I’m currently studying Kali,Silat and wing chun blend… I have been introduced to kuntaw, great system….
    When you’ve relocated to the Atlanta area . Please keep me posted….

  35. You seem to talk about the flaws of the FMA empty hand of eskrima, but you never seem to talk about the FMA styles that mostly focus on the empty hand. Hopefully in the future you can actually make a blog about it.

    1. that’s because I dont have a problem with filipino empty hand base styles, except for the instant, just-add-water crap people are promoting today. like “panantukan”? please. even with the false history, the art is made for sale in seminars and videos–not real fighting. at least the sikaran and silat and yaw yan and kuntaw of the philippines is willing to put there art to the test against other arts. when I talk about empty hand eskrima, i am talking about eskrimador who have no plans what so ever to take the empty hands martial arts and use it for anything other than demos. i challenge any man to try it. against me or any other fighter. it wont happen. i live in a town with many, MANY FMA guys they all know me, and none will try it.

  36. First off I would like to say superb blog! I had a quick question that I’d
    like to ask if you don’t mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself
    and clear your head prior to writing. I
    have had a difficult time clearing my mind in getting my
    thoughts out. I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems
    like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost simply just
    trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips?
    Thank you!

  37. First off I would like to say superb blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if
    you don’t mind. I was interested to know how
    you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing.
    I have had trouble clearing my mind in getting my ideas out.
    I truly do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or
    hints? Kudos!

  38. Are there actually any Traditional Filipino empty hand styles that exist in the Philippines?

    Not like the more recent modern hybrids such as yaw yan.

    contrary to popular belief, there really isn’t a lot of indigenous FMA empty hand styles….. especially ones that are widely practiced by the majority of people who practice eskrima/arnis in the Philippines

    or at least any that you mentioned. Lately I’ve seen a lot of questions here in regards to whether there really are any fma empty had styles that traditionally historical like pencak silat of Indonesia or Wing chun of China

    , so far the only ones that do are a minority of Filipinos who are mostly muslim from Mindinao that actually practice silat or kuntaw, as for the others, you know otherwise.

    Other than sikaran which is only kicking, my guess is that its not that Filipinos don’t think empty hands are useless, its just that there really isn’t any FMA empty hands to practice. if Filipinos want to do empty hands they usually take WESTERN boxing or JUDO or BJJ etc, but what about fma? Like I said there really aren’t any FMA empty hands unless you include the recent mma yaw yan which is basically boxing and karate or the muslim arts which aren’t taught to many Filipinos who are christian.

  39. I am going to share this with you. It is some history I shared with Mike Wilner.

    You said if I understand you right that someone translated something Sigung said. I assume you did not understand Sigung because you could not speak his dialect and neither could I.

    There maybe something lost in translation on more then one level. Richard’s students studied many types of the art with him.

    I hope this may bring some clarity to our common history. As you see the fault is not all Richards responsibility. I offer you the same photos if you like.

    To: Mike,

    The reason for Sigung, Chan Man Cheung not recognizing Dr. Richard Chin’s first name, as some have stated is that Richard is not his chinese name. Richard hated the sound of that name when spoken in English in the states.
    Jimmy Chin did study Jow Ga in Hong Kong in the 1970’s where he met and married his wife. Like so many students his new family came first. I was with Jimmy and Richard Chin in Hong Kong May and June of 1976. We were there to work on perfecting our form. Sad to say Sigung, Chan Man Cheung was opening a new seafood shop and did not have as much time to work with us as he and we would have liked. I think to help make up for this, Sigung gave me a fighting chain, that I still treasure today. He also, had shirts made for the three of us. I paid for the fabric for all three, out of respect for Sigung. Sigung had them made and mailed to Richard in Manhattan. The reason you well know that I am telling the truth is that I have little respect for Richard, because he had no respect for other people’s property rights. Richard kept the shirt that Sigung had made for me. Richard also, failed to honor his word in our business agreement. As much as I would like to tell you the sound in English of Richard’s chinese name I will not betray a confidence.
    Sigung knew Jimmy and Richard very well we ate at his table and we would light incense and bowl at Sigung, Chan Man Cheung’s alter to his Sigung. We even went with Sigung to a banquit were we met with about eight Sisoks. Mike and Scott I have saved the pictures to prove it if you would like them.

  40. I was looking into your website on typhoon martial arts and wanted to join your eskrima program. But i’m curious as to why you only teach the stick and the knife but not the sword or bolo like you do in kuntao? are bladed weapons not commonly found in eskrima’s like you see in kuntao or silat?

    1. hello,

      my eskrima is a fighting eskrima style. i call it that because our specialty is in fighting and sparring–not doing drills or choreographed techniques. most FMA that you find doesnt do much fighting at all, they do drills and choreography. my grandfather only had fighting experience with a knife and a stick, and I only have fighting experience with a stick and the empty hand, although i have done a lot of sparring with the wooden knife. i decided to focus on things that I know best, which is the empty hand, the single stick and the single knife.

      the bolo, spear and staff are weapons that I know well, but I got the experience i have in that on my own, not in the Arnis community. so I keep them separate. i consider Eskrima a superior style of fighting, so I do not want to take away valuable time on my specialty for my students to pursue the other things I know.

      thank you!

  41. Hi I am new in FMA I live in the Philippines where can I find your Dojo? I would like to visit and see the difference between my present group. Like everyone willing to learn the art I don’t want to learn any B.S., I’ve witnessed the seminar you were telling and I’m doubtful if I can really apply what I am learning in reality. This is gonna be my third session with the group, I hope you can guide me in choosing a non Mcdojo group here in Manila. I’m interested in how you do your tests. More power!

  42. Hi Guro Gatdula,

    After reading your articles I now find myself in a quest to find a school that will have the quality of training that will help me develop my skills, that will make me more confident and ready should I find myself in a streetfight.

  43. Hi Guro Gatdula,

    I’m glad that you’re teaching and imparting this type of knowledge to your students. Your views on FMA are spot on. The seminars just show techniques that don’t work for everyone. I think with all martial arts, there needs to be a realization that everything a student learns within a given system is reference, and the goal would be complete freedom…to not be mechanically tied to technique and/or application. The name of the game is attribute building, in my opinion – that’s what separates a high level practitioner/dedicated student from a customer.

  44. Just stoped in to check out your blog, I’ve been reviewing your site
    for a little while now. I run a blog as well and its
    important to support another blogger. Theinfo you have posted
    is both well written and to the point. I appreciate its difficult and time consuming to come up with and I applaud yourwork.
    Good Job!

  45. Very good website you have here but I was curious about if you knew
    of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics discussed in this article?
    I’d really like to be a part of online community where I can get feed-back from other knowledgeable people that share the
    same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know.

  46. I enjoy the information gives me lots of feed back to my own FMA training and challenging all that i do and think about self improvement .

  47. hello thekuntawman,

    I read an article on the latest issue of BlackBelt magazine on pekiti tirsia kali and I had some questions regarding it and hope that you can answer them. In that article GM Gaje says that kali was used against the Spanish, Americans and Japanese. And that it was kali warriors that forced the US to develop the .45 caliber bullet. Based on what I have read it was the people of the Mindanao that did all of the above and that they practiced kuntaw/silat while kali is from the Visayas. Is PTK influenced by or connected to the Southern systems, and if so by how much?


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