“Secrets” of the Filipino Fighting Arts
Words from a Modern-Day Warrior

Classic thekuntawman, circa 2002

Here’s some history about “thekuntawman”.

Guro’s younger brother began posting on the martial arts forums around 1999, posing as Master Gatdula. He initially called this character “Kaliman”, and later began using “thekuntawman”. Now imagine a 14-year old boy, invisible, who thinks his older brother can defeat the world. You can imagine how those posts read. Guro first got involved when a poster on Bladeforums began to doubt that thekuntawman was actually a martial arts teacher.

Never mind that Guro really felt the way his younger brother expressed himself. When Master Gatdula began posting, you could see the respect he commanded from some of the other forum members, and the dislike he received from many others. Guro says that his membership to his school actually swelled because of the posts. Turns out, that many people liked what he had to say, regardless of how unpopular and uncommon his ideas were.

A man of many opinions, Guro has left many precious pearls in the archives of these forums, and I believe the following is testimony of that. First, he wanted to challenge the idea that a relatively inexperienced teacher should create his own style. Secondly, he wanted it known that 10 years of study in an art is not considered “experienced”. Lastly, he was attempting to teach (or share with) the others what he believes is required before branching out on ones own in the world of martial arts.

The thread is located on MartialTalk, and you can read the original post here:

creating your own technique

how long do you think it should be before somebody can make up his own technique, and then teach students? i am curious what people think. i have to go now, but i will post my opinion on that later….

most of the people today who make there own styles are talking just as ignorant as a beginner who is saying the same thing. when a guy does not have a lot of experience fighting freestyle, he does not know what he is talking about, he is guessing. any beginner can see a lot of techniques, then come up with other ways to do it. but this alone does not make you qualified to teach others to fight. also a little sparring success is not good enough because just being able to make something work is not the same as wisdom created by years of fighting and watching fights.

what to look out for is people who say “competition is not the street”. this is true, but you will have to do something closer than a competition. pre arrange techniques and drills is not more realistic than a free spar even if the sparring is light sparring. see putting down sparring and competition is how people who dont fight make excuse for no fighting. in my town i have a guy who owned a school who says his style is for the street not competition, and they dont even class spar, because its not realistic enough. my question to these kind of people: WHAT is realistic enough? do you fight in the street? oh, you do “simulate street senarios”. ==theory.

for someone to be a teacher, he has to have his own experiences. and his experience should be in testing his technique. not experience showing others in seminars and magazine articles. not experience practicig, but experience in some kind of sparring. now i am not saying become a flashy competition guy with fancy uniforms, i am saying you have to do years and years of fighting. in order to be a good teacher, one that is wise and experience, you have to have a whole career of fighting behind you. if you care about filipino traditon, this is how you become a manong. people saw you, some have had matches with you, so now they know what you can do and your not just talking, so now you earn the respect of people around you.

here in the US respect comes when you make videos, articles and seminars and advertisings. the same thing for a new style. how many people kiss ass of this krav maga, but they saw it. they only heard other people talk about it, and maybe they didnt even see it themself. in the philippines, the saying is “i make up my mind after i try him out”. earn your respect as a teacher. so what if the rest of the world didnt heard of you.

to make up your own style, you have to use the systems you are adding, and know that you can make it work against all kind of people. you have to know who it will work against, and who is not going to work against. i will say its safe to say you have to have about 150 matches or more to be a black belter (expert, not teaching) and then another 150 to be a teacher (sparring against other experts or advance players), and then promote at least 2 generations of experts to make your own style.

why did i say this? who took your new ideas and then tested them. i am sure you made changes, now those people should have a full learning career of this new idea. now then, you will have more faith in what you are teaching, not just talking. would you put your life in the hands of a guy who has not tested his life savings skills? woul d you train for a championship fight under a guy who never been in a ring, and never had a fighter as a pro?

martial artist today have lost respect for the martial arts. today you can put anything together, then hide behind “this is my truth” and “full contact fighting is not the street” and “i teach for life saving skills not sport”. well i got news for you. some of these sports athalete we put down, like mike tyson, gracies, maurice smith, these guys can destroy you like a girl because they have higher level of skill, conditionings, experience, pain tolerance, senisitivity, reflex, things you cannot “simulate” you have to develop. and these are people who are qualified to be followed.

oh yeah, i been training for 22 years in the philippine martial arts, as a black belter i have 9 years non stop of point fighting, 5 years of full contact and boxing, 3 years nonstop of stickfighting, and 9 years of teaching. today, i have two sparring partners for stickfighting with the hands, and they are both teachers. we dont wear gear, but we do use skinny sticks, and we do stick to stick, and empty hand to stick. and still i am to young to make my own style because i am still investigating. i compete once in a while to see how i am doing, plus its fun. if i stop just to create my own technique and dont evolved any more, i would cheat my people.

cacoy canete, in his seminars, he still spars, and he got more than 50 years in the art. at the end of his path, HE is qualified to make new styles because he has seen enough. but for some guy with less than 10 years, your kidding yourself.

making your own technique for yourself is fine, and if you want to show people your way thats fine to. but to teach people who might not make you technique work for himself, and call yourself teacher, that is wrong.

as a teacher you have to take anybody and make them into a decent fighter. you need to make a separate style for a fat guy who is slow, and one for a fat guy who is fast. then there is a passive person, then a hot head, then a lazy person who wants to learn, impatient people, arrogant people, atheltic ones, weak people, fast learners, slow learners. this is a skill you can learn from a tape book or seminar, and you cant just figure it on on your own in a few years. you have to know how different people fight, not just other arnisadors, or you guess what might happen. you learn other fighting styles so you can show some one how to do it, when they are different from you. you need to know how to bring out the strength in a guy, and courage in a cowards. there is more to being a arnis teacher than just knowing how to swing a stick and take one away. this is what i call “wisdom”.

While quite “lecturey” and at times scolding, the thread was pretty tame, compared to many others, which pretty much became flame wars. I call this “Classic” thekuntawman, because he gave some really good information, qualified it, even dropped some quite popular and respected names that he disagreed with! Unapologetic and unashamed to go against the grain, this gentleman is definitely in a class of his own.

Keep checking with us, and there is an abundance more!

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