Everyone, I just happened to read an article written by Master Gatdula 10 years ago. It is on his first website, created by his brother, who was 12 at the time the site was created.
Very powerful stuff.
I would just send you to the website, but I think it needs to have a home right here on his blog. Enjoy!
Words of Wisdom
The fighting arts of the Philippines have a pattern of development unlike any other: even different from other similar arts such as Silat and Vovinam (Southeast Asian arts). While all martial arts claim to have combat superiority and proven theories, very few have the history to support them. Fighting strategies change over time, and with these changes, the arts must adapt. As the arts adapt, so should the practitioner. A perfect example is the progression of Jeet Kune Do and its instructors. Various instructors, such as Lamar Davis and the “Original” clan (the early stages) represent each “era” or phase of development of the Jeet Kune Do movement. These men serve as snapshots of what Bruce Lee was teaching during the time they studied with Lee, and do little else besides those things he taught. By contrast, Dan Inosanto, who is considered by many to be his successor, has evolved his art into a completely different style than what Lee taught during his lifetime. Inosanto, however, insists that he is keeping to Bruce Lee’s “tradition” by breaking the mold Lee created; thus, breaking this “tradition” at the same time. While our teaching and fighting philosophies are quite unlike Mr. Inosanto’s, we consider him to have “kept up with the times”, while the others have not.
What makes the Philippine arts unique is the emphasis of combat over dueling. We consider the duel to be sport-oriented, and makes for an unnecessarily long and ineffective fight. The duel emphasizes blocking, disarming, and give-and-take (self-defense). Combat emphasizes the attack and replaces blocking with counterattacking. Both styles are good and complement each other, yet each has its place. Almost every style has elements of both, but the end result is what determines whether an art is for combat or self-defense. Whether your desire is to be effective and efficient in a life-or-death fight or win a full contact match, the focus of your training and the desired end result should be in pursuit of those goals. These are noble ideas, yet those who teach the art have such little faith in their craft that they treat the art as a supplement. If the Philippine fighting arts are to rise to the same level of respect as karate, kung fu, tae kwon do, and other mainstream arts, we must realize our niche and capitalize on it. The deadly arts of Arnis and Eskrima have always been weapons any fighting man could use on the street. However, with the popularity of learning by seminar and video, those fighting styles have become simplified and diluted with endless give-and-take drills, long prearranged combinations, and katas. The many hours of perfecting thrusts and slashes and evading are now unheard of in today’s eskrima lesson. Instructors must find ways to entertain their students by adding fillers and “fun” drills. The training of old is no longer worth a student’s loyalty nor his tuition. Historically, the Pilipinos who created these arts designed the art to kill. Yet today, many of the instructors are satisfied with having their students spend a majority of their time practicing forms and performing tap-tap drills. Instructors find ways to entertain their students by adding fillers and “fun” drills. Our art is not an art to be demonstrated like a sideshow or ballet routine. It is not a form of entertainment to be viewed on video. We should not teach our classes as if we would lose them if they got bored! The truth is, the Philippine arts are not as attractive as our more popular counterparts. We can only make them so by weakening them with other styles. Arnis, Eskrima, Silat and Kuntaw are combat arts. Those who cannot appreciate them for what they are should pursue another style. When the world realizes the effectiveness and utility of the Philippine arts of combat, the arts may take their place among the popular arts in its own category. Stop trying to make the Philippine arts what they are not!
One way we elevate the Philippine arts is to live what we preach. Many instructors claim street effectiveness/combat effectiveness, etc., yet these same instructors do not prove themselves in combat. Only in the martial arts can one be recognized as an “expert” of his craft and no has seen him utilize what he professes to excel in! Yes, it is true that the street is not the same as the competition, and a tournament fighter does not necessarily mean on is effective in real combat Does this mean that a swimmer in a pool cannot swim in the ocean? Must a sharpshooter participate in a live firefight to be a good shot? The argument that the competition floor is not the street is nothing more than cowardly excuses not to fight. These men will not participate in a fight, with protection or otherwise, and this is not how an art gets attention. The world knows a boxer can use his hands. We know that wrestlers can tie a man into knots. But what does the world know about the Philippine fighting arts? That we fight in “all ranges of combat”? Please! Put your money where your mouth is, and people will believe what you say. Simply put, the Philippine fighting arts does not have enough credible and believable representatives. If you say that your style does empty hand, put him into competition with Kenpo and Tae Kwon Do, and prove it. But don’t do your student the injustice of allowing him to hide behind excuses and cliches. A true grappling art should be able to stop a Jujitsu man from subduing the practitioner. Is there anyone trained in “dumug” willing to step forward and prove this? Or is “dumug” only worthy of 15 minutes of seminar time or the same few techniques shown on three different tapes? Why is Maurice Gatdula so critical of the Philippine fighting arts representatives? Because he wants to piss you off and prove him wrong. Brothers, we talk too much garbage! Let the world see what we have to offer! For those instructors who disagree, or agree if you do not have much fight experience yourself, the experience your fighters will have (and coaching them through it) will teach you how to mold the next generation of students.
Perhaps the most important aspect of spreading our fighting arts is the student. Regardless of how good (or bad) of a fighter the teacher is, he should be able to develop in the fighter what that teacher considers the perfect weapon. If he does not make fighters who can defend his style’s reputation, he is not worthy of carrying on that style’s name. Forget “skill”, the word of the day is “proof”! We develop good fighters by making them highly conditioned and giving our fighters plenty of fighting experience. They should be encouraged to participate in competitions of all types—point karate, stick-fighting, etc. The more opponents a fighter has faced in his lifetime, the better prepared he will be when his life depends on it. Fail to give him opportunities to test his skills, and you’ve failed as a teacher. Arrange in-school competitions with other schools. Take students to competitions. One of the fundamental mistakes fighters have is a weak attack. Their basics have been practiced for years slowly and with no power—even with stick to stick. Kicks and punches may have been performed against focus mitts, but in drill fashion, not in an aggressive, all-out style. Many fighters fail simply because they have not had an opportunity to throw their techniques in the same way they would on a real opponent. Give them plenty of practice attacking, and your fighter will be prepared when he needs those skills for real. Aside from sparring, your students should get plenty of repetitions of the techniques he knows in the Philippine fighting arts at full speed and full power. Their training should focus of developing highly conditioned athletes and giving your fighters plenty of fighting experience. They should be encouraged to participate in competitions of all types—point karate, stick-fighting, etc. The more opponents a fighter has faced in his lifetime, the better prepared he will be when his life depends on it. Fail to give him opportunities to test his skills, and you’ve failed as a teacher. Arrange in-school competitions with other schools. Take students to competitions. Hold classroom sparring each class. Build your fighter; don’t just teach him. And keep him strong and active in the community, and never forget your mission of representing all that created you.
Hopefully, you haven’t been offended by what we have to say. However, there is a reason we do not see successful schools that teach only the Philippine fighting arts. Even those carrying the torch treat the arts as supplements. The result is a generation of would-be Philippine martial arts experts who choose another art to specialize in, but studies the Philippine styles part time and become a videotape/seminar expert. Our once-picky instructors are now selling to the highest bidder. Real, slow-bred experts are beginning to feel that there is no market for authentic Philippine martial arts in America. American attitude towards the art reflects one of arrogance, as if the art alone does not suffice. The Gatdula’s Fighting Cobras mission is to change the public’s perception of the Philippine fighting arts, and the perception of those who train in the art.