Words of Wisdom! (Taken from old GFC website)

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.

How to Train Your Students


My primary role as instructor and leader of the Gatdula’s Fighting Cobras clan (now called Typhoon Philippine School of Martial Arts) is to develop the most effective, efficient and experienced fighters possible. Regardless of the type of student I accept—whether he is a meek and educated man, or a physical fitness-minded, aggressive jock—the end result must be the same: a strong man confident to face anyone and capable of defending himself against anyone. As a Guro, I should not hesitate to act nor should I have to guess the skill level of any visitor or challenger before I allow any of my students to fight a match with him. If I do not have full confidence in any student who has trained with me at least a year, it cannot be his fault, but mine, as I have failed him as a fighting arts instructor. To accomplish this lofty goal, I must focus his training to develop the highest level of skill and physical ability as quickly as possible, as effectively as possible, as efficiently as possible. With more than 20 years of teaching experience, and as many as 500 students, perhaps I can help you and your students benefit from using my training method as a model for teaching.

Effective Technique vs. Variety
GFC fighters must be patient, diligent, and dedicated. Technique is taught slowly, as it must be mastered before more is taught. Just as the average street thug has a limited but reliable number of tactics, your fighters must rely on the few tools he knows will work when he needs it. Therefore, giving him more than he can chew and digest will actually slow his progress. He must, like the streetfighter, be limited to only those things he knows will work in the fight. A street fight is the wrong place to experiment with new material; mistakes can have permanent results. When my students are given skill-building tools that later translate to fighting technique (for example: bobbing and weaving) I do not emphasize the fighting application nor do I allow them to experiment with it until they are skilled enough to develop good use of the technique. Before then, he is limited to perfecting the few techniques he knows until he is ready to add on to his arsenal. After all, he may have to utilize his skills that night after training, and I want his mind focused on those things he is best at for this “show”. Of course, this training is not good for the over-anxious and impatient; that is why we do not accept and keep all who inquire about my Kuntaw lessons. My style is not suitable for everyone, and not every is suitable to learn from me.

In order for the slow-teaching approach to have the same success, you should emphasize the training over the learning process. A fighter can learn as many as 100 techniques in one day from a video, but effective fighters may only develop 10 to 20 in six months! How we get our students to maintain their interest in the training is to give “killer” workouts where the fighters strive to increase power, maximize speed and improve accuracy and timing. They gauge their progress by fighting matches; thus, keeping in mind that they are training to FIGHT, not to learn drills or hundreds of new techniques or complete curriculum requirements to acquire the next rank. The only thing that stands in his way is the amount of dedication, intensity and session time he devotes to his training. Mindset is everything between a roomful of ringmasters and roomful of ring fighters.

Efficiency and Effectiveness
If you trained a boy and then had to visit him in the hospital, would you feel guilty? Most likely, on your drive there, you might worry that your training was not sufficient preparation for a near brush with death. His mother’s worried voice on the phone may have created doubt in your teaching abilities—even in the material you taught him—and made you want to stop teaching. Perhaps you would worry that you were an inferior teacher.

I had such an experience years ago in Baltimore, with a young man named Hector, who was slashed on the hand and stabbed in the thigh. However, he injured his two opponents, one of whom was taken to the same hospital. I did not find this out until I arrived, but this experience would have made me close my school in shame if I discovered that I had failed him.

As a fighting instructor, you should simplify your teaching curriculum—especially for beginners—so that your students are developing the most simple and destructive skills. More complex techniques are fine, but only after he has proven that he has acquired an arsenal he can rely on should the new ones fail. I use a maximum of 20 techniques in a six-month period, with a limit of six skills trained during a one-hour workout. Often, GFC/GFE fighters may only train two or three numbered strikes in one class—individually, in sequence, and in combination. By the end of the class, they may have executed over 1,000 hits; they have blistered palms and fingers, and can’t move their wrist. Yet, when the pain goes away their power and speed have increased, and their knowledge and confidence in those three hits have improved. In one class, they have seen an improvement in skill level, where they would have seen none if I had trained 10 to 15 different techniques that day (many people train for years and increase knowledge while skill level stays the same). When you send your students home, you should know they are at least stronger than the average man on the street. When he is fast, stronger and more skilled than the next man, the fight lasts shorter; his chances of being the one to walk away increases—thanks to you.

I was once told by a fellow Arnisador that all he could do is teach the art to his students. Their toughness and will to fight must come from within, and he could not control the student’s level of actual fighting experience. I pity this man and his students, as his teacher failed him, and he will fail his students. First, the difference between a Guro who builds his fighters and one who sells rank and knowledge is in the ability of their students. A teacher who is selling knowledge merely passes on movements and uses logic, theory and soft application to explain the moves. When he graduates his students, he only knows if the student can regurgitate the information he learned, and is convincing only by staging a demonstration with a cooperative assistant. However, the teacher who builds his fighters tests them regularly by witnessing their performance in matches. This teacher can correctly predict the outcome of his fighter’s match with any size, style and skill level of opponent—with any technique or power level restricted, or any other controlled or real situation. Although he has not seen his student in a real fight on the street, he should know if his fighter would choke with fear, if he can take a punch or if he is confident enough to talk his way out of the fight. When a teacher does not give his student enough chances to test his ability and his courage, he is allowing this student to lack confidence or develop false confidence in skills he is not sure if he has.

A teacher who develops his fighter will find suitable opponents for his student through competitions, matches with neighboring schools or clubs, or within his own school’s walls. By the time that student graduates, he should have far more tricks up his sleeve. Even if his experience was not on the street, he has a technique the streetfighter has not seen and will be stronger and more aggressive than the streetfighter expects; and this will give him a great advantage over his opponent. The fighter should have confidence because he has seen many situations and should know what level of effectiveness he possesses.

In my Instructor workshops, I tell my fellow Guro that his job is as important as a doctor, if not more important than a doctor. The product he provides may save his student’s life… or someone else’s life. By contrast, a doctor’s treatment of his patient does not affect the family and friends, while martial arts training can be passed on to others, or used to protect them. When your students train, train them. Keep in mind the combative applications of everything they do. Make sure they master it, and then make sure you test their ability. Most importantly, don’t be a hypocrite. Award them the prestige of advanced rank only when you are confident enough to bet your own life on them, since that is what you ask them to do when you graduate them. When you train your students, rather than simply teach them, you are not only passing on information, you are passing on skill.