Liberate Yourself From Classical FMA, pt II

This one is a quickie. Hope you like it!


The main reason most people say they come to the Filipino Martial Arts is for practical fighting skills. But are you really getting that through your FMA? I don’t think so. On the surface, the way FMAs are practiced today are somewhat more practical than the more traditional, mainstream martial arts. But FMAs today have evolved to the point there are mainstream FMAs too! Let’s look at the characteristics of a mainstream martial art, and you tell me if the arts have become this way:

  • nothing unique, styles all seem to look the same. teachers do not stand out from one another
  • a high number of poorly skilled teachers and certified “experts”
  • “found on every corner”, a style so popular almost every city has a certified teacher
  • easy to get certification
  • teacher cannot name every black belter he promoted from memory
  • you can find the same style being taught in its entirety on video
  • the commercial version of these styles become the majority

Now let’s look at some mainstream martial arts!

  1. Tae Kwon Do
  2. Wing Chun
  3. Jeet Kune Do
  4. Kenpo
  5. BJJ
  6. MMA
  7. Krav Maga/the rest of the Israeli arts
  8. Ninjitsu
  9. CQC and the like
  10. Modern Arnis
  11. Doce Pares

Now this isn’t to say that there aren’t good fighters representing these styles. Of course, every style has members at the top of the food chain. But they certainly fit into the above defintion. When you are not nearly guaranteed a well-skilled fighter each time you walk in a dojo, I’d have to say that style has become mainstream. The cause of this phenomenon is that a good style and its Master can become so popular and demand so high, that everyone flocks to it and the teacher and his organization is not disciplined enough to keep up with the influx, or to turn unworthy students away.

I had a similar experience when I was in my mid-20s. I was just starting to get out on to the Lumpia Circuit, the FMA circuit, and had invitations to teach seminars. My first seminar was in Sterling, VA, at a Tae Kwon Do school run by a Vietnamese friend (whose name I’ve forgotten). In exchange for me teaching him to spar (he was an Arnis teacher already, but didn’t know how to fight), he set up these seminars and let me keep 100% of the fees collected. After only a few, he started bugging me about issuing certificates, and one day just made some and asked me to sign them. I never returned to that school again until years later, for a scrimmage, but I never taught for him again. I had a similar experience with almost every “seminar” I’ve ever taught.

So, what can you do when you are in a mainstream art? You are in a commercial FMA, and you want to break the mold? I have been asked this privately by many forum members who never speak up out of face, and I can understand. Here is my advice how:

  1. learn how to attack. most FMA styles only focus on defense and countering, and this is not learning how to beat people up. if you want to learn to impress people, stick with the defense, but it isnt much good for fighting. you will need to change your method of training to something more combative, not just to do what the heck everyone else is doing
  2. develop a practical striking system and think about what damage you are actually capable of inflicting on an opponent. for example, a modern arnis strike #5 to the top of the head? you must be kidding! this is the hardest part of the body to injure and you want to strike it with a stick! LOL! change the target to the collarbone, everytime you practice, and you’re doing practical Arnis for fighting.
  3. don’t teach beginners disarms. these guys are learning to try and take a stick and their forearms are too slender to generate any striking power! beginners should be focusing on building a foundation, not learning neat stuff to show the guys at work. one thing at a time, teach them to move their feet, build their strength and power, teach them to hit, and how to evade. once they have the skills to spar and the physical ability to inflict damage, then we can start learning to do all that fancy shmancy stuff!
  4. work bodyweight conditioning into your training. i am not talking about weight lifting, i am talking about developing strength. see arnisadors and eskrimadors are some of the weakest, poor fighters I know. they like to talk tough, get tatoos and body build, and look the part, but most of the people doing all the fighting are the young, little skinny guys. yeah there are a select few who really get out there and bang, but most are really afraid. if you develop your destructive power and your body, this will help build your courage to really do something. your workouts are too soft; too much stick tapping, too much dancing around a triangle, too much concept (well if you strike me here, i can… do this… or i can do that…)
  5. spar. yes the tournaments have a lot of flailing going on, but that’s what you’re seeing on the surface. once you get involved you’ll see that there is a science to what they are doing, and its much more difficult than it looks, and its much more combative than you realize
  6. and speaking of tournaments, STOP MAKING EXCUSES ABOUT WHY TOURNAMENTS ARE BAD!!! all you do when you blurt those excuses… yes, excuses, is showing how scared you are of fighting. of course it’s similated, Herman, all fighting is simulated. if you’re agreeing to fight, neither of you is trying to kill the other, there are rules, and people will stop you if one gets a bad injury, you’re in a simulated fight. MMA is simulated. full contact stickfighting is simulated. your argument is weak, and shows your cowardly side. if you want fighting skill, you need to (simulate) fight.  i supposed sparring is bad, so the better thing to do is drills? you’re kidding
  7. the next time you are tempted to do a seminar in another style you think is cool, fight with some folks from that style. if you don’t do well, find a weakness and a way to beat them with the knowledge you have. if you really believe there aren’t superior styles out there, just superior fighters, prove it. make yourself superior. adding more techniques to your arsenal won’t help you beat them, increasing your skill will. the worst fighters i know, have resume’s long as a convict rap sheet. too much adding salt, sugar, betchin, bay leaf, not enough simmering…

Well, there you have it. There is more to it, but I need to send this off and get to bed. Ramadan is coming in tomorrow! All praises to God!

Thank you for reading my blog, and please! Leave comments!

Author: thekuntawman

full time martial arts teacher, full time martial arts philosopher, and full time martial arts critic

5 thoughts on “Liberate Yourself From Classical FMA, pt II”

  1. Wow, a great read. Enjoyed it and agree with everything presented. It’s sure to get a lot of folks looking at their training plans.

    On to find part I. Is there a part III?

  2. I trained Modern Arnis for over a year. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a sports martial art. Modern Arnis doesn’t seem to be set up for learning how to fight. Or, there doesn’t seem to be a big hurry to get students combat ready. It’s touted to be a combat martial art. There is the warriors bow, and training blades racked on the wall, but nothing you can use against violence. I think a place that advertises self defence, should be about teaching things that work instead of this sloppy Wing Chung. Some of us want to learn real combat for righteous reasons, and don’t have time to sift through the deception. It’s like buying a fake Prada handbag.

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