I received a few videos almost 15 years ago from an old student whose name I have since forgotten. After joining my school, he swore off learning by video and gave me his video collection as proof of it. I have 4 videos produced by Greg Alland, who owns KaliSilat.org. This video is listed as “Tape P” (told you it was a long time ago), and in its description, names Grandmaster Jose Reyes, Master Archie Roxas, and Guro Sean Anderson starring in the video. I did not see it advertised years ago, but on the website, the DVD is offered as an “advanced study” of Sinawali.
Let’s get right to business and just say that the tape is garbage, and very disappointing. I know Greg Alland personally, and like him very much. He is a skilled martial arts Master, and in my opinion, one of the best out there–foreigner or Filipino–that I have met. I don’t doubt that one would learn a wealth of knowledge from him, but this tape was disappointing to say the least. Save your money.
GM Reyes may be a knowledgeable teacher, but one wouldn’t know it from the video. The tape starts out with a close up of GM Reyes talking about the usual “I use to kill Japanese in WWII” stuff many of the old men use to say. My Lolo was one of them. But one difference, was that he rarely talked about it, but carried the bullet holes and scars of one who had really been in battle. After hearing his stories, I am very sensitive about old Pinoys who throw this around as if it spelled instant credibility. Especially for Eskrimadors and Arnisadors, military has little to do with actual knowledge and skill in hand-to-hand, man-to-man combat. Even my Grandfather admitted that he used a gun more than his hands.
And please don’t get me started on the whole “death match” thing.
So, anyway, the tape goes to a silent clip of the GM swinging his sticks and then a knife around. He seems to know something about Arnis from what he’s doing, but as one who has had lots of contact with old Masters, I am not easily impressed. And this time, I am clearly not. There is a certain level of skill that follows you into old age, and when you’re in the presence of a master, you will sense it. The way he’s moving (please don’t beat me up, I know he’s old), I wouldn’t think he knew much more than basic Arnis.
By the way, he’s wearing street clothes, with a red sash wrapped around his waist. You ever see them put a top hat on a monkey chained to a music box? Doing so does not make him a trained show animal, he is still just a monkey in a top hat. And a sash on an old man, with sticks in his hands, do not make one a master–he’s just an old man swinging around sticks. And being an old man does not make one a Grandmaster either.
Then, they go to “Master Archie Roxas”, swinging his sticks around performing “sinawali”. There is no secret that I am not a fan of Sinawali, but even I can recognize when a guy has practiced doing his art for a long time. This “Master” was just some young Filipino guy who knew a few ways to swing his sticks around, and got recorded on video doing his thing; he ain’t no Master either. I am not going to waste my time describing what he was doing other than to tell you, he was just swinging his sticks around. It was embarassing and silly to look at.
The only good thing that happens in the tape is that Greg appears, to save the show by demonstrating some generic “applications” for the Sinawali we just saw. It looked more like he was teaching MASTER Archie than anything else. At one point, Greg even says, “I was trained by Pekiti Tirsia, but we aren’t going to talk about that…” and trying to give GM Reyes’ Arnis Pangasinan some respect.
Finally, there are some clips of “sparring”: a very weak demo of someone in sparring gear and GM Reyes, and then between Greg, and I’m not sure who the opponent is–that was not very educational, but somewhat decent. I actually saw some skill in using those two sticks (I still don’t like Sinawali), but to say that this was “advanced Sinawali”, requiring prerequisite tapes and all… Come on, Greg!
If you’d like to purchase the DVDs, you can get them from KaliSilat.org and all videos are $29.95. Greg offers a money-back guarantee on his videos. I have a good friend who just happened to stop by my school when Greg was visiting, and complained about the video he purchased, and Greg refunded him despite that some years had passed since he purchased the video. So I can personally attest that he will honor his word. There is a special too: All 18 videos for $249.95
I would like to add that although I did not like this tape (in fact, I think it was just thrown in the series to show respect to a Guro who was hospitable to Greg on one of his trips to the Philippines), KaliSilat does have some pretty good videos. Over the years I have seen a few, and saw some good information taught. I will review the other 3 soon, and then see about reviewing the other DVDs.
Thank you for visiting my blog, and there are plenty more reviews to come!