The business of the FMA has helped the traditional teacher find a way to make a living and grow his art and school, but it has weakened each generation of students as the years go by. But all is not lost!
In the past two decades, the Filipino arts have become diluted and commercial. In fact, the trends have helped the FMA Guro disguise his weak art and appear to be one of tradition and authenticity. I believe that the new trend in the Filipino arts have led to a return to the old ways of doing things; despite that they think they have come up with something new. I recently read a blog (http://www.hertao.com/blog/category/filipino-martial-arts/) that had many good “innovations” in the way the martial arts should be approached. While I do not agree with everything he writes, I am glad to see that there are a community of martial artists who look at their arts critically and through the eyes of a fighter, not just as a Filipino martial artist. Had this gentleman simply gone to the source of Philippine arts, or the lesser-known teachers, he would have saved himself a lot of headache, wasted time and energy, and basically learned pure practical art instead of a bunch of fluff. I had long stated that the commercialism in the FMAs would lead to people thinking that REAL Filipino arts consisted of nothing but fancy drills, kenpo-like techniques, and lot of posturing and trash-talking. Philippine martial arts are not even considered fighting arts, except by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. This is why the only good fighters you see in the media representing Philippine art are repping Muay Thai, BJJ, or some other art for their real fighting.
Years ago, I sparred a seminar-trained FMA guy because of my mouth, and he thought he would shut me up. Guess what he used to try and get me? Very bad, poorly-skilled boxing. After I realized that although he had done some sparring–but had the skills of a green belt pee wee division fighter–I point fought him to demonstrate the differences in our levels of skill. All he could say after we were done was that I was “quick”. Poor guy didn’t even realize he was beaten by what he and others like him called a “game of tag”.
Back to our discussion, there is a small, but growing community of FMA fighters who are really fighting, and they are rejecting the usual okie-doke. I love it. But they will need this guidance: Learn how to turn your fighters into teachers, and your system will both grow and continue to produce future generations.
In the upcoming articles, I will outline the steps to helping your students get from good fighter to good teacher. There is a debate about whether you can be a good teacher without being a good fighter, and whether you can even be a poor fighter and still produce teachers. Just to save you guys the confusion (and since this ain’t some damned forum, it’s my stinking page), let me get right to the point on this one:
Emphatically, NO. If you can’t fight your way out of a paper bag, you will not be a good teacher. You MUST be a good fighter if you are ever to produce good students, and the only guys who think you can are butt-wipes in denial who are too closed-minded to admit that 1. they can’t fight, and 2. their students can’t fight.
So, there you have rule #1 for producing good FMA teachers. Teach those bastards how to fight. And if you are not confident enough to bet money on one of your Black Belt candidates against any man in the room, drop his status from “candidate” to “student” until you can. Trust me, slap a certificate on a guy with mediocre skills and you are setting him up for failure (or doomed to life as a seminar junkie who must surround himself with friends and certificates while arming himself with excuses not to fight). Put your guys against other fighters to get their own experiences and build their pre-promotion reputations. Train them hard, so that you know they’ll be equipped with good skill. Give them enough time to develop and prove to themselves that they know that they know what they’re doing. And finally, when you promote them, don’t insult them by creating levels of instructorship; either they know their shit or they don’t. They’ve come this far, they’ve paid their dues… don’t subjugate them by fluffing levels between them and you. Allow them to graduate from student to peer among teachers… not just a “junior teacher”. When you get a law degree and pass the bar, are you a lawyer? When you get an MD and pass the necessary exams, are you a Doctor? Sure, there are those who are better than others, but they are still experts, lawyers, doctors, etc. Just make sure when you bestow rank that they deserve it.
Next article, we will talk about how to teach your teachers how to teach. (whew!)
Thanks for visiting my blog. Until next time….