“Secrets” of the Filipino Fighting Arts
Words from a Modern-Day Warrior

Liberate Yourself from Classical FMA, pt V

This is the next-to-last installment of the “Liberate Yourself…” series. We hope it was helpful to you by giving you something to think about concerning your personal martial arts journey!

Make Enemies

Just kidding. But the FMA fighter is just too darned friendly. Yes, I know… Filipinos are some of the nicest, most hospitable people on the planet. However, that depends on what capacity the “visitors” are. See, if you ask guys like Pigafetta, Colonel Nakayama (the Japanese officer who led the invasion of the Philippines), and Magellan, they will tell you that the Filipino was not all that hospitable. In line with the saying, that a true warrior is to have the smile that attracts children, but a strength that makes warriors tremble, Filipinos have some of the unfriendliest ways of dealing with enemies… and as a Philippine martial artist you should learn to embrace this principle.

In other words, stop being so danged cheery and complimenting! This weekend I met an Eskrimador who told me his art was from Hawaii, and passed down through several generations, and he had a unique method of Dumog, “Panatuken” (and yes, he was Filipino), blah blah blah… STOP. See, many FMA people would let this guy go on with his story, making a donkey of himself because he obviously didn’t know who he was talking to… After a quick history lesson about who thekuntawman is, and some basic truths of the Philippine martial arts, we got into the meat of FMA discussion:  application and practicality of the arts. Basically, the young man in my school was a drill master who collected videos, Youtube clips, attended seminars and learned from seminar-trained teachers. We never got around to really “discussing” his arts effectiveness, because once I blew his story out the water, he realized that he needed to come correct with me.

Again, I am not advocating being a jerk to other martial artists. But the FMA guy has too many friends, smiles too much, and has too many people agreeing with him and accepting his art without a challenge.

There we go with that word–“challenge”–again.

Yes, the martial artist cannot grow if he does not hear the words, “show me” enough. The reason I am a harder martial artist than most of you is that I do not have many friends, my ideas are not commonplace, and enough people disagree with me that I’ve had more than my share of people try to kick my ass. Those of you who have never had this kind of thing happen to you (or never accepted when it does happen) are too soft to defend your arts when the situation calls for it. Let alone, if you ever had to defend yourself. Like the tennis player who mingles but never stands on the opposite end of a court from another player, you will never really hone your skills if you don’t have someone trying to beat you. The problem with having too many friends is that your ideas are accepted by everyone, and the main point of the martial arts is to PROVE your point. How can you do this when everyone is in agreement?

Sorry, but this ain’t church. We as martial artists need opponents in order to practice our craft. Just like politicians need opponents to be good campaigners, countries need wars to build pride and patriotism, football teams need a good rival to sell tickets, the martial artist needs to have others who doubt that my way is the best. Otherwise, I end up just being a guy who thinks my art is effective and will never get the chance to know that my art is effective. If I never know how effective my art is, I will end up finding out that it is not very effective.

Stop Learning!

At what point do you stop studying and start fine-tuning? At what point do you stop putting away nuts and berries and start enjoying them? Has anyone ever met a true “perpetual student”? These are little old men and women, who live off of financial aid and scholarships and other handouts, who are well into their 60s that have never had jobs, but good Lord, they have about 10 college degrees! They can recite and quote, but don’t know enough to wipe their own bottoms. There are many martial artists–especially FILIPINO martial arts–that are still looking for that special technique or art that will make them unbeatable in combat. They have 15 Black Belts, 20 certifications, they can put on impressive demonstrations of ways to take away a stick or a knife, but they can’t fight their way out of a paper bag. Poor souls!

The martial artist must have a way of testing what they know and then refining what they know. Not adding to it: I said refining. It is possible to know too much but can’t do anything. Like many of our cross-training martial arts brothers, they do everything under the Sun, but they don’t do anything well. The introduction to the seminar to the Filipino martial arts community was the thing that killed our arts before they even got started in the West; quick and easy way to study an art without dedication or hard work. And spare me the story about how hard you train… NO ONE works hard in these seminars.

But at some point, you must settle on what you know and begin to develop that knowledge into skills. You cannot do this while attending more and more seminars, watching and purchasing more and more videos. More time should be spent training your skills to develop higher profiency (speed, power, accuracy and timing) and more time sparring to learn how to apply these skills.  Classical FMA tells us that if you learned it, you know it, and that simply isn’t true. In fact, you don’t “know” it unless you can “execute” it. And my FMA learning tells me, you ain’t “executing” unless you have someone trying to stop you.

So this brings me back to the point about too many friends. Martial artists are complimenting each other on skills that they really haven’t seen or felt. They vouch for each other, they shake hands and go home thinking of themselves as warriors in a world where opponents do not exist–only training partners. I’m sorry, but in the world of martial arts, we have enemies and they don’t like you, they think your skills suck, and they can’t wait for an opportunity to take advantage of you and make you their girlfriend. If you disagree with me and think your way is better, prove it, Big Boy.

Thank you for reading my blog, and look out for the last installment of this series (coming soon!)

Btw, my book, Mustafa Gatdula’s How to Build a Dominant Fighter in 12 Months, is halfway done and will be released shortly. The book will sell for $29.95, but you can pre-order (please visit my Offerings page) by sending $19.95 to the address listed (no checks please). You will be the first to receive a copy, and receive a $10 discount on the book! Our projected date is December 2009…  Mabuhay!

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4 Responses to “Liberate Yourself from Classical FMA, pt V”

  1. Hello Guro, enjoyed this article. We discussed this last time I saw you. Good to see it on paper, if you will. And I agree totally.

  2. My Kali-Silat (yes, I know you hate the term Kali lol) only taught me single stick and single knife. Even if double weapons and sinawali patterns were originally taught, what pragmatic use are they today? Even in Southeast Asia, they have large cities. Carrying or learning double weapons is impractical in such environments. Commercialism and marketing is ruining many martial arts. Many martial artists are living in fantasy land teaching complicated drills and techniques that have little if any value. People want to look and feel cool doing sinwali patterns and so forth. I believe such people need to take up acting lessons to play parts in movies not learning martial arts for self defense. To be very honest, I thought the system I learned was incomplete. I too wanted to learn sinawali, double weapons, complicated drills, and complex techniques. It was after several years of research that I realized what I learned is pragmatic, modern, and void of commercialism. Many FMA and other martial arts are too complex to be used for self defense purposes. It is time to return the arts to being simple and pragmatic to use for self defense purposes. Great article!!!!

    • thank you. and i really dont hate the word Kali, i just dont like the false history that is attach with it. when people try and say it’s different from eskrima or older or whatever.

      but many of the people who come to this place you and i are in concerned with the double stick, went through the same process you did. we challenge our learning, and believe what we read, we look around, and then we end up back where our teachers had us. i have the most respect for this process, not just in the martial arts, but also in other things like politics and religion. you have what you believe because of your search for truth, and nothing else. thank you for the comment!

  3. Very good article and I share the same sentiments . Application of techniques regardless of system is critical. You will never know if what you train in will work unless you try it with a resisting opponent . And contact sparring is essential to test your techniques .


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