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

You Really Don’t WANT to Learn From a Master, Do You?

Edited response from a gentleman complaining that his trip to the Philippines was wasted, as the local masters he encountered there either watered down his training, or “played games” with their acceptance of him as a student.

 

If you don’t mind me saying, you really don’t WANT to learn from a Master, do you?

I am saying this, because there you were, in the presence of not just one, but three Masters and you approached them as if they had a product to sell and were desperate for your American dollars. You have to understand the mentality of many of these gentlemen if you are serious about becoming a student. I told you last year that you shouldn’t treat this as a business relationship, but instead act as if you were preparing to ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage. To tell you the truth, I agree, your trip was a waste of time and money. You probably would have had better luck offering him $100 to sleep with his daughter.

By now, you should see that there are three kind of Filipinos when it comes to the martial arts, the ones who have a product to sell and they don’t care who gets it, the ones who value what they have and would like to have loyal students to teach, and the ones who value their art as one values a family heirloom. A true Master in the art treats his art as a family heirloom. My friend, you blew your opportunity to learn a very valuable art, and I don’t even know the men you met. Or their arts.

The currency we use in the true art is your patience, loyalty, hard work and trust. We do not want to teach a guy and have him go on the internet offering home vidoes of us swinging sticks for $49.95. We do not learn our skills from lumps and bruises we earned ourself, to have some bozo run out and teach them to a roomful of strangers in a seminar. And even though you know the man’s daughter, you are still a stranger, and you must know your place. The art you want can only be bought with your patience, dedication and understanding. If he cannot trust you to do what he wants with the art, he’s not going to teach you, period.

For the guy who gave you his 5 strikes… SO WHAT??? You must realize that the strike is the backbone of a system. It is not something you memorize first day, “and now, let’s get to the real meat of the art”. This is an insult and very arrogant to say that you got nothing valuable. If you told me you bought a Arnis video and only learned the first 5 hits, then I would say that yes, you got nothing valuable. But do you agree with me that an opponent can be defeated with those 5 hits?  Then the issue is, what would that Master do with those 5 hits, that is different from your old teacher and his 5 hits? Should he just give you his secrets just because you handed him some compliments and cash? This is not how it works and I hope you know more about the Filipino Filipino arts.. but then, maybe you don’t.

What you should have done is practiced those 5 hits as if he gave you gold–because he did, it is the backbone of his system–and then returned to do whatever he had for you to do for as long as he wanted, and believe me, you would of learned more here and there. This is how training with a Master is done, not “line up and do what I do”. I recommend that you take whatever he taught you and do it thousands of times, but write him letters, send him a little cash (because all teachers need money) and then promise to give him all your time the next time you return to the Philippines. Maybe you will make it up to him for your rudeness, and yes… you were rude.

He was asking for one month. Do you know, in my school, if you cannot commit to training with me at least 6 months, I won’t accept you as a student? Because if a student is not that interested in learning from me, or he isn’t sure, I am not interested in him as a teacher. A month? That’s nothing! There is plenty of beer and Filipino women here in the US, don’t insult these Masters by passing them up for a good time. If a month is too long, how long do you plan to teach the art to your students?

So, let this be a lesson for you as a teacher also, my friend. You have to valuable the art you offer, more than money, more than the pride of having a nice big pretty school with lots of students. You must selfishly guard it because you don’t want the wrong people to have it like you don’t want the wrong guy to marry your daughters. Have skills for just anyone to learn who walks through your doors, but save certain skills for the students who have earned it. And understand that there are Masters out here whose knowledge is deep and useful and they aren’t offering to just any fool with a stick and some money (even foreign money). You will be glad you did!

Peace and Blessings

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2 Responses to “You Really Don’t WANT to Learn From a Master, Do You?”

  1. Wow, there is gold in your response here. I agree wholeheartedly.

    Many of us in the FMA (particularly the American traveling to the Philippines) are looking at things from the perspective of the student, but I appreciate your perspective as a teacher.

    I just called my teacher last night after having lost contact with him for years. I think it’s important that the student feel that the teacher/student relationship (particularly from the traditional point of view) is less a commercial transaction than a blood bond. Can you say “utang ng loob”?

  2. […] Student-Teacher Relationship in the FMA There is an interesting article at Filipino Fighting Secrets about an American who goes to the Philippines to learn the Filipino martial arts, but who […]


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