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

The Preacher Parable

Two preachers. Same amount of education. Both have equally sized flocks.

Preacher #1:  Preaches from his Holy Book. Tells his congregation the best truth he knows. Advises his flock to avoid the sinners, denounce the sinners, and to keep their families as far away from sinners as they can. He reads them all the passages he can find and explains it as best he could, in case some don’t “get it”. He runs a tight-knit community, and they rarely encounter members of other faiths. But when they do, he is sure to detract from anything the others might say that would destroy or otherwise undermine their belief. He basically ridicules anyone astray from God’s path, and ensures that all of his followers know how to counter arguments that those “other” so-called believers may present or believe in. They know every part of the book, especially the part about the shephard.

Preacher #2:  Preaches from his Holy Book. But rather than merely present passages to his congregation, he shows them where it is and instructs them to read, interpret and apply it themselves. Warns them of the dangers of becoming too close to sinners and adopting their ways, yet he tells them not to avoid them completely, as many a strong believer was once a sinner–and many of the converts make powerful soldiers for God.  Although he guides his flock through life and belief, he encourages them to find their way through the world and see what is out there for themselves. They often encounter members of other faiths, as his way is less popular and the majority believes there is something wrong with him and their congregation because they are the minority. Not only do they not avoid others, they welcome them as well as the opportunity to compare ideas. They are constantly bombarded with opposition, yet their faith is strong as is their argument–they’ve been there many, many times. Not only do they know the part about the shepard, they know the shepard…

Which type of Guro are you?  Which type of Arnisador/Eskrimador/Kalisto are you?

They say that a Muslim (Christian, Jew, whatever) who is kept in the house 24/7 and remains faithful to his religion is only half of the believer that a man who enounters the world and all that is in it–sin, lust, greed, pride, wrath, envy, gluttony, sloth–and still remains faithful.  Everyone has a way, and until your way has been challenged/tested/doubted… your way is nothing but an idea. If you are so wrapped up in thinking that your way is the only way that will work for you, and all skepticism offends you, then I wouldn’t say you know enough about your area of “expertise” to call yourself an “expert” on that subject.

You see, the greatest thinkers and philosophers have always welcomed a good debate. They can argue with the best of them, with all the passion of two preachers on opposite sides of the matter, and armed just as well as anyone else. But it is the man who is unsure of himself who can’t stand to hear dissention and doubt; he fears being asked to prove his case or at least support it in the face of contention. Basically, a martial artists who doesn’t welcome doubt and inquiries about the validity of his style can never elevate his understanding and skill in the art.

And when you are the type of teacher who shies away from challengers and confrontation, you will never know if your style is valid. For martial arts styles need opponents in order to be proven and forged. Teachers need to have someone in their face saying that “your style is not convincing”. Make it convincing. If this is you, I can assure you that all your students will be good at doing is the same thing you do:  Talk big, and carry a small stick.

Encourage your students to get out and try their hand at combat. So what, that isn’t life or death combat? You know damned well you have never killed a man with your bare hands, don’t try to stop your guys from going out there and do it!  Let them take a butt-whipping every once in a while! It will make them tough!

And finally–please heed this advice–understand that there are many roads to every destination. Your way may be one way, and it may be the long way… or the wrong way. Send your boys out to find their own paths. After they have developed a foundation, that is; but don’t slap a “Guro” sticker on them until they have spent a few years knuckling up with fellows you don’t know. Don’t fear putting them out there. It would be like allowing your 10 year old to move out when he’s 11… no. Allowing your 20 year old to move out, when he’s only seen what a 10-year old has seen. Teach your guys to stand alone and prove their point to all comers.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Please invite others over to share what you’ve picked up from me!

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4 Responses to “The Preacher Parable”

  1. Definitely words to live by for those who choose to call themselves martial artists or warriors, particularly those who claim do propogate Filipino arts. Another amazing blog post. I can honestly tell you that your words have definitely inspired me on my own path towards finding what I really know, and I hope one day to properly call myself a martial artist, and not just a martial cultist.

  2. thank you federico. people think i am bragging to showing off with this blog, but i am really just looking to share information and get interest for my school. thats it. but you know the insecure people get all offended by it or angry. its the natural thing for people when they dont have a good answer to come back with.

  3. Preacher #1 lends itself to a cult-like following. People seal themselves into their own small group, and the stories grow because they’re never challenged by the outside world.

    I had one teacher like that, who was extremely critical of all other styles and even thinking of learning or exploring another art was regarded as a betrayal.

    I just said in my post “Be Open, ” how important it is to be willing to learn from other persons and styles.

  4. so true. not just for martial arts senseis, but for anyone who teaches and leads.


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