Locally, I think I am a well-liked teacher. Globally, I’m pretty much disliked. I accept that. And I’m actually pretty proud of it myself.
See, the people who know me personally, have exchanged ideas in person with me, sparred with me, trained with me–even feuded with me–have the right to dislike and disagree with me. But these are not men to talk behind my back like women, they are more likely to say to my face: Mustafa what you said/did was bullshit. It’s happened a few times. The people who know me only from Defend.net posts don’t like me because I don’t spell well, or my grammar is off, even because I’m a Muslim…
Let me inteject something. Have you noticed, that these people take a lot of pride in the fact that their art is supposedly from the Muslim-dominated part of the Philippines, and they are calling their art by a supposedly “Muslim” term (which it’s actually HINDU), but they usually don’t LIKE MUSLIMS? Ditto that to the whole Filipino pride thing too! They love the Philippine martial arts, just don’t be a Filipino who has too much Filipino pride. They have no interest in visiting the Philippines, eating Filipino food, or respecting Filipino culture, but they love to marry our women and practice our arts… even butcher our language! Shaking my head…
Anyway, too many people know only the surface stuff. They don’t like my bluntness, as if free speech only applies to natural-born Americans. They don’t want the popular way questioned. I remember, less than 10 years ago, American FMA people trying to tell me “Kali” was a Filipino word. When I assured them it wasn’t, they told me it was another dialect. Funny, no one could ever recall that dialect…
And there, we end up with the topic of this post. You see, while people read Inosanto’s book on the FMAs, and read about the art and secret techniques that were supposedly practiced in the Philippine jungles–we had Filipinos who tried their best to corroborate that story. Hell, some even dressed up in Moro clothing and tried to convince tourists that they held the secret arts Guro Inosanto wrote about! And when I attempted to bring that to light… thekuntawman got his bad reputation.
Remember the “learn karate in 10 easy lessons” that was going around in the 70s? Well, the FMAs certainly lived up to that stuff, didn’t they? And driving the bus was the “Professor”, Remy Presas. In the back selling tapes and Bruce Lee tee shirts was Dan Inosanto. And on the Rabbit Bus in the Philippines was Leo Gaje, promising to sacrifice chickens on your behalf if you’d bring some of that interest to the Philippines! And then there was the quasi military thing. Offer lessons to the Philippine ROTC and you too can claim to be a Rambo. Teach a for-credit course at a Philippine university and reach hundreds of practitioners. Presas taught us to become showmen, borrow a few tricks from the Aikido/Jujitsu/Kenpo folks and wow seminar audiences with your art. Sell videos. Running out of dans to award your people because you gave em out too fast? Let’s go from “Guro” to “Punong Guro”. To “Dakilang Guro”. To “Datu”. To “Tuhon”. I’m surprised no one has awarded “Malaking butok Guro”. Yeah, that’s the title I carry. My wife gave it to me… LOL
Well, in all of this new titles, new ways to sell the art, new ways to gain popularity and reinvent your wheel, the FMAs lost two very important things:
- Respect for fighting skill, and
The Filipino art became more bastardized than Tae Kwon Do. I mean, even the McDojos have a sparring element to their exams. And even the McSabumnim requires his people to train for two years before giving them a Black Belt, and wait two years for the second degree. The FMA Guro is turning tricks on DVD, conducting several seminars to award a teaching certificate. You don’t even have to demonstrate any kind of physical skill, because everyone knows that a guy with a knife doesn’t need to be able to run a flight of stairs to kill you. We will certify anyone, and we won’t tolerate anyone questioning if this stuff works. Why? Because if I spar you I will have to kill you. I fight for keeps…
Too deadly for tournament? Oh, yeah, we got that too.
If you can’t take a little criticism without getting your panties all bunched up, how are we to believe that you’re a combat-hardened warrior?
So I attack the ones who created this mess. The true McGuros who will certify a man they wouldn’t bet $20 on in a fight. I tell you what, take an old Eskrimador out of the province, he will bet his life savings on the advanced students under him. Your McGuros can’t even fucking NAME the advanced students under him.
And that’s the problem. Late, great Master Masutatsu Oyama often said, that his style was the greatest fighting art on the planet. And he welcomed every chance–even putting on tournaments–to prove it. Can you imagine one of our well-known Guros putting himself out there? Leo Gaje was the only one I’ve seen actually brag that his boys can fight. He is now resorting to saying that he’s the only one with authentic “Kali”–even his uncle, according to him, is a phony. Remy used to have everyone scared to fight with their sticks. And Dan was busy touring the country certifying more people and adding to his repertoire to even be concerned with questioning the combat superiority of his art.
Basically, these men had Americanized the Philippine arts and I didn’t like it. I never did, and I don’t like it now. Have you been on Bullshido lately? They have us up there with Krav Maga and Shaolin Kung Fu as arts to piss on! Can you blame them?
Hell, I blame the ones who I see as responsible for selling our arts to people who are too lazy to go and pursue these arts with the same rigor that a boxer pursues his craft. And I have earned the right to criticize. I’ve made this art my chosen career. I’ve slept in my car, slept in my school, lived off rice and potted meat, paid my rent and living expenses with tournament winnings, passed up going to school, travelled from state to state teaching my art for $100 at a time… And never once have I “certified” anyone I wouldn’t bet the ranch on in a fight. Anyone who has ever met my students will always come away saying that my guys are top notch fighters. And you will find two groups of people who can testify: people who have fought my guys, and people who won’t fight my guys. This, my friends, is the Filipino way.
And anything less than producing the best fighters possible is worthy of reproach. Commercial Guros don’t have the interest in proving they have the best fighters around, because they’re busy making money.
And there will always be guys like me who shake our heads at the sadness of such a sight.
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