Revisiting Repetition

There is a saying that no cut is the same after the 10,000th execution of that cut.

In the FMAs we too often spend a great deal of time trying to invent and practice creative ways to defend against attacks, while neglecting our development of executing attacks. I have long said that learning 5 disarms against each angle of attack is a waste of time if one lacks the ability to destroy with each angle of attack. The eskrimador is supposed to be able to take a rattan stick and shatter bones with it, but let me pose this question:  When was the last time you witnessed an Eskrima master demonstrate his destructive ability with his stick?

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

And I’m willing to bet a turkey sandwich that the answer is the same. You’ve never seen an Eskrima master demonstrate his power with his Eskrima.

But ask any of my friends in the FMAs and they will tell you they have seen me demonstrate not only my power with a stick, but also my accuracy and fighting ability. What you will never see is me doing patty cake drills with a stick or fumbling around with a stick doing unrealistic, impractical Eskrima on youtube or in person.

The reason for this is that the method of developing what is considered “impressive” Eskrima skills for most eskrimadors is much easier than what is required to develop true fighting ability with Eskrima. It is nowhere near as painful, it is much more fun, much less time-consuming, and easier to learn new tricks by cruising Youtube and attending seminars and peaceful “practices” with those who have done the same–while trading tricks with other people who will never challenge your legitmacy as an FMA man. To develop the kind of Eskrima skills I speak of, one needs thousands of hours of practice doing the same strikes and combinations. You would have to do this day after day, week after week, hundreds and perhaps even thousands of repetitions–to arrive at the level of ability and understanding that I am referring to. This is boring, and you must be satisfied with knowing fewer techniques than most of your counterparts. You must also be willing to accept that your counterparts think they are better than you, more qualified than you. In fact, because they are not fighters, they (and you) may never find out who is the superior fighter because FIGHTING is not their forté. You must be patient, diligent, and disciplined; this level of skill does not come overnight and it is rarely appreciated by others. Especially for FMA men, most cannot even recognized true martial ability and are easily wooed by showmen and big talk. The way to build your reputation is to have your skills experienced in person, and sometimes that is not even sufficient.

Yet the important question is, what difference does it make if your skills are recognized or not?

And here, we arrive to the point of this article. It makes no difference at all, for the Eskrimador must be solely concerned with his ability and comfort in knowing that he is the superior fighter. Most Eskrimadors, regardless of what type of humility they pretend to possess (always a student, just wanting to spread the art, etc.), really care greatly about what others think of them. <—- THIS is why most Eskrima men will shun the development of true ability and chase after the fluff in the arts. Truth is that a great majority of Eskrima being taught these days is impractical and promotions are little more than feel-good income generators for Guros. Show me a man calling himself “Grandmaster” in the FMAs and 9 times out of 10 I will show you a man who won’t put any money up to prove that his guy is a better fighter than the next guy. This is the reason why FMA classes today are preoccupied with practing complex drills and learning to put on demonstrations and shows… Instead of hours and hours spent executing strikes by the hundreds.

If you would like to see what kind of skill I am describing manifest in your own hands do this:

  • Mark your calendar for 45 days
  • Four days a week, you will hit a bad 100 times with one strike from your Eskrima style’s basic strikes
  • Each week, you will add another strike to the routine. Therefore by the sixth week, you will execute 6 of your strikes 100 times
  • Compare where you were, and where you end up on the sixth week. Spar with someone for measure

I guarantee that on the sixth week, your Eskrima will have improved at least by 50%. If it has not, then quit your school, and come join mine. You’re under the wrong teacher. Either that, or you have no idea of what fighting ability is all about.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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Arguing in the Filipino Martial Arts

There is a saying, that all arguments in the martial arts can be resolved in 60 seconds. People seem to forget that.

There is another one that is relevant here:  “Truth in combat can never be argued, only proven.” Wow. Each of my students learns this early on.

I have long said that martial artists who lack skill engage in lip flapping and name-dropping, because the things that really matter–skill–is nonexistent. We seem to be the only people who spend a lot of time touting our resumes while simultaneously downplaying any form of testing of skill. In the Filipino arts, we have an especially unique relationship with skill-testing because most FMA people do not record history beyond one or two generations, we do not (traditionally) use rank and degrees and titles, and there is an “each man for himself” approach to reputations. We generally do not have systems that have been around 100 years or more, intact. A system today will rarely resemble what it looked like 50 years ago, if it even had the same name. Three men under the same Master will have very different systems ten years after leaving that Master, and all are equally recognize under that Master. That is, unless that Master is big on money, ego and money.

And in that case, I can almost guarantee you that those three men can’t fight.

No FMA man is more loathed than me, I can assure you. No one has offended more FMA people than me, no one is more critical of me, and I am that guy who will piss you off with my opinions, and–excuse the profanity–I don’t give a fuck who your Master/Grandmaster is. The more you will argue with me about it, the more I am convinced that you can’t fight. Because people who can fight, fight–and those who cannot, argue. It’s simple mathematics. If you disagree with this statement, I might even argue with you about it. Do an internet search on me, and you will find people who get mad at me, insult me, question my credibility, even challenge me. Hell I even have a bunch of sissies in the Philippines posting my pictures, quoting my website, and giving anecdotes about encounters with me to try and detract from what I say. You may even hear from people who know me personally who will talk about my abrasiveness or perceived arrogance, but the one thing you will never hear those people say is that they fought and kicked my ass. Doesn’t mean I’ve never been beaten; I’ve lost a few fights, to be honest. But none of the people who choose this method of one upmanship will ever match me man-to-man. I train too hard, and have fought too many people to ever allow someone who argues the martial arts to ever out-touch me. I have students in my school who will punish most Guros in the FMA, and I will prove this any time, any day. My guys work hard, they study fighting, and put up with a lot of BS from me to lose to some dude who chases certificates for sport.

Does this mean I will never argue about the martial arts? No. I do, and I have argued martial arts. In fact, I just argued with a friend this morning about who is going to win the Pacquiao fight (versus Bradley, who will get his ass kicked). It’s just that if I don’t see you as an equal, I won’t argue with you–and that’s the cold-blooded truth. If you are equal, I will argue my point and then eventually ask for an opportunity to prove my case. Anyone less than that, and I’m teaching you. But since you probably aren’t paying me for my knowledge, I’m even going to go halfway on that.

The bottom line is that in the martial arts, people need to focus on developing their understanding and ability to a higher and higher degree and save the bickering to those who really don’t do this art. Have you noticed that the biggest commentators on boxing are people who only step in the ring to conduct interviews? That’s because those who really know what’s going on could care less about 90% of the shit commentators talk about:  so n so hurt himself in training, how much money will be made off the fight, who learned from who, whose titties are bigger… it’s total B.S. In the FMA there is too much of that. Whose using the correct terminology. Which master defeated who back in the day. Is this art the original/authentic Malaking Butok Kali. Did the old Masters use chicken blood when initiating their new Tuhons (lol)…

When two martial artists disagree or challenge each other, we now have a beautiful thing. Because everything your Master taught to your Guro, everything your Guro taught to you, everything you retained, everything you ever did during training goes into the two most beautiful words ever formed for the Eskrima fighter:  I accept. It is the most powerful tiny little, two-worded sentence ever spoken in Eskrima. It has the power to create enemies, or newly enlightened martial arts kumpadres. It can validate a fighting philosophy, or be the catalyst that sparks the process to evolve it. It sends a man back home proud of his accomplishments, or it fuels his burning desire to train harder. Three short minutes from the utterance of the two other beautiful words–show me–the martial artist has the experience he will never forget which solidifies his position as one of “us”… the true warrior, who has now received the chance to use his Eskrima rather than demo it on a willing, cooperative “partner”. He will be forced to make his disarm work, or move his hands faster, or shift his weight further… to resolve this debate. The debate of who’s method is better. While other FMA people out there only have a theory or opinion of the validity of their technique, you will soon know the truth. Truths in the FMA can never be argued; only proven and uncovered. Never miss an opportunity to find out. You will be one of the elite who know firsthand what the answer is.

Argument solved.

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