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

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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4 Responses to “Revisiting Repetition”

  1. Good article Guru. Ive “played” with friends who are in the type of Escrima you mentioned and they told me to take it easy so they could do their “tricks” on me. I wasn’t having it and they ended up not wanting to play anymore. I thought it was pretty funny. Keep posting and I will keep reading!

    PS – I’m ready to start sparring at school Guru. Ive been CRAVING to put on the gear and get hit. Let me know when we have our fight night!

  2. “This is boring, and you must be satisfied with knowing fewer techniques than most of your counterparts.”

    a gem.

    “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. Instead of hours and hours spent executing strikes by the hundreds.”
    – kuntaoman, quoted

    thanks for saving my money on ‘this’.

    I have to put a stick on my back on the people who put in their time on me even before i when i had not anything to offer them.

    – Paolo Jerome Cristobal

  3. wait, about the basic training – from my knowledge, fma is based on a multiple succession of strikes, but what others who have been here in Luneta for more than a decade, training, the art that i have is based on corto style of fighting. The original form of Orabes had no basics, so my Guro placed some basics which would supplement training from the largo, to medio then corto. Orabes is for smaller people, and from what he sees as my body type, i would be focusing or majoring in the Illustrisimo part. No parrying, just evasive movement.

    – yeah, i have not dug farther enough.

    – paolo jerome cristobal
    i may not agree with 5%percent of what you say, and though you may not care, thanks. 😀 – wow, three.five hours in your blog. that’s the longest time i spent on a blog 😀

  4. Though I agree with most you wrote here and practice in a similiar fashion (only 3 strikes on the bag though, as i do not use #3 in combat and don’t have the space for stabs) i have to disagree on your claim that eskrima masters do not practice proper striking.

    “When was the last time you witnessed an Eskrima master demonstrate his destructive ability with his stick?”

    the answer is simple, the last time i fought against one, around a month back. other than that, i’ve seen sticks break (tape and rattan cleanly torn through), and whenever i have to practice with a beginner, pretty much the first thing i (not a master yet) do is to have them hold their stick with all their strength and knock it out of their hand. saves me from training against weak, unfocused attacks as they are to afraid of me knocking throught heir blocks to hold back. I’ve also seen videos of people breaking melons and pigbones with plastic and steel batons and cut plstic bottles with knifes and machetes.


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