Stealing Information–and Respect

I would like to share my view of something with you, but first, some background.

You may or may not like my views presented on this blog. Your blood may boil when I ridicule something you do, or your system, your Supreme Burrito Datu Grandmaster’s title, your Youtube clips, your favorite drills or seminars, or the certificates you list on your site. But there is something that brings readers back to this blog day after day, even if I go a month without posting. There is a reason why people will translate my articles to foreign languages–everything from German to Hindi to Thai to Korean–and then argue on some Facebook wall pro or con. And there is a reason why people will challenge me by email, Facebook inbox, comment, or through a mutual friend–and never show up. This blog gets between 50 daily views (when I haven’t written anything) and 250 (when I do). It’s because if I don’t say it, chances are pretty good that you won’t hear it or learn it. Many things I say may get dismissed by your Guro, and then somewhere down the line you will hear it presented by someone else and you both will embrace it. I’m not some seminar jockey regurgiating stuff I’ve overheard on a Karate dojo floor or in some Facebook chatroom. I am not a Johnny-come-lately to the FMAs either. Matter of fact I literally grew up in the martial arts school, and I knew some of your Grandmasters when they were still Tae Kwon Do teachers taking one day Arnis seminars.

I have a unique approach to the FMAs. I don’t believe in drills. I don’t do sinawali. I don’t practice disarms. I practice a stick-in-the back hand style of Eskrima because I practice how to use the stick against a barehanded fighter. I actually teach my guys to fight with the barehands, not just how to put the stick down and swing them the same way as if I was armed. I am not a supporter of many theories generally accepted as fact in the Filipino arts, such as “translating” the stick/knife/empty hand. I don’t share my art in public or on Youtube or in seminars, nor do I learn from those places, nor does my art include anything from the mainstream FMA world. So when you come to this blog you really are getting a very unique version of the Filipino arts, and my opinion of what is in the FMAs is just as rare.

So when someone “borrows” an idea or point of view, it’s pretty darned obvious. They don’t always give credit to where it came from. Just like 99% of the B.S. in the FMAs, everyone picks up from each other and then they pass that stuff off as their own. You know it, you probably do it yourself. It’s one reason why many novice FMA or former mainstream-FMA people will swear to me, “Guro, they are all teaching the same thing!” You’re damn right they are, I’ve been saying that for about 15 years. Anyway, occasionally, someone will send me something–a clip or an article on someone else’s blog, blah blah blah–to point out that my words/ideas have been used. They almost always want to do it anonymously because those who know me personally know that I am the type to show up in person, and they don’t want to be a part of it.

Well here’s my take on that:  I don’t care. I am very selfish with information. I won’t demonstrate. I won’t explain. I won’t guest-teach or do seminars, unless there is something I really want to share, and even that’s rare. One thing you will almost never see is my technique showing up at someone else’s dojo–although I’ve had a few students leave me and go elsewhere and share something that they’ve learned.  But my articles? Really? Doesn’t bother me a bit.

In fact, it’s flattering. Flattering that even people who supposedly don’t like me or my philosophy think highly enough of me to adopt some of my views and pass it off as their own. Where I come from, we call that “respect”. Yes, a skewed version of respect, but respect it is. See, in the martial arts, people don’t have to like you. They may hate your guts, say that you can’t fight, question your character, but when a martial artist is superior to most of his peers in any way, he is respected. GMs Giron and Cabales weren’t in love with each other at all, but they respected each other. Iron Mike Tyson may still want to eat Lennox Lewis’ kids, but he respects him. Martial artists may say out loud that the other guys are sissies and their teacher’s Arnis is no good, but if they don’t disrespect each other in the presece of the other–they actually have respect for one another.

And this is why measurable fighting skill and the challenge have such an important place in the FMAs with real fighters, and why amiability and popularity have no place at all. You cannot have the presence of fighting skill and disrespect coexisting together in the same vicinity, and why all the hands-holding and mutual (certificate) masturbating we like to do in our functions and true martial respect also do not hang out in the same places. Respect and friendliness are two parallel lines that do not necessarily intersect among fighters in the martial arts; people will pretend to respect you or pretend to be friendly with one another when a true fighter is around. But more often than not, FMA people do not want to find out who the superior fighter really is, so the best way is to completely avoid that conversation and act like old drinking buddies. Because real Eskrima–the true, grown-up stuff that we like to read and write about–cannot be stomached by most FMA people. And as the saying goes, two suppoedly equal warriors cannot have true respect for one another until they have fought one another. There is no other way. If they do not agree to spar at the least, they may smile at each other, pat each other on the back, even edify one another–but true respect in the martial sense cannot exist between them.

Finally, perceived martial ability is a very disarming thing. It can take a man who thinks he is a warrior, and turn him into a friendly pussy cat in the presence of one who he believes is the better fighter. When a man has no known enemies, it can be a good thing or a bad thing. 1. He could have enemies in hiding, waiting for the right moment to strike, and he must watch his back. Or, most likely, he is the top of the food chain and 2. Everyone around him doesn’t want to find out if they can whip him or not, because they believe he is indeed superior. This explains my statement that Bruce Lee single-handedly castrated the martial arts scene of his day. While there were a few people who wanted to try him, most people were not at his level and they knew it–HE knew it–which enabled him to say what he said about “classical Karate” and go unchecked. And here we are, 40 year later, and people still swear he was the greatest thing since kalamasi/sinigang came in a packet. He had America by the balls.

I don’t worry that people don’t like what I write about, or they adopt my views as their own, or that they think my bio on my website is made up, or say that my martial arts is no good behind my back (because they never say it in person). Why? Because I am respected, even if the masses of my readers don’t like me. For the martial arts, respect is nothing, and it’s everything.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Author: thekuntawman

full time martial arts teacher, full time martial arts philosopher, and full time martial arts critic

One thought on “Stealing Information–and Respect”

  1. Well put, Master Gatdula. When you are the warrior among pretenders, it shows, and these trivial things seldom matter. Thank you for answering my questions!

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