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

Taste EVERY Ingredient (Skipping Grades, pt IV)

By the time we get done with this series, you will notice something. I’m not going to explain it right now, because FMA students today are way too anxious to get to the back of the novel. Although the average person who reads this blog is likely not to be a novice in the Filipino art, if you compare your experience to what I consider “experienced” in the art, I would beg to differ. The student stage of the martial artist’s journey is such a wonderful period if you focus too much on the end of the trip you will miss some of the best scenery and stories. Your life as a Guro–if you get there too fast–will be a very bland, uneventful story. The more stories you have as a student, the more spices you add to the soup, and the longer you savor its essence–the richer your experience will be.

Some people only taste a soy-based adobo. Others take in the ginger, the garlic, the pepper, the rice vinegar, the bay leaf, the dried chilis, the onion, the patis (fish sauce)… Even if you don’t know the recipe, if you are a somewhat intelligent adult who’s been around the kitchen, you could taste a dish, then go home and recreate it.

Or counter it.

Martial arts educations I believe are too focused on “achieving goals”–rank and graduations/certifications–that the students do not fully absorb their lessons. We end up with a so-called expert who must mentally recall techniques and request a “feed” in order to demonstrate a technique. This is not expertise, my friends. Expertise is to know the arts like the back of your hand and engage combat with anyone, not know anything about the opponent, and in the course of a few seconds of exchanges, be able to tell you every ingredient in this guy’s arsenal–and soundly beat him by picking the right counter attacks and attack strategy. Too much focus on technique collection, and not enough time on technique understanding and study of strategy. The best lessons, I often say, cannot be learned in a classroom. They are taught through reflection, conversation with fighters and your master, experimentation, and hands-on technique practice.

Tell you what, take your system’s first three hits. Practice only those hits–stroking practice and combinations with the three strikes–for 90 days and minimum of 5,000 repetitions and you will know so much more about those three hits than what anyone can tell you. I must say that in the Eskrima classroom, most teachers know that my approach is best, but they do not use this knowledge because of business reasons. Most true masters do not feel that the average guy gracing their dojo floor has the patience, commitment and diligence to practice this way. However, it is highly superior to anything you can get in a camp or seminar… and I don’t care if Chuck Norris himself taught it. Nothing a Master can teach you in the martial arts is too trivial; it’s just that students want to hurry and get to the next thing or learn something more entertaining to look at.

If I could arm you with a strike that is so powerful that no opponent could stop it. So fast that he could not block it in time. Timing so good that his counter will fail each time you attack him with it. And a grip so strong, that no opponent could disarm you. Would you be happy?

Start with 10,000 hits in practice with any strike. It will take you about 6 months of normal practice to attain it. Spar with this strike constantly. Come up with combinations that feature it. Find ways to stop it. Find ways to counter the counters to it. Sleep with it. Eat with it. Practice it in the mirror when you’re flexing while shaving. 😉  Practice this as if few other techniques exist. Brothers and sisters, I’m telling you, you will discover and own that strike.

But only if you taste every ingredient in that strike. Sadly, chances are that you won’t do it because you find other dishes too palatable to spend that kind of time on one strike. And this is why most people wait for pieces of paper to validate themselves as Masters–while a very small minority walk into the room with NO paper, and the hair stands up on the neck of every man in the room. Prowess, mastery, and true expertise is not endowed to students. They are self-determined, self-made, and self-realized. It’s why no man certified the great Bruce Lee and the great Masutatsu Oyama–and people waited till they were dead to talk about how no one recognized them as billy-badasses. Get this skill and knowledge for yourself, under your teachers, and allow time to make these things absorb into your arsenal. During that process, take the time to learn every little thing about your art.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

By the way, my new book, simply entitled Teaching Philosophy, is on its way and will be released on soft copy through this blog, or hard copy through Amazon soon. More on this later!

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One Response to “Taste EVERY Ingredient (Skipping Grades, pt IV)”

  1. Great article. “Nothing in the martial arts is too trivial” = one of the most profound things I’ve heard in a long time! Galang!


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