The Forgotten Side of the Filipino Fighting Arts, pt VII (The Assassin)

I knew the title would get your attention.

Let’s get to business.

The Filipino Martial Artist spends too much of his training time thinking of the art as a skill of coordination. Let’s see how complicated these stick patterns can be. How many alternatives can you come up with for trapping a punch. What’s the trickiest way to take a stick from your opponent? This isn’t fighting, and it sure as hell ain’t something your Guro’s Guro’s Guro’s Guro’s Guro would have recognized in Eskrima. When we talk of youtube clips and seminars and videos, the big thing is how original can you make this art look–how unique can it be to what everyone has seen rehashed through this guy’s seminar, through that guy’s system, and this Master’s recently-uncovered, secret style? When all the while, the real art–the one that earned the reputation for offing Magellan and carried from island to island hundreds of years ago in the form of battle-tested essentials for warriors–is not the shit being taught in Tae Kwon Do and Kenpo dojos across the world.

When this art was in its heyday, it wasn’t a duel between two guys who agreed to fight. Hell it wasn’t even an “A” team versus “B” team battle in the jungles. It was guerrilla warfare where one man was determined to take the life of another, for whatever reason it was, and screw “tried by twelve than carried by six” cliches…. this was devoid of any legalities, rules, or bragging rights. This art wasn’t self-defense. It was for the preservation of a people. One group moves in on the territory of another for the purpose of enslaving that people, eliminating that people, or wiping their way of life off the face of the earth. These guys didn’t cry about rank and promotions or certificates. They couldn’t give a damn what names you drop from your lineage. They didn’t argue philosophically, they didn’t send out press releases every time your Master farted, or huddled in private rooms to ridicule the next guy’s ideas. One group decides to erase the next, and the next group decided to eliminate the first group before they got him.

They were ninjas before the term got popular.

They were hit men who worked for free.

And frankly, they couldn’t give two hoots if anyone knew they had done it. If your woman got in the way, your kids witnessed it and they might decide to take revenge when they became an adult, or the neighbors got too close, the Eskrimador was going to make this a family affair. No, it doesn’t make for good PR. It didn’t sound pretty when you’re telling fantastical “why-you-should-study-with-me” stories to potential students. The real art of Eskrima didn’t conjure up music to anyone’s ears, didn’t bring back fond memories when someone smelled burning rattan, it didn’t form brotherhoods that made these girls all get the same tattoo like they were in a sorority or something. They didn’t wear T-shirts, they didn’t come up with cool slogans, they didn’t pimp their dead Masters like Biggie Smalls samples in rap music (a lil something for the hip hop heads) for validation. The Eskrimador doing the real thing was a killer. He was cold blooded. He was unapologetic. He did not ask his sons if they’d like to learn Eskrima one day; those boys inherited the skill like a father bequeaths his good looks on a baby–you had to learn it, because one day, I will hide behind you when the bad guys come. I’m telling you, modern FMA guys, that stuff you do ain’t nothing like the real thing.

I could just hear some pussy FMA guys right now on Facebook or FMAchat or whatever they call it:

Well I’d like to see Gatdula show his stuff on youtube so we could see if what he does is so “old school”, since apparently our grandmasters got it wrong….

I’ll do better. Come ask me that question in person, and I will show you personally what I do. But I tell you what, you have never met a man like me before, trust that.

My point is this. The Filipino martial arts is like a cordless mic, those who are holding it, become so happy and full of themselves they wander too far from the source. So they usually end up emitting a lesser frequency. The art must not be mass marketed, because like hamburgers, the more people who eat your hamburger, I don’t care what family recipe you come up with–the more who does it, the more that stuff starts to develop an “M” and a “c” behind it. And one day, you look in the mirror, and some small FMA master from an unknown part of town, in an unknown system who scares the shit out of you in person–so much, he must smile and be friendly so he doesn’t make any more enemies–calls you out and calls your art what it has become:  McSkrima. Old ladies, 10 year old boys, certificate collectors, fat, out-of-shape, lazy ex-martial artists–all are armed with your Black Belt, and no one in the group can prove its worth the way those forgotten Eskrimadors use to do it. And you know exactly what I mean.

That’s why you arm yourself with reputations and websites and rhetoric and friends and associations. Must I say it again… None of those true Eskrimadors had all that shit. And if they were alive today, and saying what I am saying right now, you’d dislike him too, you’d put down his art, you’d hope he sucks in person, and you’d refuse to recognize his credibility because that guy wouldn’t recognize the bruise-free, painless, sticks-and-a-smile “fighting”-like art you do either.

I want you to answer this question to yourself:

I will pay you one million dollars and allow your family to live. I need you to kill a few people. If you don’t kill them, they will kill you and your family members. They may be armed, possibly better armed than you. You choose the day and the time and the place. You won’t have to serve ONE DAY in prison for assassinating them, because they are bad, evil people. You can choose the weapon you want to utilize. You can kill them one at a time, or all together.

(but here’s the catch)

You can ONLY use what you were taught–or if you are a Guro, only what YOU taught–in Eskrima class within the last two weeks. Not modified from what you taught. Not drills, not simulated–just the techniques. They aren’t attacking you first–because you’re an assassin–you seek them and then take them out. Doing only what was practiced in class within the last two weeks…. Can you do it?

Real Eskrima can answer this without a pause–yes. Very few men reading this article right now can even fathom what I am asking you. It’s time to return to Eskrima’s roots, before it was called “Eskrima”. Thank you for visiting my blog.


Author: thekuntawman

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

7 thoughts on “The Forgotten Side of the Filipino Fighting Arts, pt VII (The Assassin)”

  1. This is my thoughts on FMA. First, Arnis, Eskrima, or Kali were simple arts taught to farmers, fishermen, and villagers. Such people were not some “Commando Kali Warriors” . If one tribe, village, or province went to war with another, simple movements and tactics were used against their enemies. People died on a battlefield, during a raid, or were assassinated during a surprise attack. During combat, there is no time to get fancy or theoretical. It’s about survival . Either you kill him or he kills you. That is simple as it gets folks. FMA is not about learning a bunch of foreign terminology, learning fancy sinawali drills, endless stick and knife flow drills, etc. FMA is about simple and direct measures to maim or kill another human being whom is trying to harm you. All the endless flow drills, sinawali, etc. is bullshit folks. Such stuff not work in real combat. Try gunting a crackhead on the street that is trying to punch you in the head and you will get your ass beat.

    The villagers mentioned earlier did not live their lives doing FMA all day back in the past. FMA was not some hobby. It was a simple combat system. The more complex a combat system is, there time is needed to practice. These villagers had work to perform to survive (They often worked very hard just to meet basic necessities for survival). I mean come on, duh, if they did not work, they starved. If certain people did not work, other villagers or tribal members got pissed at them as they were not carrying their weight. There is not much time to practice martial arts in a tribal or village type society.

    The FMA many people are exposed to today are highly commercialized. You instructor, Guro, or what ever you choose to call them are a often a business man first. They often want $$$ (often a lot of $$$ at that too) to learn a commercialized martial art. A system of combat needs to be simple to work under combat. When your live life is in danger (i.e. somebody trying to maim or kill you) all theory goes out the window. You need proven methods to help you survive if need be. If your instructor wants to spend all day teaching you complicated flow drills, endless weapons drills, etc. find another instructor. Your instructor is just taking your money and wasting your time. 50% of your time should be spent in controlled sparring and the other 50% in drills that are simple to build attributes needed to survive in combat. I say “simple” drills as a drill a student should be learning to become proficient in combat not become proficient in endless complex drills (hope that makes sense). I had instructors tell me, “Well we practice these complex drills. BUT, when we spar, everything learned in these drills goes out the window!” Then, why are we performing these complex drills if they do not build attributes needed to help one survive a combative situation? Oh wait, the money situation. Never mind.

    FMA are VERY effective if taught correctly and are not commercialized. A student has to want to learn a combat system though. Otherwise, they are living in fantasy land. Find an instructor such as the one that writes this blog if you want to learn combative FMA. The problem with FMA is separating the BS from the real deal. I have several years of FMA experience. My first instructor was the best I ever had. Other instructors wasted my time. I honestly believed I was not learning real FMA because we did not do sinawali or endless complicated flow drills. I was constantly doing the same things over and over again. My instructor was teaching me what worked in real combative situations and wanted me to build proficiency. I was too stupid to realize this at the time. Now that my first instructor has retired, and that I have experienced what other instructors had to offer, I am grateful what I originally learned. Mustafa “The Kuntawman” Gatdula speaks a lot of truth in his blog postings. I agree with the vast majority of what he says. He is here to educate you folks. Listen to the man. There is a lot BS being taught in FMA today. Mustafa is not here to make friends. He is trying to speak the truth. People like him (myself included) are in the minority in the FMA community. Read this blog and listen to him. You will be on your way to learning real FMA.

    Anyhow, my apologies for the extremely long rant. I just wanted to get my thoughts and personal experience across. I bid you all a good evening and take care! Good luck and have fun in your training!

  2. Is it not something though, that so many who yearn to do martial arts exist in North America?

    Sometimes I wonder if organized religion has forgotten a side to humanity’s spirit which martial arts does not. I’ve found way more solace in the dojo than any church.

    Yeah, you can’t have a great teacher everywhere, especially in the states, and I say that for historical reasons. But I do think it something so many are eager to learn.

    Just wish we had more people like you out there as teachers. You seem to be among those who should be counted solely out of a hundred. And I am speaking of masters, concerning the hundred.

    Thank you for your articles.

    1. thank you very much that is flattering.

      it is true that many people want to learn, but very few really have the kind of desire it takes to learn properly. for the filipino art, there are many short cuts–seminar, video, friendly classes with lots of chatting time and no sparring… that is the reason there are so many people doing the FMA. but what it takes to get this art from the ones who lost blood sweat and tears to get the real deeper art–there is no short cut to learn from them. and they are the teachers who have the hardest time finding students to stay, because it is not easy to learn from them. my grandfather use to say that the weakest schools will have the most people, and the strongest schools will have the least. this is an example of the saying that true arts are not for the masses. so the masses get the watered art.

      for the FMA, anyone can learn it. but only the ones who have what it takes will actually stay.

  3. Agreed with Blog sentiments of TheKuntawMan. Also appreciated the frankness. And want to be mentored with this mindset.Forged in and true to the old ways.

  4. “the weakest schools will have the most people, and the strongest schools will have the least. this is an example of the saying that true arts are not for the masses.” …..This really holds true especially here in the Philippines, here in Manila in particular.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.