Path To the Perfect Martial Arts Student, pt II (The Laboratory)

There are many reasons to study the martial arts, and not all of them are to learn to beat people up. However, they all involve combat. Does this sound like a contradiction?

I’m sure it does, but I assure you, combat and training for combat does not always equate to beating people up. For example, in American football–you learn to rough up the opponents. You knock them down, you hit them, you throw them, you evade them, you block them. But American football is not wrestling, and someone who just goes in to hit, knock down and injure is not exactly “playing football”. Those actions are not the goal of football either, even if roughing up people is the reason you enjoy it. The goal of football is to run the ball into the end zone, to kick the ball through the goal–or stop the opposing team from accomplishing either goal. For the martial arts, depending on which culture your art is from, the original purpose for those arts can range from disciplining the minds of monks in China to preventing an outside power from invading your land in the Philippines. Fighting can be central to an art or a mission–but the goal can be completely different and merely enhanced slightly by fighting. Look at Tae Bo (don’t laugh!)–a great way to lose weight. Exercises and movements come from fighting, but fighting isn’t the purpose of those who do it–not even why it was created.

We can remove the art from the system to make it a sport, as well as remove the fighting from the art to make it a discipline. In many places in America, Arnis is not used for a fighting art as much as it is a way for some cultural groups to attract young people to learn more about their culture and take pride in where we came from. In the school system, martial arts is taught as an afterschool activity, as a way of giving children something to do and deal with boredom. I taught the martial arts for years for free because I wanted to give kids something to do as an alternative to hanging out or intramural sports. The agreement the school system made was that they would give me access to their gyms as long as the children did not do any fighting (they gave me schools in low income areas already overrun by gangs). As much as I dislike that approach, I had to realize I wanted to do a service and this was the only way I could do it. So in this way, it was just a pastime. My students still learned the techniques, they hit the targets, learned hand conditioning, even learned to strike with the weapon, but did not participate in sparring.

Through my teachings, I had several children come to me and say they wanted to learn to fight, but their parents could not afford to pay for lessons. Those who had the money I allowed to join at a discount, and those who did not, I gave “scholarships”. I discovered something amazing through this. I had long advocated the need for sparring to learn to fight. But for four years, I taught this group martial arts with no sparring at all. When the few students who opted to train at my school came over, I discovered that many actually did know how to fight! The target-hitting, the punching and kicking in the air, the single stick drills had done some good. As soon as they began sparring, there was an awkward stage where they had to get a feel for the techniques before they became effective. I expected that. Some kids got it right away. I found that those who could spar right away did the most practicing on their own, and visualized themselves fighting. This went a long way, apparently, because almost immediately when they had donned gloves and helmets and padded sticks–they had instant access to their knowledge’s effectiveness. It was at that point I realized a reality of sparring:

Sparring is not to discover what techniques work–but to discover how they work.

I’d never been a fan of the “discovering what works” cliche. In my opinion, everything works. We only learn to make things work by finding out how and when to apply the skills, and develop our skills with them to the point that we can impose our will upon our opponents and his skills. What does this mean?

Simply this:  We must know more than what techniques “work”. As I said, they all “work”. We must know what techniques to use, which opponents and situations to apply them, when the best time to use them, and what it feels like to use the techniques. I can learn a nice spinning hook kick, get the skill to throw the most beautiful, the fastest, even the most powerful spinning hook kick. But until I know what it feels like to hit an opponent with this kick, I won’t be able to use it. Until I know what an opponent can do in response to that kick, I won’t be able to use it. Until I know what to do after I throw the kick, I won’t be able to use it. I must know what the possible counters to the kick are–and have a response to those counters. I must know when not to throw the kick and who not to try the kick on. I have to know how to throw the kick as a counter as well as how to throw the kick as an attack. I must know how to set the kick up. I should know what areas of the opponent’s body to aim for and what it will do. For example, most people think of the spinning hook kick as a high kick. After all, it doesn’t make sense to hit a guy with a spinning hook in the chest, common sense would tell you that. However, I have discovered that the spin hook can also be used as an attack against the inner thigh as well as the shin (as a sort of sweep). I also discovered a way to use the spin hook against the opponent’s back leg round kick, and if I hit you with it–there is NO counter against it. If I explained it to you, even showed it–you wouldn’t get it. You’d probably even tell me I was crazy. But spar with me, and let me hit you with it–you’ll be a believer AND you will be in the gym when you get home trying to figure it out. There are many lessons that will only be revealed to you after you have tried them out in sparring. The gym is essentially the place where theories and rules are learned. Sparring is the laboratory where those theories and rules are not tested–but understood. The mind and the gym after sparring is where new theories and techniques are created. Wash, rinse, repeat. True learning will involve you going through this process many times over. Until you have done every stage, over and over and over–you have not actually gone through the learning process. Remember this very valuable rule.

And this is one of the secrets of the Masters. It cannot be taught in a seminar, it cannot be put in a videotape or a book. Even if I showed you these things and you practiced them, they will not be learned until you try them out against several live, resisting, combative opponents.  There is a very valuable saying in the martial arts:  Sometimes, you must win. Sometimes, you must learn. There are many reasons to spar and compete. If you want to truly learn the martial arts, you will have to–there is no way around it. But it is not to decide for yourself what works–that is a fallacy. It’s not even “what works for me”–another fallacy. When I hear a guy say, “high kicks don’t work”, he thinks he is saying high kicks are ineffective, even if he’s tried it. What he is saying is, “I can’t kick high. I tried, and I suck at it.” I hear the same thing when a guy says, “Point fighting sucks/point fighting makes bad habits/blah blah blah…”–I hear, “I tried it and I suck at it”. Beat a point fighter, then say it. Most people simply have not learned to do it, or they haven’t learned to reap the benefits of point fighting… These masters have tried things out and have a deeper understanding of them; yet not all things can be taught or imparted. They transmit what they can, but the higher levels of understanding can only come from doing it yourself. This is why I say that short training experiences can be counterbalanced by longer periods of fighting experience. You can learn only a portion of a system’s curriculum, but develop a very deep level of understanding through actual experience using those skills–and then gain more skills and ability than someone who stayed in the gym long enough to learn everything (and never get concrete, actual experience). These seminar junkies who get certified in 5+ styles, but have logged in fewer than 10 competition fights are a perfect example. Collecting Black Belts and teaching certifications, but have no actual experience and understanding while fighting with those skills = Complete waste of time.

As a martial arts student, it is exciting to learn new arts and techniques. Regardless of your reasons for doing so, remember that you have not actually “learned” those skills until you have exhausted your ability to understand them by fighting with them–in any format. Whether in point, round-robins, full-contact, or whatever. You must use your knowledge to really understand what it is you’re doing.

If mastery is what you are after, mastering the learning process is the only way to begin that journey. Not to determine if your grandmaster was right or wrong in choosing your style’s techniques (honestly, that’s what “finding out what works” is so arrogantly trying to imply)–but to unlock the secrets of what your grandmaster has buried for you in his curriculum. By learning how his system works.

Thank you for visiting my blog. If you like this article, please subscribe and share–and don’t forget to check out my book, Philosophy, available at Amazon.

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Path To the Perfect Martial Arts Student (A Series)

Can you believe that I wrote 900 words of this article–and then LOST it???

Starting over. And boy I am NOT very happy about this. I need a new computer, jeez.

Happy Fathers Day. *fuming*

Today is the perfect day to introduce this subject. I first had planned to write this series as a book about 7 years ago, but between my schools, my custody battle (which I won) for my children, and my business, it never got done so now we will just offer it for free right here on the blog. Of course, in a year or so I will be retired and may be able to actually produce a book that explores this subject more deeply than I can with this blog. It is a subject few care to think about; and it is the theme for this blog all year long–how to become the ideal martial arts student. Why? Because in the path to mastery of the martial arts, we must always remember the first rule of mastering any craft…

To become a master teacher, you must first become a master student.

 

Today’s student has a world of information promising him knowledge, skills, and ability. He even can choose an organization to call him a master. But what no one is actually offering is the most vital information of all:  What you must do to properly learn, study, explore, and become proficient at these arts. There are many universal principles. However, there are many principles that are art-specific. This is what I intend to impart over the course of the year, including this article. And, God willing, sometime in 2017 or 2018, we will be able to produce a text that explores even further than a few articles.

So today being Father’s Day (actually, tomorrow is Father’s Day for most of you in the west. Today is Father’s Day in the Philippines) is appropriate for the first installment of this series, because in my opinion, it is the older, married Dad who makes for a better martial arts student for several reasons:

  1. Older students are more focused and have waited longer to start training. We have few of the distraction that younger, single students have, such as dating and recreation
  2. Older students do have some challenges. We come to the art with more old injuries, medical/physical problems, we are out of shape, we have guts and double chins. However, we also work harder because of this. In my 27 years of teaching, I have seen my older students surpass the younger, more fit students within a year of training. This is most certainly due to their need to train harder, while the younger guys assume they have and will retain the advantage because they walked through the door with a better physique and more physical abilities
  3. Older students often do this art for different reasons than younger students. Older students have waited because of obligations, but have done their research and bypassed other arts for Eskrima and Arnis. Even to this day, my best fighters are men in their 40s. Younger men study Eskrima because of some movies they’ve seen or their friends do it. Older students find Arnis effective self defense. Younger students find Arnis “cool”. I’m giggling because I’ve heard this on many occasions
  4. Younger men come to the arts because of the desire to kick some butt one day, self protection, street self defense reasons or whatever. Older men tend to be husbands and fathers, and while self defense is also a motivating factor–older men study to protect their families. This is a very special reason to train, and that is what makes them unique
  5. Older men do have less time to train, so when they do, they make more efficient use of their time. Unlike their childless counterparts, who go to the gym to hang out–fathers and husbands only have a few hours to spare and will spend less time chit chat and get the most out of training time
  6. About to transition here, but–Fathers have children, whom they bring into the gym when they reach a certain age. If you look at the martial arts, regardless of the style, you will find many, many masters–many great masters–who arrived to their particular level of mastery because their fathers brought them to the school to train and gave them the opportunity to become a child prodigy. See, fathers are often the sacrificial generation that pave the way for sons and daughters to become the great masters of tomorrow. We are the ones who were too old to get the most out of the arts, but we bring our children to the art at an age young enough to be raised as a warrior from the cradle to the grave. It is the next generation that will be the Bruce Lees and Floyd Mayweathers of tomorrow. Fathers may have dabbled in the art, or they may have been decent fighters. But it is the children they bring to the arts at a young age who will become the best that system has to offer. This is a universal principle. Read on…

Quite often, we come to the art with physical limitations and time constraints. We have jobs and other responsibilities. We have arthritis and trick knees and elbows. If you engage in serious study of the arts even as young as 30, you will only have about ten years left of your prime to get the benefit of your style, and even then, you do not have many years left to master everything the system has to offer. However, by joining at 12 or 13, a child has almost two decades more than you do to study, develop and master the entire system. They may be young, but they are in a great position to decide to make the art a career–while those of you who already have careers must keep the martial arts as a pastime. A child has enough time to learn an art fully by the time he reaches adulthood, and then can spend his 20s and 30s mastering those skills. Children, however, are fickle. They want to train this month and quit the next. Yet if the father puts his foot down and does not allow laziness and does not give the child the choice to train or quit–he will have quite the master on his hands. Ask any of the child prodigies of any craft, not just the martial arts. As children, yes, they rebelled and wanted to quit. It was the fathers and mothers who decided that you will not quit–and this is why today, we have a Jackie Chan, a Michael Jordan, a Jet Li, a Venus and Serena Williams.

The first and easiest path to creating the perfect martial arts student, then, is not just to begin training as a child. That wasn’t my point. The first and easiest path to creating the perfect martial arts student is to make this a family affair. Make the martial arts a family activity, a family function. This is more than just for the child. Take for example the Mayweathers. Is it just Floyd Mayweather, Jr.? No, the Mayweathers are made up of former boxers Roger and Floyd, Sr.–Father and Uncle of Floyd–as well as Jeff Mayweather, the “other” uncle, who is a former fighter and now an MMA coach. The Mayweather family is perhaps the most sought out family of fighters on the planet. They have combined their knowledge and experience, and have mastered a style of boxing that is very difficult to beat as well as duplicate. On the martial arts side of the discussion, we have the Lau family of Hung Gar, the Cañete family of Eskrima, the Presas family of Eskrima, the Lañada family of Kuntaw, the Lacey family of Choy Lay Fut, Chen family Tai Chi (whose children were great fighters, by the way) and the Gracie family of Jujitsu. This isn’t coincidence, folks.

Bringing your children into the art does not require that you already have mastered the art. You can bring them in while still a student, and let the children learn from your master. Then after you have both learned the art, you can act as an intermediary to find more training for your children or you can simply manage their careers. I have seen non-martial arts parents who hadn’t studied one day, coach their children to mastery. At the same time, I have also seen father and son teams who learned side-by-side, and then father began training his son with his own ideas–and the son became an outstanding martial artist. When you involve your loved ones, you take this art who an entirely new level. Nothing is quite like martial arts done as a family affair.

Food for thought. Thank you for visiting my blog.

“There Are NO Qualified Masters In My Town…”

I would like to introduce you to a very old tradition in the Filipino arts, but it will sounds very foreign or strange to you.

Western FMA students have it so good. You can shop teachers around, look up their histories, look up the systems you are thinking about studying. Hell, you can even go on YouTube and study the systems they teach! Google has every potential student thinking he knows what he’s talking about. They think they know who the “best” FMA masters are, and frequently go in groups on Facebook and make asses of themselves by saying stupid things like “There are no qualified masters in my town”.

Yeah, you are a beginner, and you think you are qualified to say who’s legit or not. Or worse–you go on groups online and let other beginners who don’t even live in your city, never seen this master in person all make that judgment for you. Then there is other bad advice. Go take a free class, see if he knows what he’s doing. (As if you can tell the difference between good and bad Eskrima) Buy these videos from master so-n-so, they’re just as good as studying in a school. Take a seminar series and train three times a year instead.

No wonder the FMAs are in such a bad position. Many a foolhardy student who had this experience is sitting here online right now, with their certificate on the wall, reading this article right now thinking their certification is more authentic than what I’m talking about right now. Yes, that’s right. Many Guros and masters today, learned their Eskrima not in a school with a “qualified” teacher, but on video or in seminars.

Bottom line, don’t ask other martial arts students for their advice. It’s like a 10 year old going to a 12 year old for relationship advice, and the 12 year old is telling you that your Dad doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Trust me, that is exactly what is happening.

Do you ever read the masters tell the story about how they acquired their martial arts knowledge? Everyone has one.

Allow me. When I was a boy, I was small and sickly. My father thought I would eventually need protection, so he sent me to his father/his brother/a neighbor who knew Eskrima and I began to train. I don’t know the name of that style/the style was name after him/the style was named after our province. I learned the basic hits and began to have matches. From there I met my first sparring partner, and he and I developed some techniques. A few years later I was living in __ Province and had a match with a man named __ who defeated me. He took me to his father/became my second teacher/became my new sparring partner. He taught me __ skills and weapons. When I was 30 I move to __ Province and looked for new sparring partners. I worked with a few guys from a local school who specialized in this style/this weapon. I had some matches with them and they showed me their style/introduce me to meet their master/we traded techniques. Blah blah blah…

In none of these stories have I ever heard of a master rejecting a teacher because he wasn’t “qualified” or “good enough”. In America, “good enough”/”qualified” really means popular or famous or well known. None of us have seen most of these masters fight. We have only seen their prearrange defense demos and websites and ads for their videos and seminars. And we base our judgment on how many people have heard of them. Foolish. In the Philippines, almost every guy with a reputation earned it by beating or fighting someone–and not everyone wins every fight. Many fought and lost, but still have reputations. Here in the West, we avoid matches at all costs, and unless they are universally accepted by the masses–we don’t acknowledge them. Majority of the time, we make excuses why sparring “isn’t real enough” so we’d rather do drills and hit focus mitts. So even those matches that the masters had doesn’t “qualify” them to teach us… although, we will still write about them on our websites and tell the masses that we learned from a grandmaster who was unbeated in 100 fights. Right.

If I may, the most common path works out like this:

  1. Study for a year with the closest person who knows Eskrima near you. Not everyone was a master, they just taught you the basics
  2. Perhaps study with a second teacher for a few months
  3. Get a series of sparring and training partners, exchange ideas and techniques. Revise your arsenal and skill set
  4. Have a by-chance encounter with a real master, and study with him for a few years
  5. Have about 10 years of more matches, sparring partners, new ideas, testing those ideas, scrapping/revising/devising ideas… arrive to the realization that you have just created your own style
  6. 20 more years of teaching, while revising, revising and revising your style again and again

If you notice, the masters usually don’t stay with their teachers long. They learn a system–anywhere from a few months to a few years–and spend most of their lives having matches and training with someone from another style. This is the most common path for Eskrima and Arnis masters. The brick-and-mortar (or bamboo, depending on where you live) school with a heirarchy, curriculum and certificates is a very new, not very common thing.

How should you apply that to today’s FMA experience? Learn what you can, however you can learn it. If that means YouTube because there simply isn’t an Arnis teacher in your city, then so be it. But don’t go to YT because you aren’t dedicated enough to drive 100 miles to meet a real teacher. If the only guy in town is a Tae Kwon Do teacher who has studied by seminars, then do it. Remember, he has been doing it longer than you, and will have something you won’t figure out on your own, I am very sure of that. Good martial arts can be found in the strangest of places. All knowledge can be tested, fortified, tempered, and developed. Learn from those local masters, and don’t be so arrogant you think you know better than those who do this for a living. I have fought possibly 200 or so fights in my life, and after leaving high school I lost very few of those. A ton of guys have walked out my school because I have no certificates, had no products on the market (well, I have them now… check them out!), and I don’t talk the seminar language guys on the internet speak. Imagine, there are Guros out there right now who can’t fight worth a lick, because they passed up my school. Naive.

I recall Master Presas telling me how he and his brothers studied two styles, Balintawak and Hinigran Arnis, not because they were the best styles, but because they were the only styles offered in their neighborhood. And look at what they did with those local systems. Learn what you can, and then train and test the hell out of it. This is one of the secrets of the masters. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Time for an FMA Revolution

Let’s stir things up a bit.

Yup, when it comes to stirring the pot, there aren’t too many people other than good ole theKuntawMan for something like that. That FMA Empty Hands article was written in 2009, and it is still the most read article on this blog. It has probably gotten this blog more views, more subscriptions, sold me more books, signed up more students to my school, and brought me more challenges (which led to even more students lol) than anything else on this blog. I have said it a few times in several articles–I ain’t your friendly neighborhood seminar-junkie, I damn sure ain’t your friendly neighborhood Guro/Grandmaster, and you could get hurt playing over here.

But this is what the martial arts is all about. We are all about hurting people, stopping people from hurting us, and discovering more and more about the art of hurting. One of the worst things an FMA guy can do is get complacent and think there are no other new things to discover in the martial arts. For example, lots of FMA guys thought they knew it all or have seen it all when it came to the Filipino arts. Know why? Because if you took all the videos on the market, all the magazine articles, all the seminars–all that shit looks the same. Sure, every now and then, a “new” skill will become popular, but thanks to the almighty dollar–these Grandmasters will sell those skills faster than a hungry whore on the strip–and before you know it, EVERYBODY knows it. So, yeah. If you’ve spent two or three years in the mainstream FMA community–you will have seen it all, and there is nothing new to discover.

But I ain’t mainstream. And that’s what brings people to this blog, the fact that nothing on this blog–unless it’s stolen–will be repeated or taught in seminars or youtube clips. Folks come here to learn or read something new. Hence the name–Filipino Fighting Secrets… It’s only a secret if you don’t know it. And we will talk about stuff your friendly McGuros won’t.

So here’s the thing. The Filipino martial arts of Arnis, Eskrima, and Kali need to change up its weapons. Honestly. Have you been hit with a rattan stick lately? Sure, they hurt. But as a self-defense tool, you need something that will ruin somebody’s life, and these sticks just won’t. Get hard core, take off the safety gear, and get a little heavier rattan, and then we’re talking. But this isn’t every day FMA, and it should be. I say, it’s time to investigate self-defense needs of the average Joe on the street, and come up with something that is relevant to his concerns. The FMA use to be an everyman’s art, every day. Today, it is too niche, too trendy, and folks who are really serious about self-protections are looking at what passes for FMA out here and saying “No thank you”.

Why is that? Well, maybe it has something to do with the fact that the most effective, most practical thing we have to offer is something that a very TINY minority of FMA guys will do:  Full contact, bare stick fighting. Average guys won’t do it. Hell, average FMA guys won’t even do it. What we will do is funky drills, cute disarms, padded pillow fights, and empty handed patty cake (that no FMA guy will ever do with in the ring with a real boxer–but have the nerve to call it “Dirty”/Filipino Boxing. Please don’t blame that on my people). If you ever disagreed with me about my views of mainstream FMA’s effectiveness, take my challenge! Go to any non-FMA guy and fight him. With the number of MMA, kickboxing, and boxing gyms around, you should have no problem finding opponents. Don’t challenge me on the net please, because you’re only fooling yourself–chances of us meeting are almost zero. Prove it to yourself. I’ve already done my homework.

Back to the subject at hand, I would like to suggest a new trend in the FMA community. Let’s drop the plain rattan stick as a “weapon”. I’m sure there must have been an uproar when FMA guys in the days of old switched from bolos to sticks. I can imagine the arguments and the complaints the old timers would have had:  “What?? What the heck is wrong with these new age Eskrimadors! Don’t DARE call that stick shit “Eskrima” please! Bastos!!”

LOL.

Folks don’t like change. 🙂

I believe that the Filipino arts have evolved to what they are today, because we are a practical people. We aren’t into show; we are fighters. But we have become not much more than showmen these days. We are showmen and “athletes”. My son is enamored with Eskrima “Kata” these days. When I finally saw what is presented as FMA “Kata”, I damn near spit out my drink. What. The. Hell. But times have changed, I guess. There is a good section of the community who gets it; I am an old dog, and I’m barely 50. Guess we can tolerate it, the way we tolerate patty-cake-with-a-stick. But let’s add a new weapons to the Eskrima list of specialties…

  1. The good ole night stick. I’m serious. Billy clubs, tire knockers, you name it. A REAL stick. One that is too dangerous to use it sparring. Sure, keep the rattan for sparring and competitions–even heavier rattan. But what we train with, what we train for–should be two or three times heavier. When a mugger jumps on you while you carry this weapon–a hardwood, 1-1.5′ stick on the striking end, with a one inch handle on the other–you leave him crippled. A REAL weapon. Something that authorities may one day outlaw or regulate. That is REAL self-defense. Sorry, but there are many people–too many people–who would challenge (and survive) an encounter with that Eskrima you’re playing with right now. But train for 90 days with the old school billy club cops use to carry, if a guy did challenge you, after the first hit landed he’d be more compliant. And we really do have to train with it. I’ve trained with one for years, and I’ve always laughed at Arnis guys who come over and try to do their system’s stuff with it. It’s barely got any weight to it, but most guys can’t do anything practical with it but demo stuff in slow motion. But get to full speed, full power with one of these–you are wielding some serious fire power in your hands. This should replace the standard 3/4″ rattan, for sure.
  2. The walking cane. Something you can take into an airport. Again, hardwood, with enough weight that if you used on an attacker, he would feel and look like he were hit by a car. Trust me, with a real walking cane–even your Grandma’s walking cane–with very little training, you could have the effectiveness, nearly, of a razor sharp Katana. And this is real talk–go and experience some Filipino Tapado. Ask anyone who’s seen it; very few guys would want to go up against a true Tapado fighter with anything less than a gun. It’s time to change our focus.
  3. Brass Knuckles. If we are going to do hand held weapons, I know you guys are stuck on small blades and Karambits–but I’m not convinced. Give me a pair of Brass knuckles and promise me I won’t go to prison for using it–I’ll take on any guy in the world. I have met many Karambit practitioners–never met one willing to spar me. I’ve used Brass Knuckles, and I feel like fricking Superman with it. Train with brass knuckles before you call me crazy… you will too.
  4. Oh yeah ^^ they’re illegal. So what. So are numb-chuks. But you still have them right? This is for art. And self-protection.
  5. The Bolo. If you have never trained daily with one, you should. The dynamic is very different from a stick, I don’t care what your Guro said. If you do Eskrima, you cannot simply pick up a Bolo and use it with equal effectiveness. Add this to your regular repertoire, and you’ve got some good martial arts. You’ll need more than occasional training with it to make it functional. The handles vary, and you have to have consistent practice and training to learn how to hold it, how to generate power with it, how to develop true blade awareness with it.
  6. Speaking of which, Blade Awareness. Real understanding of the blade, not just the usual patty cake and disarming, but actually learning how to use, cut, hold, and manipulate the blade. Have you ever attempted a cut test with razor sharp blades? If not, you shouldn’t be teaching knife or sword fighting; it is just as important as the techniques. I’ve seen Guros who can’t cut a rolled up newspaper with my razor sharp swords. The Japanese are light years ahead of us on this, and they didn’t use to be. We’ve just become so wrapped up in “modern” martial arts, we’ve lost sight of this very important skill to the point that it sounds foreign to FMA people. No blade awareness, you have no blade skill.
  7. Single weapons over double weapons. Seriously, for serious self-defense, we have to focus on single weapons that are more practical and useful for street self-defense. Double weapons are cool to look at, but mostly people are just doing drills and prearranged (read:  choreographed) techniques. Single weapons are most likely what you will use if you needed it, and we are simply spending too much time with stuff we will probably never actually use in self-defense. It is certainly time to drop the fancy stuff, because there is enough practical stuff we are ignoring or under-emphasizing.
  8. Empty Hands. Guys, look. I know I hurt some feeling with my views. But is is not 2017, and not ONE FMA guy has shown up at my door to defend “FMA Empty Hand”. You know who has? Non-FMA guys who cross trained, and some of them became my students after our match. You have challenged me on damn near every humorous article I’ve published, and I hear you’ve challenged the Comrach Bas (I think that’s what it’s called) founder, Christophe Clugston–and didn’t show up. This is embarrassing. Our elders are rolling over in their graves. Stop it. All I’ve said, and I’m sure Mr. Clugston will agree, that the FMA have a good thing going, but money and ego has ruined it, and today, the Filipino arts are NOT delivering what we promised. Want proof? Name one FMA tournament where guys fought empty handed. And please don’t hand me that “too deadly” bullshit. The FMAs ARE practical. But we must use these arts in order to connect our theories with the applications. I have the same issue with Kung Fu guys. Add Empty Hand to our tournaments, and FMA guys need to start FIGHTING with our FMA empty hand. Screw what I wrote; just do it, prove it to yourself, and the art will evolve back to the direction it needs to go. And stop asking me to post videos of what I think FMA is supposed to look like; that’s not how you challenge a guy. Just start using these techniques in live fights, and the changes will happen naturally.

And there you have it. The FMA revolution. But there will be a Part II, so stay tuned! And if you haven’t, please subscribe… you don’t want to miss what is coming!

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