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!!”


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!

Thanks for visiting my blog.


Author: thekuntawman

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

8 thoughts on “Time for an FMA Revolution”

  1. A great post. Many ideas here on blowing fresh air into training. I especially like the brass knuckles.


  2. Guro, another example of how you are able to be straight forward and uncomplicated in your argument to change something. Congrats,a very very good article. Thanks! robert f

  3. Provocative …. But i can see your point it is worth exploring in training although I do believe that a heavier rattan stickmcan do a lot of damage if utilized properly and not using flick of the wrist style techniques.

    1. Yes thank you. I been using it for about 18 years, and your right. I realized that when we use the heavy woods, like cocobolo and bahi, techniques like the abaniko and witik with the stick really becomes advance techniques. This is why I say that those techniques, twirlings and things-are advance techniques and taught too early. I believe that anytime we have to do things like use weaker sticks in order to use techniques, the students are not ready. There’s no rush, and we have to allow ourselves to develop slowly and properly. We are getting too impatient in promoting students these days. So now, the only difference between the student and graduate is how coordinated the graduate is. If we change to a more combat oriented Eskrima, it will help us return to our roots as a true fighting system.

  4. I agree more combat oriented training is better for sure sport is cool but i believe eskrima should be practical and adaptable to weapons if opportunity . love your article in fma emptyhands 🙂

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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.