Time for an FMA Revolution, Part II

This is a continuation of an article I wrote last year introducing a few suggestions about an “FMA Revolution” I thought should take place. If you hadn’t read it, follow this link and take a look. I think you might see some things that will help you bring your martial arts up to modern times. Times change, along with the needs of the average student of those times. Everything from the needs of the martial arts student, to how the art is imparted, to who the art is used against–all change. 100 years ago, Arnis fighters used these arts against foreign invaders. During times of peace, Arnis fighters use the arts for self defense needs as well as for duels to settle disputes. In recent times, Arnisadors have contests which allow them to preserve the art in safe conditions using safety equipment. With introduction of safety equipment, the attributes needed to be a so-called “skilled” Eskrimador changed–which in turn will change the way the art is changed. In old times, power, accuracy and pain tolerance were the focus of an Arnis student’s training. Teachers used a smaller arsenal of techniques while spending more time developing those skills and attributes. Today, which safety equipment and two/three round fights, students have larger arsenals with more techniques as well as an emphasis on endurance and fitness that fighters of old could care less about. One may argue that arts that do not change with the time are keeping to tradition, but they may not necessarily be relevant to the needs of the modern student. Therefore those arts often die out, save for a handful of those with nostalgic leanings. At the same time, an FMA purist (such as the  younger version of myself) will argue that arts that keep up with the times are diluted and therefore illegitimate. If an old dog like myself can admit that perhaps I was mistaken about past criticisms of the Filipino arts, maybe there is a chance for you young guys. 😉

So here’s something I’d like to throw out at you…

It’s time to award or create “majors” in the Filipino arts. Majors as in “major” fields of study. Just as it’s true that every art can’t contain or specialize in everything–every expert won’t be an expert in every subart of the FMA. We love to brag about the 12 weapons or fields of study, the 4 subarts of the FMA, blah blah blah… but how often have you seen a so-called Grandmaster teach a seminar over a period of 5-10 years, and teach the same stuff as his knowledge of throwed weapons, flexible weapons, or empty hand skills? This is a conversation I have with this community often, and is the premise of the unpopular “FMA Empty Hand” article. Sure you know some “Empty Hand”. But do not be mistaken my friends:  Many of you are stick guys showing a few translations without the stick. Very few Eskrimadors who claim “the stick is the knife is the long weapons is the empty hand” can really get down with every weapon he knows. There is nothing wrong with having a specialty, and sending your students to another master if they wish to learn something you are unfamiliar with. But it is fashionable to pretend you can use anything as a weapon just because you are knowledgeable with a few weapons–and this just isn’t true. A good test is if you can be competitive with–and beat–a fighter who is only versed in that art.

An inside joke I shared with my FMA friends came from a video we once watched at a friend’s house, where a highly skilled Eskrima master declared to the viewer that “Kali is also ADVANCED Judo, ADVANCED Karate, ADVANCED Kung Fu…” Do we have grappling in the FMAs? Yes we do–some. But we are not grapplers. Do we have boxing in the FMAs? Yes, some. But we are not comparable with boxers who specialize in fist fighting. Do we have knife fighting in the FMAs? YES. And now we are getting somewhere! How would you feel if a Tae Kwon Do guy announced, that he was just as good as an FMA guy with a knife? Like me, you’d probably fall out laughing. But that’s how we look to boxers when we try to pass off “Dirty boxing” as something that can defeat boxing.

And this leads me to the point of the article. You must think outside the box. The Filipino arts has many, many skills within our curriculums. In my opinion, the Filipino arts are the superior fighting art of most of the martial arts world. Give me two years with a student, and in two years, I would bet my life savings on that student, armed with a knife, using his Eskrima against your favorite MMA fighter. This art isn’t perfect, but I believe the Filipino fighting arts are as close to being the most unbeatable art on the planet. And this, without having to cross pollinate with BJJ, Muay Thai, or any other non-Filipino art. Am I being biased? Perhaps. But in my prime, I trained more than anyone I knew, and could take anyone. I am fully confident that you give me a guy for a few years, and he’ll be better than I ever was. But due to the mismatch of the changing times, the unchanging art, and the foolish changes that did occur–we collectively weakened the art by trying to add too much, too easily, and taught them too soon and too fast. The way to reach your potential in the art is to choose a specialty and develop it as fully and completely as possible. One cannot accomplish this while attending seminars and adding new techniques and skills every six months. The goal is development–not learning. That is the flaw of the “always a student” philosophy. You can take classes until you’re blue in the face; but it does you not one lick of good until you develop and hone and perfect those skills.

There are many facets of the martial arts we can certify students in, and when we award blanket “Teaching credentials”, what are we claiming they are experts in? Self-defense? Street fighting? Competition fighting? Armed combat against armed opponents? Unarmed combat against armed opponents? Boxing? Self-defense experts are not ring fighters. Ring fighters are not street fighting specialists. Street fighting specialists are not experts at teaching children’s self-defense against bullies. None of the above can coach an Arnis student to championships in an Arnis competition. And then once you’ve identified what style of fighting or self-defense this student is qualified to do, we must then decide if he is qualified to TEACH. Many of you may have been good fighters, but you never learned the art of teaching. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to distinguish between someone who has learned your curriculum, someone who has exceled at your curriculum, someone who is an expert at combat with your curriculum, and someone who has learned the art of teaching and coaching.

And here’s the big question… Do YOU know all these areas of the martial arts?

Eskrima/Arnis, Kuntaw, Silat, Sikaran, Buno–all have many weapons and skills. Do you simply know these weapons, or have you actually exceled, tested, perfected, or mastered each weapon and skill? Honestly, many people are teaching weapons and skills that they barely know themselves. My cousin who teaches Tapado was once visited by a group of Eskrimadors who witnessed his Tapado skills. A few months later, our students encountered these men teaching a Tapado-like art to their students. I had met a man who claimed to teach “Filipino boxing” and when I offered to box him and bring my students to test their skills, declined the match because his students weren’t ready and he didn’t learn Filipino boxing to actually “box”. I politely suggested that he decided what he was actually an expert in–and stick to teaching that.

Like I said guys–it’s time for an FMA Revolution.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

 

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My Thoughts on Rousey-Nunes (and Cross Training)

Let’s take a break from our discussion of FMAs and turn our attention towards MMA for a second. Because of the nature of the modern FMA man’s martial philosophy–one of “learn what works, discard what doesn’t”–this subject is highly appropriate for this blog. On top of that, it is highly relevant to the modern FMA man.

So many lessons for today's martial artists in this fight...
So many lessons for today’s martial artists in this fight…

First, let me state that I am a Ronda Rousey fan. Not because of her; I actually dislike her personality, her unnecessary rudeness in the ring, her weak response to losses, her disrespect of opponents. I like Ronda because of who her mother is. Secondly, I do not celebrate her devastating losses as moral lessons against her supposed arrogance. I do believe that a certain amount of confidence-borderline-arrogance is needed to make it in the fight game. You do not pursue fight sports if you feel anything short of superior to everyone else. I saw her loss as a blow to the arrogance of Edmond Tarverdyan–a man I believe has displayed much of what is wrong with MMA and martial arts in general. Basically, we have men who know little to nothing about fighting in the ring, charging students money, training them poorly, and watching them get destroyed in the ring. I am convinced that Edmond saw Ronda as not much more than a come-up. He took a student who already had skills, pretended to train her in a skill that neither he nor she knew anything about–then planned to take credit for her wins when she steps in the ring and (hopefully) becomes the victor for skills and abilities she already possessed. He must have been clueless of how little he knew about stand up fighting–or didn’t care. This type of foolishness could have gotten Ronda killed in the ring. It certainly, at a minimum, destroyed her career. He made so many mistakes in training her–from allowing her to skip post-fight interviews to avoid facing the public after such a horrific display, to allowing her skills to decline while actively training, to failing to insist that she show respect to opponents, to failing to stop the damned fight when his fighter went 15 seconds under attack without defending or returning fire. Bottom line, Edmond Tarverdyan was a complete failure in every sense of the word–and this was one of the poorest examples of a fight trainer I have ever seen in my life. And trust me, I’ve seen some pretty bad ones. This is the first Olympian I’ve ever heard of being dominated so badly–and under his watch.

The Ronda Rousey-Amanda Nuñez fight highlights, proves, and brings several points home that I make on this blog all the time. When I preach against cross-training in favor of cross-fighting, one needs to look no further than this fight and a few others like it to see the point I’m making.While many use the dominance of MMA fighters over traditional martial artists to prove the validity of cross-training, I believe that such a match-up only proves the validity of rigorous training of MMA fighters over the casual training of their traditional opponents. When Ronda first hit the scene, just as Royce Gracie had done–as did Cung Le, Lyoto Machida, and a few others, they dominated because of their expertise at their specialty–not because of any cross training. Ronda was dominant at Judo, which her opponents could not figure out. Royce at ground fighting, Cung Le at San Shou, etc. Stand up didn’t help Ronda unless she was fighting smaller opponents who were lousy at stand up. Royce never came close to knocking anyone out while striking and kicking. The golden rule to this issue is to become better at what you do than your opponent is at what HE (or she) does, and learn to use what you do best to beat what he does best. What Ronda was trained to do completely violates this rule. She ignored her aces and face cards, and played with her numbered cards:  She is a Judo expert who tried to box a boxer. When a martial artist spends the majority of his education with one style of fighting, and then years later undertakes another for a short period of time, he cannot expect to defeat an opponent who specializes in his newly undertaken skill. In Ronda’s case, she was a grappler who began studying stand-up fighting in her 20s after a lifetime of Judo training. Without taking into consideration the level of stand-up instruction she received–she attempted to defeat a champion boxer with boxing she had only studied a few years. Those of you who are Karate, Kenpo, Muay Thai, Kung Fu, Eskrima fighters who study Jujitsu in case you end up fighting a grappler will suffer the same fate. You believe that a few years of study in BJJ (or sadly, less) will aid you in defeating someone who is heads above you in skill. A foolhardy idea.

If Mike Tyson were to face a college wrestler on the street, do you believe he would stop boxing to grapple with the wrestler? Or do you believe he would try to knock the wrestler out? Let me pose something to you:  Many of you feel Mike should know at least “some” grappling in the event he is taken down. This is an amateurish notion. You are assuming that because many stand up fighters get taken down in the ring, stand-up will always get taken down. I hear it all the time. Guys will say “All you gotta do is duck below his punch and then execute a takedown, and…”  Easier said than done. Just because you saw a refridgerator repairman on TV get taken down it doesn’t mean every stand up fighter will too. It’s a simple, basic formula:

  1. You better at what you > He is at what he does = You win
  2. He is better at what he does > You at what you do = He wins
  3. You know how to beat his skill with your skill = You win
  4. He can beat your skill with his skill = He wins

That’s it. Plain old common sense and mathematics.

I will repeat what I’ve said a million times on this blog… The higher level of martial arts is not “blending” or “mixing” or “reinventing”–not even “self-expression”. The higher level of the martial arts is MASTERY–doing what you do at the highest level possible, leaving no stone unturned concerning investigation, development and testing, and the ability to adapt your art to almost any situation. Think a guy who can repair almost any car problem with a wrench, hammer and duct tape. Don’t think of the cliched “Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight”; think winning a gun fight with a knife. Think McGyver, who can jerryrig himself out of any problem with a paperclip and scotchtape. Develop your art until you can’t squeeze anything else out of it’s potential. Too many martial artists–like Ronda–are leaving all kinds of meat on the bone while searching the fridge for something else to eat. You leave too much on the table while looking to add something else to your repertoire. Mixed martial arts isn’t supposed to be adding lousy boxing to good grappling. It should be adding great boxing to great grappling, or great grappling to great boxing. But in my opinion, the higher level to that is putting great boxing up against great grappling and let the masters figure it out. That, I would pay an arm and a leg to see (or compete in!)

One last thought.

How cool would it be if Rousey came back after being trained by her mother and winning the UFC with just her Judo? A true test of styles!
How cool would it be if Rousey came back after being trained by her mother and winning the UFC with just her Judo? A true test of styles!

I would love to see Ronda give it one more shot, but train with her mother instead. And instead of trying to learn to box, just try to figure out a strategy to beat stand up fighters with her #1 weapon: Judo. It would be a great display of one specialty against another. I do NOT believe you have to learn to box to beat a boxer or that you have to learn to grapple to beat a grappler. The key is to figure out *how* to used your specialty against his specialty. Ronda last fight is a perfect example of trying to fight someone else’s fight. You can’t. Just like if Mayweather tries to use BJJ to beat a grappler, he will get trashed if he ignores the sharpest tool in his toolbox. If anyone could get this article to her, I’d love for her to do this. I believe I read that she is a Catholic. The Fifth Commandment is to “Honor Thy Mother and Father”. Well in the spirit of this directive, what better way to honor your mother than by finally doing what SHE recommends? Let the world see what Ronda can do by approaching it your mom’s way? You’re already a pioneer in MMA, pioneer something else by being the first mother-daughter duo to enter the UFC and show these folks how it’s done?

How many of you would like to see that?

I don’t believe she’s washed up. She is still young, she is still hard-working. She just followed behind a jackass who misled her career. There is plenty of time to come back, reinvent herself and jump-start her career again. There are those of you who think she has nothing left. So what? What could be sweeter than coming back from two devastating losses and returning to your roots and becoming Queen of the Mountain once more? Ronda, you are still young, you may be still hungry, you’re not even 30 yet. This is what champions are made of. So what you lost twice. Champions aren’t counted by how many times they’ve been knocked down; they are counted by how many times they get up. Even the great Muhammad Ali suffered THREE defeats and came back. You’re young enough to do it; just don’t give up, and don’t try to come back doing the same thing you did before.

Okay guys, 1600 words. It’s not like I get paid to do this stuff. Back to laughing at Japanese pranks on YouTube. Thanks for visiting my blog.

 

 

Thoughts on FMA Empty Hand, pt II: “Translating”

This article is a continuation of yesterday’s article, answering a reader’s question about the effectiveness of FMA empty hand. If you haven’t read it, please do, because you will need to understand where I am coming from in order to fully grasp what I am saying here.

One part of Mike’s question is that he wanted to transition from weapons to empty hand, and this is a conversation that I believe is sorely needed in the Filipino arts. My articles on this blog, which I’ve got several that address this idea, are almost always met with anger and opposition and even a few challenges here and there. Unfortunately, the only two who had ever shown up to follow through have been non-FMA guys who had limited exposure to the FMAs. Both, in fact, became students of mine. So let’s just give the short answer first, then I will give the longer answer afterwards.

In short, weapons translations to empty hand is a waste of time if your interest is combat and self defense.

And here’s why.

I have yet to meet, spar/fight, or see spar/fight a martial artist who subscribes to this philosophy who could spar or fight well. Are there Eskrimadors who can fight empty handed? Of course, there are many. But I have never met a man who can fight empty handed using skills called “Empty Handed Eskrima”. Where I’ve met Eskrimadors who can fight empty handed, he is using Muay Thai, boxing, BJJ, or something else. Trust me, I’ve tried! But I gave up in the 1990s on finding FMA guys who could use this stuff, and then I just changed my focus on developing what I do into something that is hard to beat. I doubt there are many men reading this article who have been challenged as often as I have, so good luck finding such a fighter. Now, for those who wondered if I believe that FMA empty hand is ineffective… No I don’t. I understand and teach many of the things taught in seminars and DVDs and certification courses, but as I say in my articles–they don’t work the way most people teach them. This is what is ineffective. Ideas like “catching a jab”, gunting, and other FMA empty hand staples are in fact effective, but the way most people teach them will get students clobbered on the street. The test of it all is if these skills can be used effectively and with dominance against a non-FMA man who is both an adversary as well as unfriendly and combative. In the rare occasions I have seen FMA folks use their empty hand skills against myself, my students, or a non-FMA fighter the skills were ineffective. So if someone would like to demonstrate these skills used effectively, I’d welcome the opportunity.

This is not to suggest that weaponed movement is not similar to empty hand movement. Doesn’t take advanced science; of course the movements may be related. But it is NOT true that if you study stick fighting, “you can pick up a stick, a knife, a broom, a sword, a common household object, blah blah blah, quack quack quack…”  We need to stop spreading that nonsense. A fist is a fist, a stick is a stick, a small blade is a small blade, a staff is a staff, and a nightstick is a nightstick. Each of these are very different from the other, and must be learned and trained separately. So an Eskrima #1 to the temple may come at the same angle as a right hook, an Eskrima #1 with a knife, and an Eskrima #1 with a staff–but the distance is completely different, the damage caused is not the same, power is generated completely differently, the TARGETS on the opponent will be different, and the method of defending each is not even closely related to the other. For example, let’s create a small matrix below:

  1. Eskrima #1 with rattan stick–distance of about 3-4 feet away/designed to break or shatter bones/power generated mostly with arm/striking the temple, neck or eye socket/defend by leaning out, stopping striking arm with either hand or blocking stick itself close to the opponent’s hand
  2. Hook Punch with fist–distance of 2-3 feet away/intended to lacerate eye or rended opponent unconscious/power generated from waist/targets are eye socket, jaw, cheekbone/defend by raising elbow to meet punch, ducking, shooting punch straight at opponent’s face while protecting jaw with punching arm’s shoulder
  3. Eskrima #1 with knife–distance less than 3 feet/intended to cut flesh/power originates from attacker’s grip, arm movement, and how much of blade makes contact with skin/targets are primarily neck, face, arms–but any available exposed skin (may not damage if opponent is wearing jacket, sweater or blade is serrated)/defended by blocking followed by grappling, intercepting, or evading
  4. Eskrima #1 with staff–distance greater than 4 feet/used to break bones or maintain range/power generated by momentum of the strike/targets are head and limbs/defended by intercepting opponent’s range of motion at close range

Throw in speed (each of these are used at different speed and tempos), ability to attack in combination (some weapons are likely used in combination, others will be single strikes), and either fighter’s familiarity with the weapons–you will see that you cannot simply “translate” one to the other without any serious study. Each is so different from the other–they are completely different arts and skill sets. So while they all come at a similar angle, once cannot just make a blanket claim to proficiency or ability at each weapons just because you know Eskrima. It is impractical, dishonest, irresponsible, and foolish. Try a stick defense against a knife, and you’ll be in big trouble. Use a hook defense against a staff, and prepare to be thrashed. The footwork is different for these weapons, the timing is different, and the distance and likelihood of a counter attack varies, depending on which weapon is being used. To think that one can translate a staff to a hand, a knife to and elbow, a chair to a rattan stick is naive and foolish. Shame on the teachers out here teaching that stuff.

In order to be an effective empty hands fighter, you must simply train and investigate empty hands fully. Eskrima Empty Hands can be highly effective, but one cannot just devote 15 minutes of class time to it, playing patty cake and hitting focus mitts and think you’re preparing for the streets. The nuances and intricasies of fighting without a weapon must be dissected, studied, trained, and tested–then studied some more. Much more than what the average FMA guy is doing, and darned sure not in the same way you would practice stick and knife. If I could ever fault our pioneering Grandmasters in the western FMA world for anything (besides promoting this as an art one could “add-on” to other arts in seminars and video), it would be this one fallacy, that learning weapons means your empty hands improves. It simply is not true. They are separate schools and separate specialties. Students will suffer a great disservice by teachers who teach and promote classes without fully investigating these skills and subarts. It would be better to drop those weapons from one’s curriculum and inform students that we have not specialized in those arts, than to lie to them and say we know it all because we know how to swing a stick. If you want to become proficient at small blades, you must train primarily with small blades. If you want to become an expert at the rattan stick (as opposed to the hard wood stick; I consider these different weapons and skill sets), you will need to choose it as a specialty. If you want to specialize with the staff, empty hands, the bolo, yo yo, or other weapons–you must undertake it like a college major. The Filipino martial arts are indeed one of the great combat arts. Our arts are practical, simple, and deadly. We are most effective at fighting with weapons, rivaled only by Japanese Kendo/sword related arts. Our masters are walking libraries of information because unlike most other stylists–they have actually fought with the weapons they teach. But they are not all-inclusive. Just as a libary is a place of learning for nearly all subjects, you cannot possibly know everything just because you walk in one–not even just because you work in one. You cannot absorb knowledge through osmosis. The information is there, but most of it must be explored, deciphered, and developed. Sticks and knifes can indeed enhance empty hand skill–but this is not automatic, and it is not 100% relatedable. Please remember this. We are, at our core–weapons fighters.

I should also add that it is not necessary to go to other arts to supplement FMAs as well. There is enough in the Filipino arts to gain this knowledge; but it must be studied, trained, and tested. In tomorrow’s segment, we will discuss how to do so even further. Thank you for visiting my blog.

And if you haven’t read my book, How to Build a Dominant Fighter, make sure you get it. It is an easy, quick read; my training philosophy is summed up in its pages. It’s a great place to start!

Thoughts on FMA Empty Hand: The Doubter (for Mike Jolly)

Ah, that “Fallacy of FMA Empty Hand” article… I thought my Hermit article would be my defining article, yet the Empty Hand article seems to be the one that endears me to my readers–or make me the FMA public enemy #1. No need to fret FMA brothers and sisters, by this time in 2017, I will be retired and back in the Philippines and will be able to accept the many challenges I’ve received over the last 15 years. Being that we are all Filipinos and part of this beautiful culture, I expect that those who issued challenges will actually show up? I would like to announce here on this blog that the Typhoon Philippine School is coming to Batangas and Manila, so I will need such matches both on the mat and off–in the dojo and out–to build credibility for my schools. If you are interested in a match, training, or just to have lunch–please leave a comment under this article and we will see you soon, kumpadres!

So I receive a question that I’ve often answered by email or in person. I’d like to post my reply here, because it is one that the Fallacy article has sparked. I received it via Facebook and it is from one of our readers who was not offended by the article.

By the way, I should admit. When I wrote the article, I wasn’t angry–but feeling silly that day, and the article was meant to be sarcastic and humorous. The articles following the fallout were written while I was angry, but not this one. I am shocked, but not disappointed by the response. Let me say this, FMA brothers:  You should welcome people who doubt the validity of your art; not be offended. We are martial artists. We grow through our experiences, through stress-tests, through defending our arts, and by having our skills and ideas challenged. A man who says he does not think your art is fully effective should become your best sounding board after your response. You should prove yourself to him, and make him a believer. People keep saying, “I don’t have anything to prove to you.” Oh no? Then you are in the wrong art, my friend. Fighting is not about opinion; fighting is all about proof and what you can do. Theories in the martial arts should not be theories for long. In order to convert your theories to actual combat methods, you absolutely must “prove” its validity to yourself, to your rivals, to your peers, to the public. Otherwise, an unproven martial arts theory isn’t worth the paper they are written on. They are as smelly and undesirable as the breath you explain them with. You can dress them up with mints and fruit juice and bubble gum all day long, but at the end of the day and unproven, untested martial arts theory is nothing more than smelly old, hot air. This is not what the FMA is all about. So when a guy says, I don’t believe your art–this is a great opportunity for you to pick up your stick or put on a pair of gloves and make this guy a believer. And when you do, you will end up like me:  admired or hated.

That said, doubters have a second important role in the martial arts. They cause you to think. I don’t discount any new idea I encounter in the art. If unable to test the theory, I will at least reflect on what I do to ponder if the guy has a point or not. Quite often, I have been perplexed by something a martial artist had said and went on to test the idea. Once, I was showing a technique to a friend who was not a martial artist. He was a police officer, and had fought for a weapon on several occasions. He was helping me put together a curriculum I was teaching to some Maryland State Troopers, and thought my techniques wouldn’t work. We took a plastic water gun and a knife, and spent a few days fighting over the knife as well as the water gun. At the end of the week, we both had learned about disarming, neutralizing and weapons retention. He learned how realistic disarming and neutralizing could be–I learned the limitations of disarming and neutralizing–and we both learned more about weapons retention on top of what he was already taught to do. I’d like to add a side note here. My friend’s name is Brad (won’t use his last name), and he is one of those “good cops”. I didn’t realize it then (1996), but each time I showed something, he kept saying, “We can’t do that”, and “That technique is banned”, things to that nature. I realizing retrospect that Brad was exploring ways to deal with an armed, combative subject without killing him. In fact, he wouldn’t even allow me to teach him simple skills like punching to the face, striking the head with a baton, and redirecting a knife into the attacker’s belly. In my opinion, he is a truly respectable officer who puts his life on the line–rather than the rhetoric I hear today of “kill the subject if you think you’re in danger”.  If the average citizen must use appropriate level of force even in self-defense–our trained police officers should do the same. Political rant over. Anyway, I was humbled. I realized that many things I was teaching at that time were either inappropriate for Western culture, or plain old impractical. After only four days of wrestling with a man who had never studied the martial arts, I modified a good portion of my Eskrima permanently into the art I teach to day. Encountering doubters can do wonders for your development as a martial artist, even if you are a Master of the art–if you allow it to.

And now, the question:

Question for you sir if you have a few minutes…I follow your blog, and I appreciate the honesty you put out, I’ve read your post on the fallacy of FMA empty hand combatives in the sense it’s taught now days in the different kali organizations. I do believe myself the FMA are superior when it comes to the use of tools but me wanting to specialize in being not only a high weapons practitioner but to be able to transition from empty hands to a tool, against one or mass attack scenario. What would you recommend and thoughts on this subject? Thank you for your help and time

All articles on this blog are edited before being published, so please stay tuned for part II. Thank you 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!

Thanks for visiting my blog.

 

The “Wrecking” of the Filipino Martial Arts…

Social Media is abuzz with anger and hurt feelings, and this time it ain’t because of anything Mustafa Gatdula wrote… 😉

So there is a martial artist named Christophe Clugston who is posting video blogs about the martial arts. From what I can see, he is as true to the spirit of the Filipino martial arts as can be–at least, what I was taught the Filipino arts were supposed to be:

  • efficient
  • effective
  • provable
  • adversarial
  • destructive
  • evolving
  • dominant
  • indomitable
  • per the taste and specialty/specialties of the keeper of that style

Not everyone is true to these principles. Too often, FMA guys get into the flashiness of a cute demo, where you could wow audiences with the most clever ways to take a stick or flip a balisong. How many ways can we weave our hands as if we had sticks and demonstrate how “connected” our sticks are with our knives and our hands–regardless of how ineffective they are. And speaking of “effective”–there is truly only ONE definition, but too often our FMA brothers will try to explain why their definition is not your definition… to each his own. See, you’re sparring, I fight to the death, if I use my guntings I will leave you crippled or dead and we can’t really spar sports style with this stuff it’s too deadly. We are the kind of people who will tell you how our Grandmasters fought to the death when he created this style–but as a modern day Guro, I won’t even fight a “bloody nose match”–let alone a death match. But if I challenge you to a light sparring match, you’ll tell me you only fight to the death. And a pocket full of posies…

The Grandmasters of yesterday, if he were not revered in stories today, was an asshole. He would look you in the face and tell you those other Grandmasters weren’t shit. He will tell you that his style is the best, and that other Grandmaster copied off him when they were younger. He will tell you about how a Karate guy went in his dojo one day to fight him and he chickened out. He will tell you that if you want to learn to fight, do this–and anything else you do is a waste of time. He is not politically correct, he may be homophobic, somewhat racist, he doesn’t care if you’re sore from last class, you pussy–wrap that ankle up and keep training. He may not speak the language well, but who wants from whom? You’d better get a Tagalog dictionary and keep up! Those masters of yesteryear bragged, he may have been rude, abrasive, quick to insult or challenge and slow to compliment. If you don’t have those fees for class today, go back to work and come back when you’ve got it. If he thinks you made a sissy move, he will tell you. He is not into trying to baby your low self esteem, he gives horrible relationship advice, he may have been a drunk, a gambler, a womanizer–but if you want to learn how to beat someone into the ground and never know the sting of defeat, you’ve come to the right place.

Today’s Guro does not compare. Sorry. Quite often, you are learning from a guy who has never beaten anyone’s ass in his entire life. He has never known the feeling of being the Tiger in the room, has never known what it feels like to know that he can whip any man in town. But he is old, he is Filipino, and if he’s not Filipino–he’s got certificates to say that he might as well be Filipino. All that paper on his wall, and the only scars he has are from a paper cut. Today’s Guro is a showman, he is a used care salesman, he is a comedian, he is a Master presenter. He sells everything from price-inflated rattan to teaching certificates to Master certificates to local licenses to use his art’s name–and will take it away if you piss him off. He is a great talker, he’s a historian our Colonial masters would be proud of (his stories are as reliable as a colonial master’s), he is a true hustler who knows how to make a buck and convince you he’s the cat’s meow. He might have come from humble beginnings, but today, he’s got so many certified “Guros” and certificates, he can’t name them all. If he took any one of his “certified Masters” under him to a tournament, he wouldn’t bet a dime on his guy versus any fighter in the place. Nothing like yesterday’s Guro, who will swear that if you beat his guy, he’ll pack up and move. Today’s Guro is merely spreading the art and making money–yesterday’s Guro trained you as if his livelihood depended upon your ability to win fights.

Which brings me back to Christophe Clugston. My introduction to him was observing a flame war on YouTube between him and some random guy talking like an expert under a video. Mr. Clugston first tried explaining his view, then before you know it, he’s telling the guy he doesn’t know shit, couldn’t back it up, or something like that. Actually, I’ve seen this sort of thing a few times. Those who have known me for a long time, know why I like him; I was the same way a few years back. And trust me, this isn’t disrespect–it’s confidence. If you have done your research, you’ve done your homework, you KNOW what you’re talking about–no way are you going to let someone who is most likely not your equal speak with authority. If you are a Filipino martial artist and this type of trash talking bothers you, shame on you. Trash talking is as natural to the FMA as it is in the sport of boxing, it’s what we do. If you have thin skin, you are in the wrong business. If your feelings are easily hurt, how tough can the body be in a stickfight? This seems to be the only adversarial activity where a man claiming to be an expert gets offended when someone asks him to do what he is an expert in.

Huh?

Let’s repeat that. You, as an Eskrimador, Arnisador, Kalisto–claim to be an expert on fighting. But when a guy says, “Your style doesn’t look effective, you’ll have to prove it to me”–you get mad?? Or worse, you refuse to fight, give reasons why a “fight” isn’t a “fight”, therefore proves nothing! Right here on this blog, I’ve been challenged to “post a video” proving my case when the correct answer is to show up at my school and ask for a match. Post a video? Excuse me while I walk away and LMAO.

And check this out folks, I haven’t even gotten to the content of the video yet. 🙂

Regardless of what Mr. Clugston believes “wrecked” the FMA, I’m appalled (but not surprised) at how angry FMA guys are about it. Even some Filipino masters are pissed. He has legitimate gripes, and these are his opinions. The man is clearly interested in fighting. I’m positive he, like many others, traveled to the Philippines to learn to fight–using the art written about so extensively–just to have some “Master” charge him an arm and a leg to learn a bunch of drills and unrealistic choreographed techniques. He probably investigated FMA “Empty Hand”, just to discover, several thousands of dollars later–that this weapons master doesn’t know jack shit about fighting empty handed. Well, I tell you what… this explains why there is never any empty hand fighting going on at Arnis tournaments, even in the Philippines. Hell, the only “FMA empty hand” you see at our tournaments are when some kid’s bulky gloves won’t allow him to hold on to his toothpick and he *drops it*. We walk around wearing titles, writing “Constitutions” and “By Laws” for our Eskrima style (the hell is all of that all about?), giving certificates in 4 weeks of training, charging foreigners a ton of money for the same amount of puke you can buy on our DVD, and we know damn well the one thing we supposedly do best, we do the least. Chew on that.

And that is, fight.

Even a group of Americans, the Dog Brothers, had to show the Philippines what our Eskrima looks like when our grandparents had it. 30 years after they were founded, I wonder how many of us would acknowledge Mark Denny and Eric Knaus as true Grandmasters.

I have seen some foreign Eskrimadors work full time to promote their teachers and their systems, live and breathe this stuff, by pass careers in law, law enforcement and real estate–to benefit their teachers–just to be discredited or disowned later. Men like Buzz Smith, Greg Alland, Bill McGrath, Tim Waid–have all had to watch their efforts and hard work go unappreciated and dismissed. You think after all this, maybe–Mr. Clugston has a point? I have been parroting many of these points myself online and right here on this blog, it was good to see/hear someone else say it. Rather than jump all over the man, perhaps we should look at our state and think “Is this really where we want the FMA?” I know I don’t.

If the Filipino arts want to have the respect we deserve, we will have to conduct ourselves with respect. We will have to have enough balls to call out our GMs and GGMs when they behave like children or money-hungry crack whores. We must do something about the rush to certify everyone without ensuring they have the skill to represent us all. We must take another look at how we train, teach, execute, and judge these arts. Our tournaments must keep up with the times, too. The old fashioned Eskrima tournament is okay, but there should be another level to this stuff. On the world stage, we cannot treat the Arnis floor like it was our backyards. Make it exciting. Make it realistic. We take pride that we have (supposedly) the best stick and knife fighting on the planet–but are you sure? How many men reading this blog has fought a Chinese weapons fighter? A Kendo artist? A man using a Jo? Tell you what, Eskrima is one of the best, but did you know that a Filipino art was created just to beat Eskrima? Take a look at Katatapado in person (a video won’t do them justice)–the system is new, but well thought-out and those guys have a system that is so far ahead of what your local Guro is teaching. If any art was “too deadly” to spar with, I’d say it was Tapado. But where there is a will, there is a way. Take a look at these Aussies. This is the state of the art, modern day MMA with weapons, sort of gladiator, sort of old school Eskrima. This is a new millennium. It’s time to reflect about what’s the next level for our arts. Our beloved masters and grandmasters preserve the art for us, but as the current generation, we will have to find a way to maintain relevance.

If you are a believer of one of the Abrahamic faiths, you may recall that in most of the stories of the prophets and messengers, the people did not like the message nor the messenger. They always appreciated it when both where gone. Don’t shoot the messenger because you don’t like the message or how it was delivered. For the FMA man to get angry and look to discredit a fellow practitioner who is saying why the community is not growing, is like a businessman who sees a poor review on Yelp, and rather than reflect on why he received a poor score–he attacks the customer for being dissatisfied.

Look at Mr. Clugston’s site. He is interested in combat and self defense. He wants the best in combat and defense, and he came to the Philippines to learn it. Don’t get mad because the man left a few thousand dollars lighter but dissatisfied; get mad at WHY.  Let’s find out how we can make sure we have no more unhappy clients. No one should ever come to the Filipino arts and feel like he didn’t get the best training. Egos, money, branding, quality control. These are simple principles that if we adhere to them, ALL Eskrima teachers will enjoy more success.

Perhaps next time, we will talk about what’s actually IN the video. For now though, watch the video. Thank you for visiting my blog.

How Bad Do You Want This Art?

Seriously, how bad do you want to learn the FMA?

It appears to me that the majority of people studying the Filipino arts don’t have a sincere interest in the art. We’re kind of like the greasy spoon at the corner with the high prices and horrible food. No one really enjoys the service, but everyone still patronizes it because it’s close. Of course, once you learn to make the same food they offer you run out and open your own restaurant but then have the nerve to call yourself a “Chef” and pass this stuff off as gourmet.

I know, no one wants to admit that it’s like that but hear me out.

If you wanted to be a lawyer you have to do what–attend law school. But there is no law school in town. There may be a few law schools at the nearest large city to you, several hundred miles away. Then you have the best law schools a state or two over. You’ve got the “next best thing”, just forget law school and become a paralegal. And for the masses who have other obligations and can’t pay for tuition–nor do they possess the undergraduate degree and LSAT school–there is always Google. So, we do what we can. Those who are really, really serious spend four years as a hermit on some campus somewhere, working during breaks, studying hard, and end up at a place like Harvard. There are others who may be serious as well but lack the grades for an Ivy League education, but still travel to Texas, Los Angeles, or wherever they get accepted to attend the best school they can find. But the masses of kids who flirted with law school never go. They give up, it’s too hard, too expensive; or they convince themselves they really don’t want to attend law school so they become a–whatever–although some kids still have an interest. They grow up and choose another career path, whether related or not to the legal field. They watch TV shows about attorneys. They read articles. They read books. They give legal advice to friends. Do you see where I’m going?

The martial arts is one of the few walks of life where a guy who really isn’t serious about the path can circumvent attending an actual FMA school and become an FMA teacher and master. He has his choice of methods to learn:  Weekend seminars, correspondence courses on DVD, online training through websites and Youtube. And we have generations, entire lineages even, of FMA practitioners who trained this way. We even have reasons why it’s acceptable:  “Well, you know, the REAL knowledge in the FMAs aren’t found in schools–they’re found in backyards and garage dojos. That’s where the real deal fighters are…”  So, because many masters lacked a brick-and-mortar school, we’re supposed to accept FMA teachers who have never trained weekly with a teacher?

I have been asking potential students for years, who have inquired on my school:  How bad do you want this art? Are you willing to move here to learn? Not only has 99% of the out-of-towners lacked the willingness to travel, I’ve had many that wouldn’t train because I’m on the opposite side of town from them! Yes, right here in my city, many guys have opted for the Tae Kwon Do guy teaching “sticks” because a 20 minute drive is too inconvenient for them. They usually will ask me what my seminar schedule is, and if I offer a DVD or video of classes. Another guy paid for lessons, but only worked out twice–but wanted to video my classes instead. When I refused, he quit. Actually, my own students may laugh when they read this, because I’ve had at least five students attempt this. Sadly, one such fellow who did, I’ve recently seen on Facebook advertising his own Eskrima class–despite that he’s only done the Karate “sticks” class and some seminars. But this is what the FMA has become, the mistress art to otherwise serious martial artists of other systems. So my question to you is, how bad do you want to learn the Filipino arts?

Now, imagine that Harvard is accepting ANY students who will show up, and they are lowering their Law school tuition to rates lower than your local law school. Of course, you can’t bring Harvard to your city, but housing there is cheap–and now, the tuition is cheap.

Would you go?

Sadly, I would guess that most guys wouldn’t. They would pass up studying at perhaps the best law school they could find for mere pennies on the dollar–and be satisfied learning what they can from Youtube and Google.

Well, here’s my point. The average tuition for a martial arts school in the Philippines is about 1000 pesos a month. In US dollars, that’s maybe $21-22 a month. You can rent an apartment, depending on where you end up, as cheaply as $200 a month. Food? So cheap it’s ridiculous. How much was that last FMA certification you got?

There is a small elite group of American FMA teachers who have studied the Filipino arts at the source. If you weren’t lucky enough to live in Stockton, Los Angeles, San Jose, El Paso, NYC, Sacramento, Fresno–or anywhere else where authentic FMA Masters lived–being able to say that you’ve trained with guys most have only read about can go a long way. So while some guys here in America may brag that they’ve attended one or two Ernesto Presas or Leo Gaje seminars–I know men who have trained in person with those Grandmasters for years in their own schools (actually I am one of them). There is nothing you can get on a video tape or youtube clip that is equal to that. It isn’t that expensive, and one or two years of training every day directly under one of these masters trumps a lifetime of seminars–trust me! It’s something to consider. The cost of living in the Philippines is very inexpensive. The culture is just as much a part of the art, but you wouldn’t understand even if I tried to explain it to you; you’ve got to try it at least once. And yes, many of these great masters don’t have much of a school. My beloved teacher Master Lao does not have a school at this time, so you would have to learn in his yard (we are working on fixing that right now)–but training with him is an experience that you will be unable to duplicate here in this country. And the amount you might pay for a year of lessons here in America will cover two years in the Philippines…

Let me offer you a very simple plan. Give yourself two years to get to the Philippines. Whatever your budget is now, cut out all that you spend on alcohol, tobacco, fast food, junk food–and put that money in an account every month. Let’s say that you waste $200/month on unnecessary stuff. Then get yourself a part time weekend job. Even if you chose McDonald’s–you’re looking at two or three days a week, 6 hour shifts, and $10/hr = $120-180 a week. Of that, put $400 a month in your savings. That’s $600/month you are saving. In two years, you would have saved $14,400. A plane ticket to the Philippines may run you about $1200 round trip. Say you offered your master $40 a month. 40 bucks x 12 months = $480 per year in tuition. Rent at $200/month x 12 months = $2,400 per year. Put the rest of that money in the bank, eat good, live good, train hard. In two years, you will still return home with money in the bank and now armed with FMA training like few have ever seen. Sounds difficult to you? Not really, I did this myself from 1988 – 1990 at 18 years old. I trained primarily under two masters, Bogs Lao and Ernesto Presas. In between, I trained in Shorin Ryu, Espada y Daga, Comjuka and Yaw Yan. And these prices I put in the above example are based on today’s rates.

If you ever wanted to learn the Filipino arts, but can’t find a school in your area–here is one option that doesn’t involve a fast-food approach, and it is a richer experience than what most of the options can provide; it’s something to think about!

So, I’ll ask you again:  How bad do you want to learn this art?

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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