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Mysterious World of the Filipino Martial Arts - Part Two
By Lakhvinder S. Madahar.
9. Is there a grading system as in other martial arts?
Yes, the grading system is a modern addition to the Filipino Martial Arts. It is influenced by the Japanese grading system and therefore similar that of the Japanese Martial Arts. In some styles it has various coloured belts to represent the level of proficiency, in others the student is awarded a certificate or both to the level of his/her proficiency.
Originally, as in many other South – East Asian martial arts, there was no grading. You were a student, teacher or a master, and that was it.
10. Are there any good books or videos on the subject?
In the last few years some excellent books have appeared. As for the number of books on the Filipino martial arts, there are too many to list here, but what I have done is listed a few, which I think would be a good starting point and be generally helpful.
1. The Filipino Martial Arts by Dan Inosanto – a concept book with history and background of the master.
2. The Filipino Martial Arts by Mark Wiley – technical and history book covering the Late Grandmaster Angle Cables’s Sarada system.
3. The Filipino Martial Culture by Mark Wiley – covers history background to the masters and their system, as well as techniques.
4. The secrets of Giron Arnis Escrima by Antonio E. Somera – covers the Grand master Leo Giron’s system.
The above books are quite easy to get hold of and will be a great source of knowledge and reference.
The videos on the subject are simply overwhelming. You can just about get something on any of the major styles and exponts of the art. However, these are some of the best ones to start with:
1. Dan Inosanto - The Filipino Martial Arts.
2. Edger G. Sulite - Lomaco Eskrima.
3. Danny Gubba and Percival Pableo - Doce Pares.
4. Mike Inay - Inay Eskrima, Siniwali and Kadna de Mano.
5. Steve Grody – Empty hands of the Filipino Martial Arts.
6. Bob Breen - J.K.D and Kali weapons and empty hands.
7. Rick Young - J.K.D. and Kali empty hands.
Again these videos are fairly easy to get hold of and they’ll be a good source of overall knowledge and inspiration.
11. How long have the Filipino Martial Arts been in this country (England)?
It first came to my attention from sources around 1976/7 in various martial arts magazines, but I’ve heard it was as early as 1969/70, brought over by Rene Latosa while he was serving in the U.S. Air Force. He trained under his father, also a student under Grandmaster Angle Cabalas and various other Escrima masters of that time. At the time Rene Latosa was teaching about 80% Sarada style with 20% of other styles of Escrima. He later formed his own organisation, The Philippine Martial Arts Society (PMAS),
And developed his own system of “Combat Escrima” teaching at a number of locations (schools) in England (London, Leicester and Peterborough), with the help of his students/instructors Bill Newman and Brian Jones. He also did a great deal in promoting the arts by writing regular articles in various martial arts publications. He is also credited for writing the very first article on the Filipino martial arts in a British Martial Arts magazine, a Paul Crompton publication “Karate and Oriental Arts.”
In 1979, Dan Inosanto comes over to England for the first time, to attend the 1979 Bruce Lee Convention as a special guest. On this trip he held a number of small Jeet Kune Do/Kali/Eskrima day seminars. He then returned in 1984, with an invite from Bob Breen to hold a weekend seminar in London. In the process, he kind of started a second phase of Kali/Eskrima (Filipino Martial arts) evolution within this country (England).
The Filipino martial arts have continued to grow in this country, with Dan Inosanto’s regular visits and many other masters/grandmaster coming over from America and the Philippines to share their knowledge of various styles/systems.
12. I went on a Kali course and all I learned was a bunch of pre – arranged sets with sticks, kind of mini forms like katas. Is this all there is to the Filipino Martial Arts?
There are many pre – arranged set drills. Benefits from theses are many; one of them is to help the student to clock up the thousands of reps that are required to grasp the skilful techniques of the Filipino Martial Arts.
The drills are there to teach you the attributes of co-ordination, the flow and to give you the necessary confidence in sparring, which will allow you to flow in and out of the techniques like water. The drills will also allow you to practice fighting/combat application in a safe manner.
Once you have mastered these drills, then you can add variations to them, which will take you towards sparring level. The more variations you add, covering every possibility the freer you’ll flow in your movement and totally expiration yourrself. However, over -training in the basic drills can get you trapped in them. The variation has to be intoduced as soon as you’re competent with the previous level. The drills and their variation are drilled, until they are in your muscle memory and perfection is reached. The whole thing is performed in almost autopilot.
“When there is perfection, there is no thinking; when there is no thinking, you are at one with the truth”.
B.K.S.Iyenger. (One of the world’s foremost teacher on Yoga)
13. Is there a sport side to the Filipino martial arts? If so, what are the Kali/Eskrima/Arnis tournaments like?
The sport side of the Filipino martial arts is another modern addition. The tournament side of the art has been designed with safety in mind. By Grandmaster Dionisio A.Canete of the Doce Pares Eskrima of Cebu city. Many of the weapons categories were too dangerous (knife, sword, espda y daga, etc) for an all out competitive fighting. Only the single stick, the double stick and forms categories were selected, and armour was developed in order to cut down on the number of casualties. The World Eskrima Kali, Arnis Federation (W.E.K.A.F). was set up to control and promote the sport (Eskrima) tournaments.
The armour is similar to the armour worn by the Kendo practitioners, but a little lighter, to allow for the extra movement, as the bouts are very fluid with continues fast moving action. There are three one-minute rounds with a 30 second rest in between, the bouts are scored in the same manner as in boxing, the 10 point must system with the winner receiving 10 points and the loser receiving either 9,8,or 7 points. The 3 judges approve the scoring and the referee ensures fair play, but does not score the bout.
The fighters are divided by the weight categories, as light, welter, middle, cruiser and heavy in the single stick, or light, middle, and heavy in the double stick, and open weight in the women’s division, team fights and also the forms categories.
In the mid 1980’s Rene Lotosa’s Philippines Martial Arts Society (P.M.A.S) arranged the first tournament in this country (England), where the format was different to that of W.E.K.A.F. tournaments.
The participants wore some armour and used padded sticks. The participant would attack his/her opponent with a given number of strikes and the opponent was only allowed to defend, until it was his/her turn to attack. The winner or loser was declared depending on success of the attacks and the defences. As with the W.E.K.A.F. tournaments, the referee controlled the bouts and the judges did the scoring.
In tournament fighting the armour protects the participant.
The Full Contact matches.
There were also the full contact matches of a past era with slightly more violent outcomes. In many Filipino Communities of Hawaii, the Philippines and the United States. The full contact matches without any armour for protection were taking place in a boxing type of a ring. In which the participants entered the ring to fight with a single stick, two sticks, or with the long and short sticks and a full range of punching, kicking, grappling, locking, and takedowns. It is said, that if the participants end a match with just a broken arm or leg, he was lucky. As many participants lost their lives in these matches.
Modern day near equivalent to the above are the Dog Brother’s full contact matches in America, with minimum safety equipment. In which real sticks are used along with, kicking, punching, kneeing, elbowing, head butting, trapping, throwing, grappling, locking, and choking techniques are allowed anywhere on the body.
It’s worth mentioning that, wearing head, hand and joint, protection greatly changes the characteristic of the matches. They would be longer and more likely to go to ground in to grappling, as the strikes to the head and the hand would not finish the fight.
In a real (weapons) fighting it is the participant’s skill in his art that protects him.
“Your skill in your art is your armour”.
14. Can you still learn the Empty – hands without learning the weapons?
Yes, of course you can, however, with the weapons involvement in your empty hands training it will be quicker and easier for you to develop the techniques and the attributes such as timing, co-ordination, footwork, awareness, speed and so forth - qualities required by every good fighter.
Nearly all-Eastern Martial Arts are weapons based. Even Muay Thai roots lie in roots of Krabi Krabong, where the Warriors fought with weapons and only when/if the weapon was broken or lost in combat, did the warriors resort to their empty hand arts to complete the job. Story of Phraya Pichai dab hak of Uttaradit, Thailand is one such story. When his swords broke (dab hak), continued fighting regardless and also had to resort to hand-to-hand skills of Muay Kao Churk (old Thai Boxing).
In modern times, it seems all of the martial arts except one (Filipino Martial Arts) have chosen to teach their arts in reverse order. With this in mind, the empty – hands of the Filipino Martial Arts can be, and many in cases are thought in the same manner. “Ultimately Kali/Eskrima is an empty hands art.”
It is my intention, that in the next few months I hope to expand on many of these questions, in lot more detail. In the mean time, I hope this has been of some help. If you have any questions on this subject, feel free to call me I am always open to questions. I am also available for seminars, courses and one to one instruction. Give me a call on mobile 07834 767 487