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The Filipino Martial Arts Legacy by Francis T.B. Serrano and Ollie Salvador

This post is dedicated to SGM Cacoy Cañete.  I never had the distinct honor of ever training directly with this legend, but I have met many who have.  If the character of the teacher is measured by the character of his students, then SGM Cacoy Cañete was indeed an honorable man.
As I write this, I am actively doing everything within my power to propagate the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA).  I have hosted seminars and tournaments, and I believe I have done a lot to showcase these beautiful martial arts.  But just like many journeys, it requires a point of origin.  It is easy to forget that the Philippines is still a relatively young country.  Although it’s people have existed there for hundreds (and maybe thousands) of years, the Spanish occupied the Philippines from 1565 to1898, and after that the United States colonized the Philippines from 1898 to 1946 – so  the Philippines has been under foreign rule for over 300 years.  It is only now in recent times that we are coming into our own identity.
The Filipino Martial Arts are experiencing a renaissance, where more practitioners are joining, and great instructors are emerging.  On July 27, 2009, Republic Act 9850, declaring Arnis as the National Martial Art and Sport of the Philippines, was brought into existence.  Hollywood has started to recognize the beauty, combat effectiveness, and dynamic nature of FMA, and the rest of the world will soon follow.  Instructors such as Ray Dionaldo, Doug Marcaida, and Percival Pableo are starting to break ground and are increasingly recognized by a growing audience of Filipino martial arts enthusiasts.  I know there are many more instructors out there that haven’t been recognized yet, but I strongly believe that they will soon, for FMA is growing – and this era of social media is helping to push the Filipino martial arts into the front and center of people’s awareness.
It is important to appreciate the future, and to appreciate the future we must covet the journey, which must inevitably start at the beginning.  George Santayana said, “To know your future you must know your past.”  This is surely a journey that will bring us full circle.
No matter how fast the Filipino martial arts seem to be growing, we must never forget where we came from.  Many of the Filipino Grand Masters, the true pioneers of FMA, are dying at a rate faster than anyone can fill in the void that they have left in their passing. How many more times will be left where we can we say that we trained with those people who proved the effectiveness of the Filipino martial arts on the battlefield?  
These Grand Masters are national cultural treasures, and as such, we must seek to preserve both their knowledge and the spirit of their arts.  They are the last vital link to our past – our proud heritage that is soaked with the blood of our warrior ancestors.  We must cling to them with all of our might and study the fundamentals of critical knowledge that they left for us, so that we may take the art to new and higher levels.  Advancing the Fundamentals begins with mastery of them, and the practitioner’s journey begins from there.  The only way for us to take FMA to the next level is to know and respect where we came from…to walk the path of our venerable ancestors – and walk new paths to greatness, so that one day, we may stand beside them…kindred spirits from the past and the future, connected by a timeless art, and a warrior’s destiny.
Master Nito Noval of West Coast Doce Pares
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Why we fight – My thoughts of the 2015 GSBA USA National Tournament

The anticipation is thick, as my guys Mark & Kyle load the truck with gears and clothes. The time is 0700,  Perris, CA. The weather is high 70’s. Gloomy but no matter how overcast the day may be, nothing is going to diminish the excitement that we all have as we leave for the 2015 GSBA USA National Tournament.
Los Angeles International Airport, Southwest terminal. Checked in and heading towards the gate. Our brothers from Oxnard are there. The hunger is in all our eyes, the hunger that can only be quenched by one thing and one thing alone. GOLD!!! This is not your typical gold fever, for this gold can only be won by combat. The machismo is thick yet the respect is clear; we are kindred warriors. In the battlefield we may be enemies but we are all brothers.
Arriving at Milwaukee International Airport the weather is crisp. At a cool 50 degrees, it is not as cold as 2006, but then again the fire in our hearts and veins will keep us warm. The battle site, Sheraton Brookfield.
Registration: The first time we see our opponents. Make no mistake  –  the battle starts here. Seeing how they lean or do they cringe when you shake their hands? Are they leaner or bigger? Are they limping or not? But just like us, they too have that fire in their eyes and they too have GOLD FEVER.

Talk is cheap, time to show me what you got. As the warriors clash, the sticks fly and there is no longer any holding back. You are giving your all, with every ounce of strength, with every fiber of your being, with all your training against the person in front of you doing the exact same thing. You make contact and as that stick connects you feel every inch of your weapon smashing against their body. You see the hurt they are feeling, yet it does not change their resolve to inflict as much damage as they can on you. The first round is over, is your conditioning enough? As you go back to your corner at that moment you think to yourself have I trained hard enough? Then you look to your coach and they say to you, “Fight hard, fight strong, and fight to win.” That 30 second break is getting shorter between every round. Then you go out there to fight again. All the while you keep thinking, this person is in my way to the GOLD. I must vanquish them.

Two days of fighting, two days of laying it all on the line, two days of pain. Then they hand you your medal, and while not every battle you come out on top, you realize that your biggest opponent was not the warrior in front of you, but the coward inside of you. The coward that says you cannot do this, run and hide. The voice of doubt is silenced as you come out battered and bruised; but you survived. So no matter what the score card says, you know you are a champion. Then your opponent comes across to you and grabs your hand and raises it higher than his. You might not have earned the gold, but you earned something more – the respect of your peers. You walked into the arena as combatants but walked away as brothers forged by broken sticks and bones, sealed with blood and sweat and the victory belongs to you all. 
This is Filipino Martial Arts, and this is what it means to compete.

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I don’t need to take classes I’ll just buy pepper spray

There is evil in this world, and there are those who want to serve that evil to the good people in this world.  Martial Artist are not afraid, for we prepare, we train and we anticipate.  So we walk tall and confident.  We walk into a room knowing that if trouble comes, we can handle ourselves.  We are not bullies, nor paranoid.  We live our lives unafraid, and no one’s victim.  

Martial Artist train hard, spend hundreds if not thousands of hours training over and over.  We get bruised and sometimes break our bones, yet we keep coming back.  No matter how hard it is, it does not compare to the difficulties of explaining to someone else how important it is to learn how to protect themselves.  
Unfortunately people do not take their personal safety seriously.  Many people live their lives in this buble of ignorance safe from the evil of this world.  Just like all bubles it does not take much to burst it.  When told that they should at least learn something to protect themselves they just don’t have the time.  Or its just not a priority.  Many times I get the question what type of pepper spray should I purchase, what type of knife is legal or what type of weapon I can carry that is legal.  
Education is key.  The problem with just purchasing a pepper spray or walking around with a knife is that it creates a false sense of security.  Many people think that once I walk around with a pepper spray I’ll be safer.  Pepper spray is intended for good people to use it against bad ones.  Unfortunately bad people can use it too.  In reality any weapon can be used against you.  So training is still neccessary to use them.  How fast can you pull and deploy that weapon.  Do you practice how to pull it out?  Have you tried deploying it in different scenarios? So buying pepper spray is not enough.  To think that your safe because your walking around pepper spray or any other type of weapon is just plain ignorant.  I wish I could say that its better than nothing, but that is not the case.  Weapons in the uneducated person can be more of a danger to you than your assailant.  Have you ever been pepper sprayed?  As someone who has, getting pepper sprayed hurts to the point where it is debilitating paralyzing effect.  Are you ready to keep fighting while under influenced of pepper spray?  
Your personal safety is your responsibility.  Are you ready to trust a piece of device to protect you?  Or your kids?  I know I am just a crazy martial artist, but when it comes to my family I’m a freekin lunatic.  
 

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FMA IS DYING!!!

I have been part of the FMA world for over 15 years now and it has been one of the best things that God has brought into my life and my school has a lot to do with that. But like all things we either adapt or die. Well this might be hard to read but,

FMA IS DYING!!!  
Now the question is what are we doing about it?  At the core of the FMA philosophy is being efficient. And that’s what we need to do. 
performing or functioning in the best possiblemanner with the least waste of time andeffort; having and using requisite knowledge,skill, and industry; competent; capable:
We as a sport, fighting style, culture has (in my opinion) forgotten that. Let me ask you this?
Are the competitors only one sacrificing? Yes there is no doubt in order to achieve greatness, it requires a great amount of scarcities. Unless your last name is Gates, Jobs or Walmart, the requirements are great. But it’s not just the fighter sacrificing. It’s the fighter’s family. If you are a fighter of any age, training cost money.  Money tha t could go towards rent, mortgage,  even leisure activities such as going to the movies. The fighter’s family has to sacrifice a lot too for their loved one achieve greatness. Either paying tuition, all those coupon cutting and overtime working just to make ends meet. The after all those training , all those hours of working an extra shift just to afford this obsession we call ESKRIMA. The day of the tournament is your family’s day too. So why is it that after all that, now they have to PAY to watch you compete and pay extra to record their matches?  It is IMHO that is double dipping. Well the upcoming GSBA USA Western Regional tournament, spectators are FREE. That’s right free!!!  You as parents no longer had to choose who gets to watch little Debbie fight boys twice her size. Now you can invite your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate to the tournament and it’s FREE. Family’s have sacrificed enough don’t you think it’s time they get to enjoy the fruits of ther hard work?

By making it free for spectators, we will attract more people to the event, the more people the more likelyhood of someone saying, “Hey, I’m crazy enough to try thay.”  Which will grow the industry. 
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THIGH PADS NECESSARY OR NOT?

I have heard many times that the GSBA board should outlaw THIGH PADS.  I have heard both sides of the argument and it actually extends further than just thigh pads but hockey gloves.  So let me first what are the arguments. 

For (Outlawing Thigh Pads & Hockey Gloves)
When fighting, the fear of pain or injury sets a mind set of self preservation. As a result a person would be more apt to be more cautious and if they do get hit at a certain spot they will be protective of that one spot. Their whole fight plan changes because of the injury and the need to protect the injured area. I quote Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a game plan until they get punched in the face.”  Extra thick padding negates that mentality of self-preservation, they don’t have the fear of injury thus creating a false sense of security thinking that the kamikaze style is the way to fight, but in reality it is not. In a real life situation you would not have extra padding. Thus tournaments should make it illegal to wear hockey or thick gloves and thigh pads. Just the standard body armor and helmet. 
Against:
The argument against the outlawing of Hockey Gloves and hockey thigh pads does not refute the above arguments. In fact I personally agree with it. As a practitioner I do not likes to wear a lot of armors. I think the more armor you wear the slower you become. So you become nothing but an oak tree, a stationary target.  Unfortunately that point of view cannot  be afforded here in the United States. 
Our society is a society that is ready to file a lawsuit on anyone irregardless of its merit. The whole suing McDonalds because the person didn’t know the coffee was hot is just a long list of frivolous lawsuit clogging up our courts. As a former member of the Global Stick and Blade Alliance USA board of directors as well as WEKAF USA we had to think about the good of the entire organization not just the tournament. Hypothetically, if the directors were to create a rule banning thigh pads and hockey gloves to be worn during matches, that opens up the organization for possible lawsuit. Imagine if a fighter got hurt because we banned thigh pads, and that same person is unable to work due to injury, that fighter has the right to sue the organization for income loss and medical expenses as well any other expenses incured. Then the organization might have to fold due to the lawsuit and believe me the organization does NOT have a lot of money. What the organization can do to limit it’s exposure is set a minimum guidelines and discourage competitors from adding on from the minimum. To say they cannot wear a particular protective gear is too dangerous for the organization. 
So at this point I’ll let you decide what you think should be done, talk to your regional director and or national director and tell them as a member of GSBA USA in good standing I believe we should…

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The Importance of being a Certified Judge or Referee

If you have been to as many tournaments as I have (which btw isn’t as many as most) you know that the one thing that can grind the whole tournament to a screeching stop are no judges and or referee’s.  But judges and referees are not those who decided to be one five minutes before there first tournament. Quality judges and Referees are hard to come by. 

Imagine the person judging your match have no idea what they are doing?  And then they declare you the looser? How would you feel knowing that the judge is someone who just got pulled out in the audience?  And what if you we’re declared the winner.  You know your victory is hallow since its from an inexperienced and unqualified official. 
Any organization whose worth their salt must create programs to train and certify quality officials. And GSBA USA Director Master Steve Del Castillo from Doce Pares Mt. Sac is hosting these certification. And I STRONGLY encourage any school sending any fighter to go to these certification course. That’s the only way we can keep the game honest. 
I wonder if the “other” group is doing that? 
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The real opponent

We all have it, our very own pre fight ritual. What ever we all need to be able to get us to the place where the warrior meets the ring. But when you prepare yourself I encourage you to consider what or who are your preparing for.  I know there isn’t anyway for your to know who you would be facing in the ring at least not till they call your name.  

Sometimes your biggest opponent isn’t the guy in front of you. It’s that person inside of you that ones that wants to quit in the middle of the third round and your hurting all over and you just don’t have any more gas in the tank. That same voice that’s get louder and louder as you get tireder and tireder. When you ask yourself is this last mile worth it. Is 99% good enough? 

That’s when you find the warrior in you. It is when you say to that voice, I will not be mediocre, I will not settle for good enough and if I go down, then let me go down swinging.