Panay Eskrima with Chief Instructor Engineer Van Tupas Fuentes of Karay-a Uno Blanco Eskrima and GM Nortega & son of Nortega Eskrima. Photo by Magtutudlo Ramon Rubia.
We've been busy training with our instructor, Magtutudlo Ramon Rubia, in Eskrima Combatives FMA (ECFMA), particularly in the strategies of Borja San Miguel Eskrima and more recently in the Eskrima De Campo Uno-Dos-Tres Orihinal of Nong Mawe Caballero. We've also made some great additions to the ECFMA roster, welcomed new people to train with our San Diego Chapter group, as well as reconnect with Ramon's returning students and acclimate them to the way we now train. Looking forward to even more training, where Ramon teaches us to go beyond the drill and think beyond all of the forms.
There’s been somewhat of a mild buzz regarding what I wrote in my August, 2015 blog, ‘FMA Seminars: Faked or Fact?’ and continued interest from the previous blog in January, 2015. When it's all said and done, this website page Eskrima Combatives FMA, Inland Empire Chapter, features my personal weblog. It is all based on my opinion, taken from years of my personal experiences on this journey in FMA. No one can take my opinion away from me, including you, the reader, nor anyone else. Apparently, there are people who are offended about what I wrote on a particular seminar that I attended, and the truth is, I feel sorry for them. It’s not like I write blogs that divulge any one person by name or their group - I’m writing in general. My blog is now on their radar, and they’re trying to cyberbully me on social media by making demands, putting obscure posts on my wall and feed, and sending veiled threats in the form of private messages. The truth is, I feel even more sorry for their students, because their instructors are dragging themselves deeper into their own muck, with no end in sight, and no way out. When will they realize they’ve gone too far? Perhaps never. The way they conduct themselves continues to be superficial, which is likely their approach to their 'style' of FMA - they haven’t really thought it through yet.
The Filipino Martial Arts community is a unique sub-group within today’s martial arts, where the concept of ‘six degrees of separation’ rings true, meaning everybody knows or is connected to everybody somehow. As stated earlier, I write blogs that do not divulge any one person or group in FMA. Instead, I attempt to write in generalities about my observations, whether they are things on the interwebs or in-person at seminars, demos, or our own practice sessions. If people are getting offended at what I write based on what I am seeing, then my common sense tells me that they must be guilty of doing the very things that I wrote about. They somehow discovered this blog, read my words, and at some point assumed I was talking about them, resulting in them making demands and threats towards me. To me, these threats are nothing more than typical, uncivilized responses to things that swing the balance against their favor, as if this was some struggle for a perceived sense of power or authority, or even that honorary and undeserving ‘rank’ I discussed in August.
I feel sorry for the students of those FMA instructors that continue to teach FMA in a shallow, and immature way, and then act up when they get called on it, because it will continually lead them to resort to unintelligent and uneducated ways of expressing their views, again, on social media. Like little children, they continue to prove my point about having a phony rank and not being intellectual enough to back it up. I make no apologies, since they can’t handle the truth as I see it. But the truths that I reveal clearly make sense to those who continue to follow my blog and agree with better than half of what I write. It's kind of like dealing with people from a cult or those with a street-gang mentality, where the sad reality is that they're stubbornly trying to fill some void or emptiness in their lives. When you try to explain some truth or thing at a level beyond their collective capability, they get mad at you like it’s your fault, like you’re the one with the problem, when in reality they probably just need a hug and to be told that it's going to be 'okay' and to just listen better next time.
Now that I recently wrote and published my observations following a hiatus, some ‘fans’ started making some noise again, whining and complaining because they’re thirsty for attention, regardless if it’s good attention or bad attention. It would seem that they intentionally look for something within what I write and automatically assumed I'm talking about them. That sounds very ego-centric, and shows us their level of thinking about teaching others martial arts. The reality is that It’s not about the people, it’s about their egos and their pride. What are they so afraid of? Being exposed as frauds.
The point of the blogs isn't to take food off of somebody's dinner table. It is to highlight the good aspects of training and point out situations in what remains of today’s FMA that I see as being unjust and clearly not an accurate representation of what true FMA is about. Like I said earlier, I feel sorry for their students, especially those who are genuinely searching for the true FMA. It's a shame that they are distracted by the hype train, with all the uniforms, patches, TV shows, print media, tournaments, trophies, medals, and the celebrity, when it should just be about the training. It feeds the ego-centric social media mentality that shouts "We are the best!" But it's just an illusion. Go ahead and ask their former students, both their high-ranking and casual student quitters and the excommunicated ones, too.
I find myself repeating the same thing in most of my blogs, but the point still remains the same - regardless of styles, the phony, watered-down FMA is all based on marketing, exploitation and commercializing the art and the fighting form for the average person. All the while the lesser known grandmasters of groups teaching real FMA keep quiet, not being as savvy in promoting themselves as their counterparts. They may maintain their own respect locally, but sadly, any last vestiges of their real FMA eventually die with them, without any worthy disciples to continue on.
Again, the exploitation mentioned earlier leads to repeating the cycle of being brainwashed. The phonies, fakes, and scammers will read the blog and always take offense and then resort to extreme behavior to justify their guilty actions or redirect the finger of blame. Like little children, they deny any responsibility and claim they are the victims to this whole situation, seeking refuge and protection from their elders with the real power and influence. It has a lot to do with ego, pride, and a lack of humility, which are words not painted on their HQ walls.
It's very hard for phony masters to change their tune after so many years of ‘teaching’ others and then turn around and admit to their students that their knowledge of certain exclusive FMA systems is not what they are claiming to be. Instead, they continue on, for they have to keep moving and continue the charade. The point is to divert the attention away from their actual lack of knowledge and distract with the glitz and glamour.
So, about that seminar in question, I saw myself as a paying customer. I paid good money to attend and they did not deliver on what we were led to believe we were getting. It turned out to be the same old thing - basic, useless drills and more hype on the microphone. Okay, so the history was a bit vague this time around, and even changed details to fit the crowd of the seminar, mostly new people with a few months to maybe one or two years in their group, as it's never the same history being told at any given time. It was also interesting that the event was not supported or attended by all the local groups from the same organization, either due to infighting or politics, as is the case with organizations with large numbers of students. It was mostly talking, but not much was said. These organizers cannot continue this trend of serving participants the same old thing, year after year, and expect any real longevity in their FMA groups.
Recently, people have been forwarding my weblog all over social media. I think it's pretty cool that they agree with me and send their compliments, especially since we don't even share the same systems! I attempt to write stuff based on the certain truths about eskrima movement revealed to us by Magtutudlo Ramon, common martial arts knowledge, by being honest with myself, and seeking honest feedback from those I train with. Twisting the point of my blogs into an attack against somebody’s family is completely misguided and diverting from the real point of the blog.
Sometimes, when you search for the truth, you uncover things that you don’t really want to hear or know, but they still exist. For me, as someone who is passionate about the path to self-discovery in eskrima, I cannot ignore the truth about training styles, training systems, training methodologies, and lineage. If only their students could look at the facts as I have presented them and ignore the music, and search from within to start thinking for themselves, rather than continuing to search for reasons to justify their brand-name training system and continue that sayaw towards the end of that proverbial cliff of doom.
Back in April, I asked a friend of mine, a master of eskrima in another system, what he thought about the January blog. He said that about 90% of what I wrote in the January blog was true. I really appreciated that feedback, and in retrospect can see why he might not agree with 10% of it. We also talked about attendees in past seminars who spent good money, and were given kindergarten-level drills that they felt should have already been learned from their respective masters. Apparently, some visiting instructors being hosted at seminars think that they can just get off the plane or out of a car and serve the exact same thing like they’ve been doing, every single time they’re in town, for years. That’s why student turnover is high, and attendance is low at their seminars. Being in the presence of prestigious instructors and taking numerous selfie pics will only carry the style so far, simply because people are tired of seeing the same old crap. It’s just not worth it. The same rings true across the pond, when you hear of those unscrupulous masters screwing everybody over in the UK, which I read is full of people that love FMA. If they did that stuff here, they would be in deep poo-poo and would get flamed quickly on the internet, too.
So then why are these other people getting so offended, especially if I didn't mention them by name? Judging by their actions they really must be guilty. When this ‘master’ continues to tell me that they were convinced I wrote about them, they are actually admitting their guilt and truth to the words in the articles. To reveal who these particular people are, would be too easy for me. It’s better for them if they just keep quiet, and stop taking advantage of any more situations. For that, I feel sorry for them and for the fact that it’s even gotten to this point, and yet they still don’t get it. They should do like they’re told by their family and just leave it alone. At this stage, they have much more to lose than I do, that much is clear. The truth, as they say, will set you free!
So, to answer publicly to the person that questions how I can ‘dare and confidently attacking’ them, the answer is that I didn’t name them! Nobody is stepping on them and their family. They say they will never back down, but for what reason and to what end? Defending a rank and title that is only honorary and undeserved? We didn’t even talk about that one time when they barely learned a form on the night before a demonstration, and rehearsed by the restroom of the venue...
I have not ever once claimed in my blog that I know everything about FMA, nor that I know everybody, nor that I can do amazing things in FMA. I don’t claim in my blog I am the best, because I am humbled enough to admit that I’m still learning. I haven’t reached the pinnacle, or end of my journey, and I probably never will. I don’t claim any one style of martial arts is the best in any of my blogs. As Magtutudlo Ramon teaches, it’s not about the style, or any of the style-related trappings, for that matter. It’s about the movement and proficiency with the weapon.
Going back to that eskrima master friend who read and critiqued my January blog, I had to really internalize and think objectively about his words. That kind of thinking comes with personal growth and maturity, not just in martial arts, but in real-life.
Please allow me to be clear and firmly state that this blog is my opinion - you can choose to read it or not - nobody is forcing your eyes on this webpage except you! If you don’t like my blog, stop reading now, and don’t come back and read it. Better yet, why don’t you write a rebuttal to what I’m talking about on your own blog, and post the hyperlink in the comments below so we can chop it up together. As the cliche simply states, ‘the pen is mightier than the sword.’
This is my blog, a collection of thoughts on my journey in eskrima.