HANDS-LANDS – Touching the “hands” of the master. Touching the “lands” of the master. Hands-Lands.
(This was a spirited discussion on FMA Discussions. Many say you MUST go to Philippines to “get it.” Many say no. Not needed. I said…)
I started attending Remy Presas seminars in 1986 and I was just another person in the crowd. One attendee was also an Ernesto Presas guy who asked me if I knew Ernesto. I did not and he pulled me aside into a curtained-off meeting room from the big seminar. Two others were there too and we started doing Ernesto stuff. This guy trained me in Ernesto’s material for years, which is different than Remy’s. Four or five years later we wound up in the Philippines. Once back in the USA, at the next Remy seminar, attendees told Remy I was over there for three weeks and even stayed at his old Negros house, etc. He liked this, called me over and wanted family gossip and so forth and only then did we made the solid connection, because he knew I was THAT committed to go over there. I started hosting Remy for years, etc.
Later at a Remy-Dallas seminar at Steve Selby’s school, Remy made a speech about training and with whom and “Touch hands with the master,” or as he would say it, “Touch hans’ TO de’ master.” He pointed to me and said, “Hock has gone twice to de’ Philippines already. I don’t know why? Because…I am here!” Everyone laughed as did I, shaking my head. You could tell by his smile that he making a joke. But why go?
The pro-go Filipinos in the FMA Discussion seem to want you to see the lands, walk barefoot on grounds, breathe the air, eat the food, dive deep in the history otherwise you won’t really “get it.” Like live there? “Going native” – is “to adopt the lifestyle or outlook of local inhabitants. Furthermore, must we also “go native” with all these martial arts we take? While Bruce Lee said all these things were just “Kicks and punches,” must we go down a national rabbit hole and become Colonel Kurtz? I went a little native in South Korea. Lived in the village, etc, but didn’t become a Kurtz. The military grants you time and grade in obscure locations, otherwise you are in-and-out tourists.
Tourists. I often look at folks traveling to the homelands of their martial arts. So many go to Okinawa, Tokyo. South Korea. A friend of mine even went to NORTH Korea for a Tae Kwon Do pilgrimage! (He said it was scary.) All serious Thai Boxers go to Thailand (although in my “heyday-times” of Thai -1990s- many also went to Scandinavian countries for Thai). I think it’s a pilgrimage some want to take. I think it is situational and circumstantial. After my P.I. trips, we got Ernesto coming over the states with gigs and the P.I. trips were long and expensive for me (and my job). The circumstances, the situation, the need was over. But I will confess, me having “gone over” several times was a big marketing help for me.
People like to travel and touch for really unique reasons, lest of all over martial arts. I have a good friend in England who worships the Spaghetti Westerns of Clint Eastwood. He and his wife visited the small town village in Tabernas Desert and the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park in Spain where they were filmed. He has small glass jars of the sand from there as souvenirs. The human drive to visit.
Look at all the people running to Israeli for religion and Krav! The Japanese see Americans going over and dressing like they are ninjas and they laugh. One Japanese-American told me it would be like Japanese coming to America and dressing up in Civil War clothes and taking part is a Civil War recreation. WHY!?
I like for people to be happy and if they want to go, and afford their journeys if they can and should go. I would like to go to Frank Sinatra’s house in Palm Springs. I might not get a glass jar full of booze, but I would like to sing a song there in the backyard.
What of the name-game and FMA? This is actually a whole other FMA discussion subject, somewhat related though, but the real success stories in FMA, those with sought-after instruction and with bigger groups are really all Filipino people. Or they have a name-game-stretch-connection, with Spanish or exotic sounding names yet have never gone to motherlands. Dan Inosanto, a real important FMA pioneer, has never been to the Philippines that I recall. How many land-locked, Americans just have exotic foreign names and have large groups? (They could be good or bad but still get the immediate attention.)
Even though I have been over there – this is why I do not flash myself around as some kind of special super-duper, FMA Person. I will never be an FMA real deal. I am happy to help others get an understanding, etc, if they are interested, but I am just a white boy in Texas. I can only think of a very few white boys with consistent, international FMA success, oh like Bill McGrath and Deiter Knuttel from Germany. Otherwise you gotta’ be Filipino or have a Spanish sounding name and,or seem to be Filipino or could be Filipino. Or else, you better be seriously attached to one. The truth (skill) bears out later.
Origins and names…this is a universal, martial idea-draw. As a parallel, looking at ads and videos would you want to take Brazilian Jujitsu from a Tim Smith? Or a Jose Gonzalez? Who has the immediate advantage? Most would instinctively go with the Jose. (Makes me think, speaking of other parallels – how many Yankees are going down to Brazil to learn BJJ, to go “native” in that native homeland, or have all the experts moved up North?).
On “Going native,” furthermore, must we also “go native” with all these martial arts we take? I do think back through the years of Systema people getting so wrapped up in it that they started becoming communist. Posting pictures of Putin and remarking in pro Russia statements. How some Silat people became Muslim? And then even radical Muslim. I’ve seen it. Krav people becoming Jewish. Like Bruce Lee said – all these things were just, “Kicks and punches,” must we go down a native rabbit hole and become Colonel Kurtz? Studying how to kick and punch should not ordinarily alter your politics and religion.
Touching the “hands” of the master. Touching the “lands” of the master. Hands-Lands.
Hocks email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com