I have been around FMA since the 1980s. FMA was very popular in the late 1980s, 1990s and growing, but there was a stutter-step that lasted years, two surprises what is called “Black Swans” and their application to the martial arts. You know that Black Swans are surprise, rather unpredictable events. Randomness.
Two main events occurred in the 1990s, 2000s that led to a decline in the growth and popularity of Filipino Martial Arts. One event was of course the cleverly orchestrated UFC and it’s “More Real” fighting. The second, separate proclamations from some “real-deal-rough-guys” that FMA was mostly full of “Dead Drills” that didn’t relate to really-real-deal-tough-guy fighting.”
These two events put FMA on the side shelf for years. The demographic of the time (what? 18 to 35 year-olds?) of macho boys fell for this hook, line, sinker. Even Inosanto-world,- which we were doing Thai and Shoot – was included in this disparaging.
But alas…“More Real” fighting, as it turned out, is-not, was-not just wrestling-BJJ, but actually “MMA” that had to evolve with an emphasis on kickboxing and ground n’ pound atop wrestling. Still though, through it all there was this lingering stigma-idea that FMA-ers were dancing, prancing around in abstract, dead drills.
But time passed. Decades. A new crop of young macho guys appeared in the marketplace of the same demographic of old. They missed that early FMA Black Swan. They saw the evolution of MMA-UFC was not just BJJ submission fighting. They saw weapons in a weapons world, a whole new breed of folks. They ignore the FMA dead drill commentary because they understand the learning progression, the concept of…drills.
I and a few others back then, with a little influence in the martial magazines and the growing internet, spoke out against this FMA Dead stigma. I began a name-game change when I simply publicized a semantic name title switch, from “Drills” to “Exercises.” It was not speed, flow and skill DRILLS, but rather speed, flow and skill EXERCISES. All fighters run, or weight lift, or do all kinds of support exercises vital to their performance, yet such would be declared “dead” and ignored in the definition of knuckleheads in comparison.
The word “exercise.” Calling them ALL merely exercises sort of changed the “dead drill” mindset name-game and shut some of these people up. All kinds of exercises improve and in many military, police and martial worlds, lots are called “__________ Exercises.” In fact, big themes are often called “________ Exercise Week,” etc.
While the words drill and exercise are interchangeable, using the term exercise is an all-inclusive, mind-changer. Big mind, if you will. Small-minded experts would declare “FMA Dead Drills,” then turn around and introduce their own drills that were in theory and practice, essentially the same ’dead’ as what they were just ridiculing. This displays a mental and intellectual detachment. One dead drill mastermind had to publicly backtrack a bit in a film, admitting that all performance exercises were…“okay.” This had to shake up their minds with inclusive definitions.
Through the decades, the most publicly recognized stick fighters were-are the Dog Brothers started by Eric Knaus, Arlen Sanford, Burton Richardson, et al. I have been close with many of these guys and done some minimum safety gear stick sparring myself until age limits healing time. As bad-ass as that gets, in the actual classes? Skills are slowly, carefully, professionally developed in progressive drills that would-be, officially have-been, declared “DEAD” by knucklehead standards.
(Ray Medina on the left, me on the the right.)
Martial drills of all kinds are bits and pieces of a fight (or sports) that enhance individual moves and puts them in a “before and after” action puzzle piece, all with progressing levels of speed with inserts. The only 2 major things to worry about are:
- Is the core movement-mission subject important enough? and,
- Do not over-drill and become mere “drill-masters” unable to freestyle fight. (This is important)
ALL drills to some extents are a bit dead, even sparring is, as they are not a real fight in crime and war, but, it’s probably a good idea to ignore these few remaining, “dead drill” hypocrites. Apparently, a whole bunch, a new breed of tough guys, a new wave of FMA interest these last ten years or so, agrees.
Check out the many free, full hour training films on Hock’s Combatives Youtube channel. Click here.