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.
Old-school, double sticks and espada y daga training. We had to DEFEAT the sinawali pattern as the attacker CHARGES (not just standing there, but charging in!) doing a pattern, and we ended it with takedowns, which must be executed without your empty hands to grip the opponent, as your two hands are busy holding weapons.
When Ernesto Presas had an experienced group with him, he highlighted this and other “endgame” training as vital. Just learning the patterns like dancers is incomplete.
Remember in the old days, Ernesto (and Remy) did not show high level materials to newbies, strangers and semi-serious students. So, if you only trained with the Brothers in big groups, you never saw this type of endgame stuff. One reason – you can’t start out at a high level in such groups, because of the mix of people’s skills in large seminars. Second, they absolutely did hold back their secrets to winning, in case they had to fight someone. Which they had to do in the old days.
Anyway. we would hear- “Do not show this to everyone.”
Therefore, I fail to see this endgame practice in many modern systems doing double weapons. I just see the mutual dance of the double stick patterns. (In my opinion, too many people just learn the sinawali patterns and are happy with that. They end there. That is incomplete, as Ernesto Presas insisted and taught/instilled in me from the early days of Arnis de Mano.)
“You must learn to defeat de sinawali,”Ernesto would say.
Ernesto had a very analytical mind, when you look back at how he organized things. Remy wanted you to experiment. Ernesto wanted to list ALL the experiments. Which I think had a big lesson for me on how to organize things. But, I do think it is impossible to organize the “Filipino Martial Arts.” It is a gigantic, mix-matrix, that must be handled conceptually. I kind of chuckle when I see a book here and there, called, “Filipino Martial Arts” and its like…150 pages. Huh? No. It would have to be many, many, many more pages. This challenge was why Ernesto changed the system several times through the years as he tried his best to capture lightning in a jar.
(I guess by now, everyone knows that you can do all the double stick patterns with espada y daga also. If you don’t know this? Try it. It will blow up your stick and knife drill work.)
This is what we did ala Ernesto in small groups…
The attacker attacks with one of the double stick or espada y daga patterns. He had us –
disarm one side, hit head to stun, takedown.
disarm both sides, hit head to stun, takedown.
hit head to stun, no disarms, takedown.
The disarms are usually impacts on the weapon-bearing limbs, or a block-and-stick-snake of some sort.
I have an old list of 14 double stick and therefore espada y daga, – the same with a slight nuance changes because of the knife – takedowns to do from Ernesto, as in doing takedowns while holding double weapons. This was “back in the day” when his 14 angles of double weapon attacks was his favorite forte to introduce training. I have learned that these 14 work against all wounded, disarmed and stunned attackers, 14 angles, sinawalis or otherwise. They are meant to work against all double stick and espada y daga patterns.
This way when you spar with double sticks or, stick and knife, you have an assortment of experience to do the takedowns.
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
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I was thinking about the classic park in Manila. “Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park or simply Luneta, is a historical urban park in the Philippines. Formerly known as Bagumbayan in the era of colonialism under the Spaniards.”
For many a decade if you trained in Manila, the Philippines, a must go-to place is this park. Many, many famous people have taught and gathered here. And when we were in Manila, we were either at the Presas school, this park or at the college where Ernesto taught Arnis at those times.
It did bother Ernesto a bit at times at the park, because various FMA grandmasters would set up folding chairs and watch us. He would whisper, “You see dese guys? Dey are grandmasters. Dey are spying on me.”
This above photo is me and Shelley. Early 90s. There were only like 6 of us there, so it was pretty intense. Under his scrutiny all the time. We would go about 4 hours in the morning and about 3 1/2 hours in, there would be a break. Ernesto would say, “Take a break, then…examination time.”
This photo – Since we were so few, we also had his black belts as partners too, who were very helpful too. With Renato “Boks” Centro.
“Examination time?” we’d say in the beginning days. He was always “testing” us, but this would be a more real test for the last part of 3-4 hours. So…there was no break. We would walk off behind some trees or bushes and work through those ten minutes to hurry-review what we did. Then some water.
Then…the “Come on, COME ON!” “Speed motion!” …observation “test.
Then lunch. Then another 4 hours. 6 days on. 1 day off pace.
That top photo again. Me, Shelley Millspaugh and the big man GM watching us. Captain Rene, a Honduran fighter pilot is behind us. Shelley Millspaugh added: “Great memories. That first camp was as intense as you could’ve made it. I haven’t had that type of intensity since. GGM was the Energizer bunny. Never stops.”
Remy Presas frequently told this story in seminars. Many of us have heard this “leff story.”
After witnessing several bolo (machete fights) which I chronicled earlier on the Presas Group Page) , and after the somewhat underground “sport” of bolo fights began to disappear from deaths and maimings, rounded sticks replaced the bolos in fighting for money. (Not sticks shaped liked swords but rounded ones – something else I wrote about on the Presas page.) Remy fought these fights for money in boxing rings, cockfight arenas and wherever betting groups might gather. He told us that after a while, numerous people approached him to teach them and their sons how to stick fight.
“But I am leff,” he told them. Left-handed. “And dey were right.” He said he could not teach them. They pushed the requests.
“But de money became so good…I become right.” He started to teach them the stick with his right hand. Much of it was longer range stick dueling (“of course, you could just hit de man in de head with a stick.” – he would often say, when discussing complicated moves.)
And as Remy has said often, the double sticks help teach the “other side” anyway.
In short, really short – lefty versus righty has always been a big thing in sports. The southpaw boxer. The lefty pitcher versus the righty hitter in baseball. Lefties are 1 in 10 people. This is an advantage for them simply because most sports folks and fighters have built up a “versus righty” repertoire, a library in their head, even like in their “subconscious” of what tiny steps and moves a righty does to hit, kick and position them. The most subtle increments are stored in the brain. We use them as tip-offs. We see less of these reps from a lefty, as there are less lefties.
“I become right. I become good.”
And he made a lot of money teaching righties. But still fighting too. (and he had a few jobs too. Working at a family shipyard and…not known by many, a barber.)
He would say in seminars about the money stick fights…
“Round one, I am right. – Ding. Round two, I am right. – Ding. Round three…I am leff. I win!”
His eyebrows would raise. We all would laugh. We got it.
Remy became as ambidextrous as possible. In close quarters, he could switch hands effortlessly and really foul up your brains. He taught this inside the newer tapi tapi. He taught this on the single stick versus double stick drills, as you must go single stick right and left-handed versus the double sticks. (Ernesto did this too.) These were Presas “leff” priorities which I can’t say I found “up front” in many other FMA systems.
(I remember one Inosanto seminar many, many years ago in Irving, Texas where, for about 2 or 3 hours on a Sunday, we did left-hand sumbrada. It freaked all the experts out. We became bumbling idiots)
.This is where I have fallen down. Where my knife course has fallen down. Before the fall, in the 1990s there was a “resurgence” if you will, a re-look, re-examination of older knife material (which essential was a lot of knife dueling). Some might call it “knife fighting,” but I don’t like that term. But you are still indeed, fighting with a knife when you are…fighting with a knife. Still, I don’t like many terms, images, messages, logos relating to the knife and knife fighting. By that time in the 90s, I was in police work for quite a while, both in the Army and in Texas, most of that time as a detective. I’d seen and experienced working on a lot of knife crime, as in aggravated assaults, rapes, attempted murders and murders. I myself have been attacked by both knife and ax.
I know the depressing, dark side, the wet side in juxtaposition to all the smiling people having fun, slap-dashing around in gyms playing tag with wooden and rubber knives. Knife training is often treated quite cavalierly. This doesn’t have to be the case as very serious cultures exist, like the culture of pistol training is quite serious and full of foreboding and legal scares. Careful, mature training cultures do exist, and this must certainly become true in knife training also.
In the early 90s, this edged weapon resurgence was sort of an international turning point in knife training. A reboot if you will? It first resurrected the old military knife courses and the semi-legendary names of yesteryear. They weren’t “kuraty” superstars. A sophisticated look at them however, revealed, they weren’t so sophisticated. So several of us, using the newer sports training methods of the time, and bolstered by years in Filipino martial arts or other historical backgrounds, stepped up and made “new” knife courses. Gone was the martial arts uniforms, belts, etc. We wore jeans with pockets and regular clothing belts. Street clothes.
Some of the 90s knife pioneers? James Keating. Tom Sotis. Kelly Worden, Bram Frank, Bob Kasper, yours truly, to name just a few, but there really were only a few of us. Paul Vunak is a late 80s pioneer in many areas. (Still, some of these guys were overdosing on knife dueling.) We wore shirts, jeans and shoes. I even taught at times in a suit and tie. Skeptical, we didn’t trust the old stuff and we didn’t trust the established martial arts either, even the Filipino applications of the knife are often tricky and too “duely”. (Do you want to walk around wearing a vest with 12 knives? Seriously.) Be free. Think free. Be skeptical. Are you a replicator? Or an innovator?
Still, the old just helps the new. This was also part of a bigger “breakaway” from establishments that was going on in that decade. The world was seeing MMA (or at least ground wrestling) on TV like never before. And somehow a collection of old stuff, dressed in athletic pants, painted in the “Israeli mystique” – Krav Maga – was really shoved down the throats of Tae Kwon Do schools as mandatory, by clever (and insidious) shaming, business groups, like NAPA in the 90s.
The “Mixed Revolution” was in the 1990s martial air! Jeet Kune Do was spreading into a heyday. Inosanto JKD/MMA was already doing Thai and ground, and so much more. Ever hear of “Shoot?” But, I guess the Israeli mystique was greater than the Bruce Lee mystique?
Mystique? Yes. Ever so important in advertising, sales and manipulation. That’s how we pick shoes, cars, purses and pistols (politicians, religions and…) Manipulation. More on that later…
My knife course had a few odd, infancy names in 1990 and 1991, but it was quickly called “When Necessary? Force Necessary: Knife!” But that 5-word title was a little long and clunky and it was shortened to just 3 words – “Force Necessary: Knife!” I do prefer the longer, clunky name, as it completely explains exactly what I mean to say. Only use that force necessary when absolutely necessary. But I got around the country and quickly, the whole world doing that knife material. Lots of traveling, lots of seminars. It lead to being voted Black Belt Magazine, Weapon Instructor of the Year and also into their BB Hall of Fame. (back when readers actually mailed in votes.) I also “scored-very well” in the non-arts, growing “combatives” world.
Black Belt. Tact Knifes. Hall of Fames. TRS. Such was the jargon and the martial/political stage of the 90s. Today, it’s hard to grasp that the total, martial world communication back that existed was with a mere 6 or 8 international, martial arts magazines. That’s it! Try and list them. Yes, Black Belt, Blitz, Martial Arts Illustrated, Inside Kung Fu, Inside Karate. Think of some more. Try and list them. They were the filter for us all. Talk forums developed slowly later and now, like the magazines, are almost all extinct.
Now? Nowadays, I don’t know where the martial arts communication filter exists, specifically. The…web…the gazillions of webpages? The gazillions of podcasts? The gazillion of….Instagrams? Facebook? Yesterday’s business card is today’s webpage. And any dipshit can pay to have amazing looking webpages. The battle for exposure takes a business up and down many extremely, frustrating, costly roads.
Of course with all businesses, this 1990s knife movement kicked off a new interest and a fair number of new knife courses popped up through and to, by 2005-ish, often by less experienced, less organized people, and in my opinion doing less comprehensive programs. But this business evolution is to be expected. Invent a new “widget?” There’s a knock-off. Then knock-offs with an “S.” In the big picture of training and education however, not widgets, this can be a positive thing. Awareness. Curiosity. Growth.
So, when did I fall? It happened slowly and then one day you are down looking up. How’d I get down here? Not enough Instagram pictures? Some 25-odd years later, in about 2015, on a popular public forum someone asked me what I thought of Johnny Swift’s new, knife, quick-draw article. Of course it was named something super-spiffy like “Armageddon Instrument Production,” but it’s just knife quick draws. Brand new, Biblical-worthy advice Swift preached, and published in the new amazing world of web-jargon magazines called something like “Organic Micro Evolution of Edged Prophetic Dynasty.” (I just made that magazine name up, but how far am I off? Have you seen these seminars names lately? Aren’t you impressed, or can you see right through the pretentiousness?) Twenty and 30 year-olds salivated!
I read Swift’s ground-breaking, testament as featured in “Retrograde, Skill Supremacy, Fusion Elite Magazine” and I replied on the public forum –
“Oh, I have to like Swift’s article. It is virtually, word-for-word, from my 1992, Knife Level 1 outline.”
My review/remark caused a lot of guffaws and a few smart ass remarks, among the 20 and 30 year old readers, most of whom were so submerged in modern “dynasty jargon” and up to their beards in mystique, and lost in the gazillion web world, they’d never even heard of us older guys from the 90s. I mean, who am I to comment like this on their latest fad-boy genius? I added that I was not suggesting that Johnny Swift plagiarized my outline, as it might have innocently been co-opted, or the older info has become so, ever so embedded into the “knife world” it was deemed as open knowledge. I get that. Sure. That happens. (That level 1 outline is/was free to the public and has been distributed for literally 3 decades, and my knife books have been for sale since about then too.)
I reminded the guffawers that the spread of education is a good thing and that at very least, I only partook in that process. I said that the old just helps the new, and you have to remember the old, so history doesn’t repeat itself. As a great gun instructor Dave Spaulding likes to remind us, “It’s not new. It’s just new to you.”
One guy was clever enough to say, “Well, sorry I missed you when I was 5 years old.” Ha! I told him that was a pretty damn, funny retort. It was. But missed me? Dude, I never left. But actually he never knew I was around to begin with. That is part of the mysterious “fall.”
I added in that discussion with Mr. Wise-ass that the spread of education was a good thing, and I only partook in the process. Seriously, I frequently read as new, many old catchy terms, ideas, expressions I published and advertised decades ago.
My really big mistake in the knife world, training business is…I think, not emphasizing the knife training course only. Alone. My obsession was/is with covering the bigger picture. Hand, stick, knife, gun. That’s “where it’s at” for me (is that phrase too 90s? Yikes, maybe too beatnik 60s?). The 1990s evolved into the 2000s and my step-by-step into what I really wanted to do all along since the 90s. My goal is to create the best hand, stick, knife and gun courses. It’s a mixed weapon world. Each subject I have is a carefully constructed 4-pillar, foundation. But I think when you shoot for this holistic picture, each separate pillar seems to get a little lost, a little less appreciated, a little less noticed. It also makes me appear to be less specialized. This ain’t true. There’s a big mixed weapon matrix:
But anyway, back to the knife! Inside a comprehensive knife course is:
* Knife vs hand.
* Knife vs stick.
* Knife vs knife.
* Knife vs some gun threats.
* Standing, kneeling, sitting and on the ground.
* Saber and reverse grip experimentation.
* Skill developing exercises.
* Knife combat scenarios and situations.
* Legal issues and smarts.
* Who what, where, when, how and why questions
* Criminal history knife stories.
* War history knife stories.
I do get a kick out of the occasional lame-brain who pipes up and says, “Knife training? Just stick the pointy end in the other guy.”Especially when these same complainers spend about ten thousand $$$ a year – plus – shooting at gun ranges. Why not just stick the pointy end of the bullet in the other guy, too, Brainiac? Is it all really that simple?
But, not focusing just on the knife is a marketing problem. I don’t advertise or highlight “just the knife” like other courses do. This is one point where I have really fallen down and why my knife course has fallen down through the years.
Another problem for me? No “flags.” I have no crutch system, no flag to fly, like Pekiti, JKD, Brazil-Mania, Krav. Silat. Arnis. Bruce Lee. UFC. It’s just little ol’ me flapping in the wind. I can’t draw in extraneous-system-people, capture super search terms, as some of those are obligated to attend, even arm-twisted by “the system” they’re in. Brand names are…brand names.
Plus, I avoid and dodge macho, death messages, grim reapers, and death images mystique. I would never advertise that I am “always bladed.” And I am not in any “mafia.” I am life-long cop. I fight the Mafia. I am not in any “cartel,” or a “cult” etc. Look, I can make the distinction between something that is a little fun and ironic and something/someone that is sick and weird. It takes a little investigation too, to not jump to conclusions, but sick and weird is sick and weird.
Various other ultra-violent, whack-job messaging should be reserved as a primer mentality for very serious, military, combat groups. THEIR psychology. Their prep. Not cops and certainly not every day, walk-around citizens. Mimicking them makes you look like a wannabe punk. Look at the lawsuits filed on cops and citizens. Go ahead, have a little death-engraved-logo on your cop gun and see what happens when you shoot someone. Have a patch or tattoo of a grim reaper with a knife, or a skull with a knife through it, and see what happens when you have to use a knife. We the police, the prosecutors search your history when you are in an assault, knifing or shooting. Mature survival is enduring the end game – as in the legal aftermath, is a big part of a well-thought-out, course. (Again, mature gun easily people understand this.)
Not like this silly fucker in New York for example – I read one New York City, very popular, international knife “cartel-liberty” group headline paragraph:
“I love it when I carve someone’s balls off and put them in his empty eye sockets.”
Shit man, you probably work in a fucking supermarket. And you think and talk like this? You need to be on watch list. These idiots give us all a bad name. But images and expressions like this, or near like this, this mystique, does attract a certain sick customer, usually young, or young in the brains anyway. (After my public complaints and comments on this, this moron took that line down.)
No Mystique? Which leads me back to the first paragraph. We know the established advertising fact the “the grass is always greener on the other….” side of the street? Other country? The sewers of Spain. The temples of Thailand. The monasteries of China? The borders of Israel…the…and so on. Me? I appear to be just a bland, white guy with some info. I don’t even have any tattoos! Many well-known knife people are Filipino, just cause, because…they are Filipino. They may have never been to the Philippines, but they have an exotic sounding name.
And the serious military angle? Even with them, take a look at the most sophisticated, revered, respected, top-flight, Special Forces vets and most play it quiet cool like a gray man.
Lackadaisical about making rank and instructors. I don’t really run the classic franchise business as seen in self defense, BJJ and Krav, other combatives courses, and Lord knows, classic martial arts. I am often lackadaisical about promoting people and making instructors. Other systems do this like precision clockwork, where I fail to emphasize this. It does hurt the proverbial martial, business model.
In the same vein, I shun all titles like guro, grandmaster, sensei, etc. “It’s just Hock,” I say, which also does not fly well with some organizations who base themselves on this structure. Also, street clothes please. It’s almost like I am insulting them? I’m not trying to. You do whatever you need to do to survive.
After the fall. However boring, I still do see some “knife people” all around the world. There are “normal” people, martial artists, historians, survivalists and hobbyists, gun people out there, interested in generic, evolved, knife material. There are. And that is who I mostly see when the knife topic comes around. Since I disdain the crazies and the fringers, they usually avoid me too. I know they know, I don’t like them.
I always do a few hours of knife in every seminar and I do have the occasional knife weekend seminars when and where I realize I need to catch up with people’s rank requests. And, normal people can always, sort of, hide their knife interests inside a classic martial arts name. To me the knife is inside of, part and parcel of, hand, stick, knife, gun crime and war, survival education.
So, me. Boring. No mystique. Not isolating the knife enough. Not promoting people fast enough. No skulls. No flags. No carved out-eyeballs. No macho. Just generic methods. Here is where I have shot myself in the…well, stabbed myself in the foot, in the knife training business, even though just a few of us are those innovator pioneers and turned the tide in the 1990s into what it all has become today. For better or for worse. Maybe you young fellers will learn from my mistakes?
It’s always good to mention and/or thank your prior teachers once in a while. I always do. But, before you young knife guys make any sarcastic jokes about me again (and Kelly and Bram, et al?) Keep in mind…your modern instructors might have “peeked” at all my and our long, established materials, and would not confess to it. I might just be your grandfather. Our materials have become such standard doctrine that these young guys don’t even know of us.
When was this? This big, “Filipino martial arts turning point” for me? Keep in mind, this is just me and my personal view on things. Don’t hate me cuz I’m viewtiful!
I started doing FMA in 1986, in among other arts like JKD, and had been doing the classic karate and jujitsu (not the Brazilian wrestling version of today). By about 1993 I had covered a lot of FMA material, been to the Philippines twice. Got black belts from both Ernesto Presas and Remy Presas.
The big turning point came with double sticks, of all odd, obscure things. In 1993, a friend called me and said, “Hey Hock, this weekend, Guro ______ is coming into Dallas! He is going to do two full days of the ______ double stick drills. Are you coming?”
Two full days of…double sticks? I guess this phone call had an epiphany moment for me when several ideas flashed through my head. I found myself confessing…
“Two days? Double sticks? Well, I think I’ll pass. I mean, how many double stick drills are there anyway?”
“You’re gonna miss it! A chance to learn THEE _______ double stick drills!”
When we hung up, I examined my epiphany moment. Well, from the Inosanto world, the Remy Presas world, and Ernesto Presas world, I’d already collected about 50 double stick drills according to my anal retentive lists I keep. FIFTY ! I suddenly asked myself,
“Why am I doing this?”
“How many more double stick drills could there be, anyway?”
“How different could they be after a certain basic point?”
“What makes them different and worth knowing?”
“How are they the same?”
How ARE they the same? I realized that it was more important to organize the drills, not from the hero-worship-“who” or the hero worship-“what” fan club systems, but instead how are the drills all the same? (It is counter productive and stifling to worship system-heads and systems.)
How are they so similar. And how and why am I wasting my time collecting endless double stick drills from a nearly endless group of known and unknown system-heads who all think theirs are ever-so-special. Many of which are so much the same and with only one slight different tweak here or there. Rather, smarter, I should instead try to understand the essence of all of them. The essential core. Then, teach the universal core.
I was already contemplating the differences between the Remy and Ernesto double stick programs. Remy seemed to have 5 or 6 basic patterns with variations. Ernesto had the classic “must know” list.
Then…then I asked myself why I didn’t view ALL aspects of the varied FMAs the same way? Why not find the universal core of FMA itself? Find the very of essence…
…in this clean, kind of scientific manner? Study these cores first. Deal with the needed and dismiss the probably unneeded and-or redundant and-or prissy variables.
There will always be happy museum and happy history collectors, who collect ANYTHING from ANYBODY. And then those who like to sort-of, name-drop stuff like – “at this point, Roohan moved his kneecap this way, while Roohan kept his meniscus right here…” I can talk some of that artsy smack too, just from training years osmosis. I can delight the esoteric fanatics with these tidbits of meniscus positioning. I can also tell you that Ed Kranepool played first base for the Mets in the 1960s. Hey! I do know stuff! But how useful is it?)
Annnnd with that idea? I started constructing the generic PAC course. Pacific Archipelago Concepts, an irreverent, skeptical look at the related core of those related arts. This includes all the big systems in the Pacific Ocean. A lot of this work had been done, like with Kajukenbo (karate, jujitsu, kenpo, boxing).
This clean, generic, non-worship approach did not make me popular with some existing FMA entities, (some are cult-like) in fact I was suddenly shunned by some. And in the seminar business, it is still not my most popular or even my favorite course to teach, as I usually cover generic “combatives” for lack of a better term. But hey, FMA is fun to do, good exercise, a hobby with numerous abstract mental and physical benefits. And when asked to, I will happily cover it. I feel like if I can spread the core-foundation. Then anyone can more quickly blend into any FMA system they wish to pursue.
(By the way, I carried this “core” perspective over to combatives. In a way, this “double stick epiphany” in 1993 was an important idea in more ways than one. It gave me a mission. A purpose. A vision if you will. My pursuit, my study, my interest, my goal, is the universal generic.)
Back to 1993! I later asked that friend back in 1993, “How was the _______ double stick seminar?”
“It was great!” he said, “We did 30 drills. Most of them we already do, others just a little different here and there.”