This blog is for my family and for my martial arts friends. This is also for families who loves bonding and having a good time with their children while doing something fun and sometimes crazy stuffs.

WARNING about our videos (located on your right): We train in the traditional way and our practice vids may be a bit hard or rough to many. If you are following the "modern way or art", we are just following our tradition and have no quarrel with yours... Many thanks and ENJOY!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Why I teach my son traditional Filipino Martial Arts.

Homemade heavy Arnis/Kali sticks
I never planned to teach my son Arnis (FMA = Filipino Martial Arts)... honestly he never knew that I was a practitioner and have kept it from him. My son is half Filipino-Japanese and loves Japanese martial arts and grew up in Japan and have never been to the Philippines so I thought that he may not be interested in FMA.

Though he can't speak the Filipino language, he often spends hours on YouTube searching for his Filipino roots and came up watching FMA videos. Chopped a broom in half and started imitating the video, lol! He bragged about his new YouTube FMA skills to me and after passed me the sticks with a grin on his face. He was sure that I don't know anything about sticks or martial arts because he knew me as a biker and not as a practitioner. I took the sticks and started to dance... it has been years since I last played with sticks but my son's eyes was twinkling! At last I was the "big hero" though I nearly dropped a stick, hahaha! I showed him some basics and just let him watch YouTube again.

When he was 12 he joined his school's Judo team which made me and his mom very happy. One day he came to me and asked if I can teach him my art and he was very serious about it. To be very honest, I wasn't sure what to teach him. I did not learn FMA from a legit dojo or Arnis school and learnt it from military men, ex-convicts,  and dodgy (half drunk) grandpops. Back in the Philippines when I was young, I also studied several foreign martial arts (Karate, Tae Kwon Do, etc...). One of my teachers was Grand Master Rodel Dagooc (Modern Arnis) but only for a very short time. He was teaching us Karate and one time he played with his Arnis sticks and he was "smokin"! My eyes nearly dropped!!! Man, he is VERY GOOD!!! I took some Arnis lesson from him but we had to move so I had to stop... very sad...

Then I got booted out from elementary school (12 yrs. old) and as punishment, I had to stay in the province with my dad and help with the chores. My dad is no softy and got me working on his rice fields and mountains during my school-off. Luckily, I got teamed with two old guys who worked for my dad and that is where I started stealing some of their techniques. Both of them are in their mid 80s, traditional practitioners, and were funny as hell. Together we were assigned to clear hectares of land in the mountains in preparation for plantation renewal. My favorite tool was my "itak/bolo"and a huge karet (half-moon curved bolo with a long wooden handle and is about 70 centimeters long) for chopping vines and small trees. Another favorite is a double edged huge ax which I chopped several hundred full size trees and hundreds of coconut trees too :) While enjoying my "chores" bladed art was passed to me by my two teachers. No dojos, no colorful belts, no rules and said that the art was passed to them during the war and will be passed to me as-is-where-is. Learning was fun because both of them have different styles and sometimes they will argue and not talk with each other for days. It was a cold-war between grandpops styles on which is better??? One would teach me his version and the other one will teach me his and the argument between them starts... the funny thing is their styles looks VERY similar to each other and they fight over on who has the better style??? Unlike many beginners, my lessons started with bladed weapons then it moved on to sticks. Sticks lesson was hard since the lessons was done in full contact and their blows gets heavier especially when they were arguing. Punches, throws and grappling was the even worst since I was the dummy of two colliding grandpops who both have bad eyesight (ouch!).

Then I moved to the city again and met some military guys who shared their art. Made friends with some really dodgy ex-convict guys and the fun begins... All their styles are similar but everyone seems to have something hidden up their sleeves and often I get new "very secret lessons that was kept hidden for centuries and the keys were tossed in the deepest pits of hell for safe keeping..." but would pass their well kept secret if I will keep their secret for myself and not to tell my other teachers (which was his buddies) that I have learned his "vicious kamehameha art of death secret".... Believe it or not but one of the "death secret" passed to me was the very basic "Sinawali" added with flying kicks then ended with a barrel roll which you can surely find something like that in YouTube, lol! Not all are laughs though and many are very effective especially the ones from the military and ex-cons. Their techniques always have something very similar which is cunning, speed, silence, simplicity and effectiveness.

Based on what I believe, I say that Modern FMA is a hybrid fighting art and has more techniques than what was passed down to me by my traditional FMA teachers because my teachers styles doesn't have the organized teaching method that Modern FMA practices. Modern FMA teaches not only the art but also builds up the personality of their students to be better persons in the modern world. Old FMA is based on what its purpose was intended...

Going back to my son... I can only teach him what I know based on what I've learned. Many of my techniques too are hybrid or have become my original. Some because of lack of practice, some because I became fat and heavy that I have to stay away from kicking, most became more simple and often have to ditch my sticks and go hand to hand to match the art which my son is more comfortable, plus, I'm really not very much comfortable with sticks since I prefer my good old "sweet itak" more.

Last... I teach my son humility because there will always be a practitioner who is much faster, more intelligent, have more skills, can deliver more heavier effective blows than I or he can. Another thing is I always say to him that "if you commit the crime, you will serve time" and never use it for showing how big your stick is because even untrained very angry moms carrying a deadly frying pan can bring you flying to the ground but the best technique that I teach him is "pick up your shoes and run" and this is my very well kept secret technique that I have thrown the keys in the deepest pits of hell... (you've learned my century old master secret technique so please keep this between us okay... HAHAHA!!!).

Many thanks for all my MA teacher, you all rock!


  1. Great, I'll be keeping eyes glued for all the updates!

    Perhaps you can recommend me somewhere to learn sticks n tricks in Manila? My current dojo is called Krispy Kreme and my agility is decreasing every workout :P

  2. leonstafford,

    You can also ask my family in Manila and I'm sure that they can refer you to a good FMA sensei. I'll also make some phone calls...

    Many thanks for visiting!!!