8th Degree Promotion. Is this a Joke?

Discussion in 'Modern Arnis' started by Kenpo viking, Aug 12, 2003.

  1. sungkit

    sungkit Orange Belt

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    Palusut and other Esteemed members of Martial Talk:

    I have mentioned in previous posts,I am a student of Guro Roland Dantes and have been for several years.

    I have been here in the Philippines for several months training and will be here for another two months at least (hopefully)! It has been very interesting for me, as in addition to the training I have undertaken to further my understanding of kali/eskrima/arnis, I have been conducting interviews with a number of the grandmasters/masters in different parts of the philippines.

    Having trained directly under the auspices of Guro Roland, I have been taught to respect and appreciate all instructors and styles of the art who are teaching in a manner which reflects well for the art. Regardless of approaches taken, we are all doing our best to travel the journey we are on. Our paths may be different, but no body eversaid that they have to be the same. Hey, my girlfriend washes the dishes differently to me, but I do not dislike her for that!

    Guro Roland was very fortunate to train directly with Professsor Remy Presas and also to have a close relationship with this remarkable man for decades. He was with him in the Philippines during the early years of modern arnis and was even with him when the art was first introduced to the USA. After his teacher stayed in the USA,he was also able to train with many other very well respected masters of various styles here. This was not disrespecting the teachings of his teacher, but was a reflection on the love of the art that his teacher helped him develop. The frame work of the art that his teacher provided him with also allowed him to learn this other material and assimilate it into what he had already been taught.

    The senior masters of modern arnis here inthe Philippines are united and have been since they were training under Professor Remy A. Presas. They have chosen to follow the paths that suit their desires and that is what martial arts are about. Individuals gaining what they want from their training and study.

    This week end I am meeting a number of the Senior Masters with my teacher, Guro Roland Dantes. This will be to conduct a group interview with them for Australasian Blitz (a great martial arts magazine in Australia. There is a distinct chance I may submit it to FMA magazine also) so that they can also contribute their views to modern arnis and what they see as the future for the art they and many others who were taught by Professor Presas and his qualified students hold dear. Should you have any questions that you would like me to ask them, you can send me them via a private message or post them here and I would be happy to do so. Please note though, any politically motivated questions will be disregarded.

    There are many students of the Professor progagating modern arnis throughout the world. Of course there are those in the Philippines. There are also masters like Kelly Worden, Tim Hartman, Dan Anderson, Dieter and many others. All of these men and their students are continuing the legacy of Professor REmy Presas.

    Palusut:
    I do know that Guro Roland wil be attending the event hosted by Guro Hufana in October in Las Vegas. Hopefully you and others can attend and meet with him there.
     
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  2. Guro Harold

    Guro Harold Senior Master

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    Sungkit,

    Thank you very much for your post! Please feel free to start a new thread to gather possible interview questions.

    Best regards,

    Palusut
     
  3. Flatlander

    Flatlander Grandmaster

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    Mr. Curren, point well taken. I guess I should have thought that through a little better before I spoke up. Where I meant to go with that was that the increasing of rank should be a reflection of the individual's growth in the art. I think that the fact that the ranking was endorsed by many other senior masters is what provides it credibility.
    There are particular circumstances where there are, specifically, Datus who were basically given license to grow and develop the art within their art as they saw fit. In that context, they are literally the heads of their organizations. Let me pose a hypothetical situation to better illustrate my position on this. This is purely hypotetical folks, and is not meant in any way to reflect actual people, merely a philosophical exercise.

    Two Datus of Modern Arnis are equally 'ranked'. Now, lets say Datu "a" becomes stagnant, and no longer carries on the development of his art, while Datu "b" works tirelessly to improve, refine, develop and assist others on their paths. Should these differences of approach, effort and skill not be reflected in some tangible way? Put yourself into the shoes of a prospective student 10 years down the road. Would you not appreciate a roadsign to assist you in choosing your path?

    These are only my opinions. I personally have no gain to be realized by any of this in any way, notwithstanding how it may affect me 30 years from now.

    Please, I mean no offense here.
    Dan Bowman.
     
  4. arnisandyz

    arnisandyz Master Black Belt

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  5. Guro Harold

    Guro Harold Senior Master

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    Dan,

    Thanks for setting the example of what "friendly discussion means"!

    Mod Note:

    Hello Everyone,

    Please read this notice stated here by Seig:

    http://www.martialtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15344

    We will not tolerate beleaguering our fellow members. Please remember that friendly discussions does not mean that you win the argument or to coerce someone to believe the same way as you.

    It that means you state and share your points on topic and in a courteous and respectable manner.

    If the discussion gets heated, then take it offline and PM the parties involved. If you as a member feel that you are being harassed or someone has stepped over the line, then report the post or behavior to a Moderator.

    Best regards,

    Palusut
    MT Moderator
     
  6. Flatlander

    Flatlander Grandmaster

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    Very, very nice. Thank you Andy. Excellent point. Then, what you mean effectively, is that "Datu" is enough. Well, you're right. For me, it is enough.

    Very respectful of Andy, who is quite obviously wise,
    Dan Bowman.
     
  7. Emptyglass

    Emptyglass Guest

    Hi Dan Bowman:

    I figured you might want to clarify your statement and appreciate that you have. Please note, I am not speaking of any individual's current rank in my post. I am simply discussing the intrinsic value of ranking in the martial arts in general (and Modern Arnis specifically) as related to the development of those arts.

    In your example: If a datu were to become inactive and discontinue practice and development, I would hope that they would be honest enough with themselves to then "step down" or retire to make way for those who have continued to work developing and growing the art through active practice, teaching and promotion. However, I do fully realize this is a fairly ridiculous proposition if someone's business is teaching the martial arts. Their living if you will. Most often I would think the desire to put food on the table may outweigh such sensibilities. Again, I'm referring to no particular instructor or person here so please don't get wound up over this.

    All of the instructors I've seen mentioned in this long post are actively pursuing their own goals and development.

    Honestly, I think this is one of the main concepts that Professor Presas used to try to impress upon people (at least in my experience with him). It's not often touched upon that I've seen by many Modern Arnis instructors that I've come across. He wanted people to develop their own movement/style/application. To make it theirs. To break free from static "do as I do and only as I do" training.

    But...

    He also wanted them to respect their roots and not discount or forget what he and others had taught them before. To learn what he was teaching but also to reach beyond to find their own way. To pay proper respect to their resources.

    Note: Controversial Statement follows. Please do not flame and consider your reaction before answering:

    However, since no clear successor that I can see to Grandmaster Remy A. Presas' Modern Arnis system has emerged that has been agreed upon by all involved parties then I would put forth that the Modern Arnis system of Remy A. Presas no longer exists in the format that the Grandmaster taught it. Each of the leading instructors worldwide is going to add in their own movement, influences and additional learning into what they are teaching their students. If they don't, then they have already become stagnant. All martial arts have to grow and adapt to the times they are being used to address new challenges and ideas.

    Therefore, I personally believe upper level - Lakan and higher (and possibly all) ranking in Grandmaster Remy A. Presas' Modern Arnis system should now be frozen. It's done. They are accomplishments worthy of respect but they have gone as high as they can now go. At the least I think people should note (as Professor Anderson has done) where one ranking left off and the other picked up.

    That is an explanation of my thought process and reasoning in the matter and I am certainly willing to read and listen to other arguments. These are my own opinions and I am not involved in the organizations of any of the current Modern Arnis instructors out there.

    In any case, this is a good discussion which is touching on many good topics. Certainly no offense is taken on my part as these are issues I would really like to discuss with people who can address them with an open heart and mind.

    Respectfully,

    Rich Curren
     
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  8. Dan Anderson

    Dan Anderson Master of Arts

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    Sungkit,

    Thaks for all the info! I hope to meet Guro Roland when he is in Las Vegas. He and I have had several very good emails back and forth.

    Rich, Dan & Andy,

    You've got some very good discussions going and as the original target of this thread, I find them good reading and not inflamatory at all.

    As to ranking, titles, and so forth, in the end we all put our pants on the same way in the morning - one leg at a time (unless someone jumps from the top bunk into those incredibly baggy shorts).

    Yours,
    Dan Anderson

    PS - Rich - I like that idea of becoming a 186,543rd Dan. I suppose I'll have to be satisfied with being the first Dan of my family. You may commence groaning now. :boing2:

    PPS - Hey! 9 pages now.
     
  9. Flatlander

    Flatlander Grandmaster

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    And thank you Rich Curren, for your effective clarification. Point well taken. You seem to be a very reasonable person. It's my honor to have met you here.

    I think we all understand each other.
    Dan Bowman.
     
  10. Emptyglass

    Emptyglass Guest

    You're welcome Dan Bowman. The same goes for you.

    Respectfully,

    Rich Curren
     
  11. mcjon77

    mcjon77 Orange Belt

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    Hi Mr. Curran,

    Just wondering, by that line of thinking, would that mean that anyone that started training in Modern Arnis after the death of the Professor could never be awarded a black belt (Lakan)? It seems like doing that would stifle the art a little, no? What should instructors/Senior Masters do? teach only what the professor taught, but award no new rank to students? Or should they create some distinction in the name of their style to reflect changes/evolution they have made in their expression of the Professor's system? Also, is this different from any other martial art in which the head of the style dies? What style hasn't had at least SOME splintering following the death of the founder?

    I guess the catch 22 for the senior masters in Modern Arnis is this:
    If they teach only what they learned from the professor, people will say that there expression of the art has become stagnent. If they continue to grow and develop MA there are those that will say they are not doing the "true" art of MA and should not call it Modern Arnis. If they change the name to reflect their inovations, others will say they are simply repackaging and renaming Modern Arnis and presenting it as a new art.

    This is really no different from the splintering of a large family after the head of that family passes away. When my grandfather died, there was an unconcious desire to "appoint" a new head of the family. However, there was naturally some infighting as to who that would be. What wound up happening is that my mother, uncles and aunts gradually started focusing more on leading their own families as opposed to trying to keep the extended family "united" together under some appointed head of the extended family. In many ways it has allowed each person's family to further form an identity outside the extended family. We all still love each other, hang out together and have fun, but we no longer have to rely on a supreme leader who has the final say in matters. This is just a natural course of events.

    Jon
     
  12. Cruentus

    Cruentus Grandmaster

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    Jon,

    You make a lot of interesting points...good stuff to think about.

    Here's my take on it...not do agree or disagree with anyone here...

    Rank: A lot of things are involved in rank. Your skill, other factors...and WHO you got it from.

    In reverse order...
    Who: No matter how hard we try to make it not so, how far we came along under Professor will never change. If I only recieved a brown belt, 1st degree, or 5th degree from Professor, then that is as far as that will go. Nothing will change my rank under Professor.

    Now...does that mean that you are locked in and can never improve your abilities beyond your brown belt that you recieved? No...in fact...you could improve and excel well past any Datu or Master on the floor. So...should you be able to get additional "rank"? If your doing the rank thing, then, absolutely. However, your WMAA, IMAF Inc., or independent certificate signed by different masters will not make it a Rank in Remy Presas. The paperwork may say "Modern Arnis"...which is fine if that is the art that you claim....but it will not be the same as a signed piece of paper from Remy Presas.

    So, that is where the dicotomy is. Your rank that was recieved by Remy is essentially "frozen," obviously, because he is not alive to give out any new rank. However, you can still get ranked in Modern Arnis... and the legitimacy of that will depend on who you recieve it from, and more importantly, how well you can back it up.

    Other factors: People got rank in wierd time and at wierd places. There was not "standard" when it came to rank. Some have earned their rank through testing...some were given rank without testing. Some got it through skill, some got it through politicizing and favors. The standard as to how one recieved rank will vary depend on who you talk to. I have no doubt in my mind that there may be "no ranks" out there who can outperform a 5th degree in Modern Arnis. THis is where the whole issue gets very touchy, and many (including myself at times) can get fustrated.

    Rank...by itself, does not fairly represent your skill in comparison to "the group"....period... at least not in Modern Arnis. I think the important question one needs to ask oneself is "what does MY rank mean to ME."

    Skill True legitamacy everything to do with skill, and nothing to do with anything else. If you were a 5th or 7th or 9th degree, but you cannot perform in a manner acceptable by the public of that rank, then people aren't going to buy whatever your selling. That is the bottom line. I don't care if you tested and bled for your rank, or if you recieved it because you bought Remy and airplane ticket. If you can back it up, then on the floor (where it matters) there will be no questions...If you can't...then it doesn't matter how legetimate your recieving it was.

    As the saying goes, time will promote or expose you. A 9th degree for someone deserving of it will be a great credential and tool for them to use while spreading the art.... a 9th degree to someone not deserving will only be enough rope for them to hang themselves.

    On to another subject...

    The catch 22: You are correct in your assessment here. How I handle it is I plan to be able to seperate what I know from Professor, and what I have gathered from other systems. If your proficient in an art, you can keep it seperate from your other arts or stylistic add on's. That way, I am still teaching the stylistic add on's, but I can present them in a way so that the student knows where what came from where.

    Now...the thing is, Professor's art was "modern" for the reason that it was never meant to be kept in a vaccum. Professor was always evolving his style. For us to not do the same, to be preservationists, In my opinion is not condusive of what Modern Arnis is supposed to be about. However...I understand your point, which is why I try to remember who taught me what, and keep that in mind when training and teaching.

    The family: We are all family, like it or not. We are all "Successors"...all of us. So, the question isn't who is "worthy" or "the rightful heir"...the question is, what are YOU going to do about YOUR successorship?

    Paul
     
  13. Dan Anderson

    Dan Anderson Master of Arts

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    Jon,
    No. Case in point - Datu Kelly Worden (8th degree) and his wife, Laura (6th degree), just received new ranks from Remy Presas Jr. (MARPPIO) and the certificates were countersigned by Rosemary Presas. These are legitimate Modern Arnis ranks. They are not, however, Remy Presas ranks as he has passed away. They are just issued by another authority.

    Very aptly stated. Been there, done that, living with my decision.

    Yep.

    Paul,
    As usual your spelling is questionable but you make very solid points. Great posts, both of you.

    Yours,
    Dan Anderson
     
  14. Tgace

    Tgace Grandmaster

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    I think that the whole issue of rank is an interesting topic. IMO, I think that the concept of rank has major ties to military structure. Military rank at its most basic, is a system of grading command so as to control groups of fighting personnel (and a way of determining how much you get paid). Theres also social rank where people classify themselves based on wealth, ancestry and so on.

    Now martial arts rank, what is its ultimate purpose? Is it simply to give the student a marker of progress? Is it a social pecking order? Is there some sort of vestigial military influence where higher ranks believe they have "command authority" over lower ranks?

    The problem with rank of any type, in any organization, is that it can be used as a "weapon" by people with ego, self-esteem and control issues.
     
  15. Dan Anderson

    Dan Anderson Master of Arts

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    Tgace,

    1&2. Interesting in the fact that this type of martial arts ranking originated in Japan, a country with a rigid military history as well as rigid social class system.

    3. It would seem that ranking, these days, includes all of the above ot one degree or another.

    4. The arrow hits dead on.

    Yours,
    Dan Anderson
     
  16. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    The original purpose of Jigaro Kano's dan grades was to separate sport players by degree of skill--sort of like having amateur, semi-pro, and pro baseball players. Higher grades were to reward and acknoweldge contributions to the sport.
     
  17. Cruentus

    Cruentus Grandmaster

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    I know...I type as fast as I talk!

    Could my grammer be anytworse?

    Yours,

    Bill Cosby
     
  18. Tgace

    Tgace Grandmaster

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    I would also venture to say that many students need some sort of tangible symbol of progress in the "It dosent matter that I just effectively defended myself...I dont feel like I know what Im doing without that belt" vein.

    And many instructors need multiple belt levels to squeeze more testing fees out. :)
     
  19. Dan Anderson

    Dan Anderson Master of Arts

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    I knew someone would have the historical answer to that. Thanks.

    Yours,
    Dan Anderson

    PS - we're on page 10. :asian:
     
  20. DoxN4cer

    DoxN4cer Purple Belt

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    Most students do have a tangible symbol of progress. It's called skill.
    They just don't realize it because of all the commercial hype surrounding martial arts.

    TK
     
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