Are the FMAs "devolving" from the lack of real combat testing?

Discussion in 'Filipino Martial Arts - General' started by geezer, Jun 16, 2010.

  1. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    On another thread, the point was made that a lot of FMAs being taught today --especially here in the States-- lack the realism that characterized the stuff taught by the older generations of masters. Think of some of the legendary names in the FMAs: Dizon, Cabales, Villabrille, Ilustrisimo, Giron, Bacon, the Tortal family, the Latosa family, to name but a few... these guys used their arts for fighting. Some used them for killing... especially the Filipino freedom fighters resisting the Japanese during WWII. So the FMA systems that were exposed to the US public in the '70s and '80's were still lead by individuals who had seen those arts used and tested.

    Now the old generation of masters has almost entirely passed. FMAs are being widely taught by people who have never used them in anything like an actual life-or-death struggle. We see more and more fancy, flowery techniques being taught, and we no-longer test what we learn. Meanwhile, the public turns increasingly to MMA, which, though a sport and not the same as a life-or-death struggle, at least is constantly being pressure-tested in the ring. So where does that leave the FMAs in the modern world. Are we going to end up as another, non-functional, ritualized art form and philosophical discipline like some Japanese Budo? Worse, are we going to become another flashy, phony martial dance-form taught to kids at the corner McDojo? Or is there a way to keep the original fighting spirit and realism of the FMAs alive in the modern, civilized world?
     
  2. LoneRider

    LoneRider Purple Belt

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    Eskrima's stick fighting applications I would think are easily transferrable to the use of a standard police baton. I recall my armed sentry training in the military and the use of such an implement was rather Escrima-esque/Kali-esque.

    I would also think the military could conceivably use the some of the weapons techniques of the FMAs if they could fit them into the MACP curriculum.
     
  3. MJS

    MJS Administrator Staff Member

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    I"m sure there are some people, depending on their jobs, that have used, successfully, their FMA training. As far as the testing goes...well, that IMO is something we should be doing. I remember a thread I started a while ago, on sparring in Arnis, and whether or not people do it. Some people consider the drills that we do as sparring, however I disagree. I feel that sparring is more along the lines of what we'd see with the Dog Bros. and yes, that certainly isn't for everyone. However, for a slightly toned down version of that, padded sticks can be used. I've received some pretty good welts from those sticks. :D

    A few of the people in my group likes to take certain things and isolate them in a more realistic fashion. For example...lets say the focus was the 12 angles of attack. (**Note: I come from the Remy Presas style of Arnis, so our terminology may vary**) We'll start with the #1 angle and work entries and control/disarms. We'll start off slow and gradually work our way up to a faster speed. IMO, this is a good way to test things, due to the fact that many times during training, we're dealing with compliant partners for the sake of learning the basic fundamentals of whatever is being taught.

    However, as I said, there comes a time, when you gotta pick up the pace. Its amazing to see what works, what doesn't and what needs to be changed, when that stick is really coming at you. The same thing can be done with the blade defenses, as well as empty hand attacks.

    Personally, I"m not a huge fan of the fancy, flowery stuff. I'd rather work the more practical stuff. Will the various FMAs dry up and die? God I hope not. While there may not be thousands of students in the classroom, there are small, dedicated groups of people who train and continue to spread the art. And thats fine with me. I'd rather have a small dedicated group, than a room filled with people, who dont care about the art.
     
  4. Andrew Green

    Andrew Green Grandmaster

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    Nothing stopping people from getting a little protective equipment and pressure testing stuff for themself, well maybe a disliking of bruises, but this sport is supposed to hurt a little ;)
     
  5. Arnis7Tres5

    Arnis7Tres5 Yellow Belt

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    Great stuff, guys. Just wanted to clarify my stance, I actually think more of the testing like the following groups PTK, Black Eagle Society, Dog Brothers are done outside the Philippines. So, the Filipinos don't have monopoly on FMA's testing any longer.

    I didn't mean to say that the Manongs were unique, just that they had less to lose and more to gain by kinetically testing their skills constantly. But people are still testing (Filipinos and non-Filipinos), the problem is those who are spreading the FMA are not the folks who are testing and tweaking their art.
     
  6. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    I agree about the usefulness of sparring ala Dog Bros. and Black Eagle, ... but as I'm turning 55 next month, I'll stay with padded sticks for now.

    Also, I appreciate the input from Arnis735, since his comments inspired this thread. On the other hand, Arnis, I think it's fair to say that some of the old manongs were pretty unique. People like that are rare in any culture!
     
  7. Stick Dummy

    Stick Dummy <b>"Great Guro Wizard of the Gun and Knife"</b>

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    Great thread and posts!!

    My feelings are people in general tend to gravitate away from FMA-IMA based on the reality of the arts and PAIN! LOL

    That is what drew me in and sunk the hook deep. The applications are vastly more practical for counter offensive situations and WORK without dogma.

    Yes McDojo types will exploit the "Flowery" moves but we don't care as hard core enthusiasts.

    Keep teaching what we have been taught and share it with those worthy of continuing the traditions.

    They will come and learn.....
     
  8. Archangel M

    Archangel M Senior Master

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    Im not sure if the whole "stick your arm out and stand still while I whirl a few dozen strikes at you" approach to training is doing anybody any favors.

    [yt]N55fJyPMytE[/yt]

    I understand it's place in instruction, but it does seem to be taking up a large chunk of training time lately.
     
  9. Mark Lynn

    Mark Lynn Master Black Belt

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    Are the FMAs de-evolving? I wouldn't say so, I think they are evolving. Around the turn of the century, the FMAs, sure had been used in the wars (1st and 2nd WWs) but practitioners also came together to train and share ideas as well. With the influx of the foreign martial arts came new ideas of how to teach groups and to mix arts with the FMAs which brought newer techniques and ideas into the arts. Take the blending of Judo with the FMAs for escrido, or the influence of jujitsu/karate and the blending of FMA styles by GM Remy Presas for Modern Arnis. Or the addition of empty hand work in Serrada Escrima, that came about in the 60's.

    This being said I think the arts are changing and becoming more sophisticated and organized. Thus the concepts of the arts are being spread into the military (PTK) in the Philippines, and to LEO groups all over the world. Even the use of this site and many other internet sites help the arts to grow and evolve, much less the sale of DVDs, the viewing of U Tube etc. etc.

    Think of any martial art the use of techniques in real self defense or combat is generally very simple, straight forward, easily taught techniques. How long does a real stick fight last? Seconds? How many techniques are done? I would venture to say not many. If all anyone did was just practice those techniques that won a stick fight, then there wouldn't be any empty hand skills, or very little blade work, disarming, take downs etc. etc. taught. I think this is the reason the FMAs were unpopular in the Philippines back in the 50-70's and the imported arts were more popular.
     
  10. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    Archangel What a coincidence. I viewed a clip featuring the same two practitioners of LSAI shortly before starting this thread. Nothing against that system, mind you. I don't know much about it, except people say that it's founder, Mang Ben Luna Lema was amazing. But the featured demo style which you aptly described as "stick your arm out and stand still..." is... er... unrealistic
    On the other hand, I know people who like to show-off like that and yet can really kick booty, so I'm not going to pass judgement.
     
  11. Arnis7Tres5

    Arnis7Tres5 Yellow Belt

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    I guess what I meant was that every generation, in every place, produces warriors. And if we let these guys lead, the FMAs will just keep on evolving. If we let them lead.
     
  12. Arnis7Tres5

    Arnis7Tres5 Yellow Belt

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    This is what we were referring to in the other thread, and I think it's not realistic enough. If I was a non-FMAer and someone pointed this out to me in an attempt to impress me, I wouldn't be impressed either.

    geezer,

    I think this is the point here, if the fella has more in his bag of tricks, that is what should be put out, so the MMA and TMA types don't have to waste their time looking through fluff like this, giving them plenty of chance to doubt and ridicule FMA in general (because this was the point in the last thread).

     
  13. Hand Sword

    Hand Sword Grandmaster

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    Concerning this topic, I think the same arguments have been made against many other systems and there is some truth in them. For some reason, as the world can seem more violent overall, I think on the smaller level, this is not so. Statistics could be used to argue that as well. I think, it's just more people want to take up the arts as hobbies, or workouts, and maybe day care centers. I think the popularity of MMA stuff is also helping to separate the fighter types from the flowery types, which leaves the non MMA stuff for the family.

    The arguments that say you can go solo with those like you gear up and have at it are right on the money. Although, I would caution views about the dog brothers and such groups. Though I have huge respect for them I always had the issue of the "realism." True, they can get nasty and the damage is definitely real-no question there. My issue is while watching their encounters, I noticed things like a full shot to one's head region, where that person then fires a full shot to the 1st person's ribs-breaking some. Totally real! But, realistically, that head shot would have knocked out the attacker or stunned enough that a full shot to the ribcage could not be an effective follow up. This would result in the person not getting broken ribs.
     
  14. Arnis7Tres5

    Arnis7Tres5 Yellow Belt

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    Realistically speaking, and I hope no one takes this as a slight, there is only really one group or system doing this.

    I was just reading a little bit more about Gary Faulkner, the guy who went to Pakistan to hunt down bin Laden with a sword, and all I could think of was how utterly bad *** this fella was.

    And I thought about this subject, about quality control and evolution in mind and body, and asked myself and others, as FMAers, if we had to guess (if Mr. Faulkner studied FMA) which FMA would he fall under. Hands down, given this man's attitude and embodiment of the warrior spirit, it was PTK (then others down the line of similar spirit).

    Another analogy would be the Harley-Davidson and Indian, now adays when you think these motorcycles and see the new ones driven in the streets, it's usually Bankers, lawyers, accountants. But the essence of these machines, even before the 1%'ers, was freedom and the concept of pushing the envelope. One person and his bike, One fighter and his art.

    So like the FMA, we always talk about the Manongs and all the death matches, but really in the end the folks promoting the FMAs are safe, business men, who don't really answer challenges anymore ala the Manongs of old. Like the Harley-Davidson, the FMAs have been hi-jacked by bankers and lawyers (literally and figuratively).

    I'm not picking on any groups here, it's the individual after all that has to 'kill or be killed' with the art he practices, but I guess what I'm trying to get at here is we as a community of FMA'ers, already know what our arts as a whole is suppose to be or where it should go towards to improve.
     
  15. Arnis7Tres5

    Arnis7Tres5 Yellow Belt

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    To piggy back on Archangels solid critique,

    Im also not sure if the whole "Chinese finger puzzle with sticks/Patty cake with sticks" approach to training is doing anybody any favors either.

    [yt]9BANuBKs1KA[/yt]

    I understand it's place in instruction, but seems to be also taking up a large chunk of today's training lately.
     
  16. Rich Parsons

    Rich Parsons A Student of Martial Arts

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    We have a semi private club. If you do not want to stay no big deal. If we do not want you there no big deal we tell you to leave. The numbers are small but we get to concentrate more on individuals who really want to be there and are not afraid to be in a little bit of pain from time to time from being hit.

    As to testing, I agree that testing is very important. It has to be. The catch is even if the instructor tests it, the student knows it should work, but they also have to test it to make sure it works for them. Prime quote, "I know that, I don't Know that!".

    Now for myself, I have used my training over the years.

    Have I ever had a real stick fight?
    No, because if I could get to a weapon no one ever wanted to engage, and most times they just came at me with tire irons and golf clubs and baseball bats and or axes. I survived so I think I won, but I will not say I did not get hit nor will I not say that I did not get my butt kicked form time to time either.

    Have I ever been in a sword fight?
    Nope, for anytime I have met a person with a sword they have dropped their weapon and or started yelling for help or the police.
    Other than an axe I have not been attacked with a long bladed weapon by someone with intent on killing me or at least maiming me.

    Have I ever been in a knife fight?
    No. Ever time I had a knife on me and they pulled there's and attacked I reacted and disarmed and coutner attacked with empty hands or with what ever was at hand to grab.
    THe times I had time to pull a blade was always with people armed and in groups coming towards me, and they did not want to engage then.

    But as I stated, no matter how I know I have reacted in the past, my studnets still need to test it for themselves to know how they will react.

    I have a friend who trained in JuJitsu in the 60's and full contact Karate and Muay Thai in the 70's and even tried for 18 months to be a professional fighter. In the 80's he picked up Shotakan as something to train with his son. In the 90's he bounced around looking.

    Then he got injured and had a closed head brain injury. He started to train in the FMA's in the early 00's. To make friends with a knife. This helped him a lot as it was a tool he could carry and use. But the more training he got the more he realized he was limited in his performance and to feel safe he wanted more.

    He then started training with another life long passion of his, Shooting. He had been the target shooter and collector. Now he trains for self defense with the tool.

    He still trains in the FMA's for keeping his timing up and other reasons, but he also realized his personal limitations and looked for the best solution for himself. Which I fully supported.
     
  17. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    Personally I really enjoyed watching that, but on the other hand, I know what you are getting at. Long ago I trained under a guy who hated these kind of complicated, "finger-puzzle" games. The way he moved offensively, it would be hard to ever block his attack. And if you did, he'd probably shatter your stick and hit you anyway. He once ran across a so-called master of a system that specializes in this kind of stuff. The "master" made a few rude remarks and and my old teacher, a real fighter, could barely restrain himself. Honestly, if his wife hadn't been there to settle him down, that so-called "master" probably would have had to pick himself up off the floor....seriously messed up.

    Now for what it's worth, I'm not a fighter by temperment. And, unless I do something seriously stupid, I hope to never really use what I'm training in. So, I seek out teachers that have gone places I hope not to go and benefit, to the degree that I can, from their experience.
     
  18. Arnis7Tres5

    Arnis7Tres5 Yellow Belt

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    Some people learn from their mistakes, but smart people learn from other people's mistakes.
     
  19. Arnis7Tres5

    Arnis7Tres5 Yellow Belt

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    (Sorry my response was chopped by a few hours, was busy celebrating the Lakers win last night).

    That is exactly what I'm talking about, geezer. We all know the need and the utility of quality control in the field of martial art. Too bad, your master's wife was there, because there are way too many "masters" like that (teaching BS to fluff their curriculum), in bad need of a little beating if not for simply being a Dmbas$, then for the sake of our arts. As R. Kelly once sang, "Ain't nothing wrong with a little bump and grind."

    But then again, if there was opportunity for this challenge to happen, chances are that "master" would have backed down regardless or maybe call the cops. These are the types of people representing the FMA now. Either it's because they are spineless or are just thinking about making money from seminars and camps.

    That's why I like PTK and the folks that lead it. They've invited others and they are open to challenges, in the same spirit as the Manongs who are always invoked in the FMAs. There are individuals from other camps who stand ready too, but only this group seem, as a whole, to take the duty of quality control in the FMA seriously.

    And as students, I think we too have a responsibility in this quality control. Too many times during seminars or watching youtube demos, we're always saying "nice, thanks for sharing" or "great video", when we should be asking has that been combat tested? Is that applicable in a real serious fight? We need to start calling these "masters" out and exposing them.

    Let's encourage them all to answer challenges, fight in Dog Brother type matches and to stop posting videos that don't represent the FMA correctly, like the above videos, and start posting sparring videos (beginner to advance type fights, ensuring it's realistic, show the technique, then test it). I'm sick and tired of watching beer bellies when I type in FMA or Arnis or Modern or Eskrima or Filipino Martial arts in youtube (especially beer bellies on the beach). I'm sure everyone feels the same.

    As my uncle and instructor in Balintawak loves to remind me, Lihok! (Move!) and my new instructors now, "It's not called Pekiti-Stand Still". There's no room for mediocrity. No Room.
     
  20. K831

    K831 Black Belt

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    I think just about any and all MA lack realism if the practitioners aren't regularly "fighting/killing" etc. But not everyone is going to be out doing that. I have countless police and military friends who say that the academy/boot camp etc was nothing like the real thing. That's just the nature of it. My own fights etc have shown this to be true.

    I think it can be mitigated in two ways;

    1.) Train with people or associations where the individual instructor or a good portion of the group have real experience. It helps if they are intelligent and honest enough to evaluate and compare their techniques to those experiences. I know we have talked about this, but this notion is what pushed me from the various Kenpo associations and landed me with Mr. Mills and the AKKI. What they do is constantly evaluated and changed based on the sum experiences of many, many real-deal members.

    2.) We can't all kill or be killed in every day life, so learn from those who have when you can, otherwise, make your training as "live" as possible. Many ways to do this; drills, sparring etc.... they just have to be understood in context. That's how I feel about the "leave your arm out there while the other guy does his technique" idea. If that is all a school did, I would say there is a problem, however, all the internet warriors on youtube hammering clips for doing that are missing the point. Those drills are no less practical then hitting a heavy bag that "just sits there". You are training a particular skill set and modality, just understand it as such.

    Both true. As others have said, we need to work harder at "testing" what we are doing. That starts with the simple things; don't punch off to the side of my head, punch right at me! Training just needs to be as alive as possible.

    And the test will prove valuable to a point. But pressure tested in the ring really only tells you what will happen in that context, not much else.

    I competed in various combat sports, wrestling in HS and MMA types through college. Never once, did any competition cause the emotional/adrenal/psychological effect that a real altercation caused. I've just seen too many skilled ring fighter fall apart when it got real, to really buy much of that argument. MMA suffers from the same problem you mentioned, the old timers
    MMA doesn't do either, the bigger problem is that so many think it does, but thats another topic.

    Yes, much of it will.

    Yes, unfortunately we will see some of that too. Although the pervasive weapon use, particularly edged weapons, will keep lots of soccer moms and their kids away.

    Absolutely, and when I get back, I'll punch you right in the nose to remind you how! :)

    I don't know much about this guy, but I think a lot of his videos show that he keeps it real. He has a good mix of mitt work, two man sets and drills, and sparring stuff to keep it alive. The sparing at the end of this video is great because it is done at a pace where they aren't trying to take each others heads off, but it is alive enough to really work on timing, angles etc. and it's obvious the sessions is geared towards working on certain aspects of fighting.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjqKhVHLRj4&playnext_from=TL&videos=J0312Ix2X1k

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rh-eKTIf34E&playnext_from=TL&videos=cbT0NIul-oY123
     

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