Expanding beyond the "F" in FMA

Discussion in 'Filipino Martial Arts - General' started by geezer, Jan 6, 2018.

  1. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    I know several excellent FMA practitioners who have expanded the scope of what they teach far beyond the "F" for Filipino in FMA. Here are a few examples:

    One example would be my first instructor in Escrima, a Filipino American and one of the FMA pioneers in this country, having been an early student of Angel Cabales, Leo Giron, Maximo Sarmiento and others at the first Escrima Academy in Stockton. He never had a particular concern with Filipino "authenticity" or whether what he taught was something being taught today in the PI. His exclusive focus was practicality. He used to say that it didn't matter who you trained under, or for how long, or how many Filipino terms you knew, or any of that crap. All that mattered is what you could do .

    Another example would be the former partner of the guy above, who still teaches in the UK and Europe. He has the same basic attitude I hear, namely that he values efficacy over "Filipino authenticity" and has blended his FMA with a lot of HEMA.

    A third example would be a local guy who started a group that was originally focused on Escrima, but in the late 90's started incorporating more and more of an MMA approach. Some of the more traditional groups around here don't even view what he does as FMA any more. But they sure wouldn't want to mess with his fighters. Distance and time conflicts have made it difficult for me to get together with him, but every couple of weeks I do get together with his senior instructor, a Filipino American and former US Marine. I find his stuff ....enlightening.

    There are many others who fall into this category... we all know some. I'm not talking about some of the questionable characters on youtube, but rather the highly competent MA-ists who do "FMA" based arts that have become quite different from their source arts. I find that I am moving in this direction myself. I have no personal roots or overarching compunction to stick to what is purely Filipino. In fact, the "FMA" I was first taught had it's root in a blending of European and Filipino fighting systems. That much can be seen in it's very name, escrima a variant of the Spanish word for fencing, esgrima.

    So as a 21st Century American martial artist, my system of escrima is eclectic. It draws on historical FMA and European roots, with plenty of contemporary influences. And, in this sense maybe it is traditional, since the FMAs have a tradition of adapting, evolving, and incorporating whatever "foreign" influences that were proven to be useful.

    You know, Bruce Lee wasn't the first guy to come up with that idea. Not by about 100,000 years or so! Any thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
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  2. Charlemagne

    Charlemagne Black Belt

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    I don't have a problem at all with guys going outside of the boundaries of their art as long as they are honest about what they are doing and where they got it. In other words, if you are no longer teaching FMA, then don't claim it as such. Other than that, no worries on my end!

    I would love to train SAMBO on top of my Jiu-Jitsu and I would love to train Muay Thai on top of my Pekiti Tirisa. However, I just cannot afford (in either time, money, or toll on my body), to train more than what I am now. :)

    Having said that, even if I were able to add those, I would not personally choose to mix them when teaching. I would feel a duty both to my instructors and to the Democracy of the Dead, to pass on what I have received.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
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  3. Anarax

    Anarax 2nd Black Belt

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    Every style has their own "purists", some are more prevalent in other styles. The FMA instructors I've encountered have been very more open-minded in their approach and training, I'll come back to that. Personally, I think a certain level of competency must exist before a martial artist starts blending different styles together, certain concepts harmonize better than others. Without a firm rooted foundation in at least one style, a martial artist can detract from an arts "practicality" by blending it with something else.

    Their is a certain point in which we can no longer call what we're teaching the original style's name. Meaning, when you add so much from another system you are no longer teaching that system. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just inaccurate advertising by calling it "FMA".

    I've trained in Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Okinawan, Korean and European styles of martial arts, and the FMA instructors have consistently been the most open minded. Look at Presas, Inosanto, Marcaida, Dionaldo, etc. They all have/had very open mindsets and approaches to training. We have a lot of seminars and guest instructors from other FMA systems and organizations.
     
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  4. Danny T

    Danny T Senior Master

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    In my experience...
    There is far more that is the same than is different in the many different martial systems. With the Philippines being influenced by the many warring cultures around it as well as the European cultures just what is distinctly Filipino within the hundreds of FMA systems/styles now?
     
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  5. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Senior Master

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    Speaking as a BJJ instructor, I have absolutely no qualms about mixing material I've learned from Sambo, Judo, Wrestling, or other arts into my classes. More prestigious BJJ instructors before me have done the same.

    I'll happily give credit to the instructors and arts I've taken from, but if it works and it fits with the rest of what I'm teaching, then I'm stealing it and it's part of BJJ now. (Actually, it's probably already part of BJJ because some other practitioner has already stolen it before I saw it. We're martial thieves and we have no shame.)
     
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  6. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I've been thankful for that since I started. Kind of hard to figure when/if an instructor learns something from outside of his style, that does fit beautifully and works tactically well with what he already does - that he wouldn't pass it on to those he teaches. Never could really grasp that.
     
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  7. Juany118

    Juany118 Senior Master

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    I think another example of what the OP speaks to is my own Guro. He teaches Inosanto Kali but it is via this lineage...

    Guro Dan>Vunak>James Keating. With Master at Arms Keating being very schooled in Western Blade work I don't doubt that he made some "tweaks" that were passed to my Guro. FMA has a fair amount of Euro influence already but when you have people teaching any art that was learned after they had become skilled in others there will inevitably be "tweaks."
     
  8. Charlemagne

    Charlemagne Black Belt

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    Nothing wrong with that at all in my view. Giving credit where it is due, and letting people/students know that it is a mix of those things is my concern.
     

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