Here is a camp review, and a short memoir on my personal journey. I felt it appropriate to place this in its own thread, as I thought that some of you might be able to relate, and might enjoy it. And I truly hope that you all find this pleasurable to read, as I intend not for this to be too wordy or pretentious in any way. I apologize for using an internet handle, but most of you know me anyway, and those that know me know why I must use a handle instead of my name. Thank you, and please enjoy! Modern Arnis Reunion “A Time for Healing” Camp Review I’ve been home for a few days now, and break time certainly is over. It’s strange even for me to think that 4 days of training would constitute a ‘break,’ but it’s true. Back to managing house and investment home projects, my 13 month old and wife, and the litany of requirements that I have for my work. Though I hit the ground running (as usual so I don’t get run over by the hard hitting environment of my profession) I have taken the time to reflect the weekend’s activities, and their impact on my life. This weekend was strange for me to ruminate, as it was a celebration of a man’s legacy, one of the greatest I have ever known, ten years after his untimely and (what felt like to many of us) sudden death. Lately I have been deeply reflecting on my memories of Professor Presas, his legacy, where I was back then, and how to move forward from here. That last one is very important; up until this recent reunion, I truly had no idea how I would move forward in regards to Modern Arnis. I grew up in the martial arts, started so young that I don’t remember not training, and Modern Arnis came into my life when I was 12 years old. When I first met Professor, I knew even at a young age that I was in the presence of a remarkable person. I wanted to learn everything he had to offer, so as soon as I became of age to drive, my life revolved around training, working to save my money for seminars, and traveling to see Professor. This greatly influenced my upbringing, and it is partly because of Professor that I am the man I turned out to be. Despite how it may have looked on the surface, my youth was a little rough, and it really was because of the positive environment and discipline of Modern Arnis that I don’t have a prison record, given the company I kept back then. I’d like to think that the old man and I became quite close, as this pattern of seminar following continued until shortly before his passing. When I received word that he had passed, it came as a shock to me and most of the rest of the world. And with my shock came a slow burning fury unlike anything I have ever experienced; an anger that would haunt me for years to come. This was because I also got word of some of the confusion and infighting and problems that were persisting towards the end of Professors life. I envisioned the old man that I loved like a grandfather dying in a sea of uncertainty and turmoil due to in-fighting and drama while he watched the most important thing he dedicated his life too, his art and legacy, gradually get plucked apart by scavengers looking for anything they could pilfer. True or not (and this had been debated at length), this was my perception. The entire notion infuriated me, made me want to seek truth, and expose it for what it was. This led to years of arguments, internet wars, and confrontations both on and off social media. As things simmered in the community, my involvement slowed a few years ago when I found the opportunity to make drastic changes in my life. I went off the grid a bit and into job training on a very particular career track, then off to a few adventures in the Mideast. I had other battles to fight, and I did not have the time or stability in my schedule or location to regularly train Modern Arnis anymore. Yet I still held Professor and his legacy dear to my heart, and I still wanted to see Modern Arnis become the great martial art it once was when Professor was alive. Fast forward to the reunion camp 2011. I didn’t know how to approach this thing. Sure, I had been in communication with Datu Hartman (reunion camp host and long time friend) as well as with a few of the other instructors (particularly my close friend Master Rich Parsons) on the bill. It seemed like it should be fun. But I really did not know what to expect. This was the first time that I would be in the same room with so many different people who were designated leadership positions in the art by Professor himself. Given past experiences, I was ready for a fight or drama of some sort, though I had an open mind. From the start of the event, I was somewhat shocked. The atmosphere and tone of the people and the instructors were so welcoming, unprejudiced, and benevolent that I was taken aback at first. It was actually quite amazing. As the event perpetuated, and as I got to know different people better (some old friends, and some new), that convivial atmosphere persisted. It was almost unbelievable. The tone was actually improved from the many events that went on when the Professor was alive. This is not a slight against Professor; it is just that because we were all so motivated to learn from him, at times people fell into their “clicks” and training groups even if there was no malice among the different factions. There was no factioning here. Everyone was together, training good stuff, and having a great time. All of us, instructors included, were about learning and helping others, as it should be. I got a chuckle at the notion of some of the newer students questioning, “A time for healing? I don’t get it? What are we healing?” That is how I know the community has truly healed; when any scars from past grievances are so small that no one would notice that there ever were wounds to begin with. The perfectionist in all of us often gives cause to place a standard above what would be ideal, never thinking that we will fully realize that standard. Well, I am happy to report that the standard of how an event should go was met over that weekend. If it is true that most of us go on to a better place after death (and I believe it is), then I know that Professor is smiling down on all of you who made this event possible. I am confident that the spirit of the old man’s legacy is in good hands. At the end of the weekend, after packing up my sticks and my stuff, and upon starting the long trek home, a faint sadness lingered. You see, unfortunately due to my chosen profession, I have to go back to a life of constant training and overseas deployments. And it will be that way for probably the next decade or so. Gone are the days of teaching and training with my training group on a regular basis, and hitting seminars and camps as often as I did when Professor was alive. Most of my training is work related now, and with whatever time I have left it’ll be a little boxing, grappling, and Balintawak, as this is easier to manage because my free time is too limited to expand on anything else. These endeavors of course come with their own rewards, but it’s a little sad for me that I won’t be able to train with such a wonderful group of people on a regular basis. Because at the end of the day, that is what makes a martial art so great; it’s the great people that do it. So I wanted to say thank you before I stroll back off into the dark for who knows how long (and hopefully not for good). Thanks to all the instructors and leaders of Modern Arnis today. You are doing a wonderful thing that would make your teacher proud. Now, 10 years later, though I have to walk away, I can at least do so comfortably, knowing that a great man’s legacy is in the right hands. And thanks to all of you who are students of the art, training diligently, and being great people and making this martial art extraordinary. It’s you who will make Modern Arnis a wonderful art to grow up in and be a part of, as it was for me when I was young. And though I have been careful to not do a lot of specific mentions of individuals here, as that would extend this review by pages, I do need to specifically thank Datu Tim and Janice for being wonderful hosts. You created the venue for this thing to happen, and you both were far more gracious to me (as usual) then I deserve. You’re a good big brother, Tim. I think I have said enough. Thanks again. Until next time… Cruentus... out.