Review of Modern Arnis: the MasterText

Discussion in 'Modern Arnis' started by Happy Gypsy, Mar 24, 2016.

  1. Happy Gypsy

    Happy Gypsy Yellow Belt

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    The review of the titled book above was written by Dr. Jerome Barber, about a month ago on the Amazon website at,

    <Amazon.com: Modern Arnis - The Master Text Companion Volumes Set 1,2 and 3 eBook: Robert DeMott: Kindle Store

    and is listed under the "Master Text Companion". This review is not your basic, run of the mill, safe, review that puts the reader to sleep. It is pointed and very clearly expressed. Below is the entire review for your consideration.
    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    Review by Dr. Jerome Barber, Grand Master & Principal Teacher, Independent Escrima-Kenpo-Arnis Associates

    The book being reviewed is entitled “Modern Arnis: The Master Text”, and the book most certainly does not live up to that title claim. It is not a “master text” in any shape, form or manner. My full discloser statement is as follows:

    1. I do not know nor have I ever met the author of the book.
    2. I began my study of Modern Arnis in 1981, under Sifu Don Zanghi,
      at the ‘Fighting Back Institute’, in Buffalo, NY.
    3. Mr. DeMott’s name never was mentioned by my instructor and as
      far as I know, Sifu Zanghi, does not know Mr. DeMott
    4. I earned a 3rd degree Black Belt from Professor Remy Presas in 1992.
    5. I organized and taught a Modern Arnis program sequence for academic credit at Erie Community College from 1987 to 2012 when I retired as full professor with 39 years of service. Professor Presas reviewed the ECC course curriculum and endorsed it in writing. The program is still up and running under the instructorship of two (2) of my former students.
    6. From 1986 to 1994, my students and I organized and hosted seminars and Modern Arnis summer camps featuring Professor Remy Presas.
    7. In 2010 I was awarded the titles of Grand Master and Datu by GGM Vincente Sanchez, a long-time close friend of the late Professor Presas.
    I believe that I know a thing or two about Modern Arnis, both as a martial art and also from a senior teacher’s perspective. Therefore, I am going to begin with some pertinent observations regarding the presentation from an instructional point of view. There are several significant misspellings within the written text by Mr. DeMott. The words “abaniquo” and “rumpeda” literally jumped off the page at me during my first reading of the book. How is it possible that someone who had known Professor Remy Presas from the late 1970s, presumably to his passing in 2001, would not know the “correct” spellings (abaniko and rompida) of these two words as used by Professor in his books, Modern Arnis (1974) and Eskrima (1975)? In addition, Professor used those spellings (abaniko, rompida) in the section titles of his 1985 video tape series.

    Another concern that I had after reading the whole book, centered around the techniques/concepts that were omitted by Mr. DeMott in this book, that he entitled “Modern Arnis: The Master Text”. There was no mention of the following concepts, 1. the stick drop block, 2. Palis-palis technique, 3. reversal of stick disarms, 4. Abaniko Double Action techniques, 5. Crossada, 6. Espada y Daga, 7. Stick retentions against grabs, 8. de cadena drill, 9. the six count drill (combined give and take drill), 10. Double Zero Striking and 11. Slant/wing/sliding stick block.

    I am also perplexed that Mr. DeMott would not stress the importance of “body shifting” and “evasive footwork” as Professor Presas did in all of his books. After all Modern Arnis is based on a long blade orientation and is only presented as a stick based art so that it can be taught in physical education classes in Philippines elementary and secondary schools. Professor Presas himself wrote:

    What should be emphasized, however, is the fact that the cane is only for practice purposes for its basically less lethal in nature. For in actual combat, the standard weapon is still the bolo or any bladed weapon which is more suitable and convenient for this kind of combat technique.” (Modern Arnis: Philippine Martial Art – Stick Fighting; 1974, page 9.)

    It would seem to me that the subjects of ‘body shifting’ and ‘evasive footwork’ should be prominent in any book on Modern Arnis when one takes into account the above statement by Professor Presas, written in 1974. Yet, there is no mention of either subject in the DeMott book aside from changing stances in the execution of the anyo or forms. The photos in the book do not indicate or imply any evasive footwork.

    A core concept of Modern Arnis that Professor Presas consistently taught from 1981 when I first became involved in the art was that the stick was an extension of the hand and even without the stick the empty hand remains an effective combat tool. Yet, I didn’t read anything in the “master text” that pertained to the importance of translations/transitions from the stick to empty hand and back. In my view that is a very serious mistake that the author made in his presentation. In my training under both Sifu Zanghi and Professor Presas the empty hands translations of the 12 stick strikes, figure 8, abaniko, (corto, largo and double action), redonda, sinawali patterns, banda y banda, crossda, palis-palis and flow were emphasized and reinforced time and time again.

    From a combative perspective, the omission of palis-palis (go with the force) is quite significant because it is an area where the ‘playing field can be leveled’ for smaller people against larger, stronger attackers. The defender is not required to match size and strength in order to prevail in a combative situation. By using a passing technique against the weapon attack, rather than trying to block and stop, the defender can evade the attack and counter-attack in relative safety with any number of methods, including banda y banda, figure 8, redonda, double sinawali or abaniko double action. The defender could be weaponless, have a single stick, double sticks, stick and dagger or a single knife. Palis-palis works with all of the above combinations.

    The palis-palis method is significant because it is one of the three arts that Modern Arnis was founded on, with the other two being the Crossada style and Balintawak Eskrima. Professor Remy Presas was taught the palis-palis and crossda styles by his paternal grandfather, Leon B. Presas and he was taught to use the espada y daga (sword and dagger) method of weapon based self-defense. It simply boggles my mind that Mr. DeMott, never mentions these things in his “master text”.

    In my opinion, “Modern Arnis: The Master Text” falls very short of the lofty sub-title that Mr. DeMott used and in my opinion the correct sub-title would have been ‘the beginners and intermediate text’. There nothing, content wise, in this book that approaches ‘master level’ concepts in terms of the Modern Arnis system. There is no way that I can justify giving this book even a single star because the book needs to totally rewritten and greatly expanded content-wise before it can be considered a “master text”.

    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    Gitano Sanchez
     
  2. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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  3. Rich Parsons

    Rich Parsons A Student of Martial Arts

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    Robert DeMott was around in the 70's. He was in an advisory / instructional role for a school in the 80's. I have had limited exposure to him in person. I do know others who knew him then. More than that would be negative and or hearsay. Yet, I thought, I should point out that just because one person did not know someone is not a significant point in itself.
     
  4. Happy Gypsy

    Happy Gypsy Yellow Belt

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    Hello Master Parsons,

    Thanks for the brief information about Professor DeMott. Thank you for pointing out that not knowing “…someone is not a significant point in itself.” As I read Dr. Barber’s review, I understood his statement to mean that he was not writing anything about Professor DeMott, precisely because he did not know him. A book review does not require the reviewer to know the author either personally or indirectly. The review is about the content within the book and why Dr. Barber does not agree that it is a master level text on Modern Arnis.

    I would love to have an in-depth discussion about both the actual text as well as the review. That’s why I posted the full review. Have you read the book, sir? I have read “Modern Arnis: The Master Text” in spite of Dr. Barber’s negative review of the book. I could not believe that the book was as poorly written as the reviewer stated. After reading it, I agree with the good Doctor. I’d be interested in your informed opinion, based on your reading of “Modern Arnis: The Master Text” but not your speculations or inferences.

    Gitano
     
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  5. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I think that Rich was just trying to put into perspective that the reviewer may not know Mr. Demott but that he was around and people knew of him and or had met him. Many people were influenced, trained and ranked under The Professor that other people may have never interacted with. He did make his living teaching people and not everyone was involved at a national or even regional level. For what it is worth I heard the name (ie. Mr. Demott) back in the day more than a few times but I am not sure if I ever met him. Though I would not be surprised if we were in a room together at a seminar or other event!
     
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  6. Rich Parsons

    Rich Parsons A Student of Martial Arts

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    Gitano,

    Rich Please, and if on the training floor then a simple Sir, or even an Ahhh?!? to get my attention. :)

    I have not read the book. So I cannot speak to it nor can I speak to the review.
    And using my own logic, I tried before, just because someone was around and others know of this person, does not mean they have skill or knowledge. Nor does it mean that they do not have skill or knowledge, only that the way it was presented it seemed like not knowing the person and the reviewer acting like they were the ultimate authority, Otherwise., a simple., I have never meet or known of the author before this review, and the review is ...,.
    That would have been clear with no misconceptions.

    So, take the review as it is a internet review, and do some digging on the reviewer and decide if you want to use their review to make your determination.

    I also would like to say, that while I know of him and have meet him once or twice in 1986 thru 1988 time frame, I do not have a relationship nor any training with him, nor any direct experience to quote hear, other than Local politics which is best left between those who were involved, and not us here, as in 30 years people might have changed. Maybe for the better or maybe for the worse. Until one gets new valid data, one cannot know.

    See if your local Library has a copy , and see if oyu can check it out and review it for us here?
     
  7. Happy Gypsy

    Happy Gypsy Yellow Belt

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    All right, “Rich” per your request. I noted in my earlier comment that I did read Professor DeMott’s book in spite of the negative review that it received from Dr. Barber and I have to agree with the comments posted in his review. I wanted to see if anyone else had read the book and what their thoughts were on the content of the book. I’m in agreement with you regarding knowing or not knowing the book author. As I read the review, it was all about the contents of the book subtitled “The Master Text”.

    In my opinion a “Master Text” should reveal ALL, if not nearly all, of the of the items, techniques and behaviors that are associated the art in question. A “master text” is similar to a ‘master key’ in that it opens all of the locks within a building thus giving a person access to all of the rooms therein. Thanks for acknowledging that you haven’t yet read the DeMott book.

    We are in disagreement about the “…the reviewer acting like they were the ultimate authority…”. I didn’t get that sense at all. Dr. Barber stated that he was only a Lakan Tatlo (3rd degree black belt) in Modern Arnis. I doubt the he or anyone else would take that to mean that he is the ultimate authority with regard to Modern Arnis. He has on the other hand raised a very interesting set of questions with regard to the things that Professor DeMott omitted from his book. Are you suggesting that the following items are insignificant relative to a full understanding of Modern Arnis:

    “1. the stick drop block, 2. Palis-palis technique, 3. reversal of stick disarms, 4. Abaniko Double Action techniques, 5. Crossada, 6. Espada y Daga, 7. Stick retentions against grabs, 8. de cadena drill, 9. the six count drill (combined give and take drill), 10. Double Zero Striking and 11. Slant/wing/sliding stick block.

    I certainly hope not because those are the things that I learned when I attended Modern Arnis seminars conducted by Professor Remy Presas, Professor Michael Bates, Master Dennis Tolsten and Ama Guro Billy Bryant as well as from the 6 VHS tapes that Professor produced in the late 1980s. I started my tape collection in the 1990s.
     
  8. Happy Gypsy

    Happy Gypsy Yellow Belt

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    I fully agree that knowing or not knowing the author of the book(s) is necessary in order to write a book review. When I read the book in question I was surprised at the lack of meaningful content as pointed out by Dr. Barber. I have to agree with his review and it makes sense to me because it is not about the author it is about the content and omissions of presentation as a "Master Text". I think that we've beaten this 'know or doe not know' horse long enough. The long and short of the review is that the DeMott book Is Not a Master Text on Modern Arnis. Thus far no one has given me any reason to disagree with that assessment!
     
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  9. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Gitano Sanchez may I ask if you are involved with Dr. Barber, know him or are a student of him?

    I ask out of curiosity only. It is just a little strange when someone comes on and posts a negative review of something citing someone else. I am always questioning what someone's motive is with a negative review. Frankly, I just can't help myself. ;)

    I have read the book by the way and when people ask me what books they should buy regarding Modern Arnis I always refer then to Dan Anderson's books. He is a good friend of mine but his books are great on this topic. They truly do fit as a "master text" for Modern Arnis. As to Mr. Demott's book I imagine after having read it that this book is the "master text" for his students. That may be the context he was working in when he wrote it. In that case it may work well for him and fit that context for his students. Obviously for someone like Rich or myself it would not qualify as a master text but for his students it might.

    I did enjoy a photo in the book quite a bit as it had one of my instructors!
     
  10. Happy Gypsy

    Happy Gypsy Yellow Belt

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    Very fair questions, Mr. VanCise; I have met Dr. Barber 3 times at seminars and I was impressed with his demeanor, his knowledge and skill sets in his presentations. I am not a student of his and never received any sort of rank, titles or recommendations from him.

    I posted his review because I wanted some feedback from others who are involved in Modern Arnis and whose background are stronger in this art than mine. The review was very pointed and there are only two reviews of the book on the Amazon website. One is by a former student of Professor DeMott and the other is Dr. Barber's. These reviews are absolutely opposed to one another, therefore I sought out other opinions.

    I've read several of Professor Anderson's books and in one of them Dr. Barber wrote a very positive forward, so such a very negative review of the DeMott book is something that caused me to seek other opinions. With regard to your suggestion that Professor DeMott's book was written to serve as a "master text" for his students, I can accept that position, however, I doubt it. If were intended as an 'in-house' training text, it would or should have been stated as such by the author. Putting the book(s) up for sale to the general public negates that contention, in my opinion.

    Thank you for your comments.

    Gitano
     
  11. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    That is certainly an opinion and nothing is wrong with it. However, having read the book in question I simply cannot conclude that the author wrote it in any other way than as a reference for his students. He even states that volumes 1,2 & 3 are belt ranking requirements for each level. These requirements are of course for his federation which he references at the end of the book and explains how to contact them, etc. So I cannot conclude anything more than that this book is for his students as their master text and it probably serves them well in that regard!
     
  12. Happy Gypsy

    Happy Gypsy Yellow Belt

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    Hello Mr. VanCise

    I have not argued against your conclusion, all that I said is that I disagree with you on that matter. Underlining your statement does not change anything and I would have understood your position without any added emphasis. Please take the time to consider my position (and I am not asking you to accept my position, nor am I asking you to change your conclusion). Professor DeMott states that the reason for writing his book is as follows:

    "The reason for this book is to document the movements in Modern Arnis so that they are not lost, just having
    this book will not help you, only study and practicing of the secrets contained within do that and some day may
    just save you life or the lives of your love ones."

    Please note that the above statement is a direct quote with the words 'you' and 'love', exactly as published and in context. Kindle Edition, Location 120 of 1119 | 11%). Nowhere in the section under "The Reason for this book?" does the author mention anything about the book being a "master text" for his students in their studies under him. ( Kindle Edition,Location 100 of 1119 | 9%).

    Next, please consider that in the section entitled "Conclusion", Professor DeMott (Location 1096 of 1119 | 98%), does not mention anything about his book being written as a "master text" for his students. The two most obvious places where someone could reasonable expect a "master text" statement to be written and it does not occur!

    My 2nd reason for disagreeing with your contention is found in the pricing of the Professor DeMott's publications:

    Modern Arnis: The Master Text is priced at $69.95 for the paperback and $29.95 for the Kindle Edition.
    Modern Arnis: The Master Text Companion, Vol. 1, 2, 3, is priced at $74.95, paperback and $29.95, Kindle.
    Those are very stiff prices for books that were intended for some in-house students. Those prices look more like for-profit book sales to me... admittedly these are my own opinion and conclusions, please feel free to disagree and we need not argue about the matter further.

    My 3rd reason for disagreeing with your contention about the purpose of the book(s) is associated with the fact that Professor DeMott, is advertising membership in "The American Self Defense Federation". I'm not opposed to his ads or enrolling people in his Federation, but he is selling lifetime memberships in his organization and rank certification. From my perspective, Professor DeMott is using his master text books as a come-on gimmick to attraction attention to himself. There is nothing wrong with that but he still has not written a legitimate Modern Arnis text that reaches the level of being a "Master Text" for those seeking to learn and know about the art at a significantly higher level than they may currently occupy.

    Those are my thoughts on the matter which is a far distance from the review that I had initially posted in hopes of getting some opinions regarding the validity of the writer's criticism of the so-called "Master Text". At this point, my position is Dr. Barber, got it right, because all of the discussion has been on tangential and meaningless diversionary points that had nothing to do with the review. You can disagree all that you want, but you and Rich have not given me any reason to change my mind about the conclusions that Dr. Barber arrived at in his review. Professor DeMott, Has Not written a Modern Arnis Master Text, in any manner, shape or form.

    Gitano
     
  13. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I am a pretty plain spoken person so here goes:

    Gitano, your spinning circles here we get that you don't like his book
    . Okay, since you said that, if you do not have an agenda then you should probably move along. Clearly, his book is written for his students and people practicing in his system. (I base this on having actually read the book) The book has some value to them and we get it you don't like the title of the book.

    I am smelling an agenda here Gitano. Which makes me wonder.... The only person who would pursue or even make an issue of this probably is someone with an agenda!

    Now, for everyone reading the thread out there I will reiterate that if you want to find the best books on Modern Arnis out ther in print please look up Dan Anderson's books on the subject. They are fantastic!
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2016
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  14. Happy Gypsy

    Happy Gypsy Yellow Belt

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    Thank you, Mr. VanCise, for answering a question that I never asked. Yes, I did have agenda: I wanted to know what others who have Modern Arnis experiences and training thought of Dr. Barber's review. I read the book in question and I found the reviewers premise had merit. Of course you are "correct" and you want the final definitive word on the matter, however, you do not have an agenda do you? Really?

    I will not disagree with you regarding Master Anderson's books, they are very good and I have read and still refer to three (3) of them: "Mano Y Mano", "Advanced Modern Arnis: A Road to Mastery" and "De-Fanging the Snake: A Guide to Modern Arnis Disarms". In fact, Mano Y Mano was the first book of Master Anderson's that I read and I was impressed by one of the forwards that read in part:

    "Just as nature abhors a vacuum, Dan Anderson has filled a niche that has existed in Modern Arnis literature for a considerable amount of time."

    That was written by Dr. Jerome Barber and it goes on for a full page without a single negative expression or doubt raised. Therefore, reading his review of the so-called "Master Text" was quite surprising to me so I went ahead and secured a copy of the “Master Text” just to verify the contentions raised within the review. Mr. VanCise, in my opinion, Master Anderson’s books shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence or paragraph with Professor DeMott’s book(s). They are miles apart and not at all comparable.

    You can underline your comments all you want, it’s not a problem for me, it simply shows me that you are angry. Getting an angry response because you cannot or will not address the actual review that I posted for discussion is not my problem. Getting angry doesn’t change my opinion regarding Dr. Barber’s contention that the DeMott book IS NOT a master text in terms of Modern Arnis as I know it and studied it! Getting angry because I will not defer to your supposed superior knowledge is useless because I do know how to read. You can smell or think you smell what ever you wish. I did not move this exchange away from the review of Professor DeMott's book, you did that!

    I do not object your characterization of the book as a master text for Professor DeMott’s in- house, I simply do not agree with your position and have stated very clearly why I have taken that position. If Professor DeMott's students find the book(s) valuable, so be it. It is obvious that my goal of having a discussion on the merits of the review written by Dr. Barber is not going to happen, here on this forum, so I can let it go without any further discussion or posts. I don't have any hard feelings about what did not happen regarding what I posted, but I most certainly had an unasked question answered loudly and clearly. Thank you.


    Gitano
     
  15. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Just for clarification Gitano, I am never angry on a forum. I bold, underline to make a point and nothing more. I am glad you are letting this go as a consistent pursuit of a negative review never makes someone look good!
     
  16. Happy Gypsy

    Happy Gypsy Yellow Belt

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    OK, I'll take you at your word about being/not being angry on a forum. Your underlining was not necessary since I understood what were saying without the added emphasis. I also understand that you are/were expressing an opinion not supported by any sort of data. What I am letting go of is any hope that there would be a detailed examination of both the book and the review. Speaking strictly for myself, a negative review is not necessarily a bad thing nor does a negative review necessarily make someone look bad if the review is factually based.

    It seems to me that it is impossible to have a Modern Arnis master level program that leaves out:

    “1. the stick drop block, 2. Palis-palis technique, 3. reversal of stick disarms, 4. Abaniko Double Action techniques, 5. Crossada, 6. Espada y Daga, 7. Stick retentions against grabs, 8. de cadena drill, 9. the six count drill (combined give and take drill), 10. Double Zero Striking and 11. Slant/wing/sliding stick block.

    Perhaps you can explain how it is possible to have a legitimate master level Modern Arnis program without the above mentioned sub-sets that Professor taught over the years and that Professor Dan Anderson included in his various books on Modern Arnis? And I am totally stumped as to how the Tapi-tapi sub-set was not mentioned by anyone, although Professor Anderson specifically discussed it in his Advanced Modern Arnis: A Road to Mastery , pages 139 to 144. In addition Professor Anderson covered the "Cross Hand Training", version of Tapi-tapi, pages 160 to 196.

    I don't do much in the way of underlining or using bold type to make a point, I simply apply deductive logic based on written evidence to reach a conclusion and raise question that I hope to find answers for with the help of other people. The latter is unlikely to happen in this case. As for looking good, that was never an objective of mine, therefore I can't comment on that concept in any meaningful way.
     
  17. Tames D

    Tames D RECKLESS

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    You need to let this go. At least on MartialTalk.
     
  18. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Really, just let it go. It is like you want to have a dissertation on a book review by a Modern Arnis instructor out there on a minor book utilized for another Modern Arnis Instructors students and his federation. The only person who probably would want to talk about this at all would be Mr. DeMott or Mr. Barber. I can't imagine anyone else having any interest on this book review. Really, it is just a book review!

    Oh and by the way I actually read the book and have an eduacated opinion on it. Yet, it is just a book and the review is just a review and not really important in any way shape or form!
     
  19. Rich Parsons

    Rich Parsons A Student of Martial Arts

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    I think the Happy one needs to have the last word. :)
     
  20. Tames D

    Tames D RECKLESS

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    There you go again... Bold type and underlines :D
     
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