Discussion in 'Filipino Martial Arts - General' started by Datu Tim Hartman, May 29, 2018.
This was a small part of a much bigger interview. I hope everyone takes it the way it was meant.
Remy Presas is certainly the person who made the FMAs a "thing" here. Dan Inosanto has done a great deal too, obviously, including helping to prime the way via abetting eskima-style techniques appearing in Bruce Lee films and hence insuring an appetite for the system here in the States; but Remy travelled throughout the country, throughout the year, teaching people the FMAs in particular. I only went to a single (weekend-)seminar with Dan Inosanto and there I learned some Balintawak-style material, some material from other FMAs, but also some JKD and general martial arts material. He even did a little bit of Indonesian stuff! He's like an Ambasssador from (not to) the U.N. (of martial arts). But Remy also knew some Japanese systems, for example, and while he helped spread SCJJ, he was bringing stuff from the Philippines and setting people's enthusiasm on fire for it.
Wow, Arnisador! How long has it been? Great to see you contributing again.
Originally I got interested in FMA more through the contributions of Bruce Lee and Danny Inosanto. I got into Wing Chun in the late 70s and knew of Guro Dan from his role in the posthumously released Bruce lee movie, The Game of Death.
As a Wing Chun guy, Escrima seemed like a natural choice for a second, more weapons oriented art to learn. I bought Guro Dan's book The Filipino Martial Arts when it first came out. Then I connected with GM Rene Latosa who had connections with the Wing Chun organization I belonged to, and I have been hooked on FMA ever since.
I have great respect for the Presas brothers knowledge and skills, as well as their success at spreading their respective Arnis systems. On the other hand, to me, the very things that enabled them to successfully spread their art, such as the Karate-like uniforms, the modernized and standardized curriculum, the Japanese style belt rankings, and so on, never attracted me as much. I always gravitated to the "road less traveled" I guess. Nevertheless, I am grateful to the Presas family for successfully promoting FMA in the US and the world.
I guess in the final analysis, the Presas brothers and Dan Inosanto all deserve props for promoting the FMA. As do the great Filipino masters of history, and those great masters who left the Philippines and landed in places like Stockton CA to first reveal FMA to America and the world.
I got interested in the FMAs through a Dan Inosanto seminar in 1982 and followed the JKD kali method of and on through seminars and a short time in a class till the early 90's. In the mid 90's I met and started training (through seminars and camps) with both Remy and Ernesto and followed their ways.
I think Datu Hartman is right when he says the Presas brothers has done more to spread the FMAs than Dan (as a person) but I think it is harder to judge as an overall influence on the promotion of the FMAs.
In the late 70's early 80's time frame GM Remy was featured in magazines promoting the FMAs and his art Modern Arns, Dan was connected to JKD and Bruce Lee. Remy also toured constantly on the seminar circuit doing multiple seminars on the weekends or multiple camps all across the USA promoting his art of Modern Arnis. Remy also opened the door to the FMAs to everyday martial artists practicing karte, kung fu, TKD etc. etc. across the USA with his "Art within your art" approach thus further spreading the art. Modern Arnis was focused on Remy, and through his shear will he spread his art and opened up the FMAs for many people.
Dan Inosanto was different though. When I first saw him in 82 the whole 1 day seminar was on FMAs. He taught us about the history of the FMAs, he talked about the masters in Stockton etc. etc. so it was a totally different lesson than what I learned from Remy. This format continued the several times I saw him throughout the 80's to the early 90's but the FMA material in the seminars got less and less, and there was more JKD concepts, Thai Boxing, Silat, BJJ, Boxing, Panatuken boxing etc.etc.. However through Dan's teaching or influence I went to see Tuhon Gaje (PTK), Ted Lucay, Canete, and ultimately in the late 90's GM Giron and Vincent Cabales and others. So Dan Inosanto I think helped open the door for other top level FMA instructors to get out and teach or for students to seek (like I did) them out for instruction. In the 80's Dan held or participated in camps with different instructors of the FMAs as well (multiday or week long). So while Remy spread his art and thus the FMAs, I think Dan helped spread the FMAs in general.
GM Ernesto had a good following in Europe and other areas, however I can't really speak to that. GM Remy's stronghold was here in the states, although he too had a presence in Europe.
What is kind of funny though is generally speaking I don't believe the two camps mix. Modern Arnis students didn't mix with Inosanto students and vice a versa.
Mark, why do you suppose that is? I kinda noticed that myself, although I come from a different lineage, but also coming out of the Stockton scene.
I have also been involved in Wing Chun for a long time, and one of the other senior WC instructors in our association is also a Modern Arnis instructor. A nice guy and very dedicated martial artist, but in the week we were training WC together at a seminar, we never compared notes on our FMA. We were training WC intensively and didn't have a lot of free time, but I also sorta got the vibe that he was content with what he did so there wasn't much motivation to exchange ideas.
To be honest I think and this might get people PO'd at me, but I think it is several things.
1) Cult of personality, both followers of Dan and Remy generally are fiercely loyal to them. At some point long ago (I believe it was probably back when Remy first came to the states in the mid to lat 70's) something happened where they didn't mix. Over the years I've heard it from 3 or 4 people from Dan's side that for some reason Dan didn't like Remy. Now these people didn't have any connection between them and it's over the span of years, just comments made during conversation, so who knows.
Likewise when I trained with Ernesto (Remy's younger brother) I was also seen as disloyal to Remy by Remy followers, yet Remy and Ernesto didn't seem to mind in fact they encouraged it. So maybe it's seen as dislolayity to students and they discouraged it and said there was an issue who knows. Truthfully it doesn't really matter now.
2) Protecting their meal ticket. Both guys competed for the same market.
3) Dan had a school, Remy didn't. Dan naturally had a base from which to work from and Remy had people all across the USA doing FMAs (Modern Arnis part time). Worse yet many of these people were Karate, TKD, students first and doing Modern Arnis part time. If you remember back in the 80's many styles didn't mix, and Dan's people didn't mix with Karate and TKD people to well because well their arts were useless instead of useful
4) My style is all you need syndrome. There is the belief that the style you are studying is all you need, therefore why look anywhere else? I believe this is a big part of it, because I find this a lot in the FMAs. We have over the past 4 years had a cross training group in the DFW area where we try and have different instructors teach and get together with other FMA schools. All styles are on equal footing, all proceeds split evenly between presenters. We've reached out to JKD Kali people and not one instructor has responded, well one has one time. But we've had several other instructors come and share. Now we'll get fliers about other seminars they are hosting but they won't come to our events. Sadly PTK was the same really. Even with me training with a PTK class on the side couldn't get them to a event like this.
Don't get me wrong I'm not trying to put down JKD Kali, PTK etc. etc. I'm just saying that as one long time FMA practitioner told me not to long ago he was taught not to look at other styles Serrada was all he needed. Whereas when I met Guro Dan in 82, he was the inspiration behind me checking out everything. So I think it can be a mindset that is introduced into the student on purpose or not from the instructor.
5) Remy was probably seen as sub standard as a teacher and a stick fighter. Look at Remy's videos compared to Dan's. TBH Remy's videos, his 80 series, were not all that impressive to me back then. Having trained under Remy and having a better understanding of his system I have a completely different view of them now. Same thing when Remy was teaching at the seminars and Dan's instruction. Remy's seemed basic compared to Dan's. Yet again the more I got use to the instruction my view changed.
So long explanation short, both camps I think have a different view of each other's teacher and art. Both sides perhaps feel superior or comfortable with their style and don't feel the need to share or try each other's system out. That's my on it anyway.
Mark, when Remy first came to the US, he set up training in Fresno at Jerry Greathouse's school (75/76). Tim Berg was there along with Bruce Juchnik, with Bruce being the 2nd instructor. I was in those courses. Remy suggested that his Modern Arnis was to augment and compliment existing martial arts, and existing martial arts augmented and complimented Modern Arnis. At the time, I was a Goju Ryu Shodan, and Remy's art changed my entire outlook. Not being religious, but it was as if I was shown the light about martial arts. Jim Power, Dan Rideaux and I began training law enforcement, and developed the DTACT course, largely based on baton techniques and did "debugging" seminars, where we took existing law enforcement techniques and adapted them to face the new threats from criminal elements who were also embracing the martial arts in the 70's.
The point I'm making, is that Modern Arnis as was originally taught by Remy in the early days in America was not intended as a stand alone art. It was considered an add-on and was adopted by many different styles and very competent martial artists. It became that way after some early students "Americanized" it to fit school policies about ranking and advancement.
When Remy passed, my allegiance passed to his children as the legitimate heirs of Modern Arnis.
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