How much European DNA is in your FMA?

geezer

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How much European DNA is in the FMA you practice?

Honestly, when I first started training Rene Latosa's PMAS Escrima in the early 1980s all I cared about was that it was a legitimate martial art taught by a real master who happened to be Filipino-American. I didn't care how traditional it was, just that it had a genuine lineage and it worked. Rene was one of the first US students of Angel Cabales, Leo Giron, Maximo Sarmiento and his own father, Juan Latosa, and he trained with the likes of Dentoy Revillar and others. Plus Rene's top students like Brady Brazil, Cedric Concon, etc. had real cred in those days.

Later I worked with other guys, such as Martin Torres' DTE group. It was not traditional, but it worked too. I still learn from those guys when I can, and now for the last eight years or so, I have run my own club, PCE or "Practical Combat Escrima", based on the concepts I learned along with a little Wing Chun influence.

Since starting the PCE club, people have asked me if what we teach is really "traditional" and if it is practiced in the PI? I would respond that historically most FMA was never so much "traditional" as functional. It had to work or you, and possibly your family, friends, and entire village could be wiped out. In modern times, we don't face such threats, so what I teach is based on concepts that have roots in the old FMA but it a modern, evolving art as well.

So there is a lot of modern American DNA in the adobo of what I learned. And there is old stuff. But even the old stuff was already a mix. And as I learned talking to a friend who is a martial artist, historian, and passionate HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) teacher, a lot of the old escrima in our system was heavily influenced by European swordsmanship.

Understandably, Filipino national pride has led to de-emphasizing this, but a great deal of FMA was heavily shaped by Spanish sword play, especially the kind of practical swordsmanship used by sailors and soldiers wielding cutlass and saber. In short, the name eskrima/escrima ....or in Spanish, esgrima just means fencing. Swordsmanship. And according to my Hema practicing friend, my escrima, traditional or not has a lot of Spanish DNA.

I guess you could say it's very functionally oriented mix of European, Filipino, perhaps some Indonesian, a little Chinese, and definitely some modern American methods of combat, all unified by core concepts I learned from my teachers. Asian, European, American. A global martial art for the 21st Century.

So much for my stuff. How about you guys. What is the DNA of what you do?
 
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Brian R. VanCise

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The Filipino Martial Arts are a big melting pot with influences from all over southeast asia and yes of course Europe. The Spanish influenced the Arnis, Escrima, Kali immensely over the long period of colonialization. How could it not! Functionality is what they are all about. If you see some thing that works you add it to what you do. That in the end is what makes the FMA so very effective. Practical and functional! Plus weapon/tool based. ;)
 

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According to the head of the system it is a purely indigenous art, but an observer would notice that its name changed from "arnis" to "kali" in the 70s. Those of who have studied the issue and have less invested in Filipino national pride recognize that this is probably not the case but have no way of quantifying what the influence of Spain was on the system.
 

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According to the head of the system it is a purely indigenous art, but an observer would notice that its name changed from "arnis" to "kali" in the 70s. Those of who have studied the issue and have less invested in Filipino national pride recognize that this is probably not the case but have no way of quantifying what the influence of Spain was on the system.
I think the influence is far greater that what most are willing to acknowledge.
 
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geezer

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I think the influence is far greater that what most are willing to acknowledge.

Exactly my point. And I think it might be a good thing. It makes modern FMA accessible to everyone. Kinda Like my view of America. We've got people from everywhere, and we all belong.
 

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I have been in a conversation with a well known Filipino Grand Master who acknowledged Spanish influence on his family's sword work in private. He probably would never acknowledge this in public.
 
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geezer

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I have been in a conversation with a well known Filipino Grand Master who acknowledged Spanish influence on his family's sword work in private. He probably would never acknowledge this in public.

Ironic. Back in the Spanish Colonial period, FMA practitioners deliberately used Spanish terms in their arts, since even though Spanish domination was resented, the Spanish language (Castellano) was the language of prestige. Sort of like Old English terms being replaced by Latin and French terms after the Norman conquest. To this day we English speakers hold polysyllabic greco-latinate sesquipedalianisms in greater esteem than simple, direct four letter Anglo-Saxon words! I mean, what the f.....!!! :D

Now in the post-colonial period, people reject any trace of the old order, even when it was a positive contribution.
 

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Well in the Kali I study the concept of Espada y Daga comes from the Spanish. The Guro also teaches Spanish sword fencing to the Senior students. The only thing I keep correcting him on is a piece of historical inaccuracy he has. He keeps saying only the Spanish and the Hungarians practiced Espada y Daga, forgetting my Italian ancestors.

Back to the point, with how suppressed FMA was it would almost have to adopt some Spanish principles to fill gaps, dancing and theater you can preserve a lot but only so much. Also from what reading I did the Espada y Daga, vs shared size dual blades, was inspired by the Spanish.
 
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And as I learned talking to a friend who is a martial artist, historian, and passionate HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) teacher, a lot of the old escrima in our system was heavily influenced by European swordsmanship.

Who is this HEMA teacher? I'd be interested in speaking with him.

The Guro also teaches Spanish sword fencing to the Senior students.

Who is this guro?
 
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geezer

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Well in the Kali I study the concept of Espada y Daga comes from the Spanish. The Guro also teaches Spanish sword fencing to the Senior students. The only thing I keep correcting him on is a piece of historical inaccuracy he has. He keeps saying only the Spanish and the Hungarians practiced Espada y Daga, forgetting my Italian ancestors.

Back to the point, with how suppressed FMA was it would almost have to adopt some Spanish principles to fill gaps, dancing and theater you can preserve a lot but only so much. Also from what reading I did the Espada y Daga, vs shared size dual blades, was inspired by the Spanish.

I got the impression that along with sword and buckler, sword and dagger was pretty widespread in Europe. They were all fighting each other after all!
 
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geezer

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Who is this HEMA teacher? I'd be interested in speaking with him.

I don't have his contact right here, but if memory serves it was either Richard Marsden or a big guy named John who is in the same group here in Phoenix. Or, if you just want good info. we've got a couple of really knowledgeable HEMA people right here on Martial Talk. Guys like Iklawson and Langenschwert. If you drop them a PM maybe they will post back here on the General FMA forum and enlighten us! :)
 

tim_stl

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I don't have his contact right here, but if memory serves it was either Richard Marsden or a big guy named John who is in the same group here in Phoenix. Or, if you just want good info. we've got a couple of really knowledgeable HEMA people right here on Martial Talk. Guys like Iklawson and Langenschwert. If you drop them a PM maybe they will post back here on the General FMA forum and enlighten us! :)

I have some knowledge of HEMA, and I know of Richard and John, and Richard's study of verdadera destreza. I am, however, unaware of their breadth and depth of knowledge of FMA. It's pretty extensive, I take it?
 

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Sent via PM, since I am always twitchy putting out locale info on open forums
 

Juany118

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I got the impression that along with sword and buckler, sword and dagger was pretty widespread in Europe. They were all fighting each other after all!

Sword and buckler yes but it seems codified training is sword and dagger was not as universal. Not an expert in HEMA however those three locales are the only three I am personally aware of.
 
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geezer

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I have some knowledge of HEMA, and I know of Richard and John, and Richard's study of verdadera destreza. I am, however, unaware of their breadth and depth of knowledge of FMA. It's pretty extensive, I take it?

Well, they know a lot more than I do!
 
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geezer

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About Filipino martial arts?

Well no, not about the practice of the FMA. I've got a fair grip on that. But I'm no historian. And the art I teach, "PCE" is mainly derived from Latosa Escrima which has roots in the Philippines but is a late 20th Century Filipino-American art created by Rene Latosa. So I'm definitely not the guy to ask about old Filipino traditions. Heck I'm just a white dude who likes to swing sticks and stuff. I haven't even been to the PI. ....yet. :)
 

Juany118

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Well no, not about the practice of the FMA. I've got a fair grip on that. But I'm no historian. And the art I teach, "PCE" is mainly derived from Latosa Escrima which has roots in the Philippines but is a late 20th Century Filipino-American art created by Rene Latosa. So I'm definitely not the guy to ask about old Filipino traditions. Heck I'm just a white dude who likes to swing sticks and stuff. I haven't even been to the PI. ....yet. :)

I am no expert either but a good source that appears to be very well researched is Mark Wiley's "Filipino Martial Culture." It is an easy read and also available for Amazon Kindle so easy to obtain .
 

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To answer a question asked above...who taught my Guro Spanish sword was Master at Arms James Keating. He was also my Guro's first instructor in Inosanto Kali. As such there is definitely some Silat influences in what we learn as well.
 

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This is an interesting discussion. For something like San Miguel Escrima, it seems obvious, but it is honestly hard to answer this question in Pekiti Tirisa, which is the FMA system that I study. There are certain things which seem obvious, the use of triangular footwork, the use of long and short weapon together, etc. However, there are so many differences as well, that it is hard to know just how much influence there really was. Given the variety of FMA systems which exist, and how different the mechanics of striking and footwork can be between them, let alone tactics strategy, pinning something like that down would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Compound that with the regional differences which exist in the PI, and the wide variety of weapon types which are found there, and the problems seem to mount rapidly. Having said all of that, I don't discount some influence, but I suspect it is far more for some systems than others. In addition, while I understand national pride, I don't judge the worth of a given FMA style on where it came from. Others might, but I don't really worry about that sort of thing too much.
 
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