Martial Art Research Center interview with Corey Minatani

C

Corey Minatani

Guest
(First set of questioning)
Q. Can you tell us a bit more about Arnis ? (origin, philosophy, goal...)


A. First of all Mr. Wong, I will limit my response to “Modern Arnis” with the lineage of Remy Presas to Datu Kelly Worden of Natural Spirit Int’l Conceptual Base. According to Professor Presas, there are over 7,000 styles of Arnis (Presas, 1983); we will only concentrate on “Modern Arnis” as I learned it from the Professor in seminars and Datu Kelly Worden.

One could say that fighting with sticks, knife, or empty hands has been a predominant feature of the Filipino culture throughout its history (Presas, 1974). The history, needless to say, is long and developed dialogue best described in Filipino Martial Culture by Mark Wiley.

To utilize this ancient form of combat of the primitive Negritos in modern day scenarios with or without a stick or a knife is the underlying goal of Modern Arnis (Presas Video, 1988 and Presas, 1974). One could argue, that the movements that one does with the stick or blade uses (or translates) in empty hand applications. In this manner, instead of learning one system for knife, one system for sticks, and another for empty hands, one can synthesize the training of learning one system and being able to apply it in three. In 1988, Professor Presas promoted Mr. Kelly Worden to the level of “Datu,” Master of Modern Arnis, for his contribution to Modern Arnis and the formulation of his Sibat (Filipino long pole or staff) system (Worden Video, 1993). The Sibat lines splices and cross-references into Professor Remy Presas’ Modern Arnis. To this date, through the Natural Spirit Int’l curriculum (Datu Worden’s organization), the Modern Arnis synthesis includes empty hand, stick, knife, and staff lines into one complete system of modern day combat.

Modern Arnis supplements oneÂ’s primary system of fighting and blends rather than conflicts with that primary style. Professor Presas explains:

“Arnis makes many martial artists discover new things about their own style. They recognize the beauty of arnis because it blends naturally the best movements from many arts. Most of my students continue to study their own styles—they just use arnis to supplement their understanding (Presas, 1983).”

In addition, the Modern Arnis system must be adapted to the individual’s particular attributes and body motions; in this sense, it starts to sound a lot like Jeet Kune Do and Bruce Lee’s research into the arts. “This is known simply as using ‘the flow.’ The flow is Presas’ universal term for defining the comfortable place where the movements of arnis and the individual human body meet for maximum effectiveness; body and weapon blend to achieve the most natural fighting style based on an individual’s needs and attributes. (Presas, 1983)”

To summarize, Modern Arnis is used to simply the combative process and make it more applicable to modern day practitioners, hence the name, Modern Arnis. Modern
Arnis is a synthesis of many forms of arnis native to the Philipine Islands created by the late Professor Remy Amador Presas. Datu Kelly Worden is important because he formulated the long pole lines into Modern Arnis tactics, but outsiders from Datu WordenÂ’s organization, Natural Spirit IntÂ’l, are missing these Sibat long pole lines.

Q. What would you say is the strongest advantage Arnis has over other martial arts?

A. Let me state for the record Mr. Wong, that styles are not superior in any way to another in the general context. The person who is utilizing the art is one who may or may not be superior, that is a different context. If we are to expand into the latter context then, I shall suggest that a person trained in weapons has a significant advantage over someone without a weapon. Needless to say, this is a no brainer! I have rarely seen anyone specifically trained, even moderately, in blade methodology beaten by a system of unarmed combat. This is not to say that it could never happen, just rare. When the blade is flashed and apparent, I don’t see anyone wanting to play karate lines or kickboxing lines. Brazillian Jujitsu players do not want the guard when I stick the blade into their ribcage. Sticks, whether it be solo or doble baston, isn’t much less deadly. The human skull breaks at 8-10 PSI and the sticks moving in sinawali (weaving) or abonico (fanning) lines could easily surpass that kind of pressure to kill. In addition, Filipino weaponry in general attacks the attacks of the opponent: this idea is called “defanging the snake.” For example, if someone where to punch the arnisador (arnis player), the arnisador would simply strike or attack that punch with the stick or knife. Grapplers shooting in for a single or double-leg takedown better be quick, or the skull will explode when the arnisador evades and swings in a downward arc. It is an interesting observation, that people who would never compete empty hand against a pistol or firearm might actually consider defending against a stick or knife which is easier to conceal and harder to predict! Go ahead and try I say, people who train hard core in arnis, modern or otherwise, bring to the table a side of reality that grappling tourneys and karate sparring cannot deal with. This is the reason why many “death matches” were done in the past in the Philipines; one cannot test one’s real skills without serious maiming or killing one’s opponent.

This is not to say that karate and grappling do not have their good points, they have lots of them! The “modern day warrior” mentality suggests that one do train in karate and grappling, but also blade arts and stick arts, and up to and including firearms. Carrying a pistol, 3 blades (pocket folders), a fist load and some mace is common gear for rough areas in certain neighborhoods. Phrases like “wood meets bone” and “steel seeks flesh” are common mantras for the serious practitioner. Defending your life or your loved ones in some respects is the key reason one enters the arts, not for trophies and titles or belts to hold up your pants! So, to reiterate, another advantage might be the psychology of the arnisador versus other sport oriented systems.

Q. Are there any forms or katas in Arnis?

A. For the organization of Remy Presas, the IMAF, there are (to my knowledge) four single stick forms called anyos. In addition, for the arnisador, there are five empty hand anyos that the Modern Arnis practitioner must perform. From the Datu Worden lineage, one must perform 5 Sibat (staff or long pole) forms, the third being a two-person set.

It has been said that the Modern Arnis stick anyos are fairly basic, but the number of applications or bunkai for these seemingly simple forms is quite vast. The empty hand anyos look curiously similar to karate lines with many trapping and throwing lines (which may be grouped as Dumog or Filipino influenced Kuntao).

Again, what you learn with the empty hand forms can be utilized with the stick, staff, or knife. Conversely, the stick forms have many staff, knife, and empty hand translations of them.

(Bibliography includes Modern Arnis: Philippine martial art of "stickfighting", 1974, Modern Arnis, 1983 both by Professor Remy Presas, Modern Arnis video #3, 1988, and Sibat "Connecting the Systems" series introductory tape, 1993)







:asian:
 
Interesting info and interview! :D

I would like to reinerate, however, that Datu Hartman has also integrated Sibat, and other weapons, into his martial arts programing (although it is not included as a requirement in the WMAA Arnis cirriculum).

The WMAA also covers up to 8 empty hand forms, although I do not know my exact history on the last 3 forms, but I do know they were approved by Professor Presas himself.

I especially liked the part of the interview comparing Arnis to the other Martial arts.

Thanks for sharing!

:D
PAUL
 
Thanks Paul:

I don't know what the other branches of Modern Arnis are doing, so I kept it to our world so-to-speak.

That is cool that Datu Hartman is working Sibat lines, I just know thats how our Datu Worden achieved his Datu status.

Thanks.
 
(The following is a follow-up line of questioning concerning the start of the thread)

Greetings Mr. Minatani,

I have taken some time to read and analyse
your reply and it looks quite promising. There are
just a few points I would like to clarify with you.



"One could argue, that the movements that one does
with the stick or blade uses (or translates) in empty
hand applications.."


1- I'm not sure I understand this fully. Does it mean
that if one becomes an expert Arnis practitioner, he
would be able to use a knife, sticks are even his bare
hands with the same techniques? Wouldn't that be
somewhat impossible considering the physical aspect
and caracteristics of each weapon? (or does it mean
that you change the mouvement a little bit to adapt to
each weapon?)

THIS IS CORRECT, ONE MAY DO THE EXACT SAME MOVEMENTS,
NO CHANGE OF FOOTWORK OR ARMWORK IS NECESSARY, HAO.
ONLY THING THAT CHANGES IS FROM THE WRIST TO THE
FINGERTIPS, WHICH, IN THE GENERAL SPHERE OF THINGS, IS
INSIGNIFICANT. FOR EXAMPLE, IF I AM CORRECT, ONE
COULD USE YOUR SHOTOKAN HEIAN SHODAN WITH THE KNIFE,
NO PROBLEM, ALTHOUGH THE KIME IS DIFFERENT, THE
UNIVERSALS OF MOVEMENT ARE THE SAME. IS NOT A CHUDAN
OI-TSUKI THE SAME AS AN ARNIS THRUST? IS NOT THE
HAMMERFIST IN MOVEMENT NUMBER 4 OF HEIAN SHODAN THE
SAME AS AN ABONICO? CAN YOU NOT IMAGINE LOOKING AT
BEST KARATE SERIES OF THE JKA AND WHERE THERE IS A
FIST, IMAGINE THE DUDE HOLDING A KNIFE? I WOULD ARGUE
THAT YOU DO KNOW MODERN ARNIS ALREADY, YOU JUST GOT TO
CHANGE THE LENSES YOU PERCEIVE YOUR ART. AS TO THE
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE STICK, STAFF, KNIFE ARE
EXTENTIONS OF THE HAND, WHEREAS NUNCHAKU, TONFA, SAI
WHICH ARE EXCELLENT WEAPONS, DO NOT IMITATE HUMAN
MOTION. IN ADDITION, THESE SUCKERS ARE NOT
ENVIRONMENTALLY AROUND WHEN YOU NEED THEM. STICKS,
KITCHEN KNIVES, AND STAFF (READ: BROOKSTICKS) ARE ALL
AROUND US!

"Modern Arnis supplements one's primary system of
fighting and blends rather than conflicts with that
primary style. "

2- When you say primary style, do you mean another
martial art or just everyones own fighting instinct?

THE MARTIAL ART YOU STUDY, FOR INSTANCE HAO, YOU STUDY
SHOTOKAN, ARNIS WOULD COMPLEMENT IT, NOT DISRUPT IT.
PROFESSOR PRESAS, INCLUDING TO BE THE FOUNDER OF
MODERN ARNIS WAS A 6TH DAN KARATE BLACK BELT AND
SHODAN IN JUDO.

3- How useful would you say the forms are to actual
combats?

WELL, WHEN I PUT A KNIFE OR STICK IN MY HANDS, THE
ODDS ARE BETTER AND THE WEAPONS BECOME REAL EQUALIZERS
AND USEFUL IN THAT REGARD.

4- Are there any differences between Arnis, Kali,
Escrima and Silat?

FROM MY EXPERIENCE, ONLY SLIGHT VARIATIONS FROM ARNIS,
KALI, ESKRIMA THAT BEING THE PARTICULAR FORM OR SYSTEM
YOU STUDY. SILAT AS I UNDERSTAND IT IS INDONESIAN,
AND IS DIFFERENT BUT THE LINES OF BLADES MIGHT BE THE
SAME. IF I AM CORRECT, HISTORICALLY SPEAKING,
INDONESIANS AND FILIPINOS USUALLY DON'T GET ALONG WITH
EACH OTHER VERY WELL, AND THAT TRANSFERS OVER TO
MARTIAL ARTS. JUST LIKE KOREANS AND JAPANESE I'M
SURE.

5- What would be the biggest difference between the
"modern arnis " you train in and traditionnal arnis?

DON'T REALLY KNOW ENOUGH TO COMMENT ON THAT, AS FOR
NOW, I WILL REITERATE, THAT MY RESPONSES BE WITHIN THE
CONTEXT OF MODERN ARNIS THROUGH REMY PRESAS AND DATU
WORDEN. GOING OUTSIDE THAT REALM WOULD BE BEYOND MY
EXPERIENCE. BUT AS I UNDERSTAND IT, TRADITIONAL AND
MODERN ARE INCORPORATED INTO MODERN ARNIS. THE ANSWER
FOR YOUR SYSTEM, SHOTOKAN, IS EQUALLY DIFFICULT, IF
ONE WERE TO SAY, WHAT WAS TRADITIONAL KARATE
LIKE....UH...NAHA-TE OR SHURI-TE, WHAT DID FUNAKOSHI
SENSEI CHANGE AND WHAT DID HE KEEP AND SO ON...SUCH
QUESTIONS ARE REALLY HARD FOR ANYONE WHO DIDN'T
DIRECTLY TRAIN WITH THE FOUNDER FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD
OF TIME.




This interview is submitted by Corey Minatani
Interviewer is Hao Wong
 

Latest Discussions

Back
Top