"Successorship," rank, titles, and other goofyness...

Cruentus

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There...I thought that would get your attention.

I only said "goofyness" because the subject isn't inherently "goofy," but often discussions get "goofy" when the subject is brought up. But anyways...

I wanted to talk about "successorship," titles, and rank in in regards to Filipino arts.

How has it been done in the past? How have other "masters" handled it? What did you see they did right, or wrong? What do you all see for the future of FMA?

More importantly, how do YOU think that it SHOULD be done?

Have at it, but keep it flame free please...this outta be interesting...

:boing2:
 

Datu Tim Hartman

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Tulisan said:
I wanted to talk about "successorship," titles, and rank in in regards to Filipino arts.

To avoid any further BS I'll comment on the art that I'm ranked in, Modern Arnis.

In Modern Arnis successorship is used. Does any other FMAs do the same?

%-}
 
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Joe Eccleston

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Tulisan said:
How has it been done in the past? How have other "masters" handled it? What did you see they did right, or wrong? What do you all see for the future of FMA?

More importantly, how do YOU think that it SHOULD be done?
loki09789 said:
In the PI schools, if the idea of 'successorship' isn't inherently PI culture but a relatively modern adaptation: what is the deal with GM terminology. Prior to this type of titling, what did BK instructors call each other, higher/lower ranked instructors...?
Hey Pauls,

I was told in the past, which is 1970s and prior, eskrimadors in Cebu just used the standard "Manong" or "Manoy" (this being more Cebuano) to acknowledge the elder, more skilled, eskrimadors. Schools weren't schools, but more like clubs, or better yet fraternities (self-defense fraternities).

Heirarchy was more or less based on seniority, then skill. This pecking order was established through palakaw or light sparring, which--depending on the fighters' relationship to one another--ranged from controlled to actual free for alls, in which people really got hurt.

Different clubs or individual eskrimadors knew of each others' skills, and how they relate to each other, through all the Juego Todo (juego=game in spanish, todo=all) matches, or actual violent encounters (i.e. Vincente Carin getting attacked by 10 guys? in Cebu).

FMA, from its combativeness, has seem to have evolved into three. 1. sport (similar to TKD). 2. dance (similar to Wu Shu, actually the Moro Moro dances would be a better example. so actually the dance evolved first then the sport aspect of it). 3. the cultivation of combat efficient skills.
FMA, atleast those most visible (ones with websites), have evolved much like TKD, Karate, Kung Fu, etc schools. Children being their most cherished customers. The benefits to this, is that kids are off the streets and they get a chance to sweat, instead of getting fat in front of the TV. All in all, as long as people don't take titles and successorship claims too seriously, all's well. FMA will still always retain its combativeness, we'll just have sport and dance with it now.
 
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Cruentus

Cruentus

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I basically agree with you there, Joe, in as far as Balintawak, and other styles from Cebu go. If we are talking Balintawak, Anciong didn't give out titles or rank, although he did give my instructor permission to teach in the club.

Anybody have other examples? Anyone want to elaborate on how "successorship" was used in Modern Arnis in comparison to other FMA's?
:asian:
 

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Dumb question here...
Didn't some of the systems/styles go from father to son?
 
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Joe Eccleston

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Kaith Rustaz said:
Dumb question here...
Didn't some of the systems/styles go from father to son?
Hey, Bob... I think this is pretty much true for most eskrimadors. They kept their art within the family. It's also interesting to note that a great majority of the 1950s Balintawak club, were neighbors (everyone sort of lived in the same area of Cebu City, I believe these areas are Pasil, San Nicholas, and Labangon sp?) and/or relatives (i.e. in-laws, 3rd/4th degree cousins, etc.).

Also interesting, I read this somewhere (forgot where), "Flash" Elorde, from Cebu, a popular boxing champion in the 1950s and 1960s, was a son of a eskrimador. His father though, didn't teach "Flash" Elorde eskrima, for fear of his son using eskrima against him. So, he ended up becoming one of the great boxers from the Philippines.

Question: Was Ted Buot's father also an eskrimador? How did he (Ted Buot) become one?
 

Datu Tim Hartman

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Joe Eccleston said:
Question: Was Ted Buot's father also an eskrimador? How did he (Ted Buot) become one?

If I remeber correctly, it was something he wanted to do. He heard about Bacon's club and he went. :asian:
 

bart

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Kaith Rustaz said:
Dumb question here...
Didn't some of the systems/styles go from father to son?

I know that to be true in the Serrada system with Vincent Cabales succeeding his father, Angel in the system. I think there are some dissenters but his Master certificate I believe is numbered #1.

In Cebu I think that goes with family systems like Combate Eskrima Maranga where GM Rodrigo Maranga is the head of the family system with the passing of GM Timor Maranga. I'm not sure totally about their successorship, but I'll be getting in touch with them during my trip to Cebu this June and I can confirm it then.

There is successorship in a lot of the American FMA that goes outside of blood for instance in Bahala Na with GM Giron and GM Antonio Somera and in Villabrille Kali with GM Villabrille and GM Largusa.

Successorship really depends on the system. Some have it and some don't. Some systems are so new that they haven't needed to deal with it and some of the systems have multiple grandmasters so there is never a real problem with succession as their are many people at the top and exclusivity is not a factor.
 
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Cruentus

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1."Ted Buot's Father": Not sure if he knew eskrima or not. Ted boxed, and learned some basic eskrima from a relative, but nothing to speak of. He was told not to go to the Balintawak club because, "those guys like to see blood!" So, he went because he figured that would be the best place to go. heh.

2. Serrada Eskrima: It was my understanding that GM Cabales offered successorship to 2 other masters because his son had been inactive for about 10 years. The 2 masters felt that it would have been best to leave it to his son, so his son became successor. This caused rifts by the other masters, and many of them broke off from the son. This is basically in Wileys book, but who knows if that was how it really happened.

3. Family: It is my impression that in non-comercialized Eskrima, the students are basically like family members to the master. All of Manong Teds students are like family to him...like his "Eskrima family." Because of this, it seems that "heirs" to systems could be blood relatives just as much as they could be non-blood.

:asian:
 

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As opposed to other Asian societies Traditional Filipino Society was tribal based with the Barangay or longhouse (based upon where your from) being the principal living situation. This meant that everyone had to be able to defend themselves, so it was not always father to son. I think titles depend largely upon what other influences are in your style, if it is belt oriented, or if it has ranks at all. The ranks I know are things like kuya, Tatay, or manong, not really titles proper but symbols of respect.
 

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haumana2000 said:
As opposed to other Asian societies Traditional Filipino Society was tribal based with the Barangay or longhouse (based upon where your from) being the principal living situation. This meant that everyone had to be able to defend themselves, so it was not always father to son. I think titles depend largely upon what other influences are in your style, if it is belt oriented, or if it has ranks at all. The ranks I know are things like kuya, Tatay, or manong, not really titles proper but symbols of respect.
So the original context for someone to be worthy of these terms meant that they had skills in areas other than martial arts. Maybe hunting, fishing, farming, music, firestarting, leadership.... a total package of age,wisdom and skill that would benefit the tribe - but it was a cultural term that has become common usage in FMA, and within that context has a much narrower set of requirements than the cultural origin.

Roberto Torres mentioned a while ago how he has gone to using the cultural terms of his time as respect demonstration. All his instructors are simply called Mr./Ms./Mrs. because that is what we use regularly. His people understand and know the origins and sources and terms from the past, but they don't try and adopt them. This reduces the chance of misrepresentation/expectation of students. Over use or emphasis on some of these terms without really understanding them can lead to people building their own myths.

It was mentioned on another thread that some of these terms have connotations that imply knowledge, powers, attributes that the current day practitioner just doesn't have, doesn't train and in some cases doesn't even know about.
 

haumana2000

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Great point, many of these titles are not always indicative of only martial arts knowledge. Just respect. Also many of the FMA teachers of the past woud hardly fit what many would think of from a budo context. Many smoked drank, fought, were ladies men, etc.. That is the nature of FMA, and the history that informalness, and readiness to accept any challenge whether it was in a bar or battle is one of the reasons it remains so effective today.
 

loki09789

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Tulisan said:
So...what do you all think about the use of "Rank" in FMA?
When your in your own culture/home, so many things are just understood because of that common background that titles and terms aren't really as important there. Plus, from the sound of the posts here, the casualness and informallity meant that the goal was never really 'rank' either.

For the sake of structure and replication of a foundational system core, I think rank is good. It means that the lesson survives beyond the instructor. The material is more important than 'the man' business.

As long as it is only important for instructional soundness, short term/long term goal setting and that it isn't emphasized OVER skill and need, I think it is fine.

As with any tools though, ranking and titles are as good or bad as those who wield them.
 

haumana2000

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has it's good points and bad, however in my mind is something that you dont address yourself as, but rather is something that others who choose to call you.
 

loki09789

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haumana2000 said:
has it's good points and bad, however in my mind is something that you dont address yourself as, but rather is something that others who choose to call you.
Years back in my service days, I made friends with a guy who trained WingChun in a school that was very loose on rank wearing and awarding as well.

He said that they all wore the same t shirt and sweats type of cloths and that you know who was who by the skill and (I smiled at this) the muscle development around the front of the shoulder in the Rhomboid region from all the centerline punch drills and conditioning work on the knuckles - I think that says it all about rank/title in a small training group.
 

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arnisador said:
Rank is here to stay--like it or not. There's no use trying to fight it.

Rank is prevalant in many FMAs, but doesn't mean your group HAS to follow or acknowledge other people's rank outside your group (although we will out of courtesy). Might be a black belt in "X" system, but we don't recognize it "Y" system because "Y" system doesn't follow a ranking structure!

We don't follow a belt or rank structure. This is my preference, doesn't mean its right or wrong or I'm fighting following a rank structure, it just is. I have set up 3 levels - beginner, intermediate and advanced. These are not ranks placed on the individual, but catagories of training. Thus someone could be at an intermediate level in one portion of the training but still a beginner in another. Although you learn something in one area, there is always more to learn. Also, it allows senior students a chance to take a step back and work on fundementals. It also allows new students to see advanced techniques in the training. This method puts more responsibility on the individual to assess there own training, and determine for themselves where they fall. In conclusion...I don't address new students as "beginners" but I will start them out with beginning techniques and feed intermediate techniques as they progress. We're all beginners and students for life.

Andy
 
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Cruentus

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It seemed to me that in the old days, your "seniors" were those who were older then you, or who trained longer then you, which is fitting for the culture. So, whether someone was your "junior" or "senior" did not depend on skill or any kind of deligation. Then, the rest was based on skill. Within the school, you just knew the pecking order based on who was better. So, you could be revered as one of the schools best fighters, even if you are junior to many people in the club.

Then, it would seem, that "successorship" wasn't a concern in the old days. The "Pecking Order" would ultimatily decide which people would succeed the art. Because of this, there were generally more then one who succeeded. If someone only had 2 lessons and they were to try to claim successorship or superiority, the other better fighters and seniors would simply call them out on it. So this skill based pecking order system is what kept the quality of these arts high; rank, or some sort of "successor" crown was not nessicary.

Then, the popularization of foriegn arts came to play in the PI, changing the environment of FMA. You gained credability by getting a black belt in TKD or a Japanese style, even if you actually learned how to fight from an old master with no rank. The realization hit many FMA masters (Remy Presas was the pioneer in understanding this) that FMA would get not bigger then a small, backyard type club if the pecking order and skill progression was determined by how well you could play or fight with others. The reason is that the general populus can't train the way they did in the old days; constantly fighting to establish your position. Plus, a realization hit that you can make some $$ off this stuff. So, rank was introduced, and uniforms were more widely used so people could identify their school.

There is good and bad to this. The good is that a belt ranking is a very effecient way of spreading the art, and keeping students. The bad news is that it is, by itself, rank is incompatable with FMA, and the skill based circular structure of the art. Japanese and Korean Martial arts have a linear structure to them, so a belt system makes sense for them. It doesn't make sense when the structure of you art is circular (in other words, not "must learn this before that"). So, the unfortunate end result is, you have a lot of belt ranks and titles out there in FMA that don't mean squat, because the teacher didn't have a linear, quantifiable method of ranking people. My late teacher Remy Presas' way of handing out belts and titles is a prime example of this problem.

Then there is the issue of "successorship." When you have a circular structure, you could have one guy who is a great fighter, another a better teacher but not a better fighter, another who is better at the systems blade work, another who is better then the blade guy at the stick, and so on. It wasn't a linear thing where you just said, "Hey...your the highest rank and furthest along, so you'll succeed the art." So, what would make sense would be that the seniors and highest skilled go off and have to make their own way, rather then riding on the coat tails of their masters deligations of "title" or "rank." But, when you have applied "rank" to a circular method, then you have all sorts of questions and problems about successorship. Do you crown your highest rank if a lower rank is more skilled? Do you crown your best knife fighter, or stick fighter? What if you crown someone, and they stop actively training, but another less ranked person continues and becomes the best in the system, yet, he has no "successorship" to back it up? The list of problems goes on. Most of the FMA that have tried to make the successorship thing work have failed horribly.

"Rank," "titles," and "successorship" issues may be here to stay, but that doesn't mean that they are inherently compatable with FMA. I feel that by themselves, they are not. If you are doing a rank based FMA program, you really have to get creative to make the two work together.

:asian:
 

loki09789

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Tulisan said:
"Rank," "titles," and "successorship" issues may be here to stay, but that doesn't mean that they are inherently compatable with FMA. I feel that by themselves, they are not. If you are doing a rank based FMA program, you really have to get creative to make the two work together.

:asian:
Paul,

I had to take a water break in the middle of reading this, I ran out of breath....:)

Like I said before, rank as an instructional tool for organizing and communicating short term/long term goals within the system is fine. Other than that, it isn't so much creativity as the character of the instructors/group and how they use that tool of rank that will demonstrate how important rank/titles are to the group.
 
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