Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tabimina Balintawak seminar review

Yesterday I had the opportunity to experience another outstanding escrimador, grandmaster Bobby Tabimina of Tabimina Balintawak, the last direct protege of founder Anciong Bacon. “Sir Bob”, as his students call him (and he often calls others “Sir ___” as well) is an example “par excellence” of a word I coined awhile back, “intentity”, combining intentionality and intensity.

An imposing presence, he paces back and forth with the restless energy of a tiger, making eye contact with everyone as he moves up and down the line. His teaching methodology is a provocative mixture, ranging from discourse on psychology to physiology while sprinkling in humor to engage his audience, but just as quickly as a summer cloudburst he can rachet up a fierceness that is undeniably impressive.

The core of this teaching is developing the reflexes to handle extreme close range combat. Defense is paramount to surviving, and once basic counters are understood, the training rapidly advances to random non-pattern based counter-for-counter feeds. As students’ reactions improve, the pace and intensity continually increase. This is one-on-one training, because these are skills that can only be “installed” (as he likes to say) under stress, so the skill and control of the instructor are vital components. This, too, is the reason they train with tapered rattan, because the lighter tip reduces impact for the strikes that inevitably occur.

This summer has opened fresh vistas for me, from Ron Lew’s stick lock-flow to Bobby Tabimina’s reflex training (interestingly, both Ron Lew and Bob Tabimina have trained with Cacoy Canete). Humbling though it’s been, there is a refreshing sense of renewal in encountering new puzzles to unlock. Bruce Lee described a punch as a question that asks if you know the answer. Well, the masters at the top of the FMA food chain, especially from the tried-and-true Visayan systems, aren’t just asking questions, they’re presenting curriculums for a PhD in combative science. I may have a long way to go to get there, but I know that the journey will never be boring!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Product endorsement from Modern Arnis!

I recently had the opportunity to show some of my new training swords to a handful of grandmasters teaching a seminar at Ernesto Presas' facility here in the Bay Area, resulting in an endorsement of my products from Remy Presas Jr., who now has a pair of barongs for his class to use. He generously asked me to do a write up for his website, which you can read here. Salamat!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Controversy in the whip world

Sparks are flying in the world of whips. Some guy is arguing that "the bullwhip is a miserably useless weapon", despite the historical research, cultural usage and contemporary martial practice. The whip blog has come back to life after a nearly two-year hiatus. Jump over to the Filipino Fighting Whip blog to read and follow the links to see for yourself what this is about.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Some online articles

I just found three short articles from two instructors in Cebu that are worth taking a few minutes to read. The first two discuss the relationship between stick training and empty hands and how this is misunderstood by most martial artists, including many in the FMA.

The last article is about how Tagalog terms have become intertwined with systems from regions of the Philippines other than Luzon. The authors rightly (in my opinion) point out that this is a form of cultural cleansing not so different than under Spanish occupation, imposed by the cultural elite of Manila, and that slowly there is a return to recognizing the diversity of expression that exists in the Philippines.

This is not unlike the underlying premises in the book "Cebuano Eskrima", which attempts to correct cultural myths not just about the FMA but also how those pertain in certain ways to the broader political culture of the country.