There is always something there to remind me

“This is not good,” I told myself. “I probably should go back to FMA training soon.”

You see, I was in a church service tonight, and was only vaguely hearing what the pastor was saying because I was so distracted. First, it was the pen in his shirt pocket.  I thought of the long list of  lethal moves I could do with it. Then his microphone, another long list. And then the mic stand….

I’ve burned out and it’s been almost two months now that I’ve pulled back from FMA training and all other related activities. (Check out my earlier post I’m tired of FMA)

During this break, I realized that I can’t completely shut off FMA. Remember that catchy 1960’s song “There is always something there to remind me” by Burt Bacharach and Hal David? It’s true of FMA.

I go to a book store and spot a knife book.



It’s kitchen book alright but that hold can very well be ours. IMG_20141111_160309

I go to a hardware store

IMG_20141112_132131and find walking sticks

IMG_20141112_131139and knives.IMG_20141112_125920And don’t let me get started on the mall’s kitchen section: weapons are just too many to mention!

IMG_20141112_123712IMG_20141112_123925I sit at a doctor’s waiting room and get mesmerized by the pens and scissors on the secretary’s table. I eat lunch and remember the farmers’ bolos cutting palay.   I see a flag and think of Lapu-lapu, Andres Bonifacio, and Diego Silang.

There’s really no escaping. FMA is and will always be a part of my life and unless I want to think of lethal moves in church again, I better start getting small doses of FMA soon.

We’ll see what happens.

I’m tired of FMA

Sometimes, even I find it hard to believe  that less than two years ago, I didn’t care a bit about Filipino Martial Arts. I didn’t care because I knew next to nothing about it. Sure, I knew that Arnis (as FMA is popularly called here) was the Philippines’ “new” national sport replacing sipa, and that it used sticks as weapons. But that was it.

Now if you let me enumerate all the things I love, FMA would be easily included. It has helped me become fit and healthy and confident. It has introduced me to worlds that I never knew existed before.

FMA made me happy.

But somehow these past few weeks have been different. I seem to have lost the spark. The excitement and hunger diminished and the emotions were no longer raw. Whereas before, I looked forward to every training session, reveled in it, and then went home only to read and watch some more, now even my FMA Facebook remain mostly closed.   I’m bored, uninterested, and tired.

My rational mind labels this weariness as burnout.


:the condition of someone who has become very physically and emotionally tired after doing a job for a long time (Merriam-Webster)

Well, although my case is probably mild, I know that that’s what I have. And because I know the diagnosis, I also know the cure.

I. need. a. break.

That’s why my sticks and blades quietly rest in their cases now.

In the meantime, I rest, run, and do strengthening exercises. Sometimes though,  when I do arm exercises I long for my weapons…

But the longing is not enough to make me take them out of their cases. Not now, not yet.

I’m on vacation.


I’m sure I’ll eventually come back.

But for now,  I rest.



“What’s that, a can opener?”

“No… it’s a… neck opener, haha!”

That was an exchange between two of my arnis friends when I recently showed them my new karambit training knife.

“Well, it’s a neck opener alright… and an eye gouger, tendon cutter,  etc., etc., “ we said with a chuckle as only martial artists would considering the gory scenario.

Anyway, I got interested with karambits because my blogger friend, Fia posted hers. And then during the latest Arnis Pasindo tournament, KAMAO’s combat demonstration used karambits.

So, I ordered one from Grandmaster Rodel Dagooc. I think it’s a bit large for me but Master Cris said it’s fine for training purposes.

Full Length: 7 1/2″ Handle: 4″ Long, 3/4″ Thick Blade: 3″ Long 1/4″ Thick Materials: Aluminum ( Blade ) , Kamagong ( Handle )

Anyway, Master Cris said that karambits are similar to the curved and traditionally bigger blade, the sanggot.

He added that when he was still in Davao, they used the sanggot to harvest coconuts, cut palay, and chop banana tree trunks for pig feed.  The curved blade lessened their wrist fatigue. They usually used the foregrip and did not hook their fingers into the finger ring.  The ring was mainly for the cord they tied to the scabbard on their waist.

Anyway, how did my first day of karambit practice go? Totally enjoyable!

Here I am practicing six different grips.

Karambit grips

It felt familiar yet new. Familiar because it’s a blade and I know blades but it’s new because the curve, the two edges, and the ring allowed different technique applications.

Master Cris added a brief warning:“Be careful with the finger ring. It can prevent you from dropping your karambit but if you don’t watch out, it can also fracture your finger.”


On with my moves…

SLASH! HOOK! PUNCH! JAB! PUNCTURE! CUT! RIP!  The karambit felt like a claw and brought out my animal instincts! Cat woman, Arnis version!


Totally cool, I must say. Oh yeah!! :)


Thank you for taking time to read The Deadly Dance. Pugay!

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A tree fell on my car and gave me an awesome workout

Photo credit: NASA
Typhoon Glenda 2014. NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz

The eerie howling of the wind woke me up at around 5 AM. Power was out and although all our windows were shut, it was chilly. “It’s going to be a memorable day,” hubby said (it was his birthday).

The Philippines has around twenty typhoons (tropical cyclones) a year and this year’s seventh, Typhoon Glenda (International name, Rammasun) was one of the worst to ever strike Metro Manila (sustained winds 94 miles/hour with gusts up to 116 miles/hour).

Around 6 AM, the winds intensified and banged our kitchen windows. I kept praying that the glass wouldn’t break. Hubby decided to open the shutters a bit to lessen the pressure but that meant rain entering our kitchen. I was so nervous that I decided to hole up inside our bedroom! There was nothing we could do but wait.

It took another four hours before the howling stopped. Whew!

The aftermath:

Me and my family in various areas of Metro Manila were safe. That’s the most important. I just hoped that when the national reports come in, they wouldn’t be devastating.

Anyway, we looked out to our yard and saw this:

One of the main branches of our decades-old mango tree fell…


and hit my car!

Typhoon Glenda 2014

Hubby’s car which was parked a few feet away was spared, yay!

At first, hubby’s plan was to borrow or buy a power saw to cut all the branches, but then I remembered one training session Master Cris and the rest of  our group had.  They cut tall grass with their itak. So I thought, “With all these trees to be cut,  why not use my Eskrima training? It could turn out to be a terrific workout!”

“Go, ahead,” hubby shrugged when I told him my idea. Did I sense some amused doubt there? :)

Anyway, I got some old socks, cut off the ends and used them to cover my arms, just like how master Cris described what they did when he worked in the farms in Davao.

And then I hacked and hacked with all my might!


Our neighbors came to help.




Janet, who grew up in a farm in Tacloban knew how to wield an itak and her strikes were strong and precise. No wonder a lot of farmers are good in Eskrima!


Good thing only my rear bumper was damaged. Hey, how did that branch get UNDER the car?  P1060579

That’s hubby, the birthday boy.P1060571

We were careful not to get bitten by these!


We only had these tools but we accomplished a lot.


It turned out to be a happy, awesome workout for everyone.


The next day, hubby hired five men to finish the clearing up.

All’s well that ends well.

That was an awesome workout, I must say. :)

Thank you for taking time to read The Deadly Dance.  Pugay!


To read my post about another terrible typhoon, the worst in modern history, click here. 



Arnis stick

Force = Mass x Acceleration. And how nice, it’s also Filipino Martial Arts!

Call me a nerd but I remembered that physics equation when I broke Master Cris’s stick this morning.

We were doing Ocho Defensa Tirada drills and I was giving my all. During the first few strikes, I saw some splinters come out of his stick and then suddenly, it broke and formed a “7”. “Na-siete!” exclaimed the boxers who were practicing near us.

I know that I’m going to break more sticks as I continue training but the first always thrills. Afterall, it just means that I’ve come a long way from my weak strikes 15 months ago. Read my blog post about that here.


Force=Mass x Acceleration

The force you generate is equal to the mass involved in the execution of the technique, multiplied by its acceleration.

For our purposes, mass means body weight. The way I understand it is to have much power, have the right form and technique so you can use as much of your body weight as possible and then strike very fast!

I’m flattering myself: I had good form and technique, and was very fast so I broke my master’s stick.

Well, either that or his stick was already worn and brittle, haha!

What do you think?


Thank you for taking time to read The Deadly Dance. Pugay!

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My (un)gym


The pathway I walk on twice a week

When my friends first learn that I’m into Arnis, one of their questions is where I train. They become a bit confused when I answer “Quezon Memorial Circle” (in case you don’t know yet, it’s a public park in the middle of busy Quezon City, Philippines.)  “I didn’t know that there’s a gym there,” they say.

No, my friends, there’s no gym there. We practice under the trees, smelling the soil and grass, feeling the warm breeze.

World Peace Bell, Quezon Memorial Circle
That’s the dome-covered World Peace Bell and at the right are my classmate Jom (in green pants) and Master Cris (partly hidden). Don’t your think there’s nostalgia in practicing Arnis near a symbol of world peace?

We don’t have mirrors, air conditioning, nor matting.   We don’t have the predictability of a gym’s controlled environment such that sometimes when it rains, we have to wait for it to stop or we transfer to a roofed area.

And training has to start early at around 6:30 AM because the heat can be uncomfortable if we start later.

But I like it.

Yes, really.

Maybe it’s the scenery, open space, and all the vitamin D I get. The air is fresh as fresh can be in the middle of a busy city but with all the oxygen-emitting trees, that could probably be better than air-conditioning.

For health reasons, I use a lot of sunscreen but still I tan and I like it. To me it looks healthier than cosmetically-whitened skin so popular among Filipinas these days. But that’s just me.

Quezon Monument, Quezon City Philippines
The tall structure behind Master Cris is actually a mausoleum containing the remains of Manuel L. Quezon, the second official President of the Philippines and the first of an internationally-recognized independent Philippines, and his wife, First Lady Aurora Quezon. There’s also a museum there.

You see why I so enjoy coming back to my (un)gym? Scenery, open space, Vitamin D, history, and culture, that’s why :)

On Sunday mornings, you’ll see a lot of FMA groups practicing there. Come and visit us sometime. :)

How about you,where do you train?

Towards being a more realistic arnisador

Two years ago, I was a long distance runner. I ran half- marathons and diligently trained for what I considered to be the ultimate challenge, a full marathon.

In March 2012, I ran the 42.2 kms (26.2 miles)!

My brother Sam looking amused while I burst into tears after receiving my finisher's medal at The Bull Runner Dream Marathon, 18 March 2012 , Nuvali, Laguna Philippines
My brother Sam looking amused while I burst into tears after receiving my finisher’s medal at The Bull Runner Dream Marathon, 18 March 2012 , Nuvali, Laguna, Philippines

But you probably know how it is. You look forward and seriously train for a big challenge and when you achieve it, you lose interest.

After the marathon, our running coach told us to allow our bodies to recover by taking it easy for three weeks. Well, I did that and so much more. I rested for months! Sure, I jogged a few times here and there but was slowly turning into a couch potato until… I found Arnis!

Oh Arnis, where have you been all my life?

I became hooked and now I sincerely think it’s going to be my sport forever. Oh yeah!

But I NEED to run again.

In Arnis, you’re taught how to defend yourself against bad guys but don’t you think it’s important also to know how to escape a hostile environment?

I think so.

I want to learn how to strike then run away, hurt the bad guy(s) then escape! That will make me a more realistic arnisador.

Last Sunday, 16 March 2014,  marked the first step towards that. I joined a 5 km (about 3 mi) run.

With my nephews, minutes before our 5 AM gunstart
More than 12,000 runners ran the different race distances (5km, 10km and 21km)

The atmosphere was very upbeat and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. At the finish line, I truly felt stronger than I did at the starting line.

The running bug has bitten me again.

So, here’s my plan: learn how to escape by running short distances (10 km max) and emphasizing speed training.

Then maybe someday, I can even train in parkour!

Parkour founder, David Belle

Oh okay, maybe not… yet.

For now, I’ll stick with 5 km runs.

ARNIS PLUS SPEED RUNNING. Don’t you think that’s a potent mix?  

Ok gotta run now, Pugay!


David Belle Photo credit