Six Life Lessons I Learned from the Filipino Martial Arts

This is where I had my first FMA training
3 January 2013. It rained the night before so the morning was cool for my first FMA session.

In a few days, I will mark my sixth-month of training in the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA a.k.a. Arnis, Kali, or Eskrima).  Since I started, I have practiced with Master Cris once to twice a week, watched three tournaments, read and read, watched dozens of videos, and even started this blog.

My decision to go into it was largely influenced by my desire to get fit and to try something new. However, along the way, I realized numerous other benefits.  I found a new passion. I appreciated my heritage more. I made a lot of new friends. And learned some valuable lessons.

Here then are the six life lessons I learned from my first six months in FMA:

1. If you want new friends, find a new hobby. I have gained an entirely new group of friends. People whom I would never have known if I just stayed in my comfortable, predictable world. Hobbies give us a connection with others. They give us a a venue to communicate, build relationships, and enrich each other’s lives.

2. The simplest way is often the most effective. When the strikes are clear, the stances defined, the footwork unadorned, they are more focused and efficient. Each movement becomes purposeful and effective.  There is no wasted energy. Such is the same for life, we have to shed the excess. Remove unnecessary activities. Stop inappropriate relationships. Then our days will infinitely be more meaningful and … brilliant.

3. Be careful when choosing a mentor. Because of its complicated history and many other factors, the accreditation and classification systems of FMA are still somewhat arbitrary. There are people who pretend to be experts but actually are not. Their integrity are in question and they just cheat their students. In life, be careful and choose your mentors well.  Understand that they will have a  profound and long-lasting effect on your knowledge, attitudes, skills, and practices, a big factor to your success.

4. Humility makes a leader more persuasive. There are many FMA instructors but  those who choose to be humble and respectful are the ones who stand out. Many are attracted to their quiet self-confidence. Their disinterest in being loud and  proud makes their skills and technique shine brighter. When they speak, we listen. When they move, we pay attention.

5. Mastery takes time. Many say that one can learn a lot of FMA moves even in just a few weeks. Well, yes I agree. But for you to be a force to be reckoned with, as with almost everything else in life, you need to practice diligently for many years. Give yourself time to gain experience, sharpen your skills,  and earn credibility.

6. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.  Ancient wisdom, still so true today. Enough said.

How about you? What life lessons do you have from your Art?

Good reads:

5 Life Lessons Learned from the Karate Kid / Nerd Fitness

49 Life Lessons from Bruce Lee, Tyler Durden, Rocky Balboa and Muhammad Ali / Chris McCombs

18 thoughts on “Six Life Lessons I Learned from the Filipino Martial Arts

  1. rojemn June 1, 2013 / 9:45 AM

    Good day! i like the message in number 3 be careful in choosing a mentor how to do it, ask about the profile or CV of the instructor and when did they start teaching and who is their mentor and what is the lineage of the system he/she teach.. but if you ask me learning the art is not about all of this requirements, the wisdom and knowledge share with us of our trainer depends how they share it…. how about if this number 3 lesson happened to you now what will you do? if you already see the capabilities of instructor didn’t have this qualification and they covered that and you already believe hope you will never changed for showing loyalty as long your mentor are honest to you Pugay! don’t get me wrong in FMA world it is also a matter of your choices! Good luck and thank you for choosing our Heritage and national identity of martial arts Mabuhay! high respect Pugay!

    • thedeadlydance June 2, 2013 / 3:15 PM

      Yes, I agree that aside from his knowledge and skills, he should also have character, sincerity, and respect for others. I can’t even take any cursing at me or others at all. Or am I being too sensitive?🙂
      For your question on loyalty… I’ll have to think about it– maybe I can even blog about it soon. Thank you very much for visiting and commenting! Pugay po!
      –Joy–

  2. shivendra pratap chan June 1, 2013 / 2:51 PM

    i learned ,that 4 becoming good martial artist we must have a devoted master and we should practice 4 years and years to sharp our moves

    • thedeadlydance June 2, 2013 / 3:17 PM

      Great point Shivendra: Good teacher—good student. Thank you!
      –Joy–

  3. stlcounterpoint June 2, 2013 / 6:06 AM

    I’ve made so many friends thanks to the Filipino Martial Arts. It has been just as fun meeting new people as it has been learning the art. I often refer to the yearly training camp as a family reunion because the group is so close knit.

    Good blog post.

    • thedeadlydance June 2, 2013 / 3:19 PM

      I agree! New friends are so life-enriching. Warm regards to your group there and more power to your training camps. Thank you very much.🙂
      –Joy–

  4. rickva June 2, 2013 / 11:13 AM

    Love this post. It is refreshing, and I bet that many long time practitioners that learned those lessons early on, are still living them anew every day, I know I am. I love what you say “Each movement becomes purposeful and effective. There is no wasted energy. Such is the same for life, we have to shed the excess. Remove unnecessary activities. Stop inappropriate relationships. Then our days will infinitely be more meaningful and … brilliant.” relating what you learn to greater living, not just “martial arts.”

    • thedeadlydance June 2, 2013 / 3:36 PM

      Thank you very much for your generous words. Yes, I really believe that excess just hinders us in many ways.
      “Relating what you learn to greater living” is what you always do and thanks for sharing your thoughts with us in your blog.
      –Joy–

    • thedeadlydance June 2, 2013 / 3:37 PM

      I’m honored!!! You are the first ever to reblog me. I will always remember you. Thank you!🙂

  5. ajose gabriel June 2, 2013 / 10:27 PM

    i love this kind of arts heard of it seen it on youtube i would love practical experience too it has silat in it too

  6. Anonymous June 10, 2013 / 6:24 PM

    Great lessons! The last one for me is especially true – the more you put into, the more you get out of it. I started learning Arnis during my college days for PE, stopped for about 15 years, then re-started almost the same time you did. I started taking private lessons at least 3 times a week, and practice on my own almost every day. The effects on my health and general fitness has been nothing short of extraordinary, and my skill level has increased by leaps and bounds.

    • thedeadlydance June 10, 2013 / 9:24 PM

      Good for you! Arnis is really a good exercise and I admire you for practicing on your own almost everyday. I should do that.
      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

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