Arnis is not fancy

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

I really enjoyed watching the fight scenes of the martial arts movies listed here. It’s my first real exposure to this genre because before, I avoided watching movies I knew would have prolonged fight scenes.

Well, people change. Now, I find the spinning kicks to the head, flying somersaults, and lengthy strike exchanges totally entertaining.

Very nice!

I imagined myself doing the moves but… alas! that will never happen. I don’t think I can ever learn all those complicated choreography.

Aside from that, I’m studying Arnis and those moves are not part of our system.

Ours is a martial art devised by warriors who had actually engaged in real life-and-death conflicts. They did not aim to simply land a hit, score a point, or pin the enemy to the ground. Their object was to seriously hurt the enemy and do it as quickly as possible.

Fancy styles were simply out of place.

Let’s take for example Body Shifting and Footwork. Here’s what we are taught:

“An Arnis player must not raise or lower his hips more than necessary; he should move them more or less in a straight line. He must not raise his feet high off the ground. He must not drag them ether. In both cases, he will lose both speed and balance.” — Grandmaster Remy Amador Presas, Modern Arnis, 1974, p.28.

Yes, that’s us.

Straight to the point. Pure. Effective.

Do you agree?

Pugay!

16 thoughts on “Arnis is not fancy

  1. Cheese Chomp Dad June 19, 2013 / 1:39 PM

    Hello Joy. Have you seen the movie, “Kamagong” starring Lito Lapid and JC Bonin? It’s an old movie about the fighting art of arnis. You might find it interesting. However, you might also find it theatrical and a bit deviating from the real principles of arnis. Let me know when you see it😀

    • thedeadlydance June 20, 2013 / 12:40 AM

      Thanks for the info. I checked out a video from youtube. Yes, many of the moves were theatrical– what were those body twirls and somersaults??? But since I’m interested to watch ANY arnis movie, I hope I can find a copy of this. Thanks!

    • mattkevin July 10, 2013 / 11:59 PM

      I loved that movie😀
      I remember my grandfather and I watched it together. Such classic

  2. Cheese Chomp Dad July 12, 2013 / 12:31 PM

    Haha. Yes it’s a great movie. When I watched it as a boy, i was actually inspired😀

  3. Mio December 13, 2013 / 12:47 PM

    Para sa akin, tatlong bahagi lang ng Arnis training ang talagang magagamit ng diretso sa labanan sa kalye.

    Ang una ay shadow striking (o yung bansag na “classical” nila Maestro Rodel Dagooc at Maestro Cris Pasindo). Ito ang isa sa pinakadelikadong bahagi ng arnis sapagkat dito malalaman ng isang nag-aaral ang prinsipyo ng tamang pagpalo: mabilis, bilog, walang kanto, at tulo-tuloy. Sila Maestro Rodel at Maestro Cris ang dalawang tao pa lamang na nakita kong pumalo ng ganito. Hindi na nila iniisip ang susunod na galaw, basta walang interval at mabilis ang palo. Lumalabas ang pagka-swabe at pagka-sining (art) ng arnis sa galaw nilang dalawa. Kaya kung hindi na rin tulad ng galaw nila ang ipapakita ng sinumang arnis grandmaster (kuno) sa isang demo, eh ayoko na aksayahin ang oras ko na panoorin pa kung sinuman ang grandmaster (kuno) na magpapakita ng hao-siao na galaw sa harapan ko.

    Ang pangalawa ay ang semi-sparring. Minsan namin ginawa ni Maestro Cris ang training na ito habang lumulubog na ang araw. Ang pakay talaga namin sa training na ito ay para ihanda ako sa isang nalalapit na tournament noon. Pero nahalata namin dalawa na pwedeng-pwede sa anumang bakbakan sa kalye ang training na ito. Bakit? Dahil walang blocking, walang disarming, at panay hataw, ilag at foot movements lamang. Sa madali’t salita, simple at diretso.

    At ang pangatlo ay ang mismong sparring or tournament. Dito mararamdaman ng arnisador ang kanyang kaba sa labanan, kaya dito rin siya unti-unting tatapang lalo na kung maraming nanunood sa kanya sa tournament. Dito rin niya malalaman kung ano talaga ang paborito niyang galaw at kung saan siya mahina.

    Iyang tatlong nabanggit ko ang talagang tumutumbok sa pinaka-“sustansya” ng arnis. The rest of the techniques, as the minimalist school of thought would say, is nothing but pure BS. Mawala na lahat ng techniques pero wag lang ang tatlong iyan.

    Nung nagkaroon ako ng karanasan sa training sa tatlong bahagi na iyan, eh doon lang ako natauhan na tama ang sinabi ng yumaong Maestro Antonio Ilustrisimo na kaya niyang ituro ang arnis sa sinuman na mag-e-ensayo lang ng isang oras kada araw sa loob ng dalawang linggo.

    Meron akong mahalagang babanggitin tungkol sa salitang “situational training”. Balikan natin ang binanggit ko na ensayo namin ni Maestro Cris nung lumulubog na ang araw.

    Napakahirap pala talagang lumaban sa dilim! Nagkakapitpitan kami ni Maestro Cris ng daliri at nagkakatamaan sa tuhod dahil hindi kami magkakitaan. Pero hindi ba talagang ganito naman ang bakbakan sa kalye, lalo na kung na-ambush ka ng kaaway mo sa dilim? Sa aking pananaw, Sana ay ganito na ang patutunguhan o orientasyon ng lahat ng martial arts. SITUATIONAL. Paano tayo gagalaw sa loob ng jeep, bus o FX pag meron nang-holdap? Paano tayo gagalaw sa mga makikitid o masisikip na iskinita na kung saan mahirap mag-extend ng todo ang braso para pumalo at mahirap din ang footwork? Paano tayo gagalaw sa mapuputik na lugar pag tag-ulan? Sa mabuhangin? Sa gubat? Paano mo magagawang armas ang mga nagkalat na bagay sa kalye pag napalaban ka?

    Sa pahuling salita, bakit hindi natin gayahin ang prinsipyo ng situational training ng Krav Maga (martial arts ng Israel) at gumawa ng mga modules tungkol dito imbis na mag-focus sa mga “chopsuey” na galaw?

  4. thedeadlydance December 13, 2013 / 10:02 PM

    Maraming salamat sir mio! Yung unang bahagi pa lang ang naabot ko. Do ko pa yata nagawa ang semi sparring at sparring. Banggitin ko nga ito kay master Cris pag-nagensayo ulit kami.

    • Mio December 14, 2013 / 3:31 AM

      Have you ever wondered why women ever practice taekwondo when most of them love to wear heels? How can they deliver kicks in actual self defense situation with heels? Is it more prudent to hold the heels with one’s hand and hit the assailant? That is when arnis shows its practicality.

      I remember what my friend Vicente Reyes, PhD, a lightning scientific arnis instructor who also teaches political science at Singapore, said: “Kahit ano pa martial arts mo, maniwala ka, babalik ka rin sa arnis.” “Enteng”, as he is fondly called by friends, is a blackbelter of the korean art of hwarangdo.

    • Mio December 19, 2013 / 4:10 PM

      Before I left for Canada, I remember that Maestro Cris and I did a demonstration in front of an American air force officer who shortly became a student of Maestro Cris. Instead of using rattan and dulo-dulo, we saw it fit to use the sharp branches of trees at Quezon Memorial Circle to explain to the student and his Filipino wife the practicality of arnis.

      We never digressed from the movements that Maestro Cris would teach his students. We just used branches of different sizes to prove that we can defend ourselves even if we don’t have the rattan or dulo-dulo with us. All the fast and continuous “classical” demo strikes and stabs were focused on the soft parts of the body such as eyes, temple, nose, cheeks, lips, throat/neck, chest/heart, stomach/kidney area, groin, etc. (If we had goggles at that time, we would not have hesitated to demonstrate sand/soil as an effective weapon to blind the opponent before going for the strike or stab.)

      Every time I had to do overtime work, brave the cold, and walk home around 1 AM during my first two years in Canada, I always remember that demo. I always made sure I hold sharp maple tree branches concealed inside my sleeves, especially during times when I forget to bring my heavy duty flashlight or any tool such as a screwdriver or a Stanley industrial cutter.

      But despite this habit of arming myself with unconventional means, I had to be aware of the physical environment where I was moving, e.g. slippery grounds because of slush and ice after the snow had melted. I also had to adjust to the weight of my layered clothes and heavy snow boots.

      • thedeadlydance December 20, 2013 / 12:58 AM

        I hope more and more people will learn that in arnis, anything can be a weapon. Many of my friends ask me if Arnis is practical at all since I don’t carry sticks all the time.

  5. Mio December 14, 2013 / 4:15 AM

    Aside from Israel’s Krav Maga, the “situational training” school of thought has influenced the development of different martial arts used exclusively or otherwise by the armed forces of various countries:

    US: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_Corps_Martial_Arts_Program

    South Korea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teuk_Gong_Moo_Sool

    Russia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systema

    The proponents of these martial arts realized that their soldiers must be taught techniques that are based on actual hand-to-hand combat experience.

    Hence, the purist school of thought has no place in their arts because the practitioner must always be ready to absorb and evolve with the new ideas that have passed the tests of relevance and applicability. Have you noticed that the katas or forms, which are trademarks of the traditional martial arts, have become nearly extinct in these programs?

    Watch this youtube about the US Marine Corp Martial Arts Program: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCAjHcbM-k8

  6. thedeadlydance December 20, 2013 / 1:01 AM

    Yes I notice some moves rather useless and therefore near extinction.
    That US marine corps video is so inspiring. I feel like doing all those drills and training myself. Challenge!

  7. Mio January 5, 2014 / 11:44 AM

    “He must not raise his feet high off the ground.”

    But watch this video carefully, particularly as it nears the middle of the clip, and decide whether the advice of GM Remy Amador Presas was ever followed by his nephew: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZxooSkFQr4

    Arnisadors should have the intellectual discipline to resist adulterating the art with cinematic moves, which, if applied in actual combat, would have fatal consequences. Whatever is done in the movies should remain in the movies.

  8. thedeadlydance January 6, 2014 / 9:06 PM

    You mean the kicks? Maybe he already did his own variations–added some sikaran moves perhaps?🙂
    Anyway, I felt sorry for his sparring partner during the empty hand portion.

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