Arnis Pasindo Invitational Tournament. 5 December 2015. Volleyball Court, Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City, Philippines.
“The expert at anything was once a beginner.” –Helen Hayes
Do you know how it is when the court is full of new athletes who are nervous, but enthusiastic and had little or no expectations on themselves? It’s like a breath of fresh air.
Well, that was the general atmosphere of the 14th Arnis Pasindo Tournament. We had 120 athletes and about a third were first-time competitors. You can actually feel the positive vibe. They were eager and not jaded at all.
Of course, part of it was because more teams exhibited discipline and sportsmanship, and behaved the way Filipino Martial Artists should.
Over the last 13 tournaments, a number of individuals as well as whole teams, have been disallowed from participating again in any Arnis Pasindo Tournament because they disrupted the games and were disrespectful to officials and other athletes. “This is the only way we can usher in a new generation of Filipino Martial Artists — get rid of the bad and encourage the good,” Master Cris Pasindo said. “Even if that will mean only 50 players, then so be it.”
Well, even when we had to change the date of this tournament from Sunday to Saturday which prevented many athletes and officials to join because they still had work or classes, we definitely had more than 50, and what a tournament we had!
Master Cris welcomed and thanked everyone for participating. He said, “It’s great to be involved in a sport that also increases your appreciation of your own culture.”
And as he always does, he reminded everyone of the tournament’s objective: to bring Filipino Martial Arts tournaments to a higher level such that someday, it will be included in the Olympics. “We’re not even in the South East Asia (SEA) Games,” he said. “I’m sad that even if Filipino Martial Arts is our national sport, it’s not one of the sports played in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) nor the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). It’s tragic, but with our united efforts, we will surely make progress.”
Exhibitions by different Grandmasters are always done so that the younger athletes will know that Filipino Martial Arts is not just what we play in tournaments– it also has combat, self defense, and other aspects.
The Elite Team
A Sinawali and Basic Strikes exhibition was also done by the special needs students of Dynamic Thinkers Educational Center who call themselves, The Elite Team. Thanks to their patient coach, Dayang Helen Mae de Leon, the students did “a performance of their lives” and was given a big round of applause afterwards.
Anyo and Combat Demonstration Competitions
They’re getting better and better at showing real Filipino Martial Arts moves,” Grandmaster Jerry dela Cruz remarked as he watched the competitors. They better be, because, as usual, moves that were clearly from the other arts like Wushu, Karate, or even from band majorettes and bartenders were scored low.
Point System Sparring
The Arnis Pasindo tournament rules were used and that meant that the players were separated after a hit. There’s no continuous hitting so the fights are cleaner and safer and the scoring clearer.
The elimination rounds of the Novice Category was a joy to watch. The way they flailed their arms, legs, and bodies were “fresh” moves as only beginners make. “Whew! This is fierce. Avoiding getting hit is as important as hitting!” exclaimed one after his rounds. Oh yes, dear Novice, you are so right.
The cheering from their teammates was another level. “I don’t remember any of our tournaments having this much fun before,” said one official.
“Having many beginners is good,” Master Cris said. “Everybody starts as beginners and for all we know some of them will FMA Grandmasters in the future. They just need experience and exposure, and our tournaments will give them that.”
Time flew as we watched the rest of the sparring competitions. Athletes were sweaty in their armors with minds and bodies tense with anticipation and strategy. When they finally made their moves and padded sticks hit the armors and made those distinctive whacking sounds, the referees with their hand signals and instructions, and the judges’ red and blue flags going up and down, it was savagely beautiful to watch.
The fights continued into the night, with the last round ending at just before 8 PM.
Closing and Awarding Ceremony
When all the medals and trophies have been awarded, Master Cris Pasindo declared the 14th Arnis Pasindo Tournament close. He then invited everyone to next year’s tournaments. “Continue to train, become better and better, and let’s see each other again in April, August, and December 2016. Mabuhay!”