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The definition of courage within FMA framework

February 22, 2014 9:12 pm

By Perry Gil S. Mallari

Courage, just like in other warrior cultures of the world is the cornerstone of Filipino
martial tradition. The Filipino term for courage is tapang.
In the traditional practice of escrima-arnis-kali collectively known as Filipino martial
arts (FMA), only the bravest of the brave thrives and remains in practice. The reason
for this is because challenges were part and parcel of FMA practice in the Philippines
of yore. Fought with real sticks, those challenge matches often lead to permanent
injuries or death of the participants. Challenges are a common practice in the
islands when a man gains a reputation with his sticks, Dan Inosanto wrote of the
Philippines of the 1930s in his book The Filipino martial Arts.
While dueling with sticks is an accepted sport among Filipinos during the early part
of the 20th century, foreigners who have witnessed the brutal matches considered
the practice barbaric.
The concept of courage within the context of FMA practice can better be understood
by examining the pre-colonial dynamics of Philippine society. To say that the precolonial Filipinos were in a state of perpetual war is not an overstatement. On the
causes of tribal skirmishes, William Henry Scott in his book Barangay: SixteenthCentury Philippine Culture and Society, wrote, Wars were therefore fought to
control people, not territory. They were waged by raids intended to seize slaves
outright, to initiate or enforce alliances for trading networks, and to take booty to
cover costs in any case.
They were fought not by standing armies or navies loyal to some superordinate
political authority, but by citizen warriors owing personal allegiance to leaders who
were physically present. Note the words citizen warriors. In the old Philippines,
each citizen is a warrior ready to take up arms to defend his family or his tribe, not
depending on an established army for protection.
Other early writers offered the same observation of the Moros of Mindanao, the
most volatile part of the archipelago, They are very long-suffering in adversity,

hesitating in attack, and the bravest of the brave in defense. They disdain work as
degrading and only a fit occupation for slaves, whilst warfare is, to their minds, an
honorable calling. Every male over 16 years of age has to carry at least one
fighting-weapon at all times, and consider himself enrolled in military service,
wrote John Foreman in The Philippine Islands: A Political, Geographical,
Ethnographical, Social and Commercial History of the Philippine Archipelago
Embracing the Whole Period of Spanish Rule.
In such a culture of violence and bloodshed, to be tame is to invite more troubles,
on this, Scott explains, Retaliation for injuries received was not only a matter of
revenge, but a punitive measure intended to discourage repetition of the offense.
Failure to take revenge not only suggested timidity which invited further enemy
action, but ran the risk of supernatural punishment by the spirits of unavenged
The special connection between personal courage and nobility of early Filipinos was
noted by early foreign scholars studying the country. A part of The Philippine
Islands, 14931898, Volume XXI, 1624 (edited and annotated by Emma Helen Blair
and James Alexander Robertson with historical introduction and additional notes by
Edward Gaylord Bourne), reads, The nobility of those Indians was personal. It
consisted in ones own deeds, without reference to those of others. Accordingly, he
who was more valiant and killed most men in war was the more noble. The sign of
that nobility consisted in wearing the cloth wrapped about the head (of which we
have spoken above), of a more or less red color. Those nobles were exempt from
rowing in the public fleets (and that although they were slaves), and ate with their
masters at the table when they were at seaa privilege which they gained by their
exploits. In that custom of killing they reared their children and taught them from an
early age, so that beginning early to kill men, they might become proud and wear
the red cloth, the insignia of their nobility.
This tradition of placing paramount importance on personal abilities was carried on
in the practice of classical arnis. The late FMA scholar Pedro Reyes, in his article
titled Filipino Martial Tradition (Rapid Journal Vo.4 No.1), wrote, For the classical
arnis master stands on his own abilities. He is not a master because he has received
a certificate from a school, or because he has been appointed successor by a
grandmaster. He is sui generis.
But beyond personal pride, the highest expression of courage in FMA is spiritual in
nature. The Filipino philosophical-spiritual concept of Bahala na, (originally

Bathala na meaning Let God) applied to combat, implies that the outcome of a
fight has already been decided by a higher being. With this kind of mindset, a
warrior goes into battle with the intention of going all-out, free from the
psychological baggage of self-preservation.

Reference: Manila Times:

June 7, 2014 9:30 pm
By James Mendoza

MWMA Fighters are required to wear a helmet and other protective gears.

Sports entertainment promotion Stickfighting World (SFW) will hold

SFW 1: Genesis, its first mixed weapons martial art (MWMA) competition, in
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on Saturday, June 21, 2014.
About five to seven fights are schedules for its debut card, which will feature 10 to
14 stickfighters from varying disciplines and weight classes.
Many traditional martial arts include weapons training, but we have noticed that
there was no mixing of these different weapons arts, said Stickfighting World CEO
Chris Naftel who co-founded the promotion in 2011. We have seen the UFC

(Ultimate Fighting Championship) succeed with MMA (mixed martial arts) and we
thought the same could be done by creating MWMA.
In MWMA, fighters can combine punches, kicks, and elbow and knee strikes with
weapon strikes to defeat their opponent. A variety of weapon combinations is
allowed, for instance, a fighter using an arnis stick can choose to fight against an
opponent wielding a bo (staff).
According to Naftel, skills acquired from any martial art could prove valuable in a
fight. He said practitioners of weapon arts such as arnis (a.k.a. eskrima or kali), Dog
Brothers Style Stickfighting, haidong gumdo, hapkido, Irish stick fighting, jodo, silat,
kuntao, kendo, kenjutsu, kobudo, Polish knight fighting, or Nguni stick fighting will
find their skills transferable to MWMA.
We suggest that our athletes should have some martial arts weapons experience,
especially with full-contact sparring, Naftel said.
Athletes are required to wear a helmet, jock cup, and a pair of gloves and can opt to
wear additional protection to cover the shoulders and collarbone, elbows and
forearm, spine and kidneys, mouth, shin, knee, chest, or foot.

MWMA matches Bouts will be held in a hexagonal container made of Plexiglas

called The Tank, instead of a regular boxing ring or mixed martial arts
cage.Contributed Photo

Fighters can win by knockout, technical knockout, decision, or disqualification.

According to Naftel, Stickfighting World is the only sanctioning body for bouts as
MWMA is classified as sports entertainment, which falls outside the regulation of
Ontarios sporting committee.

He said Stickfighting World is notprize fighting, thus, competitors will be paid

equally regardless of the result of their match.
Bouts will be held in a hexagonal container made of Plexiglas called The Tank,
instead of a regular boxing ring or mixed martial arts cage. Naftel said it provides
the protection for both athletes and spectators by preventing objects such as pieces
of a broken stick from entering or exiting it.
Apart from protection, the glass-like quality of The Tank mean that the audience
can see the action better than when they look into an MMA cage or a boxing ring.
The fighters can use them to jump or push off, which results in exciting moves and
unpredictable action, said Naftel.
There are no immediate plans to stage a Stickfighting World event in the
Philippines, but Naftel said they have had some fighters from the country who
applied. With FMA being the most prominent type of fighting involving sticks
[Philippines] would be a logical place to hold events in the future.
Reference: Manila Times:

2nd PH Martial Arts Hall of Fame unfolds today at Manila Hotel

April 26, 2014 10:03 pm

PhilMaHoF Executive Director Garitony Nicolas (center) poses with some foreign
and local delegates to the event. To his right are Denny Jenni and Grandmaster

Criz Vasquez. To his left are Jeff Panes, Marco Zeller and Joanna Gabriel.
Contributed photo

The second Philippine Martial Arts Hall of Fame (PhilMaHoF) unfolds today at the
Manila Hotel. Aiming to give recognition to exemplary martial arts teachers and
practitioners in the Philippines and around the world, the first edition of the
PhilMaHoF was held on April 21 to 22, 2012 at the Diamond Hotel in Roxas
Boulevard, Manila through the effort of Modern Arnis Mano-Mano Filipino Martial Arts
under the leadership of Punong Lakan Garitony Nicolas.
The names of the inductees to the second PhilMaHoF are: Maryann Vergara (FMA
Student of the Year), Arnold Ramos (Rookie Instructor of the Year), Joseph Kenneth
Magno (Rookie FMA Instructor of the Year), Leovigildo Marcelino (Instructor of the
Year), Jessielyn Baxafra (Female Instructor of the Year), Rick OBrien (International
Instructor of the Year), George Edillor (Outstanding Trainer of the Year), Jasper
Movilla (Sikaran Instructor of the Year), Vilhelmiina Harell (Female FMA Instructor of
the Year), Norman Guilleno (Best Fighter of the Year), Kim Elvambuena (Best Fighter
of the Year), Hedina Santos (Best Referee Judge), Virgilio Tubera (Best coach of the
Year), Narciso Elefante (Senior Instructor of the Year), Salaknib Martial Arts (Martial
Arts School of the Year), Global Sikaran Federation (Martial Arts Organization of the
Year), Central Books, Michael Chuatoco (Printer and Publisher of the Year), Dennis
Aquino (Karate Master of the Year), Emmanuel Banaag (Sikaran Master of the Year),
Geoffre Banaag (Master Instructor of the Year), Tomi Harrell (Master of the Year),
Fernando Abenir 3rd (FMA Master of the Year), Jayson Sterling (Martial Artist of the
Year), Crisanto Cuevas (Outstanding Martial Artist of the Year), Mannie de Matos
(Man of the Year), Cecille Estrada Tubera (Woman of the Year), Jayson Vicente
(Distinguished FMA Instructor Award), Alexander Plaskin (Distinguished Master
Award), Juerg Ziegler (Distinguished Martial Artist Award), Hari Osias Banaag
(International Sikaran Grandmaster of the Year), Rogelio Santos (Platinum Lifetime
Award), Christian Mayer (Silver Lifetime Award), Cesar Bencito (Golden Lifetime
Award), Rolando Hong (Pioneer Lifetime Award), Jean Paul Zialcita (Punong Lakan
Award), Cristino Vasquez (Dangal ng Lahi Award) and Roberto Labaniego (Living
Legend Award).
The second PhilMaHoF will also give recognition to the Top 10 Martial Artists namely
Jefferson Banaag, Godofredo Fajardo, Joemar Obejas, Alex Ortega, Mitze Secopito
Palattao, Brian Plaza, Jaime Quizanna, Jaomico Salamon, Pepito Sabalberino and
Arnel Zamuco.

PhilMaHoF Tournament Director Maestro Ronaldo Baxafra, whose wife is also among
the awardees, Prof. Armando Soteco of the School of Arnis Professional, Dr.
Alejandro Dagdag of the Integrated College of Physical Education and Sports and
FIGHT Times Editor Perry Gil Mallari will present the awards. One Fighting
Championship Chief Executive Officer Victor Cui is the events guest of honor and
The second PhilMaHoF was done in collaboration with One FC, Stix Arnis, Mars
Photography and Print to Gohh Printing Services. Daniel Go of Rapid Journal, Joyce
Pilarsky, Efren Tila, Leigh Tours, Baxafra Armor and FIGHT Times also supported the

Reference: Manila Times: