Discussion in 'Kombatan' started by Brother John, Jun 24, 2006.

  1. armas

    armas Junior Member

    It is ARJUKEN Karate. There are different ways of training. You can be training in Arjuken and still not be learning the whole Arnis system. ARJUKEN Karate =arnis,judo/jujitsu.kendo and karate a hybrid of these arts. It's really hard to explain it.
  2. timagua

    timagua New Member

    promotions and arjuken part one

    The topic has deviated a little but I wanted to chime in on the important matters of rank promotion and the style referred to as Arjuken karate.

    First about rank - I’d always thought that martial rank could be both good and bad. On the one hand, knowing an instructor’s rank gives the student a clue as to the instructor’s standing within his or her system. On the other hand, there is always the question of validity. How did the instructor earn the rank? How long has he or she been training? What has he or she done to promote the art?

    Second on the definition of Arjuken karate - Nobody from the current crop (or who is participating in the forums, anyway) seems to have a clear-cut answer, but I got a pretty good response from an original instructor from the early training days in Manila.

    I was fortunate enough to recently obtain Jose G. Paman’s contact information through an acquaintance in Southern Cal. Master Paman is the author of the book “Arnis Self-Defense” which is mentioned in another thread in this forum. Here, with his permission, is how he responded to the matter of rank within Kombatan. He also addressed the question on the art called Arjuken karate, and I will post that separately.


    Hello _____,

    ...In assessing ranks under the current system, it would be useful to look at several factors. Here’s a basic analysis:

    1) In judo (whose colored belt ranking system was borrowed in principle by karate, aikido, kenpo, taekwondo, arnis and even some silat and capoeira styles), practitioners are generally ranked until fourth dan based on physical abilities and competitive achievements. From fifth dan onward, people are promoted for services rendered to the sport such as introducing new training methods, actively teaching, producing champions, and promoting the sport to a wide audience. Ranking is not always done in a neat, linear fashion and jumps can sometimes take place (from first dan straight to third dan, etc.).

    2) Promotional requirements vary from style to style and even from school to school within the same style of martial arts. From my personal experience and observation, the karate, aikido, kenpo and taekwondo groups seem more organized and specific about promotions: “Here is a list of required skills, polish the skills, and be ready to test on such-and-such a date.”

    3) Judo and Brazilian jiu jitsu schools, by contrast, don’t generally appear to be structured as such. Students are observed at each session and it is up to the instructor to simply promote the student when he deems it proper. There are, of course, some individual schools that do otherwise.

    4) Kombatan ranking is a blend of these varied schools of thought. I started at the Arjuken in 1971, was promoted to likha (brown belt) in 1973, and lakan isa (first degree black belt) in 1975. The testing for lakan isa, by the way, remains one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life. We had to test simultaneously in arnis and karate, as the two arts were taught concurrently in those days. This, however, is a story for another day.

    Never having been a lakan dalawa (second degree), and without having to test, I jumped to lakan tatlo (third degree) just before I left for California in 1978. I feel this was for my consistent involvement in the Arjuken’s activities for eight straight years. I was an assistant instructor at the main school at Quiapo, and also at the University of Santo Tomas PE classes. I competed in all the tournaments the school participated in, including the First and Second Intercollegiate Karate-Arnis Championships where our team captured first place both times. I also helped organize and performed at the numerous demonstrations we presented all over Manila and in outlying provinces.

    After moving to California, I established the state’s first Arjuken chapter in 1983. I was then promoted to lakan apat (fourth degree), again without formal testing. I did, however, meet up with GGM Ernesto Presas at every opportunity to keep up with the changes and innovations to Kombatan as they came about. I have received other promotions, consistently maintaining contact with GGM Presas, since then.

    I would not say that rank is not important to me, as this represents the will of GGM Presas. While the option certainly exists for one to decline a certain rank promotion, this may also constitute disrespect to his teacher. I believe the bottom line is that we can’t be contestants and judges at the same time. If GGM states that we are this rank or that, then that is his prerogative to declare and ours to either accept or deny. In my particular case, and I can only speak for myself, I have always considered the promotions an honor. Whether another person then agrees is his private and personal concern...


    In the next post, and also with his permission, I will present Master Paman’s response to the question on the style called Arjuken karate.
  3. timagua

    timagua New Member

    promotions and arjuken karate part two

    Here is Master Paman’s response to the subject of Arjuken karate:


    …About Arjuken karate, I wrote a passage about this in my book “Arnis Self-Defense.” On pages 34 and 35, it reads…

    There exists today, particularly in Australia and Canada, a system known as Arjuken karate, popularized by early Presas students. Along with the standard Shotokan kata and its emphasis on the reverse punch and front kick, this method also features dynamic foot techniques, such as the ax, crescent, hook, and spinning hook kicks usually associated with Korean kicking styles.

    I can say this with certainty because I was around when the changes took effect. When I first joined the Arjuken in 1971, our karate method followed the mainline Shotokan style. For those unfamiliar, it meant deep stances, reverse punches and front kicks, and an emphasis on “killing blows” that, at least in theory, could stop a man with one shot. We had instructors who taught this very well, including Grandmaster Roberto Presas, Pepe Yap (who was a convert from Okinawan karate), Earl Villanueva (one of my first instructors and a very good karateman), Danny Diaz from Cebu, the tough Willie Madla and of course, GGM Ernesto Presas himself.

    After a time, and as members joined in from other arts, we began experimenting with other kicking techniques and started using roundhouse, hook, spinning hook and axe kicks in sparring. This was partly due to the efforts of the late Ray Anthony Alfabeto, Rey de la Merced and Rolando Evangelista (kung-fu men), Alex Pangilinan and Ramon Lizardo (from taekwondo), and others.

    The inclusion of these kicks took a long time to happen. During the karate portion of my first black belt test, for instance, I landed a controlled hook kick on the nose of my opponent but they would not recognize the point because it was not a reverse punch or front kick. I then delivered another, more forceful, hook kick on the same spot, and they called me for excessive contact. The kicks were gradually incorporated into the art, as evidenced by its present form. The hand techniques and stances, coincidentally, also changed over the years. I think this confirms GGM Ernesto’s open mindedness in accepting effective technique and method regardless of source. Arjuken karate is, in conclusion, simply the karate style that emerged out of the original Arjuken school at Quiapo in Manila. It integrates punches, strikes and kicks from a number of sources into a singular, dynamic art.

    I hope this information helps to clarify certain concerns…


    Food for thought for those of us interested, coming from an articulate and experienced proponent of Great Grandmaster Ernesto Presas’ art!

    - Timagua
  4. johnzag

    johnzag Junior Member

    Timagua great posts! Always knew that Arjuken Karate was based on Shotokan Karate but very interesting to see how the techniques in the art were introduced. I really would like to read Mr Paman's book seems like it is very informative.

    Speaking to the Aussie guys (Michael Darcy's students) still practicing Arjuken Karate as their main art (not Kombatan) all their Kata's are Shotokan Kata's with the exception of 2 or 3 of the Basic Arnis Forms that are part of the Kombatan Curriculum.

    In Australia anyway there is very little stick work being incorporated into the Arjuken Karate Style (Just Basic Stirking and Disarming) don't know if this stands true for other practitioners around the world. Most of the students were Junior students as well so don't know if the Senior Students are being taught more advanced stick techniques here in Aus.
  5. mamfma

    mamfma New Member

    Kombatan? Modern Arnis? GM Ernesto Presas

    To all Modern Arnis practitioner under the tutelage of GM Ernesto Presas his system is good. Regarding the Kombatan issues if you know the real story that its... If you know the Real GM Ernesto Presas or the other side still we must give respect.. We must learn to our mistakes. we must be open mind regarding the Modern Arnis Mnao-Mano Filipino Martial Arts.. Still GM Presas he owed a lot to his students that promotes the Modern Arnis.. Without them he will never reach his success..

    On my own thinking the FILIPINO MARTIAL ART Especially the MODERN ARNIS practitioners GM Remy Presas promote the 7 master of Tapi-Tapi not Modern Arnis because he thinks that in the future their will having a problem regarding the Art itself.

    I think there is no successor of Modern Arnis unless it was Given by any Presas. But how can GM ERnesto Presas Promote a Modern Arnis if the Name of Modern Arnis was never been registered under their name. Thank you.
  6. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Well, there's no doubt that it's a complicated situation, made worse by the split between the Masters of Tapi-Tapi. Remy Presas' will is still being resolved, if I'm not mistaken.
  7. The Fighting Edge

    The Fighting Edge New Member

    So what does GM Ernesto Presas think of any of his rep's training in other FMA's? I have seen some shifting in peoples lineages (From Ernesto to Remy, From Ernesto to Roberto...) over the years but really don't know the real stories. I wouldn't mind checking out Kombatan but would not want it to restrict my growth in other arts.

    It seams unfortunate that the Family appears to have been so split... I hope my kids stay close.
  8. StixMaster

    StixMaster -== Banned ==-

    From what I have experienced and heard first hand GGM Ernesto A. Presas wants to see FMA to be featured not any particular styles. You see all styles of FMA have something to offer to all martial artists that are seeking knowledge. I hear his call for unity throughout the FMA world. But learn at least one style well before you go out and mix yourself up !! You're in GM Bobby Taboada's area.
  9. johnzag

    johnzag Junior Member

    I think that is the key personally.. Before cross training I think you need to fully understand one system and use that as a base to expand on. As far as training in Kombatan I think from what I have seen that GM E Presas likes people bringing in different techniques from other arts and absorbing them into the system and vice versa he enjoys seeing Kombatan "link" other systems. He often refers to the art as being the connection between other arts.. We did an interview with him in the Philippines for a martial arts magazine in Australia in 2005 and we actually briefly touched on cross training and adding techniques to Kombatan when talking about how he grew the art. I think he was referring more to learning other Filipino styles but his love of Japanese arts is also well known.
  10. timagua

    timagua New Member

    Very well put, StixMaster and johnzag! As it’s often said, it is better to learn one system very well than just to sample a little bit of several. From there, one can then begin to look at possibly expanding if he felt the need.

  11. timagua

    timagua New Member

    blast from the past: arjuken karate testing 1975

    As I had mentioned in a previous post, I had the distinct honor of making the acquaintance of Kombatan Master Jose G. Paman though a friend in Southern California. Master Paman is an accomplished author, Inside Kung-Fu magazine’s 2007 Writer of the Year, and currently on the cover of Rapid Journal, the leading martial arts publication in the Philippines. His book Arnis Self-Defense is an instant classic in FMA literature and available through Random House and most book stores.

    Master Alex France of the International Philippine Martial Arts Federation (IPMAF) based in Manila paid him the following tribute:

    During a recent communication, I asked Master Paman what testing was like in the Arjuken of the 1970s. He responded with this description, presented with his approval.


    In the summer of 1975 (actually the summer break from school since the Philippines only recognizes two seasons, wet and dry), the call came for certain individuals to prepare for black belt testing in karate. Although arnis and karate were taught concurrently at the Arjuken, separate testing processes for each art were observed. The subject of arnis testing may be touched upon in a later commentary. As a side note, it may be of interest to readers that during those days, we referred to our karate system at the Arjuken simply as “karate” and not the “Arjuken karate” label that was later coined.

    I was one of those selected for this round of testing. An aspect that struck me as particularly challenging was that we were not given specific material to study or practice in preparation for the event. “Know all your basics, stances, blocks, hand strikes, kicks and forms, and make sure you’re in good shape,” was all we were told. The general position of the school seemed to be that if you had to prepare too much for the test, then maybe you weren’t ready yet.

    I trained intensely in the weeks leading up to the day, executing countless repetitions of the all-important basic techniques, polishing up my forms, running, and engaging in sparring with other members who were my practice partners. One of these partners was Alex Pangilinan, a convert from taekwondo who had trained for years at the school and was also to be tested. There were two others scheduled together with us: a college student from the Far Eastern University (FEU), and a Filipino-American student who was a member of an Arjuken affiliated group.

    At this point, it may help to clarify the fact that within the Arjuken Karate Association in those days, there existed different groups of members. One group consisted of the core instructors present when GGM Ernesto Presas founded the school at Quiapo in 1970. These included his brother GM Roberto Presas, Pepe Yap, Willie Madla, Danny Diaz, Earl Villanueva, Cristino Vasquez, Rene Tongson, Pepito Robas, Rey Yatsu, Jess Arroyo, Jess Bonso and Romy Quiambao. There were the so-called “regular” members who became students by joining off the street. These could range in vocation from manual laborers to office workers.

    Another group consisted of high school and university students who attended an institution like the University of Santo Tomas (UST), the University of the Philippines (UP) or the Far Eastern University. Exposed to the art through P.E. classes, these folks were allowed by extension to regularly train at the main school. Another yet that emerged was a sub-group of hardcore Arjuken disciples who regularly trained together and, as a symbol of membership in their faction, branded themselves (branding was a common practice among various fraternal orders of the time, especially college fraternities like the rival Beta Sigma and the Alpha Phi Omega).

    The general mood in the gymnasium was not good on the day of the black belt test. Someone mentioned afterward that the teaching staff was not pleased because the testing fees collected did not add up: someone apparently shorted the school either by accident or design. While this may seem not important to the reader, one must bear in mind that this was before the worldwide FMA boom, monthly fees at the school were minimal, and GGM Ernesto was charged with the task of maintaining a gym in the downtown business district.

    With a dark cloud looming over the training hall, we were lined up and bowed in. Danny Diaz, a follower of GGM from the Visayas in the southern-central Philippines, was brought in as the chief examiner to give the proceedings objectivity. The rest of the panel consisted of GM Roberto Presas and three other Arjuken instructors. GGM Ernesto observed and gave general directions. The first segment of the test was simple enough: with the other candidates facing away so no one could play follow-the-leader, each of us was called on to demonstrate all the hand and foot techniques we knew alternately in the air, on a makiwara and a heavy bag.

    Next came forms. The examiners randomly called out several kata from the heian/pinan series and we executed these on command. We moved on to intermediate and advanced kata, and I performed tekki/naihanchi, bassai dai and kanku dai among several others. We were also given the opportunity to execute advanced forms we knew, regardless of system of origin. I took this opportunity to perform two sets from the five ancestor kung-fu system that I had also been studying. Things were going well so far and I had started to settle in, thinking it would be smooth sailing. This was a mistaken notion.

    The next section called for each of us to demonstrate our ability to deal with a surprise attack. To do this, we were made to navigate through a tunnel of six black belts, lined up three on each side, who took turns attacking us with punches, grabs and throws, stick attacks and knife attacks. The kicker was that no one knew which of the six was going to attack. To “survive,” the candidate had to make it to the other side, past the last two black belts. This he accomplished either by simply blocking or evading, or else by blocking and countering with an effective strike, kick, takedown, or combination thereof.

    This aspect of the test required an acute sense of anticipation, timing and reaction as you did not know the direction the attack would come from.
    Fortunately for us, they broke it down by type of attack: first came the punches; then grabs like headlocks, chokes, bear hugs; then throwing attempts; stick blows; and finally knife attacks. Each participant had to make it through three or four times before moving on to the next kind of attack. On a couple of turns, I tried to simply run through the tunnel and ended up getting struck with a punch or grabbed hard and taken down for the effort. I strived to respond with proper counters from then on.

    Further trouble came about in the stick and the knife attack portions of this tunnel test. One can attribute this to youthful folly or prefer some other justification but, to help the both of us out, Alex and I began telling each other which of the men in the tunnel had the stick or knife. The procedure was that the candidate whose turn was up faced the opposite direction as the six black belts passed the weapon among themselves. The one who ended up with the weapon then hid it behind him in preparation for the candidate trying to pass through. Alex would tell me “so-and-so has it” and I would do the same. After two or three passes, the testing panel noticed it. This infuriated them further and they made all of us face the wall away from the tunnel. It also set the tone for the bruising portions of the test to follow.

    The tunnel challenge over with, and without a break, we then lined up for sparring. We candidates first fought each other in round robin fashion, with two solid points scored finishing each round, before we rotated again. Fighting the Fil-Am candidate proved to be especially challenging as he outweighed the rest of us by a good amount of poundage, had a judo background, and proceeded to charge in and throw us down to the hardwood floor using techniques like osoto gari, de ashi barai and ogoshi. Our knowledge of breakfalls saved us from serious damage but if we expected any help from the testing panel, we got none. In fact, all the guy got in the way of a warning was the admonition to deliver a punch after he had thrown one of us down so he could score a point! This caused me to have to adjust by angling out of his way and countering with hard punches and the occasional hook kick and spinning hook kick to the face. The Arjuken closely followed the more mainline Shotokan karate approach in those days and they didn’t call points for the hook kicks but these seemed to slow him down considerably.

    After several turns, and with all of us beginning to wear out, we thought the testing was over. The panel had other ideas, however, and we were made to fight two-on-one matches where two candidates worked in tandem against a third one. We tried to take it easy knowing our deteriorating physical condition but someone called out, “Fight harder!” and so we had to pick up the pace and strike each other more forcefully.

    Again thinking this was the end, the limits of our endurance were further strained when we were required to spar with two high-ranking black belts from the panel. I first drew Willie Madla, an old-timer at the school, and actually one of my first instructors. I knew I would have a hard time as Willie possessed excellent timing and distancing skills. He was the type of practitioner who could make someone miss by just an inch or two and immediately be in with a hard counter. Fighting him seriously sapped what energy I had left, but I managed to pick up a third wind and continue.

    Lastly came a bout with Danny Diaz, the chief examiner in the test. Danny was also a good fighter, not as refined as Willie Madla, but tough and dedicated. He had bested two practitioners from another school in his native Visayas in one day, the story went, when the two disparaged the Arjuken name. He was also at the time preparing to compete in Karate-Arnis Pilipino, a Manila fighting league pitting karateka, boxers, kickboxers, taekwondoists and kung-fu men in gloved ring matches. Similarly, he did not cut me any slack, driving in and delivering pounding reverse punches and front kicks. Danny drove me down a few times with devastating blows and while I tried to return equal fire, he clearly dominated the exchanges.

    They finally lined us up again and, while the final tallies were not ready yet, Danny Diaz gave a speech about how obtaining the karate black belt did not signify the end, but rather the beginning, of training. This gave us a clue that the four of us had passed. This was confirmed later and we went through the Arjuken initiation ceremony in effect at the time, a practice not meant for print, but which posed a further challenge proving that nothing in the school was free; that the student truly had to prove himself to progress.

    In closing, I must say that most of the practices at the old Arjuken would likely land an instructor in jail, or else make him the subject of a lawsuit, in contemporary times. The preceding commentary has been presented nonetheless to give the current-day student an appreciation for how some Arjuken instructors earned their karate ranks under GGM Ernesto Presas some 30 years ago.


    A rare glimpse into a long-gone world of hardcore training in the 1970s Philippines!

    - Timagua
  12. johnzag

    johnzag Junior Member

    Timagua thanks for the post love reading about the history of the art and the experiences of all the older more experienced players. It gives a fantastic appreciation on how these guys all became so competent in the arts taught by GM Ernesto.
    It would be really interesting to see how GM's newish generation of Lakans stand up to the founding instructors. Is there now a greater depth of techniques? Where does the focus lie as compared to those who trained in the 70's & 80's? etc..
    I know that these days the Filipino lakans such as Master Oliver, Master Allan, Master Michael and not to mention GM's son and chief instructor of Kombatan Master Jan are all fantastic arnisadors but would love to fully understand how the generations have developed & evolved.
    Very Interesting stuff, love it!
  13. Twist

    Twist Junior Member

    I've seen a Video of a Blackbelt-Test (prob. 10 Blackbelts) in Germany at a seminar in the 70s or 80s.. and it was tough! Thats what I'd love to see again...
  14. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    What was the test like?
  15. johnzag

    johnzag Junior Member

    Would be very interesting to see what different people had to do for the black belt testing in Kombatan.. What different flavours of the art and experiences are out there.
  16. Lam Ang

    Lam Ang New Member

    ...i am one of them. You can compare it from the JKA Instructors Course. As to the "ARJUKEN Boys" we trained side by side with the young GGM Ernesto presas Sr. the Junior Presas was only 8 years old by then.
  17. armas

    armas Junior Member

    I am an Arhuken boy too. I went thru something similar from what you read of Jose Paman's experience. Except our ARJUKEN brothers also had a ritualistic ceremony at the end. Later as I became an instructor of this School I also participated in as one of the Attackers or testers as you call them.

    As I can explain it. You had to have the heart of a Fighter. If you did not it was easy to give up. You also needed to have a fighter's mentality.

    Damn this brings back memories. I was training with Jan Presas. We were like brothers. Our seniors were GM Cristino Vasquez, SM Bambit Dulay, SM Dave Labiano, SM Mark Santos, etc.
  18. eskrimador

    eskrimador New Member

    Kombatan, as we can say a complete, not 100%, martial arts can we can used for street slef defense.

    In the 70's til mid 80's, we used to train in separate schedules, one day for karate, one day for jujitsu and a day for arnis. But this system, produced many well rounded martial artist in Manila like Mark Santos, Daniel Rollon, Bambit Dulay, Joel Anajao, etc. Most of them have their own groups now, but still giving their gratitude to GGM Ernie which lead them to became a wholistic martial artist. M. Santos is propagating his jujitsu-arnis system, B. Dulay is the moving machine of IFMAP (with out him, IMAFP will not be formalized in the Philippines, given then opportunity that most of Arjuken former instructors identified him as the leader, these people (specially Bambit and Anajao) and there students were the first who became the mass of IMAF in the Philippines.)Anajao is pioneer of propagating Sports Arnis in many schools (aside from ArPhi), Ryukyu Kobudo, Goju Ryu, kenjutsu and Haedong Kumdo.

    All of them, with out GGM Ernesto Presas, will never be a multi-martial arts pioneers in the Philippines.

    GGM Ernesto's decision to give his full time to FMA is the best thing happened. He must be the legal and moral inheritor of Modern Arnis after GM Remy. But, I think, he paved his own way.
  19. tomh

    tomh New Member

    junior member

    I (4th degree) studied (6 yrs) up in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada under Bernardo Lingasin (8th degree) and his 2 sons Earl & Kevin (both 6th degree) who had all studied under Grandmaster Presas. I'm now living in Illinois but not in it as my knees and legs are shot. We did however, make all the students become very familiar on knowledge about Grandmaster Presas, arjuken and the different events in his life. I just missed meeting Grandmaster Presas when he came to visit our dojo which of course was my loss. We were known throughout Canada as Mano Y Mano and we sent a few students to the Phillipines to study.
  20. Twist

    Twist Junior Member

    Just wondering.. 6 years from zero to 4th degree (blackbelt?)? Or any previous experience?

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