http://www.rickycarandang.com/?p=135 R. Bong Vergara April 4th, 2008 02:31 119Lessons for Clinton from Filipino martial arts By R. Bong Vergara http://www.rbvergara.wordprpess.com The slugfest that is the race for Democratic party nomination reminds me of another combative sport that is dearer to my heart — Filipino martial arts (FMA). Known to the public as escrima, or arnis, or even kali, Filipino martial arts enjoy a reputation for being ‘no-nonsense’, brutal, and graceful — all at the same time. Developed over generations of open and guerilla warfare against foreign aggressors, FMA holds many lessons applicable to daily life, and yes, even for presidential candidates in an election year. One of these FMA lessons is for Clinton, and it is the concept of striking with intention. This is likely an odd point to many, if not foreign to most, so let us start by defining this concept from a FMA perspective. A beginner in FMA is often taught first to strike with precision, thus the attention to striking angles as his introduction. Depending on the school, the angles could be between 5-20 angles. The second lesson is usually how to strike with power, then with speed, then with grace or footwork, until finally, a student is taught to strike with intention. Striking with intention is different from striking with precision because included in the lesson of intention are the previous lessons of precision, power, speed and grace. Striking with intention is striking a precise spot on the enemy with your whole self. It is striking with as much power, speed and grace that is possible. The strike occurs after all the instantaneous calculations one must do when hitting an opponent (his height, his location from the line of attack, the location of the weapon hand, etc) have been made, and combined with 1) your will to overcome your opponent and 2) how you wish to express learned and chosen technique in your own way. Striking with intention, therefore, requires great skill so that one can adapt, improvise and overcome no matter the situation or the enemy. And it also requires one more thing, knowledge of self in order that one can manipulate learned techniques so that once executed, they may remain ‘fresh,’ appropriate and effective in any and every situation. The reason why the highest level of mastery in FMA is the mastery of techniques and not pre-arranged sequences of strikes (unlike other martial arts) is because the ultimate goal of FMA training is self-expression: the incorporation of the techniques into your personality as a practitioner so that you can express yourself with mastery. Some personalities are predisposed to wide, circular slashing techniques; others to short, whipping bone-breakers; and there are others whose personality allows them to do both. To be great in FMA you must not only know the art, but also yourself. This is where the lesson for Clinton begins. Clinton, in my view, does not know herself, what her campaign is about and, thus, how to strike with intention. She cannot campaign with her mind, body and soul. If she proclaims that she is an advocate for change, but supports the general approach of the current administration in key policy areas, namely national security, Iraq and the economy, what does she, in fact, represent? Clinton, despite her ability to strike with precision, does not and cannot know how to strike with intention. She cannot speak beyond what is specific; she cannot speak with the authority that can only be derived from knowing the issues intimately, as if they were running through one’s veins. She is an elite. Clinton is not real enough for ordinary Americans; her background as an elite betrays the populism of her pronouncements and election-year promises. One does not feel her campaign. She does not inspire when she speaks. And there is a disconnect when she reaches out. And her misgivings as a candidate go beyond her lack of oratory skills. They lie in her inability to relate, to campaign with her mind, body and soul, to truly see and, therefore, to truly articulate the interests of the ordinary American. In politics, how to campaign with your whole self cannot be taught, cannot be learned. Thus, Clinton has already lost because Obama is a grandmaster.