MT: Changing The Art

Discussion in 'Modern Arnis' started by balita, Nov 27, 2009.

  1. balita

    balita <B>News Bot</B>

    Changing The Art
    By MJS - 11-27-2009 07:16 PM


    Many of us have been training for quite some time. Much like anything in life, things change. I mean the way cars are built, houses, medicine, pretty much everything, including the way the arts are taught.

    So, this brings me to ask...what changes, if any, has anyone here in the Modern Arnis world, done to the art? Are you still teaching it the way it was taught to you? If you have made changes, what are they and why did you make them?


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  2. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    In the WMAA there have been a number of changes--10 angles rather than 12, a greater emphasis on sparring, and mixing in related arts like Kombatan and Balintawak.
  3. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member

    Dan Anderson would be a great one to ask this question. Hopefully he will find this thread and chime in. I know he has done extensive work revising the mano mano curriculum and has stopped using the empty hand anyos altogether. I'm sure my description of what he has done and how he has done it is off but I think I have the broad strokes stated properly.
  4. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    I was never a fan of the empty hand anyos. I liked that sort of material when I studied karate but even when softened appropriately I never felt it "fit" with Modern Arnis.
  5. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member

    I agree on that 100%. For as much time as they take to memorize, their contribution to the art is pretty minimal in my view. Especially when you consider the manner in which they were put together and the reason behind them.
  6. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Yeah, in Karate it was a good fit but here it simply wasn't. The stick forms are OK though mostly of value for demos.
  7. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Member

    Okay, now you've piqued my curiosity. How were the empty hand anyos devised?
  8. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member

    ap Oweyn,

    I will be happy to share what I have learned, with the understanding that I am getting my information from two specific Remy Presas students, from previous conversations on the phone, from in person discussion, and e-mails. Other long time Remy Presas students such as Tim Hartman who runs this forum may have different recollection of the situation at hand. In addition, it is entirely possible that I am misquoting the people that I talked to and if so, all mistakes are mine alone and not theirs.

    My looking into this information started in the fall of 2008 not too long after I started training in Modern Arnis. I posted a thread on another forum asking a question to see if anyone could show me some videos which were representative of Modern Arnis mano mano training and skills. I was excited about the art and was training under a person who had a background in multiple styles prompting some confusion for a beginner student like myself as to what techniques were coming out of Modern Arnis and what was coming from other places. This led to several postings and some good discussion from people who had been in the system for a long time, including one who is widely considered one of the foremost authorities on Modern Arnis in the world. Their comments were varied but one thing that came up again and again was that it sort of depends. "Who are you learning it from, what is there background, what was the background of their teacher? All those things will influence Modern Arnis empty hand work for a variety of reasons." After hearing those comments, I became even more curious as it was important to me to not just be learning weapons but a well thought out empty hands curriculum as well. That prompted some phone conversations back and forth with people who were very generous with their time and knowledge. Again, any mistakes are mine and not theirs. The gist of what they told me is outlined below.

    From two specific people who trained directly with Remy Presas for a long time, the empty hand anyos were developed after he came to the states not before. The reason behind developing them being that everyone here was doing martial arts that had forms of some kind in them, kata, hyung, etc. In order to present the art to people in a way that they would easily recognize, Remy Presas and some others developed the empty hand anyos. It is also my understanding that not a ton of thought went into their development in that the first few were put together in an evening prior to a seminar.

    It is also my understanding that since Remy Presas was teaching his art mostly in a seminar format, he attracted people who already had a foundation in an empty hand system and spent the vast majority of his time on weapons rather than mano mano. In addition to the style of teaching, the style of marketing had an influence. The "Art Within your Art" concept was such that Modern Arnis could be billed as something you could add on to what you were already doing rather than having to relearn an entire empty hand system in addition to weapons. Not to say that he ignored it, he just didn't focus on mano mano all that much. Concepts such as trapping, limb destructions, etc certainly made it into his videos and into the curriculum of various organizations.

    Due to a greater emphasis on the weapons training, most of the organizations related to Modern Arnis had to develop their own curriculum of empty hand to go with what mano mano skills they were taught following Remy Presas' passing. I know for example in the WMAA mano mano curriculum there is a good bit of Kenpo in there in terms of technique as well as terminology (dragon's kiss would be one example), presumably because Tim Hartman had a background in Kenpo prior to training in Modern Arnis. Taking a quick glance at the curriculum of other prominent Modern Arnis organizations, you see wide variances in what they teach from an empty hands standpoint but much more consistency in the weapons aspects of the art. This would seem to back up the idea that Modern Arnis mano mano has a tendency to take on the flavor of whomever is learning it and whatever organization that person is training under.

    It is also my understanding that, because of the things that I outlined above, some people have gotten rid of the empty hand anyos and gone back and re-thought the entire mano mano program of Modern Arnis. Spending a great deal of time looking at other FMA arts and traveling to the PI to make sure that what was being developed was representative of FMA in general and what was being taught in Modern Arnis schools in the USA was the same as where the art came from.

    Hopefully I have gotten the information provided to me correct in the above comments. I know for a fact that the people who gave me this information read this forum from time to time so if I screwed it up in anyway, I hope they will jump in and correct me since I do not want to misrepresent what they told me in anyway. I owe a great many thanks to them for taking the time to help someone like me out who had been training for about 5 minutes when I started asking these questions. They could have easily told me to just keep training and not worry about it until I had more mat time, but they didn't. They have provided me with a ton of information, have offered their assistance in multiple situations, and have encouraged me at every step of the way. I am very grateful for that.
  9. Datu Tim Hartman

    Datu Tim Hartman FMA Talk Founder Supporting Member

    This is a point that I would like to correct. I started in Modern Arnis as my primary system. This post on my training can help clear this misconception. I did spend quite a bit of time with the Kenpo people, but I have no rank in the system. As far as the names being similar, that is coincidental. What I did pick up from the Kenpo people was their teaching method and vocabulary. The mano - mano section in the WMAA isn't Kenpo based or influenced.
  10. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member

    Thanks for the correction, I appreciate you taking the time to chime in on the thread. When John was talking to us about the WMAA mano mano techniques he mentioned that you had trained in Kenpo and that he thought that was where that material came from.

    Thanks again.
  11. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Member

    Thanks to both of you for that. I was curious, largely because I train with a Modern Arnis group currently. Though my own background isn't Modern Arnis. It's mostly Doce Pares. I have trained with this group for about 4 years now though.

    The teacher learned from a Modern Arnis teacher in the Philippines (Guro Bambit Dulay) and has never indicated that he uses empty hand anyos. That sorta gels with what's been said here.

    I'm also asking because the mano mano curriculum needs more development in our group (to my mind). And I'm thinking about that too.

  12. Datu Tim Hartman

    Datu Tim Hartman FMA Talk Founder Supporting Member

    It seems that the US Modern Arnis groups tend to stress more empty hand techniques than our PI counter parts. Remy emphasized a lot of empty hand training with me. We would do some seminars without ever picking up a stick.
  13. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Member

    Empty hand is certainly where my current focus is as well. I don't regard myself as "changing Modern Arnis" because I don't consider myself to really be representing Modern Arnis (much to their relief, I expect ;) ). But in developing an empty hand curriculum for this training group, I'd be drawing on a lot more (kick)boxing than I've seen indicated in the mano mano so far. Understanding that the kickboxing (like all things) is being filtered through the concerns of FMA. (In other words, if a move would work in the ring but would leave you vulnerable to a knife in the kidney in FMA... )

  14. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member

    Interesting Stuart. It may be worth starting another thread on it so as not to derail this one any further than it already has been, but can you do some basic comparing and contrasting in the mano mano material from Doce Pares and Modern Arnis? I would assume there are some consistencies but would be interested to note the differences as well. My only experience in FMA-style empty hand is in Modern Arnis and now a very short time in Inosanto-Lacoste Kali.
  15. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Member

    Sure, we could do that. Though I'm not sure I better represent Doce Pares than I do anything else. We could certainly take a crack at it. My background is also weighted (in terms of mano mano) toward Inosanto Kali as well.

    Back on track...
  16. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    I would largely agree with jwinch2's commentson the history of the anyos but it's worth adding that the Prof. was a skilled black belt in Shotokan Karate (and Judo) so he was not working outside of his area of expertise when he devised the kata-like anyos. He also not only tolerated but actively encouraged people to change their expression of the anyos.He enjoyed seeing soft versions!
  17. James Miller

    James Miller Member Supporting Member

    Prof earned these ranks while he was still in the PI. As far as the timeline of the empty hand forms go I'm not sure. However the adding of forms in general started in the PI. This was to battle the popularity of Karate in the PI. Prof would call MA Filipino Karate / Kung-Fu.

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