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 I never put much though into it before until last night when I decided to teach some students a few drills that I learned when I was first studied "Kali" here in the United States.  After one of my students began performing the drills he said, "seriously?"  After explaining and examining the differences in concepts and principles from what I learned in the beginning and what I teach as my base FMA system, I came to the same conclusion. There were so many fallacies I discovered in what I'd been practicing in my first few years of training in FMA that the training session quickly turned into what not to do and why we shouldn't do it.

 For the aforementioned reason I'm very happy that I kept a non-subjective attitude towards the martial arts and I continue to educate myself by exploring various martial art methods from a variety of sources.

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Comment by Guro Lawrence Motta on September 27, 2012 at 12:13pm


Been there, done that.  It's good.  We grow, we learn and sometimes we discover the aweful truth that our teachers whom we venerated when we were young and naive were just humans like the rest of us doing the best they could with a limited amount of information.  I'ts kind of like the moment you realize your parents were just as ignorant, scared and foolish as you when they were your age.  Perspective is a wonderful thing.


Comment by terry joven on September 27, 2012 at 2:16pm

I totally agree not all FMA is the same....i think its up to every individual to valuate what they learn and not just go by what his or her instructor shows them. I think a lot of techniques/drills that are being taught are just that techniques and drills... they are ment to help you develop timing, flow, distance and to help you to develop certain attibutes. it does not mean you are to fight that way.

Comment by Henry Paz on September 27, 2012 at 7:13pm

[a lot of techniques/drills that are being taught are just that techniques and drills... they are ment to help you develop timing, flow, distance and to help you to develop certain attibutes. it does not mean you are to fight that way.]

 I was blessed with a really gifted teacher that could tell me the purpose of the drill and then adapt it to fit me personally. I am grateful for that. Not every move is the magic all-purpose move just like there is no magic stick. I think it is a strength of character that a teacher allows questions and provides thoughtful feedback. Also when you recognize junk you file it in the junk pile. You have to heat up gold in a fire to seperate the impurities. FMA is the same. Trial by fire.

Comment by Zach Jenkins on September 28, 2012 at 7:24am

Hello Guro Lawrence, Henry, and Terry, I totally agree with you and happy to hear that I'm not just the only one who's been there.  True enough that some drills are meant to teach certain things according to there own particular style.  I recall my teacher telling that he used to train with a certain group and he posed a question regarding the way they were defending at middle range against various strikes.  He thought that the defense worked fine if the training partner reacted accordingly but his question was, what if they someone doesn't react in the same manner and the teacher had no valid answer to his question so he stopped training with the group. 

 The thing that puzzled one of my students was regarding the abaniko strike.  Because of the way we execute this strike, it curves over and around certain blocks and when the opponent tries to compensate, it leaves them wide open for another attack with little time to recover. 




Comment by Joel Huncar on September 28, 2012 at 10:04am

Not all FMA is good FMA....maybe, but how do you judge which is good and which is bad.  For me the more flowy styles of FMA are not really suited to me.  I like the styles that base more on power and aggression such as Balintawak.  I love the flow of other styles and see them as valuable, but I come from a muay thai background and Balintawak suits me.  I am also short limbed so the close range focus of Balintawak is perfect for me.  Also I see a lot more in Balintawak than what is on the surface...and that is what keeps me interested.  Balintawak is the perfect system for me.....however if I was looking for a system that had a little more flash, Balintawak would not be right for me.  If I was looking for a system with a little more focus on edged weapons Balintawak (on the surface) would not be right for me.  If I was looking for a system that focused on Dumog or Mano Mano throwing and grappling techniques Balintawak may not be right for me.  So even though I feel Balintawak is the perfect system and is exactly what I need to make me a warrior it may not be "good FMA"  to someone else. 

So please before you disregard someone elses FMA try to see what it is good at instead of looking at what it doesn't offer. 

Another thing that affects a system is the experience of the instructor.  When I first started to instruct I had a lot to learn.  I still do, but I am much more comfortable with what I am teaching and what I am doing now.  With inexperienced instructors we have to be patient and help them along by asking hard questions.  That is how instructors learn.  The instructor you disregard now may be the next big thing in FMA later on.  Who knows.




Comment by terry joven on September 28, 2012 at 10:24am


great point!! it is up to the individual to judge whats good & bad!...Your right whats good for me may not be good for you!!! Great comment!

Comment by Guro Lawrence Motta on September 28, 2012 at 12:23pm

Zach et al,

I have had this discussion with my students on many occaisions.  Just last night I told them that they will come to understand the early basics better and better as they progress through the system.  I have also told every student I have ever had that discarding a technique (or style) because it "doesn't work" for you should be very carefully considered.  Most of the time, I see students discard a technique or a drill LONG before they understand it.  They blame the technique for being ineffective when in fact it is their own ability that is lacking.  The same goes for whatever style you decide to study.  Joel, I am sure your understanding of Balintawak is far deeper now than it was when you started and you are far better at judging it's suitability for you now than your first day.  For myself, the first day of training with GM Leo was like trying to walk down the road with my feet tied together.  I am certain I said "this style sucks" or "that technique will never work" a million times.  It's no great confession to admit that I was just covering for my own embarrasment of failure.  Ultimately, I learned and as I became more adept, the techniques and drills started to make more sense and become more applicable.  Now, I look back at the things I studied before with other teachers and while I am tempted to look down on their effectiveness, I stop myself from being arrogant and judgemental and try to explore those old drills, mining them for valuable information.  Sometimes, I discover that my old teachers were giving us some pretty questionable material.  Most times, I rediscover gems of information and I have a much better appreciation for what they taught us.  Knowing that our ability to judge the suitability of an art is limited by our depth of understanding should also check our judgement of other styles.  Our ability to judge if FMA is good FMA changes as we grow in the art.  I think as we become more knowledgable, that judgement of "good FMA" should expand rather than contract.  Thanks for another engaging topic Zach!

Comment by John R. Malmo on September 28, 2012 at 1:15pm
Excellent input Joel.
Comment by Dan Medina on September 28, 2012 at 2:39pm

Some times we don't see that whats good is right in front of us. it's not till later that we realize that. and that comes with time and experience as you explore the inner workings. and of course it's not one style fits all we all have different likes and dislikes.     

Comment by Chris Callahan on September 28, 2012 at 3:40pm
I second all of the previous comments: spot-on, all of them. I'd add one more: sometimes students aren't actually given full and complete explanations for things, for a variety of reasons. Students may be taught a drill or "defense" and given only a superficial explanation of what that movement really is or how it's actually applied. It's not until much later in the training program that the real explanation is provided. Once proper context is revealed, the "questionable" technique suddenly makes sense. If, however, the students leave before that time comes, they end up spreading (quite unintentionally) half-truths or outright bad information, and the world gains another "bad" or "pointless" FMA drill.


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