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It’s been almost six months since I cutover from PMAA (Philippine Martial Arts Academy) to PMAA (Pamanang Mandirigma Arnis Academy). It is time to recognize the progress the students have made. It is usually done via rank promotions but with this new academy, I want to deemphasize rank and emphasize virtue. So I wrote my thoughts down and am posting it here for feedback, both good and bad, and for advice, hopefully all good. (smile) Thank you in advance.


We begin a journey with no end because perfection is the goal. Knowing that we cannot achieve perfection on this plane of existence, we strive for it anyway.


3 Types of Practitioners

  • The Student –The most important. Once a student, ALWAYS A STUDENT.
  • The Teacher –Can teach the Art but not necessarily perform it at a high level.
  • The Fighter –Can perform the Art but not necessarily teach it.

To be complete, to be a Scholar-Warrior, you must be all three.


3 Types of Students

  • The Undergraduate
  • The Graduate
  • The Post-Graduate


3 Realms of Endeavor

  • The Mental  (Everything begins with a thought.)
  • The Physical
  • The Spiritual


The Seven Primary Virtues of a Warrior


Once past probation, the student acquires the warrior’s virtues on a cumulative basis. He does not drop one virtue to acquire another one.


Masipag (“May Sipag”)

Masipag at Magalang (“May Galang”)

Masipag, Magalang at Matapang (“May Tapang”)

Masipag, Magalang, Matapang at Marunong (“May Alam”)

Masipag, Magalang, Matapang, Marunong at Magaling (“Hindi lang marunong, magaling pa!”)

Masipag, Magalang, Matapang, Marunong, Magaling at Matalino (“May Utak”)

Masipag, Magalang, Matapang, Marunong, Magaling, Matalino at Malalim (“May Puso”)


Levels of Progress




  • Maari    Candidate appears teachable; no apparent vices. Okay to begin training and let us see. Probationary period. (“Puti” = White) This is equivalent to White Belt in other martial art systems. In terms of ranking, it is the lowest of belts; but the most valuable, and the most significant, because it marks the turning point in his life where he takes responsibility for himself and begins his lifelong quest towards perfection.




“The first step in the acquisition of wisdom is silence…


  • Undergraduate, Level 1. Masipag    Candidate has been accepted as a student. Shows industry. Will succeed because of this. (“Dilaw” = Yellow) This is equivalent to the Yellow Belt in other martial art systems. There is no yellow field on the Philippine flag. For the student who is “masipag”, the yellow is just a whiff of what is to come: the stars and the sun.


”the second listening...


  • Undergraduate, Level 2. Magalang    Student shows respect for himself and respect for others. Demonstrates proper character. Okay to continue training. Because the student is industrious, the student can succeed whether or not he has this virtue; but the student will not get training from this institution. Color: Blue (Asul) –Nobility of purpose. This is equivalent to the Blue Belt or intermediate student.


“the third memory…


  • Undergraduate, Level 3. Matapang     Student shows courage, a necessary virtue for a warrior. Student will know fear but act anyway. This is courage. In the training, the student will come to understand fear and learn to set it aside in order to perform at his best. Color: Red (“Pula”) –for bravery and “Lakas Loob”, the will and determination to do what’s morally right regardless of popular opinion. This is equivalent to the advanced student, Brown or Red Belt in other systems.




“the fourth practice…


  • Graduate.  Marunong    Student knows the basics and has his foundation. He knows the Art and can perform it but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Color: Black (Itim). This is equivalent to a Black Belt in other martial art schools.




“the fifth teaching others.” ~Solomon Ibn Gabriol


  • Post-Graduate, Level 1. Magaling“Hindi lang marunong. magaling pa!” The graduate has been polished and reflects the Art as it should be. He is now a post-graduate, having the knowledge and skills necessary to teach the Art. This is equivalent to Guro (Teacher).


“The brain is the seat of knowledge…


  • Post-Graduate, Level 2. Matalino –“May Utak.” Intelligent –“Has a brain.” This post-graduate has the brightness of the stars. He not only can teach the Art, he can add to it because of his high level of understanding. His light can no longer be put out except by The One Creator. This is equivalent to “Master” or “Master Teacher” ranking in other arts.


“but the heart is the seat of wisdom.” --Solomon Ibn Gabriol.


  • Post-Graduate, Level 3. Malalim –“May Puso.” Deep – “Has a heart.” Because this post-graduate has compassion for his fellow-man, he uses his knowledge to elevate mankind, not himself. This post-graduate reflects the life-giving warmth and nurturing nature of the sun. This is equivalent to “Grandmaster” or “Head Master” in other systems.


Supreme Grandmaster??? There is only one Supreme Grandmaster and that is Our Creator. After that, there is only the Burrito Supreme at your local taqueria.


Alex(ander Bautista Bayot France)

Pamanang Mandirigma Arnis Academy

Barangay Looc, Sibulan, Philippines

June 1, 2013

Views: 517

Comment by terry joven on June 1, 2013 at 10:37am

Great post Sir!

Comment by robert small on June 1, 2013 at 7:48pm
I like it.. a good guide for a new student to understand the basic progression.
Comment by Rodney Coulman on June 2, 2013 at 8:27am

At the school I train at, we have an easy way to not emphasize rank. We simply don't wear belts. We know who is ranked above us in the system, by not wearing a belt it helps us to throw away ego and visual traces of who is which belt and which title. Just looking at us, you would never guess who was what.
I liked your explanations all through your guide =)

Comment by Lamont Glass on June 2, 2013 at 10:04am

How do you test for courage?  I understand the ideal you are striving for, but some of this stuff isn't something that you will see in a classroom setting, and if you can't see it then you can't use it as a standard.

Comment by Dennis Feller on June 2, 2013 at 3:16pm

Very well put sir. 

We do use a belt system in our Bothoan, however, we base promotion more on whether a given student is advancing himself/herself mentally and spiritually as well as physically.  Spirit, drive and balance are what we look for. There are, of course, technical requirements for advancing in rank.  We still perform formal testing and have been blessed to have Mataw Guro Sanano return for all tests since he moved to Florida.  The testing is just that though, a formality. 

True testing happens on the floor every day as we watch, teach and feel how the students not only perform technically, but how they interact with each other and us.  Do they show the respect they should to their training partner, to the Bothoan, the teacher, the art.  Are they trying to show off?  Prove that they can defeat their partner rather than master and help their partner master a technique?  All these things are more important than whether they are learning technical aspects.  How well you can fight, how many sparring matches you win, how many Forms you can perform... all of these are competition based and far less important than how much you have grown personally as well as in art. 

We regularly refer potential students to other schools in the area if it is obvious that all they are after is learning to fight with people.  There are plenty of schools teaching MMA/UFC style fighting.  'Sining ng awayan walang awayan' (Learn to fight not to fight).

Comment by Rodney Coulman on June 2, 2013 at 11:48pm

Well said Dennis,
We have a belt system, we have a standard format to work from, we just don't wear the belts. Our grade is verbal. when an orange belt trains with a black belt, there is always hesitation of 'being beaten' same as when a brown belt trains with a 6th dan. When you don't wear the belts, everyone seems equal, just like if you were in a pub or in the supermarket. we train our set format as the basis of what we do. The format being the art, but the format and all its many many many variations is what gives us our combat training.
So as Dennis above stated, true testing happens every time you train. In the end we just call it playing

Comment by Alexander Bautista Bayot France on July 16, 2014 at 3:52am

It was a year ago when I threw this net into the Sea of Opinion. Thank you for your feedback, Terry, Robert, Rodney, Lamont, Dennis, and Rodney again.  :-) 

Lamont - Thank you for your opposing opinion regarding the virtue of courage.

>> if you can't see it then you can't use it as a standard.

You gave me something to chew on, and chew on it I did; but I respectfully disagree. You can't see the wind, but you can see its effect. Same with courage. How can one measure courage? For me, the measure of courage must be "just enough". For any situation where you must act, you must have "just enough" courage to do what must be done, no more and no less.

Thanks again.

Alex(ander Bautista Bayot France)

Brgy. Looc, Mainit, Sibulan, Neg. Or. PH 6201

Comment by Alexander Bautista Bayot France on July 16, 2014 at 4:01am

Rodney, you wrote, "by not wearing a belt it helps us to throw away ego and visual traces of who is which belt and which title"

That is excellent, Rodney. I like what you're doing at your school!

Comment by Alexander Bautista Bayot France on July 16, 2014 at 4:05am

Hi, Dennis! Great to hear from you. Please give my regards to Andy. Like Rodney said, "Well said, Dennis."  I concur. Thanks for your input.

Comment by Dennis Feller on July 16, 2014 at 10:38pm

I will do that Alex.  Hope everything is still going well for you and your students.


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