I do not want the discussion of the Master Joel Juanitas interview to descend in to anarchy. GM Malmo has forbid the arguments on previous occasions, and nobody in their right mind needs to rehash the arguments because things like this happen very frequently in all sorts of dominions from martial arts to the corporate world. In the corporate world, IBM has splintered many times from IBM, in to Oracle, among the most notable. Projects started at major universities have become corporations against the will of the institution, such as the split between Stanford and Cisco. Some universities have taken note of these issues and have started their own incubators, where they fund the ideas and get in on the ground with large holdings of stock.
While this video does not break new ground, I think that is a great opportunity to discuss something very interesting about martial arts in general. Consider a more interesting subject matter, that being Martial Arts Lineage. If the "Bahala Na" style schools survive, in it's many forms, it will be due solely to the practitioners over more than a century. Will the teachings of Bahala Na and Bahala Na Multi Style survive more than one century? How about two?
Note that according to Mark Wiley in a 2012 interview, he notes that Escrima / Arnis styles do not typically go back more than one to two Masters. In fact, in his research, he found that in the Philippines and the U.S.A., rarely does anyone go back more than two generations because they themselves become Grand Masters and renamed the art after themselves or some aspect of the art that they mastered. The names of the individuals that led them to create the art are dropped, and not even written down...thus losing some very important details about where the arts originated from. The video is pretty enlightening. It should be a call to action, to register practitioners who reach a certain level, such as guro, master and grand master! This is a golden opportunity because these splits are going to keep on coming.
In Chinese arts, this is somewhat different, especially for the art of Wing Chun / Wing Tsun. In some of the styles (Wikipedia link) or branches, they can trace back many hundreds of years, all the way to the founders who were monks. It should be noted that the main branch of Yip Man has been broken several times, and there is a great deal of infighting to this day, but for the most part, there are no pure Wing Chun competitions that I know of where they can prove without a doubt as to which school is the best. This is not the case in Filipino styles where competitions are common and applications to combat are known. They have even set up a global registry for practitioners of Wing Chun and that people can look and find the lineage that they belong too.
For the Korean martial art of Tae Kwon do, they have splintered in to WTF, ITF, ATA and ITA. In some cases the training from one style is recognized and in others it is not.
Just some food for thought proving blood is thicker than water in some instances where practitioners are still practicing their base arts, and in others such as the Filipino styles they are rapidly changing, integrating, and removing old school styles. In the corporate world, this is known as "Eating your own babies" because you modify the next product to crush the product just released before a competitor can.
Does anyone think that Filipino styles have peaked yet or will we see continued growth because Filipino schools or styles have just become popular and many have yet to emerge from the underground?
I think the art is stronger because of the multiple weapons, and multiple instructors. But I also think that for Guro's and above, we might tray and track where these people do obtain their training so that we can see where the stronger arts are coming from. We are growing at a rapid rate now, so it might behoove us to try and track these people and groups now before we lose our historical lineage.
Also, I don't think that arts that are stronger necessarily come from the Philippines, or the West Coast of the USA. I thin that the stronger arts come from people who can take multiple systems and put something together. It's organic in a way because it depends on the person to be able to see what is important, go after the instruction, then put it together pedagogically and finally to teach it.
Interesting that you mention Wing Chun/Ving Tsun. If you follow the line back to Ng Mui you will see that is is a pretty 'posh' art, in that the noted practitioners are well educated and thus interested in and capable of recording the line. As an aside, Yip Man one said; @When a man drinks from a stream, he thinks for the source'.
FMA are combative, blue collar arts in comparison. There are those who portray the old men as angels but, mercifully, they weren't. The arts would not have developed so magnificently had they not been as tried and tested. Lineage is part of respect for the source and those who delivered the arts down through the generations. Whilst the 2 generation theory is no doubt true in certain regions, I would guess that it may not cover the story in other regions.
Some honesty would be useful. For someone to simply say, I've no idea about the origins, is perfectly legitimate but what often happens is that stories get created and characters are fabricated to unnecessarily fill in gaps. We all know the kind of things I am inferring here.
There most certainly are underground arts in the Philippines and if they have any sense, looking at the PKT piece above, they'd be wise to keep it that way. Personally, I will never touch a mainstream system again in my life., I don't need the hassle.
I personally think this sort of thing would happen in more styles, if the countries of those styles, or leaders of those styles allowed it to happen. I think somewhere along the way to mastering a given style, they obviously put a little of themselves into the system, and it changes a bit, due to self expression. They see this mistakingly as an "improvement to the old system", when all it is, is making the art your own, as you are supposed to do. So now this new "expression" becomes more important than what made this expression possible in the first place. It's a beautiful thing to share something of yourself with the world. But to dismiss what made you aware of yourself in the first place, is to dismiss your trainers as though you didn't need them. We should be respecting and representing our trainers and all the work they put into passing the knowledge along that they themselves put so much effort into learning, and we should quit taking ourselves so seriously. The ego evolves as our abilities do, if we allow it to happen. We should give it no place to rest or call home. It would be very easy for FMA in general to be seen as a "bastard art" if every generation "miraculously becomes a Grand Master", and the bar will be set way too low for what is considered to be "amazing". These are just my personal thoughts, not to be taken in a negative tone :)
The discussions so far have been very interesting but the question that was asked has not been answered. "FMA Lineage - How important is it?".
I believe that lineage is very important. It gives the practitioner an understanding about where and from whom their version of the art that they are learning came from in terms location, historical times and conditions. Do we have poor lineage understandings in the FMA? I'd say for the most part, yes! In some cases we do not have complete factual data on who taught who and when. We do not good, accurate information about what was taught and when.
There is a fair amount of myth and mystery about the origins of various FMA systems or styles. In fact we might want to get a definitive agreement on what the words "system" and "style" mean so that we all are using a common and agreed upon meaning for both terms. That would make intra and inter system/style discussions easier to follow and understand.
For instance, my primary FMA is Modern Arnis and I studied under Sifu Don Zanghi a Kenpo player who adapted Modern Arnis into his Kenpo System. I attended seminars and camps taught by GM/Professor Remy Presas from 1982 through 1994. My first black belt was awarded by Sifu Zanghi under his system name of "Kenpo-Arnis" in 1985 and I earned a Lakan (black belt) rating from Professor Presas in 1987.
When I trace my Modern Arnis lineage through Professor Presas there are parts that seem quite clear and easy to understand and there are some parts that a bit murky. The murky side comes from the Balintawak Eskrima side of Professor's background because of some contentions regarding just how Balintawak came into existence and who taught whom what. In addition I find that there is not any truly credible information about the Saavedras - Lorenzo and Teodoro Saavedra - who were supposedly the teachers of Venancio Bacon, the man generally credited with creating the Balinatwak Eskrima System. But if the Saavedras were his teachers, is Balintawak a "new" system or simply a new name for the Saavedra Eskrima System? Furthermore almost everyone seems to agree that the Balintawak System was named after the street where the group met and trained.
Last month I revised my lineage chart in light of some new developments and my students now have a document that highlights where Modern Arnis came from dating back to Lorenzo Saavedra and Leon B. Presas, circa 1900 to Teodoro Saavedra, Bacon, the Atillos, Arnulfo Moncol, Timeteo Marranga, Remy Presas, Don Zangi and myself. I have also advised my students to be alert for any newer credible information that could lead to further revisions of our lineage chart. We have to be aware of the Tracy Kenpo side of our lineage as well as additional information involving American Modern Arnis and Oliverez Pangasinan Eskrima on the FMA side.
Knowing some things about our past can help us see where we could be taking our art in the near term future as the students mature and move out to further explore what the martial arts world has to offer them,
Jerome Barber, Ed. D. Independent Escrima-Kenpo-Arnis Associates
In light of this conversation I think that it is great that you revised you lineage chart so that your students have a document that highlights where there training comes from. That was quite an effort to put together and they are going to better off for it. I think all FMA instructors should do the same.
You might contact Dr Mark Wiley on Facebook to see if he has any information on Saavedras - Lorenzo and Teodoro Saavedra - who were supposedly the teachers of Venancio Bacon. He may have come across people in the Philippines who gave him information regarding those individuals.
Have a great day!
In my opinion lineage is very important in terms of knowing where and from who your art came.
Seeing the people and possibly thee other styles or systems that might have influence your art is useful information to have and understand. All too often people have become "frozen" in their approach to their art and see it as having only one correct way to be taught and performed.
The lineage chain can unlock that single minded perception and approach or more importantly perhaps prevent the one size fits all mantra from starting in the first place.
Jerome Barber, Ed. D.