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Question: If the head of a style/system is known as the Grandmaster and then promotes himself with a new title such as Great Grandmaster or Supreme Grandmaster, does it mean he attained more knowledge of his own style/system? And then when the head of the style/system makes his students or whoever a Grandmaster of his style/system does that mean they have the knowledge that he had when he was a Grandmaster?

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I hate to say this, but people who concentrate more on rank instead of their training is just fooling themselves.. I have seen several individuals call themselves Grandmasters and Masters yet could not fight their way out of a wet paperbag.. But this is just what I have seen over the decades of training and is a personal opinion..

I agree with my opinion there are many titles that are deserved and others that are not. I do feel that that may titles are given to freely...But who am I to judge. On the subject of great great supreme titles...I think they will be more coming. On weather a successor to a style has the same skill set..i think not in my opinion.

It means he is full of himself and has a ego bigger than reality !!!!

Hey All!

I think whenever we throw around titles, there is a difference as to who gets to use them and we should know when not wince.

For example, I think that Angel Cabales is considered a Supreme Grandmaster.  Now, I can honestly say that I've met Angels son and the other practitioners and I know they are not trying to fool anyone... and as a point of fact, I do not know that they themselves refer to Angel Cabales as the Supreme Grandmaster of their system, but lets just think for a second.

Angel Cabales was the Grandmaster of his system, and there shall be no others who could in any way replace him, yet they need a current GM.  So Supreme Grandmaster in this case fits for the deceased founder.

Does that title work for anyone who is alive?  Perhaps they are retired.  The fact that they are the founder does not change, yet the management of the group must go on through the GM.  I don't get hung up on too many things and I am not going to let this one get to me either.  Hierarchy is a mechanism drawn up and expands as the program expands because there are needs for specific duties.

I love martial arts, love escrima and arnis, and all that I need to know is who is above me, to teach me and command my attention while in training.



I think you are right, Tommy.  Titles within organizations are often more a function of administrative need.  As an organization grows, there is naturally pressure at the top since the structures are almost always pyramid like.  Of course, this leads to an effort by those at the top of the pyramid to continually add bricks below them so they may stay on top - ever elevating themselves as their base grows.  This is a structure many people find familiar and natural.  But, great leaders are able to turn that structure upside down, something more akin to an oak tree which starts from a simple acorn, plants deep roots and then sends it's branches out into the world.  This structure is perilous since the winds of favor may shift and blow it over in it's early days; and, it requires constant care and a steady flow of sustenance to stay alive.  In the end, I think this is a better way.  The humble Guro (acorn) continues to nurture their art.  Students come, students go.  Branches reach out and diversify.  The tree remains an oak but it's reach and strength grows as it weathers the seasons.  The one who plants the seed, be he a Grand Master or Guro or Sensei remains the pure kernel of the art while the students go on to plant seeds of their own.  Those who would push bricks on the heads of others to stand higher in the world do not grow but by the suppression of others.  Ultimately, this structure is bound to fail since one can not lift a pyramid to add more bricks to the base.  The weight of the construct will eventually collapse it.  So, to those who think they must continue to reach new heights and titles in order to preserve the hierarchy of their system, I would advise caution. Be the acorn, not the cap stone on the pyramid.

I like your fits well... and sometimes the students (acorns) of the tree fall to start and become their own trees and some just fall away....but still their roots are the same

Yep.  And some get chewed up by the squirrels and turn into turds. :)


 The head of the system can do whatever he or she wants - change his or her title, promote his or her own students. The owner of the system has that right. To keep it simple, I will now only refer to Grandmaster in the male form with no disrespect to any female.

How can anybody but the Grandmaster know if more knowledge has been attained? Maybe the GM developed his skills or knowledge to a higher level based on previous skills. This is possible and it is done every day in all facets of life. Have not some of the members here have progressed on their own? What is the difference?

As far as promotion of students, do the senior instructors here that promote students question their decisions, their judgment? Then why should we question the judgment of another instructor of which style we have no experience in?

Education will make one observe publicly, acknowledge publicly and evaluate privately.

Jealousy will accomplish not one thing.

A great topic, I am pleased there are discussions like this in the Filipino Martial Arts. In my personal case I trained under the Pedoy family for a total of 23 years before I was awarded my senior master certificate. People ask me when I will promote myself to GM (I have no one above me in my system), my reply is not until I am 70 years old (5 more years) and I have a master level instructor under me. If I never have a master level instructor under me I will remain as master. I am honored to hold this rank and will only promote myself to make room for those coming up in our system (we currently have about 15 instructors of various ranks in our system). When I founded my own system in 2005 a master (from a different system) said well I guess you can call yourself a master now that you have your own system, my reply was no, I hold a signed certificate that says I am a  master. In order to be a master of an art (any art) you MUST know the art inside and out, live it, breath it, be it. Those people that take short cuts for self promotion, just have the title, but not the rank. Those of us that are the heads of FMA schools have a duty to our predecessors to over see the direction of the art, but is it our business to condemn those that do not conform to what we feel is acceptable, I can not answer that, except to say we know the dedication and hard work that is took us to get where we are and we expect others to do the same! Lead By Example. Long Live Eskrima.

tried to ad a link

From Guro Gatdula out of Sacramento ca
for your reading pleasure

“Secrets” of the Filipino Fighting Arts
Words from a Modern-Day Warrior

What On Earth Is a “Supreme” Grandmaster Anyway?

Is this a cat who used to train with Diana Ross in Motown, or something?

Is it that grown men–FREE men–calling another man “Master” isn’t enough? You need to lower yourself and grovel even lower?

Is it that having your butt kissed by your students isn’t enough? Don’t let me get graphic here, guys.

The FMAs have become so mainstream, it’s disgusting. Let alone that we no longer have the natural-born killers representing our arts like we did 20, 30 years ago. We have degenerated to self-promoting ranks, selling teaching certificates, promising students that they will be unbeatable in “10 seminars (ahem, easy lessons) or less”! Our arts are now “too deadly for tournaments” and now we have to listen to the same garbage we use to laugh at being spewed by our own masters and many of you feel obligated to defend it!

Come on now, big boy… you don’t really believe that your master is undeafeated in 100 death matches, do you? See if you can get him to spar ONE “bloody nose” match with me, will you? Oh, he’s old and I’m young. Okay, since you are the one holding his jockstraps, and plan to be the “inheritor” of his system, why don’t you fight me in a light contact, friendly match?

Oh, I see. Your grandmaster is a direct descendant of Lapu Lapu. His art is 8 generations old. Okay, name each successive grandmaster/grandfather going back 4 generations.

These guys will tell you that their art goes back 9 generations, but they can’t name their great, great grandfather. Come on!

Instructorship in the FMAs use to be a graduation. Once you’ve learned an art, you knew it, and your rank depended on your skill level and knowledge base. Now, it is a level with titles and numbers (6th degree Black Belts). People ran out of numbers to give themselves–I actually met a guy who told me his Great-Grandmaster was a 15th degree Black Belter (whew!)–and titles, so now they are reaching for more things to call themselves. Heck, next these guys will start calling themselves the “Pope of Arnis de Mano”, or “Great Grandma Guro”. This is getting out of hand!

When my guys have learned my art all the way through, they will know more than I did when I first opened my school because I have had 18 years of knowledge more than I did at 22. They should be better than I was because they had more classmates than I did. They deserve to be more than just my Instructor-level student; they deserve to be my peer. And that’s the reason for these higher numbers and lofty ranks. Teachers want to remain superior, despite that they no longer can do what they use to, and that their Black Belt students will be better than they ever were, and that’s just plain wrong. What says more about a teacher: His best students are still lesser skilled than they are at 40 or 50? Or his best students surpasses his own abilities?

May I suggest, brothers and sisters, that the best Master should be able to produce students who become better than the Master himself. I am 40, I have arthritis. Two weekends ago I performed 100 pushups–which is a basic requirement of my advanced students–and I ached for nearly 7 days, when I use to do that as a part of a regular workout. By contrast, my advanced Kuntaw students do this regularly as a warm-up. I blistered last week when I threw 1,000 strikes with my sticks (yet I was shooting for 2,500… remember the “Challenge” article?). 1,000 hits use to be a demo I performed for students complaining about 500 hits! I am a shadow of who I was, as are most men calling themselves “Master” and “Grandmaster” or more. Still, it is ego that makes some men accept this fact and still shoot for more power and arrogance, and cease to strive for improvement.

My Grandfather once said that a man’s fighting career should end in his 30s, when he begins his teaching career, then becomes a master in his 40s, when his peers begin to consider him a master. But he must continue to hone and improve his skills until his body quits, and this would be in his late 50s and 60s. My Grandfather could still spar at 78, and he never adopted the title of Grandmaster. I’ve seen only a few old men who could compare to him at an advanced age, yet most Masters with fewer abilities and younger years dare to make up titles like “Supreme Great Grandmaster” and stuff like that?

The FMA way of doing business just perplexes me, and we are going by the way of Big Business Tae Kwon Do with the ranks, multi-level marketing schemes and de-emphasis on skill development and testing. When men make up these crazy titles and wear them proudly and without shame, I know that my beloved FMAs have become the next Amway.

I believe that when a student graduates from the Advanced Level, he should have two or three more levels to aim for: the Expert level–when he has learned the entire art and can utilize the art with great effectiveness; the Teacher level–when he has attained an entire fighting career worth of his own fighting experiences as well as supervised teaching experience; and if you decide to (I don’t), a Senior Teacher level–which is your political/business/social status level (which I believe any rank higher than a 3rd Degree Black Belt is anyway). There is no need to test at those levels; you’ve seen what they can do in class and on the mat. I would hold a presentation ceremony and maybe a demonstration, but nothing more is necessary.

I had always been taught that the title “Master” was to be bestowed not by an organization or by oneself, but by the community you belong to. I had two significant experiences with the title Master around 10 years ago, and I believe that teachers should achieve it this way, rather than to pay for certification. The first was shortly after my arrival to California, when I was still on the tournament circuit and making friends among the instructors. A few times when I had visited a school, I would be introduced to students as “Master Gatdula”. This is aligned with the saying that teachers become masters when the community recognizes you as one. The second was at Manong Leo Giron’s school and house, when he and Grandmaster Vince Tinga introduced me to another teacher from the Bay as “Master” Gatdula. When I suggested that I was just a teacher, Manong Leo said, “you are a master because I say you are one…” Vince Tinga introduced me to the community as his nephew, and adopted my school as family (he actually taught in my school 7 days a week for nearly 2 years before his death). This is how one becomes a master, not through some ceremony.

Like I said in my previous articles, return to basics. Train yourself, train your students, give them plenty of opportunity to prove their sklls to you and themselves. Don’t try to make money off them forever. Give your students the respect they deserve and give your art the respect it deserves. Don’t pimp your martial arts. If you want to pimp something, throw 24s on your ride, put some bass in your trunk, but leave the arts and our traditions alone.

Thank you for reading my blog, please come back and check with us often!


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