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Unity of the Filipino Martial Arts in Stockton, the beginning in USA

? What are you doing to promote Unity among Filipino Martial Arts starting in Stockton? I'm talking about Unity from the heart not the mouth?

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I think you start by honesty. To many people have their own agenda... that is fueled by their lust for money and personal fame.
The gifts that Manongs Leo, Angel, Juanito, Gilbert and many other known & unknown were gifts that can not be taken way or be subjected to another escrimador or be put under someones control just because they have a title. Escrima is a personal art the manongs mentioned befor gathered loyalty because of skill & knowledge not because someone gave them a title.
In Stockton i choose to hang or associate with a club that promotes the arts the way i was personally taught by the cream of the 1st generation instructors & graduates Leo, Angel,Juanito, Gilbert....and the apple does not fall far from the tree. We play and teach in the same spirit as they did. We want to give our gift back to the next generation the way it should be taught.
So until the title holders can put aside their need for greed and self promotiion and admit their is more than one way not just their way.....because we all were given gifts and should be allowed to practice them the way we rememberd it....
Our doors are always open to ANYONE that agree with our thinking or to anyone that would like to challenge it.
Terry / Art, - "Honesty & Loyalty" these are absolute words of Wisdom!
Yes, I agree with the statements, at one point of time I think we have all been guilty of either trying to promote one self or schools for whatever reasons…
The goal of promotion here is the Filipino Martial Arts, the Culture and the PRESERVATION!
IMO, all Titles have gotten in the way of progress in FMA and what the real goal should have been from the beginning. (Preservation).
Humble as he is Guro Dan’s quote from U.C.L.A. Basketball coach John Wooden, expanded.
“Titles, Award and Certificates are all Man Given!” but
“Knowledge & Skill (Attributes) is God Given..”
What each and every individual does with it, dictates how they / we the art will progress.

I for one and many of the senior students that I have shared my knowledge with have become advocates of preserving FMA.
I may instruct arts of the Canetes, Lastra, Cabales, Inosanto – Lacoste but because I believe FMA as a whole. I will pick up Illustrimo, Bahala Na Multi-Style or MiraRada if they are all willing to share. Example: Michael Giron of OGE sometimes comes to the KaJu School to share his knowledge of his dad’s original art and we will use his knowledge that he shared in our teachings. This is, because all of it has something to offer and by doing so with the knowledge I hope to think that the people that I share the arts with will get a wider spectrum of FMA’s.

We need to keep Preserving & Progressing the art and less with promoting Titles & what FMA art is the Best.

Wonderful discussion, Mabuhay to you both…
GM Miraflor

On behalf of Uncle Tony, and myself I just want to extend our great appreciation and gratitude for your participation in the 38th annual Barrio Fiesta and St. Mary's Fiesta. It was a pleasure to meet and play with Master Ray and the guys from Mirarada Escrima. It is a testament to your efforts in unifying the FMA in Stockton that we can play together with no pride or prejudice. Under the direct lineage of the late GME Leo Giron we have learned the great responsibility in representing his legacy with respect to his teachings, philosophy and beliefs. Before his death he entrusted his most prized possession his system of Escrima to his most capable friend and confidant Grand Master Tony Somera and with that gift he has had to struggle and fight to defend it from others that would disgrace it at great cost and stress to his health. There are reasons others were not chosen to hold that title and those reasons fuel the tenacity and fortitude by which we protect it. I agree with Terry that the gifts we have received from our Manongs cannot be taken away they remain with us always, but it is what we do with those gifts that define their legacy. We have been the target of numerous vicious personal attacks since the death of our Grand Master, but we have persevered through passive resistance and by refusing to bow down to their level a teaching of humility and peace that we would hope our contemporaries would follow. In the end I believe their actions will be judged by the court of public opinion not by us.

What are we doing to promote unity in Stockton Ca.? First of all demonstrations like this past weekend a great show of friendship and camaraderie. We host an annual seminar workshop with Guro Dan Inosanto that brings together FMArtists to Stockton from all of northern California the home of FMA in the United States. We hold a bi-annual Affiliate camps where we invite other dignitaries from other arts not just the FMA. We go beyond FMA unity and promote the City of Stockton as a community across the country and around the world. We were once called the "unofficial ambassadors of Stockton" by former Mayor Ed Chavez. We work hand in hand with organizations like the Filipino American National Historical Society, Filipino American Heritage Association and The Little Manila Foundation to promote Filipino culture and history. Much of this work was done after the passing of Uncle Leo so it shows his teachings don't just stop with us but is being passed down to the next generation from the heart.

Master Joel Juanitas

thank you
but i must respond that everyone is different. the gifts thet were given... are ours now! Leo said that what we do with them is up to us. We are our own identity and although we come from the same roots and i love you like a brother we are not the same. We prefer to remember what we recieved our way. We have no quarrels with Tony or any other organization in Stockton. But we are legitimate Original Giron Escrima/Bahala na escrimadors and until Tony realizes that...the division that Leo tried to prevent.....will never be mended......But anytime you and Tony would like to
sit down and talk I'm sure i can arrange it..
sorry for using your blog at a sounding board.

We would love to have a united FMA community in Stockton........The Eskrima Coalition and the United Filipino Council are working towards those goals.......but like i said earlier and what Guro Ducay said earlier, we need to perserve and promote FMA and not be so worried about titles and whose arts is better.
And your right its up to the world to judge our actions and our contributions! But i will say this... leave us alone and we will leave you alone...Fair?
Bahala Na!
i was asked to post this on Dexter Labonog's behalf:

Mr. Art Miraflor, I remember in years past the tournaments you promoted at the Christian Life Center in Stockton, Ca and how it brought together many schools in one social event, I remember those tournaments clearly because i made sure to bring as many fighters as possible to help make your event succesful, I even made the effort to compete in them myself and enjoyed every bit of taking home your trophies. I hope this is an example of how i contributed to the unity of escrima in Stockton because the original Bahala Na generation is now teaching the new generation several styles uniting not only escrima but the Stockton community.

The Escrima Coalition also goes back to the days when Leo, Gilbert, and Jual Iliab were still alive and they were still okay to be addressed by their first name. Today we (Bobby Antuna, Carlito Bonjoc and MIke Giron) continue the same goals they originally started and so we hope this is another example of how we are uniting escrima because the doors are open without expectations except to honor the past generation by teaching and fellowshiping our experiences to the next generation. Thank You

Master Dexter Labonog
Ceritified Instructor (Leo Giron)
Certified Instructor (Den Revillar
Honorary Grandmaster (Javier Isidro Escrima)
Honorary 6th degree blackbelt (Lakan 6) (Kombatan Federation)

I think you can purely understand that I'm just trying to get some kind of positive dialog going. You know over the years from the First Tournament at Edison to now if I have fighters, we show support. Your group has been very respectful to my students and my little club over the years.
Somethings are better off left alone, because in our heart we know change will not happen. It's sad but true.
Dexter, you can always count on me to try to what little I can do to facilitate any kind of meeting, of any or all clubs, I will supply the conference room, water, and what ever, for the betterment of Escrimador's to FIRST start in Stockton.
Cecil of Kris Cultrey once said at my tournament, " Art you have been able to pull off a very rare opertinuety that has never happened ever before, you have brought 4 major clubs in one place, under one roof, to compete for your famous Lapu Lapu Trophy, this might never happen again".
I try to stay up on the fence were sometimes its safe, hoping I don't fall to one sided opinions.

God Bless
Art Miraflor
Bahala Na Multi-Style teacing the styles of Stockton to the next generation
Escrima Coalition promoting All Filipino Martial Arts Tournaments.
The United Filipino Martial Arts Council promoting the preservation of Filipino Martial Arts.
What are you doing to promote Unity among Filipino Martial Arts starting in Stockton? I'm talking about Unity from the heart not the mouth?

Very interesting topic Mr. Miraflor,
I believe a site such as can be a great springboard to promote unity among all FMA members. As a student of GM Arthur Gonzalez from the lineage of Gilbert Tenio and John Eliab, I personally try to promote the FMA’s by instilling an open mindset from all of my students I train. While learning and practicing the FMA’s in Stockton I became well aware of the drama between instructors, schools, students and others. My first experience of the drama between schools was at a Christian Life Center tournament you held in Stockton, Ca several years ago. I can still remember getting out of the car and walking towards the gymnasium and getting looks of disgust from other practitioners, I will be the first to admit that my response the onlookers was not that of unity building, perhaps my youth and testosterone was to blame for my rude response. In this case I found that we had to earn respect which we I believe we did, because afterwards we all shook hands and shared some laughs and went our separate ways. My point being is that it is up to the instructor to pass on the idea of humility and unity building to their students. I personally hold DeCuerdas very close to my heart as I am sure most practitioners do with their own chosen style, it would be nearly impossible to go through the rigors of old school training and not come out on the other end fully devoted to your system. Even though I am devoted to our system of DeCuerdas I respect all other FMA practitioners and treat the practitioners of them as my brothers regardless of who they learned from. As to your original question, my plan for unity building is to invite a variety of instructors who are willing to come to my class and give a history lesson of their system and share some characteristics that make it unique from a variety of other systems. I believe the first step in developing unity is to come to a consensus on a common goal or goals, to me the goal should be sharing the beauty that the FMA’s has to offer. I used to get very angry and may still cringe a little when people would respond with “oh you play with sticks” when they would ask what martial art I study and practice. I shared this with my instructor and he told me to not get angry but rather focus my energy on showing them and teaching them the diversity of the art. This is something I have since attempted to do. As for past animosities or grievances, although I don’t know what the solution is to mend bad blood I do know that perhaps there is a lesson I and many others of us instructors and students can learn from current and past quarrels to insure that we keep our love of the FMA above all else and to treat other practitioners with humility and respect. When the majority of us start to think this way then we will be the louder voice of reason, thus creating unity.

Mike Cardenas
Great comment you are real voice of reason and humility.
I remember that tournament clearly. We and i do mean we beacuase i was a playing with both Arthur and Leo at that time. We took home a whole bunch of 1st place throphys that day beating a some of the best of Stockton Escrimadors that day. I also remember that a bunch of us went to my house for Kareoke and a barbque afterwards and some of us were how would i say "sworn enemies" at the time. But we seemed to get a long that day.
Anyway like i said great comments bro!
I also remember the tournament and trying to sing at your house, hopefully my eskrima skills are better than my singing.That day truly proves that we can come together as human beings and have a great time, perhaps kareoke is the key to breaking the ice. Thanks for the kind comments Terry, it is a battle at times to keep my ego in check in order to remain on the path of reason. I will see you soon at our promotion ceremony. Peace my friend.


I can relate to your very good comments, thanks for doing your part to promoate the Art's. GM Art Gonzales has come to our school several times and showed us his systems and styles, we enjoyed it very much and welcome any school to come to class and show another angle of our culture from the jungles.

You and others will remember my first place trophy was hand crafted and I personnelly made each one myself. I wanted something fighters would be proud to take home and hopefully, not just throw it in a box. But show it off as a piece of history. It is called the Lapu Lapu trophy, thanks to all Escrimadors.

Please come and visit us at: 9025 North West Lane, Stockton, CA 95210. Class is every Saturday from 11:00-1:00 behind Stockton Christian School, where we had the tournament, or email me at: or call 209-405-3189. God Bless America.


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