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Here is a Blog post from a friend of mine, its on his blog site but I wanted to share with the WSEF group.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Stickman's Escrima Blog

Return of the Longwinded blog

Okaaaaay ... It's been nearly 9

months since I posted on this blog, a new record for letting it slide. A
lot has gone on in that time, some events worth noting, many more
perhaps now forgotten. Writing, or at least making a stab at good
writing, takes time. Unfortunately I've never yet earned a penny at it.
It's a bit disillusioning when one's best talent is financially of
such little worth, but the illusion of contributing to society makes up
for that. Regardless of motivation, when the muse sings, it's time to
write again. Signs appear, such as:

I've finally heard from my half-dozen loyal readers, scolding me for having been derelict;
I received a writing award, a bribe if I've ever seen one (and if it is, it's the first) - more on this later;
I met a prospective student who is even more prolific a writer than me; can't have that, y'know!
So here, with no further ado or mea culpas, is a brief update:

Cacoy Canete was scheduled for a seminar this summer at Ron Lew's Tiger Eye
Claw school in San Jose, but due to health problems he was unable to
leave the Philippines. Instead grandmaster Ron Lew, one of Cacoy's top
proteges, filled in for him with an exemplary seminar on Escrido,
demonstrating the effortless flow through endless locks that
characterizes that form of FMA. Loved it!

My scheduled foray again this year to SoCal to do a seminar and help officiate the FMA part
of the Long Beach Internationals was not quite so successful. Injuries
had me sidelined, and I'm at the age where the slowdown of the healing
process is no longer mere speculation. Despite a place in the seminar
lineup, I ended up staying home that weekend. It was probably the right
thing to do.

This year has seen interesting developments within the Serrada community. Back in February master Darren Tibon hosted the
Legacy FMA tournament in Stockton. The day before the tournament was
organized for seminars with participants from Tres Manos, Kombutan,
Pakamut and Serrada. This was a particularly significant event for the
Serrada participants, especially taking place in Stockton, because many
had not seen each other in years. It was the first time since Angel's
passing that so many of his students came together to teach and share
with such brotherhood.

I won't go into further detail here; anyone interested in a more complete description of the event should
refer to the FMA Digest March 2010 Special Edition "Legacy Seminar &
Tournament", for which I was the principal contributor. The
significance of the seminar has been a renewal of many positive ties
within the Serrada community. It's been nearly 20 years since
grandmaster Angel Cabales passed away, during which time most of us have
gone our own ways and several organizations have sprung up. There's
been enough time to now see who is still active in and dedicated to the
art. Over these years we've all honed our personal skills, yet still it
is clear that we are flowing from the same root source.

Here are a couple of things that have evolved since this event which affect me directly.

On June 21st I received a "Master of the Pen" award (along with Marc
Lawrence) from Steven Dowd, publisher of the FMA Digest, for excellence
in writing. I personally think of my write-up of the Legacy weekend as
my masterpiece. It's certainly the most meaningful thing I think I've
ever written, and I'm especially appreciative of this award coming in
recognition of that as well as previous submissions to the Digest.
Meanwhile, my mom hung around into her late 90's and still managed to
miss seeing me get anything like this.

I'd like to put in a plug here: If you are someone who can write about the Filipino martial arts
and wants to get published, contact the FMA Digest! Publications always
need material to put out, and frankly, a lot of people promise but
don't deliver, so here's a chance to contribute to the community and get
some recognition for whom or whatever you choose to cover!

The other item of personal significance is that shortly before Labor Day I
received a Master's certificate in Escrima. Frankly, it's a bit hard
for me to write objectively about this. I take pride in accomplishments
but I'm not much into self-aggrandizement; I jokingly refer to this as
"my official getting old award", which is far more truthful than I'd
like to admit. Still, this is a milestone for a couple of reasons, and
important to acknowledge.

Officially the award was presented by grandmaster Anthony Davis through his World Serrada Escrima Federation.
Anthony was the instructor to whom Angel Cabales entrusted my basic
training, and though I've run my own program independently for the past
two decades, we've come together many times at a number of events. Like
the writing award, it's a symbolic honor recognizing my growth and
contribution within the art over a 25 year period. Both this and the
writing award were presented in a spirit of authenticity - no money
changed hands, no favors were demanded - for which reason I was happy
to accept these honors.

There's a bit more to this story though. There are those who would say (correctly) that this is not an official Cabales Serrada Escrima diploma. I always expected that my Advanced
diploma from Angel would be my last promotion, since I've been
independent of any formal organizational ties since the death or
retirement of all my teachers. While Angel was alive I asked him twice
about going for a Master's. The first time I wasn't ready and both of
us knew it; the next time he acknowledged the request but was already
too ill to proceed.

Forward to now ... Evidently Angel informed some of his master graduates that if three of them agreed to promote
someone up to their level, they would have the authority to do so. This
was only recently disclosed to me, and as far as I know I'm the first
to receive such an upgrade. With the signatures of Angel Cabales'
master graduates Ron Saturno, Jerry Preciado and Darren Tibon also
affixed to the document, it feels like further validation of the
progress I've made through the years. I've known and respected these
men since we were all students under Angel. To them I express my humble

I'd also like to acknowledge promotions awarded by the WSEF to the following:
* Mila Davis received a grandmaster certificate. She has been both training and life partner to GM Anthony Davis for 35 years.

* Tasi Alo received a grandmaster certificate. He has been a close associate
and training partner with Anthony Davis for over 30 years and was

recognized as one of the grandmasters in the GKT system.

* Darren Tibon received a grandmaster certificate as well. In my mind I've considered
Darren a grandmaster for some time. If building a strong school and
lineage is what defines the term, Darren is someone who has walked the

* Last but not least, Ronnie Saturno was presented a grandmaster award from the WSEF. Ron was with Angel long before I came on the scene, though it's only recently that I've come to know him

He's a wellspring of knowledge not just about Serrada or
martial arts, but is a deep thinker on many subjects and a hidden
treasure whom I feel is fully deserving of such recognition.

I applaud all of them for the hard work they've done for Serrada and Angel's legacy!

For my part, I realize this isn't a retirement award (not quite that old
yet anyway) but an incentive to step up and re-energize my own endeavors
within the art. The blog is part of it. A training manual, which
Angel wanted for new students, and for which I had plans long ago,
should get off the shelf. There's other projects, such as the CAD/CAM
I'm learning for CNC machining. My "sparring grade" barongs, bolos and
knives are showing up in the hands of top instructors on the West Coast,
such as Remy Presas Jr., Alex France, Vincent Cabales, Darren Tibon,
Anthony Davis and others.

Teaching is still to me the biggest part of it, what keeps my mind active and my body ... well ... still
moving (and that's much better than the alternative!) I'd like to thank
my students, in particular Jonathan Winter and Josh Newman, for keeping
me on my toes and forcing me to always go deeper to find the answers.

Life hands us these moments. Many young men are bemused when they first
begin hearing themselves addressed as "Mr." since that was a title
previously associated with a father or other adults, but soon it becomes
common to the ear. So I presume it will be with the lofty resonance of
"master", which now separates me from the young bucks who are working
hard to establish their identities. Having heard myself introduced more
and more often as "Master Finder" at FMA events, I've already given up
on correcting those introductions, since it just seemed rude to
contradict such politeness. It's also my excuse not to dye my hair dark
again, since "silver" is getting me so much more respect.

Organically it's the passing of the torch from generation to generation. Just as
Angel Cabales used to call himself the master of Escrima, as many of his
students became recognized in their own rights, people began to call
him grandmaster until finally he adopted the term. That kind of
progression, taking the mantle of responsibility for carrying the art
forward, is happening with my generation now. We need to move forward
ourselves to create space for those coming up after us. In the end,
titles and awards are no more nor less than what we make of them. It is
in the sharing of experience that we provide meaning.

As an old saying goes,
"Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water."

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Replies to This Discussion

Well, Ronnie, we can start a mutual admiration society (and try to outdo each other in humble pie along the way)! I learn something from you every time we meet.

Jeff "Stickman" Finder


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