This is another of my occasional posts and opinions. There are numerous
halls of fame these days and getting selected for one is generally a
good thing and worth considering. I tend to stay away from nominating
people for inclusion in them and follow the news about who is being
inducted as a news item without making any comments one way or the
other. However, this one is different because it involves a person that
I knew in the past and I have a lot of insider information about several
people involved in the selection process as well as others who were
supposed to be involved but were never consulted. The latter is for
those folks to discuss. My views are as follows:
On March 22, 2013, there was an announcement of the martialtalk.com,
Modern Arnis forum:
> I wanted to announce that John Bryant, recently deceased, is going
> to be posthumously inducted into the BB Hall of Fame this summer
> in Philadelphia. This is a wonderful way to honor him. He founded
> the first Modern Arnis school in the United States and was the
> first instructor of Tim Hartman.
> Dan Anderson
I find that announcement to be a bit curious because John Bryant had not
been involved in training or instructing in Modern Arnis or any other martial
arts since about 1988 until his death a few weeks earlier in 2013.
There are a number of other people who I think would have been better
choices for induction in 2013 because they have been continuously active
in Modern Arnis for at least 2 decades and taken a number of their
students to Lakan Isa / 1st degree black belt and higher.
Awarding John with a posthumous induction is a wonderful gesture and I
won't argue against it for 2 reasons, 1. John was a friend and classmate
of mine at Fight Back Institute in Buffalo and 2. one should never speak
ill of the deceased. From my perspective, John's teacher, Sifu Don
Zanghi should be inducted into the MA Hall of Fame. It was Sifu Don who
brought Professor Presas to Buffalo, it was Sifu Don who was the first
certified Modern Arnis Instructor in the Buffalo area, it was Sifu Don
who attended the 2 week long Modern Arnis training camps, then the week
long camps before they devolved into weekend events. It was Sifu Don Zanghi
who Professor Remy Presas selected to serve as the first Modern Arnis Area
Representative. John Byrant never held that position.
Without Sifu Don Zanghi, Professor Remy Presas would not have gotten to
Buffalo in 1980, 4 years before John Bryant opened his "Filipino Karate Academy",
after leaving FBI before he had earned his black belt in either Tracy Kenpo or
If Sifu Don Zanghi had not worked closely with Professor Remy Presas, it is
entirely possible that the following people in the Buffalo area might never have
become involved in or became certified instructors of Modern Arnis, Guro David
Battaglia, Master Bill Adams, Master Ernie Delts, Sensei Dan Carr, Sensei Gary
Castanza, Lakan John Bryant, Lakan Jeff Rech, Lakan Tim Unger, Dayang Tammy
Wilson, Lakan David Smith, Datu tim hartman, Master Tim Kashino, Master Richard
Curren, Master Paul Martin, Master Keith Roosa, Lakan Tom Verga, Lakan James
"Buddy" Antonio, and myself.
All of the aforementioned people were associated with Sifu Don, either directly as
students or indirectly as people who trained with him and Professor from time to
time in the Modern Arnis system.
It is an incredible irony that the man who founded the first and arguably the most
productive Modern Arnis program in the Western New York region, including Buffalo
and Niagara Falls would be overlooked in favor of a student of his, whose school was
only open for 3 to 4 years and who produced only two black belt students, Dayang
Wilson and Lakan David Smith.
Others may have a different opinion but when all of the facts are considered, I believe
that Sifu Don Zanghi should be recognized by the selectors at the Modern Arnis Hall
of Fame on the basis of fairness and documented achievements in terms of
promoting and promulgating the growth of Modern Arnis during the first 15 years
of Professor Presas' 25 year teaching career in the USA.
Jerome Barber, Ed. D.
Grand Master, Datu & Principal Teacher,
Independent Escrima-Kenpo-Arnis Associates