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Modern Arnis HoF - A Honor and an Oversight

 Hello Everyone,


 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,

 Modern Arnis forum:

  • Remy Presas Memorial Training Camp & Black Belt Hall of Fame –
  • Philadelphia 2013 

>  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. 

> Yours,

 > 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

Modern Arnis.


 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.


 Respectfully submitted,


 Jerome Barber, Ed. D.

 Grand Master, Datu & Principal Teacher,

 Independent Escrima-Kenpo-Arnis Associates 

Views: 318

Comment by robert small on May 6, 2013 at 2:43pm many people I don't know.. different parts of country.. I started in arnis under Jeff Arnold at his school in Owosso MI. 1982 but new that he had also had a school several years before that in flint MI....I need to get out more   lol


Comment by Edward Talib on May 6, 2013 at 9:23pm
Thank you for sharing FACTS!
Comment by Jerome Barber, Ed.D. on May 7, 2013 at 2:13pm

Hello Mr. Small,

I never had the opportunity of meeting Mr. Arnold.  Heard good things about him.  The truth is there have been so many people involved in Modern Arnis, it is now as it was back in the early 1980s, so hard to meet them all.  The Great Lakes communities around Buffalo for instance still meant that you'd have to drive 6 - 8 hours to meet the Modern Arnis people along the Hudson River, NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, Delaware and Maryland.  Then there were you folks in Michigan and the people around Chicago and let's not forget Washington State, Oregon and California.  You'd have a whole lot of getting out to do.

Mr. Talib, thank you for appreciating the facts.  Opinions are nice but facts really help us to understand what really did and did not happen.


Comment by Josh Bailey on June 3, 2013 at 3:12pm

Arnis is a great art, and it complements arts like kali and other philippine martial arts or open-hand styles well because it is weapon based but the techniques translate well to open hand fighting as well. And I think that anyone who can spread this practical knowledge to more people deserves an accolade in one form or another. Why not induct both of these gentlemen if they really were so influential to modern arnis?

Comment by Jerome Barber, Ed.D. on June 25, 2013 at 10:16am

Hello Mr. Bailey,

Actually I agree with you that both men could be inducted into the MA Hall of Fame.  It would not be an issue for me.   The point of my essay is that Sifu Don Zanghi is MORE deserving of the nomination and induction than Mr. Bryant - btw - John Bryant was a personal friend and I often trained with him even though Sifu Zanghi was my primary instructor in both Kenpo and Modern Arnis.

Mr. Bryant produced two (2) black belt students in Modern Arnis and neither of them ever taught the art after leaving his academy.  Sifu Zanghi produced 9 black belts and 3 have taught the art after leaving his institute.  Two (2) of the three people are still teaching in the Buffalo area 30+ years later.  Sifu Zanghi was the first instructor to teach Modern Arnis in the buffalo area, he was the first person to bring Professor Presas to Buffalo, he opened the first Modern Arnis program in the Buffalo area, he was Mr. Bryant's Modern Arnis instructor, although Mr. Bryant left before earning his black belt and opening his academy.

Guro David Battaglia and myself have taught the Zanghi Kenpo-Arnis program for 30+ years in the Buffalo area.  We have made modifications that fit our personalities and preferences but no one is teaching the Bryant Method in the Buffalo area.  One of his former students who left before earning his black belt has actually taken his program in such a radical direction that there is very little that resembles  the Bryant method.

Sifu Zanghi influenced 6 instructors from other disciplines in the Buffalo area to become involved in Modern Arnis and support Professor Presas by attending as a well as hosting Modern Arnis seminars.  I hosted 4 Modern Arnis Camps after Sifu Zanghi retired from teaching in Buffalo and I taught the only college-based, academic credit bearing Modern Arnis program in the USA and Canada for 25 years.  Since my retirement that program has continued under 2 of my former students.  That program was recognized and sanctioned by the late Professor Presas in 1989.

No where in the lineage that extends from Mr. Bryant match those accomplishments be matched by his students.  It was Sifu Zanghi who brought Modern Arnis to the Buffalo area and he has had a lasting influence in the area since his retirement.  If John Bryant deserves to be inducted into the Modern Arnis Hall of Fame, then it is both a shame and an injustice that his instructor and senior in the art would be left out of the same hall.


Jerome Barber, Ed. D. 

Comment by Edward Talib on June 25, 2013 at 6:00pm
Dr.Barber....Is the Board or Committee of this Hall of Fame have knowledge of this History you are sharing?


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