I cant remember where I heard this topic frist mentioned maybe it was here but I think it was the FMAtalklive podcast. I'm not sure because I read so much FMA info from sources of varying relialibility. We all know FMA is a battle proven martial art right? So it must not need much modification right?
Anyways the topic I'm thinking of questions the claims of a 100 year old FMA system and begs FMA practitioners to name a 100 year old system that still exists in the same form today. The point being who today trains in a system that goes by the same name it did 100 years ago?...and is still considered the same system. I could find a few schools that existed a hundred years ago, but are their arts still trained the same as they were 100 years ago? Some of these schools have added skill sets to old styles and grouped together separate systems that may have existed 100 years ago, but at the time they were separate schools. So, for example; training in two systems that existed separately long ago is not necessarily the same.
I don't think that just because something is old means it is good. FMA often prides itself on its battle proven techniques but if no system today is the same as one that existed 100 years ago how can this claim be valid?
FMA practitioners clear this up for me, my knlowedge is limited and I know there are way bigger FMA nerds than me out there. I've been preoccupied with school for the last few years so I haven't delved that deep into FMA and its history. Share some resources if you have them.
I wouldn't say modification as much as I would say the art evolves. That is one of the arts stregnths. The ancient arts of Kali evolved to become more affective at fighting Spanish fencing for instance. Footwork evolved, angles evolved, as armor evolved so did important tagets. The arts made a huge evolution in WWII, fighting the Japanese hand to hand and bolo to katana. As new opponents and fighting styles were encountered the arts evolved to counter them. The old ways of training have evolved, as have the areas of focus. Styles have evolved to counter other styles. Methods of teaching evolved as Masters taught more students. The art is always evolving.
No one can say for certain what any FMA looked like 100 years ago.
Anyone who relies on the claim that an art is battle-proven is scared to prove it themselves.
Doce Pares is worth looking at as a case study, since they're among the oldest clubs. Only 81, but that's close to 100 I guess. Some of its founding members saw real conflict in different formats, particularly in WWII against the Japanese. There are some survivors of this war who are well known eskrima masters, who talk about it in DBMA's Grandfather's Speak video. Leo Giron, for example, talks about facing enemies with a bolo. My teacher's in this video and he's a Navy vet but as far as I know he doesn't have any war stories. Anyway, the video's a great source to hear from the guys that actually brought FMA to America, and how it changed too.
My teacher has a fairly "traditional" background as far as FMA is concerned- learned from his father first, who taught a fairly uncodified system of not getting hit, then trained with Cacoy Canete and Lidsay Largusa and went on to start possibly the first FMA training group in San Diego. This isn't to say how great he is or something, but to show that if there's traditional FMA here, he's it. I mention this because even though he's learned the old-school way of doing things, there's things about his teaching that some wouldn't call "traditional":
-His system combines several other systems too; we train Cacoy doce pares + eskrido, Villabrille Largusa kali, and other bits here and there, and he includes defense and terminology for other weapon arts as part of advanced tests (basic kendo and fencing)
-we spar, using mixed athletic gear for protection, including hockey gloves, WEKAF gear, cups, fencing masks etc. This is certainly not how it was done 100 years ago, but I think its in the spirit of proper FMA training.
I feel that Filipino arts are, at their heart, adaptive, or evolving. Even doce pares came about as a synthesis of the arts of a number of guys.
When people make a stink about what makes a martial art "traditional", I feel that underlying that is an assumption that there's one true way to practice a given art, and that to be traditional is to follow that way. Well, the Philippines is a land of 7,000 islands, that's been governed by a dozen different groups of many different religions and origins, so I kinda scoff at the idea that there's one proper way to do things. If a tradition truly is ancient in the Philippines, there is more than one version of it (and probably more than one name too).
Systems are a modern invention of the great masters, like the Doce Pares. They are the ones who put it all together on paper, developed ranking structure, organizations etc. These masters brought the arts to the rest of the world. The systems are based on family teachings, the teachings the masters shared, learned and developed. They are based on traditions but I don’t know if I would call them truly traditional.
Traditional FMA is held in the families. It always will be. What I was taught as traditional were the things my teacher taught me in private. It was the same but it was not the same, if that makes any sense. It’s not taught in the dojo or at seminar, but in back yards, garages, and tucked away places in nature. It’s a birthright to some and a great gift to the rest of us. What a teacher gives to his family and those he calls family, is what I would call traditional. Is it what was being trained 100 years ago? Probably not. But we the world has changed. That environment doesn’t exist. It can be honored but it can’t be duplicated.
In my opinion if you honor the traditions of your teachers, and try to hold your students to his standards not just your own, then you are practicing a "traditional" art.
I train in a garage with the head of a family style, and he also teaches on the side in a dojo environment. Sometimes I go train at their dojos (kajukempo and TKD) and his class is a good deal different. More by-the-numbers and standardization, even from the same guy teaching the same system, compared to teaching like 4 or 5 of us in the garage. Sometimes the limited space is a hindrance though, and we accidentally hit the garage door motor with a backswing.
Originally Posted by KendalGuro
This. It may be because of all of the conflict that has existed in the Phillippine Archipelago that FMA systems continue to grow. One of my instructor's has said that a complete art is a dead art. I'd also propose that because a lot of FMA has relatively recent stress tests in a combat environment as compared to many other traditional martial arts, it hasn't suffered as much in the translation.
Originally Posted by KendalGuro
I'd say the same regarding weapon sparring/stickfighting- FMAs were among the first to put on mismatched sports gear (or nothing) and actually spar instead of being content to just do static forms etc.
Originally Posted by bluedevilboy76
Great replies to my OP guys. maybe i could have re worded my OP but i didn't intend for this post to bring up the "what makes an art traditional one" debate. Given the casual/family environment FMA was originally trained i suppose it is counter intuitive to assume the arts today are the same as what they once were. However, most styles today have some form of curriculum. How do you think modern FMA schools differ from the old schools. How would a school or practitioners of a system trained 100 years ago?
Hell, not even 20 years ago. When I started, we had no protective gear whatsoever. You kept things gentle until you had a good working relationship with your partner, and then you could ramp it up ... slowly. Hits on the knuckles could take a long time to heal, and really impede training.
Originally Posted by Permalost
Gunting was an arduous process to learn well, because if your partner attacked with anything resembling proper speed or power, he was liable to bust his hand.
A saying sometimes heard in the historical re-enactment communities is "if they'd a' had it, they'd 'a would'a used it." Anything some canny old warrior saw of value, he'd adopt it.
That said, I also agree with KendalGuro, about family traditions. I suspect there's a lot of stuff being preserved intact, but with a limited audience, because frankly, it's probably far more restricted in terms of curriculum. (or has material that might not be relevant today, like fighting in small boats, or poisonous compounds using substances only found in that region of the world)
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