What the heck is it …. Escrima, Kali, Arnis, or something else like mma, the spear, or even krav maga?
What the heck is it? Regardless of what you train, you will see people doing something that “belongs to another system.” Sorry folks if you thought what you did belonged to your system and that system alone!
Let’s start with the idea of FMA. If we were to say traditional Filipino Martial Arts, we would have to decide at what year we started saying things were not real FMA. Espada y daga comes from Spain … or does it? Are we going to include the mostly muslim arts such as Silat? Are we going to include the arts from one island and not another? Are we going to include the variations that you might see because some one is big and strong as compared to a 5ft islander?
You see where I am going. It gets complicated. We’ll start with Karate and the systems that look/move some what like karate. The Japanese got around and the fact that ww2 helped to popularise Japanese arts such as judo made it easier to become popular on the Filipine islands. Hollywood jumped on the band wagon and there was no looking back. The hard way many karate styles moves, can be seen in many movies. Looking at the softer and more dynamic kung fu styles tv shows and the expectation of that art even more. It’s kinda like assumed fighting style differences in two hand european sword fight and short sword fighting. They are at two ends of the spectrum…. and the same thing in some ways.
When we look at the many arts of the Filipinos arts today. You will see the same differences. But which one is more FMA true? Is Balintawak or Silat the correct FMA version? All this is what makes FMA so great. A person can train a hard powerful style for a while and then train a more fluid style. That person could learn from a Lago Mano specialist and then learn from a Sarrada instructor.
Lets make it even more confusing. Lets say that the person above get’s into GM Latosa style more. Many of the people in Europe find that his way of training FMA fits them better. I am one. My instructor of many years, Lars Lind learned from GM Rene Latosa for many years. We trained hard hits first. The fancy stuff came later because we trained with sticks to start with. I found that a combination of GM Latosa’s style and the style I trained under Master Lind fit me best. Another person who trained a lot of Wing Tsun would add influences from WT.
Now let’s look at what happens when you reach a certain level of understanding of the fighting arts. Regardless of the system, many truths hold true. A wrist lock / disarm may look a little different, because one system derives it grounding concepts from weapons and the other from pure unarmed vs. unarmed fights. Systems like Krav Maga which are popular at the moment because it’s the latest trend, tend to pick up techniques and concepts from other fighting arts. An example is how a system consisting of a few techniques trained in many situations grew to have flying circular kicks and more.
What we do in Latosa Concepts is based largely on weapons fighting with power and balance as the first lessons and concepts like transition are later subjects. We deviate from the core of the system as we learn more and develop more “tools” such as hard passing, jamming and soft passing. Characteristic elements of fma such as “defanging the snake” and live / life hand use are developed as the person learns more about speed, timing and distance.
When I started Escrima under Latosa’s European head Master Bill and the Danish head Master Lind, the unarmed training was kept to a minimum in the beginning because there was a partnership between the WT organisation and GM Latosa. Today we train palm stick and unarmed as well as stick training from the very first day. Politics don’t get in the way any more. But, which form is more FMA in it’s style? The one without the unarmed or the one with the unarmed training.
Once again the waters are becoming murky!
The short answer to what it is: it defends on your understanding of martial arts, the concepts that drive what you know, the philosophies that are involved and at what level the person performing the art is at. Let’s add a few more factors like instructor experience, the ability of the student to perform the given art as it was meant to be done ( or as we think it was meant to be done), and many other.
As I get older I use softer techniques in the place of hard techniques. Passing takes the place of jamming ( you see jamming a lot in krav maga). Reading attacks and what happening takes the place of preempting and I become a nicer person in general. ;) I am moving from a hard FMA style to a softer more fluid one. Which one is more FMA authentic? Is it less authentic because you are young and hard or is it more authentic because you are older, more apt to injury and smarter?
I have not gotten into the general differences in escrima / eskrima , kali, arnis, silat, and so on because this blog post would go on forever. The words are interchangeable in some cases and very telling of the art in other cases. I will mess with your brain a little though! Is the feminine V footwork the same as sprawling in anti-grapling (mma)? If you think about it, there is not much of a skip and hop from one technique to the next when we think in concepts and the reasons for each technique. What drives the actions?
I don’t want to jinks it, but it looks like we might have a new place to train. keep your fingers crossed. If it happens we’ll be open for more members. I am looking forward to seeing more people train FMA in Denmark. Check out the club blog here.
Stay Proactive in Life and Training