The SE Asian Martial Arts blog is an open discussion venue dedicated to the exchange of information involving the South East Asian Martial Arts such as Escrima, Arnis, Pentjak Silat and Kuntao Silat in particular as well as other Asian martial arts in general. Our goal is to give our blog writers and readers a forum that encourages our members to share information, techniques, seminars dates and training camp dates.
I read this reply by the author listed below on <myfma.net> and as I read through the whole post and comments sections I was amazed that there is a FMA instructor who uses the white collar approach to teaching FMA!
Just going through the motions? Whoa! Gotta take some time to really think about this one, but at the same time I couldn't just close out the site and walk away.
By White collar I mean, a laid by back approach, just going through the motions with little to no resistance. By Blue I meant working against a moderate level somewhat of resistance. I hope that helps clarify.
On March 22, 2013, there was an announcement of the martialtalk.com 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 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. Without Sifu Don Zanghi, Professor Remy Presas would not have gotten to Buffalo in 1980, 5 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 possible that the following people in the Buffalo area might never have become involved in or gave instruction in 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, Lakan John Bryant, 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 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.
I just received the following information from Sifu Dale Yeager, regarding the Mataw Guro Association Gathering that he will host on July 17 & 28, 2013 just outside of Philadelphia, in Phoenix, PA.
Sifu Yeager has changed the date for Gathering from June to July and wanted to update everyone about the change. Below you will find all of the pertinant information regarding the Gathering. It will be hard to beat the price quoted for this event and the there are some highly skilled and talented people who will be attending the gathering.
Jerome Barber, Ed. D. -----------------------
From: Dale Yeager <firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MGA Gathering Offical Date 2013
PLEASE READ AND FORWARD to OTHERS:
4TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL MATAW-GURO GATHERING 2013
LOCATION: KUNTAO Martial Arts Club
400 Franklin Ave Suite 115, Phoenixville, PA 19460 www.kuntaomac.com
[We are 45 minutes from the Philadelphia airport, and approx. 2 hours from NYC or Washington DC.]
I have just read the following news post on another forum:
John Bryant, R.I.P.
John Bryant passed away today at 1:00 pm. I have been in communication with John over the last 3-4 years and did know about his condition for some time. He had colon cancer. He was nothing but a role model for anyone undergoing cancer, unflappingly upbeat and positive throughout.
For those of you who didn't know John, he was one of the pioneers of Modern Arnis in the Buffalo area. I believe he first met Remy Presas while being a student of Donald Zangi (a classmate of Jerome barber and a number of others). Two points of historical value: 1. John founded the first Modern Arnis only school, definitely in Buffalo but I think the entire United States and 2. He was Tim Hartman's first instructor. I met Tim at John's school while Tim was a brown belt.
John and I reconnected roughly 5 years ago and we relived old times with RP and Modern Arnis. He was interested in the development of the art while no longer practicing it in present time.
John, thanks for your friendship and contribution to the art. I do not mourn your passing but instead feel honored to be your friend and confidant.
Instructor John Bryant was a friend and classmate of mine who left the Buffalo area around 1986, never to return, even for a brief visit with family and friends who remained behind in our fair "City of Good Neighbors". As mentioned in the post above, did own and operate the only dedicated Modern Arnis school in the Buffalo NY area for a number of years, 1984 - 1987. He broke with our instructor Sifu Don Zanghi in 1984 to open his "Filipino Karate Academy" with some help and encouragement from Professor Remy Presas, the GM of Modern Arnis.
There was thereafter some bad blood between Sifu Zanghi, who was the person who brought the art to the Western New York Area and served as the first Modern Arnis Representative in Buffalo, and
John Bryant, who had actually attained only brown belt under Sifu Zanghi at the time he broke off to open his own school. Sifu Zanghi had produced several black belt students by that time, notably Guro David Battaglia and Craig Petricolla. To John's credit he subsequently produced 3 black belt students, David Smith, Dr. Jorden Yee and the first NYS female black belt holder, Ms. Tammy Wilson.
John and I remained friends throughout the years before he left Buffalo and I regret that he chose to cut himself off from the people in Buffalo who were his friends and associates prior to moving to Arizonia and becoming a dedicated member of the Church of Sceintology. Even though I would disagree with Dan about the use of the term "warrior", I would never begrudge credit that he is due for opening the first dedicated Modern Arnis instructional program in the WNY area and producing the first female Arnis black belt student in NYS. Those are his achievments that should be recognized and celebrated . He also inspired the creation of the Modern Arnis "H Pattern" anyo that was used to teach students how to transition through the system stances and avoid being trapped in a single spot while sparring. I still use the "H Pattern from time to time when I have a student who seems unable to transition smoothly when sparring or defending against multiple opponents in our empty hand drills.
I want to thank Dan Anderson for sharing the news with us regarding John Bryant's passing... he will be missed.
I want to announce that my good friend Terry Dow will be hosting a martial arts symposium and team fighting match next month in Manchester, NH. The details are below:
MARTIAL ARTS SYMPOSIUM March 9 and 10, 2013, Manchester, NH Featuring: “Superfoot” Bill Wallace, Soke Michael DePasquale, Hanshi Bruce Juchnik, Shihan Walt Lysak, Kyoshi Brent Crisic, Renshi Jeff Driscoll, Guro Carlito Bonjoc, Master Danny Dring, Guru Bernard Langan, Master Jesse D’Wire
Contact: Terry Dow - email: Terry@TTSNH.com The Training Station - Terry Dow's Academy of Martial Arts 200 Elm St (Big White Building next to Dunkin Donuts) Manchester, NH 03101 (603) 591-6546
2 Full Days of Training - March 9th-10th Training Hours: Sat 9:00am-4:00pm, Sun 9:00am-3:00pm $189 Full Weekend of Training $55 Banquet with Team vs. Team Fights,
HYBRID FIGHTING TOURNAMENT: Sun 12:00 noon presented by Terry Dow Event to be held in the Armory Room at the Radisson 700 Elm St. Manchester NH $30 symposium participants, $45 non participant’s $20 spectators
Room blocks available for the symposium Sign up with a chartered school or contact Terry Dow, 603 591 6546; check out our facebook page!
I read an essay on another blog and thought that the author, Aric A. Gibson, a
practitioner of Cooper Ryu Vee Jitsu, was on to something.He entitled his essay “Martial Arts: Myths
and Etiquette”. He wrote in part:
>The Black Belt
>There is a
certain amount of mysticism in the black belt.The general public assigns the >symbolism of a black belt to mean
“expert.”I think most martial artists
would agree, however, >that this just is not the case.Some students beginning martial arts practice
look at the attainment >of the rank of shodan as the end of a journey.Quite contrary, earning the rank of shodan,
or 1st >degree black belt, is the beginning of the journey.Be earning this rank, it has been recognized
that >you are competent enough in the basics of your art to begin “real”
learning.The analogy of >mudansha rank
being like >undergraduate studies in college and yudansha rank as graduate
>studies was offered by a sensei many years ago and has stuck with me.To quote author and budo >man Dave Lowry, “In
other words, the black belt is a sign that you have walked through the door
>and little else.You are not an
expert.Not a teacher.You are not even someone who can >adequately
represent the art.The belt means you
have stuck it out long enough to warrant some >serious consideration as a
student, period.”Keeping that idea
in mind lends to the virtue of >humility that >has come to be associated with
traditional martial arts.
interested in knowing what others associated with this blog are thinking in regard
to the ideas that Mr. Gibson has written?Since I have not been part of a traditional martial arts system I can’t
comment authoritatively on the idea that Shodans / 1st degree black
belts are not teachers.My own
impression is that Mr. Gibson and Mr. Lowry are correct based on my own
observations of various people who have earned black belts in a number of
martial arts systems.In fact I would
suggest that the problem is not confined to just traditional martial arts
systems. During my 30 years of training
in Modern Arnis I have known only one teacher who opted to teach his students
how to teach while they were still underbelts – my own teacher, Sifu Don
Zanghi.It appears to me that most
martial arts students regardless of system or style they are learning are not
given any sort of formal, organized instruction in the art of teaching.Those students who do go on to open their own
schools merely mimic the lessons as taught by their instructors.These people are engaged in ‘on the job
training’ within their own schools.
was studying Kenpo-Arnis under Sifu Don Zanghi, I was assigned the task of “showing”
new or younger students various aspects of the basics on a one to one basis
from orange belt through green belt.These were the 2nd and 3rd belt colors in the
Kenpo-Arnis System.The term “show” was
used by Sifu Zanghi when made the assignment.I should also point out that I was already an experienced professional
teacher when I joined his school, “Fight Back Institute”, so taking on a
coaching assignment as soon as I finished my white belt wasn’t too
difficult.On the other hand, that early
coaching experience reinforced my understanding of the basics and sharpened my
skills as a teacher in both the martial arts as well as sociology.In turn I’ve used Sifu Zanghi’smethod with my own Kenpo-Arnis students. Having the students coaching one on one, two on one and still later four
on one, the coaches learn the basics in depth themselves as they learn through guided
experience how to teach.
Gibson’s essay is very interesting to me and I hope that everyone will share
their ideas and experiences with regard to teaching with us.
The following essay has been a long
time in the making.Then genisis was
actually a year ago when several friends and I attended a weekend arnis camp in
Washington, DC.We got into a
conversation with a couple of people over lunch and the topic drifted into
awards, titles and rank inflation in the FMA.As we talked a couple of names came up and comments were made that got
me thinking about the Sokeship Council and a particular internet forum which
featured a number of threads that were less than flattering to that
organization.The conversation continued
after I got back home and I made upo my mind that I would attend the next
gathering of the sokeship group.As
discussed below, I did attend the gathering this summer.My friends have been after me to follow-up my
visit and publish my observations which I have done and present below.
Over the weekend of, June 1st and
2nd, I had an opportunity to attend the World Head of Family Sokeship Council’s
annual awards celebration.The key word
here is “celebration”!The feeling and
mood running throughout the weekend regardless of whom I met or just by
watching others, was that of a celebration among friends and family.Everywhere I went throughout the weekend,
people were celebrating.They were
happy, they were laughing, they were talking, and hugging, shaking hands,
smiling and catching up with one another as they greeted old friends and made
The seminars and demonstrations
were spot-on beautiful, informative and instructional without being rigid,
mirthless formalities, devoid of imagination.There wasn’t a dud among the 15 or so seminars that I attended.The Sokeship gathering is really a grand
place to see the “world of martial arts” for the most part.Of course the obvious truth is that not every
martial art style in existence was represented, however I doubt that any
program could make such a claim and it really is not all that important as far
as I am concerned.This essay is about
who was there and what they accomplished.The Eastern or Oriental martial arts were well represented in the
general categories of karate, kung fu, kenpo, ju-jitsu, aikido, hapkido,
aiki-jitsu, judo and arnis.Given the
diversity represented in the various arts, one can easily imagine that there
could be some tensions generated among some of the participants.It didn’t happen.Everyone was very mellow and highly
supportive of one another.I believe
that the diplomats at the U. N. could have used the Sokeship meeting as a role
model on how to get along with others who have a different approach and
ideas.Black, white, yellow and brown
got along and reallygot down with one
another.It’s too bad that the political
parties in Washington can’t do as well as the Sokeship membership.
I‘m posting this essay because I
recently learned that someone who has trashed the Sokeship Council and the
entire concept has recently accepted yet another Hall of Fame induction and I
find that person’s behavior to be contemptible and highly misleading.In the past I had come across some negative
statements made by people when the issue of the Sokeship council came up,
particularly in relationship to the FMA.A good deal of this negativity is tied to the idea that the word “soke”
is a Japanese term and some folks deem the word to be inappropriate for use
within a FMA context.The general gist
of these nay-sayers is that the Sokeship idea is simply a way for less
qualified and under-skilled martial artists to artificially boost their
credentials without having the physical means to support their title
claims.For example, I read one
statement that said:
“04-24-2005, 10:56 AM
– Poster #1
In Tang Soo Do, it
takes 5 years to reach chodan. 2 more years to reach Eedan. 3 more for
samdan...ect. Eighth dan is the highest rank in TSD and I know of only a
handfull of people who can claim this. As far as I know, this ranking structure
seems to be prevelent among many other martial arts.
With this being said,
if you add up the minimum time requirements to reach this highest of rank it
equates to a minimum of 40 years of hard training. Therefore, I expect to see
an old man claiming such a rank.
Some of these
"soke" don't look too much older then me (I'm 28 and I came across a
few that were 35-40 max). Moreover, they are claiming rank that if actually
earned, it would take hundreds of years to accomplish. This is rediculous. Even
if you take cross training into account, these claims are impossible.
out several paragraphs that restate the same essential point, that the Sokeship
concept isa fraud being perpetrated on
the American martial arts community by people who have not earned their ranks
through training time in the arts nor have they acquired the requisite skills
to support their title or rank claims.I
also omitted the screen-name the author used on the forum, since the site
operator does not require posters to use their given names.
Another writer posted the following comment which again raises questions
about honesty, training and skill development:
“04-24-2005, 10:57 AM
– Poster #2
Well I really don't
think this is about Japan at all. Yes, I have ended up living in Japan and
studying here because of my drive to improve myself. But I have also flown back
to the states to train with American martial artists who have actually faced
knife attacks multiple times- which is rare in Japan.
This is a very good
point. There's wisdom and experience--experience from training, and from
fighting--to be had wherever you go. Training in the States probably has some
advantages, as does training in Japan--or rather, it makes sense to keep your
eyes open and learn wherever and whenever you can. I'm sure there are places in
Japan where you could get that kind of experience too; and I know there are
excellent, traditional martial artists here. It's not about Japan. It's about authenticity
young martial artist and someone whose father was “badly burned” by a martial
arts instructor after putting in and paying for 11 years of training at this
particular dojo.I was somewhat inclined
to read comments like those cited above more favorably and less objectively
than I should have.In addition I had an
added piece of information that the above posters probably didn’t because my
dad’s instructor was a certified member of the Sokeship Council with the
designation, “Head of Family”.My dad
had helped his instructor by teaching (for free) the new beginning students the
basics of the system for 8 years.His
negative experiences at the hands of his instructor were so serious and painful
that he never allowed me to join a martial arts school during my high schools
years, even though I had several close friends training in karate.I started my formal karate training in
college through the campus karate club program.The cost of the instruction was nominal and took place in the basement
of my dorm.I had gotten some previous
training under my dad and an uncle for 3 years during high school so that I
could keep up with my friends.No
teenager likes being out of the loop and dad recognized that reality, but was
totally adamant that I was not going to become a dojo student, particularly at
his former school or under his former instructor.The whole formal martial arts package for my
dad centered on disloyalty, disrespect, inflated rank and out of control ego on
the part of his instructor as he explained the situation to me on a number of
occasions.So when I read comments such
those posted on the forum :
04-24-2005, 10:59 AM –
I realize that this is
a separate issue to some, but every single "soke" I've looked at also
claimed bogus rank. In my opinion, the issue of bogus rank and the bogus use of
the term "soke" are inseparable.
Those comments found a receptive
reader, after all, my dad had direct experience with a person claiming an
inflated title and rank from the very organization being panned by those folks
posting on the forums.I’d heard
numerous times about the bad treatment that my dad had experienced as a student
and assistant instructor at the hands of a person claiming to be a “soke” so I
was open to the idea that “sokes” were fakers.My dad’s experiences were so horrible and humiliating that he couldn’t
go back to the dojo or allow himself to become a student of anyone else, even
though my uncle was having a great time working with and learning from his
instructor.At the skills level, my
uncle actually passed my dad and we all could see it.When I read the following comments from a FM
artist with an impressive title:
11-17-2005, 02:55 PM –
I'm currently away for
the weekend teaching seminars this weekend so I'll keep this short. I've been
inducted into several Halls of Fame and after going threw this process I think
they're mostly crap! As far as the Grandmasters in the Soke council I see 3 that
barely deserve the rank of Black Belt let alone GM!
turns out that poster #3 had by that time been inducted into 5 halls of fame
and he had also received an award, but not Sokeship status from the Sokeship
Council.Yet here he is trashing members
of the very same council that had positively recognized him.Wow, what in the world was that all
11-29-2005, 03:56 PM –
First off I would like
to apologize for my delay in responding to your post. I was teaching *******
and when I got back there was backlog of work for me to do.
As far as my bio goes,
I didn’t put it up… someone else posted an outdated bio. At one time I did
claim my hall of fame awards, but since I was exposed to the inner workings I
no longer do so. As far as my comment
goes I may have missed communicated my feelings in haste. What I was referring
to was the quality of some of the inductees to the Hall of Fame. I don’t know
the quality of the orgs training. There are many high caliber inductees, but
there are those who barley rate as Black Belts.
Now my post was almost
8 months ago, so my thoughts aren’t that fresh on this topic. I also had a
couple beers in me at the time. I’ve had a couple interesting experiences with
these kinds of Hall of Fame which has left me with a less than favorable
impression for the whole thing.
that statement got me really thinking… there is clearly a mixed message being
delivered by this poster and he had already accepted a number of inductions.Could it be that I had been too quick in
adopting my dad’s position?Had I
refused to look beyond his very narrow range of experiences?Maybe I was not looking at these posts in an
objective manner, nor was I seeking 2nd opinions or data to support the
allegations being made?Was I really
reacting emotionally and not working toward finding out the facts for myself?
11-29-2005, 04:51 PM –
I would have to say
that after being inducted into 5 different Halls of Fame, it seemed that only
one of them wasn't about the money.
above statement really made my day.The
fog of emotion was lifted and blown away by the sweet, strong winds of reason
and research.Reading through all of
those posts again, I finally saw the obvious things that had been there the
entire time.These people were jealous
and committed only to themselves.They
were not posting to help or warn people about some kind of farce.These people were engaging in a staged
dialogue primarily to promote the virtues of one person.This person was being presented as someone
who was now above the fray and no longer engaged in the search for cheap easy
low hanging fruit.This person had seen
the light.This person after five bites
of the rank/title/hall of fame nominations apple, now knew that ALL halls of
fame and sokeships were mere shams.If
you are willing to pay enough money then you too will be issued some worthless
pieces of paper denoting you as a “recognized master” of all that you survey in
martial arts land!With one grand sweep
across the keyboard this person (poster #3) announced that he did not need any
more of that shady stuff!
an epiphany moment for me when I reads that statement, but I didn’t have any
sort of concrete or circumstantial proof that these posters were in collusion
with one another or who was working hand in glove with whom; however, I could
very easily connect several of the posters to one another by way of friendships
and/or membership in the same association.And by some amazing coincidence, the newly enlightened poster #3 just
happened to be the association’s founder-chief instructor.But as fate would have it the newly
enlightened one was “honored” yet again recently with two (read that again, 2)
more hall of fame nominations in 2012, which he has so graciously
accepted.And this is the very same
person who posted on 11-17-2005:
“…I'll keep this short.
I've been inducted into several Halls of Fame and after going threw this
process I think they're mostly crap! As far as the Grandmasters in the Soke
council I see 3 that barely deserve the rank of Black Belt let alone GM!”
let us not forget that he also wrote:
“I would have to say
that after being inducted into 5 different Halls of Fame, it seemed that only
one of them wasn't about the money.”
given the above quotes, why would this newly and positively enlightened person
(2005) readily accept two more halls of fame nomination this year (2012)?I know that I’m asking a highly rhetorical
question, however, when I found out more about his latest “awards” that really
tripped the ‘hypocrisy switch’ in my mind.It was the circumstantial proof that I was hoping to find.I felt like a cold case investigator who finally
found that critical piece of evidence that allowed me to solve the riddle with
regard to their trashing of the Sokeship Council awards.The only thing left to do was to go to the
Sokeship Council Awards Celebration and see for myself if the forum
trash-talkers have any merit what so ever.The confirmation threshold for the trash-talkers was actually quite
low.I just needed to find 2 or 3
presenters who were sub-standard in terms of their demonstrated skills.Best of all, I was the sole person who was
going to make that determination based on my very own empirical observations of
the seminar presenters.My comparative
standards were my dad, my uncle and my system GM, plus my own 18 years of
martial arts training.I had seen enough
excellent masters and grandmasters during my training time to have a very good
sense of when someone knows their stuff and when someone is simply ‘skating
through’ the motions without a clue to reality.
stated at the top of this essay, the Sokeship Awards Celebration is exactly
that, a celebration of skills, brotherhood, friendship and mutual respect.These folks know what they are doing.The members of the Sokeship Council are
talented and highly skilled martial artists.Obviously I didn’t see or meet every single person who has been
recognized by the WHF Sokeship Council, but the people that I saw doing
demonstrations and conducting seminars are the real deal.I will be going back for years to come to
witness and participate in this celebration.No one has to give me an award in order to get me there, again.The members in action that weekend have given
me all the reasons that I need to return and learn.