Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Atillo Posts successors list

Last year (2013) GM Crispulo Atillo announced his "Successors-Disciples" and I posted a blog statement praising his public statement because he has eliminated for the most part any need for argumentation after he passes on.  His announcement really was very forthcoming and progressive
in terms of the usual bickering that follows the death of a system founder and/or Grand Master.

Of particular interest to me was the fact that GM Tom Bolden, GM Douglas Pierre and Master Peter Vargas were named to the highest level of succession as "Successors-Disciples".  Since these three people have trained in Modern Arnis with GM Bolden and GM Pierre have earned lakan level ranking directly from the late Professor Presas, the designation by GM Atillo moves these men closer to the actual roots of Modern Arnis, through the Saavedra-Balintawak lineage.  In spite of the efforts of some people both inside and outside of Modern Arnis as well as Balintawak Eskrima to discredit GM Crispulo Atillo as a major player in the art of Balintawak, the basic evidence supports his claims of being involved in the Balintawak System beginning in the 1950's.  And tray as they may, no one has been able to show definitively that the art known as Balintawak is not a logical extention of the "corto linear"  eskrima style that was developed and practiced by GGM Lorenzo Saavedra and his 3 nephews, Teodoro "Doring" Saavedra, Fredrico Saavedra and Venancio Saavedra Bacon.  At one point in time, Teodoro Saavedra, was the instructor for Venancio Bacon, Vincente Atillo, Delfin Lopez, Timeteo Maranga and some 23 other people who eventually worked together to form the
Balintawak Self Defense Club in 1952.  There is no doubt that Bacon the principal instructor of the newly formed BSDC and every agrees that the new club was named after the street on which the new club house was located.  The one seldom asked and never answered question is where did GM Bacon get the information that he used to establish the new Balintawak System?

As with so many situations involving conflicting groups of people involved in a similar organization
the truth is often right in front of them and obviously hiding in plain sight.  The plain and simple truth is that Venacion Saavedraa Bacon had only trained in one system, the Saavedra Escrima or Corto Linear system under Lorenzo and Teodoro Saavedra.  He took that information and training from the Saavedra's through the Doce Pares Club to his new BSDC organization in 1952.  GM Vincente Atillo taught the Saavedra Eskrima System to his son and they were members of the BSDC from it's inception.  There is a very clear ancd compelling reason why we can not find a significant difference between the eskrima that GM Crispulo Atillo teaches and the art that GM Bobby Taboada teaches, along with the art of GM Bob Silver Tabimaina, or GM Nick Elizar. They are all engaged in teaching Balintawak.  They all have the same core foundation and they have added other elements that best suited them as individuals.  The Atillo detractors have to engage in tautologies to make their charges sound reasonable but when pushed with empirical evidence they fall back to allegations that the Saavedra system has nothing to do with Balintawak, therefore GM Atillo, should have refered to his system as Savvedra Eskrima.

Given what I have been able to find through my research efforts, I am very comfortable with the idea that the Atillo System is the Saavedra and Balintawak Systems are essentially the same with some new and very logical adaptations added by a number of senior people including GGM Bacon.  My research results have convinced to amend my original flow chart to include the Saavedra-Atillo connections to Modern Arnis and Professor Remy Presas.  The chart is reproduced below.

I understand that there will be some people who disagree with me and I fully respect their right to do so.  My only stipulation is that they will have to give me a documentable set of alternatives, not merely someone's word of mouth accounts.  As a sociologist as well as a martial artist, I want to see empirical documentation before I alter my flow chart again.

Respectfully yours,

Jerome Barber, Ed. D.
GM & Datu,
Independent Escrima-Kenpo-Arnis Associates

Martial Arts Lineage of Remy Amador Presas

Leon B. Presas
Traditional Arnis

Espada y Daga

Remy Amador Presas

Founder & GM Modern Arnis

Lorenzo Saavedra
Founder & GM - Saavedra Eskrima

Teodoro Saavedra

Venancio Saavedra Bacon - Timeteo Maranga - Vincente Atillo
Crispulo Atillo
Arnulfo Mongcal
Remy Amador Presas
Founder & GM Modern Arnis


Venancio Saavedra Bacon
Grand Master & Co-Founder Balintawak Eskrima

Timeteo Maranga - Vincente Atillo w/ Crispulo Atillo
| |
Arnulfo Mongcal
Remy Amador Presas
Founder & GM Modern Arnis




Martial Arts Lineage of Dr. Jerome Barber

Modern Arnis Lineage:

Remy Amador Presas
Founder & GM Modern Arnis

Donald F. Zanghi
Jerome Barber, Ed. D.

Kepno Karate Lineage:

Hoon Chow

(Hung Gar) James Mitose
| (Kosho Ryu Kenpo)
| |
William K. S. Chow (Chinese Kenpo)
Adriano Emperado (Chinese Kenpo, Eskrima, Kajukenbo)
| |
Marino Tiwanak                                                      Edmund Parker, Sr.
(Kajukenbo, CHA-3 Kenpo)                       (Chinese Kenpo, American Kenpo)

|                                                                      |
Florentino Pancipanci                                                   Al & Jim Tracy

(CHA-3 Kenpo, Pancipanci Eskrima)                     (Tracy System Kenpo)
              |                                                                    /                          |
Tom Bolden                                              Ernest McPeek      Donald F. Zanghi
(CHA-3 Kenpo)                                 (Tracy System Kenpo) (Tracy System Kenpo)
(Pancipanci Eskrima) (Modern Arnis)
|_____________________________________ |___________________|

                          Jerome Barber, Ed. D.

Tim Kashino - Richard Curren - Tom Verga - Paul R. Martin - Kenneth Q. Boehm,
       Debra S. Moore - Keith Roosa - James "Buddy" Antonio, Frank Heinan,
             Kathleen Geiger - Frankie Heinan - Stephanie Heinan,
                  Mary Altair - Keri Marotti, Michael Zelli
                        (Certified Black Belt Instructors - IEKA)

Stephanie Heinan, Michael Zelli

Poem: The Hangman

A facebook friend referenced this poem earlier today and after looking it up and reading it, I was very impressed with the concept and moral character contained therein.  I have posted it on a couple of sites that I frequent and asked for some feedback.  I hope to hear from you guys as well.

The Hangman

Into our town the Hangman came,

 Smelling of gold and blood and flame.

And he paced our bricks with a diffident air,

And built his frame on the courthouse square.

The scaffold stood by the courthouse side,

Only as wide as the door was wide;

A frame as tall, or little more,

Than the capping sill of the courthouse door.

And we wondered, whenever we had the time,

Who the criminal, what the crime,

That Hangman judged with the yellow twist

Of knotted hemp in his busy fist.

And innocent though we were, with dread,

We passed those eyes of buckshot lead;

Till one cried: "Hangman, who is he

For whom you raise the gallows-tree?"

Then a twinkle grew in the buckshot eye,

And he gave us a riddle instead of reply:

"He who serves me best," said he,

"Shall earn the rope on the gallows-tree."

And he stepped down, and laid his hand

On a man who came from another land.

And we breathed again, for another's grief

At the Hangman's hand was our relief.

And the gallows-frame on the courthouse lawn

By tomorrow's sun would be struck and gone.

So we gave him way, and no one spoke,

Out of respect for his hangman's cloak.

The next day's sun looked mildly down,

On roof and street in our quiet town

And, stark and black in the morning air,

The gallows-tree on the courthouse square.

And the Hangman stood at his usual stand

With the yellow hemp in his busy hand;

With his buckshot eye and his jaw like a pike,

And his air so knowing and businesslike.

And we cried: "Hangman, have you not done,

Yesterday, with the alien one?"

Then we fell silent, and stood amazed:

"Oh, not for him was the gallows raised."

He laughed a laugh as he looked at us:

"Did you think I'd gone to all this fuss

To hang one man? That's a thing I do

To stretch the rope when the rope is new."

Then one cried, "Murderer!" One cried, "Shame!"

And into our midst the Hangman came

To that man's place. "Do you hold," said he,

"With him that was meant for the gallows-tree?"

And he laid his hand on that one's arm,

And we shrank back in quick alarm,

And we gave him way, and no one spoke,

Out of fear of his hangman's cloak.

That night we saw with dread surprise,

The Hangman's scaffold had grown in size.

Fed by the blood beneath the chute

The gallows-tree had taken root;

Now as wide, or a little more,

Than the steps that led to the courthouse door,

As tall as the writing, or nearly as tall,

Halfway up on the courthouse wall.

The third he took — we had all heard tell —

Was a usurer and infidel,

And: "What," said the Hangman, "have you to do,

With the gallows-bound, and he a Jew?"

And we cried out: "Is this one he,

Who has served you well and faithfully?"

The Hangman smiled: "It's a clever scheme

To try the strength of the gallows-beam."

The fourth man's dark, accusing song

Had scratched out comfort hard and long;

And "What concern," he gave us back,

"Have you for the doomed - the doomed and black?"

The fifth.The sixth. And we cried again:

 "Hangman, Hangman, is this the man?"

"It's a trick," he said, "that we hangmen know

For easing the trap when the trap springs slow."

And so we ceased, and asked no more,

As the Hangman tallied his bloody score;

And sun by sun, and night by night,

The gallows grew to monstrous height.

The wings of the scaffold opened wide,

Till they covered the square from side to side;

And the monster cross-beam, looking down,

Cast its shadow across the town.

Then through the town the Hangman came

And called in the empty streets my name -

And I looked at the gallows soaring tall

And thought: "There is no one left at all,

For hanging, and so he calls to me

to help pull down the gallows-tree."

And I went out with right good hope

to the Hangman's tree and the Hangman's rope.

He smiled at me as I came down,

To the courthouse square through the silent town,

 and supple and stretched in his busy hand,

Was the yellow twist of the hempen strand.

And he whistled his tune as he tried the trap

And it sprang down with a ready snap—

And then with a smile of awful command,

He laid his hand upon my hand.

"You tricked me, Hangman!" I shouted then.

"That your scaffold was built for other men.

And I no henchman of yours," I cried,

"You lied to me, Hangman, foully lied!"

Then a twinkle grew in his buckshot eye:

"Lied to you? Tricked you?" he said,

"Not I. For I answered straight and I told you true:

The scaffold was raised for none but you.

"For who has served me more faithfully

Than you with your coward's hope?" said he,

"And where are the others that might have stood

Side by your side in the common good?"

"Dead," I whispered; and amiably

"Murdered," the Hangman corrected me;

"First the alien, then the Jew...

I did no more than you let me do."

Beneath the beam that blocked the sky,

None had stood so alone as I -

And the Hangman strapped me, and no voice there

Cried "Stay" for me in the empty square.

—Maurice Ogden  (1951)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Modern Arnis and the Long Blade: An Expository Essay Regarding Good Footwork

Modern Arnis and the Long Blade:
An Expository Essay Regarding Good Footwork

by Jerome Barber, Ed. D.
GM & Datu, Independent Escrima-Kenpo-Arnis Associates
The long blade and good footwork are an essential pairing regardless of the martial art system or style being considered. A good number of my fellow Modern Arnis instructors talk a good game but fail to fully execute the footwork that they mention in their classes.  Modern Arnis is in reality a bladed art that is based on the bolo or long knife.  The rattan stick is a training tool and was utilized by the late Professor Remy A. Presas to show the beauty of the art and to make the art acceptable for instruction in physical education programs involving children in the Philippines.  Consider the following quote:
 "Imagine that your stick is a sword and that you are “slicing” your opponent’s arm.  (Modern Arnis, Remy Presas, page 83, 1983."

 Strictly speaking (writing) for myself, I believe that mobility, footwork and body-shifting needs to be emphasized more in the training of most Modern Arnis students in the United States.  If there is one constant that I have observed in my 39 years of training within the Modern Arnis System, it is that most of the practitioners do not demonstrate a mastery of good footwork and body shifting.  They typically ‘plant’ their feet, thereby ‘rooting’ themselves in one spot as they practice their striking and/or defending themselves in the various system drills.  These people tend to rely heavily on their stick and empty supporting hand in defending themselves against an attack.  Many of my fellow Modern Arnis instructors will talk mightily about mobility and movement, but in actual practice they fail to execute the very behaviors that they claim are so integral to their art or instructional formats.

 I have found that most of my fellow Modern Arnis instructors, regardless of current ranking, have failed to establish any sort of definitive pattern with regard to triangulation stepping as described by the late Grandmaster Remy A. Presas, in his various books.  Without that essential footwork foundation these instructors can not establish any sort of alternate supplemental patterns for evasive footwork to augment the primary evasion triangulation steps that Professor shows in his books, particularly the Ohara Publications version of Modern Arnis (Modern Arnis: The Filipino Art of Stick Fighting.  Remy Presas. 1983, p. 26).  Merely talking about footwork and mobility is not enough.  One actually has to use it in his/her own training sessions and drill it into their students until it is a reflexive habit.  If one were to closely examine Modern Arnis stick strikes 5, 6, 7, 10 and 11 it would be readily apparent that these attacks can be evaded and neutralized by merely shifting your body off the line of attack with either a single step and/or rotation of upper body.  

 The integrated transitional concepts which are inherent within the logical philosophy of blade avoidance in Professor Presas’ system should be readily apparent to anyone who has studied Modern Arnis in depth.  The thing that makes the Modern Arnis System so effective, efficient and logical is the built-in economy of motion that establishes the foundation of the system.  At the very core of the system is the reality that Modern Arnis was built on the principles of the long Filipino blades, such as the bolo, itak, kris, barong, machete and kampilan among others.

 Professor wrote the following statement in his first Modern Arnis book in 1973:

 What should be emphasized, however, is the fact that the cane is only for practice purposes for its basiclly less lethal in nature.  For in actual combat, the standard weapon is still the bolo or any bladed weapon which is more stable and convenient for this kind of combat technique.” (Modern Arnis: Philippine Martial Art “Stick Fighting”.  Remy Amador Presas, Founder of Modern Arnis. p. 9, 1973.).

Blocking incoming bladed strikes is simply not at all practical in many cases.  Evasion and counter-striking are really much better defensive actions.  In Modern Arnis as conceived by Professor Presas, the 12 stick strikes are “…the life and soul of arnis.  They are the things around which all other techniques revolve.”  (Remy Amador Presas, 1973, p. 32).  With that idea in mind, blocking, whether with a stick or empty hands must be seen as a secondary behavior which compliments body shifting and evasive footwork because these strikes are conceived of and presented as originating from bladed instruments.

In his books Professor always included information about stances and body shifting. Professor believed that “… your body shifts almost automatically into the proper stances as you execute each strike.”  (Presas, p. 31, 1983).  But, how can one learn to step and shift effectively if one has not been taught the correct methods for doing so?  Learning to shift is tied to striking and striking relies on footwork to place ones self in the proper position to effectively execute the strike.

Learning to employ body shifting in arnis is extremely important. Virtually all the techniques in this book employ some degree of body shifting to move your body away from the opponent’s angle of attack, yet close the distance so that an effective defense can be used (counterstrike, disarm, takedown)”. (Presas, p. 26, 1983.).

Professor Presas was quite adamant, in his printed materials, about the importance of evasion and he wrote, “Body shifting is very important.  An eskrima player should be shifty in positioning his body at a vantage point so that he can strike with utmost power.  Proper body positioning will also enable him to be outside the effective range of an opponent’s blow or strike.  Body shifting consists of stepping, sliding, turning or (a) combination of these movements.” (The Practical Art of Eskrima: 2nd Edition.  The Filipino Martial Art of Attack and Defense with cane or barehands, otherwise known as Arnis.  Remy Amador Presas, “Father of Modern Arnis”.  1994, page 26)

When Professor actually taught seminars and camps he often skipped right past any references to stances and body shifting. He would immediately began teaching the 12 angles of stick attacks, plus the single stick and empty hand translations, joint-locking, double stick and disarming techniques that were based on the 12 striking angles.  In his later years (mid to late 1990’s) he included and emphasized sinawali boxing and tapi-tapi concepts.  Professor Presas also made the following statement regarding the importance of the 12 stick striking techniques, “In the twelve striking techniques, the learner is taught how and where to deliver a strike in order to achieve the maximum power and efficacy.” (Remy Amador Presas, 1974, p. 32).  Combine the above quote with the following two statements that Professor wrote in his 1983 version of Modern Arnis:

Notice that your body will shift almost automatically into the proper stances as you execute each strike”.  (Remy Presas, 1983, p. 31.).  You must stay loose and move quickly, always pivoting to face the strike and keep your balance.”  (Presas, p.  45, 1983.).

It appears to me that Professor Presas is making a strong case for assuming that his Modern Arnis students would automatically find, use, as well as fully understand the proper positioning and body shifting methods without his formal input.  Unfortunately this assumption and instructional omission on Professor’s part may be the major contributing factor to the tendency of many of his top instructors (and by extension, their own students) standing-in-place, relying on their hand and stick skills when practicing the art.   Professor Presas was a strong and powerful man with good upper body strength.  He was also a very good counter-fighter who could effectively stand his ground and prevail in an armed confrontation.  Therefore he was prone to say one thing yet actually do another when it came to evasive footwork and body shifting.  A large number of his students followed his physical examples rather than his spoken or written words when it came to evasion and footwork.

In the Kenpo-Modern Arnis curriculum that I developed for the Erie Community College credit bearing self defense program, I included 4 basic methods of footwork and body-shifting.  These methods of stepping are based on the traditional premise that Modern Arnis is a bladed art and the primary striking tool is in reality an 18 to 26 inch blade.  My own choice for a training tool to replicate the blade is a wooden replica of the Negrito Bolo, which is found on Professor’s home island of Negros. 

There shouldn’t be any doubt that Professor Presas clearly saw bladed weapons as being at the heart of Arnis as he understood it.  Then, so as to remove any lingering doubts, Professor added the names of some of the blades that were featured in the art as he understood it, and taught it in the Philippines, “…kris, bolo, kalis, laring, barong, gunong, kampilan, gayang,pira, punal, itak banjal, bangkcon, lahot and the panabas.”  (Remy Amador Presas, p. 10, 1973).

In conjunction with good footwork one should also have a firm foundation in terms of stances and Professor mentioned this as well in his publications.  Professor wrote:

There are only a few specific stances or ready positions in Modern Arnis, but learning them is essential before they become a part of your automatic response in a self defense situation.  Effective balance and the ability to move swiftly backward and forward to facilitate blocking and striking are the backbone of arnis or any martial art.  Stances or ready positions are not static things to be assumed and then maintained throughout practice.  The body flows into each appropriate stance as the situation demands.  (Remy Presas, p. 21, 1983.).

Perhaps one of the reasons that Professor Presas skipped right over the stance training and footwork when he taught in the United States, Canada and Europe is because he was initially teaching accomplished black belt martial artists who were in reality studying Modern Arnis as an ‘add-on ‘ or secondary art to their original karate or kung fu systems.  Most of these people were already well established instructors within their ‘mother arts’ and were well beyond the basics.  While this methodology worked very well in 1975 when Professor first came to the USA, but as time advanced and a good number of his first generation students became Modern Arnis instructors, the lack of footwork and stance training became more pronounced within the art.  These newly minted Modern Arnis instructors were concentrating on the stick-work and consequently the emphasis on footwork fell by the wayside.  Professor apparently assumed the instructors were teaching footwork within their schools when in reality they were not.  The 2nd and 3rd generations of Modern Arnis students in the USA do not appear to understand the importance of footwork within Modern Arnis.  In addition, the concept of Modern Arnis as a bladed fighting art has been lost, in part because Professor did not want to teach that aspect of the art.  He wanted people to see the grace and beauty of the art not the carnage that someone could create with a long blade. 

The 12 zone stick striking system is mirrored by the 12 zone stick blocking system. A very important aspect of the blocking system requires the defender to move to a safe zone while defending against the incoming strikes.  The blocks are supposed “…to be executed in one smooth and swift motion with no distinct pauses between the block, check and counterstrike motions.” (Remy Presas, p. 45, 1983).

Immediately after learning the basic striking and blocking patterns with the stick, the student must learn how to defend against random, non-sequenced strikes to different areas of their own body. The empty hand translation stick defenses are most often taught in conjunction with the stick training. According to Professor, “The beauty of arnis is in the translation from stick to empty hand defense with no major modifications in reaction.  This helps accelerate a student’s training in arnis since he or she can learn both forms in practice at the same time, and see the correlation between the two.” (Remy Presas, p.45, 1983). The necessity to reflexively move, step and use body shift are critical parts of Modern Arnis training strategy.  It should have become very apparent to the serious student at this juncture of their training that mobility is actually a hallmark feature of Modern Arnis. The basic training ideas mentioned above thereby sets the stage for the next level of intermediate Modern Arnis skills which should also be acquired and mastered.

 Professor Presas was not the only FMA system leader or GM who espoused the importance of body shifting, footwork and mobility.
According to Steven K. Dowd:

Stances the foundation to any style of fighting.  For without the proper stance, attacking, defending, or countering an attack will not have the power, coordination, timing, or balance required for success.  Proper stances with the proper body alignment give mobility and the ability for executing blocks and strikes with confidence. 

 Shifting from one stance to another with agility and strong footwork is an art within itself.  This is essential in combat for without it balance and timing will not be correct and failure is assured.”  (Arnis Balite: The Filipino Art of Hand, Foot & Stick Fighting; as taught by pundador Manuel M. Aguillon.  Steven K. Dowd.  Page 4.)

As the certified inheritor of the Arnis Balite System, I believe that Punong Guro Dowd must know a thing or two about the FMA as taught and practiced in the Philippines, where he studied under the founder (pundador) of the Balite Arnis System, Manual M. Aguillon.  Since I have had the opportunity to work with as well as observe PG Dowd, I can attest to his applicative skills as an arnisador.

 Another FMA system leader who advocates the importance of footwork and evasion was the late GM Leo Giron.  GM Giron was one of the masters who helped Guro Dan Inosanto gain his understanding of the FMA.  GM Giron was a scout for the Filipino Army which battled the Japanese troops in WWII.  His very practical and pragmatic understanding of the importance of evasion is battle-tested in the field of actual combat rather than some theoretical paper constructions of what ‘might be’, ‘could be’ or ‘should be’ considered effective.  GM Giron stated:

"To evade is to move out of the path of an incoming blow.  This does not require the assistance of a weapon, although for maximum protection an evasion is best done in conjunction with a deflection.  Evasion is the most graceful motion in the art of escrima, for this movement reveals the amount of training a player has.”  (The Secrets of Giron Arnis Escrima.  Antonio E. Somera.  P. 52, 2003.).

The late GM Antonio Ilustrisimo, a highly celebrate escrimador from Cebu, Philippines, stated that:

Any weapons-based fighting art must employ the skills of footwork and evasion to a high degree.”  (The Secrets of Kalis Ilustrisimo: The Filipino Fighting Art Explained.  Antonio Diego & Christopher Ricketts. P. 61, 1999.).

Anyone who seriously doubts the skills of the late GM Ilustrisimo, need only talk with the American author of numerous FMA books, Guro Mark Wiley.  He studies with the GM in the Philippines and believes that the late GM was absolutely the best escrimador that he ever studied under.

I am a firm supporter of the idea that Modern Arnis is a ‘living martial arts system’ that should never be relegated to nor considered or treated as a “traditional system”.  As far as I am concerned Modern Arnis, in reality, has to evolve as it is moved from one culture to  another.  Furthermore the practitioners of the art have to adjust to the changing times where ever it is practiced.  As Professor Presas stated: 

Arnis today has experienced changes in the weapons used.  Although the art still makes use of the itak or bolo now and then, it has relied considerably on the use of the cane as a self defense weapon.  This is not because the cane is less deadly than the bladed weapons but mainly because in the later years, Arnis is engaged in more as a sport.” (Remy Amador Presas, page 12, 1973.).
I'm interested in what the readers of this essay think, where we are in agreement and where we have a difference of opinion.

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Forgotten Principle?

 As I read through all of the posts on traveling to the Philippines and perhaps being anointed a “legitimate” FMA master or grandmaster, I was reminded of something that I learned from my first SE Asian martial arts instructors, Sifu Don Zanghi and GM Remy Presas, “Make the art for yourself.”  I can’t recall a seminar that I attended with Professor that he didn’t tell everyone present that “You must make the art for yourself.”  Professor Presas was talking about Modern Arnis, his own martial art creation, not some abstract, otherworldly fantasy. 

From 1982 when I first began working with Sifu Zanghi, through the “Dorie Miller Club” in Buffalo and before I joined the “Fighting Back Institute”, that highly directive phrase was stated and re-stated time and time again.  I first heard it from Sifu Zanghi, but he always cited and referenced Professor as the originator of the statement.  By the time I met and began training with Professor in 1983, ‘make it for yourself’ was part of my training mantra.  The orthodox training regime was to learn the techniques, mechanics, footwork and guiding principles of the art and then configure everything to fit your own bodily strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies.

Professor never spoke about ‘the necessity’ of going to the Philippines to acquire any sort of refinement or fine tuning within the art.  That is not to say that he would discourage people traveling to his homeland, far from it.  He was very proud of his homeland, his culture and history.  We have numerous private discussions about the Philippines and he was very adamant that I should learn about the Negrito (Mayang, Aeta) people, who  are the original inhabitants of the Philippines.  Those conversations came about because of my usage of a wooden training bolo, the “Negrito Bolo” from his home island.  I had already begun the process of ‘making it for myself’ when I adapted the “Negrito Bolo” into my training regime.  I was exploring and gaining an understanding about the differences between the use of a blunt instrument and a long blade.  I was ‘making the art for myself’ because neither Professor nor Sifu Zanghi, were actively teaching bolo usage as part of Modern Arnis.  My explorations were at first fueled by my conversations with WWII vets, who had fought in the Philippines, their stories about the Filipino Scouts as well as my reading of Professor’s 1974 book on Modern Arnis in which he mentions in his preface that the real weapon of arnis is the long blade.    

I’m a strong advocate of Professors dictum of ‘making it for yourself’.  His commitment to the idea of ‘making it for yourself’ was very clearly stated in his 1983 book on Modern Arnis, when he wrote that “The method should suit the person and not the other way around.  This is known simply as using the “flow”.”  If I can apply the concepts, principles and techniques of Modern arnis as taught to me by Sifu Zanghi and Professor Presas, then adapt those same concepts, principles and techniques to suit my own body, then where is the need for me to go to the Philippines in order to become more proficient in the art?  My going to the Philippines would be for the cultural value, meeting some of his older students, my seniors in the art, and having the experiences that ensued from my travels.  

I’m not one bit opposed to going to the Philippines.  I simply reject the notion that I or anyone else NEEDS to go there if they wish to be viewed as an authentic master of the FMA.  I’ve found some dynamite FMA instructor’s right here in the USA and Canada.  Among those whom I’ve met and trained with several times are Sifu Don Zanghi, Professor Remy Presas, GM Tom Bolden, Ama Guro Billy Bryant,  Maha Guru Roberto Torres, GM Bobby Taboada, Sifu Dan Donzella, GM Sultan Uddin, GP Abon Baet, GM Eddie Lastra, GM Jun de Leon and GM Crispulo Atillo.  All of these men have given me solid, practical information and I’m grateful to all of them for their insights and advice.

I haven’t forgotten the ‘make it for yourself’ principle as taught to me by Sifu Zanghi and Professor Presas.  Nor have I fallen away from another principle that Professor advocated when he talked about “the art within your art.”  Professor emphasized the idea that Modern Arnis helps martial artists discover new things about their own style and use arnis to supplement their own mother-art.  But that is an entirely separate post and this one is already long enough.


Jerome Barber, Ed. D.
GM, Datu & Principal Teacher,                                                           Independent Escrima-Kenpo-Arnis Associates

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hand Tools & CRMIPT Seminar, July 26, 2014Hello Folks,

Hello Folks,
I'm just sending out this announcement to remind everyone that Guro Keith Roosa and myself will be conducting a Hand Tools-CRMIPT Self defense Seminar on Saturday, July 26, at Alessi Holsters, 247 Cayuga Road, Buffalo, NY, from 11am to 3pm.  The admission fee is $40.

The seminar is the first of 2 training sessions that we will hold prior to GM Bram Frank's weekend certification seminar that will be held on September27 and 28 at the same site.  In September, GM Frank will be conducting his Modular Training Program aimed toward granting instructor certification in the use of the "Close Range Medium Impact Tool" (CRMIPT).
This hand tool is a non-lethal striking and locking instrument for gaining control of and compliance from an individual who is acting out in a public situation.  The tool was designed for security and police personnel as an option to the use of a baton or firearm in a less than lethal confrontation.

At the July seminar we will focus on the use of the following self defense hand tools, the Filipino-Hawaiian Palm Stick, the Kubaton and the CRMIPT.  We will comparing and contrasting the usage of each tool in a self defense, comply and control situation.  We expect that we will be joined by Sensei Mike Carvelli and you will have the benefit of being instructed by the three instructors in the Western New York Region who are certified under GM Bram Frank in the use of the Gunting Tactical Folding Knife and CRMIPT.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at the July training seminar.


Jerome Barber, Ed. D.
Principal Teacher,
Independent Escrima-Kenpo-Arnis Associates 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

who's side are you on anyway?

As per Doc's request, here is a repost from my personal blog:


I've been doing this "leadership" think for a while now. I've done the NCO thing in the military, I've moved up the supervision chain in LE, etc. While I hesitate to speak from a position of "expertise" on leadership ( I always feel like I'm still learning), there is an aspect of it I seem to see time and again that I would like to discuss and that is the confusion over "where your loyalty lies". In a nutshell the question is this. Are you a representative of management there to "keep an eye on things", implementing your superiors policies and looking for "violators"? Or are you a "representative of your men" who looks out for their welfare and protects them from the wrath of your bosses? This issue is sharpest for that mid level leader like a Sergeant or Lieutenant who has direct contact with "the grunts". In my opinion this is the first hurdle every new leader seems to face. If not understood it can become an entrenched mindset throughout their career, and only becomes magnified the higher up the leadership ladder they climb. Of course...as with any complex issue, the reality is never as black and white as I paraphrased above. A good leader has to realize that he has a foot in two worlds. It's your job to make the ship go in the direction your superiors want it to go...you are not "one of the guys" anymore. However, you are never going to be the "leader of men" I would hope you want to be if you look at the people actually doing the work as drones vs "your people". I look at it like this:

With superiors above you and subordinates below you you can look at yourself as an "advocate" for either side. Ideally you want to span a place somewhere in the middle. It's your job to implement the decisions of your superiors AND it's also your job to look out for the welfare of your subordinates (both personal and professional welfare) and to be a representative for them when dealing with your superiors.

If you tend to be a leader who "sides" with your superiors in all situations, with no interest in standing up for your subordinates when you believe that a new policy is wrong, or that punishment being levied is unfair or excessive you will be seen as a suck up at best or a tyrant at worst. If your boss tells you to "write someone up" for something you don't believe they did wrong, do you just do it? Are you always afraid that if you argue or disagree with your boss that you may harm your chances for a promotion? Are you "scared" of your boss so you just do what your are told with no regard to your personal opinions of right or wrong? You are placing yourself and your concerns over those of the people you are responsible for. Of course there is the flip side:

Are you afraid of being disliked? Do you avoid difficult discussions or dread delivering orders that you know are necessary but are going to be disliked? Do you overlook things because it's easier than dealing with them? You can't be "one of the boys" either. Part of your job is being the person who has to do the tough thing when it comes down to it. If you don't act like a leader your career as one will either be short lived or come to a dead end. My suggestions? You have to look at yourself and make an honest appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses. A person who, in their heart of hearts, knows that they tend to be "one of the boys" has some hope. He/She knows that they have a weakness and that's the first step to correcting it. Small changes over time is usually the best remedy vs trying to become a "hard ass" overnight. It's the people who sincerely believe that their subordinates are simply people to step on in the climb for advancement that are the real problem.

And in conclusion:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Teaching is an Opportunity for Leadership

Teaching is an Opportunity for Leadership

            Teaching is similar to parenting in that teachers can provide a role model that will be emulated and perpetuated by their students later in their own lives.  Both parenting and teaching are the art of guiding, influencing and shaping the directions that child or student will follow as they proceed through the instructions provided by their parents and/or teachers.  Bad practices in teaching as well as parenting can lead to replications of these behaviors when the students reach a point in their own lives where they are placed in charge of others. 

            Unfortunately, like parenting, most martial arts instructors have not been taught how to instruct nor have they acquired some practical hands-on experiences before they walked on the floor/mat to begin their instructional journey.  They are actually experimenting with live students in an on-the-job learning format.  These instructors are forced to fall back and rely on what the experienced as students.  They are going to channel their own instructor(s) because that is all that they have as a basis for their own instructional format.  And like so many of us, who said as children, that we would never do what our parents did to us, these instructors find themselves repeating the same things that they learned from their instructors.

            When our students see, hear and experience these examples they in turn are being impacted with a behavioral imperative that will be repeated after they leave the confines our schools and open their own martial arts instructional programs.  In a good number of cases the results are closely aligned with the cult-followers syndrome.  The instructor both presents himself as and is observed by his students as being the leading authority figure on the art.  Most other instructors and martial arts styles are seen as being inferior and should be avoided at all costs in order to prevent yourself from becoming ‘contaminated’ with inferior techniques and information.  In many cases this attitude is not consciously and deliberately perpetrated by the instructor.  However, when an instructor does not actively encourage independent thinking and research, the tendency to move in the direction of cultism is virtually inescapable for both the instructor as well as many of his students.  This is particularly true when there is a kids program at the school.  Young dragons are easier to mold in one’s own image than adults who have enrolled in the program for their own individual reasons.

            The Paradigm Eskrima-Kenpo instructional program is grounded in the belief that a student who is taught to observe and think positively will become a better student of the arts and he/she can successfully transfer these concepts to all other aspects of their lives.  In addition these students become positive role models for others in almost every situation that they are participating in.  We strive to provide our students with positive behavioral experiences.  We want our students to learn how to deal with adversity and failure as a springboard for future successes.  Our students are shown how to evaluate themselves and accept responsibility for their own shortcomings, then work to reverse the previous outcome at the next opportunity that becomes available to them.  In short, we want our students to make lemonade after they’ve been handed a batch of lemons.

            Our basic instructional format is based on having a principal instructor and at least 2 assistant instructors.  The assistant instructors are usually 3 to 4 belt ranks higher than the newest student who has joined our training group.  We use a combination of class instruction, small group lessons and 1 on 1 training throughout our program.  The assistant instructors provide the 1 on 1 lesson with specific tasks/goals assigned by the principal instructor.  These lessons are evaluated by the principal instructor at the end of the training hour and corrections, if needed, are recommended at that time for the next training session.  In time the assistant instructors are assigned small groups ranging in size from 2 to 6 people to instruct.  In both cases mentioned above the assistant instructors are acting as tutors and resource people, reviewing the techniques/drills that have previously been taught by the principal instructor in the larger class format.  We believe that the more individualized instruction that our students receive the better they will become and the faster they can progress through the underbelt ranks to black belt.  The more confidence the students have in us as instructors, the more confidence they will have in themselves as students and martial artists.  This confidence is easily transferred to other aspects of their lives because success in one area is the best way to build success in other areas of a person’s life.

            Since our assistant instructors are most often higher ranked under-belts themselves they are actually re-learning their basic skill sets as they instruct the newer students in the 1 on 1 and later small group sessions.  This is a win-win situation for everyone involved.  There is a strong bond that extends from the lowest ranked students to the principal instructor and everyone is viewed as being a significant and important person within the training group.  We do not wear belts or use titles in our training group, yet everyone understands where they are within the group.  We also stress ability over time within the Paradigm Escrima-Kenpo Group.  In other words, progress is determined by skills learned and mastered, rather than any concerns for how long someone has been a member of the group.  Promotions are based on skill development and are a measure of one’s commitment to study and work.  Anyone can pass another person in rank by simply being better or more skilled than someone else regardless of how much time each person has been a member of the training group.  That potential situation keeps everyone motivated.  The newer people want to move up as quickly as possible and the older students want to remain at a higher grade than the people they might have instructed at an earlier point in time.

            Throughout our training format, we are stressing skill development, cooperation, competition and shared responsibilities.  We are developing communication and instructional skill development.  The PEK format is designed and intended to provide our students with the information and training necessary to make them good instructors if they choose to go into the instructional field in any area of their own personal interest.

            At PEK we believe that leadership skills can be taught.  By giving our students an opportunity to work in an instructional mode very early in their training, we have identified those people who have a knack for instructing.  We do not leave instructional skills and leadership development to chance.  Our program is very well structured and planned out.  We use a standardized methodology and evaluation process to identify those people who could become excellent instructors both in and outside of the martial arts.  We believe that we can develop leaders and we may very well be the first organizational entity in a student’s life that gives them some definite and specific responsibilities within an organizational structure.   We use both informal and formal evaluation processes to help our assistant instructors.  Each assistant instructor is responsible for monitoring lower ranked assistants and making suggestions to the principal instructor.  Over time the assistant instructors will be asked to discuss their observations with the lower ranked assistants in formal training sessions and demonstrate the areas needing corrections.

            The PEK instructor training program is a by-product of our main mission which is teaching practical and realistic self-defense to all of our students.  We are not focused on retention and getting every single person who enters our program to black belt status.  We take students who come to us with a very specific short term goal as well as people who are interested in a full program agenda.  It is understood that not everyone is seeking a black belt when they enter our program and it is our job to give each student the best training and information that we can provide while they are training with us.  It is equally important to train every student to maximize his/her potential for both the short and long terms.  And for those students who go through the full training curriculum it is important that they leave our program with strong leadership and teaching skills that they can use throughout their lifetime. 

Jerome Barber, Ed.   D.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Grand Master, Principal Teacher,   
Independent Escrima-Kenpo-Arnis Associates