The phrase “Energy Based” is used frequently to describe the Filipino Martial Arts. It involves a reciprocal and mutual relationship between and amongst students, practitioners and instructors. It encompasses concepts like sensitivity and flow. It focuses on the unique characteristics of that time and place, with specific individuals. It isn’t cookie cutter, and it isn’t driven by standardized form or aesthetics. It is alive. It is evolving. It is discovery and expression.
How fitting then, that I recognize these very traits in the teachers, systems and organizations that I am privileged to belong to. The leaders that I look up to embody the very essence of “Energy Based” and it is reflected in their teachings and students. It is inspiring and infectious, and it is a genuinely exciting time to be involved in these Filipino Martial Arts.
In the past few years, I have been witness to the rise and evolution of the Guard curriculum in Sayoc Kali. A genius component of the comprehensive Sayoc Fighting System, the Guard evolutions are a culmination of Pamana Tuhon’s prior concepts, combining empty hand strategy with All Blade All the Time methodology. Atienza Kali has continued to revolutionize Filipino Martial Arts, building on an already expansive curriculum and keeping our drills and training methods alive. Tuhon Carl has incorporated mitt and heavy bag work into our bladed and unconventional weapons training that was rarely seen before outside of boxing, Muay Thai and other empty handed forms. In addition, the Atienza Protective Pen seminars have led the way in bringing together students of firearms, civilians and blade practitioners. Last year at the age of 77, Guro Dan Inosanto began his formal training in Cambodian Boxing and has continued to teach and promote the Balintawak Eskrima material that he has taken a vested interest in for the past few years. As as result, kicking paddles once used only in childrens’ martial arts classes are being incorporated again into combative training and Kali students have further developed their stick trapping attributes. And in the Global Stick and Blade Alliance (GSBA) organization affiliated with the Doce Pares organization, new categories of competition including unarmored soft stick have been introduced to recognize other aspects and skill sets.
This is the continued advancement of skills and knowledge that keeps me so enthusiastic about our Filipino Martial Arts. While there is tremendous benefit to tradition, set forms and classical positions, it is this fluidity of discovery and combative play that constantly pushes we as students to new boundaries, drives our teachers to devise new ways to convey lessons and build skills and keeps these arts not only functional but relevant to the contexts that we live our daily lives in.
“Everybody has this… most systems have that… but what they don’t have is the fluidity with it. They don’t have the flow.” – Guro Dan Inosanto (taken from the following clip):
So while we still do use “Energy Based” to describe our systems, our drills and our learning formulas it also is personified in the warrior teachers and leaders that sustain, protect and keep these Filipino Martial Arts alive today.