“Fire and lightning, it doesn’t get much more warrior than that.” – Guro Leo Manalo
The warm, humid breeze moved amongst us that night. Shifting sillouettes and faces, of seniors, of teachers, friends and brothers revealed themselves with the licks of flame behind them. Light blue strobed the sky and the low rumble of thunder echoed the fire of the Sayaw in front of us. We stood there with each other, brothers and sisters of the Tribe, to be with and celebrate our newest promotion. I’ve known Guro Nick for many years now, and even though we see each other only a few times each year, he has become a good friend. That night, our seniors spoke words of congratulations, encouragement and thanks, past selves intersected with future into the fabric of now. Brothers, sisters, blades, drums and Sayaw. Echoing the words of Guro Leo, “Fire and lightning, it doesn’t get much more warrior than that.”
It was another incredible gathering of warriors from the Sayoc Tribe down in Florida, and I like I’m sure everyone else has returned with a reinvigorated enthusiasm, a rejuvenation of spirit. When I came back my brother asked if I had “[gotten] some good stuff.” And yes, while I did receive unparalleled instruction in our blade art, it was the time spent with each other, our family by choice that made and continues to make us stronger and ever evolving. For me personally, it was great to train alongside guys that were there during my very first classes under Guro Dr. Bob in Maryland back in 2003. And a privilege to teach material in front of Guro Travis and Guro Joey who shared their knowledge with me when I moved to California later that year. I taught alongside Guro J-Ray, the first person I met during my first Sama Sama in 2005, as well as Guro Jon my brother and training partner from LA. Pamana Silak sent some things with me for my kids, and I was reminded when Pamana Tuhon was talking to me about my oldest son that my time training with the Tribe, and his own age are very close. I have truly come to consider these teachers, mentors, instructors and students much more than even friends. We are family.
“You’re not robots. We’re not a bunch of Terminators. We are family.” – Tuhon Pat Consing
A close friend of mine used to always tell me, sometimes suddenly and poignantly serious, amidst our youthful mischief, “We’re making memories Joey.” It was true then and it was true this weekend. The image of our Tribe, surrounding Guro Harley in the middle of that warm torrential downpour, is now seared through my consciousness into my heart. “We don’t turn on each other. We don’t stab each other in the back… We are family,” he said over the night rain. Did I “get a lot of good stuff” this weekend? Absolutely.
A tremendous thank you to Pamana Tuhon Sayoc, Pamana Silak, the Sayoc family for sharing their art. Thank you to everyone in our Tribe for the invaluable guidance, instruction and connection. Congratulations to Guro Nick and Tuhon Mark. Thank you for all that you do. Here’s to more moments of footwork and transitions and formations, of Cris Angel and cheese and sausage, iced coffees and Wawa’s closing, to playboys and triplets. To making memories.