I could barely believe it. I was standing outside in the Southern California sun, looking up at the Ed Parker’s Kenpo Karate sign at his original school in Pasadena. I was about to go inside and meet Tuhon Ray Dionaldo, the incredible Filipino Martial Artist that had captivated my attention over the last several months on YouTube. I had started Sayoc Kali earlier in that year, and in addition to his dazzling demonstrations of blade disarms and stick work, had been introducing the martial arts world to the karambit.
It was 2003, and my wife and I had just moved to Los Angeles. Though I had been studying Filipino Martial Arts for a few years I was blown away by the material we covered that day. The karambit, blade, sarong, blade IN sarong (especially blade projectiles FROM sarong, and blade projectiles using Sikaran) or even Silat techniques that Tuhon presented I still use and teach today. The concepts… the concepts of 50/50 Rule, occupying all weapons, ballistic entries and disarming forever changed and bridged how I learn, practice and teach Filipino Martial Arts. Through the years at Sayoc Sama Sama’s, Tuhon Ray would be gracious enough to teach me how Anakin stripped the lightsaber from Dooku and beheaded him with a lightsaber gunting. He taught us about shifting from Receiver to Feeder, and astounded us with his concealment ability even when we swarmed an old abandoned house looking for him.
Since those times I have seen Tuhon Ray less in person, but maintain my awe not only in his skill, smoothness and flow captured on video, but in the quality of students and instructors he has produced. Much more than that, I have always been impressed with the camaraderie and family atmosphere that FCS practitioners and in turn the whole organization have always emanated. Tuhon really is an ambassador, a link and a bridge between systems, amongst teachers, from ancient to modern, from The Motherland to The States. I was completely honored that Tuhon Ray agreed to be on this podcast, and am exceptionally grateful not just for his time and generosity here, but for all he has done and continues to do for Filipino Martial Arts.