Filipino Martial Arts (FMA):
Sticking it to the Competition
Festival Ng Mga Kapatid
By Rich Verdejo & Gigie Alunday/Photos by Victor Gendrano Jr.
“Everyone had a great time! Good people, energy, & sharing.”
August 2, 2008 marked the first Annual Festival Ng Mga Kapatid. Blue skies and another perfect sunny day in Buena Park, California brought the festivities to a start. Anxious to get the day going, guests and participants began arriving and soon filled up the entire yard. Old friends embraced and new friends were introduced to each other. It was great to watch all the interactions among all the different groups in attendance.
“Although it’s the first time I met some of the people there, it felt more like a family reunion.”
The promoters, Rich Verdejo and Gigie Alunday of FCS and DA BEST QUALITY PRODUCTS, welcomed all the guests and thanked them for all their continued support. The event was promoted on short notice and they were humbled to have so many practitioners in attendance. They soon introduced the line-up and the schedule for the day. The headliners for the event were Tuhon Ray Dionaldo of Filipino Combat Systems (FCS), Guro Roger Agbulos of Astig Lameco, and Guro Felix Valencia of Valencia Lameco. Tuhon Ray was in town from Florida and they were fortunate that Guro Roger and Guro Felix were both available for the event.
“Great teachers and lots of good people attended.”
Tuhon Ray Dionaldo – Filipino Combat Systems (FCS)
First on the schedule was Tuhon Ray Dionaldo. He began his session in his normal manner asking what the participants wanted to work on. They were reserved with their requests at first, but it wasn’t long before they started speaking out. Tuhon got the day underway with basic “Punyo-Mano”. He explained the basic punyo-mano entry techniques and used the entry to build on the rest of the sequences, which he explained could be used in conjunction with skills that the participants already possessed in their respective arsenals. The same entry was used to demonstrate how power strikes and multi-strikes can be used effectively in close quarters. Tuhon Ray then moved on to some stick “lock flow” off the same entry to show how to take control and manipulate an opponent. He demonstrated how the stick can be used as a lever and tool. To end the session, Tuhon Ray went over bolo applications using the same techniques that he used earlier. He explained that with consideration of the weapon you are using, the entry and techniques could be used with the stick, bolo, or blade.
“It was an honor to be part of this event.”
Guro Felix Valencia – Valencia Lameco
Next up on the schedule was Guro Felix Valencia. He continued on the same track that Tuhon Ray initiated with the lock flow and demonstrated how the stick can be used on the ground. He used popular Brazilian Jujitsu positions and presented how the stick could be used to move in and out of those positions and could be used in pain compliance and in aid of submission holds. Guro Felix then moved on to the bolo and long range bolo counters. From the bolo counters, he went over some basic blade disarms. He exhibited the disarm circle which puts one armed person in the center surrounded by multiple armed attackers. One by one, they attack the center person who then disarms each attacker before being assaulted by the next attacker.
Guro Felix ended the morning session and had the group hungry for sustenance as they took a long deserved break for lunch. Most of the group convened at a Thai restaurant which gave them all a chance to catch up with each other and enjoy Guro Roger’s humorous wit that had the group rolling.
“I was floored by the show of love, honor & respect. The drills were awesome!”
Guro Roger Agbulos – Astig Lameco
With the group completely nourished, Guro Roger started the afternoon session with stick sparring. He concentrated on non-telegraphic movement and advancing fundamentals when it comes to footwork and striking. He introduced participants to his cardio workout which included basic strikes from the open, closed and center positions. Guro Roger explained that when sparring there needs to be a common ground that both parties agree to at the start of each session. Major strikes, including strikes to the weapon hand, need to be given their respect and both parties acknowledging the strike and resetting to the start position. The group was given the opportunity to spar with Guro Roger and to spar amongst each other.
Blade Fighting Tournament
Guro Roger’s session concluded the training with the Masters; however it did not conclude the festivities for the day. Next on the schedule was the “Blade-Sport” Blade Fighting Tournament, which was run by tournament coordinators; Rich Verdejo and Gigie Alunday. The tournament featured 12 competitors who had made it through the day and were competing for the “winner takes-all” cash pot.
Blade Fighting uses "Blade Sport" sparring blades, which are made of dense foam where the edges of the blade are marked with chalk. The chalked bladed edges are the only means in which a competitor can earn points. The matches are scored on a point system and the first competitor to score 5 points in a 2-minute match is declared the winner.
The competitors lined up and were divided into beginner and advanced divisions. As they sized up their competition, the 4 judges and center referee took their places. The center referee called the first match and the tournament was off when the ref called “Fight”! The competitors used their footwork to evade strikes and respected the sparring blades as if they were live. The chalk marks left after strikes were testament to the consequences of an actual blade fight. Congratulations to all the competitors who weathered through the day and had the energy to bring a high level of competition. At the end of the matches, it was Arnolfo Alatorre that won the pot for the Advanced Division and Richard Canete in the Beginner Division.
At the close of the event, each of the instructors and the promoters addressed the group and thanked them for their support. They all acknowledge that any success is due to the support of the participants and their willingness to come together in spirit of promoting ALL styles and systems. At the end of the day, we are all family, kapatid!
DA BEST QUALITY PRODUCTS are working on growing the event for next year into a Filipino cultural Expo. They aim to promote FMA and the Filipino culture all in 1 event. Plans include having food booths, folk dance demonstrations, FMA workshops, Stick Sparring, and Blade Fighting. Stay tuned for more information and updates. Please contact DA BEST QUALITY PRODUCTS at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
By Master Sonny Napial and Francis T. B. Serrano
Cebu City, Philippines. Filipino Martial Artists (FMA) from all over the world come to this tiny island, some to see the birthplace of Modern FMA such as the DOCE PARES Headquarters, Magellan’s Cross, and of course the famous statue of Lapu Lapu, the first mandirigma (Filipino warrior) to repel the foreign invaders. But, this day wasn’t about learning more; it is about becoming more…to see if all the countless hours of physical and mental training, the buckets of sweat and tears, and the sacrifices made by their families…were all worth it?
The ring is set; the time is now, time to become the champ!
Ayala Center Mall, located in the heart of Cebu City, is the site of this year’s WEKAF (World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation) Championship. Even though the combatants are cordial, you can feel the tension in the air. Each handshake and every hug is nothing more than a façade; as they size up each opponent. For the veterans, they know to reveal just enough of the truth of their skills to keep the opponent guessing. While the rookies are in awe as they see the largest collection of Grandmasters and World Champions ever under one roof.
You can see panic in their eyes, as they look for familiar faces in a sea full of sticks & strangers.
Having the event at the mall, hundreds, perhaps thousands of on lookers pleased their curiosity, which compelled them to stop to see what was going on. Unfortunately, the average local passerby doesn’t have any real idea what they were about to see, which is nothing more than the fast stick-fighting action battle as champions go at it head to head!
With nearly 30 countries participating, the favorite is still Team Philippines.
Sports psychologists know that having “home court” advantage can make the difference. It gives each fighter a sense of pride. As they welcome teams from other nations, in their eyes they convey this single message, “Not in my house.” But, they face a very tough competition as Team USA brings the largest contingent of fighters as well as being the country that dominated the gold count from the last tournament.
The matches were intense, but often controversy occurred before and after the match, starting with the selections of judges and referees sometimes ending with individuals questioning their decisions. For every match, even though each fighter fought with intensity and heart, there is always a winner and a loser; always fans, coaches and competitors who will be disappointed. At several times during the competition, the disappointment was very evident for Team Philippines and their many fans, who took their losses to heart.
After three and half days of competition, the Gold Medal count leader was the United States with over 44 Gold Medals, as compared to the Philippines’ 35 final total. But as the event starts to calm down, each fighter leaves with a sense of fulfillment or perhaps a little disappointment. WEKAF leadership was always there to ensure the tournament stayed right on track by providing its support.
“I cannot wait for 2010 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; the site for the next WEKAF championship!”
said Francis Serrano.