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FMA with Guro Alvin Catacutan

Image result for 52 Masters Episode 2: Filipino Knife Fighting w/ Guro Alvin Catacutan

Learning martial arts is a never-ending process. Considering its various forms across the world that have existed and being born every day, it is nigh impossible to learn everything the world has to offer.

William Christopher Ford is on a journey to learn from 52 masters from all across the world in celebration for his 52nd birthday. As showcased by this video, his first destination is Filipino Martial Arts where he will mostly be concentrating on knife fighting.

Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) is a broad term and most of the times, it also referred to as Kali or Eskrima or Arnis, all of which are the umbrella terms for FMA. The one special thing about Kali is that it can transition its sparring flow from the hand to sticks of knives. It can also use daily household objects as weapons, thanks to the aforementioned ability.

FMA fighting techniques are being taught to armies as well as self-defense classes. Thanks to its ability to use anything as a weapon, it’s quite famous among casual practitioners as well.

The video is divided into two segments, the first showcasing a basic escrima knife training and the second shows an elaborative interview between Ford and Guro Alvin Catacutan.

The knife training is quite basic. It’s a simple defensive technique with some depth, that can be picked up on the go. The technique boils to a few principles.

Firstly, if you’re assailant wielding a weapon, you must also get your hands on one, because there is nothing fair about a street fight. the demonstration is with a knife so we will stick to that. in order to defend yourself from an oncoming opponent, first, try to avoid them. it’s ok if they’re not following you.

However, if they do you must approach them while already parrying their strike and answer with a quick blow. Make sure not to go in too deep, because your intention is to flee away from the scene as soon as possible. For better understanding watch the video.

In the second part, we learn all about Guro Alvin Catacutan, how he got into martial arts, what’s the motivation behind his practice and so on and so forth. It’s an interesting interview and will help you get an insight into the lives of martial artists.

Useful tips:

  1. Knifing techniques
  2. C-Shaped cuts to immobilize your enemy
  3. Soft swift jabs to reduce further mobility, enough to ensure your escape

Filipino Martial Arts – Problems

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When you’re training or sparring with your partners or trainers it is important to keep the big picture in mind. Training is a controlled simulation and chances are that in most real-life situations, a stick fight may not pan out the way you think it might go. In other words, you need to prepare for when things go south.

Filipino Martial Arts is beautiful to look at courtesy to the movements that are incorporated in the system. Escrima stick drills are often close quarters, with little emphasis on disengaging away from your opponent once you’ve landed a successful blow.

Flow drills are important since they help you solidify your basics in movements and strikes. They also help you develop functional attributes such as precision and range. However, flow drills are often practiced with sticks in tight pockets contrary to real life scenarios.

In a real fight, you won’t have that liberty to keep engaging your opponent as you did in your training. Keeping the fight that close, for a long period of time, makes it difficult to follow your opponent’s movements. You may land a blow but you’re also leaving yourself open to attacks.

The video emphasizes on a wide variety of engagements. According to the Pankration Philosophy, the ideal way to fight is to wound your opponent, disengage away from them and then observe the situation for your next course of action. It’s yet effective in ways you can’t comprehend.

During fights endorphins and adrenaline will be coursing through your veins, making it impossible to realize small cuts and wounds until it’s too late. Disengagements allow you to asses both you and your opponent’s situation before you start hitting them again.

The sparring game, if played the right way will help you gain a lot of practice. The sparring game is not like usual sparring.

In usual sparring, once you are hit with the weapon or by hand, you keep on going as though nothing happened. However, in a proper sparring game, once a specific body part is hit that is essential for the fight (such as the hand), you won’t be able to use that part anymore. So when you’re hit in the hand holding the knife, you would have to drop the knife and keep on fighting.

This type of practice is more beneficial because its more practical and the situation simulated within appears much more realistic.  

Useful tips:

  1. Practice flow drills
  2. Wound, Disengage, Observe, Attack/Defend/Assess further
  3. Sparring games

Escrima Stick Master

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Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) is famous for its use of escrima sticks in combat techniques. The underlying idea is to use it as an extension of the body and for close-quarters combat, the technique is quite effective.

The video beautifully demonstrates six basic stick fighting techniques and also teaches you to combine them to get even more engagement options during a stick fight.

The lessons are informative and you will learn quite a lot just by practicing the routine shown in the video on a regular basis.

Useful tips:

  1. Watch the video in slow-motion to get a better idea of the movements
  2. Learn each method by heart before progressing onto the next one, since you’ll have to combine them later on
  3. You can also transition the stick techniques into freehand, knives and other bladed weapons as well

Guro Dan Inosanto for “The Bladed Hand”

This video features an excerpt of the documentary, ‘The Bladed Hand’ on Filipino-American martial arts guru Dan Inosanto. It was shot by Jay Ignacio.  

Dan Inosanto’s daughter, Diana Lee Inosanto comments that her father was one of the few Filipino-Americans who was responsible for preserving the Filipino heritage in the United States, more precisely in Hawaii and California. She also reveals the Bruce Lee was her honorary uncle and godfather. Thus, she was born and raised around martial arts.

We learn that Dan Inosanto is one of the most influential martial artists in the whole world. His students address him by ‘Tuhon’, ‘Sifu’ or ‘Guru’.  He collaborated with popular martial artists and conducted seminars in order to introduce FMA to the whole world.

It is also revealed that Bruce Lee changed Dan Inosanto’s life and they became very good friends. Dan started studying with Bruce Lee in order to understand his philosophy of martial arts. He assisted Bruce Lee at the Sing Lee Theatre in Los Angeles for about 10 days.

We also see the master teaching various drills to his students and explaining the principles of Jeet Kune Do.

Dan taught Bruce Lee the art of stick fighting and they spared a lot without using any protective head or body gear. This proved that Bruce Lee really liked Filipino Martial Arts.

It is revealed that Dan Inosanto paid many Filipino Martial Artists to come to his academy and teach their style. This contributed a lot toward the popularity of FMA in the world. In fact, people fell in love with FMA once they discovered this incredible hidden art.

We also learn that master Dan has always been open about promoting instructors who taught Filipino Martial Arts and giving them their due recognition. He also encouraged people to study under these instructors. This is what made him so unique in the world of martial arts.

Film-maker and Jeet Kune Do instructor Ron Balicki reveals that Bruce Lee also looked into Eskrima, Sikaran, and Silat apart from FMA.  

3 key points –

1. Dan Inosanto preserved the Filipino heritage in the United States of America.

2. Dan Inosanto was responsible for introducing Filipino Martial arts into movies, television, military, law enforcement and even the NFL(National Football League).

3. Filipino Martial Arts were a part of Jeet Kune Do.

“Let us honor Maestro Dan for his contributions in making the FMA, the Filipino Martial Arts known in the Western Hemisphere because without him this would have been just simply some obscure fighting method. ”

Win a Street Fight

In this video, professional fighter Roger Huerta teaches us how to win in a street fight. He advises not to get involved in a fight unless it is absolutely necessary. However, if the fight is unavoidable we must be aware of our surroundings before starting the fight so that we don’t accidentally hurt any bystanders.

If your opponent comes too close to your personal space, hitting them with a proper headbutt may help you to stop the fight quickly. Alternatively, you can hit them with an overhead right.

Another method to get an advantage is to grab their shirt so that you can yank them around and control the situation.

Bruce Lee 1967

In this video, we see Bruce Lee demonstrating his skills at the 1967 long beach tournament. We see him utilizing blindfolded Chi Sao techniques, doing finger push-ups, and even performing his famous 1-inch punch. We also get to witness his amazing speed when he defeats the Karate champion Vic Moore and his incredible footwork when Bruce Lee spars with Vic Moore towards the end of the video.

The narrator of the video reveals that Bruce Lee devoted his life to perfecting his own form of Gung Fu where he focused on efficiency, simplicity, and directness of combat instead of preserving tradition.

Fighting and Intimidation

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Controlling your emotions is crucial whenever you’re in a fight. The goal of your opponent is to intimidate you to making a mistake and taking advantage of it. This video teaches you how to get the upper hand on a fight in a few simple steps.

The first is body language/posture. The stance you take while fighting is important as it allows you to maneuver/dodge any upcoming hits. The goal is to track your opponent and their movements while not getting short-sighted yourself.

The second tip is about positioning. You can approach a fight from a dozen to differ directions. The key is to pick one that gives you a significant movement advantage. For instance, instead of charging head-on, you strafe to either side, which will limit their ability to answer to both attacks and counterattacks.

The third tip deals with eye positioning. An age old-belief states that you should look your opponent in the eye so that you can better read their attacks. However, it also leads to tunnel vision and may distract you from responding to your opponent attacks.

Practicing these tips will help you train your basic combat skills and become a better fighter down the line.

Kali vs. Boxing

In this video, the founder and head instructor of ‘Union Martial Arts’, Mark Anastacio teaches us how to use Kali when fighting against a boxer. In order to demonstrate the techniques, he spars with his student Rayden.

Early on in the video, we learn that Filipino martial arts(empty hand) vs boxing is a pretty controversial topic in the martial arts community. Mark also informs us why he decided to make a video about this topic.

Mark informs us that a boxer’s jab is too fast to counter it. Instead, we should focus on the cross as it is a little heavier. One way to deal with a jab is to parry the attack and redirect the hand. This is much for effective than trying to block it.

You can also try to damage the hand of the boxer by parrying their fist with your left hand and sandwiching it into your right elbow. However, this can be difficult as boxers have a withdrawing motion to their punches. You can also apply this concept to the hook and incorporate a gunting technique in order to dissect their bicep with your knuckles.

Thus, against a jab-cross combo, you do a parry-parry combo, parry-elbow combo, parry-gunting combo, elbow-elbow combo,  or elbow-gunting combo. Your interchanges will depend on the line, your speed and your ability to time the movement.

Against a hook, mark advises shielding your head using your arm as a strong frame. This will let you absorb the shock of the impact and use that energy as a counter if you want to do so.

If your opponent does a jab-hook combo, you can do a parry-shield combo or an elbow-shield combo.  You can also perform a move known as impact gunting where you smack the inside of your opponent’s arm and withdraw instead of trying to dissect it.

We learn from Mark that in order to win, we need to find strength in our opponent’s weakness. That means you should not box with a boxer as it is their strength. Your main goal should be to neutralize the boxer and not compete with him.

3 key points –

1. When fighting against a boxer, you should focus on the cross instead of the jab.

2. You should parry the jab and redirect it instead of trying to block it.

3. You should use gunting as a counter against a boxer instead of using it as a setup.

“The most important thing when I do this gunting is that I’m gonna commit and not care.”

Dan Inosanto and Benny Urquidez Look Back at Martial Arts

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The term Martial Arts have become associated with East Asia, but little do people know that it originated in Europe during the middle of the 16th century. Martial arts isn’t just about fighting. It was originally created to be a discipline, a system of focus that had both spiritual and health benefits. As time went on, Martial arts branched into more cultures and evolved into the kind of sport as we know it to be in the present day.

Guro Dan Inosanto and Benny Urquidez can be considered are some among the few martial art experts who have witnessed this evolution first hand. They have had the opportunity to witness the transition of the fighting arts and have decided to share that experience in this video.

According to them, the mid to the 19th century marks the beginning of martial arts as a modern sport. Previously it was thought to be a traditional fighting system. However, when the fighters with unique skills began to pour into the competition, Inosanto and Urquidez realized that they had something completely alien in their hands.

The video can be described as a walk down the memory lane. Both the fighters speak of the glory days; from meeting fighters trained in Muay Thai to training with Bruce Lee, a pioneer in the Martial Arts scene.

Kickboxing was a hybrid of Muay Thai and karate and was later imbibed in the American practice as American Kickboxing(a combination of boxing and karate). It is almost poetic to see so many different art forms coming together and giving birth to something the world has never witnessed before.

As Urquidez explains in the video, during the 1960s, Judo was the most famous form of competitive sport. Changes began to pour in once Bruce Lee entered the scene with his Jeet Kune Do, a style which was somewhat mocked by the westerners. However, Bruce proved his style of martial arts is nothing to be looked down upon and gradually the first seeds of change began to take place.

Another revolution took place when Dan Inosanto himself introduced Muay Thai, a fighting style so alien, that Benny mistook it for the name of the person he was going to fight(1:48).

The 15-minute clip is unique. It doesn’t have any actual fight scenes but to a fighter, this is a goldmine. It’s like watching the entire cast of Avengers: Endgame coming together years after their glory days. If you’re a fan of martial arts, this video is a must watch.

Filipino Martial Arts Masters

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Martial Arts is about discipline and different arts shed a different perspective on how to achieve said discipline. This is a significantly short video where Mark Guillermo drives home the point of practicing different art forms(cross-training) and how they benefit us you in the long term.

The video showcases a friendly sparring match between Grandmaster Benjamin Luna Lema and Grandmaster Antonio as they cross escrima sticks.

The techniques used in the video are the Lutang and Retriada footwork, which are basic fighting stances adopted by martial artists in Kali.

Useful tips:

  1. Focus on the importance of cross-training
  2. Although some practitioners say that diverging into various art forms may weaken your fundamentals on your current practice, it’s still a viable way to learn more about other martial arts practice