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Interview with Maha Guro Nate Defensor

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defensormethod400 This interview was taken after Guro Nate’s escrima class one night at a Chicago bistro.

Dale:
Many Filipino Martial Artists that search the world wide web view the FMA FAQ. (Filipino Martial Arts Frequently Asked Questions) In the FAQ, your style, the Defensor Method, is listed as, “A mix consisting mainly of Serrada Escrima, Pekiti Tirsia, and Villabrille systems, with a strong mixture of specific elements from silat (mainly the take downs), Muay Thai, and western boxing.” Is this an accurate definition or are there other sources of martial knowledge you integrated into your system? With such a broad area of martial knowledge, could you give us some insight as to your martial arts background and the opportunities you had to train with many well known and unknown martial arts instructors?

Guro Nate:
This is a loaded question. My other influences came from Braulio Pedoy(DEROBIO Style), Dan Inosanto (Inosanto Method), Raymund Tobosa (Villabrille/Tobosa Style), Mike Inay (Inayan Escrima), Al McLuckie (Inayan Escrima), Angel Cabales (Serrada Escrima), Jimmy Tacosa (Tacosa Serrada Eskrima), Dionisio Canete (Doce Pares), Leo Gaje (Pekiti-Tirsia), Tom Bisio (Pekiti-Tirsia & Old Style Doce Pares), Eddie Jafri (Pusaka-Dwipantara Silat), John DeJong (Jalur Putih Silat), Mike Vazquez (Shotokan Karate/JKA, TAPADO, Cuatro Cantos), Jerry Cervantes (Modern Arnis), Herson Ramos (Visayan Style Solo Baston), Mr. Yap (Kuntao, Shaolin-Tse), Vince Black (Pakua, Hsing-I, TaiChi), Bob Beal (Western Boxing), Surachai Sirisute (Muay Thai), Mr. Shin (TaeKwonDo), Larry Witkowski (Judo), Fred Degerberg (Degerberg Blend), Larry Hartsell (JKD), Chris Kent (JKD), Paul Vunak (JKD), James DeMile (WingChunDo, I am on his book), and Sifu Hsu Fun Yuen (Tai Chi). I have taken seminars with: Dan Duby (SAVATE), Bill Wallace (Kickboxing), Benny Urquidez (Kickboxing), Richard Bustillo, Michael Amistoso (Inayan/Amiyan Eskrima), Francis Fong (WingChun), WilliaCheung (WingChun), & Stephen Hayes (Ninjutsu). So the answer is YES, it is an accurate description.

2) To encapsulate the many martial arts personalities that I have had the opportunity to observe, I could make a few generalizations. One common thread that these great martial artists possess is the “overwhelming confidence” they possess with their techniques and execution. It is almost so pure that I could understand where this concept of “inner peace” comes from. Their movements are so precise that you get this gut feeling it is going to work.

Dale:
That is a very impressive list of martial artists. As you watch yourself in your video series, who would you say you are the most like? Why? Is there a particular style you favor or like?

Guro Nate:
Who do I look like? Probably a combination of Mike Vazquez, Dan Inosanto, and Leo Gaje. Of course I don’t physically look like any of them but I like their martial arts teachings and lessons so much that sometimes I catch myself repeating the same phrases they taught me many years later. I even like Master Chai, Eddie Jafri, Bob Beal and Fred Degerberg. Both Chai and Eddie as tacticians and Fred and Bob for being excellent communicators along with a Bill Wallace and Stephen Hayes. The elder teachers focused a lot on wisdom and tradition, ie…Villabrille, Cabales, Tobosa, and Pedoy.

Dale:
Do you have a teaching philosophy that you apply to new Filipino Martial Arts students?

Guro Nate:
I barrage the students with information. (Laughing.) It gives them a preview of what I do in escrima class. Its kind of like when you go to the movies and see the previews. You will pick and choose which ones you like. Now I’m of the opinion and could prove it to you that of all the new students that show up, 35% to 50% of them will not come back. So basically I give them a preview and let them decide if this is what they want. Some students will return long after their initial experience because they liked what they saw in the preview.

Dale:
What advice, if any, do you give new students to your escrima class?

Guro Nate:
Well, I had a brand new student tonight. I told him that right now it would seem that we’re going too fast, but to sit back and absorb what he could, and try to digest what we do. I also told him that he’s not going to catch everything on the first night. So my advice was to go home and practice what was learned tonight and we would build from there next time.

Dale:
Is it often that a student of yours has used the Defensor Method martial arts to protect themselves?

Guro Nate:
Once a new student came to my escrima class when we were practicing stick fighting drills called seguidas. The term seguidas means follow ups. We were working on one of the seguidas all night, just drilling the same moves and learning many of the stick fighting implications of each move. On the way home that night, this student was attacked by a man with a baseball bat. The attacker laughed at the fact that the student only had a 26-28 inch piece of rattan stick to defend himself. As the attacker began to swing his bat at the student, the student used the seguida that we had practiced that night in class. Before the student got to the last count of the drill, the attacker was knocked out and my student ran to safety. The following week, the student returned to class and said, “Hey this stuff really works!” *More laughter.*

Question:  Have you or your friends ever had to use their art like this person?  Please take a minute and comment about it below.

More information about Maha Guro Nate Defensor can be found on his web site.  If you are in Chicagoland, go and have fun at his class.

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