Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Another Great One Has Departed

Wow. 2011 has barely begun and another of our beloved Elders has gone to his Great Reward. The legendary Afro-Cuban percussionist Eugenio Arango (better known as Totico) has passed away in New York. He was the teacher of one of my own conga teachers, and we were actually distant cousins - long story for another time.

In his honor, we will feature his music this week during classes. VIVA TOTICO!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Logo is Here!

Brotherhood of the Blade Logo 2011

It’s not only the www.maphilindo.com website that has a new look for 2011. Our own Kuya Doug Marcaida , after months of painstaking work has finally put the finishing touches on the official new logo of The Brotherhood of the Blade. So far the new design has met with rave reviews from students and supporters alike. Word has it that this very image has already been uploaded onto cell phones, screensavers, and profile pics across the cyber-sphere.

It is possible that those unfamiliar with the Brotherhood of the Blade may get the wrong impression or otherwise misinterpret the logo, so we thought some clarification may be in order.

The Brotherhood of the Blade is all about martial arts, but it is not about fighting. Obviously, martial artists love to fight; a big part of the problem is they don’t know when to stop. You see, fighting is no challenge. The REAL challenge is getting along with other people in a noble way…in a way that fosters Respect and Loyalty, instead of back-biting and contention.

Kuya Doug, Ka Jay, and I all know what an absolutely miserable experience it is to part of a dysfunctional Martial Arts organization. We created the Brotherhood of the Blade to be all the positive things we wanted for ourselves and our students. The only ranks and titles belong to our Teachers – Ama Guro Jun De Leon, Tuhon Leo T Gaje Jr., and Manong Leon Saludo. Respect is for everyone.

We have never been in competition with any other “branch” of any System. We respect everyone. Those who support our efforts, we support in return. Thos who don’t – we simply choose to ignore with no hard feelings (I promise!) Anyone who displays honor, respect, a passion for learning Kali, and is willing to be supportive of the group is able to join us. Just remember, you have to prove it first.

Our only agenda is to refine and grow. And most important of all – we have a lot of fun doing it!

And now the explanation of the logo from someone who really understands our purpose:

The logo design of expression, there are several meanings to it.

The three hands are of the three main Elders of The Brotherhood whom we never forget. Also the Three original founding members who started it - but mostly it shows the hands supporting each other...that support is what Brotherhood is about.

It forms a triangle, the geometric pattern found in FMA, the most solid shape, the most solid foundation. In numbers there is strength and in a pattern where they can lean on each other for support. The hands extend to hold the weapons, which are the basis of our Passion. We are a Blade-based art.

The background is taken from the Philippine flag. The Sun’s rays of illumination of something that is positive and good. It shines upon a brotherhood to show a glow of good things - a fellowship like this is about shining because of the good it does.

We do not compete with against each other; we help and support each other. The points of the rays explode outward. The patterns of movement are infinite…

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New Look for '11

No, hell hasn't frozen over. Its just that finding a reliable web guy is like finding a good Kali instructor. Luckily, I managed to get one - from India, of all places. My good friend and Gurubhai Abhi gave the old www.maphilindo.com website an overhaul. Please have a look and feel free to give me your thoughts and suggestions either here in the comments section or via email.


ps. This guy does great work and he is very reasonable. I'll be happy to pass his info along to any that are interested.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

...Gone to Soon

Ricky Rillera

Kuya Ricky Rillera was a Brother, dear Friend, and Elder to me. He was also one of the most wonderful human beings you could ever be blessed to know. This world is a poorer place for his leaving it – but it is also richer for the marks he made in the lives of all who knew him.

Brother Ricky, we remember you every single day. I am eternally grateful for everything you shared with my students and I – we are all better people for it. We humbly pray that God rests your Soul in Peace.

I also pray that I merit the opportunity to train with you again…some glorious day.


Sunday, January 02, 2011

2010 Continued: Silat Melayu

Some time in April of 2005 I was sitting over a late dinner with Cikgu Omar Hakim in Austin, Texas discussing various topics in Silat Melayu. We spoke about the similarities/differences in Silat practice in Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as the many fallacies and misconceptions surrounding the phenomena of Silat here in the West.

At one point, Omar was reminiscing about his experiences with different Masters in Malaysia, where he studied under some of the greatest. He spoke at length about Pak Jauhari, venerable Master of the venerable Silat Kalimah – which could be considered a “cousin-system” to the Art I practice – Silat Kuntau Tekpi. Omar related “Whenever I would attack Pak ‘Jo, as soon as he even put a finger on me, he had me totally locked to the point where I couldn’t even roll my eyes!”

For those of you that have the pleasure of knowing (or even having seen) Cikgu Omar, that’s a pretty impressive declaration for him to make about anybody, let alone a typically smaller-stature elder Malay. That vision stayed foremost in my mind throughout the following period of study and research amongst my own group here in Michigan.

We spent a good part of the next few years refining the physical aspects of practice, namely the 42 buah (strikeforms) which encompass pukulan (percussion), kuncian (locking), and buangan (throwing). This was not such a simple endeavor considering that Silat Kuntau Tekpi in theory and practice is very different from Kali in almost every respect.

This year in particular, with the gracious support of several Elders in Malaysia, who for the sake of humility have requested me not to ‘brag’ about them on this blog (except for Nadzrin!) we have achieved an understanding of – and the ability to teach - the intrinsic Petua (Principles of Movement) that put the true ‘soul’ into the techniques, and mean the difference between merely imitating a technique and actually producing the desired effect with a minimum of effort. A recent class gave me a nice bit of confirmation: during buah practice, I observed a beginning student (a veteran of exactly 2 prior Silat Melayu classes) completely immobilize a senior student approximately twice his size - within seconds of the attacking feed – using only the elbow of the attacker.

Also in 2010, we had the pleasure of introducing Silat Melayu to groups of experienced martial artists and laymen through various seminars in the U.S. and Canada.

We’re working on some very exciting projects with our friends in Malaysia for 2011. God Willing, it’s going to be a banner year!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

2010 Continued: Barako Batangueno

After a five year apprenticeship under the redoubtable Tito Jun Saludo, I was (unexpectedly) awarded full Instructor status in his personal style some months ago. Even with a high degree a familiarity with this method, I have to confess I am no less intimidated by it today than I was at my first taste five years ago. As one of my students puts it: “Pekiti bladework is scientific, disciplined, and efficient…Barako is just your worst nightmare with a knife.” I’ll second that.

Our training with the Saludos this year focused on some different aspects from times past. Ka Jay spent a great deal of time and effort in codifying the logical footwork pattern to flow with the “template” of 29 basic attacks. One comes to realize that the footwork and body positioning – as counter-intuitive as it is to typical FMA – does as much to hide/assist the delivery of the final lethal angle as the knife-hand itself. So we have been hard-wiring in the footwork.

Tito Jun himself gave us far more than expected during this year’s training. After a demonstrative review of our progress thus far, Tito subjected each student to a full out ‘pressure test’. If he had been using a live blade – or even anything with a sharp point – my whole cadre of senior students would either be dead or out of commission for a long, long time. Following this test came a comprehensive critique of each student’s performance, along with specific directives for improvement. We can’t wait to see what next year’s test will be.

Ever true to his word, Tito never wasted any precious time last year on “trivial” matters like empty-hand striking and grappling. As far as Barako is concerned, it has been –and continues to be – all about the blade!