Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Look at Filipino Martial Arts

Yesterday, Chris and I tried out a FMA (Filipino Martial Arts) class at a school close by to us in Surrey called Mendoza. We had been looking for something new to try that had daytime classes and this place seems to fit the bill. Being half Filipino and all, it's funny that it's taken all this time for me to give it a shot. To be fair though, there wasn't much in the way of FMA in Ottawa while I was living there.

Our first class went very well and we both enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. It was all empty handed techniques that day, but really fun, useful stuff. The style of movement is so different from what I've seen on other martial arts. The closest I've seen in another style was Wing Chun, at least for the flow of the movement, but it has its differences. For one thing, a lot of their movements are punctuated with slaps, which gives it a neat rhythmic quality that helps with hand flow.

Below is a sample of the hand flow from Filipino martial arts. We did a similar style of hand flow drill that focused more on elbow strikes.

As fun and useful as the empty handed stuff was, I'm looking forward to trying out the weapons work that FMA is famous for. The video below features the instructor from Mendoza doing free flow stick movements.

I consider myself lucky to live in the Vancouver area, which seems to have a wide variety of martial arts training available with all sorts of skilled instructors. I'm very much looking forward to learning more. :)


Anonymous said...

Good luck. The FMA are without a doubt the most practical arts I've seen so far. They've got it all (bladed weapons, impact weapons, flexible weapons, empty hands...) and they're actual combat arts that focus on surviving life and death situations unlike for show or for sport styles or watered down traditions from the East that are hardly applicable to today's world or are only useful in certain, ideal circumstances. I think you'll find the empty hand aspect of the art much more useful than what you've learned so far and jujutsu fits nicely with the different entries but the edge the FMA give you will make your defense much more effective by eliminating all resistance before going for a grappling technique instead of hoping to get there by sheer luck, superior timing or some crappy block and counterattack sequence that relies on him 'freezing' for at least a second. The FMA are about destroying his weapons, closing the gap and hitting, hitting and then hitting some more. A good instructor will be able to quickly (6 months or less) train a complete novice to the level he could defeat the majority of practioners from other styles without much difficulty. In my mind it's one of the few arts that are actually practical and will save your ass in tight situation instead of making things worse which is what you'll get with most of what is sold under the umbrella of 'martial arts'. Lets hope the media exposure and marketing will not lead to it being degraded, deformed and emasculated like so many other forms that were once beautiful, lethal and pragmatic.

Journeyman said...

I've had the opportunity to cross train with some very talented FMA folks. I especially like their concepts for knife work.

I struggled when I tried to study full time in both JJJ and FMA. The straight on stances and some of the stick work had me tripping over my Jiu Jitsu programming. I've since done more sporadic training sessions, and these have helped me immensely. I've always liked the idea of aiming for your opponents hands in weapons work. It gives you distance for safety and destroys their ability to use weapons.

It's interesting to study a mainly offensive art after so many years of Jiu Jitsu.


Anonymous said...

The carenza in the second video was very good, except for the part where he threw the baston and caught it again. Clearly this is for show since in combat you would never let go of your weapon. Clearly this is superior to the weapon forms found in other styles such as wushu and bojutsu, hanbojutsu... which are prearranged and mechanical. In carenza you envision the opponents surrounding you and you move, block and strike fluidly and with intention. To elaborate on my previous point: the tactical approach of defanging the snake and trapping the limbs are quite unique to the FMA and this, combined with superior training methodology like hubud, will allow you to quickly break down his defenses and finish the fight asap. For weapons like stick and knife few arts measure up to the finesse and elegant lethality of the FMA: no wasted movement, fluid footwork, quick powerful attacks and the use of both hands in offense and defense. The FMA coupled with some form of groundwork will more than fulfill your self defense needs, it even has most of the locks you'll find in standing grappling systems like JJJ.

Anonymous said...

So, are you going to continue going there?

Lori O'Connell said...

Gald to hear that everyone thinks so highly of it. I am quite intrigued myself. Yes, I'll be continuing for a while, training 2-3 times a week. :)