|Posted by Barry Cuda on March 1, 2011 at 7:19 PM|
Back in 1985, after years of JiuJitsu training, I started learning Arnis Lanada. It seemed so secret and exotic at the time, and I loved it. I always read everything I could on the martial arts and the Filipino arts were virtually unheard of at that time. I thought it was so cool that I was learning something that nobody heard of. (I was in my early 20′s you know. LOL) In the summer of ’86 I flew out to LA for a week at the IMB to train with Dan Inosanto and Richard Bustillo. I was completely blown away at the utter mastery of these instructors. I felt like I reached Nirvana. I ad never seen a martial art so advanced and complete as the Filipino Martial Arts as taught by Inosanto. It seemed like everything I had learned up to that point was a waste of time compared to what I learned that week. It was then that I decided to dedicate my life to learning this amazing system.In the 80′s the biggest martial arts fad was the so-called Ninja craze. Everything was ninja, ninja, ninja. Schools were popping up everywhere with schools teaching Tae Kwon Do and Ninjitsu, Judo and Ninjitsu and on and on. Still, Kali was rarely heard of and at the forefront was Dan Inosanto. There were the Presas brothers and a few others, but the Filipino arts were far from popular.I remember in ’86 when I became a student of Paul Vunak, he was teaching us an unheard of art called Brazilian JiuJitsu taught by the unheard of Gracie Brothers, but I’ll get to that later. When Inosanto’s top students, Paul Vunak, Burt Richardson, Cass Magda and others starting becoming successful in their own right, Jeet Kune Do suddenly became popular. After a few seminars with thesepeople, everybody suddenly did JKD. Now you see people teaching Tae Kwon Do and JKD, Judo and JKD, ad nauseum. Ninjitsu had died and JKD was the new fad. What made matters worse was by 1990 some of the other people that trained with Bruce Lee jumped on the bandwagon and started teaching “Original Jeet Kune Do”. Where were these people in the 80′s? Who knows? But, now JKD was finally popular. Bruce Lee had been dead for 17 years, and the figure head of JKD was Inosanto. People who had never taught martial arts for a living were now billing themselves as Bruce Lee’s original students, and not only raking in the big bucks, but making instructors too! I would think to myself, “What a mess!” People would ask me if I taught “Original Jeet Kune Do” or that “concepts stuff” that Dan Inosanto taught. It wowed me that whenever something became popular, people would jump on board and promote themselves as that until the next art would become popular. In the 90′s, when the Gracie brothers shot to stardom with the popularity of the Ultimate Fighting Championships, everybody flocked to ground fighting. The same people that started out as Ninja masters, then JKD masters, were now ground fighting masters. It’s now 2005 and I have been actively teaching since 1986, watching the fads come and go. So what about my beloved Filipino Martial Arts? They are finally popular and it makes me want to wretch. I honestly never thought it could happen, but it has. The three main people I have trained with are Dan Inosanto, Paul Vunak, and Wing Chun Instructor Randy Williams. These three people are the most amazing martial artists that I have ever seen, and still, they are humble enough to always acknowledge where they came from and are diplomats at representing their arts. They have never turned their back on those that came before them and claimed to have invented some crazy new thing. Now that we are in the 21st century the latest fad is Filipino Martial Arts, especially knife fighting According to Grandmaster Ben Largusa, who was the top disciple of Kali Grandmaster Floro Villabraille, the Filipino knife and stick arts date back to the First Century. Now that’s a long time of war, fighting, and conflict to make the Filipino Martial Arts a complete, sophisticated and proven system. These facts no longer seem to matter because the Filipino arts are the newest fad. Personally, I can’t wait for the next fad, so I don’t have to worry about competing with all these self-promoting yahoos. We have people out there that are saying traditional Filipino arts aren’t effective, that Filipino knife fighting is just dueling with knives, which they say is bad. We have knife masters, blade masters, knife defense masters, Sgt. at Arms, knife tactical masters and all kinds of crap. Even renowned martial artist and Wun Hop Kuen Do Grandmaster Al Dacascos has invented his own Filipino system. Why? Because Kung Fu isn’t the big money maker anymore. The Filipino arts are. Open up any martial arts magazine and all you see are ads for Mexican knife fighting, Indian knife fighting, tactical knife fighting, etc. Where were these self promoters 15-20 years ago? They were teaching ninjitsu and ground fighting, that’s where! I have seen websites promoting “The Tribe of Tactical Knife Fighting” that doesn’t mention once what art they are supposedly doing, or where they learned it. There is even one guy that talks about the “deadly myth of the knife fighter” and says 99 percent of people doing the Filipino arts are wrong and only he is right because he hung out in bars and has seen some stuff.The funny thing about the martial arts in general is that if somebody knocks every thing else and sounds authoritative, people will flock to him. It truly is a sad state of affairs. This has been going on before I have been in the arts, and will always be there. Can anybody say “Touch of Death”? Personally, I worked in a prison, and I have “seen some stuff” too. Even had to use Kali to survive. I went through a dark period in my life where I drank in bars and bought drugs in some very scary places. Saw some stuff there too, and it was Kali that saved my life.I guess I could call myself a master of the tactical weapons and say I made all this up, but I have too much respect for those who came before me and were gracious enough to share their knowledge and love of the martial arts with me.