Stockton, California has long been known for its’ long and rich history of Filipino Martial Arts, dating back to the 1920’s and 1930’s. Stockton had a large Filipino community back in those days, mostly migrant workers. Often at night, eskrimadors would train in secret. I remember reading somewhere that Professor Visitacion, otherwise known as Professor Vee, recalled nightly training sessions after working in the fields. As it turns out, Professor Vee lived in Stockton, California for 10 years before settling in New York City and becoming the founder of Vee Jiu Jitsu. ย The FMA scene in Stockton later greatly influenced Dan Inosanto and Richard Bustillo as they delved into Filipino Martial Arts. It is my understanding that much of the Inosanto-Lacoste blend is influenced by the Stockton FMA.

Among those who taught or came out of Stockton are Angel Cabales, Dentoy Revilar, Rene Latosa, Maximo Sarmiento, John Lacoste, Leo Giron and Mike Inay and many of their proteges. I am sure that there are several others that I left out. Nevertheless, the Stockton FMA scene has had a profound influence on the history of American martial arts, impacting martial arts masters from Dan Inosanto, to Professor Vee, to well known author Mark Wiley and many others.

I would love to get my hands on an article or book that explores the Stockton FMA scene in more detail.

That brings me to the topic of the FMA scene in Toronto. 9,500 Filipinos are immigrating to the Toronto area every year and Filipinos are now the 3rd largest visible minority in the greater Toronto area. This influx of Filipino immigrants has inevitably brought in practitioners/teachers of various FMA styles. To date, there are approximately 200,000 Filipinos in the Toronto area and there is no doubt that this number will grow.

I am aware of the following Filipino martial arts in the Greater Toronto Area:

(1) Modern Arnis
(2) Balintawak
(3) Kali Illustrisimo
(4) FCS Kali
(5) Inosanto-Lacoste blend
(6) Lameco
(7) Sikaran
(8) Yaw Yan
(9) Cinco Teros
(10) Kali De Leon
(11) Kombatan

I’m sure that there are a couple that I forgot. In addition, there are probably some “underground” groups that prefer to train in private. ย The proliferation of the FMAs in the Toronto makes me wonder if this area is going to be the next Stockton. All signs point in this direction.

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12 thoughts on “Toronto = Stockton, California?

  • August 3, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Yup, lots of Pinoys! You can’t swing a stick without hitting one of us! ๐Ÿ™‚

    – Terence

  • August 5, 2010 at 4:24 am

    It’s nice to see that other cultures appreciate Filipino Martial Arts. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Don’t underestimate the power of the stick! :O

  • August 9, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Nice post, Brian. However, it saddens me that despite of the large numbers of Filipino immigrants here in the GTA and numerous schools teaching the Filipino Martial Arts I had to take my students across the border in order to compete. Unless the Filipino Martial Arts teachers and practitioners here get there acts together and form an association to foster brotherhood, we will never be a Stockton, California. What we have here are bunches of groups doing their own thing. Let’s get together and organize standard rules where our students can compete in the spirits of brotherhood and produce world class arnisadors/eskrimadors who can represent us on the world stage. The mentality of “my style is better than yours” does not work and only breeds negativity. Respectfully.

  • August 9, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    @Anonymous: thanks for your comments. My experience has been slightly different. I have found the FMA community to support each other by attending each other seminars. For example, I have attended FCS seminars, Inosanto style seminars, Modern Arnis seminars and plan to attend a Balintawak seminar in September. I had a chance to attend a Lameco seminar but could not due to the fact that it was the wedding anniversary. My wife would not have been happy! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I agree that I would not be happy with the “my style is better than yours.” As you will see in an earlier post, I really don’t believe in superior styles. It really comes down to how much you practice.

    As for competition, I agree that it’s better that folks should get better for the betterment of the FMA community. However, based on my interactions with a small segment of the FMA community, there seems not to be much interest in competition. But there is a fair bit of interest in cross training and exchanging ideas.

    Would love to hear more from you.

  • August 10, 2010 at 1:27 am

    I agree with most of what you said. As you correctly pointed out there is no superior style only how hard you practice. But, if I may add, what’s important is to practice the basics hard and again and again ad nauseam because what it comes down to advance skills are just refined basics. As far as cross-training and exchanging ideas, it is great if students/teachers cross-train in other styles, but it does not imho bring out the best in everyone as competition can. It saddens me to hear that in this great city of ours, there is little interest in FMA competitions. FMA will never make it to the Olympics like Tae Kwon Do or Judo or Wrestling unless we revel in the challenge, the victory and the experience that competitions brings. Competitions can bring out the best in the warriors who come to test their skills, knowledge and courage. I’m not purporting that competition is everything. Of course. it’s not! On the other hand, if there were no competition to bring out the best in people, we would not even progress in technology because no one would want to invent something better. For example, we could still be using a stick of candle for light, because it would be sufficient. There would be no need to improve and invent the light bulb, because no one would want to compete to invent something better than a stick of candle. Other inventions, such as the telephone, cell phones, blackberries, iPods and personal computers we now enjoy may have never come into existence if there were no competition to better the existing technology. Competition challenges one to improve oneself and not give up on a goal, which is so important in life. Without competitions, Olympics and all other sporting events that we now enjoy wouldn’t even be created. Now that arnis/esckrima/kali is the national sport of the Philippines, there will be drive for Olympics. Whether it makes it to the Olympics only time will tell. I also realize that not all students want to compete but those who want or want to try, I believe instructors must not deter but provide that path for our students. Thank you, Brian.

  • August 10, 2010 at 3:27 am

    As you rightly observed, Filipinos are the 3rd largest minority in Toronto but one must realized that the majority of Filipino immigrants are not into the Filipino Martial Arts. Case in point. There are more non-Filipinos teaching or practicing the Filipino Martial Arts in Toronto than native Filipinos. Go to any FMA school here in Toronto or attend an FMA seminars and you will observe that most students are non-Filipinos and those who are Filipinos were born in this country. Some of them don’t even speak the language! And, the Filipino immigrants who choose to study the Martial Arts enroll themselves and their children NOT in FMA but in Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, etc. And even those who are martial artists, arnis or eskrima is not their primary art but Karate, Judo, Tae Kwon Do. What’s my point? Just because Toronto has a large population of Filipinos it does not necessarily mean that it will become the next Stockton, California. The future of FMA here is not in the hands of the Filipino immigrants who came here mainly to work and provide better future for their children, but perhaps in people like you, Brian, and other non-Filipinos and second generation Filipinos who embrace the culture and warrior arts of our native land. And as a native Filipino and teacher of the Filipino Martial arts, I feel that I’m in the minority. I thank you for your passion to learn, teach and propagate the Filipino Martial Arts. More power to you, my friend :=) And I may add to be truly recognized as the next FMA centre here in North America, Toronto must produce its own world class fighters and that is only possible through competitions.

  • August 10, 2010 at 3:49 am

    @anonymous: It’s evident that you are very passionate about Filipino Martial Arts and I love it! I agree with much of what you said regarding the FMA scene in the city of Toronto, particularly with regard to the participation of Filipinos in FMAs. I agree that it’s my observation that most of the Filipinos that I have met through FMAs are second generation Pinoys rather than native born Filipinos. Some of my students are second generation Pinoys and they are VERY passionate about what I have to teach. So I think that you are spot on in this regard.

    With regard to competitions, I wholeheartedly agree that competition can lead to improvement and elevation in one’s performance. I just wonder if the FMA scene is mature enough to handle competitions. When I say “mature” I mean whether there are enough competitors. For example, I have been in the Toronto area for only three years now and work full time. I just have three children students and 8 adults, all of whom work full time and have families. All are more interested in the life protection aspect of FMA. I doubt if my students would have time to train for competitions. I see the same thing with two of the other FMA schools that I have interacted with.

    I have had a fair number of Filipinos contact me and express interest in my classes. Presently, I teach out of a community centre but with the hope of being able to move into my own space and do this full time someday.

    So perhaps there are lifestyle factors that impede competitions. I do know of a group that recently competed in the World WEKAF championships in Puerto Vallarta and Canada did quite well there.

    As you can tell from my blog, I think that FMA is the greatest thing on earth. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • August 10, 2010 at 4:18 am

    I should also note that there are two other cultural forces that I have to contend with. First is the hockey culture here in Oshawa. That cuts out a large segment of the youth market for my program. The second cultural force is, unfortunately, the popularity of MMA, which is a huge attraction to the 18-35 year old crowd. It’s tough to convince people of the beauty and effectiveness of FMAs. I have personally seen Professor Remy Presas engage in tapi tapi and he was just unbelievable. Ditto for GM Bobby Taboada. I’ve seen clips of Tatang Illustrisimo that was just awe inspiring. To me, MMA pales in comparison. But today’s youth seem to think otherwise.

  • August 10, 2010 at 5:32 am

    I can only agree with you, Brian. MMA is the current trend or fad today and the media has a lot to do with it. With the popularity of the UFC, it’s what people see. Kids aspire to becoming the next BJ Penn or GSP or Anderson Silva not the next Professor Remy Presas, GM Bobby Taboada or Tatang Ilustrisimo :=( I agree with you I also think that FMA is the greatest and the best to learn for law enforcement and self-defense and in my humble opinion some of the greatest martial artists living or deceased are Filipino Martial Arts practitioners. But the truth of the matter is if one wants to open a school and do it full-time, in order to survive in the market today, teaching FMA will not suffice. It has to offer an mma and/or BJJ class as well. I believe FMA does not negate mma or BJJ, it compliments it. As a Filipino Martial artists, our consolation is FMA has been around for centuries and it will be around for a long time.

  • August 10, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    I agree that Filipino Martial Arts practitioners are among the greatest martial artists. I remember seeing a quote where Dan Inosanto once said “I thought that Bruce Lee had the fastest hands I had ever seen until I saw 70 year old eskrimadors.” I love that quote. I agree that a school offering FMA will have to offer something else. It’s tough. People have a hard time looking past the stick, not realizing what the stick can teach. For many, the stick is a scary thing.


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