On Saturday March 5, 2016, Master of Tapi Tapi Chuck Gauss hosted the 1st Annual FMA Spring Festival at his dojo in Westland, Michigan. Among those teaching at the Festival were Master Chuck, GM Bong Jornales, Master Rodolfo Poblacion and myself. It was a great success!

GM Bong Jornales and Master of Tapi Tapi Chuck Gauss.
GM Bong Jornales and Master of Tapi Tapi Chuck Gauss.

There was tremendous camraderie displayed during the day as we taught various aspects of Filipino Martial Arts. There were no egos and the emphasis was on sharing our knowledge of different aspects of Filipino Martial Arts.

The day started with Master Rodolfo teaching espada y daga, starting with a simple template. Master Rodolfo took us through an increasingly challenging series of progressions that emphasize the alternating usage of both the short and the long weapon. As many of us train with the single stick and don’t train espada y daga much, this session was fun and challenging! Master Rodolfo did a terrific job of pacing his instruction and teaching in a clear and simple manner.

Master Rodolfo
Master Rodolfo Poblacion

GM Bong Jornales, assisted by World Champion Mariah Moore, Randy Moore and Luke Holden then gave a engrossing presentation on the rules, regulations, and strategies of tournament stick fighting. During this session, they demonstrated their techniques and strategies ranging from the use of the check hand to favorite striking techniques. They also discussed their training methodologies in preparation for tournaments.

Master of Tapi Tapi Chuck Gauss, GM Bong Jornales and World Champion Mariah Moore.

After lunch break, I taught a session on check hand drills. I explained to the participants that Professor Presas and Master Chuck always emphasized the use of the check hand for various reasons ranging from pushing, pulling, locking, slap off, unbalancing, takedowns, and throws.  I further explained that while some students may be natural at using their check hand, others struggle to coordinate their check hand in conjunction with their cane. So I devised a series of check hand drills to enhance the coordination between the check hand and the stick hand. Most participants took to these drills immediately.  A few were challenged by them. 🙂 I then taught the applications of some of these drills and again emphasized the importance of using a strong check hand. I think that this session was well received. Who knows? 🙂

GM Bong and his crew came up next and led a great session on tournament stick fighting. He and his students got their full padded gear on and encouraged the participants to give it a go. Quite a few of them donned the outfits and went at it against GM Bong, Mariah, Randy, and Luke. It became evident to the participants that a one minute round can quickly sap their energy as a result of the non stop defensive and offensive pressure of tournament stick fighting. I saw more than a few folks soaking wet after one round underneath the full body gear.

Master of Tapi Tapi Chuck Gauss and Phil Acosta.
Master of Tapi Tapi Chuck Gauss and Lakan Phil Acosta.

Master Rodolfo then taught a fantastic session on abanico double sticks, focusing against angles 1 and 2. Master Rodolfo added in a series of progressions with the abanico movement. It was interesting for me to see the connections between his Modern Arnis and what I’ve learned from Master Chuck over the years. Again, Master Rodolfo did a great job of imparting his knowledge to the participants.

Then it was my turn to teach again. This time, I introduced the concept of switching hands. I introduced the concept through a single sinawali switching hands drill, starting with the left hand and switching to the right and back to the left. Those who have trained with Master Chuck and Master Ken were familiar with this and were eager to help those who were not familiar with this. Then I transitioned to a couple of techniques illustrating how one can switch hands to gain maximum advantage over an adversary.

For the last session, Master of Tapi Tapi Chuck Gauss taught joint locking (whole hand and finger locks) from single sinawali and show the street combat applications of them. He also taught a couple of stick trapping techniques and threw in a couple of poses in the context of tapi tapi. These practical techniques showcased his extensive police and executive protection experience and particularly how Modern Arnis can be used for self defense.

A perfect way to end the FMA Festival!

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We had a great turnout. More importantly, the camaraderie, energy, and the atmosphere of sharing each other’s knowledge and helping each other permeated the event. In light of the egos and rivalries that often plague Filipino Martial Arts, the atmosphere at the 1st Annual Spring FMA Festival was a refreshing change. This bodes well for future Spring FMA Festivals!

For those who attended, we all hope that you had a great time and would love to get feedback from you! Please post feedback in the comment section below! 


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