Last night, my wife and I watched the “Eskrimadors” documentary with Terence, who brought the DVD over. It was quite well done! This documentary focuses on the Filipino martial arts traditions of the island of Cebu. This was a good idea as it gave the film a nice focus on a geographical area. To include other FMAs from other provinces would have made this a bit unwieldy. As a consequence, other well known FMAs such as Modern Arnis, Kombatan, Kali Illustrisimo and others are not covered. The documentary delved into the Cebuano history of FMAs and included topics such as the Canete family, the role of the Saavedras, the Labangon Fencing Club, Venancio “Anciong” Bacon, the bitter rivalry between Doce Pares and the Balintawak schools and the emergence of FMAs on the world stage. Styles mentioned in this documentary are Doce Pares, Teovel’s Balintawak, Nickelstick Balintawak, Lapunti Arnis de Abanico, and Liborio Heyrosa Decuerdas. Interviews were conducted with Ciriaco “Cacoy” Canete, Dionisio Canete, Undo Caburnay, Nick Elizar, and Rodrigo Maranga. Of course, there were demonstrations of various techniques and some of which were incredible.
One thing that I picked up toward the end was the recognition by the old school players, implied and express, was the need to move toward “civilized” sparring, alluding to the fact that the brutal juego todo (death matches) of the past were detrimental to the growth of FMAs, especially in light of the popularity of non-Filipino arts in the Philippines itself. While the old timers seemed to be happy that FMAs are gaining immense popularity worldwide, they lamented the fact that the younger generation in the Philippines appeared not as interested. Terence pointed out that the recent legislation in the Philippines, recognizing Arnis as a national sport, may help to reverse this trend in the Philipines. See this previous post:
In any case, it was heartening to hear the old timers express their desire to pass along their knowledge to those willing to learn what they have to offer. Here’s hoping that globalization affects the FMAs in a positive way!