By: Guro Mike “Tandang Garimot” Eugenio
This article is about the frequently asked questions I have received from people, who were curious enough to find out about what I do, what I teach, and can I learn it. Although it is a self-interview, It is a summation of the important questions that will convey why I love what I do.
What does Tandang Garimot mean?
The pronunciation is tuhn-dung’ ga-reeh’ mawt. Tandang means young rooster in my native Filipino Tagalog language. It is the fighting name given to me by Gat Puno (Chieftain) Guro Abundio “Garimot” Baet, who is the founder of the Filipino martial art of Garimot Arnis de Mano. “Garimot” has been the fighting name that has stayed within the Baet family. It means the absorber or to absorb as in through osmosis of whatever is in front of you. Hence, in honor of my teacher and his family art, I am known as Tandang Garimot. My real name is not as exciting. It is Mike Eugenio.
What is the goal of your dojo in regards to martial arts?
Our goal is to eliminate the elitist mentality you find from other martial arts styles or schools so that people interested in learning how to defend themselves can train and not have to be intimidated by “martial art bullies”. We teach an amalgamation of the best and most practical key components of martial arts styles and traditions. By exposing our clients to different styles of martial arts they become open minded, help each other and critique one another after a class to pave way for progress. Some students stay to train only in one discipline of art. Others eventually choose to train in different styles we offer. Whatever their personal goals or reasons are, we are here to guide them, provide the proper atmosphere for learning, and make them better than what they are today.
Why do you practice martial arts?
Growing up weak and small I have always felt I needed to be heard; to be special and to be noticed. Unfortunately, being “special” became noticeably easy prey to bigger and older bullies. I remember the horrible helpless feeling from my second school yard fight. I was being choked in front of people while I was trying to defend a friend from a bully. From that experience I knew I had to talk the talk, walk the walk, know my actual limitations, and circumvent the limitations. I found the answers in martial arts, and through practice I learned to discover more about my true potential. Everyone already has that potential. It just needs to awakened and turn it to actual skills.
Why did you decide to become a martial arts teacher?
The practice of martial arts has always been my happy place. It continually inspires me to evolve and transcend the principles in all aspects of my life. Like many others in this path of living, sharing by teaching martial arts was the next natural step.
What martial arts have you trained in?
I was first exposed to “karate” as a kid. I say that in quotes, because my cousin who taught my brother and I martial arts also knew arnis de mano and he simply called it “like-karate”. To generalize my training in chronological order, I studied Chinese, Filipino, Indonesian/Malaysian, Japanese, Brazilian, and European martial arts. Plus the external and internal sides of the coin of martial arts.
What’s the difference between “external” and “internal” martial arts?
External arts favors to train the body to build physical strength for fitness and stamina. Internal arts trains the mind to become less distracted, the body deeply relaxed to become more sensitive and intuitive to subtle applied energies.
How was it possible for you to learn different martial arts?
I treated it like I was going to school where one would learn different subjects at once. I may not have liked a subject or fully understood each art at the time, but patience and discipline paid off. After many years of practice, martial arts became one piece of pie cut in several slices. Each piece flavored with different philosophies, theories, and concepts. I guess it’s more like a Neapolitan ice cream. 😉
How did you develop your program or teaching style?
I love all types of martial arts so I train in all areas of fighting: stand-up, weaponry, and grappling, plus the two types, which are internal and external aspects of it. Being able to interchangeably apply these components in different situations became key to the development of my program and way of thinking. It is nothing new under the sun, but the whole matrix of martial arts became like “lego” and “jenga” pieces to me. The structure is solid, but flexible enough to be taken apart to create something new out of the same pieces. This allows me to customize a program for people seeking private lessons, teach a class to students with different skill levels, interchange and relate different subjects of martial arts so a specific concept is understood, and achieve a good and fast results.
Can you explain the differences among the fighting styles you teach?
It is easier to answer the common denominator of all styles. That is the human body and how to get the best performance out of it for the actions you require.
How did your teachers or martial arts change your life?
This is probably the most important realization for me. What I have learned from my teachers have propelled me to my true calling and purpose in life. Share martial arts and its benefits to everyone who wants to reach their full potential. Mastery of the self is above any art.
What is your martial arts message or philosophy?
Let the union of mind, body, and spirit be your shield. The warrior lifestyle is not just about fighting or winning competitions. Practice is really important, but take the importance out of practice when you train. Realize that training requires you to lose, but learn to lose winningly, which is the physical and mental challenges that will run into. It will establish self-discipline, humility, and respect for others. Hunger for knowledge and proficiency will drive you to act and to rise from failures. This will make you physically capable, mentally prepared, and tap into your fighting spirit. When you achieve balance in mind, body, and spirit it literally becomes your shield against anything that makes you weak such as life problems, illnesses, stress, fears, uncertainties, etc. Take the journey to your own self-discovery and transformation and live an extraordinary life. In the process you will elevate everything and everyone around you, and that is good service and reward in itself.