Posted on: February 11th, 2015 by Mike Eugenio No Comments
Father and daughter self-defense training together.
One must only look through Google why learning martial arts is so beneficial for your children. I am not going to bore you with that. After all Google is your friend. What I offer to several of my clients are private sessions that they can enjoy with their kids. I like working with parents in this type of setting. They can communicate their real concerns and goals regarding their children, plus they also learn self-defense and they can practice it together safely at their own comfort levels. The mom and dad that seek my help knows I am not there to babysit. They come to me because they have real concerns about their child’s safety, confidence, bullying, discipline, etc. My job is to coach both parents and child. I give them materials as homework to remember so that they may both practice at home. Then come back for the next progression sets. Each family unit is different. Some parents are okay with light sparring, and some parents do not want their kids learning weaponry. The work-outs are customized for clients so they get exactly what they want. I usually engage in small talks with the parents and our young student to gauge their maturity level and their interest in martial arts. This way I get a better feel if the private sessions with mom, dad, child and me are a match. I have taught this “family” type private lessons for quite a awhile now. Sizes varied from family reunion, family of five, to divorced mom/dad and child. One thing for sure stands out…quality time!
Make it a quality. If you think you and your child can benefit from this type of training environment, please share this information or contact me and let us meet to discuss about your “family” training.
Posted on: March 23rd, 2014 by Mike Eugenio No Comments
Our Featherweight Program
It was a beautiful warm Friday. My girlfriend and I decided to visit and hang out with my son, her niece, and nephew. We asked them what they wanted to do. All three voted excitedly to go play at a park near by. On our way there, CJ and her sister confessed that there were a lot of bullies at this park, and that they have been bullied before. My girlfriend assured them that this will not happen today. 🙂
Sure enough, since it is still spring break there were kids out there. Age ranged from nine to their teens. One male teen with shaggy hair stood and stared at us as we walk pass them. He was groping his girlfriend, talking loudly, swearing, and started slap-boxing with his other buddies on the basketball court. I identified him as the “alpha male” of the crowd. The rest pretty much acted the same way following this guy’s lead. All just sitting around, being loud, and unproductive. I even saw a couple of the teen girls lied down in the middle of the street to wait for cars to pass. Definitely a stupid way to play chicken.
My kids decided to play tag. I, of course, acting with child-like wonder at the age of 40, put a little twist and invented the Zombie Tag game. At first, it was just four of us. Then one kid started to mingle in our game. He was climbing on things. You could tell he wanted to join in the action. I walked up to him, and asked him if he wanted to be a zombie. He immediately nodded his head with a tight smile on his face. His name is Bishop. Then another kid joined…then another, and another, and another, and so on until I introduced them all to my son, and my girlfriend’s niece and nephew. Needless to say we left the park with no bully incident and left the park with many new friends.
Walking back home, CJ and his younger sister, Sidney excitedly told us they already knew most of these kids, but this was the first time they talked and played with them. Now, how can you put a price on that and their smiling faces?
Message: Parents, teachers, or any adults who care, pay attention at how children (specially your own) treat each other. They all need guidance. Learn more about bullying, and hazing. Work together and help stop this youth issue. Bullying does kill. Make a difference and help prevent teen or preteen suicide.
Watch the clip of this event. I wish I captured more of this fantastic day when the crowd of kids was so much bigger, but I was too busy playing with them. I was only able to capture toward the end of the game as we were leaving the park.
If you want to share a story, please comment or contact me, Guro Mike “Tandang” Eugenio.
Physical altercations usually happen when you are standing up. Certainly, most martial arts prepare your training standing up and then maybe going down on the ground. It makes sense since most fights do start standing up and end up in grappling situations. But what about in a seated posture? After all it is very common and a very vulnerable position. Think about it. It can happen while you are sitting in a bus, train, restaurant, movie theater, etc. To me it is definitely worth the time to invest training in this scenario. The beauty in this type of scenario training is that you really do not have to change much of your stand up training or even your grappling training. The body structure is the same since the center of your gravity is already low. Think of it as if you are training your horse-stance, a wrestler assuming a leg or body tackle posture, or a Brazilian jiu jitsu player already in his favorite element-on his back on the ground. In Filipino martial arts and some Southeast Asian cultures like the art of penjak silat, the seated position is not taken for granted. Aikido trains their techniques from kneeling position, some jiu-jitsu schools start grappling seated on the ground, some are seated on the ground and lean back to back from each other and fight from there. Think of the seated position as the “clinch”…it can be a transitional phase of physical combat to stand up and fight or fall to ground and finish your opponent. Just try training from this position. You will certainly not lose anything, but gain a broader perspective and understanding of your own martial art.
Here is a clip of my teacher, Gat Puno Abon “Garimot” Baet, teaching me the self-defense concepts from a seated position. I hope you enjoy it.
Posted on: February 16th, 2014 by Mike Eugenio No Comments
The Tai Chi learned by most people for health is usually a series of forms combined together to form a long, single, slow, meditative, continues movement. Some tai chi forms have a really long series of movements performed on the right and left side, others have 24, 48, up to over 100 movements. Some of the most popular styles are Yang Family, Chen, and Wu style tai chi chuan. Temple Style Tai Chi Chuan (which also comes from Yang style) has a long form or dance, but it does not rely on the long dance for true cultivation of chi (intrinsic enery). All styles of tai chi chuan aim to cultivate chi. The life force that is truly essential, powerful, and very elusive to cultivate if tai chi chuan is practiced incorrectly. There is a plethora of discussions on Chi or Qi (Ki in Japanese and prana in yoga practice) so I will not do it here. Google is your friend when it comes to this subject matter and you make your own intelligent conclusions regarding the theory of chi. In my experience of teaching, my students feel chi flow very early in their practice of just the first thirteen forms. This is without me telling them what to expect during the practice or even explaining the concept of this energy movement.
The First Thirteen
The long form has many useful qualities, but Temple Style does not rely on it for gathering chi. To cultivate chi in quantity Temple Style has a collection of stationary forms known as the First Thirteen. Like the long form, these forms are performed in a series, but each form is repeated multiple times before transitioning to the next form. I usually do five to seven repetitions of each form when I go through the First Thirteen exercise with beginner students. It usually takes anywhere from 30-45 minutes to finish the set. Like lifting weights, you add more repetitions to each forms when you think your mind and body can handle it. As you master the 13 collection of movements, more forms are introduced to be practiced. This is the time where a practitioner would set aside a separate practice for more single posture(s), after practicing the First Thirteen set.
These are the forms for Temple Style First Thirteen:
3. Upward and Downward
4. Inward and Outward
5. Raise Hands Stance
6. Tai Chi Stance
7. Arrow and Bow Stance
8. Arrow and Bow Twist
9. Ward Off
10. Ward Off Twist
11. Hands Attaching
12. Single Hand Push
13. Hold Tai Chi Ball Left and Right
How to start practice for chi flow.
Simple but never easy. Remember to stay relaxed (alive not dead), focused (mindful), and breathe deep lengthy breaths. Let us start from Preparation Form. Working form the ground up, stand still with your feet hip-width apart. 70 percent of your weight should be on your heels. If you can wiggle your toes then your weight distribution is good. Bend your knees slightly according to your comfort. Tilt your tail bone forward causing the hips to scoop up. This will naturally cause your spine to lengthen as if you are trying to balance a stack of tea cups and saucers on your hips. Sink your chest in and let your arms hang loosely from your sides as if you are holding eggs under your armpits and you do not want to drop it on the floor or crush them in your arms. Feel your head floating like a balloon and your neck is the string. This is suspension. From your shoulders down let gravity take over and feel that heaviness like your body is just melting to the ground. Feel all your tensions flush downward. This is grounding. Have your eyes gaze into the horizon. Eyelids and your brow area feel heavy as if you are sleepy. Lightly connect the tip of your tongue to roof of the palette of your mouth just behind your teeth. This is the connection (internally). Now breathe expanding and contracting from your stomach. Focus on this area as you stand still for five minutes before Preparation.
My lineage of Temple Style Tai Chi Chuan comes from Master Jose P. and he learned it from Grand Master Waysun Liao (Oak Park, IL). There are others who practice this style around Chicago. Make sure you find a good and knowledgeable instructor if you are interested in learning tai chi chuan.
Here is a rare clip of my master doing push hands with me.
Posted on: February 12th, 2014 by Mike Eugenio No Comments
Tandang’s sword collection
I’m sure a lot of martial artists are familiar with the Japanese way of the sword: Batto Jutsu, Kenjutsu, Kendo, Iaido, and Tameshigiri. I would like to talk about the Filipino way of the sword called Bunot Armas (or Sword Drawing). What’s that? You’ve never heard of it? Well me neither until I started practicing it back in 2006.
After training Iaido for some time, I started asking my instructors if a similar practice existed in Filipino martial arts. Most of them said no, citing the fact that most Filipino swords had “break-away” scabbard technology. Meaning two pieces of wood sandwiched the sword, unglued and only tied together by rattan fibers. Warriors of the old supposedly simply struck their opponents with the sword while in scabbard and the impact caused the sword to cut through the fiber twines cutting the opponent dead! It makes sense, since it is a well known fact that Filipino sandata (weapons) went through several scabbards during its service. I thought it was a good explanation and accepted it, even though I was left kind of disappointed. How can a highly sophisticated bladed art not have something like Iaido, which offered a higher level of internal focus for the mind and body…???
Garimot Arnis System filled that emptiness in me. One day, as I was picking up Guro Abon to do a private lesson in my garage; he asked me if I’ve ever seen Bunot Armas? I knew the literal meaning…but I ignorantly asked “what’s that?”
Well let me try to describe each Japanese sword disciplines so that we can better understand Bunot Armas. Let me start with the easiest one first.
Kendo is a fencing sport with two handed bamboo sword called “shinai” and it was originally developed as a safe method of training for samurais.
Tameshigiri, literally means “test cut”, is the practice and discipline of cutting with a “ken” (live blade) or a katana sword on a bamboo pole, tatami, or both…bamboo as the core, which represents the bone, and wet tatami to represent the human flesh. Fun stuff!
Kenjutsu (Art of the Sword) is a two person practice with prescribed attacks and defenses against a sword.
Iaido is the practice of drawing the sword, cutting with the sword and returning it back into the scabbard in one fluid motion.
Batto jutsu is a combination of Tameshigiri and Iaido. It requires drawing and then an actual cutting (Tameshigiri) of a target, and return the sword back to scabbard.
Bunot Armas is basically all of the above! 🙂
Bunot Armas is the traditional sword drawing techniques of Garimot Arnis de Mano of the Baet family in Laguna, northern part of the Philippines. It teaches you higher levels of combative situations, which demands great control, decisiveness, and precise actions. It requires, undaunted stillness of the mind to perform a task. A lot of us will find this practice highly effective in dealing with stress in our work place or in our lives. I have even taught some tactics directly from bunot armas to some of our local law enforcement when they needed simple effective weapons retention techniques. So far, I have learned two sets of Garimot Bunot Armas: Cinco Teros, and Siete Colores. I wouldn’t doubt it if there was bunot armas drills for Tres Puntos, and (Garimot) Doce Pares. Guro-Dad Abon Baet likes to keep things hidden until one is ready to learn the next cool thing.
Here is a preview of the basics. This is not the actual numbering of Cinco Teros Bunot Armas. It takes a lot of practice and a proper body mechanics to perform with a “live” (sharp) blade. Please, do not try this at home. The antique sword I am using is my personal favorite cutting sword.
Posted on: January 29th, 2014 by Mike Eugenio No Comments
It is said that Filipinos hid their martial arts of sword fighting in their cultural dances when the practice of swordsmanship, and the carrying of swords in public was banned by the Spanish conquistadors. The traditional dances allowed the Filipinos to continue practicing their deadly art by training with sticks to replace the swords. It was a great way to mask the art and the Spanish people thought it was just for entertainment since Zarzuela was performed every year. Zarzuela was (and still is) basically a religious opera performed in public during the holy week of Lent. Since Filipinos were Christianized, this was no threat to the ruling body at the time.
I should point out that I have never read or found (to this day of my research) of any Spanish document banning the practice of martial arts or the public carry of swords. Even though imposing such a ban would make sense, the Spaniards actually favored the divide-and-conquer tactic by using the opposing ethnic groups as their soldiers. I would think the Spaniards would enforce martial arts training more or enforce it by sharing their own style of fencing to their new “hired” soldiers. In this case, the sword and dagger techniques of arnis de mano can trace its influence.
Banning of sword -carry and martial practice makes more sense to me in the Luzon island of the Philippines. Especially in Manila, which was established as the capital by the Spaniards during the time of the conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legaspi around 1500’s. Many foreigners have tried to claim Manila, including the Chinese, British, and even the Dutch, but the Spaniards were able to reclaim it back before the Americans came. With all these wars going on plus the Tagalog and neighboring ethnic groups’ resistance against the Spaniards, I can see the need of the Filipinos to preserve their deadly art in a form of dance.
Is this battle dance a myth? I have studied and researched different Filipino martial arts systems and most of my teachers agreed that the historical transmission of sword fighting art was passed down through the knowledge of “dances”, but nobody can show me what such a dance looked like. Maybe all these modern masters had a secret meeting and agreed to fabricate such a myth to hype the art. Some have pointed out to me to look at Fandango sa Ilaw, Maglalatik, Singkil, and Tinikling dances. I have…in fact I have done these dances in school performances as a child. I still don’t see the martial aspects. Has it been just lost through time? Then I got lucky. Back in 2000 (13 years ago) I met and now study under Gat Puno Abon Baet. His family have been teaching and preserving the Moro-Moro battle dance for generations.
Let me say this…Moro-Moro is not a dance! By that I mean, Moro-Moro done outside of Zarzuela without the music, the stage, opera- recited poetry, and elaborate Roman costumes…it is essentially a kata or sets of fighting forms. In fact, It is a set of 30 attack-and-defend drills performed really fast as running attacks. It becomes dance-like when it is performed by a skilled player, because he or she can actually hide the movements by his “flow” of performance. Now add the stage, costumes, poetry, and music to the mix and you have a whole tradition that preserves: martial arts, culture, religion, and politics. 🙂
Click on the video to see some of my break downs of Moro-Moro “dance”.
Posted on: January 16th, 2014 by Mike Eugenio No Comments
Yes, there is such a thing! Although Filipino boxing may look similar to western boxing, especially in the early stages of studying it. I guarantee you it is quite different. Filipino boxing is not just limited to striking with hands. It utilizes everything from punches, kicks, elbows, knees, headbutt, take-downs, throws, trapping and joint locking. since there are so many elements involved in Filipino boxing also known in different dialects: as panuntukan (panoon’ tu-kahn), bakbakan, suntukan (soon’ tu-kahn), buntalan (boon’ ta-lan), etc.,,,etc. Mastery of proper body mechanics and balance in motion are the utmost important part of training. Here is my teacher Gat Puno Abon “Garimot” Baet demonstrating his devestating art of Sikadtukan. Sikad means to kick, and tukan derived from the word “suntukan” or “suntok” meaning to punch.
Watch the Roost*r get his butt kicked! Click here to play the video:
Posted on: January 16th, 2014 by Mike Eugenio No Comments
Why am I posting this? Most Filipino-Americans or Filipino expats do not know how to speak their native tongue. I find it interesting that most of them relate better in studying Filipino martial arts than learning the language or eating Filipino food to discover their roots.
Really funny when the girl asks if the guy video recording is Filipino. He replies “yes”, but reasoned that he came here when he was young…this girl was born here! Ahhh the power of Rosetta Stone.
Sarong or flexible training in Filipino martial arts is one of the funnest part of the curriculum. Once you have reached a good understanding of your basic drills, concepts, and techniques in Filipino martial arts known as kali, arnis de mano, and eskrima, you can start training in the art of flexible weapon fighting. This subject can also fall into the improvised weapons category since the techniques you see here can also be done with a scarf, shoulder strap of your purse, a belt, a chain, handkerchief, or even a neck-tie.