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HISTORY OF MODERN ARNIS

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History of Modern Arnis

Remy Presas studied his family's system from an early age. He went on to study the Japanese systems of Shotokan Karate and Judo, achieving high rank in each; but he also studied a variety of other Filipino systems, most notably Anciong Bacon's Balintawak. Beginning with a small gymnasium in Bacolod in the 1950s, he attempted to spread the art to the local youth as both a cultural legacy and a form of physical development or sport. He also taught the art at a nearby college. His desire to reinvigorate interest in his country's art grew over time, and he began making modifications and improvements to what he had learned. In 1969 he moved to Manila at the request of a government official, and formed the Modern Arnis Federation of the Philippines. He was assisted by individuals such as those who now are on the Modern Arnis Senior Masters Council: Rodel Dagooc, Jerry dela Cruz, Roland Dantes, Vincente Sanchez, Rene Tongson and Cristino Vasquez. He continued to develop and spread his art, including via books, until political considerations forced him to relocate to the North America.

There he met Wally Jay, George Dillman, and other martial artists who influenced his development of the art of Modern Arnis. In particular, many locks from Small Circle Jujitsu were added to Modern Arnis. The art continued to grow and change, in technique and in emphasis, though it always retained a focus on the single stick and on general self-defense. Those who trained with Remy Presas in the United States in the 1970s and early 1980s experienced the art differently from those who began training in the late 1990s. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s he traveled extensively for seminars--the principal form of instruction in the system was through weekend training camps held around the world but especially in the U.S.--and also produced books and videos. During this time he also experiemented with different forms of titles and leadership in the art. The International Modern Arnis Federation Philippines would come to be the lead Modern Arnis organization in the Philippines, and the Deutschen Arnis Verband of Germany would be the lead organization in Europe. In the United States, the International Modern Arnis Federation (IMAF) was the principal organization as far as certification was concerned, but the founder created a variety of titles that indicated some level of organizational or leadership authority in the art (as opposed to titles such as guro or Punong Guro that recognized teaching and/or technical ability). Most prominent among these titles were Datu, meaning a chieftain or leader, awarded in this order to Shishir Inocalla, Kelly Worden and Ric "Bong" Jornales (of Arnis Sikaran) (all in the 1980s), Dieter Knuettel (1996), Tim Hartman and David Hoffman (both in 2000); and Master of Tapi-Tapi, awarded to Jeff Delaney, Chuck Gauss, Jim Ladis, Gaby Roloff, Randi Schea, Ken Smith, and Brian Zawilinski. The Masters of Tapi-Tapi titles were created to provide leadership and steerage for the IMAF following Remy Presas' passing; the Datus were expected to take leadership roles that might see them move in different, and perhaps less conventional, directions. Through 2001, however, the art remained largely united under the founder.

In the wake of the 2001 death of Remy Preas, there has been a splintering of the remaining leadership of Modern Arnis. The IMAF, previously the organization of record for North American Modern Arnis practitioners, split into two subgroups, one headed by Randi Shea and one headed by Jeff Delaney; the remaining five Masters of Tapi-Tapi continue to be associated with the former group. Remy Presas' son Remy P. Presas and his siblings also formed a group following his father's death, and Tim Hartman and Dieter Knuettel increased the independence of their organizations (the WMAA and DAV, respectively). Other groups, such as that headed by Kelly Worden, had become independent well before the founder's death (and with his support). Dan Anderson formed another branch of the art which he calls "Modern Arnis 80" and runs this out of Gresham, Oregon. While both IMAFs have claimed that rank must be certified through them to be valid, other individuals feel that the dynamic structure of the art, Remy Presas' frequent instructions to "make the art your own", their rank or title, and/or specific authority granted to them by the founder, mean that they are entitled to head their own organizations or groups that teach their own interpretation of the art.

In many ways, the situation is analogous to what occurred in the Jeet Kune Do and American Kenpo communities following the deaths of their popular and charismatic founders. In particular, the question of how high-ranking arnisadors should test for higher rank has been settled by different organizations in different ways. In some cases this has caused controversy. However, the fact remains that several groups are promoting what they see as 'traditional' Modern Arnis, while others are promoting variations of Modern Arnis, in keeping with its 'modern' approach. The art is healthy and continues to attract students.

Current practitioners of Modern Arnis or arts strongly influenced by Modern Arnis who head their own organization or group or are otherwise prominent include: Dan Anderson, Jerome Barber, Tom Bolden, Jeff Delaney, Rodel Dagooc, Roland Dantes, Samuel "Bambit" Dulay, Bram Frank, Tim Hartman, Walter "Hock" Hochheim, David Hoffman, Myrlino Hufana, Shishir Inocalla, Dieter Knüttel, Jay de Leon, Lee Lowry, David Ng, Max Pallen Sr., Doug Pierre, Remy P. Presas, Roberto Presas, Randi Schea, Kelly Worden, Ken DeJesus, Brian Collins and Richard Temmerman.

- From wikipedia.org

 

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