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Thursday, August 24, 2006


Puppet or self realized ?

Being an American, I as well as many others in the martial arts have become conditioned to seek change and adaptability within almost all aspects of life. In the martial arts this practice has become a natural transition over the last 25 years or so. Prior to that it was considered a breach of tradition, looked down on, and at the very least a disloyal slap in the face of the teacher who shared his sacred art with you.

Many early innovators of the martial arts established the path of self-discovery and are directly responsible for the changes experienced today. Who am I referring to? Well it’s all about choosing a cultural connection to specific arts, master instructors such as Jigoro Kano, Gichin Funakoshi, Musashi, Venancio Anciong Bacon, Yip Man, Bruce Lee, Ed Parker, Peter Urban, Wally Jay, and many, many, other dynamic leaders. Surely anyone reading this article will have they’re own list of whom they feel stepped up, created a dynasty, and impacted lives worldwide.

One thing most, if not all these innovative self-thinking leaders had in common was a rebellious attitude. Additionally, no matter how much their initial rebellion shocked and impacted the arts of the time, each innovator evolved back to a point of embracing the essence of traditional values. What are those values? Respect, discipline, loyalty, honesty, trust, reliability, these and other key elements. Again, I know those reading along could add to this list and possibly wonder how I could have missed important aspects such as integrity or allegiance, crucial essentials contained within the arts we all are suppose to respect and embrace. That being said possibly they are now critical of my own lack of comprehension on the subject. Well, that’s just a thought, but it would seem within the perspective of one mere article not all aspects of any subject can be documented.

Moving on, the term tradition can mean custom, ritual, ceremonial, routine, institution, society, formal procedure, and quite a few other descriptive synonyms. Getting all that out of the way, what is my point?
No doubt I am about to enlighten some readers, yet upset others, so be it. I am known to speak my opinion and to me political posturing isn’t acceptable nor justifiable just to temper the impact of what I perceive to be truth in honor.

I can’t do it myself, so I’ll take his!

As we all know the world of martial arts was extremely disrupted with the loss of the late Grandmaster and Founder of Modern Arnis. Yes, I am referring to “Professor Remy Armador Presas. Professor sacrificed much in his life to make the art of Modern Arnis known worldwide. Following his heart, Professor came to the self-realization that Modern Arnis could benefit and impact all martial art systems as “the art within your art!” What a great concept, beyond that, what an amazing marketing tool to spread the Filipino martial arts so dear to his heart. Yes and thankfully without question, Professor Presas realized the fulfillment of his dream before he passed away August 28th 2001. Dreams, sadly are rarely realized without extreme sacrifice, shouldn’t we all pause and ponder this, oh come on, just a bit?

I ask all who are reading this article, in your lifetime what have you truly sacrificed in an attempt to gain your claim to fame, fortune, or even peer or public acknowledgement? In some ways the results of sacrifice might be like intentionally committing a crime just to facilitate a change your life. Maybe not directly a crime to you personally, but those who are impacted by your commitment become embroiled within a self imposed prison of lost association.
Yes I know, not a pretty analogy, but one that at least impacts our emotional fortitude enough to realize how much the reality of sacrifice could change our lives and the lives of our loved ones. One thing for sure, it is not called sacrifice for no reason at all, eh? Agreed? Hummm, well if not, you are either to shallow, to arrogant, raised with a silver spoon in you’re mouth, or just to chicken sh-t to let your imagination open the door to realize what the word sacrifice really means to those who have actually experienced it’s wrath. (Gee, don't ya just love my honesty?)

With or without your assistance!

The Presas Name is alive and Remy Jr. continues the evolution. For those within Modern Arnis who have not taken the time to meet and train with Remy Presas Jr. all I can say, “it is truly you're loss.”

We as a Modern Arnis family have always chosen our own directions, yet there was always a common denominator that motivated us to maintain our connection to the art. That of course was the charismatic vivaciousness of Professor Remy Presas, the founder of the art. Without question, his dynamic energy was a magnet that energized us all, his words, movements, sincerity, and love of life.

Literally those are all attributes possessed by his son Remy Presas Jr. Of course surely not as refined as of yet, but make no mistake, when you are talking to Remy Jr. you will feel much of the spirit of his father resonating from his words and mannerisms. Yes, Remy Presas Jr. fills the room and the training floor with the same spirit as his father. For those of us who have experienced this phenomenon we realize training with Remy Jr. has allowed us to connect to the Professor in a way we all thought had been lost. No, Remy Jr. does not replace the love we shared with and for his father Professor Remy Armador Presas, nor does he try to. Together we all rekindle the joy and spirit of Professor by sharing the art he loved so dearly while seeking to keep the Presas name a vital constituent within Modern Arnis. Please tell me, yourself, and you’re students honestly, that Professor Presas would not be ecstatically thrilled to see the Presas name actively propagating the art he founded. With that being stated I am also curious if those reading my prospective of the Modern Arnis evolution, believe Professor Presas himself would ignore the efforts and personal sacrifices of his eldest son? Well? Would he?

Although Remy Jr. is not the only Presas family member skilled in the original teachings of their father, Remy Jr. appears to be the only one willing to stand forth to be acknowledged. Yes, following not only his birth right as the eldest son in an established family lineage, but also Remy Jr.’ personal vow of commitment to the Presas Modern Arnis legacy declared directly to his father just prior to the passing August 31st 2001.

What’z ‘yer name boy?

Much has changed in Modern Arnis in the last several years; initially many practitioners stepped up as successors claiming leadership. One student of Modern Arnis even claimed he was the new Grandmaster, sadly with only 8 total years in Modern Arnis; his status is looked on as more of a clown than a leader. Yet another has taken the position as a Founder of Modern Arnis and refers to himself as Professor. Sure there are discrepancies in how each of us perceive these claims, but it cannot be ignored that Professor himself did not, nor would not have allowed such arrogance to be propagated at any time if he were living today. So it is up to those within his circle of trust to step beyond personal ego and accept Professor’s art as a gift of enlightenment not as a destiny of dictatorship available to anyone who feels tenure is theirs for the taking. There was and is only one founder of Modern Arnis, adding numbers to the name means nothing but deception or deceit, truly there was and is only one Professor of Modern Arnis as well. I would go so far as to say a Grandmaster or direct Heir of the system is yet to be realized. Although Modern Arnis is, as it is named Modern, the essence of the art is not contained within the techniques and concepts as much as it is recognized by the name Presas! So should it be maintained if possible?

Those who are professing grandmaster status within Modern Arnis are ignoring the very words that drove each and every one of us to evolve while establishing our own unique personal expressions of the art. Simply put, Professor Presas encouraged each and every one of us to “Do Your own Work!” To “Make It Your own.” Hummm, not to try and be him, not to ride his coat tail, or walk in his shoes. However romantic it may seem to be the Grandmaster of Modern Arnis or say you are the heir to Remy Armador Presas. How many people are really willing to sacrifice what he sacrificed on his path to fame and world legendary status? Do you really want to try those shoes on for size? The real walk in Professor’ shoes might take you into the reality of a inescapable Twilight Zone episode. A trip that finds you without a Country, without a family, ensnared within a rotating door of recycled friends and students. The security and tranquility of home is merely a lonely hotel in a different city, year after year. Without a doubt I can now visualize a whole line of self appointed Heirs lined up and looking for the quick way out “grabbing Todo the dog and clicking their Ruby Slippers in an effort to return to the safety of a life they once knew.” Surely, Professor’s life was not all Wine and Roses. Now, before you judge my words and bark back at me in rage or anger, think about it, really, just think about it…

Got game, who’s game is it really?

Honestly, are any of us pure Modern Arnis? In truth we as seniors of the art are all progressive leaders of our own visions, not Professor Presas’ vision, nor do we possess his dreams, desires, or personal skills. Modern Arnis was ever changing, always evolving; Modern Arnis was and is Presas Modern Arnis. Unless our name is Presas, we as practitioners are merely practitioners of our own subsystems of Modern Arnis. This is an honorable status to attain; to preserve what has been taught to us and to progressively evolve our own expression of validity through self-realization or personal development, to do exactly what Professor Presas did when he created Modern Arnis!

Did he piss people off? You bet!

Did it deter him from following his heart and dream? To honestly, do what? Honestly, if you ever had a personal conversation with Professor you know it was more than just establish Modern Arnis! Yes that was truly a dream, but possibly his real motivation was to make his Grandfather, his Father, and the whole world, respect the name “Presas!” Am I wrong?

Please Take my name and shove it ?

I don’t think so!

Now before everyone gets all excited and pissed off at me, think how you’re personal family name should be respected if you should fall prey to an untimely death. Could anyone just inherit or take your family name and identity while ignoring direct generation lineage potentially passed to the firstborn son? Keep in mind this is just my opinion, my opinion is just that, mine. Remy Presas Jr. knows nothing of what I write, Professor Presas himself could not restraint my opinion yet Professor Presas trusted my judgment and referred to me in his final days not as a student but as his brother!

Many people within Modern Arnis or even the martial arts community as a whole consider me outspoken and over-opinionated. More importantly to me, even my critics understand and know I don’t deviate from my views to appease political pressures or reap financial gains, it’s called honor. Those who claim they loved the Professor yet disregard his Son, should take a little time to reflect on how Professor Presas himself would respond to this disrespect to Traditional Family lineage.

In the time I have known and embraced Remy Jr. his skill has evolved and developed faster than anyone else I have known in Modern Arnis. Honestly I am amazed and those words do not pass over my lips very often. I suppose many are asking if that is possible?

Presas bloodline!

What did you expect ?

Let’s examine briefly Dr. Remy Jr.’ commitment to the art since reuniting with his father just prior to his passing. Much like his father, Remy Presas Jr. is an extremely spiritual man, for mysterious reasons he feels the divine spirit of his father guides him in the art. Dreams and visions come to Remy Jr.; although he is a private person he will share perspective of the sacred energy that brings a sense of peace and fulfillment to his life. “It is a connection to my father, how else can I explain it!”

Ecstatic and alive, Remy Jr. also questions the logic of his newly defined love for the same art that catapulted his own father from his life. Internally he seeks an answer as to how his ability has evolved so quickly into a valid teacher of the Filipino arts. Of course there is no doubt his accelerated progression can be directly credited to his personal dedication to fulfill his Father's last wish, “to keep the Presas name alive in Modern Arnis.” Furthermore categorically his technical balance should be attributed to Rodel Dagooc, Dr. Wilfredo Matias, and according to Remy Jr., myself.

Balanced today as a man who has stood on his own since his youth Remy Jr. has dedicated his life to higher education, earning no less than two Doctorates and one Masters Degree. It is through his analytical mind that Dr. Remy Jr.’ has developed the ability to assimilate the traditional elements of Modern Arnis as originally taught to the family while living in the Philippines.

Three pillars of strength,

Other men behind the man !

There is no question that Rodel Dagooc was an inspiration, brother, and mentor to Dr. Remy Jr., the son of his teacher. Upon meeting Rodel in San Pablo, California it became evident to me that Rodel had taken a role in reuniting the Presas family with the art of Modern Arnis. The respect Rodel held for Professor Presas emulated in his compassion to share openly and instill the dynamics of the art directly to the Presas family, specifically Remy Jr.
This was our first seminar together, Remy Jr., Mary Ann, Mary Jane, Demitrio, Rodel, myself, and yes even the renowned Wally Jay stepped onto the floor to energize our family tribute to Modern Arnis.

Personally meeting Rodel was inspirational, as an arnisador he is an amazingly skilled dynamic teacher, fighter, and leader. Without any pretense he openly embraced the role of mentor, guide, and training partner. For me the experience was not only enlightening, but humbling, and extremely educational. Rodel treated the family reminiscent of royalty, as if they were the children of the King he revered! In question, are they not?

Rodel Dagooc impressed and enriched the lives of everyone he came in contact with during his stay in the United States. He is a true master of Arnis and a tribute to his dedication to Professor Remy Presas and the art of Modern Arnis!
Upon Rodel’s return to the Philippines, Dr. Remy Jr. continued his quest to seek guidance and leadership. A magnetic spirit force united him with Modern Arnis master Dr. Wilfredo Matias. Referred to by his friends as Dr. Willy, he was an original “core” student in the Philippines during the developmental stages of Modern Arnis. Early on, Dr. Willy came to America to study Dentistry. Shortly after Professor Presas exiled to America, Dr. Willy reestablished an undying bond as a close friend and compradre of Professor Remy Presas.

Prior to his recent death, Dr. Matias was the highest ranked Modern Arnis practitioner not only here in America but outside of the Philippines. Truly an amazing practitioner in his own right, Dr. Willy was a humble man who shared his insight with those he cared about, all others mattered not. Fame was never a concern, only the love of his family, friends, and art. As a personal confidant to Professor Presas, unbeknownst to others Dr. Willy literally assisted in the development of the higher progressions of Modern Arnis. Not only was his traditional methodology extremely refined, his Tapi Tapi combinations were as dynamic and elusive as the Professor’s himself. Let me clarify, as a humble man, you would never hear those words come from Dr. Wilfredo Matias, he attributed everything in his art to the Grandmaster of Modern Arnis and revered his relationship with Professor Remy Presas to the highest degree.
It was this spirit he shared with Remy Jr., Dr. Willy became a father and mentor (if you will) to the son of the man he admired most, fulfilling a dream to somehow repay Professor Presas for the gift he received as a Compadre to the Grandmaster.

I have always felt since meeting and training with Dr. Matias that he was a classic example of Professor Presas himself. The two Arnisador's had much in common, evolving together, Professor taught him well. Dr. Willy's skill was exceedingly refined, surely not average by any arnisador standards. Professor truly would have been proud of his Compadre sharing the art, with us, and his eldest son Dr. Remy P. Presas.

In personal conversations with Dr. Matias at my home in Tacoma Washington, Dr. Willy swore the spirit or life force of Professor Presas also visited him at different times even prior to Professor passing away. Anyone reading this knows of his almost mystical ability to summons you to call, or contact him. More than once did I myself share that connection and communicated within days or even hours of Professor crossing my mind’s eye.

Are you ready for the truth?

Maybe later….

In a personal interview with Rosemary Presas I was told of Professor possessing “Anting Anting”. Yes there is a video interview with Roland Dantes and myself discussing this same subject. In the future there may be much to share about this phenomenon. Whatever the case, let us all agree Professor Presas was a powerful man with a spirit for life. I don’t hesitate when I say, “in my own opinion Dr. Remy Presas Jr. possesses many of his fathers’ personal characteristics and dynamic attributes!”

Dr. Remy Jr. ability to assimilate the traditional elements of Modern Arnis as taught in the Philippines while integrating the modern progressions instructed here in the U.S. is a tribute to the foundational skills his Father taught and shared directly with him as a young man.

The Presas name,

What does it truly mean to you?

Dr. Remy Jr. has begun a very informative historical accounting of Professor's life in the Philippines and will be sharing stories of the family's dreams of establishing Modern Arnis in the early days. Many of the stories are already being compiled for completion.

Dr. Remy Presas Jr. is a very personable caring man. His efforts are blossoming daily with extremely positive results. His MARPPIO Organization, Modern Arnis Remy P. Presas International Organization seminars are becoming very popular and much like his father, Dr. Remy Jr. is establishing a solid following of supportive students and schools. Annually Dr. Presas has presented his progressive art in Tacoma Washington and is now in his fifth year of successful events.

If you truly wish to embrace the spirit of Presas Modern Arnis take the time to seek out “the Son for the Founder” and train in the only direct Presas Family Lineage organization of Modern Arnis, you won't be sorry!


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