The Filipino martial arts skills has been traditionally handed down from generation to generation. Many of these unique skills and techniques have been kept a secret among families, groups or villages. Many did not want outsiders to learn their family’s fighting art in fear of it being used against them or stealing what is rightfully theirs.
Now the downside to keeping these skills to themselves is death. Death of the Filipino martial arts. When a grand master dies, all of his or her knowledge will die with him or her. If there’s a successor then that’s a bonus.
If you look at what is happening in the Philippines today, the new generations are not learning their own cultural martial arts. Few people take up themselves to train and carry on the historical greatness of FMA.
This is what’s different about Filipino martial arts in Canada. Many of the grand masters and instructors share their knowledge with each other and their respective students. The Philippine Warrior Arts Society have an annual gathering.
This is my son’s start in the Filipino martial arts. As a father, I feel that it is my duty to teach my son his family culture. He was born in Canada just like his mother. It is important for him to learn about where he came from. Aside from the languages, the etiquette such as “mano po” that he is learning, I have introduced my boy, 2, to Filipino martial arts. There is a saying, “if you learn the Filipino martial art, you will learn the culture.”
Training started just before he learned to walk. He would watch me twirl sticks, slice the air with training sword and so on. Eventually he picked up his recorder, a musical instrument, and started twirling with it too. I remember him smiling and laughing when he sees me bang the sticks together as I make the “hayah!” vocalization.
Eventually he did learn to walk and he would ask me for a stick. This was one of my happiest days as a new dad. Him calling me “Dad,” and him saying “Stick! Stick!” are my favorite milestone moments thus far in his young life. He enjoys swinging his stick against mine. Over time his coordination improved. So did his balance. It did not take long for him to hit and move. Of course, he was only able to hit with one angle over and over again. It was still fun nonetheless even though this only lasts a few minutes. Children have a short attention span. So I don’t push him to keep doing stick work. He eventually comes back until something else catches his attention.
To my surprise he started hitting with two sticks. I did not think it will be this soon but he was happy with two sticks, one is each hand. With the double stick he faced new challenges. He was quite impressive during the 4th Philippine Warrior Arts Society Gathering. After taking a nap, he wanted to join in. He grabbed a stick and then two depending on what the instructor was teaching. He did his best to follow and he had fun.
“Good. Start them young,” as Master Gill Lafantaise encouraged.
I do hope this boy continues training. I will encourage him to train with me along with other masters. This is a part of his culture. Being Filipino-Canadian is his identity. Many non-Filipinos have embraced our culture. I hope the Filipino people in Canada will embrace their own martial arts, too.