Saturday, May 9, 2015

Thoughts from MAPA 5: Trailblazing

+Metroplex Arnis Players Alliance has its fifth (and first year anniversary) gathering recently.

MAPA started with the idea of gathering together people interested in the Filipino Martial Arts from a variety of traditions and styles in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to train and network.  We leave rank and politics at the door and we have rotating instructors at each event.

An Espada y Daga drill where I'm gonna get stabbed or hit.
As you can see by the pictures, this gathering was held outside.  Luckily, we had a relatively cool day, with a nice breeze going.  Unfortunately it was awful on my allergies, and I'm grateful that the next few will be indoors!

This gathering was different, as we had six instructors for six hours instead of four.  Three instructors - +Abel Mann Martinez+Mark Lynn and +John Bain were instructors at our original MAPA 1 event.  Three instructors - Jason Gutierrez, Michael Hume and Master Earl Tullis - were new instructors to MAPA.   Dr. Hume and his students come up from College Station (a three hour drives) to attend MAPA, and Master Earl came up from Houston, approximately five hours on the road!

Master Earl and Dr. Hume are both IMAF (+Masters of Tapi Tapi) guys and Jason is an instructor under Hock Hochheim.  My husband is currently studying for Pacific Archipelago Combatives certification under Hock and trains with Jason.

So, it was a varied and high-powered instructor set at MAPA 5.  The material covered was really fun and useful, as always, and getting to network and talk with new participants and old is always a highlight of each MAPA event.

As usual, every instructor, when not teaching, was also a participant.

Master Earl (right) trains with +David Beck during Jason's session
So why have I called this post "Trailblazing"?

When MAPA got started, there was a lot of doubt about the concept and whether or not it would work.

The martial arts world is political.  The Modern Arnis world is political.  Jockeying between different branches of the arts is always going to be present and some of us have a lot invested in the ranks we've earned.

It's hard to leave it all outside and just open your mind and play.

And yet - we've done it five times now, and will be doing it a sixth time in August.

It can be done.  We've proven it.  

Jason and Darren Dailey reconnect after several years
You can do it too.  You don't have to follow our format, but there's no reason you can't build a loosely organized group just like MAPA in your neck of the woods, in whichever martial arts you want to gather, to train without regards to rank or protocol or politics.

Gather to network and make friends.  Gather to learn things you might not learn otherwise.  Gather to grow in ways you may not expect.

I know of one such gathering - happening today in Washington DC as a matter of fact organized by my friend +Dr. Tye W. Botting  - but I'd love to see more of this happening in the martial arts in general, and especially the Filipino Martial Arts, as we are a small minority compared to the Korean, Japanese, and Chinese martial arts traditions.

The key to success, I think, is the exclusion of politics, of "my art is better than your art", and rank at Gatherings.  Keeping a relatively egalitarian culture of open mindedness, exploration, and respect makes it work.

We've blazed that trail.  You can join us on it.

Karen (R) tries unsuccessfully to distract a young Arnisador.
(Or actually is instructing him about placing his foot on the lead leg foot, whichever)

Dr. Hume (L) is not a nice man sometimes.
David Beck (white pants) defends against my "baseball bat" attack.
Working with the spear/staff

Darren Dailey works with two of our Junior Arnisadors
Adam Floyd (yellow shirt) also works with our younguns.

Good ol' Punyo Hook.

Master Earl unbalances Darren Dailey.
Jason and Kevin work on the baseball bat defense.
Defense against the overhand attack

+Abel Mann Martinez instructs (white shirt in background)

Getting stabby with it.

Dr. Hume instructing with Pam as uke.

+Abel Mann Martinez  (white shirt) instructing.

People of all ranks and experience listening intently to what is being shared.

Instructors and participants of MAPA 5.
Three tough Stick Chicks.  Me on the left.
Ok, we couldn't keep those serious faces very long!