Wednesday, February 1, 2017

TMAC: Making Friends and Influencing People

We recently had our first statewide gathering of what we're calling the "Texas Modern Arnis Coalition" in Houston.

We've had these in Dallas-Fort Worth, between my teacher's school and another nearby, but this was the first time we attempted to fold in other schools besides those two.

To be clear - TMAC is not an "organization" per se.  There are no real "leaders", nobody's the boss of the group, it doesn't issue rank or anything like that.

It's a loose coalition of schools and teachers and individuals getting together to play in Modern Arnis.  We tend to be focused on material to help develop our brown belts and prep them for black belt testing, but there are people of all levels of experience and rank in the room.

We don't expect for all of us to do things the same exact way.  In fact, we often take the time to identify the differences and explore the (usually very good) reasons for those differences vs. trying to do stuff the same way or insist any particular "right" way.  Sometimes we go off on a nerdy little tangent on some technique or another, and it's really cool to get a lot of different perspectives on these things.

All y'all KNOW how much I love me some nerdy little tangents.

Literally the first time we'd ever worked together - myself and Sal Todaro of SMP Arnis

What made Houston so nice is that we all played so well together.  Our schools up in my neck of the woods know each other well and we've been training together on a nearly monthly basis - not counting other seminars - for almost a year.  Our group and the Houston-area folks did not have nearly that level of familiarity, but after a few minutes, you would have thought we were one big group that trained together on a weekly basis.

That, my friends, is how it's supposed to be.

Our "roll call" had five schools and six different Modern Arnis-related organizations (I think there were other non-Modern Arnis FMA folks in the room too, which is neat).  We covered material from traditional Modern Arnis, some of the "Presas Arnis" influenced stuff several of us do, and we even played a bit with stuff from Balintawak.

Nobody said, "Such and such must be done this way".  It was "This is how we do such-and-such, here's the reasons why we do that, and why don't you try it and see what you think."

Sometimes, their take reinforced the very good reasons my teacher has us do it differently. And sometimes, it made me reconsider what we are doing - the context - and think, hey, maybe I need that in my toolbox, too.

Either way, it makes me a better Arnis player.

So what can YOU learn from this, my friend?

I think we allow our differences to prevent us from making connections with one another.  We believe our style, our lineage, our organization, our teacher are so much better than some other guy's that we don't allow that hey, differences can exist and not be "wrong"... just different.

Most of us decry "politics" in the martial arts - but these things happen ("political" things) for understandable reasons, and it's hard to overcome our differences.

Having gatherings like TMAC, where we increase knowledge and respect for one another, is one way to tackle the problem.  I think, after this gathering, we have better relationships than we did before, which is always a good thing.

We can't and shouldn't ignore our differences, but instead, we can and should understand them better.  We can accept that smart and talented people do see things differently, and that's okay if they do.  Use those opportunities to make your own take on things better.

Ed Kwan of Clear Lake Modern Arnis shares with the group.

I can tell you, after the TMAC gathering in Houston, our community is closer than it was, Hopefully, with future gatherings, we'll rope in other independents and members of other Modern Arnis organizations that weren't there this time.

That door is open, for anybody who want to train!

Do you get together with other folks in your style outside of your group/dojo?  How does that go?  How do you think we can overcome the "politics" of your corner of the martial arts world?  Let us know in the comments!