So if you're a long-time reader of the blog, you know I used to live in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas.
While I lived there, I helped organize, regularly attended, and even taught at one of thirteen gatherings of the Metroplex Arnis Players Alliance.
The idea behind these gatherings is that this is a style-neutral open training session of people of all skill levels who are interested in the Filipino Martial Arts. We train, we make friends, we learn things. Each gathering has different instructors doing different things. We try to make it accessible to people of all levels. We've had people attend who've never trained at all, and we've had Masters and Grand Masters sneak in and surprise us by just joining the rest of us in training (and we're grateful for that, GM Art Miraflor).
It was awesome. We made so many cool friends, gained some fantastic training partners and teachers, learned so many neat things, and the ramifications of MAPA still resonate with me to this day. I'll never stop getting something out of our participation in MAPA, even with my move to Missouri.
When we moved to Kansas City, we figured we should try the concept here. After a lot of networking and making friends, we finally organized our first gathering of the Heartland Arnis Players Alliance, HAPA 1, on June 29, 2019.
We had Ty Campos of Insoanto Kali, Ken Baker of Luzviminda Arnis, and Harley Weibling of Barretto Eskrima. We had a planned fourth presenter (Ben Thomas, representing Kombatan) have to bow out at the last minute due to injury, so I was drafted to fill in his slot (I represented Presas Arnis, of course).
I won't go into the details of what was taught here (so many COOL IDEAS and fresh takes on stuff - my brain is still buzzing a mile a minute). What was important about HAPA 1 is that it absolutely nailed the spirit of what we'd hoped it would be.
At least here in the US, people studying FMA's are a minority. We train in small groups, often in parks and peoples' back yards. If we train in an actual school, often we're an add-on weapons program for something else, like karate or taekwondo or krav maga. It's easy to feel isolated, like you're the only weirdos who enjoy the smell of burning rattan.
Gatherings like HAPA make you realize that we are a larger community than it seems. We're not alone, and that there's way more of us than we realize.
At HAPA, everyone was friendly and got along. Everyone was open to sharing and working on new ideas. HAPA instructors were on the floor training when they weren't instructing. We played together as one big community.
No politics, no worries. Just training, as pure as it gets.
Heavenly. Just heavenly.
It went so well, we're discussing when and where to organize the next one. So, if you're in the KC area (or have friends here... or can GET here), watch this space. We'll have a different set of instructors, covering different material. Each HAPA is a unique event.
You don't wanna miss HAPA 2.
Here's a few shots from the gathering. I had a good day, indeed.
There's a lot more photos on the HAPA page HERE if you want to see more.
I can't wait for the next one!