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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

My Modern Arnis

Most of you know I train in a hybrid style made up of Modern Arnis, Kombatan, and a bit here and there from other systems.

By calling what we do a hybrid of those styles, we acknowledge the sources of the concepts we train in and where we got the drills we train with from.

However, I could just say I play "Modern Arnis" and be completely truthful about it. Modern Arnis players recognize much of what we drill in, the concepts are mostly the same, and I can play with folks who do "pure" Modern Arnis easily.

Modern Arnis players with any experience at all just laughed a little at me saying that there's a "pure" Modern Arnis.

The truth is, there isn't one Modern Arnis, much less a "pure" one. What we have today is what the direct students of the Professor are teaching the rest of us (I'm 2nd generation, y'all, I never met Professor Remy Presas, the founder of Modern Arnis).

What those students know or believe and teach as "Modern Arnis" depends on a lot of things, including:

  • What era they trained with the Professor (in the Philippines, in the US in which decade, which set of camps they used to go to, their personal relationship with Remy Presas, etc.). What he taught and emphasized to his students changed over time, as his influences grew and he innovated in his art. This is why students of his in the Philippines sometimes look really different than students of his who trained in the US in, say, the 90's, but both train in "Modern Arnis".

  • What (if any) martial arts style they studied before they started in Modern Arnis (or later, what styles they cross-trained in, as most of us will do). Modern Arnis is a style that allows - no, encourages - people who have trained in other martial arts to incorporate it into their Modern Arnis.

  • What they've learned, who they've trained with, and what innovations or spins on the material they've put on it themselves in the time since they trained with Professor, who died in 2001.

So in a sense, even though the version my teacher taught me over the last decade or so has heavy influences from other FMA's and martial arts in general, it's not like what I do is not "Modern Arnis".

It is. It absolutely is.

We (my teacher Mark Lynn, me & Mr. Chick, and our students) just prefer to use a hybrid name for what we do, to acknowledge and honor the heavy influences of those other people.

However, for me, personally, there is one Modern Arnis lineage - Dan Anderson told me he's identified at least 20 lineages in the US - that is the "pure" Modern Arnis.

That'd be Modern Arnis as it's taught by Bruce Chiu.

It does not mean other Modern Arnis teachers and lineages aren't just as good, or valid, or awesome, or accurate, or honoring what Professor taught just as much. It's just that it's the first version I personally trained in - it's my "home" lineage, "MY" Modern Arnis, the thing I started doing when David Jones handed me a stick back in 2008.

A lot of what I learned from David and Bruce stuck with me through the years, which is kinda crazy when you think about it, because we were only training under David directly for about six or seven months, and at the time I moved away, I'd met Bruce one time in person (that's that January 2009 image above after that seminar).

Yet, it's still with me. "My" Modern Arnis has stuck with me all this time.

I got to reconnect with Bruce and "My" Modern Arnis recently when we hosted Bruce here in Kansas City, and it struck me, after all this time and distance and growth, how much it still remains a part of my personal take on Arnis and training and strategic choices.

It also felt very... comfortable? Training with Bruce on the material we did was just very warm and easy and... gosh, the word that keeps popping up is cozy. Not that it wasn't challenging - it was and is and I'm having fun with it - but it felt good like coming back to an old place you spent a lot of really wonderful time in feels good, y'know?

Old home week, I suppose.

It just goes to show, your early influences in training do have an impact that sticks with you. At least, it did for me, in a very good and happy way.

We're definitely going to work hard to bring Bruce back.

Perhaps you've experienced something similar over the time you've been training? If so, let me know. Or maybe you had the experience of going back to an early influencer in your training and felt the opposite that I did... tell us about that, too.

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