Why I'm Not Actually "Modern Arnis"
Waaay back when I started this blog, I used a tagline of "Musings of Middle-Aged Modern Arnisadora". That last bit is a double entendre - "Modern" as in someone who's doing something that's very grounded in the here and now and "Arnisadora" because that's what I am, plus "Modern Arnis", the style I trained the most in.
I dropped "middle-aged", but it's still my tagline, because, dammit, it's pithy.
But you may have noticed that over time, I stopped using the term "Modern Arnis" when I talk about my personal training.
I use "Presas Arnis" or "Arnis" most of the time.
That is on purpose.
Honestly, I never should have used "Modern Arnis" on this blog, because even back in the day when I started writing it in 2013, I wasn't really training in "Modern Arnis" per se.
I haven't really trained in "Modern Arnis" by itself, outside of seminars and camps (and there are PLENTY of those), since I moved away from Mississippi in early 2009.
That means I really only trained in "Modern Arnis", full-time, for about 6 months.
Mind you, those were very intense, "gotta train every chance I can" months. I fell in LOVE with Modern Arnis almost immediately.
When we moved, we searched desperately for a teacher in Vegas, and we struck out, so we trained in the (little) we knew on our own. We moved again, to Texas, and kept searching for a teacher, until we found my current teacher, Mark Lynn.
Mark attended camps and trained directly from Remy Presas in Modern Arnis as well as his brother Ernesto Presas in Kombatan. His teacher is Hock Hochheim, also a direct student of both brothers.
Very early in my training with Mark, he used the term "Presas Arnis" to describe what he teaches, which is a blend of Modern Arnis and Kombatan with a little of this and that thrown in.
Look, my teacher Mark Lynn is the ultimate martial arts student - he trains with everyone he can as much as he possibly can and spends his free time reviewing notes from random camps he attended twenty years ago.
When Mark promoted us to 1st degree black belt, he promoted us in Presas Arnis. All of my ranks from him are in Presas Arnis, up to the 3rd he promoted me to last year.
I would call the "mix" of Presas Arnis as Mark taught it to me as about 70% Modern Arnis, 27% Kombatan, with 3% "other" stuff Mark has picked up over the years.
I can train with my Modern Arnis relatives and keep up, just fine. I know this because I've done it, at seminars and camps. The list of first generation students of Professor I've met and trained with is really long, thanks to Mark's propensity to train as much as he can with just about everyone he can. Plus, those first six intense months of "pure" Modern Arnis influence me to this day.
I can also train with my Kombatan relatives, and while it's more noticeable that I'm not really a Kombatan player, I can usually keep up, to a point.
Very, very few people in the world truly train Presas Arnis. There's several different branches and organizations out there that I know of (and I bet there's more I don't know about). They're all a little different from one another, because each teacher emphasizes different things.
Some - like Tim Hartman's version - are VERY Modern Arnis heavy, saving most of the Kombatan stuff for post-black belt training whereas others - like Mark's - has a lot more Kombatan flavor very early in training.
Some students of Modern Arnis would say that what I do IS "Modern Arnis", as the essence of what Professor was teaching. If you're going by the "art within your art" philosophy, I suppose a case can be made. And I appreciate it when people claim me as "Modern Arnis", because I love y'all, I really do.
Funnily enough, I actually DO have an actual Modern Arnis 2nd Degree black belt rank, but I never actually claim it. When I tested for 2nd under Tim Hartman in Presas Arnis back in 2019, (and that's the rank I hold from him still), he said that it is also a Modern Arnis rank under him, so yep, I'm a 2nd black in Modern Arnis too.
I just don't feel like a Modern Arnis black belt rank player, at least, not to the level I think I should be, so while I appreciate Datu Tim granting me that rank, "Presas Arnis" is more comfortable for me.
I would note, though, I might be one of the few "natives" of Presas Arnis, as it's been my primary style and what I studied almost every day back in Texas. Sure, I started in Modern Arnis, but since it is a major component of Presas Arnis... I think it's reasonable to say my native style is "Presas Arnis".
I don't have a lot of material from other styles influencing me. Presas Arnis is not the "art within my art", it's my art.
As for the components of Presas Arnis - Modern Arnis and Kombatan... that's my next personal training goal. I am working on getting a deeper understanding of each style, and earning black belt rank in each individual style.
Eventually, my "Presas Arnis" blend will be my own, based on the influences of all who I've been able to learn from, and it won't match what Mark is currently teaching (which is going to happen anyway, because that man is a SPONGE and is always taking in new things from the folks he trains with).
It will be, without a doubt, "Presas Arnis".
I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Let me know in the comments!