Being a teacher in education as a profession, I do understand this certain dilemma of many foreign students especially those coming from the west when learning from most old eskrima masters here in the Philippines. The reason why is due to the fact that most of them who were exposed and enlightened in their educational system are naturally expecting the same systematic, or probably a better term would be a more scholarly approach in regards to teaching our material (lessons) so that they would be able to know clearly or monitor their progress in learning a particular style or system being taught by the teacher or master from their respective fighting art. It’s similar as to how we learn from school wherein we start from pre-school to kindergarten to grade 1 up until we finished the elementary level then proceed to high school until we become eligible to go to college then graduate studies up until getting a doctorate degree. Whew! Now that’s what progression is all about. So why do Filipino masters who also went through the same process in attending school would not appreciate and adopt this method of learning to their students?

Ok, before I answer this let me make this clear, not all are adopting the old school approach anymore. And many, especially the younger generation of teachers have already adjusted their teaching methods. Many even have a complete syllabus or have made their training curriculum available to their students. Others have even began adopting the belt system. These are the modern approach which also included a lot of innovations at the same time. And with these innovations some could be viewed as good and others , sometimes bad. Bottom line is, many do teach systematically and have adopted a scholarly approach to their teaching methodology. Ok going back to answer the question why? It’s because we Filipinos believe in acting on our own volition. Yes. in layman’s term it is the master’s right to act in his/her own will. It is not the other way around.

5.1e Understanding Eskrima Masters

Teachers of this type in a sense would not allow him/herself to be ordered around by the student to teach a certain way or to to present the teachings according to the wants and demands of the students just because he or she is getting payed to do so. As difficult as it may seem to grasp this way of thinking, this is the actual reason. A master teaches as he or she pleases. And yes, it also is highly dependent on the teacher and student relationship on whether there is full trust between them and it also includes even the mood swings of the teacher. If he or she doesn’t feel like teaching then it’s either the master just sits around engaging in mundane talks concerning politics, religion or even the latest gossip except moving to teach. Among Filipinos we easily understand this tell-signs or body language by our masters so we tend to either ignore it by just continuing to practice on our own or we join and sit with the master and just talk all day. And mind you, I have actually learned tons of knowledge during these seemingly useless talks. It is where most of the master’s knowledge are just being spewd out continuously if you have the ability to divert gossip or idle talks to the more relevant ones which concerns his/her principles, philosophies or whatever important aspects that you wish to be expounded by the teacher concerning the style or system.

I have already stated on my earlier articles that this is similar to the process of osmosis wherein learning takes place by even just sticking around long enough with the master and sooner or later you would begin to understand the system deeper simply because it is now on a very personal level of teacher and student relationship wherein trust had cemented their friendship. When this happens you will notice how the master begins to treat you. You would be surprised when all of a sudden you were invited to go to his/her place in order to recieve further instructions which is out of sight from the prying eyes of the others. Then he or she begins to trust you to handle the class or could announce even while still strong and active that you were chosen as his heir of the fighting system. I could wright about this because I went through this methods of teaching and I appreciate its value and the whole concept and rationale behind it. Now I am not saying that a systematic or a scholarly approach is less effective or inferior. That is not what I meant. Actually both methods are equally effective and it all depends on how the teacher approaches either of these methods. And also it depends on the student on how he or she would wish to learn or if the student is open in either ways of teaching method. So if you wish to learn a certain way, the best way then is to look for a teacher or master that would meet your expectations should learning this way is important to you. But if you’re the adventurous or flexible type then whoever you go to would not really matter to you. Either or, learning would take place.

Bong Abenir Cerrado Understanding Eskrima Masters

But in my case I usually teach most of the time with a sense of urgency. My belief is that should a student comes and learn from me today then I would as much as possible go right into the heart of the matter. In that case, should by any reason that the student was not able to return back for more instruction, then at least I have given him/her something that might be of immediate use or value. It is not my way to keep feeding a student way too long but instead teach him or her on how to catch fish right away. If one understands this then one knows what I really mean.

Bong Abenir
Abenir Kalis Philippines


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