The above video is a great and excellent discussion on the following potentially sticky subject, with a tag line as follows:
This episode featured guests Sifu Dwight Woods, Guro Mahipal Lunia and Guro Mark Stewart. In this episode, we discussed whether there is a legit argument for an American version of FMA.
I would encourage you to watch the video before reading on.
An admirable trait I have noticed in my American martial arts friends is the need to understand something and then to road-test it under pressure. This testing and its results often become part of the instruction process or even a proficiency test. When you change something, you usually give it a name that can be good and also limit it.
From a researcher’s perspective, all the percipients have some great points; my main interest here is what Guro Mahipal Lunia has to say about naming things and systemising conventions and how they affect outcomes. A subject that my training partner Eric Lake and I have been discussing for almost twenty years.
Having spent a considerable amount of time with Filipino and American FMA people, I can see how the arts were changed, and I don’t think it’s an issue. It’s natural when you change something, primarily how you transmit a skill, that you change the name of things to suit you.
Within martial arts, there is a commercial smugness that pushes you to have to go to the Homeland to understand the art. Visiting and training in places where your art came from is very nice and rewarding, but as long as your instructor understands the art and can prepare you for outcomes that match your situation, all is good.
I like to say that there is no martial art without the other (you and your opponents). So as a coach, I view the student and me as the most important thing. I know I am very interested in history and the people who came before us in the art, but that is merely an excellent back up to the art.
Regarding the art I study, Sera, when I started out, I was in an American system or variation and it was called Serak, the main teacher changed the art to suit his situation and have his unique selling point (USP). Again, all good, as he was honest about it.
Now I study with a different branch. I use Sera to describe what we do, as the curriculum is different from what I originally learnt. This may or may not be 100% correct, but it works to separate our group from teachers who use another or reverse engineered curriculum.
Not getting hot under the collar about naming rights requires a specific emotional intelligence and honesty, both cultivated by martial arts training.
The video above is brilliant, and I am looking forward to any follow-up; please subscribe to Guro Dean’s YouTube channel and support it.