By Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau, London

LONDON – Filipino indigenous martial arts which is defined by a system of techniques, both physical and mental, and developed as a successful means for armed and unarmed self-defense is gaining popularity in the United Kingdom.

Martial arts enthusiasts have many reasons for their interest in the martial arts scene. Some are drawn to the physical fitness aspect of the training while others seek to add discipline and self-control to their lives.

Some are concerned about safety and self-defense. But martial artists and hobbyists who flock to the classes of Filipino martial artist Chris Miole are attracted to the weapons employed in indigenous Pinoy martial arts.

Moile has been conducting classes at the Unified Training Consultants in London to teach the Filipino combat system employing traditional weapons like Karit, karambit and other types of blades such as balisong.

Weapons as farming, harvesting tools

Miole explained that most of the weapons in indigenous Filipino martial arts were traditionally used in farming and harvesting, taking into account the Philippines’ agricultural backdrop. Some weapons trace their origins from Java, Indonesia.

“One thing I found about Philippine martial arts is you have a lot of choices – it could be the knife, you have the sticks, you can then go to karambit or an empty hand,” said Jason Raggett a private security guard in London.

Private security guards and martial arts enthusiasts were among the participants in the recent class by Miole. They were taught basic knowledge on the use of karambit, basic positions, type of movements and footwork, and technique and concepts in using various weapons, among others.

“This type of martial arts is very sophisticated, intricate and also very, very elegant.  It also takes a lot of brain power. So for me it’s about stretching your mind and developing the intricacies of the movement of my body,” said Rob Mazure, a martial artist.

Miole took with him in the UK some 30 years of martial arts experience which his parents honed since he was a young boy. He is proud to be able to share with other martial arts enthusiasts the rich culture of the Philippines as evidenced by Pinoy indigenous martial arts.

“Masarap ang pakiramdam. Gustong-gusto nilang matuto ng mga (martial) arts ng Filipino kasi ang (martial) arts daw ng Pilipino hindi lang daw basta matututo ka sa armas pati yung footwork, yung tinatawag na dumog. Kung di ka marunong sumayaw matuto kang sumayaw.

Ito ay sa pamamagitan lang ng iskrima, balisong. Yung paghawak ng mga tradisyunal na gamit tulad ng balisong, tabak, karit,” said Miole.

Martial artists study various combat arts for scores of reasons. Rob Wilson is into Filipino martial arts because he deems it superior.

“I used to do karate which is Japanese but I still think that this form of martial arts has a lot of culture and a lot more diversity which tend to focus more on weaponry.

I’m planning to join the Royal Air Force next year and maybe I can use some of the skills I’ve learned as a back-up just in case other situation may arise if I get sent to Afghanistan,” said Wilson.

Miole believes that Filipino indigenous martial arts, and its history, is not lost and he strives on ensuring that it is embraced and practiced through his classes. He also makes sure that they learn a thing or two about Filipino values.

“Hindi ka magaling na martial artists kung hindi maganda ang iyong kalooban. Ang (martial) arts hindi magandang gamitin kung di mo ina-apply yung Filipino attitude tulad ng mababang loob,” he said.

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