Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Arnis Law

Last year the Filipino Martial Arts got a much needed shot in the arm with the passing of the Arnis. Here's more about it, in case you missed it.

The law will definitely help FMA to finally get the official recognition and support that it needs from the government and non-government institutions as well as the general public. However, my optimism is a bit tempered by what I see as potential problems along the way to FMA's truly benefiting from this law.

The Arnis Law promotes the practice of Arnis as a sport, to be taught in schools. I'm fine with that even if, in my opinion, Pekiti Tirsia won't participate in this aspect of the law. I'm sure kids will really get into whacking at each other with padded sticks, decked in padding from head to toe. I may have misgivings about the lack of realism with a lot of padded stick sparring I've seen, but I see kids and teens enjoying arnis as a sport, as long as it's safe and well officiated. Hopefully the kids will look further than the padded sparring they do and delve deeper into the systems and help the preservation of our martial heritage.

One of the problema I see with Arnis as a school sports or activity will be in just getting the program off the ground. For a sport to be taught in schools, I'm sure the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) will require that the sport be standardized, with clearly defined rules and techniques to be used. Of course Modern Arnis' sparring rules can be use (or some other system with well developed and defined padded stick rules) , but then other systems will also want to have a say in how these standards are to be developed. If a particular system's preference is corto and uses the punyo as one of its primary weapons at that range, then they will want to include that into the standards. Naturally others may oppose that idea and then we're now into that neverending round of proposals and arguments. The school Arnis sports programs will have some degree of funding, from the government or otherwise, and that possibility will not escape the attention of those who will participate in the programs.

I'm still crossing my fingers and hopefully my worst fears will be unfounded and arnis teams in schools will spark new interest in FMA. This law is the opening that FMA's been waiting for, and we should take full advantage of this, without the usual bickering and politics.