[jamiesocial]
I slowly came to consciousness, vaguely remembering having fallen asleep. The car rocked back and forth in its usual rhythm. My head still leaning on my hand and the window of the rear passenger seat, I looked out lazily to find unfamiliar surroundings. We were no longer on the highway, and from the sounds of the conversation we were trying to find the proper route to where we were headed. We were scheduled to meet with one of the potential trainers for Camp Jansson, whose focus was in Filipino Martial Arts.

I need that hand!

I need that hand!

I’ve had no experience with the Traditional Martial Arts of the Philippines so I was excited to meet and individual who had devoted his life to the art form. We arrive a little late at SM City, Clark. SM City is a shopping mall chain. They build malls and they build them huge. As we entered the mall we ran into Bong. He is a tall man, with a general slim physique. Like many of the people of the Philippines his skin was brown and his eyes and hair dark. Wearing a black backpack Bong is an unassuming individual who, aside from the built muscles in his arms, gave little indication that he was a martial artist.

“In Filipino Martial Arts we believe there should be no wasted movements.” -Bong

We sat down for lunch as David told the story of how Camp Jansson had come to be. As they ate I watched David tell his story. Bong spoke few words, listening intently. “So is there a place we can see you demonstrate some stuff for us?” My ears suddenly perked up quickly realizing I had spaced out for a moment. They agreed and we were on the move. We exited the mall and moved toward the parking lot. A quick word with one of the security guards gave us the okay to hold our demo in a place away from the public view so as not to attract too much attention.

As we walked David and Bong talked “martial arts theory” and history; weighing the practical use of certain arts and exchanging information about their origins. At one point Bong turned to me and ask what exactly I practiced. “Muay Thai and Yoga.” I said realizing I had never actually said that outloud. I turned the thought over in my head as we moved in between a couple of charter buses. I sat down next to David on the curb as Bong removed a couple of practice blades from his backpack (suddenly the bag made sense).

Run if you must, fight if you must, whatever you do, do it decisively and quickly.

Run if you must, fight if you must, whatever you do, do it decisively and quickly.

He began suddenly, moving in unusual, short movements. “In Filipino Martial Arts we believe there should be no wasted movements.” Bong says as he finishes unleashing a flurry of swipes with his blades. I wasn’t sure what I was looking at but as David pat my back and Bong handed me one of the practice bolos I was sure I would figure it out soon.

I stood across from him, bolo in hand. He nodded to me saying I should strike him. I was reluctant at first, but buckled down and slowly made an attempt to strike him. Before I could strike him with the bolo my hands were tied up, and the blade was no longer in my hand. I picked up the bolo still unsure at what had happened. For the next 10 minutes I became Bongs test dummy, demonstrating different counters, and disarms with both bolo and knives. As he demonstrated each of those unusual movements started to make sense, and the reality of his skill became apparent. He was strong the way David is, not because he was big or had lots of muscle but because he had practiced these movements over and over all throughout his life.

“If a student disarms me in practice I do not get upset, I rejoice in knowing that my student has done so well.” Bongs words express not only his dedication to his students but a humility lost among many martial arts teachers. Bong is just one of the many people that we will be lucky to have at Camp Jansson and look forward to one day learning from such a skilled individual.

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