Filipino-American Conrad Garcia, a former teacher of “Arnis” at Paaralan Pilipino in the early years of Philippine American Community Center of Michigan (PACCM), arrived recently from France where he promoted the Filipino art of Balintawak.
Arnis, also known as “eskrima,” is a generic term for the deadly martial arts of the Philippines. It uses bare hands, weapons and everything that has to do with fighting. The bare-hand combat includes boxing, wrestling, grappling, pressure points and locks.
Conrad went to France last October to promote the “Art of Balintawak.” His trip was arranged by Fabien Jolivel, who also organized two weekend seminars on “Balintawak.” It marked Conrad’s revival of his early passion for the Filipino martial arts.
His passion led to his writing of a book titled “Balintawak Lessons in Eskrima.” The book was written as a tribute to the late Ted Buot, his guru and the right-hand man of Ancient Bacon, the founder of Balintawak.
In an article, Fabien Jolivel wrote the highlights of Conrad’s journey in France. Following is Jolivel’s article:
“I practiced the Filipino martial arts and taught it in 1995-1996 in France, and since I discovered and learned Balintawak in 2005 I’d been teaching it. I was trained in the Balintawak’s grouping techniques.
“As part of my effort to promote Balintawak in France, I contacted Conrado Garcia from Michigan in order to help me further promote the martial arts as well as Conrad’s book on “Lessons in Balintawak Eskrima.” Conrad authored the book under the pen name Rad Maningas.
“Conrad arrived in Paris on Oct. 20, 2016 in high spirits. I felt I had an interesting technical background, but I quickly realized that Conrad was blocking my attempts at total relaxation.
“The game became free except that he did not practice with the intention to play, to give me back and continue in the “agak.” He blocked it at the first opportunity and immediately hit me when I had the reflex to trigger a blockade. He changed the trajectory to hit me fast in another target or he used his left hand in “tapi-tapi.”
“His other great way to guide the stick is done without holding it as I had learned to do in the grouping system. The more I grabbed his stick during blocking, the more he could direct it by a simple control, until I put pressure on one side or the other to use it and put me in the face or use it to hit my wrist and lock my arms. He did all these without added strength and speed. Hours of private lessons made me aware of several other technical details.
“The three seminars which were 100 percent on Balintawak gave us highly accurate technical advice in line with the teaching of the founder GM Anciong and Manong Ted Buot.
“The grouping techniques I practiced had advantages over mass education that we often do in our clubs. But teaching the old way of “one-on-one” between teacher and student helped develop better attributes.
“The meeting with Conrad was personal, a true technical skill, historical and human. The fact is that it gave way to a different savor of experience. Undoubtedly, my Balintawak will be much improved as I try to blend the benefits of learning with the group and the one-on-one structure. Both ways are compatible with each other.
“With Conrad’s experience and skill, I saw a teacher with all the technical qualities and educational endeavors of a great master. I hope his trip to France allowed him to realize that his technical knowledge greatly motivated the students. I’m happy and grateful to be one of his students, and I will have him as my technical reference in the great art of Balintawak.”