Marko: You have been doing MA for almost 30 years?Mangisursuro Michael G. Inay
Mangisursuro: About 36-37.
Marko: Did you start doing MA in USA?
Mangisursuro: Yes, born and raised in USA. I’m what I would call, a western Filipino martial artist.
Marko: You had two instructors: Sarmiento and Cabales in the 60’s – 70’s?
Mangisursuro: Long time ago.
Marko: Do you still teach the old way, or their way. Or is it different?
Mangisursuro: Different.
Marko: What’s the difference?
Mangisursuro: Angel was an exceptional teacher because he had a structure when most other FMA Instructors did not have a structure. They teach what ever they feel like teaching. You have to figure out how it all fits. Angel had a beginning and a middle point and an end. There was a definite progress, you could see within your own development.
Marko: Is this usual for Filipinos to teach in an unstructured manner?
Mangisursuro: Yeah most Filipinos teach in an unstructured manner.
Marko: What do you teach? Inayan?
Mangisursuro: Inayan is a structured format of all the styles that I teach in. I’m some kind of structure foreman. In other words there has to be a growing understanding of what students are learning. It is like ABC’s you learn in school. You have to learn ABC before you learn XYZ. Even though I could teach you XYZ, you would have no fundamental principle.
Marko: When did you start putting structure into you school?
Mangisursuro: Probably 20 – 25 years ago. Only because Americans and most western speaking people need structure, they seem to learn better under a structured format. They want to be able to have a base of understanding not just acceptance.
Marko: But do all people need structure, how do students learn in the Philippines?
Mangisursuro: Not even thinking about the Philippines, there are only 3 ways to learn in the world: 1 is in the classroom, 2 is by observing, and the 3rd is by emergency.
In the classroom they teach you, you go out, you try it, it works.
You might be out in the streets and witness two guys fighting and see a technique you never saw before and they knock the guy out with it. You go, hey that looked pretty good, I’m going to do that. That is learning by observing.
Let’s say you learn something else in the classroom, you go down the street and try it and find it didn’t work. And then you try something by accident or out of necessity or in an emergency. That’s it: learning the structure, observing and by emergency and accident situations. So anyway what I’m saying is that the best way to learn is structure. Then you gradually test that structure out within a spontaneous environment. And if it works then you’re keeping it, if not, you can’t do it, you can’t use it. Get rid of it. I think that is one of the reasons why the Filipinos teach in an unstructured manner. The just teach things they think are going to work, not necessarily considering how to learn.
Marko: Could the environment matter?
Mangisursuro: That may be one influence, another reason why they perhaps don’t teach you everything might be that they don’t trust you. That might be another reason.
Marko: Why do you think they do not trust students coming to the Philippines to learn FMA? Do they want them back? If you teach somebody something, he probably wants to come back to learn more. But if you haven’t learned something in a couple weeks in the Philippines, will you come back then?
Mangisursuro: Here is what you can ask yourself: Is this person who teaches you really truly a master? The problem is, from what I have seen, and this might be a biased observation because I have never been in the Philippines? but when I first started learning, the FMA were nothing, nobody had ever heard about it. And then due to our efforts in spreading the arts to the west, mainly from Dan Inosanto’s pushing it a bit, my traveling the world, Presas traveling, and Leo Gaje traveling, due to our work and several other people I have failed to mention, it has brought a prominence to the FMA not as high as other arts but at least it has generated a lot of interest. The Filipinos start saying; “oh there is money in this so now I am a master”. You go over there but how do you know they are masters? Other then that they tell you they are masters. Like for 10-15 years ago, there was a big hype about psychic healers and many people went to them in the Philippines. They found out, most of it, 99% was a fraud. Some saw that there was money in this and all of the sudden everybody was a psychic healer. I have seen that in the FMA to. I saw that with a lot of people going to the Philippines to all these “masters”.
Marko: Are there any true masters left in the Philippines?
Mangisursuro: I’m sure there are. I know the Canetes are masters of the FMAs. It is their right, they are doing it. Regardless of politics and all of that; What is learnt, and what was taught, and who was taught what. Besides all that, they are still, legitimately part of the FMAs.
Marko: Any more Masters?
Mangisursuro: Back to the question regarding other masters. Yeah sure there are. You got to find them though. The problem is you have to separate who just wants money from the people who want to teach the art.
Marko: How do you do that?
Mangisursuro: I don’t know. I don’t know how to do that.
Marko: You have to train with them and spot the difference?
Mangisursuro: Yeah I think you have to be with them long enough to realize for yourself or you have to go on somebody’s advice who you believe has good judgment. There are some good Eskrima styles that are of importance. I don’t know how to find them though.
Marko: How come you did not go back to the roots in FMA and go back to the Philippines to find out more?
Mangisursuro: Because my teachers were very thorough and incredibly flexible in terms of communicating what I wanted to learn. I am still learning from what they taught me. I don’t need to go to another art to expand because my art is still expanding. I guess if I was stagnant, or if I wasn’t learning any more I would do that.
Marko: But surely one comes to an end, then you have to expand more?
Mangisursuro: No, Inayan Eskrima is a dynamic system. Dynamic in the sense it has traditional roots in terms of the basic understanding and learning of the art but it also allows flexibility of the student to commute his learning into something as he sees it. Or sees it as. And I only discourage people who teach only the permuted part of the art and not the basics because then you cheat your students the ability to make a difference, changes. Make it look different.
Marko: Is it different today. I mean, many years ago the basics were very exotic. People today love to know the advanced parts before even learning basics?
Mangisursuro: That is like building a house on a sand foundation. You know what I’m saying? If you have a lousy foundation, your house is going to fall apart.
Marko: Do you think people are like this today? People want to learn the best parts directly; they do not want to wait a couple of years getting there. They want to take shortcuts.
Mangisursuro: A lot of them do and that is bad.
Marko: But they never get good?
Mangisursuro: They do not get good in the art, the real art. The problem with a lot of the things we do today is we try to re-invent the wheel. What is handed down from the masters – those things work on the battlefield. The things that we do, that we, the next generation, that have never been in a battle, we invent stupid things that have never been done in battle. We have not faced a blade coming at us, sharp, that could cut our head off… and the guy is trying to take your head off with intent to kill us. So a lot of the arts, it is great to explore and to say I got this good technique this is really cool and stuff like that, but the techniques have not been tested on the battlefield. That is why I try to keep those basics there because those HAVE been tested in the battlefield. Because the mistakes died on the battlefield, know what I mean? Some of the techniques I teach even today I personally do not think I would do them in combat because I cannot make them work. But my master could, he could make them work and he could have a good tactical reason why they have to be done that way. So I keep them in the basics.
Marko: So the foundation of the system has been tested in true combat then, isn’t there a lot of techniques in all MA styles that is not tested, people are just doing it for fun?
Mangisursuro: Right!
Marko: But in Inayan Eskrima you try to keep the basics.
Mangisursuro: There is a lot of stuff that has not been tested. People come up with their own idea of what it is, how they can interpret the art or express themselves in the art. Which is a beautiful thing. But like I tell everybody; keep the basics. My master he told me this; a basic is good for self-defense, intermediate techniques defeat basics techniques. Advanced techniques can beat intermediate techniques but then basic techniques can beat advanced techniques. It goes in a circle, and he showed me how it works. It makes a lot of sense.
Marko: How much time do you put on basic techniques?
Mangisursuro: All the time.
Marko: All the time? But for you maybe intermediate and advanced techniques are basic techniques as well?
Mangisursuro: It could be but still they are just permutation of basics. Advanced and intermediate is just an expression of the basic techniques taken two, three, four steps beyond what it is. As long as you keep sight on the roots it doesn’t matter what the flowers look like. And everybody has his or her own version of the flowers. That is why when I teach I’d rather concentrate on the basics mainly because I know that the student will eventually flower into whatever he wants to. If he doesn’t have good basics he will not have good expression of the art. That is fundamental to any MA.
Marko: But your Eskrima has developed from what you did in the 60’s and 70’s to what it is today. If there is a difference, what is the difference between then and now? What have you added to the basics?
Mangisursuro: I have not changed. People have told me that I have changed a little bit of what Angel taught me but I do not see that. Of course, I’m not looking through their eyes so they may be right. I’ve tried to keep as much of the basics as possible within Angel’s teachings. Max Sarmiento’s teachings on the other hand have changed because he taught by the old traditional way of teaching. He taught whatever I wanted to learn on any particular training day, with no structure to it. It was just like a lot of different techniques. So what I did was to put it into a structure, like Serrada. So I have taken the basic concept of the art of Serrada and applied it into all the other styles that I teach within Inayan. That way people can learn easier. In other words in Serrada you have a beginning, intermediate, and advanced level. They are milestones you actually can see. In a lot of MAs you do not know if you are a beginner or an advanced student – it is all the same. You are still doing the same things, you are doing them better as it all goes along, but you cannot say that this is advanced and this is basic. That is what I have done with the Largo-Mono and the Kadena and the Dequerdas and Espada y Daga, and Sibat/Bankow. These are some of the styles we are currently teaching.
Marko: When you started in the 60’s, doing MA, tell me a little more about your background. How did you end up in MA?
Mangisursuro: I was like everybody else; I wanted to learn the MA. Originally I was taking Aikido from a man but I didn’t take it very long because I was only 9 years old. But I distinctly remember taking it because when I was a young boy in school I was being picked on by a bully and I used a Judo move on him and it worked. I was sold on MA. I wanted to learn more. He left me alone after that. It was a silly Judo move. Today if you had seen it you would all laugh but it worked on him so it was great.
Marko: What did you do?
Mangisursuro: I got him in a lock and he was bigger then me so that was nice. After that he left me alone. Then I took Boxing and after that a little Gung-fu… never really satisfied. Finally I discovered that the Philippines had a MA. My father did not even acknowledge that there was a FMA with me until after I started taking it. My grandfather was a champion Eskrima fighter and my father never told me. That’s how secret they were, they would not even tell family. A lot of Eskrimadors would not even tell their students about their success.
Marko: So your grandfather was a champion?
Mangisursuro: After I started taking Eskrima my father told me that my grandfather was a really famous warrior. People used to come to the village and challenge him, to beat him up. In the days when my grandfather was young he lived on the western side of Luzon in a little village called Salay. My father said my grandfather used to travel over the mountains and into the other side, into a valley called Caveon valley, to visit friends. Maybe he had a girlfriend, I don’t know what. The reason I tell you this is that, the mountain range he traveled over were headhunter country. So you had to be a darn good Eskrimador and have good reputation to walk through that territory or you would be dead. My father told me he used to go there all the time. I didn’t know my grandfather was an Eskrimador when he died. But he was one of the best.
Marko: So it is in your genes?
Mangisursuro: I guess, I don’t know.
Marko: You ended up with Sarmiento and Cabales, How did you find these two masters?
Mangisursuro: When I was younger I lived with a family; Sarmiento was married to one of the daughters in the family. He used to come over all the time; at that time I didn’t know he was an Eskrimador. Again, they keep it really secret and there are a lot of reasons why, I can tell you what many of the reasons are. One of the main ones is that students of today have no respect so the masters are saying; I’m not teaching anymore.
Marko: That is common, I have heard this before in other MA. Students cannot take over the arts. They (the masters) die with the art and all the techniques.
Mangisursuro: That is a sad change, because then you have to re-invent it. When you re-invent you think your are creating something new but it has existed before but nobody wanted to teach the generation before you or the generation before them.
Marko: How long has Eskrima existed?
Mangisursuro: You can trace it back 1200-1500 years. I don’t know how much further back you can trace it, but it was influenced from so many different invading countries that it has developed on its own in terms of combativeness.
Back to Sarmiento. So years later when I moved, this was when I was younger, I was taking Kung fu then. My wife’s sister called up one day and asked to talk to my wife at the time. I said hold on she is busy so we started a casual conversation. She asked me what I was doing and I told here I was learning MA, studying it. She causally mentions the fact that the Philippines had a MA. I didn’t know that so I got very excited. And I go, who is teaching it? You see from a cultural stand-point I wanted to learn it myself, even though I wanted to learn how to defend myself, I would have liked to learn even if it had been a classical style only. I wanted to learn it for the cultural aspects. However, it was a very combative style. Anyway, to make a long story short, she told me that Max Sarmiento was the one teaching it. And I go Whoa! Like I said before Max used to treat me like a younger brother because I was part of the family. I had lost touch with him but I called him up the day after I found out. I called him; we had a good conversation and I said I wanted to learn. He said, well come and learn. And I said I couldn’t come on the weeknights because my commute would be too far to come to the class. He made a special exception for me to come on Saturdays and Sundays. But I had to pay $25-$30 per lesson.
Marko: Back then?
Mangisursuro: Back then. And it was so it started. I went down the following week and I met Angel. My first lesson was in Max Sarmiento’s living room. When I wasn’t learning from Angel, I was learning form Max. I didn’t know at the time they would become legends in the FMA community. Max Sarmiento and Angel Cabales, who were like the most relevant besides Danny (Danny Inosanto). Danny’s first teacher was Angel actually. Then he went on to learn from other people but his very first teacher was Angel Cabales. And so I got to learn one on one over a period of about ten years. I was very fortunate because it was one on one even though they had a class Tuesdays and Thursday nights. So that’s how I started learning from them? It was through my relationship with Max.
Marko: Coincidence?
Mangisursuro: Almost… maybe it was fate.
Marko: You are a very well recognized man in MA and FMA.
Mangisursuro: I don’t see that.
Marko: But you have a lot of students around the world that look up to you as a Grand Master. When did you realize you could become one?
Mangisursuro: Never had any idea. Never had any intentions of becoming a Grand Master. It was kind of forced upon me. The force is that you know you have people that are very good… it is something they give you. You don’t say well I’m a Grand Master; they start calling you a Grand Master when you are doing OK.
Marko: You have to deserve it?
Mangisursuro: That plus there has to be reason for it. In the old Filipino way, I don’t think I qualify as a Grand Master in a lot of Filipino’s eyes. Not in the old traditional ways because I would have to fight in full combat tournaments and stuff like that. I have been in stick fighting tournaments, full contact, but not in the Philippines so they might not recognize me although the Canetes recognize me as a Grand Master.
Marko: So you do not have recognition from the Philippines?
Mangisursuro: Except for the Canetes.
Marko: Who are the Canetes?
Mangisursuro: Doce Pares.
Marko: Pardon?
Mangisursuro: Doce Pares. They are a pretty powerful group of Eskrimadors. The single most powerful group of progenitors of the FMA at least legitimate-wise, at least recognized in the USA.
Marko: Is that maybe– I am going to ask you a provocative question now– is that maybe one of the reasons you don’t go back to the Philippines?
Mangisursuro: No, not at all. I was never in the art for recognition. I was in the art for propagating, for helping to preserve and teach it and spread the art. The only people who go to the Philippines will go there to get recognition so they can come back and say I went to the Philippines now I’m the expert. What my Master taught me was beautiful and everybody in the world wants it. That is why I’m here in Europe right now touring, because people want this art.
Marko: Don’t you think there is something more in the Philippines waiting for you but you have to get it.
Mangisursuro: Bandits…
Mangisursuro: People say there are no benefits but there are a lot besides the physical parts of the MA. That is why people take MA. They don’t feel confident in facing a potentially physical violent situation. However, people that stay in the MA, probably stay in it because they realize there are more benefits than just the physical aspects of it, there are ethical aspects, spiritual aspects about it, I do not like saying religious or metaphysical, I like to say spiritual, it is not secular. But yeah, it has more benefits than just the physical parts, if the only benefit was the physical parts I don’t think it would be growing as much as it is.
Marko: How about the spiritual parts, how do you relate to that?
Mangisursuro: I guess it is more of a realization that people have the right to walk upright in a crowd and not have to be afraid to say no to things and be able to choose their own paths. I think the MA do that. It helps them to stand and make a decision, and sometimes it helps them to stand and make a hard decision.
Marko: Helps people to grow?
Mangisursuro: Yes.
Marko: How about the competitive parts of MA, a lot of MA is just training not competing?
Mangisursuro: You got to remember what your purpose in MA is. If your purpose is to show people you are the “badest” guy on the block then you want to go out and fight people. Then competition is good for you. If your purpose is to feel self confident, feel like you want to be able to walk down the street without being afraid every time somebody walks out of the shadows, that is another thing. But if your purpose is to preserve the art and keep it and spread it to the next generation. That is another aspect. I think each one has its place. I think in the competition world it limits the MA. By necessity it has to because there has to be rules. But in real MA there are no rules, and you can’t do that in today sports competitions, because if there are no rules I’ll run you over with a car, that’s MA. I win you lose. Especially if you are fighting somebody that you know is better than you. So anyway it is a highly controversial question but that is kind of my philosophy.
Marko: You said that competition limits MA?
Mangisursuro: If I teach you a technique that breaks your elbow, you can’t do that in competition. If I teach you a technique that jabs the eye out, you can’t use that in competition. If I teach you a technique to smash your elbow into a neck and break his larynx, you can’t do that in a competition. All of these things end the fight.
Marko: But we still do these techniques, right?
Mangisursuro: Yes we still do them but we cannot do them in competition. And the problem with the competition part of it is what you do in training you will do in a fight. Now I have seen a point fighter trying to fight in full contact, he has a very rude awakening on his first two or three rounds. If he survives he may become a good fighter but most times they don’t survive. The guy goes POW! and throws his fists 2 inches from his face and goes, KIAI! When the other guy smashes him in the face with full force and the guy realizes he is in a real fight, and every time I watched it, the point fighter tries to adapt, but he just has a hard time adapting. And in the mean time he is getting crushed.
Marko: Is full contact competition with sticks becoming popular these days to put the realism in FMA?
Mangisursuro: I don’t believe that is realism. The problem with stick fighting is that, in terms of looking at the FMA, is that you create bad habits. Remember that the FMA is a stick AND blade art. If you concentrate purely on the stick, well there are a lot of things you can do that are tricky and neat and look pretty cool and are workable with a stick. But the minute you try to use a long blade with a lot of those same things it will get you in a lot of trouble. And so I try to teach people from that aspect of the live blade or a long blade and then use those techniques as your primary, because what you do in your training is what you do. If you train that way and then go play stick fighting it is OK. You do not get any bad habits. But if you just go pure stick fighting that is all it is, it is not FMA it is just stick fighting; a part of the FMA. There is nothing wrong with it, it’s just that you are losing the art as a whole. That is why I think it is a limiting factor for the totality of the art. That is how we lost it.
Marko: You said you want to spread the art but have you been competing?
Mangisursuro: No, but whenever students become instructors they have to fight full contact.
Marko: Full contact, but not with blades I hope?
Mangisursuro: Ha-Ha, No not with blades. I used to fight but I’m sort of retired now. I have enough videotapes of me so they can see I have been fighting full contact.
Marko: It’s good for the MA training to fight full contact also?
Mangisursuro: Yes it gives realism into what they are doing. It grounds people. For me, for Inayan, you have to fight full contact to be considered among instructor in any of the styles. Because the worst time and place to start full contact is if someone comes into your school and challenges you.
Marko: Have you ever been challenged?
Mangisursuro: No, I do not think so. Not really.
Marko: Have there been a student thinking he knows more then his Grand Master, I will test him?
Mangisursuro: No, I think that has to do with respect and attitude and the way you are carrying yourself. If you are a good role model that won’t happen. If you are a bad role model that might happen.
Marko: How big is Inayan Eskrima around the world?
Mangisursuro: I have no idea. I don’t pay attention to it. My goal is to spread the art, so I just go where I think I can do it.
Marko: But you are very structured when you instruct and you have seven different styles in Eskrima.
Mangisursuro: Yeah, but that is because you can define them. What is the difference between a style and a method or technique?
Marko: Please, go ahead?
Mangisursuro: You can do a technique in Largo-Mano, a technique in Serrada, and a technique in Sinawali but that is not a style, it can be a conglomeration. And the definition of a style is to be able to take the philosophy or at least the predominant theory behind that style and apply it in combat and show the techniques within that style without borrowing from another style. There are basic techniques that you do in that style or advanced techniques that you apply in the style and we have that in Dequerdas, in Serrada, in Kadena, we have that in Largo-Mano we have that in Sibat. It is in all those things. If you look at them they are all different, they have similarities but they are not exactly that same and they are structured for different applications in combat.
Marko: But what I was thinking about is, if you are so structured in your arts, why do you not know how many people there are? There are different countries different schools and if you want to spread the art?
Mangisursuro: The art will speak for itself; I don’t need to speak for it. I can go show it and if people think that there is something to learn they are going to jump on it. They are going to say: I want this; I want to learn this. I know that there are people wanting me to go to Paris and to the UK, but I don’t know them. There are not enough followers for me to go over there? There are people in Australia and people here and some people in Denmark now and other parts of Europe are gradually coming along.
Marko: But the schools are not paying a yearly fee for being in your school?
Mangisursuro: No.
Marko: Maybe that should be a good idea to think of, so you can travel more?
Mangisursuro: Yeah, I would like to. As a matter of fact I was toying with the idea of staying here in Europe for a year or so to plant the seed but economically I don’t think I can do that. But if I could I probably would? stay here one or two years just traveling around.
Marko: The seven methods or styles in Inayan Eskrima – some of them are more core methods then the others?
Mangisursuro: The core is Kadena, Serrada, and Largo-Mano. The reason for this is because it is a close range, a medium range, and a long range, they can melt together, one can transition to another. That is why they are core styles. The other ones are more because of the teaching methodology; they are more secondary arts. They are arts that are easier to teach students who only want to have a casual interest in it so I teach them that. Let’s say a Karate school wants to have a weapon style in their art but they do not want to devote too much time into it? Some of the more secondary arts are easier to teach and there are structures to them too. There is a way that once I teach them, I can give them an outline for their class. And we use written testing examinations as the outline to teach people for each level so that is kind of nice. That is the other thing we have in Inayan. Most of our stuff has a written structure. As a manual or videotapes.
Marko: So you have done a lot of videotapes?
Mangisursuro: Yeah only about five.
Marko: And three more in Germany now in May?
Mangisursuro: Yes! Dieter wants me to do more exotic films, reactive knife, pressure points which is more a small MA then it is a FMA, and reactive knife actually comes from Kadena de Mano, and then he wants me to do one if possible on Largo-Mano.
Marko: Pressure points are not that much FMA?
Mangisursuro: I think almost any MA, or at least legitimate MA that has any roots that go back 600-700 years probably has pressure points in it because it all comes from acupuncture, acu-pressure, shiatsu stuff like that.
Marko: Does it work in combat, if you have a stick or a knife??
Mangisursuro: Yeah it will work. I only teach a limited number of pressure points mainly because they have a record of success. They have predictability to them of about 95% of the time; they work. A lot of the other pressure points requires a certain angle, a special day of the year? And a full moon? forget about that, I don’t do that. The ones I teach have been used effectively even in law enforcement in the USA. That is why I teach those? because I am going to get a predictable effect from them and I can explain it because I know what the cause is and why it works.
Marko: What is your approach to the pressure points? Dillman does it that Karate way. He shows katas from the Karate and puts on the pressure points?
Mangisursuro: I do it the law enforcement way as taught in the USA. Of all the people in the USA they are the most critical about any kind of technique that is taught to them because they are the ones who are going to use it in the streets. And if it didn’t work, I wouldn’t be here sitting and listening to you any more.
Marko: Dillman. There is a certain amount of pressure points on the body, it is probably the same as you use?
Mangisursuro: Yeah, there is no secret to pressure points anymore. Everybody knows about them. How they are applied is a difference of opinion, some people want to mystify them. That’s fine I guess. I don’t have any background on that I just teach the ones I know and know the effect and that they are going to work.
Marko: How dangerous are they?
Mangisursuro: The ones I teach are tactically safe and medically safe as long as you stay within the parameters of how I teach — in other words you can not use hard blunt objects with them — you could but I don’t advocate that, nor do I support that because that will cause nerve tissue damage and then you are going to be in trouble.
Marko: But you have been practicing those techniques as well?
Mangisursuro: The ones that give nerve tissue damage?
Marko: Yeah…?
Mangisursuro: It is just a matter of using blunt objects instead of using your hands, so you don’t want to do that. But yeah, I have an instructor course on pressure points and I have manuals with me.
Marko: Is it good business selling videotapes, books and manuals?
Mangisursuro: No I don’t think so. I didn’t do them for the idea of making a lot of money. It was mainly for, again, preserving the arts. In fact, it took a long time for me to even come out with video tapes, they asked me to do video tapes 10 years ago– basically I just didn’t feel that was the right way to do it because I figured that people would learn from the videotapes but not really learn the art. It was a cheap way for them to learn the art without going to somebody who is qualified to teach it. But I have come to realize that they still come to get checked out by somebody to make sure they do it correctly. So it helps to preserve the art and it helps to spread the art as well.
Marko: Is there a difference of observing a class and observing a video?
Mangisursuro: Not much.
Marko: You said three things in the beginning. Being in a class, observing, and…?
Mangisursuro: When you are “in” a class you are actually getting a hands on structure. Observation is different.
Marko: What is the difference?
Mangisursuro: You can’t feel the timing. You can’t feel the rhythm. Those are things you can’t get by observing, unless you are a pretty exceptional person. You also can’t get the subtleties.
Marko: What is that?
Mangisursuro: Subtleties are the minutia of the art, the… (demonstration). You do not get that in a video. A lot of times people interpret movement by their own past experiences, the added interpretation could possibly be incorrect until they have been told by someone who can teach them correctly.
Marko: That is interesting, everybody has a history and every time you see a technique you have to interpret it into your brain and try to do it. Doesn’t everybody do it differently? If you have a good student in one country, he looks up to you and you train together. Isn’t it probable he is doing it his own way anyway a day or two later when he has forgotten all the details– it still looks different?
Mangisursuro: That is the purpose of maintaining basics because there are some principles that are in the basics that can’t be shortcut or taken out, otherwise it is no longer an effective technique. It could be a limited technique in terms of flexibility. Those are the things I can show you when you come to the seminar.
Marko: How do you keep on developing and learning more from the arts? You said your trainers; your grandmasters, your already are a grandmaster. They gave you something to work on you said you still develop from this. How do you do that? Do you train with students? Do you develop yourself? From where do you get your input?
Mangisursuro: The format that Angel used is, what I call, an open loop training format in the more advanced stages. That is how it develops you. Open loops means it is spontaneous: it is spontaneous application of the art wherever you have a format like spontaneous application of the art, like close sparring. Then that develops you because there is a level of close sparring that people do not realize, most people think that close sparring is for the fastest, but that is not what we use it for. Close sparring is for a lot of different purposes.
Marko: Sounds interesting, can you tell me more?
Mangisursuro: Flow sparring is also for applying your techniques, and a lot of times when people go really fast they only do two or three techniques at a time and it almost starts looking like Sinawali. If you back up your speed between you and your student, or the student you are working with, and go at a speed that is comfortable for each other instead of trying to outdo each other, then you start learning how to apply new techniques within the flow. So that you can apply that later on? then you become more flexible and more versatile in your application of the techniques. If you just do flow sparring Serrada style, Serrada itself will teach you. When we flow spar we use a certain thing that we are trying to learn in the flow sparring each time we do something and the lock and block is very important. It is another aspect of developing your skills.
Marko: Are we going to see this in the seminar you are giving here?
Mangisursuro: I don’t know if Johan can do it. It is in the Serrada tape, but I’ll see if Johan can do it.
Marko: In the Kadena de Mano video tape, it covers knife to knife, empty hands to knife, empty hands to empty hands, lock flows, basic kicking, anti kicking and anti grappling concepts. How does anti kicking and anti grappling work?
Mangisursuro: Lock flow is grappling and anti grappling.
Marko: Anti grappling the FMA stick fighting way or wrestler way?
Mangisursuro: Anti grappling is the sense that if someone is trying to put a lock on you and you do not let them. You reverse them or you stop them from doing that to you.
Marko: For me grappling is on the ground.
Mangisursuro: You can do it on the top too. You can do arm bars; figure fours, come-a-longs, finger spreads, hand locks and things like that. Wally Jay– small circle Jiujitsu– he doesn’t do it on the ground, he does it mostly on the top with the fingers. I should know; I have been working with him.
Marko: What do you think of Wally Jay?
Mangisursuro: He is a great person. He is one of the true Grand Masters of MA. He has dedicated his entire life to it. Even when he broke away and started Small Circle Jujitsu the traditional people ridiculed him. He stood on a system of his own and he stood alone for a number of years and now people recognize him as a great Grand Master – and he is. He is a great man, just like his senior before him, who was Sid Couffera. They were both from the same system but Wally Jay broke away from that. That is my understanding but I can be wrong about that. But they have all dedicated their lives to the MA and those people are rare individuals because they have stayed true to their art and have helped spread that. The people that helped spread those arts stayed in their arts. Stayed true to their art that is why we have those arts now if they did what a lot of people do now, jump around from one style to another style they would not have Kempo or Jiujitsu or Judo or any of the other styles. I don’t know what they would be calling it now. They would call it something but not by its original name. But some of the more important things in MA have been lost and that is a shame too.
Marko: Do you get inspiration from other MA? I mean like boxing or Thai boxing. Dan Inosanto has Thai Boxing as a concept when he teaches and he also does FMA…
Mangisursuro: That goes away from what my whole original philosophy is. My philosophy is to help preserve and spread the pure FMAs. That is why I’m here. They (other martial arts) all have something to offer, or aspects to give whether it is boxing, Thai Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Karate or Judo. They are all viable MA, they are good. They all have their progenitors, they all have somebody that helps maintain and spread the arts. I like to think of myself as being one of those people who want to maintain and spread the FMAs. That is what I am. Otherwise I would be doing like everybody else taking a little bit of this and that. I have a philosophy: If you really love your art, there will be so many other arts that can fascinate you that you can loose sight of what you really want to do with your art. What I tell my students is that it is OK to go study those arts, because they make your art stronger. If you understand what you opponent can do, then you can apply your art better against them, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon your art for their art. Once you have decided which art should be your root art, the one you want to be yours, you should stay with that one.
Marko: You probably have a lot of interesting stories?
Mangisursuro: Ha, Ha, Ha, No probably not. Ha, Ha, and if I do I have probably forgotten half of them. I don’t pay attention. I have had people remind me of stories I have told but I don’t remember too easily.
Marko: Any Story? Do you have any story remembering anything funny happening in MA? Any stupid thing?
Mangisursuro: Stupid thing? You asked me about pressure points before. I remember I was in Minneapolis, I was invited to do a seminar on pressure points and they were all black belts. 48 black belts never heard of pressure points before. I walked in the room and you can immediately feel their hostility, like, what can you show me. So I picked up the biggest guy, not that tall, but real stout. I said I am doing a technique on you, just relax, so I hit him and I knocked him out. Ha, Ha, Ha, the funny part of the story was when I shook him to wake him and when he went back to his friends he told them that the last thing he remembered was thinking I hit him on the wrong pressure point and he was going to die. He thought he was dying because he wasn’t prepared for the feeling he got. Ha, Ha. I do not know if that is funny to you but it was funny at the time.
Marko: When was this?
Mangisursuro: 6-8 years ago.
Marko: Is there a lot of hostility in FMA? There are a lot of discussions on the Internet; “My MA is better than yours.” Is this mentality much in FMA?
Mangisursuro: Yeah.
Marko: My dad is bigger than your or…?
Mangisursuro: No, it is just a feeling of pride.
Marko: Why do you think that is so?
Mangisursuro: Why would you study something you did not believe in…?
Marko: What is the thing with telling everybody my style is better then yours?
Mangisursuro: It is a way of rattling your saber. Even countries rattle sabers– it is just an immaturity– all of us growing up, sometime in our lives, we rattle our sabers.
Marko: Even grown up people do this?
Mangisursuro: Yes of course.