The integration of the local heritage dimension into FMA 7 (Filipino Martial Arts) encounters is allowing a richer and more relevant experience, says the Department of Tourism-Central Visayas (DOT 7).
DOT 7 Chief Tourism Operations Officer Gelena Asis-Dimpas, underscoring the benefit of incorporating cultural observation in FMA training activities, said, “Understanding the roots of FMA, which has been phenomenally enriched by practitioners in Central Visayas, as well as the lifestyles and history of the locality, has made the sport and the art more attractive worldwide.”
The Philippine Martial Arts Alliance (PMAA) Philippine Training Camp 2023, hosting 26 US- and Australia-based masters, school owners and students of FMA, were conducted on a day-long Central Cebu FMA Heritage Trail recently as part of a week-long FMA7 camp keynoted in Cebu.
PMAA has developed the Philippine Combatives style of martial arts taught primarily at its headquarters in Nebraska, and worldwide through its online university. The alliance is headed by Grand Master Julius Melegrito.
The Central Cebu FMA Heritage Trail, designed by DOT 7 and local tour operators, took participants to the Mactan Shrine where Lapu-Lapu City’s Arnis de Abanico performed. The group also visited a guitar manufacturing facility, a knifesmith’s shop and the iconic Fort San Pedro, Magellan’s Cross, Carbon Market and Casa Gorordo Museum.
Interaction with Cebu-based practitioners and grandmasters during the site visit and at training sessions provided a broader perspective of FMA styles and systems allowing a deeper look into open-handed combat techniques and the use of sticks in fighting.
“We see in this camp a good balance – exposure in the sport and art of FMA and immersion in local arts and culture. It is very curated for Filipino martial artists, particularly those from abroad,” said Faith Melegrito of PMAA.
The PMAA event is the second international FMA camp held in Cebu in 2023. It is PMAA’s first in Central Visayas. The 11th International FMA and Silat Training Camp organized by the Russian House in the Philippines was in Cebu and Negros Oriental in the first quarter.
FMA has gained a foothold worldwide with more martial artists indicating interest in its system of strikes, blocks, locks and grapples using the hands and feet or aided by sticks or bladed weapons. It became hugely popular as practitioners took notice of the sports known as eskrima, kali and arnis.
DOT7 supports the development of FMA through partnerships with world-renowned masters, grand masters and organizations in Cebu and the rest of the region. DOT7’s FMA7 Program has documented over 30 diverse FMA systems or styles in the region, 90% of which are found in Cebu.
Melegrito foresees more interest for FMA. “It is our vision to see more people appreciate the fact that anyone can do it. It is a whole-body exercise, therefore, physically beneficial. It is also about embracing our roots,” she adds.
FMA7 pursues its programmatic objective with its continued promotion of the sport and the art. The program anticipates another international training camp before the close of 2023.