Professor Remy Armador Presas
Dec.19, 1936-Aug. 28, 2001
Art: Modern Arnis
By Bob Hubbard
December 19th, 1936, in the small Filipino fishing village of Hinigarin,
Negros Occidental the face of martial arts changed forever. We didn’t
know it then, but sixty-odd years later the impact of Remy Armador Presas
Philippines are home to some of the most brutal and effective combat
arts but in the later 20th century, they were a dying art. More glamorous
were the Japanese arts such as Karate and Chinese Kung Fu, with their
crisp uniforms and organized classes. They also took less of a toll
on those training. Learning the Filipino arts often meant taking repeated
Presas began his training at a young age, learning the family system
from his grandfather, Leon Presas. Insatiably hungry for the arts, Remy
would later stow away on a trip to Cebu. There he would be introduced
to the Balintawak style by his uncle Fredo and begin to study under
one of the top ranked practitioners, Timor Maranga.
developed a reputation as a top tournament fighter, often winning his
fights by knockouts. While fighting, he caught the eye of Grand Master
Venancio “Anciong” Bacon, grandmaster of Balintawak and
became one of his personal students.
was a way of life in the Philippines. The Balintawak and rival Doce
Pares regularly issued and met challenges. The fighters frequently tested
and honed their skills in the back alleys. During this time, Remy began
to change his concept. Fighting all the time, he realized that with
the constant bloodshed, reputations suffered and training partners became
hard to find.
Grandmaster Bacon’s blessing, Remy left Cebu to design his own
system of fighting, one that would focus on self-defense not just fighting.
His goal? To become the best by spreading the art.
did this by changing the focus. Traditionally, the cane was sacred,
and fighters would avoid hitting it aiming for their opponents hand
instead. Remy changed that by using the cane as a target. He also sought
to identify the basic concepts of the many Filipino systems he had learned
and merged them into what can be described as a melting pot of some
of the best of the Filipino arts.
his art spreading, in 1975 the government sponsored him on a world wide
goodwill tour to help spread the art of Modern Arnis around the globe.
coming to the United States, the number of Modern Arnis practitioners
has soared world wide, with over 40,000 in his native country alone.
Billed as “The art within your art”, Modern Arnis uses techniques
based on patterns and theories of movement, rather than static drills
and movements. The simplicity of the art is its key. Rather than learning
complex forms and 1 step drills for each individual weapon, students
instead learn to use the basic fundamentals of attack and defense regardless
of whether they are holding a sword, knife, stick or nothing at all.
Each technique is open ended, leading into countless variations of locks,
throws, disarms etc. using what is available.
Presas is best known for Modern Arnis. Many do not realize that he also
held rank in many other systems, including a 6th dan in Karate. In 1982
and 1994 he was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame as “Instructor
of the Year”.
has worked with and enjoyed friendships with many of the notables such
as Ed Parker Sr., Bruce Lee, Wally Jay and George Dillman.
Presas saw his dream of a revival of the Filipino arts come true. Today,
they are known world wide and even lend their influence to Hollywood’s
Master Remy A. Presas passed away due to heart failure and severe internal
infection after battling brain cancer on August 28, 2001 at Parkwood
Home Care in Victoria, Canada. After extended delays due to certain
circumstances, his remains arrived in Manila, Philippines on September
19, 2001. He received a posthumous award (for propagation of Filipino
Martial Arts worldwide) from PIGSSAI / Philippine Tourism Authority.
On September 23, 2001, his body was flown to Bacolod City, Negros Occidental,
Philippines. He was laid to rest on September 25, 2001 in the neighboring
town of Hinigaran, his birthplace. The Municipal Council of Hinigaran
expressed its sorrow and sympathy over his passing through a Resolution
voted by all its members.
groups and individuals have stepped forward since his death to keep
the torch lit. From his family, to his “Datus’, to the Masters
of Tapi-Tapi to the independents. Each holds a piece of the dream, ensuring
that it will never die out.
more information, please visit the following sites:
Presas memorial site - http://martialtalk.com/remy
Modern Arnis Organization and Schools listing : http://martialtalk.com/forum/schools.html
J. Delaneys’ International Modern Arnis Federation (IMAF)
Remy P. Presas International Organization (MARPPIO)
Scheas’ International Modern Arnis Federation (IMAF)
Modern Arnis Alliance (WMAA)
Modern Arnis Coalition (WMAC)
Hubbard is an administrator of the popular martial arts portal site
MartialTalk.com. A student of all the arts, he is currently studying
Modern Arnis. Bob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
published in MartialTalk Magazine August 2003
Copyright ©2003 Bob Hubbard - All Rights Reserved