All posts by Darren


I find myself somewhat in awe (though not surprised in the least given the human kneejerk reaction to be heard) when I see the perpetual volatile arguments on social media. Over trite issues. To push through your opinion. To prove someone else wrong who doesn’t agree with your philosophy or point-of-view. To correct someone who’s clueless. I don’t support it, but I get it…and there’s a difference.

Running two Facebook pages myself pertaining to the industry, one of which is fairly active with response and retort, I see this all too frequently. However, to all combatives, martial arts, security, military, law enforcement exponents out there, social media is just that, media. There’s no immediate threat, no risk of injury, no danger. And herein lies the rub. It’s safe. So it’s very easy to post something controversial, explosive, antagonizing and provocative without having any repercussions and being held to the fire, so to speak. It’s a modern safe space. On the other hand, it’s also potentially judgmental for those posting. Everything we post is subject to scrutiny by others, many of which we don’t know, may never meet or, hell, aren’t real. Your content is up for public criticism. So it’s a double-edged sword.

That being said, my goal is not to promote myself, my methodology and my academy, although I’m also perceptive enough to know that this is inevitably a byproduct, good or bad, or what I post. (as what I post is often what I teach or support) So, I post content that attempts to be thought-provoking, informative and valuable to the average person listening in. And not nearly all of the group responds. However, knowing that the content will not (nor simply cannot) appeal or connect with everyone, it may reach that one person who needs it and can be helped by it. Not my peers, but those who legitimately need the knowledge for whatever reason, be it the military operative going to battle or the meek mild high-school student who gets bullied daily and has no voice. Those that can relate, want to talk shop and brainstorm with me, I’m always open. The ones that often disagree? It’s their wont and they’re completely at liberty to do so without condemnation. It is, after all, only Facebook.


I’ve seen a number of the biggest names in our industry here on Facebook exhibit extreme arrogance (critiquing and mocking others’ videos at every turn), spewing propaganda that begins at elitism and ends at borderline racism, throw people out of their organizations for teaching people of different Asian heritage, talk ad infinitum about who could kick whose ass and talk immense bravado and how you know more than others online here because you trained with Jim Bob Asskicker. You’re not a special flower. (As an aside, some of the absolute most talented martial artists/combatives experts/weapons men-and women-I’ve met and seen on here I had never ever heard of before joining Crackbook, what a pleasant surprise! Some of the most impressive I’ve seen are the quiet, unassuming ones that simply go about their bloody business at an extremely high level with no name value and, often therefore, no politics) The other side is continued videos in the name of beautiful heavenly flow cut someone to pieces after throwing a punch (otherwise known as “murder” in modern society, not exactly imparting valued in-depth knowledge of the blade although I have been guilty of this in the past as well until doing some deep internal thinking on what it is exactly that I’m demonstrating), demonstrate very little in the name of modern legal restraint and claim it in the name of “art.” Or the perpetual arguments about which is more “authentically-Filipino”: arnis de mano, escrima or kali. (My argument: “Who gives a shit. Same thing, different locality, different take, different name but far more overlap than difference or effectiveness) Others who’ve claimed a 200-0 record in full-contact stickfighting or streetfighting. (Clearly not been fighting the right people as most have even an off day now and then even if you’re that damn good, fluke knockout shots exist and happen and EVERYBODY loses who’s thrown their ass on the line in the name of full-contact against trained opponents….Kramer karate episode from Seinfeld anyone?) Others are actively (just saw this one yesterday although I point out that the FMA, if you believe it’s heavily Spanish-influenced or not, is a living breathing art with no gaps in its evolution where it ceased to be practiced), I see, trying to disprove the legitimacy of FMA by promoting their own newly re-born European/African/modern fighting system. (Individual. It’s the individual. You’ll get that one day but be patient) I’ve been actually pseudo-annoyed lately and a little bloody awed at the online bullshit that I’ve seen peddled. (And have deleted some accordingly as I choose to surround myself, even from those I’ve only met digitally, with those  of like mind and open mentality) I don’t claim to be some all-knowing-supreme-grand-poobah-from-the-sky-coming-directly-from-God but (I realize the “but”, for some, can cancel out everything that came previously but I digress)  I have paid my dues and earned whatever titles I’ve received. (And, by the way, my students call me “Darren” in spite of the titles and I don’t kiss others’ ass because they have a bigger name than my own…pants/one leg at a time or something like that) I respect the right of others to express themselves in whatsoever way they choose but I am so f-ing sick of politics, propaganda, which art is better than which other, what’s in a name, how you’re going to kick what’s-his-name’s ass and how you would’ve beat the shit out of so-and-so if you were put in that situation where someone else reacted differently in real life. (And, maybe, we’re all, me very much included, guilty of this on some level as combative martial arts is often an ego-driven entity, I realize but that doesn’t make it right) Really? “You never know until walk in another man’s shoes”. “It’s always the individual.” “It’s easy to talk shit about others when you weren’t in the situation.” All metaphors that come to mind. Real violence has an ingrained effect on a person. For life. It’s not a topic to take lightly and the older I get and more I learn I know I don’t want to participate in violence in any way unless absolutely necessary as nobody wins or benefits, social vs. asocial violence being very very different entities. (Although I absolutely get the need to use sarcasm and crack jokes to lighten the mood of a topic all too serious at times)

*By the way, I just read from Ron Saturno that he inevitably took his name off the market as his functionality doesn’t sell in comparison to the flashy, Hollywood crowd in FMA. Makes me sad to hear it, although I unfortunately get it entirely.


ESPANOL: Estoy en el proceso de desarrollar un programa para Skype o en persona para aquellos que no están interesados en tomar clases de artes marciales regulares o el aspecto físico de la seguridad personal. Será basado en los lados psicológicos, emocionales, fisiológicos, situacionales y legales de la violencia y la seguridad. conocimiento de la situación, el lenguaje corporal, signos rituales de violencia, taquipsiquia (efectos de la adrenalina), cableado del cerebro para la agresión, los diferentes tipos de agresores y la violencia, la seguridad de los automóviles, el distanciamiento espacial, la comunicación, la PNL para combatives y verbal desescalada y una se abordará en otras muchas áreas imperativas.

ENGLISH: I am currently in the process of developing a program for Skype or in-person for those not interested in taking regular martial arts classes or the physical side of personal safety. It will based on the psychological, emotional, physiological, situational and legal sides of violence and safety. Situational awareness, body language, ritual signs of violence, tachypsychia (effects of adrenaline), hardwiring of the brain for aggression, different types of aggressors and violence, car safety, spatial distancing, communication, NLP for combatives and verbal de-escalation and a host of other imperative areas will be addressed.


Just a quick note on what I’m seeing via all these Facebook groups that I’ve been added to or joined over the last 5 years. I see so many instructors trying to impress with offering so many styles. Just the other day I saw an individual (apparently respected) offering a host (between 12-15 styles or systems!) of programs he’s qualified to rank in. I did a quick check online and found very, very few videos, testimonials and the like, which in and of itself isn’t that abnormal. But when claiming to be sufficient-enough (and qualified) to teach upwards of said 12-15 different styles and offering certifications, I simply have to roll my eyes. If one knew how long it took to get truly good at a specific style-intricacies, essence, movement, synergy-one knows that it’s almost impossible to be this proficient at this many systems. And when one factors in impact training, dynamic scenario training, resistance training the truth is that we are all blessed with 2 elbows, 2 knees, 2 legs, 2 arms and a head with some teeth thrown in. It all boils down to the individual and his/her strengths. So for all the rankings and certificates one claims, at the end of the day, it’s questionable that one has really pressure-tested so many systems to the point of being instructor-ready. I just don’t buy it.

The Internet has given so much hype and opportunity for those to market themselves shamelessly that it’s given rise to a confusion by those on the outside looking for something authentic. Very rarely do you see “those in the know”, the Dante Alambras, Rory Millers, James Keatings, Hoch Hochheims, Kelly Wordens (and a host of others that immediately come to mind) getting involved in Internet trashtalk or shamelessly self-promoting a multitude of systems (or themselves for that matter, they let word-of-the-mouth do the majority of talking for them). Actions/louder than words. While I know that with the information highway being what it is, I can see how many have to sift through the questionable to get to the legitimate. Unfortunate but I refuse to compromise or sell-out to compete with this element. My father always taught me to “focus on your backyard and the rest will fall into place”, still prophetic words to this day.

copyright 2016, Mandirigma Filipino Martial Arts Academy & Civilian Preservation Technologies


I find these days that far too many people treat martial arts like a comfort-driven, athletic hobby. Now I know the stereotypical hyberbole I’ll get for this: “different people practice for different reasons” (true), “some train just as a social activity” (also true), “some just want to stay in shape” (true again) and “many just want the traditional aspect, to learn about a culture” (true, true, true). However, this being said, I find so many want the comforts of home. Not to challenge themselves. Not to have to face themselves in the mirror and deal with their demons-not an easy task, to be sure. To not get tweaks, bruises, pulls, strains. To have a nice big beautiful dojo covered in expensive mats and the latest technology.

Now maybe I’m just jealous (I’m not but I digress) but I have a very old-school bothoan (club in Tagalog)-basic, hard floors, thin mats, paint cracking, no A/C with none of the comforts of your living room. My training tools are basic yet difficult, explosive and creative as I use what I have and what’s at my disposal. Combat (and, therefore, combat training) is not a comfort zone. It’s gritty, dirty, grimy, ugly and chaotic. I choose to train this way and have my students train this way. Hot, uncomfortable, unpredictable, grueling and sometimes downright intimidating. Safe? Yes, no question. I don’t want my tribe to go out on the street (where they really need these skills) injured or decimated due to the training. But I do want them to be hardened…battle-hardened, prepared mentally-physically-spiritually-emotionally-psychologically-on all levels for the realities of the worst-case scenario of what they may encounter from the modern criminal. I can assure you the modern criminal is not in an air-conditioned lodge with top-of-the-line mats, $2000 equipment and a hot shiny floor, getting ready to attack you. And, if it’s good enough in the old-school Filipino way of training, it’s good enough for us now. It’s an experience.

My top students have told me they never know what they’re going to get when they walk in the door. Which is how it should be. No preparation given, no alerts sent out, no time for emotional psyche-up. And when they complete the task, they’re euphoric, because they’ve overcome an obstacle thoroughly by using their adaptive, think-outside-the-box, honest-to-goodness gut instinct survival skills. Real pragmatic functional skill is built. At times through discomfort, anxiety and stress. Like a river over time wearing away rocks, their skills become ingrained, instinctive, natural, explosive and without thought. It’s a teaching methodology I realize not all are proponents of but inevitably the proof is in the pudding. What you put in, you get out. No forms, no pre-arranged sequences, no static response to static attacks. A problem-solving approach. Ironically (or perhaps not) the training is much like the bothoan. It’s there to serve a very specific purpose. Chosen for this very reason.

In conclusion, I guess my point is that for all the fancy equipment, state-of-the-art training tools, expensive new gym, top-of-the-line weights and machines-at the end of the day it’s the training methodology (concept-based) that makes the difference, not all the rest. Many will agree but few will practice what they preach.


copyright 2016, Mandirigma Filipino Martial Arts Academy & Civilian Preservation Technologies




Martial arts has long been on the outside of the business world. Instructors in whatever field of specialization scratching out a living or only being afforded part-time hobbyist status while maintaining other part-time jobs to put the real food on the table. This stereotype is changing. With the last decade has come high-level variations of meditation, autogenic breathing, dealing with the facets of adrenaline, teambuilding, professional coaching, anatomy, neuro-linguistics/neurology, physiology & psychology, advanced communication, conflict resolution, body language & profiling and high-level methodologies for hardwiring new skillsets and supercharging the learning curve. This puts us at the frontline of modern business as opposed to solely in our chosen industry. Few (outside the specialists) know these areas as well as the modern progressive combatives instructor. I believe it’s just a matter of time before big business starts to take notice and realize that for performance coaching and skillsets that pertain directly to worker performance improvement, the modern martialist will become a very in-demand option in the professional coaching industry. Our experience is visceral, hands-on, practical-not hypothetical or theoretical. It’s time the business world started taking notice to a growing number of us who don’t adhere to centuries-old traditions, belt rankings, idol worship, barefoot and pajama-wearing Neanderthals but bring legitimate solutions to modern problems across the board-social, business and personal. While the higher percentages reside on the two perceived extremes of the industry; the staunch traditionalist and the professional fighter; along with the perceptions and stereotypes that go along with each, there are vast number of us that are highly-intelligent, bring viable solutions to the table in whatever scenario you put us and have an extremely diverse group of skillsets. We are results-driven and our results are proven on the battlefield. The Japanese still adhere their modern business codes to the teachings of Musashi and this methodology is slowly moving to the Western World as well. This is a multi-million dollar industry already but shortly those in the business world will start to see the validity and pragmatism of what progressive,  reality-based instructors with a finger on the pulse of real-world functionality and transferable skills have to offer a business, and this decision will have a domino effect as many businesses discover how greatly their bottom line can be affected: both saving cost and increasing growth, all the while contributing to a much more productive and content work force.