|Ten years without a legend
A tribute to Grandmaster Remy A. Presas
It has been ten years since the day the world lost a legend, Professor Remy Presas left this earth on August 28, 2001. Following his passing the world of Arnis and the world, as we know it was in a state of turmoil. People were driven by grief, for the loss of Professor and the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks, blindly going through the day trying to figure out their future and the future of Modern Arnis. Everyone deals with grief differently, and in his or her own time.
Since the time of Professor’s passing many people have done as he had asked and kept Modern Arnis alive and growing by teaching the art to others. As I look around at any camp or seminar the room is filled with new faces. These people are just as excited to be learning Modern Arnis as everyone was years ago. There is energy in the room that can be felt by all. What keeps the art going and attracts new people is the passion for Professor and his teachings that is carried on by the many people he worked with for all those years. For each person that was lucky enough to train with Professor a special piece of his art was given to them and they were expected to share it with as many people as they could. This is the way in which Professor made sure that his art would grow and continue long after his passing.
Each person knows what keeps him or her training in Modern Arnis but I have often wondered what draws new people to the art. During a class this week I asked my students why they come to the Modern Arnis class and what they think of Professor Presas. All of the students began training in Modern Arnis long after Professor had passed. The answers did not surprise me. The art is fun and there is a lot to learn said one very energetic boy. He also said that you could find an arm bar in almost any lock or series of moves. One of my very talented teen age girls said that the art was very good for protection and if you knew Modern Arnis no one would mess with you. One of our adult students said that the art is taught with love and passion, which keeps him interested. He feels that it is a very versatile art and can be used even if this is the only martial art that a person studies. He also was very impressed with the fact that the art is the same with canes, swords, knives or empty hand.
Everyone felt that Professor Presas had to have been a very brilliant man to be able to put all these things together and create an effective art no matter what the situation was. One of the students also said that Professor must have been a fantastic chess player because he was able to anticipate what people would do. No matter what the situation was and he was always a minimum of eight to ten moves ahead of his opponent in his mind.
I had to smile as I was listening to my students and their thoughts on Professor. They were so in tune to a man that they had never met. It felt like they knew him. One of the students then asked me what I thought of Professor and why I train. While holding back tears I told my students that I train and teach because I have gotten so much from Modern Arnis that I feel an obligation to carry on for Professor. I began training because of the sincere love of the art that was shown by my first instructor. He was at the time a young kenpo practitioner who was tasked with spreading Professors art. This wonderful art has improved my sparring and awareness, it has given me so many good friends and family I cannot count them all.
As I listened in amazement, to a Modern Arnis instructor who told me that he was drawn to the art and fell in love with it conveyed my same feelings in a story. He and his wife discussed his need to attend as many seminars as possible because he was a police officer and Modern Arnis could save his life. This art took him away from his family but his relationship with Professor gave him so much and made him the person he is today. This summer one of this instructor’s students presented him with a gift and mirrored the words and sentiments that Modern Arnis could save his life. He thanked his instructor with such sincerity there was not a dry eye in the room.
Each instructor has taken a piece of the art and made it his own. One of the other teachers that I have been lucky enough to know has taken Modern Arnis and explained why the techniques hurt so much and really broken down the art. As Professor said many times “ I have given it all to you. Take it and make it your own. It is the art within your art. “ Professor would be very proud of all his instructors and students.
On the tenth anniversary of his passing we all should take a moment to remember Professor Presas. If you were fortunate enough to have worked with him remember the feelings, the passion and the love that Professor had for his art and the people who practiced it. You are a very fortunate person for every minute that you spent with him. If you are a new practitioner of Modern Arnis look for Professor within your instructor. He will be there in the movements, in the passion, in the commitment of the people who carry on.
Remember Professor Presas, be inspired, and keep training. We are all part of his legacy.
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