Katja and Arne's travel stories

No rest for the wicked

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This has been a long day. We had an early morning rise, or rather a mid night wake up at 3:20 to prepare for our trip to Manila with GM.
After an simple breakfast of fruits and yogurt we got into the DAS-mobile and Cydel and Supreme Grandmaster (Siony, GM’s wife) drove us to the bus station. We got on the bus and before we had left the station a kid in the seat in front of me puked. Ok, it’s gonna be a long ride…
Fortunately I dozed off, and on, and off, and on again all the way in. No real sleep to be had, and seated next to Katja who was unconscious from she sat down to we came to Manila.
From the bus station we walked a short stretch to a Jeepney and started a Jeepney ride from hell. The guy must have stolen both the Jeepney and the fuel, ’cause he drove like a madman. The traffic  in Manila is rather slow moving, as we have explained numerous time, but this guy got that Jeepney into holes in the traffic no one knew existed. Even the other locals were both shocked and frightened by his driving. The fact that we are still walking is only due to the shear size of a Jeepney and the other drivers didn’t push it when he came through. It must be the most “near death experience” we’ve had so far on this trip.

Enjoying a cup of coffee before training. And not to mention the free glass of tea that was served with the coffee!?!?

Enjoying a cup of coffee before training. And not to mention the free glass of tea that was served with the coffee!?!?

We got of, luckily, and walked to the cafe where we saw the boxing match last Sunday. We took a coffee there and met up with Nilo and Lando from the GM’s group in the park. We chatted a bit and then it was time to enter the park.
A nice surprise was that Phil, the Australian guy, was back. He had been stuck on an island by the typhoon Queenie and had experienced some rather tough stuff. Luckily he had gotten out on a boat, as all flight were cancelled. From what we learned he’s coming to GM place to train the DAS system later this week.

Group picture after training

Group picture after training

We spent the training on the basic of the DAS system before moving into disarms. GM wants us to know the 30 different and before today’s training we are up to 24. We covered a couple of more there in the park, but honestly we feel that we are pushing the limits. We do the 1-24 and 24-1 and randomly attacks + a number for training. Sometimes I block and then freeze for a couple of seconds before remembering the right sequence. A dying situation in battle, so I’m lucky we’re still in training.
Gerald was there in the park also. It was nice to see him a last time before we leave the country. He’s been a invaluable resource to us here and we appreciate that enormously. It was nice to say goodbye this way.
We also got to spend some time talking to Ram about Kuala Lumpur. As we now have decided to spend Christmas there we asked for advice’s on different things. He will write an email to us about it as well, something that makes things so much easier to remember.

Gerald and us

Gerald and us

Then a group of us headed up to Quezon City. There is a competition there today and GM is named: “The Advisor”. So eight of us all together, pack into two cars and drive up. The competition was held in Quezon City Park, a large park with lots of activities. We found the area of the competition but headed over to the food stalls for some lunch before entering. With 8 hours since our light breakfast we both felt it was time to enjoy some solid food.

The selection was big, but not everything was self explanatory. We got some expert advice and got us something that tastes a lot better than it looked. Katja was invited to try both sea weed and squid during the meal. I think we can say it’s gonna be a while to the next time that happens.
Full and happy we went over to the competition area. It’s clearly visible what position GM has in the FMA community. Students, masters and Grandmasters alike lined up to greet him. And as foreigners and also the other students of GM we were treated like Royals. We were taken up to the area of the Grandmasters and met them all, before we were given chairs and could sit and watch the bouts.

What we saw was the teens and kids fighting. No real quality there, unfortunately. They ran towards each other and smacked the living shit out of each other before the referee stopped and a point was called out. No strategy, no defense and focus on own security and only rewards for “being first”. We were told the grown ups do a better job, but had left before they took to the ground. Oh, and to our non FMA readers: the kids used helmets and padded sticks. No real pain involved, only a little burning sensation when hit on uncovered areas

What we did see though was a performance by the different grandmasters. They entered the ground in turn and flared of in different moves. I hate to say this, but it wasn’t that impressive. Some of them were just flaring their sticks around, others were clearly not prepared and had students who didn’t attack “right” or they just didn’t manage to do things twice the same way. But then GM Rodel “Smoking sticks” Dagooc entered the ground.
GM did a speech first that we didn’t understand as it was in Tagalog. He explained on the bus home that he told the youths that his stick was his plane ticket and a way of a great life. He travels the world and teaches, and thereby do what he loves, all based on how he wields that stick. Then he did a demonstration. Whereas the other grandmasters had receive limited cheering and applause GM Rodel aced it. He made the crowd howl with delight as he disarmed, spun, moved, slashed and hit. He used both a larger and a smaller opponent and played with them as a GM is supposed to. He played the old mans card and walked around limping which the stick as his cane and “beat” the crap out of the larger guy when he attacked. He switched stick for knife and did it with knife, against knife and empty handed.
When he finished he just walked calmly of the ground with a little smile on his face while the crowd cheered and applauded. Katja and I looked at each other and I think we just shared the same thought: this is the guy we’ve been training with all this week. Man, are we lucky.

Here you can see a clip of GM’s performance at the 29th Festival des Arts Martiaux in Bercy Stadion, Paris, earlier this year.

Not long after this did we moved on as there is a long way back to Batangas. We got to the bus station and entered what must be a bus built specifically for short Asian people. There were no way I could sit in the seat with my legs bent normally without getting my knees kneaded into the seat in front. Yay, and it’s only 3 hours ride ahead of us. Katja once again fell unconscious while I wriggled in the seat like an eal on land. When the bus took a detour, supposedly because of an accident further down the road, I almost cried. The bus wasn’t just for short people, the seats had plastic covers and was last in good shape around my 10th birthday. Passing over speed bumps with this long thing almost did it for my legs. But wouldn’t you know, I survived this also.

When it's full inside, people stand outside

When it’s full inside, people stand outside

From the bus over to a packed Jeepney and 30 minutes ride to Bauan city. Here we got out and went to the supermarket. I say a lot of good things about the Filipinos but if there is one thing they don’t know it’s logistics. There is an insanely amount of people working everywhere but very little is happening. Combine that to the fact that they aren’t allowed (I suppose) to make decisions on their own and you have a very slow moving situation. It’s very viewable in the cashiers line at the supermarket. It do not move more than snail pace. Today though, we had brought a secret weapon. GM is a senior citizen and they have two lines with priority to senior citizens. When we came to the line he walked through and stood on the other side of the cashier. When there was an “opening” he talked to the cashier and we got waved up to the front of the line. On our way out he explained that he had told them we were his bodyguards and as a senior citizen he had priority in the line. Truthfully they all laughed at his joke as they know him, but we got through the line and could take the last Jeepney stretch home. After another 10-12 minutes we got off just outside the door.

Entering a Jeepney @ Jeeepney street

Entering a Jeepney @ Jeeepney street

We just turned around in the room and went out to get Bulalo at the restaurant down the street. We ate, came back to the room and relaxed. GM came up later on and we filmed the remaining 8 disarms that we hadn’t put on film. We now have all thirty and can “do our homework assignment” as he puts it. After that we just slumped and finally got to where we took a shower and went to bed. We’ve been up for a lot of hours and tomorrow holds another adventure as we move on to Puerto Galera for some beach and sun (hopefully).

Author: arnber

Humongen! The big guy! The man, the myth, the legend! And then theres' me. The nice guy in the house. The man without cooking skills, but with five stars on the Playstation. Boss at work, relaxed at home. What you see is what you get. Life is good. I choose it to be.

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